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Machado, Bundy cream of O's crop
Elite prospects increase excitement level in organization
10/05/2012 10:00 AM ET
Manny Machado hit for the cycle on Aug. 4. He joined the O's five days later.
Manny Machado hit for the cycle on Aug. 4. He joined the O's five days later. (Rinaldi Photos)
This offseason, MiLB.com is honoring the players -- regardless of age or prospect status -- who had the best seasons in their organization. We're taking a look at each team to determine the outstanding seasons in Minor League Baseball. Select a team from the dropdown below.

The Orioles saw their top prospects rise through the system in 2012, despite their respective teams missing out on silverware. The organization's .459 winning percentage ranked 28th overall, ahead of only Milwaukee (.454) and San Diego (.450).

Triple-A Norfolk posted its best record since 2005, despite setting an International League record for most players used in a season. Double-A Bowie was one win away from reaching the Eastern League Championship Series, but Class A Advanced Frederick, Class A Delmarva and short-season Aberdeen all failed to post .500 records.

Orioles Organization All-Stars

Catcher -- Caleb Joseph, Bowie (80 games), Norfolk (22 games): Joseph led all Baltimore backstops in several offensive categories, including homers (12), RBIs (55), runs scored (38) and extra-base hits (30). The 26-year-old Tennessee native, a seventh-round pick in 2008, batted .259 between Bowie and Norfolk while playing solid defense. He had a .995 fielding percentage, committing only three errors in 634 chances, and threw out 39 of 99 would-be base stealers.

"I thought Caleb Joseph had a really good year," Bowie manager Gary Kendall said. "There was sometimes a tailoff when he was the No. 1 catcher because he was catching a lot of ballgames, but that will happen when you're starting 120 of 140 games. He's a tall, wiry guy, but he was able to stay fresh and he came along as a catcher. He was very productive for us -- he really made strides."



First base -- Aaron Baker, Frederick (89 games), Bowie (two games), Aberdeen (one game): Baker spent all but three games with Frederick, his second straight season at the Class A Advanced level. Though he appeared in only 92 games -- his lowest total in full-season leagues -- he set career highs with 22 homers and a .354 on-base percentage.

Those 22 longballs tied for first in the Carolina League and ranked second in the system behind Brandon Waring (24). His 76 RBIs were second among Orioles first basemen, behind only first baseman/outfielder Robbie Widlansky (83).

Second base -- Jonathan Schoop, Bowie (124 games): The native of Curacao started 88 games at second base while providing valuable backup support at shortstop for the Baysox. The Orioles' 2011 Minor League Player of the Year, Schoop batted .245 with a career-high 14 homers in his first look at the Eastern League. He also scored 68 runs and drove in 56 in 124 games.

No other regular second baseman collected more hits (119) or RBIs than the 20-year-old, who will suit up for the Mesa Solar Sox in the Arizona Fall League. Schoop's 14 homers led the Baysox, while his 56 RBIs ranked second behind Widlansky.

Third base -- Brandon Waring, Norfolk (66 games), Bowie (52 games): Waring led the organization with 24 homers and ranked fourth with 63 RBIs.

The Wofford (S.C) College product batted .276 with 11 homers and 30 RBIs with Bowie before adding 13 longballs following a promotion to the International League. Only Ty Kelly had more total bases among Orioles Minor Leaguers. Acquired from the Reds in December 2008, Waring has hit at least 20 homers in all six of his professional seasons.

He also saw time at first base and DH with Norfolk, but he spent more time at third than any other position.

"Brandon had a really good Spring Training, and he started swinging the bat right out of the gate," Kendall said. "He showed a lot of power and he became a tougher out. Last year, he had a lot of holes, but this year he was shorter with his swing and he used his feel a lot more."

Shortstop -- Manny Machado, Bowie (109 games), Baltimore (48 games): Machado, the third overall pick in the 2010 Draft, earned a big league callup in his third pro season. Prior to joining the Orioles for the stretch drive, he put together solid numbers at Bowie in his first exposure to Double-A pitching.

His 11 homers were tops among the organization's full-time shortstops as were his 26 doubles, five triples and 48 walks. He had a career-high 59 RBIs in the Minors to lead Orioles shortstops, cut down on his strikeouts, despite playing more games at a higher level, and stole 13 bases in 17 tries.

"I had him in Aberdeen in the New York-Penn League, and I got a glimpse of him embarking on his professional career," Kendall said. "Every day, he would show us something that we hadn't seen before or something that you would see at the big league level. He is so talented. You'd see him make an error here or there, then he'd hit the ball the other way to right-center field or make an unbelievable throw from shallow left-center field on the relay.

"When Buck [Showalter] called me to ask about him, I said I thought he would adapt quickly to the Major League level because he has tremendous baseball aptitude. Around players like J.J. Hardy, who have tremendous makeup, he will absorb information. I've been managing since 2004 and he is as good a player as I have seen in the Minor Leagues."

Outfielders

Robbie Widlansky, Bowie (128 games): The Eastern League All-Star led all Orioles Minor Leaguers with 83 RBIs and ranked second with a .316 batting average in 128 games.

The 27-year-old also was among the top five in the EL in several categories, including doubles (35, second), on-base percentage (.404, second), walks (64, fourth) and hits (148, fifth). Selected in the 11th round of the 2007 Draft out of Florida Atlantic, Widlansky also stole 11 bases and scored 71 runs, both personal bests.

"What Robbie brought to the table was that he was a tough out," Kendall said. "He used the whole field and he started to use backspin. He really started to barrel up some balls and pull them, not just hit them to left-center field. He really improved as a hitter.

