Archive for June, 2013

Camden Depot: Checking in With Chris Davis

Posted in Offense with tags , on June 25, 2013 by oriolesprovingground

I have a post up today over at Camden Depot that takes a look at the relative struggles of Chris Davis in the month of June.  His “struggles” are relative since he’s still playing pretty well.

Direct link to article –> Checking in With Chris Davis

Yet Another Camden Depot Guest Post

Posted in Offense with tags , , on June 13, 2013 by oriolesprovingground

This week’s post will again be featured on Camden Depot , the ESPN Sweetspot Network blog for the Baltimore Orioles.  The post this week takes a look at Manny Machado, and tries to find out if all those doubles he is hitting this year will turn into future home runs.  Head over to Camden Depot and check it out, along with all the other great analysis they do.

Direct Link to the Post –> Manny Machado and Turning Present Doubles into Future Home Runs

The Futility of Mock Drafts

Posted in Draft, Prospects, Rule 4 with tags , , on June 8, 2013 by oriolesprovingground

Last night, Major League Baseball held the first 2 rounds of its first year player draft and the Orioles selected high school left-handed pitcher Hunter Harvey with their first round pick (#22 overall).  Now, I’m not going to pretend that I know anything special about any of these amateur players, because I haven’t seen any of them play on video, let alone in person.  The only thing I know about the players drafted last night is based on what I saw about them in the many articles I read leading up to the draft.  From what I have seen, Harvey projects as a potential ace, but has questions regarding his arm action and his ability to throw an effective third pitch, which makes him a future relief pitcher to some evaluators.

Was it a good pick?  Well, Baseball America had Harvey ranked as the #33 prospect in the draft, while Keith Law of ESPN had him as his #24 prospect.  Based on this, he probably went about where he was expected to go.  But did any of the many mock drafts from various (extremely well qualified in my opinion) baseball analysts predict that Harvey would be selected by the Orioles?  Yes, actually.  Keith Law predicted that the Orioles would select Harvey, however, none of the other analysts predicted that result (Baseball Prospectus, Baseball America, and Jonathan Mayo of  I think the fact that even one of them got it is amazing.  I imagine for the writers that putting mock drafts together are extremely difficult and time consuming, only to get almost all of it wrong.  Based on this I thought it would be fun to see just how wrong Keith Law’s mock draft would end up (maybe fun is the wrong word, let’s change that to “interesting”).

Before going into this, I would like to mention that Keith Law is one of my favorite baseball writers, and I view him as being one of the most intelligent and thoughtful analysts in the sport.  Basically, if he can’t get a mock draft right, then no one can.

So first, let’s look at how Law did, pick for pick. Overall, Law correctly picked 7 out of 33 players correctly in the first round.  That’s 21%.  With regards to both Pittsburgh and Texas (who both had 2 first round picks), he correctly predicted a player they picked, but at the other selection (for example, Law predicted Reese McGuire would go to the Pirates at #9, but instead, the Pirates selected McGuire at #14).  So we’ll give him partial credit for that.  Additionally, Law was mostly correct in the names that would go in the first round, regardless of team, as only 6 players he projected to be picked in the first round were not selected (mostly at the back end).  Overall, I thought this was pretty impressive, given the extremely fluid nature of the draft.

Additionally, for the first time (at least I don’t remember them doing it for baseball before), ESPN rolled out a draft simulator based on Law’s final mock draft.  Basically, the user could plug any potential player into any draft spot, and (based on the Law’s mock and different scenarios) it would predict how the remaining picks would pan out.  I decided to keep track of how many times I would have to change this, with the logic being that as the draft proceeded, the less the simulation would change because of the increased information of what had already taken place (I really hope this isn’t confusing).  Anyway, I had to change the simulator a total of 21 times, meaning the total number of correct picks throughout the draft was slightly better than Law’s mock draft (36%), but not as much as I thought it would be.  Interestingly enough, I had to change the simulation for the Orioles pick, since based on what had already happened, the simulation no longer thought Baltimore would take Harvey.

So if a mock draft has no chance to be even close to right, why even read them?  Because they’re fun to read.  They give us a head start on who our favorite team may pick and provide encouragement to learn more about that player (or players).  For a second, it allows us to get drawn into those players’ overwhelming potential and visualize them becoming a once in a generation talent who will wear your favorite teams colors for their entire career, even though in the back of your mind, you know there’s a strong likelihood he won’t be drafted by your team and may never even make it to the major leagues.  Maybe that’s just me, but I hope Keith Law and the other writers continue producing mock drafts every year, knowing full well that there’s no chance they will ever come close to being right.

