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Which Orioles' minor leaguer will be the best big leaguer?

Well I am back. I’m not going to ask if you missed me. I can’t handle the truth.

And I am afraid to tell you I am gone again from the bar – but only physically. The entries for the next three-plus weeks will keep coming, but will be shipped in from Florida, slightly sunburned (even my words have fair skin).

That means you still have some time to fix the holes in the bar’s drywall before I start pointing fingers in person in April.

First, I want to thank Sun columnist Kevin Cowherd, who is much more comfortable passed out at a bar than tending behind it. But he did a heck of a job keeping this dive afloat for the past three weeks as our guest bartender.

I am going to have to buy him a beer or six for helping out. And that’s real beers, not the fictional ones poured in the blogging world.

Since I am in Sarasota, and spent my first day with the 2010 Orioles on Monday, I figured it’s most appropriate to talk baseball. We will get to that tournament thing later this week – I promise.

The Orioles made their first cuts on Monday, and there were no surprises. Among those jettisoned to minor leaguer camp were pitchers Luis Lebron and Brandon Erbe.

I asked manager Dave Trembley what he thought of those two – and let’s just say he gushed, talking about how the duo has everything it takes to be major leaguers one day, maybe one day soon.

It’s nice to think the Orioles still have some real prospects in the minors despite graduating so much talent last season. And it got me thinking. Who is the best Orioles’ prospect that has yet to arrive in Baltimore?

Baseball America thinks it is third baseman Josh Bell, with pitchers Zach Britton, Jake Arrieta and Matt Hobgood next in line. Also getting consideration are Brandon Snyder, Mychal Givens, Caleb Joseph and Lebron.

Here’s what I want to know: Of the current Orioles minor leaguers – ones that have not yet played in the majors – which one do you think will eventually emerge as the best big leaguer? In other words, when their careers are over, which one will be considered the jewel of this minor-league crop?

Because pitching is so unpredictable, the safe pick is a hitter like Bell or Snyder. I, however, am going with Britton; I just think he’s got the whole package, including the ability to throw with a left hand.

But I have never seen him pitch in a game of significance. And I know some of you minor league junkies have.

So let’s hear it. Get the crystal balls out and predict the future.

Pete Schmuck, my colleague and reluctant roomie for the next three weeks, says Snyder. And he’s the guy that called Wilfrido Perez as the surprise of the 2009 camp before Perez threw a pitch.

Daily Think Special: Which Orioles’ minor leaguer will be the best big leaguer?


Yo Dan.....welcome back!!

As far as your question is concerned......thats what the hell we read your column for........i dont know about the rest of your readers, but i NEVER get to see anybody down on the farm.
I do however look forward to your erudite insightful prognosis of the baby birds. about putting together a list of expectations for our prospects, and lets grade them every 30 days throughout the season. We can have a mid term grade and a final grade.
Now doesn't that sound like a bunch of fun?
This way you do all the work and we get great info on the prospects.

I know he still struggles hitting LHP, but I have to say Josh Bell. He seems to have all of the tools to succeed at the next level, especially with the power numbers he puts up. He can hold his own defensively and I fully expect him to start 2011 in the bigs, even if it's as a platoon player at first. I, along with the Orioles front office, expect big things out of the former Dodgers prospect.

Mike Flacco!

luis lebron. after a career as a closer he will have put up good numbers. saves are one of the most over-rated and over-valued statistics but it will make him seem better than the others.

Why would the dodgers give Bell up for Sherill if he was any good? Yeah,he gets lucky once and a while and launches one but he's been around a while and hasn't improved enough to be an everyday 3rd baseman.

I think Britton is about as close to a can't miss player as the O's have riht now.Although I like Lebron also.

I'm going to go with Erbe. Too many people saying too many good things while he got out major league hitters during spring training.

I'm envisioning a 2012 rotation of Matusz, Arrieta, Tillman, Erbe, and Britton. The O's haven't had this much starting pitching depth since the championship teams of 69-71.

Glad your back. Cowherd was the the complete opposite of your watered down drinks. One 7&7 and I was seeing stars.

