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Five Orioles top prospects in 2013


Five Orioles top prospects in 2013

The Orioles have been criticized for having a weak farm system. When Dan Duquette assumed his position as executive vice president of baseball operations last November, he said it was vital to shore up the minor leagues.

One of the two best players from the Orioles system,  Manny Machado, played an unexpected and key role in the team’s success this year.

Here are five who could help in 2012

1) Dylan Bundy

Now considered the top pitching prospect in all of baseball, Bundy got a surprise call to help the Orioles a few hours after an 18-inning game in Seattle.

Bundy had been unhittable at Delmarva and merely excellent at Frederick and Bowie. While manager Buck Showalter wanted a look at Bundy, in late August, the decision was made not to call him up.

The Orioles wanted him to work on his control after Bowie finished its playoff run. Bundy went off to the Instructional League in Sarasota, Fla.

He got the surprise call to come to Seattle to help a depleted bullpen.

A few days later, Bundy was used in a crucial situation in Boston, and later pitched an inning in Baltimore. He’s allowed one hit in 1 2/3 innings.

Bundy will probably start 2013 with Norfolk and perhaps join the Orioles in June.

2) Kevin Gausman

Gausman was the Orioles’ first draft pick in June. He pitched for Aberdeen, Frederick and Bowie, where he teamed with Bundy.

It won’t be the last time.

The Orioles were impressed with his velocity and maturity. A self-assured 21-year-old, Gausman will probably start next season at Bowie and he could be in Baltimore late in the summer.

The Orioles hope that Gausman is their last high draft pick for some time. He’s one they’re very high on.

3) L.J. Hoes

Like Bundy, the Orioles weren’t going to call Hoes up in September, but after Nick Markakis was injured, they reconsidered. Hoes lives in Mitchellville, Md., not far from Baltimore, and was the third round pick in 2008.

Hoes mostly watched in the three weeks he was with the club. After he was moved up from Bowie to Norfolk, Hoes batted .300.

The 22-year-old may not start the season with Baltimore, but he’s currently the best position prospect in the system.

4) Xavier Avery

Unlike Machado, Avery is still a rookie by major league standards. His 103 plate appearances were 27 short of the number needed to disqualify him.

Avery batted .223 in 32 games with the Orioles. His longest stint came in May after Nolan Reimold was hurt.

He showed off some speed; his six stolen bases were third on the club, and lots of enthusiasm.

Avery saw some late action with the team as a pinch-runner. If Nate McLouth and Reimold are both on the club, there may not be an immediate spot for him. He should see more action in 2013.

5) Jonathan Schoop

Hoes and Schoop are currently in the Arizona Fall League. Schoop and Manny Machado were a fine double play combination at Delmarva, Frederick and Bowie.

They were broken up when Machado was recalled to play third.

The Orioles need a second baseman, but at 21, Schoop is still a year away, a scout who has seen him regularly believes.

Philadelphia asked for Schoop when they were offering Joe Blanton. The Orioles declined to part with him.

Schoop, who is playing third base in the AFL, is more comfortable at short than at second. At Bowie, he committed 13 errors at second base and eight more at short after Machado was called up.



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Orioles' Manny Machado leading all American League shortstops in All-Star Game votes


Orioles' Manny Machado leading all American League shortstops in All-Star Game votes

The Orioles' Manny Machado is the early leader among American League shortstops in the first results of All-Star voting released by Major League Baseball Tuesday.

Machado holds a lead of 110,131 votes over the Cleveland Indians' Francisco Lindor. 

No other Orioles' player is on the list, and Adam Jones isn't listed among the top-15 of outfielders. 

The Astros' Carlos Correa was last year’s starting shortstop for the American League, but is in fourth place with 206,707 votes, trailing the Yankees' Didi Gregorius who has 208,583.

The next AL voting update will be announced June 19.

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Zach Britton rejoins Orioles after stint on disabled list

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Zach Britton rejoins Orioles after stint on disabled list

BALTIMORE -- Baltimore Orioles left-hander Zach Britton has been activated from the disabled list, six months after undergoing surgery to repair a ruptured Achilles tendon.

Assuming he's finally healthy enough to resume his role as one of the best closers in the big leagues, the question now is: How long will Britton be with the Orioles?

Britton's contract expires after this season, and Baltimore entered play Monday with the worst record in the major leagues (19-45).

So, as he stood in front of his locker and spoke excitedly about his return to the Orioles, Britton conceded that his stay in Baltimore may not extend beyond the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.

"I want to pitch well and help the team, regardless of our standing or trade discussions," he said.

Asked if the next few weeks might serve as an audition for other teams, Britton replied, "I guess so, but I'm not going to think of it like that."

Britton made the 2016 AL All-Star team during a season in which he converted all 47 of his save opportunities and compiled a 0.54 ERA in 69 appearances.

He fought forearm and knee injuries last season and had only 15 saves. Then, during the winter, he tore his right Achilles tendon during a workout.

"When I injured myself in December, I was just looking forward to walking again and running again and then to be able to pitch back in the big leagues," Britton said. "There were a lot of hurdles that I overcame."

Surgery and an intense rehab program under Orioles trainer Brian Ebel enabled the 30-year-old to return sooner than many anticipated.

"The thought that he's a pitcher for us on June 11, that's remarkable," manager Buck Showalter said. "He's checked every box to get ready. I don't know what else you could possibly do."

Although Britton will be pitching for a team that's struggled mightily this season, that won't influence the intensity he will bring to the mound.

"I had some injuries the last few years, so I'm looking forward to turning the page on that and just getting back to pitching well," he said. "Everyone in this clubhouse wants to do well at this level, and that's my focus."

To adjust the roster for Britton's return, the Orioles placed right-hander Pedro Araujo on the 10-day disabled list with a right elbow strain and moved outfielder Colby Rasmus to the 60-day DL.