Orioles Draft Retrospective: 2012 and Conclusions

Posted in Draft, Prospects, Rule 4 with tags , on June 6, 2013 by oriolesprovingground


Using advanced mathematics, I’ve determined that the 2012 draft happened only one year ago, and similar to the 2011 draft, it is way too soon to grade the Orioles on it.  And you may already know this, but the Orioles used their first round pick on…

1-4 – Kevin Gausman (RHP) from Louisiana State University

So far this looks like it was an excellent pick by the Orioles.  Gausman has already made his major league debut (after only 61.1 minor league innings) and his stuff looks filthy, even if his results don’t quite match up yet (we took a look at his debut a week ago or so).  He was the Orioles #2 ranked prospect in 2013 behind Dylan Bundy and was ranked #13 overall by Baseball Prospectus.  Scouts project him to be a #2 starter, maybe even a #1a starter behind Bundy.

Other Baltimore picks in the 2012 draft that show up in Baseball Prospectus’ top 10 list include #8 RHP Branden Kline (selected in 2nd round), #9 SS Adrian Marin (selected in 3rd round), and #10 LHP Josh Hader (selected in 19th round).  Again, these players are not close to helping the big league club, so there is plenty of time for them to improve, fail, or be passed on the list by other members of the draft class.

There are a lot of interesting prospects who were taken after Gausman, and it’s too soon to say if this was the absolute best pick.  However, it’s hard to argue with it, when you consider Gausman’s projected ceiling along with the fact that he was the first player drafted in the first round to reach the big leagues.


Here is the total list of players from the 2000-2012 drafts who have contributed positive WAR (according to Fangraphs) on Baltimore’s major league club.

Orioles Draft Picks

The WAR in the table only includes players who contributed a positive WAR.  Draftees producing a negative WAR for the Orioles were not included (for example, Xavier Avery contributed -0.2 WAR last year), so the cumulative WAR the Orioles received from their draft picks since 2000 is going to be lower than 63.8.  I have not looked at the wins above replacement accumulated by other teams from the draft during the same period, but 63.8 seems really low and I’d be shocked if it didn’t rank towards the bottom of the league.  Some points of observation before we wrap this up.

  1. Selecting the right player in the MLB Rule 4 draft is a very difficult job
  2. Having said that, with the exception of Nick Markakis and Matt Wieters, the Orioles chose poorly, especially with regards to their first round selections from 2000-2009
  3. All 13 first round picks were in the top 15, 11 were in the top 10, and 7 were in the top 5.  To get such little production out of so many high draft picks is almost impressive (like when your dog eats a whole wheel of cheese and poops in the fridge, you don’t even get mad, because it’s amazing).  It reminds me of a physics test I took in high school where I got all 10 True/False questions wrong.  Maybe both of us would have been better off just guessing.
  4. Drafting well is not the only way to build a winning team.  Trades, free agency, international free agents, waiver claims, Rule 5 Draft picks, etc. also need to be successful.  However, it is an important aspect to building a winning team both directly and indirectly (as draft picks can be used to bring major league talent through trades), and looking at that list does a lot to explain the absence of winning baseball in Baltimore between 1997 and 2012.
  5. Two things are needed to help make a draft pick successful: good scouting to ensure that the right pick is made and good player development to make sure that pick develops into a quality major leaguer.  It is near impossible to differentiate who is responsible for a prospect’s success or failure, and many times both departments deserve credit/blame.
  6. Sometimes stuff happens to these prospects and there is no one to blame but bad luck.  Players get hurt, don’t progress, or sometimes weren’t that good in the first place.

This whole exercise was informative and kind of depressing, but let’s end on a positive note.  In the last three years, the Orioles appear to have used their first round picks on potential stars who could help the team for years to come.  Additionally, Baltimore’s first pick in the 2013 draft is all the way back at #22, the latest they’ve picked since 1998, which is good news, since it means that they won a lot of games the previous year.

Until next time, happy draft watching!

Orioles Draft Retrospective: 2008-2011

Posted in Draft, Prospects, Rule 4 with tags , , , , , , , , on June 5, 2013 by oriolesprovingground


I know that the previous posts looking at Baltimore’s first round draft picks may have been a little depressing, but I’m sure you already know that things start looking up in 2008.

1-4 – Brian Matusz (LHP) from University of San Diego

Well, kind of looking up in 2008.  Another Baltimore pitcher drafted that was a top prospect with high expectations, Matusz hasn’t exactly lived up to them.  He looked like a promising starter in 2009 and 2010, but struggled in 2011 and 2012 before moving to the bullpen late last year.  While every team needs a good left-handed reliever, I don’t think that’s what teams are looking to get when they have the 4th overall pick in the draft.

