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Player Scouting, Baseball Mechanics, and Sabermetric Analysis Combined into One

Saturday, December 20, 2008 | By Alex Eisenberg

Baltimore Orioles Top-15 Prospects of 2009: No's 1 - 5

For an overview of the process I use to grade players, the factors I use to determine where a player ranks, and other frequently asked questions, please click here. All grades are subject to change based on any new information I receive before the season starts. If you disagree, you can make your case by contacting me.

You can find a full listing of each team's top prospect list in the Top Prospects of 2009 Archive Page. Also, each team will have their Team Page published when their top prospect list becomes available. Team pages include team rosters, stats, payroll and front office information, past Baseball-Intellect articles related to that team, and links to some of the team's best fan sites. We venture into the AL East and begin with the Baltimore Orioles...

1. Matt Wieters | C | B - B | Double-A Bowie | Age - 22 | Drafted - Round 1 (5), 2007

Player Grades

Contact - 55 Now | 65 Future

Power - 50 | 60

Discipline - 60 | 70

Speed - 35 | 30

Defense - 50 | 60

Arm - 60 | 60

Instincts - 55 | 60

Final Grade - A

Body Type - Big player (6-foot-5, 220 pounds), an OK athlete, not a great runner

Scouting Report

I'll go ahead and say, I will be disappointed if Wieters doesn't have a hall-of-fame career. Wieters has few weaknesses–he hits for average and power, gets on base, he's difficult to strike out. His biggest weakness is as a runner. He has yet to experience failure at any level of his career.

Blessed with superior hand-eye coordination…excellent pitch recognition skills and has an uncanny ability to put the sweet part of the bat on the ball.

Matt Wieters

Notice in the clip above how he keeps the bat connected to his body–as his body moves forward, the bat is brought along with it--this is how Wieters maintains a short swing.  

When the bat disconnects from the body, the player is making their swing longer.  A player with a long swing may be able to hit for huge power, but they also can struggle to make contact.  They have to start their swing earlier than others because the bat has a longer distance to travel.

For Wieters, he keeps his swing short, but still generates the bat speed to hit for big power.  It's a blend of bat speed and quickness. This is a quality possessed by elite hitters.

I’ve talked about scap loading and the same concept applies for hitters. You see Weiters’ elbow disappear behind his back and at foot plant, his upper body is uncoiled bringing the bat with it…he’s able to generate tremendous torque. In the below clip, I pause the frame in which you can really see that torque is generated:


The bat head stays in the strike zone and the ball jumps off the ball…one problem is the tendency to leak, meaning he’s still moving forward at foot plant, but this is mostly limited to his left side.

Defense - plus arm, gets into comfortable position behind the plate despite height, still working on pitch calling and the nuances of the position

Best Case Outcome - Hall-of-Fame

More Likely Outcome - All-Star candidate year-in and year-out

2. Brian Matusz | LHP | N/A | Age - 22 | Drafted - Round 1 (4), 2008

Player Grades

Fastball - 45 Now | 50 Future

Curveball - 60 | 60

Slider - 50 | 55

Change-Up - 55 | 55

Control - 55 | 55

Command - 50 | 55

Pitchability - 55 | 60

Final Grade - B+

I completed a scouting report on Brian Matusz earlier in the year and as noted in the piece, I warmed up to him as the year went on.

I originally had Tillman ahead of Matusz, but when thinking about it, Matusz has the extra breaking pitch, and the better change-up. Plus, he doesn't really have to fix any command issues like Tillman will. The fastball, youth, and more professional experience shouldn't be what keeps Tillman rated higher than I made the switch. Tillman is still somebody, at only 20 years old, just explode and all of a sudden become a No. 1 guy, but that doesn't happen very often.

Either way, both are very strong prospects.

