2012 Fish Watch: Baltimore Orioles – 7/27 Update

The first thing you need to know about The Fish Watch is that it’s not a list of sleepers. It is instead a list of players at various points in their respective minor league journeys that for one reason or another have piqued my interest enough that I am watching their development more closely than the bulk of prospects out there. To read more about this project, check out the introduction and master list.

This is the second round of updates in this series so I will not rehash why each player made my list but you can always go back and read previous installments of the series. While doing the installments by division worked the first time around, I’m going to go team-by-team from this point forward.

The Oriole Bird implores the heavens for success (Photo Credit: Derick E. Hingle-US PRESSWIRE)

Baltimore Orioles (S2S 2012 Orioles Team Prospect List)

3B – Jason Esposito (21) – Orioles 2011 2nd Round Pick

2011 – Vanderbilt University
2012 – Delmarva (A): 0.223/.278/.293, 12 2B, 1 3B, 4 HR, 8 SB, 22 BB and 84 SO in 400 PA

Notes – The first time I checked in on Esposito for this series – back on May 25th – he was hitting 0.259/.340/.335. If you piece things together from that tidbit and his overall 2012 stat line above you can surmise with a great deal of accuracy how things have gone for him in the last two months.

I’d like to say he’s shown some improvement lately but that simply isn’t the case. After hitting 0.242/.276/.352 in June, he’s stumbled to an “oh my god what happened” level of 0.182/.210/.211 so far during July. His BB% has steadily degraded from 12.1% in April to 5.1% in May, 3.1% in June and 1.2% on the back of just 1 walk in 81 plate appearances so far this month. There simply aren’t any positives to be derived from his splits so far this season and the underlying problems may go beyond just being in a slump.

In college many evaluators speculated that Esposito would struggle against pitchers in the professional ranks given that he had trouble handling good velocity while at Vanderbilt. So far at least that speculation has proven to be spot on. Their young 3B prospect is in desperate need of some adjustments to his swing, approach or both at this point. A change of scenery to short-season Aberdeen might also be a good idea in an attempt to rebuild things and get his bat and confidence on track.

RHP – Bobby Bundy (22) – Orioles 2008 8th Round Pick

2011 – Frederick (A+)/Bowie: 3.51 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 127 H, 42 BB and 113 SO in 136.0 IP
2012 – Bowie (AA): 6.25 ERA, 1.65 WHIP, 98 H, 35 BB and 64 SO in 80.2 IP

Notes – Simply put, the Eastern League has not been kind to the elder Bundy. Last season in his time there he allowed 25 H, 11 BB and 16 ER in 15.0 innings. As you can see from the above stat line, he’s been better this season but has still struggled to limit hits and baserunners in general.

May was Bundy’s best month of work having allowed just 22 H and 7 BB in 27.1 innings. It stands as the only month this season that he’s allowed fewer hits than innings pitched and his 2.30 BB/9 for the month was by far the best in 2012.

Of course, things aren’t as grim as his 2012 stats may suggest. While he has definitely struggled this season, things are skewed by two July starts that resulted in 15 hits and 15 earned runs in a meager 3.2 innings. Shortly after his last outing on July 8th Bundy was placed on the 7-day Disabled List with the dreaded diagnosis of elbow soreness.

The soreness turned out to be the result of bone spurs and not an indicator of more significant ligament damage. He is out for the season, and the expectation is that he will have surgery to clean out his elbow. If he undergoes the procedure he should be healthy, rested and ready to go when the 2013 season gets underway.

C – Gabriel Lino (19) – Signed out of Venezuela as a NDFA on December 14th, 2009

Notes – Lino was traded along with RHP Kyle Simon to the Phillies in exchange for Jim Thome on June 30th. Since the O’s young catcher is no longer in the organization I need to select a Fish Watch replacement for him.

2B – Ty Kelly (24) – Orioles 2009 13th Round Pick

Reasoning – Speaking of Lino’s replacement, I’d like to introduce Ty Kelly. He makes this list because he appears to have taken a major step forward this season after two decent but unspectacular seasons with Delmarva.

2011 – Delmarva: 0.274/.369/.328, 13 2B, 0 3B, 4 HR, 11 SB, 67 BB and 63 SO in 534 PA
2012 – Norfolk/Frederick/Bowie: 0.338/.444/.485, 19 2B, 0 3B, 10 HR, 3 SB, 62 BB and 48 SO in 403 PA

Notes – Kelly has bounced around quite a bit this season. He started the season with Frederick and from there was bumped all the way up to Triple-A Norfolk where he debuted on May 13th. He stayed with the Tides for about two weeks and was back with the Keys on the 27th. The FSL remained his home for all of June but in July he was again on the move, this time making his Double-A debut with Bowie on July 17th.

Not surprisingly he’s been at his best statistically in his time with Frederick, but he held his own with Norfolk hitting 0.270/.350/.389 in 40 PA. Since joining the Baysox he’s hit 0.343/.410/.371 in 39 PA but has not yet shown the pop in his bat that led to 17 2B and 9 HR in his time (76 G) with Frederick.

Kelly’s plate discipline has always been his biggest strength and Baseball America ranked him as the best in the O’s system in that regard during the past offseason. It’s his approach and discipline that have helped him adapt quickly to the various levels of competition he’s faced this season and make him a viable prospect to keep tabs on in the coming months and years.

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For more on the Baltimore Orioles, check out Birds Watcher

Topics: Baltimore Orioles, Bobby Bundy, Bowie Baysox, Delmarva Shorebirds, Frederick Keys, Gabriel Lino, Jason Esposito, Ty Kelly

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