Xavier Avery (2nd round) and L.J. Hoes (3rd round) were both selected in this draft as well.  Both have been ranked as top ten prospects for Baltimore (Hoes was the #7 Orioles prospect prior to the 2013 season, while Avery last appeared prior to 2011 at #4 according to Baseball Prospectus) and each have spent limited time with the major league club.  Unfortunately, it appears no one else from that draft will provide an impact for Baltimore.  Additionally, both Hoes and Avery have ceilings of 4th outfielders.

Buster Posey was selected by the Giants immediately following Baltimore’s pick of Matusz, and to date, he is easily the best player to come out of that first round.  Although, other than win NL Rookie of the Year (2010) and the NL MVP (2012), while leading the Giants to 2 World Series championships in 2 of 3 years, he hasn’t done much.


If only we could pretend like the 2009 draft never happened.  Baltimore had another high pick and thought it wise to use it on…

1-5 – Matthew Hobgood (RHP) from Norco HS (Norco, CA)

From what I found, this pick was generally viewed as an overdraft by the rest of the league at the time, but as a big, sturdy guy (i.e., chunky), Hobgood would be able to eat up some innings as a starting pitcher.  A description from the 2011 Baseball Prospectus Annual did not inspire confidence, and his results leading up to a 2011 shoulder injury didn’t inspire it either.  After sitting out all of 2012, Hobgood has returned to Low-A this year as a reliever (posting good results to date) and has a chance to provide some value in the future in that role.  However, as mentioned before (COUGH, Brian Matusz, COUGH), no one HOPES to draft a future reliever with the 5th overall pick.

Some of the players drafted after Hobgood include Zack Wheeler at #6 (#5 overall prospect ranked by Baseball Prospectus in 2013), Mike Minor at #7, and Shelby Miller at #19.  However, Baltimore (along with 21 other teams) are probably wishing they could re-do this draft and select Mike Trout, who has already accumulated 13.7 WAR in just 237 games.

No one from Baltimore’s 2009 draft has reached the big leagues, and no one is a Baseball Prospectus top 10 prospect either, so let’s just move on to the 2010 draft.


Hopefully you’ve stuck around this far, because 2010 is when it starts to get good.

1-3 – Manny Machado (SS) from Brito Miami Private School (Miami, FL)

Ummm, this was a nice pick.  I was fortunate enough to watch Machado play a lot last year while I worked for the Orioles, videotaping at AA Bowie.  It was obvious he had the tools and make-up to become an all-star caliber player.  Although I did not think he would find so much success offensively this quickly (I am happy to be proven wrong).  A lot has been written recently about how good Machado is, and it’s difficult to disagree.  It’s early, but he is currently on the short list of MVP candidates, with the 4th highest WAR to date (3.1) in all of baseball.  Oh, and he’s not even old enough to drink yet.

The rest of the draft doesn’t look like it went so well, as no one else has reached the majors.  No one is populating the Baseball Prospectus top 10 prospect list either.  It’s still early for this draft class though, so there’s time for potential impact players to help the big league club.

Matt Harvey and Chris Sale were selected after Machado, as well as some interesting prospects still in the minor leagues, but I’d rather have Machado.


It’s still very difficult to consider the 2011 draft as a success or failure, due to the time needed for draft picks to develop.  But the 2011 selection of Dylan Bundy looks like a strong first round pick.

1-4 – Dylan Bundy (RHP) from Owasso HS (Owasso, OK)

There were reports at the time of this draft that many scouts believed Bundy was good enough to jump straight to the major leagues from high school.  And while I am no scout, after seeing him pitch in Bowie last year, I don’t think that assessment was too far removed from reality.  Bundy has an impressive arsenal of pitches, as well as great command and maturity on and off the field.  Some elbow issues at the beginning of the year has kept him from pitching so far in 2013, but if he’s healthy, he has the ceiling of an ace and probably the floor of a #2 starter.  He was Baltimore’s #1 prospect in 2013 according to basically every prospect list, and ranked #4 overall by Baseball Prospectus.

Two other 2011 draftees show up in the current Orioles top 10 prospect list, including #5 RHP Mike Wright (3rd round) and #6 3B Nick Delmonico (6th round).

Right now, Bundy looks like the best selection the Orioles could have made in this draft, but it’s far too soon to definitively say that.