Anyway, I'm going with Zach Britton. Saw him when he was at Aberdeen. He's left handed and he's got a good variety of pitches. He is apoor mans Brian Matusz as far as hype/expectations. He could end up as a closer too.

I agree with the first post. I rely on you guys to tell US what is out there. I have no chance.
Now that WBAL no longer carries the games, I can't even hear the O's on radio here in upstate NY, forget about seeing minor league "talent." I used to see Bowie in Colonie and the Rochester Redwings. Now I can only catch Aberdeen in Oneonta once or twice every two years, but what's the point?

Speaking of Aberdeen, whatever happened to that pitcher from a few years ago who struck out something like 11 out of 12 batters in one game?

Just Googled that pitcher: Luis Ramirez, 12 strikeouts in a row, 15 over five innings! June 24, 2004,3173043

Of course Bell is the safe choice here. He'll be a steady bat at a critical position. Snyder is good, but he won't have the bat to match the other 1Bs around the league. While pitchers are more unpredictable, I think Arrieta is going to be great. At every level, he has dominated with a low ERA, W's, and K's (over 1 per inning). And he had a good pitchers frame at 6'4", 225 lbs, plus international experience. Arrieta is the one guy I wouldn't want to face in 2012.

I've watched Erbe at Delmarva and he looked good. Everything I read says he's steadily improving so I'm going with Brandon Erbe. However, becuse pitching is so unpredictable and pitchers get hurt far more than position players I'm also giving myself a second choice of Mike Flacco. I saw him play in college and he was head and shoulders above everyone else as far as his potential and the way he carried himself.

John, you know that Josh Bell is rated as a top 40 prospect, by virtually ALL scouting services correct? So I think the consensus is that he IS good, so far. I think what should be done is praise McPhail for flipping an ok reliever for a stud prospect.

As for who I think will end up the best. Its tough, I don't think Bell will be a superstar, but he will be a well above average player. something like 285/364/503 30+ HR power. So I'm going with him.
I don't think Snyder rakes enough to be a premium 1st baseman. And I haven't seen Britton enough to comment, even though he looks good when I've seen him and the sink is legit.

Jake Arrieta. I can't believe how much the hype has been pulled back on him from last year. He's the kind of pitcher that could be a very good starter or a power closer in my eyes.

The dark horse candidate: Patton.

Don't overlook Caleb Joseph. He's been mostly ignored because we have Weiters ahead of him. His defense is pretty good and he's been an excellent hitter with decent power at each level. I think he is a great prospect. Good catchers that can hit are a rarity. He'll either help us or provide a great trade bait for something else we need.

Here's alongshot vote for Luis Lebron. While in Bowie last summer, he came in to warmup and you could hear the glove pop from the promenade. Also, showed a good changeup plus he's a lefty. He could move to the bullpen soon!!

"You can't handle the truth!!!"

Bell definitely has the live bat. But not sure that he has the mental toughness. He has weight fluctuations, and has looked unprepared when entering games this spring. He seems to get upset and frustrated very easily. Granted all of this can change with maturation.... but I question whether he brings the proper approach to make it at the next level.

I haven't seen any comments on him, but Eddie Gamboa was a long reliever that went from Delmarva to Bowie in his first minor league season with an ERA under 2.00 and absolutely no losses. I think he could pitch his way to Baltimore this season. The O's sure could use more pitching!

What I like is that there are lots of names being mentioned with legitimate shots at the big time, and at being significant players once they get there. Since somebody already mentioned Britton I can't go with him, much as I think he'll have a good career. Plenty of other good pitching prospects, though.

I think Bell will have some pop in the bigs and do okay overall. Snyder won't have the power that we'd like to have at first but I think will be a solid MLB player for a number of years. Lebron looks like he has some sizzle but it's hard to project a relief pitcher as a star. I'm going to take a flyer on another guy way down the pipeline and go with Givens. Maybe that's just my way of hoping for greatness from the organization to say that he could be better than all the really good pitchers and other position players already farther along in the system.

brandon fahey... oh wait.. im interested in seeing mychal givens progress as well as zach britton

kyle hoppy will progress as well

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