"One thing about Robbie is that his bat stays in the strike zone, and that helps him hit left-handed pitching. He really stepped up offensively for us and we were able to put him in the middle of the order. We put him four and Manny [Machado] three, and he protected him. He's an adequate outfielder and he catches whatever he gets to."

John Ruettiger, Frederick (64 games), Delmarva (26 games), Bowie (nine games): Ruettiger ranked second in the system with 28 stolen bases and sixth with a .280 batting average. He totaled almost as many walks (52) as strikeouts (55) and scored 57 runs in 94 games across three levels.

The power numbers may not have been there (he posted a .332 slugging percentage), but his .372 on-base percentage ranked third among regular outfielders in the organization. The former eighth-round pick saw time at all three outfield positions, spending most of his time in left field.

Brenden Webb, Delmarva (101 games), Frederick (23 games): Webb displayed a potent blend of power, speed and plate discipline in his fourth year with the Orioles. Some of that success can be attributed to repeating the South Atlantic League, but it's impossible to deny the strides he made at the plate.

The 2009 30th-round pick batted .255 with 14 homers, 61 RBIs and 19 stolen bases -- all career highs -- between Delmarva and Frederick. He also drew a career-best 98 walks while cutting back on his strikeout total from a year ago. In 2011, Webb recorded 19 extra-base hits in 400 at-bats; this year, he had 48 extra-base hits in 385 at-bats. No outfielder in the organization went yard more often than Webb and only Widlansky plated more runs. The 21-year-old California native also was third in the SAL with a .422 on-base percentage before his promotion.

Utility -- Ty Kelly, Frederick (76 games), Bowie (46 games), Norfolk (11 games): Kelly ended 2011 with Class A Delmarva. Fast forward 12 months and he blitzed his way through three levels to reach Triple-A Norfolk.

The 2009 13th-round pick out of Cal-Davis batted .327 with 11 homers and 70 RBIs in 133 games. He walked more often (79) than he struck out (72) and posted an .892 OPS. His 220 total bases led the system while his average was the highest among all Orioles playing full-time in full-season leagues. Kelly batted .346 at Frederick and would have won the Carolina League batting title if he had enough plate appearances to qualify.

Defensively, Kelly saw time at second base, third base and left field.

Right-handed pitcher -- Dylan Bundy, Frederick (12 games), Delmarva (eight games), Bowie (three games), Baltimore (two games): Bundy made his professional debut with the Class A Shorebirds on Opening Day, striking out six batters over three perfect innings. On Sept. 23, he retired both batters he faced in front of 37,310 fans at Fenway Park. That's 172 days between having never played a pro game to reaching the big leagues.

The fourth overall pick in the 2011 Draft, Bundy gave up only two unearned runs over 30 innings with Delmarva, retiring 94 of 99 batters at that level while striking out 40 and walking only two.

In total, Bundy -- who turns 20 in November -- went 9-3 with a 2.08 ERA in 23 starts across three Minor League levels. He finished with 119 strikeouts over 103 2/3 innings, holding opponents to a .186 average.

Honorable mention -- Zach Clark: The 29-year-old led Orioles Minor Leaguers with 15 wins and a 2.79 ERA. He also recorded 98 strikeouts over 167 2/3 innings between Bowie and Norfolk.

"You look at big league pitchers when you're running into a losing streak and they can turn that losing streak around. Zach was that guy," Kendall said. "He was capable of turning a ballclub around. He put himself on the radar here in Baltimore."

Left-handed pitcher -- Rick Zagone, Frederick (13 games), Bowie (11 games), Norfolk (four games): Wrapping up his fifth year with the Orioles, Zagone put together career numbers across the board.

The Illinois native went 9-5 with a 3.41 ERA across three levels, striking out 90 batters over 142 2/3 innings. He fell one win shy of equaling his personal best but led all southpaws in the organization, ranking sixth overall. Zagone's ERA -- which ranked second in the system -- batting average against (.224) and WHIP (1.22) established career highs at the full-season level. He took a no-hitter into the seventh inning in a 3-0 win over Myrtle Beach on May 1.

Relief pitcher -- Greg Burke, Bowie (23 games), Norfolk (21 games): With a deceptive delivery and funky arm slot, Burke spent most of 2012 reminding people why he reached the Majors with the Padres in 2009.

Signed by San Diego as a starter at a tryout camp six years ago, Burke has been a full-time reliever since 2008. The Orioles picked him up before pitchers and catchers reported to Spring Training and he quickly found his niche at the back end of Bowie's bullpen. He saved 14 games and posted a 1.53 ERA in 23 appearances before being promoted to Norfolk, where he allowed six earned runs over 35 1/3 innings in 21 games. Between the two levels, the 30-year-old right-hander was 3-1 with a 1.53 ERA, 17 saves and 50 strikeouts. Only Kyler Newby had more saves (20) among O's farmhands.

"At the Double-A level, he was way above-average," Kendall said. "In the Eastern League, nobody likes to see a three-quarter pitcher. He has a good sinker and a good slider. He gets quick outs, he attacks guys and he throws strikes.

"Rick Peterson dropped him down in Florida, and he's a submariner now. Norfolk used him in more of a setup role, but he was valuable for us at the end of games. He also really helped our young pitchers."

Kendall also praised Clay Schrader, who split time between Frederick and Bowie, and Kyler Newby who appeared in 42 games for the Baysox.

"[Schrader] could be very good down the road. I really like what he brings to the table," Kendall said. "He doesn't have the exact same curveball as [Garrett] Olson, but I've seen him buckle some knees with it. He can make left-handed batters very uncomfortable.

"And Kyler was a guy that was a leader in our bullpen. He was very consistent for us and provided a lot of leadership for guys like Schrader. Young kids can learn a lot from guys who have been around. Our success in the second half can be attributed to Kyler Newby."

Ashley Marshall is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.
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