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October 6, 2011

Legends of the fall

OK, so the headline’s a little — or a lot — much.

Arizona Fall League play started Tuesday, and while the Orioles are represented by some recognizable names, we’re not talking about Manny Machado and Dylan Bundy here. Or super prospects Bryce Harper of the Washington Nationals and Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels, who are both on the roster of the Scottsdale Scorpions.

The Orioles sent seven players west: right-handed pitchers Sean Gleason and Steve Johnson; lefties Casey Lambert and Cole McCurry; catcher Brian Ward; first baseman Joe Mahoney; and outfielder Xavier Avery, who was ranked the club's No. 3 prospect by Baseball America. Not one of those guys was ranked among the club’s top 10 prospects by Baseball America last offseason (though Avery, once a top college football recruit, was chosen as the organization’s best athlete).

All seven are playing for the Mesa Solar Sox (before you ask, I have no idea what a Solar Sock is), who have lost both their games — 12-8 to the Phoenix Desert Dogs on Tuesday and 10-4 to Phoenix yesterday.

Of the Orioles’ seven representatives, only Avery has seen the field in AFL play so far, but here’s a look at what each player did this past regular season.

Posted by Steve Gould at 6:00 AM | | Comments (12)



Why would the O's send suspects and not prospects to the AFL?

There was a mention that Showalter was urging several current O's major league players to go to Sarasota after the season. Who is going and what are they working on?

What players from the O's organization are going to play winter ball?



From Dan: Matt Angle went to Sarasota to work on playing second base with Bobby Dickerson and Mike Bordick. There was talk about maybe sending Chris Davis or even Alfredo Simon there, but that didn't happen (Davis, for instance, was scheduled to have sports hernia surgery). As for suspects and not prospects, most of the "prospects" went to instructional league and are pretty raw. Don't know specifics on winter ball yet.

I just finished reading something that Kevin Cowherd wrote . This is why the Orioles are where they are . How dumb can you be Sr. The Oriole's are in the best shape they have been in years .
Take a look of the people in the Hall of fame , and how the started . Shut up about this man . It's people like you is why we are where we are . What makes you think it can be done over night . When it took all this time to get where we are .Let the baseball people that know what they are doing alone . PLEASE !!! Write about something you know about .
Curt S.S. Md

Baseball America actually had Avery ranked as the third best prospect in the organization before this season (in addition to best athlete). It's highly unlikely he will remain near the top of the next rankings after a mediocre season, but he'll probably still sneak his way into the bottom of the top 10.

Actually, Baseball America listed Avery as the Orioles 3rd best prospect.
It's likely that different teams use the AFL for different purposes. Looking at the pitchers, I suspect the Orioles chose Johnson, Gleason and McCurry to help decide whether to include them on the 40-man roster before the Rule 5 draft. All three had rather good strikeout to innings pitched ratios, a good sign for a reliever especially. Lambert was injured all season. I think they opted to give the top pitching prospects rest and recovery time.

Actually Avery was #3 on last year's rankings:

1. Manny Machado, ss
2. Zach Britton, lhp
3. Xavier Avery, of
4. L.J. Hoes, 2b
5. Dan Klein, rhp
6. Wynn Pelzer, rhp
7. Mychal Givens, ss
8. Ryan Adams, 2b/3b
9. Ryan Berry, rhp
10. Jonathan Schoop, ss

I am no scout. But I get to attend several Delmarva games each year and I usually sit right behind home plate (great vantage point). When Sean Gleason pitched, I thought that my life was in danger. That guy can throw HARD. I hope that he keeps moving up...

Tough time to be a Baltimore baseball reporter, huh?

Is the AFL for prospects or for organizational types? I would be curious what BA would say about the pack of prospects the Oriols are bringing to the mix...


Usually top type prospects now. But ones that are closing in on the majors. Double-A types

What is the story with Lambert? Why did he not pitch last year, and why was he sent to the AFL?

Also, any word on why some of the more highly touted prospects (Machado, Schoop, Givens) were not sent?

Hi Steve,

Sorry, my question wasn't really a question, more of a commentary on the "prospects" the Orioles are sending to Arizona. I mean, it seems like a pretty pathetic group to me. Avery is the only real prospect of the bunch but only because of his age versus his competition, and his OPS in Bowie was pretty terrible this year...

For anyone who actually reads my posts, this serves as an addendum for Roand Hemond who is credited with the original idea for the Arizona Fall League, an off-season developmental league owned and operated by Major League Baseball, featuring the top prospects from each of the MLB teams, with all games played in the spring training stadiums in and around Phoenix, Arizona.

Curt, all I can say is, "Huh?"

I won't ask what a Solar Sock is if you don't ask me what a Bay Sock is. I always thought our AA team should have been the Bowie Buoys anyway. Cue The Kingsmen ...

Curt -

When did anyone ever ask for an overnight turnaround? I don't remember that.

What I do remember is that Andy MacPhail was hired in 2007, right after the June draft. Four and a half years, four drafts, a few solid trades and a load of ugly contracts for over-the-hill mediocre power hitters and bad middle relievers later, the O's are coming off their fourth straight 93+ loss season under the MacPhail regime.

And what's the hope for next year? This team will go into 2012 with the same starting rotation it had in 2011. Jeremy Guthrie is solid and Zach Britton's a nice young pitcher, but that's about it. Brian Matusz is a trainwreck, Jake Arrieta's coming off a major surgery, and the rest of the options are question marks at best.

And the holes are the same on the offensive side as well. No first baseman, no second baseman, no third baseman, no left fielder, no DH. Sure, I guess Mark Reynolds fits into one of those roles, but he's a square peg in a round hole at best. Home runs are nice and I don't freak out about strikeouts as much as most people around here, but when you're striking out 200 times, you've got to at least hit .250 to make up for it.

Think about it, Curt. We're asking ourselves the same questions we were asking ourselves in 2007. Has there really been any progress? When we're asking the same questions four years later, I don't see how that's possible.

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About the bloggers
A Baltimore native, Dan Connolly has been covering sports for 14 years, and baseball and the Orioles for 10 seasons, including the past six with The Sun. His first year covering baseball on a daily basis was Cal Ripken Jr.'s final season as a player. It's believed that is just a coincidence.

Steve Gould is an assistant sports editor for The Sun, overseeing Orioles coverage. The Columbia native joined The Sun as a sports copy editor in 2006 after graduating from the University of Maryland.

Peter Schmuck has been covering baseball for a lot longer than Steve Gould has been on this earth. He is now a general sports columnist, but has been a beat writer covering three major league teams (the Dodgers, Angels and Orioles) and also spent a decade as the Sun's national baseball writer. If you want more of his insight on the Orioles and other sports issues, check out his personal blog -- The Schmuck Stops Here.

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