Best Case Outcome - Strong No. 2 starter

More Likely Outcome - Strong No. 3 worst, he would be an excellent arm out of the bullpen




3. Chris Tillman | RHP | Double-A Bowie | Age - 21 | Drafted - Round 2 (49), 2006

Player Grades

Fastball - 50 Now | 55 Future

Curveball - 55 | 60

Change-Up - 40 | 50

Control - 40 | 50

Command - 45 | 50/55

Pitchability - 40 | 55

Final Grade - B+

Body Type - Pojectable, lanky, tall (6-foot-5), and durable


Fastball - sits between 91 and 95...I have a feeling there's more left in the tank since his wind-up is fairly slow, but it's deceptive--it's hard to pick up out of his hands...the pitch has good late life. He'll throw a 2-seamer to generate ground balls when he needs them.

Curveball - true plus pitch...thrown in the mid-70's and complements his fastball well

Change-Up - still developing the pitch, but it projects to be major league average

Scouting Report

Excellent strikeout components...control is still inconsistent, but improving...not an extreme groundbal/flyball pitcher. He's difficult to center the ball against. He'll need to work on his stamina and be more efficient with his pitch counts.

Mechanics - He's deceptive, a bit long in his arm action...a little slower than I like in terms of tempo

One thing he's changed since high school is the incorporation of a bigger tilt of the shoulders. See if you can notice the difference in the below clips (high school is on the left, 2008 is on the right):


In 2008, his glove-side arm is raised high in the air and the upperbody is tilted's a way for pitchers to lead with their hips and maintain balance.

At foot plant, the glove arm is pulled down, which causes the throwing arm to pull up. Essentially, it's glove arm up, throwing arm down, glove arm down, throwing arm up...sort of like a see-saw. One of the benefits here is it makes the ball very difficult to pick up out of his hands. Notice how the ball doesn't appear until the very last second and take note of the late reaction by the hitter on Tillman's fastball:


Best Case Outcome - No. 2 starter...given his age, he has a chance to make a leap to No. 1 starter level, but it's a major long shot

More Likely Outcome - No. 3 starter

4. Jake Arrieta | RHP | A+ Frederick | Age - 23 | Drafted - Round 5, 2007

Player Grades

Fastball - 55 Now | 60 Future

Slider - 45 | 50/55

Curveball - 40 | 45

Change-Up - 45 | 50

Control - 40 | 45

Command - 40 | 50

Pitchability - 45 | 55

Final Grade - B+/B

Check back later for a more in-depth take on Arrieta.










5. Nolan Reimold | OF | B - R | Double-A Bowie | Age - 25 | Drafted - Round 2 (61), 2005

*Updated 12/21 - Updated Grade from B- to B-/B--no reason for the change, just something I went back-and-forth with and I forgot to change my original grade when I published the article

Player Grades

Contact - 40 Now | 45 Future

Power - 55 | 60

Discipline - 45 | 50

Speed - 45 | 45

Defense - 45 | 50

Arm - 55 | 55

Instincts - 40 | 50

Final Grade - B-/B

Body Type - Strong and athletic

Scouting Report

Doesn't seem to get a lot of respect nationally, but there are a couple of reasons for this:

1. Injuries

2. Age, though one could argue he put up very good numbers at a younger age at the same level of play. The Orioles have just moved him very slowly throught the system.

3. Skills - he hits for power, he walks, he strikes out, and he's a corner outfielder (for the most part)...his skill set is usually an underappreciated one

The bottom line is Reimold is a flawed, but intriguing player. He has plus raw power, he's patient at the plate and he significantly lowered his strikeout percentage last year.

He's also incredibly streaky.

His ability to hit for average is a question mark because of his strikeouts, but also because he sometimes struggles to center the ball and this is played out by his pedestrian .314 BABIP.

Defense - His arm is strong, but his instincts are lacking. He might be able to play center field if necessary, which would significantly drive up his value, but he's mostly a corner outfielder.

Best Case Outcome - Above average corner outfielder

More Likely Outcome - Average corner outfielder...maybe a little below average. Worst case is a fourth outfielder role.

Next Up: Baltimore Orioles, Prospects 6 - 15

Also See: Baltimore Orioles Team Page

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