Orioles Draft Retrospective: 2004-2007

Posted in Draft, Prospects, Rule 4 with tags , , , , , , , on June 4, 2013 by oriolesprovingground


After a strong first round pick in the 2003 draft, the Orioles followed up by using their 2004 first round pick on…

1-8 – Wade Townsend (RHP) from Rice University

…and failed to sign him.  This actually didn’t turn out to be a big deal, as Townsend was drafted at #9 overall in 2005 by Tampa Bay and never made it higher than AA in 2008.  In addition, Baltimore did get a compensation pick the following year for not signing Townsend.  While they did not miss out on a future hall of famer, they did pass on quite a few impact talents (including Neil Walker, Billy Butler, and Stephen Drew), most notably Jered Weaver, who was selected by the Angels at #12 and has accumulated 28.3 WAR in his career to date, most of any player in the first round drafted after Townsend.

Brad Bergesen was the only other player to contribute a positive value to the Orioles (in terms of WAR) out of the 2004 draft.


As mentioned above, the Orioles had a compensation pick for failing to sign Wade Townsend the previous year, giving them two first round picks in 2005.

1-13 – Brandon Snyder (C) from Westfield HS (Westfield, VA)

1-48 – Garrett Olson (LHP) from California Polytechnic State University

Neither one of these 2005 first round picks made much of an impact, but both did make it to the major leagues, so compared to most of the years discussed so far, things were looking up!  Snyder compiled a total of 106 PA’s in the majors, with 37 of them coming with the Orioles between 2010 and 2011 (the others with Texas in 2012).  He is currently playing for the Red Sox AAA affiliate.  Olsen, meanwhile, stuck around in the majors a little longer, though with worse results.  He’s pitched almost 300 innings in the big leagues (about half with Baltimore in 2007 and 2008), and has a career ERA of 6.26.  He appears to be no longer playing baseball for a living.

Baltimore selected Nolan Reimold in the 2nd round of the 2005 draft, but due to his multitude of injuries, it can be argued that David Hernandez has been the most valuable player selected by the Orioles in 2005 (13th round), since he was part of the trade to acquire Mark Reynolds.

The first round of the 2005 draft was full of major league stars (seriously, click HERE to see who was drafted that year in the 1st round), but the majority of those players selected were off the board when Baltimore came up to pick.  That doesn’t mean they made the best selection though as they left Jacoby Ellsbury, Matt Garza, and Clay Buchholz on the board.


Once again, the Orioles found themselves with two first round draft picks (pick #32 as a result of losing B.J. Ryan in free agency), and once again, they managed to accomplish very little with both of them.

1-9 – Billy Rowell (3B) from Bishop Eustace Preparatory School (Pennsauken, NJ)

1-32 – Pedro Beato (RHP) from St. Petersburg College

It’s starting to become a little more clear as to why the Orioles 2012 trip to the playoffs was their first one since 1997, as another 1st round pick, this time Billy Rowell never set foot on a major league baseball field, topping out in AA in 2011 (and not playing since).  Beato has made it to the major leagues, but not for the Orioles, as he was selected by the Mets in the 2010 Rule 5 Draft.  He hasn’t done much with his time in MLB though, with a 4.67 career ERA in 79 innings.  He is currently pitching for the Red Sox AAA affiliate.

Two players available when the Orioles made their first selection were Tim Lincecum and Max Scherzer, selected by the Giants and Diamondbacks (respectively) immediately following Baltimore’s pick of Rowell.

As of now, it looks like the best pick to come out of this draft may be Zach Britton, who was selected in the Round 3.  Once a top prospect, Britton has been disappointing to date, but still has enough potential to possibly become a mid-rotation starter.


In the 2007 draft, we finally get a little bit of good news.  The Orioles only had one pick in the first round, but used it wisely on…

1-5 – Matt Wieters (C) from Georgia Institute of Technology

Wieters has been the dependable Orioles backstop since 2009.  He may not have lived up to the high offensive expectations put on him when drafted (at least not yet), but it would be difficult to argue that this was a bad selection, as Wieters has been good offensively, great defensivly (2 gold gloves), and excellent in his durability, (tied for 1st in games caught from 2010-2012).  He has accumulated 13.0 WAR to date, all for Baltimore.

Baltimore really could not have done any better with this pick, although one could make the argument that Jason Heyward would have been a better selection (12.8 career WAR to date). Heyward is younger by 3 years, and probably has more potential at this point, but finding an all-star caliber catcher is usually more difficult than finding an all-star caliber right fielder, so it’s safe to say the Orioles shouldn’t regret this pick.

The Orioles also selected Jake Arrieta in Round 5 (we’ve already covered some of his issues previously), but no one else of significance has contributed to the big league club.  And since that draft was now 6 years ago, it’s slim that anyone else will.  Since I don’t want to end on a down note, here’s a fun fact…Baltimore actually drafted Seattle Seahawks QB Russell Wilson in the 41st round of the 2007 draft…he didn’t sign.