Which Prospects Might Get Call-up To Orioles In 2013?Posted on March 13, 2013
By Paul Folkemer
In the February issue of PressBox, we profiled several non-roster invitees who could contribute to the Orioles in 2013. This month, we'll turn our attention to active members of the 40-man roster who likely won't make the cut on Opening Day, but could receive playing time later this season.
Jonathan Schoop, 2B: Schoop, the Orioles' top position prospect, isn't the most major league-ready player in the Orioles' system, but potentially has the highest ceiling. Schoop, 21, is an above-average defender at multiple infield positions, and he's shown promise offensively. Some scouts expect that he'll develop more power as he fills out and gains strength. Schoop will likely spend most or all of the year in the minors, but if the Orioles are unable to stabilize the second base position, it's possible Schoop could earn a second-half call-up à la Manny Machado in 2012. With any luck, O's fans will be talking about Schoop for years to come. And when they do, remember, his last name is pronounced "Scope."
Xavier Avery, OF: Avery, in contrast with Schoop, is close to the majors, but has limited upside. Avery, 23, made his major league debut in 2012 and appeared in 32 games for the Orioles. He got off to a hot start, with 10 hits during his first 32 at bats, before the league caught up to him. After that, he shuttled between Baltimore and Triple-A Norfolk and struggled at both stops. Avery provides speed and defense, which could make him a useful fourth or fifth outfielder for the Orioles, but his bat hasn't developed enough for him to be a long-term solution in the big leagues.
L.J. Hoes, OF: Another 23-year-old, Hoes doesn't have as much speed or fielding prowess as Avery, but has been more productive offensively. Hoes is a line-drive hitter with a good batting eye, who has posted a career minor league on-base percentage of .358. If Hoes can transfer his skills to the majors, he could be a useful fit in an Orioles lineup that sometimes struggles to get on base. Look f or him to get a tryout if a corner outfield position opens up for the Birds.
Luis Exposito, C: The Orioles haven't needed to use many catchers during the last few years. With Matt Wieters starting the lion's share of games, the O's don't need another catcher to do much more than start once per week and lead cheers from the bench. Exposito, a defensive specialist, will likely begin the season at Norfolk, but he is next on the depth chart if injury-prone backup catcher Taylor Teagarden misses time.
Yamaico Navarro, IF: At just 25, Navarro has already appeared in the majors with three different teams, but hasn't been able to stick. His minor league track record -- which includes a .350 on-base percentage -- suggests that he might have a future as a utility infielder in the big leagues, but he'll have to wait his turn at Norfolk, at least initially.
Zach Clark, RHP: Clark has the chance to fulfill a local-kid-makes-good success story. A former player at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, Clark has toiled in the Orioles' minor league system since 2006 without receiving a big league call-up, but he put himself on the radar after a breakthrough 2012 season. He was an Eastern League All-Star for Double-A Bowie, then advanced to Norfolk and went 5-2 with a 1.75 ERA to end the season, earning himself a spot on the Orioles' 40-man roster. Clark's big league dreams may come true at age 29 in 2013.
Mike Belfiore, LHP: Belfiore is a relatively new addition to the Orioles' system. The O's acquired Belfiore, a 24-year-old left-hander, from the Arizona Diamondbacks last season in exchange for failed third base prospect Josh Bell. Belfiore enjoyed a nice debut season for Bowie, posting a 2.85 ERA and striking out 50 batters during 47.1 innings. A promotion to Norfolk is likely in the cards, and perhaps an appearance in Baltimore not long after.
Todd Redmond, RHP: An even newer addition to the Orioles, Redmond was acquired off waivers from the Cincinnati Reds Feb. 8. A 27-year-old right-hander, Redmond is an experienced minor league starting pitcher, but his major league future more likely lies in the bullpen. Every year there is at least one player who continually rides the shuttle back and forth between Baltimore and Norfolk, and Redmond may be that guy this year.
The players mentioned so far seem almost certain to begin the year in the minors. A few others on the 40-man roster may or may not join them, depending on how spring training battles shake out. Infielders Danny Valencia, Russ Canzler and Ryan Flaherty are all competing -- along with several non-roster invitees -- for what may be just one available bench spot.
The well-traveled Canzler endured a chaotic journey this past winter. He was claimed on waivers four times in less than two months, moving from the Indians to the Blue Jays, back to the Indians, then to the Yankees and finally to the Orioles. He's competing for a spot as a right-handed bench bat, as is third baseman Valencia, a fellow newcomer who played for the Twins and Red Sox last season.
Flaherty, last year's Rule 5 pick, could end up as the Birds' starting second baseman if Brian Roberts isn't healthy to start the season. Otherwise, he'll probably be sent to Norfolk so he can play every day.
Let's not forget about the Orioles' impressive stable of young pitchers. Of right-handers Jake Arrieta and Steve Johnson and left-handers Zach Britton and Brian Matusz, only two (at most) figure to make the Orioles' Opening Day roster. That will leave the other two honing their craft at Norfolk, just a phone call away when a need arises on the major league club.
The Orioles' high minors will be well stocked with a mix of experienced major leaguers and useful youngsters. And to top it off, the Orioles have one more trump card up their sleeve: Dylan Bundy. At 20 years old, Bundy is ranked in most publications as the best pitching prospect in all of baseball.
He figures to begin the season at either Norfolk or Double-A Bowie, but some think he's big league-ready. If Baltimore's rotation is in need of a jolt midway through the season, don't be surprised to see Bundy get the call. Once he does, he might not play in the minor leagues again.
Issue 183: March 2013