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How good is the Orioles minor league system?

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How good is the Orioles minor league system?

The surest way to get Dan Duquette angry is to disparage the Orioles’ farm system. At December’s FanFest, he told season ticket holders not to believe any “crap” they heard about the team’s minor leagues.

Just this week, Baseball America ranked the Orioles 27th in organizational talent rankings. Only Seattle, Miami and the Los Angeles Angels trail the Orioles.

A year ago, the Orioles were ranked 28th. When Duquette took over baseball operations in Nov. 2011, he inherited a team with the 21st best farm system and vowed to improve it. A year later, it was 20th, and moved up to 17th in 2013 and 12th in 2014 before falling back to 28th a year ago.

When Duquette took over, the top rated farm system in baseball was Kansas City’s and four years later, they were the World Series champ.

Last year’s top team was the Chicago Cubs, which surprised many with their run to the National League Championship Series.

This year’s top three are the Dodgers, Astros and Braves. Atlanta, in full rebuilding mode, jumped from 29th to third.

But, what does this really tell you about the system?

A year ago, Mychal Givens wasn’t really a prospect—except in the minds of some in the Orioles organization. Unprotected in the Rule 5 draft, Givens wasn’t invited to major league camp, but by June, the converted infielder was in the majors, a full six years after he was drafted.

RELATED: Why the Orioles offseason was a resounding success

Caleb Joseph wasn’t protected in Dec. 2013’s Rule 5, and when Matt Wieters was injured in May 2014, he came up to the majors and played creditably—a full six years after he was drafted.

Seventeen of the 40 players on the Orioles roster were originally signed by the Orioles. Three: Dariel Alvarez, Jonathan Schoop and Henry Urrutia were international free agents. The other 14: Givens, Joseph, Wieters, Parker Bridwell, Zach Britton, Dylan Bundy, Oliver Drake, Kevin Gausman, Manny Machado, Brian Matusz, Nolan Reimold, Christian Walker, Tyler Wilson and Mike Wright.

Other players on the 40-man, Chris Lee and Andrew Triggs are considered good prospects, but weren’t originally drafted by the Orioles and haven’t played with another major league team. Add in Rule 5 draft choices Ryan Flaherty, Jason Garcia, T.J. McFarland and Joey Rickard, and you’ll see that more than half the 40-man didn’t play for anyone else.

While the Orioles would have liked to have held onto their first round pick in this year’s draft, and perhaps the compensatory selection they received when Wei-Yin Chen signed elsewhere, as Buck Showalter likes to say, the best way to judge a team’s draft is by rounds 5 through 15.

Joseph was a seventh-rounder, Drake was picked in the 43rd round and Wilson a 10th rounder.

Many fans judge a draft by the first rounders. Machado was the third overall pick in 2010, but no other player taken in that draft has yet to play for the Orioles. Bridwell, who is on the 40-man for the first time this year, was taken in the ninth round.

Givens is the only player from the 2009 draft in the majors though Ashur Tolliver, a fifth-round pick, will be in major league camp for the first time when it opens on Thursday.

The team’s best draft in recent years could have been 2008 when Matusz, Xavier Avery, L.J. Hoes, Kyle Hudson and Joseph were five of the first seven picks. Avery and Hoes are non-roster invitees to this year’s camp.

If Bundy, Wilson and Wright develop, 2011 could be one of the best in recent history, and for the more recent drafts, we’ll just have to wait. Gausman and Walker are the only players drafted in 2012 or later to reach the majors.

Trey Mancini, who led the Eastern League in hitting, and was the team’s eight-round selection in 2013, surprisingly wasn’t included on Baseball America’s Top 100 prospect list. The Orioles will get a look at him in camp.

While the Orioles would prefer to hang to their draft picks, they believe they have the opportunity to challenge again in the AL East if they sign Yovani Gallardo and perhaps add another hitter.

If they’re celebrating eight months from now, they’ll not care where their minor leaguers were ranked.

MORE ORIOLES: Former Orioles reliever Tommy Hunter signs with Indians

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Showalter fired as Orioles manager after 115-loss season

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Showalter fired as Orioles manager after 115-loss season

Buck Showalter has been fired as manager of the Orioles, who made three playoff appearances under his guidance but this year staggered through the worst season since the team moved to Baltimore in 1954.

Showalter confirmed the dismissal Wednesday in a text message to The Associated Press.

A three-time AL Manager of the Year, Showalter ranks second on the Orioles' career list with 669 victories, trailing Earl Weaver. He took over in August 2010 and orchestrated the resurgence of a team that suffered through 14 straight losing seasons.

Once hailed for making baseball in Baltimore relevant again, the 62-year-old Showalter is out of a job after a season in which the Orioles finished 47-115, 61 games behind Boston in the AL East. His contract expired at the end of October, and the Orioles opted against a renewal as they continue a major rebuild that began in late July, when they traded stars Manny Machado, Zach Britton, Jonathan Schoop and Kevin Gausman for minor league prospects.

Those deals were made by Dan Duquette, the executive vice president of baseball operations, whose future with the organization is up in the air.

Showalter earned AL Manager of the Year honors in 2014 after taking the Orioles to the AL East title and a berth in the Championship Series. He was also named Manager of Year with the Yankees in 1994 and Texas in 2004. His career record is 1,551-1,517, including 669-684 with Baltimore.

"I just think ever since he came here, the franchise just gained a little more accountability, gained an edge for some time," Orioles outfielder Adam Jones said before the final game of the season. "It's the end of an era. A great manager, a great tenure. I don't know if he's going to coach or manage again, but he's got grandchildren. Go golf. Relax and go sit on the golf course."

With his future in doubt, Showalter appeared undaunted during the final series of the regular season.

"You know how good they've been to me? I'm not ever going to forget that, regardless of what happens," he said.

Oakland Athletics manager Bob Melvin was asked before his team's playoff game against the Yankees on Wednesday night whether Showalter was victimized by the trend toward analytics.

"I don't think Buck was a guy that ignored analytics," Melvin said. "I think it was probably a combination of how they did this year and maybe some relationships."

After the Orioles brought Showalter out of retirement, he offered renewed hope by fashioning a 34-23 finish in 2010 for a team that was 32-73 upon his arrival.

Baltimore ended a 14-year playoff drought in 2012, advancing to the AL Division Series following a victory over Texas in the wild-card game. Playoff appearances in 2014 and 2016 followed.

Last year, however, the Orioles fell to 75-87 after losing 19 of their final 23 games. Baltimore hoped the addition of starters Alex Cobb and Andrew Cashner would enable the team to be a contender this year, but a horrid start quickly dispelled that notion.

The Orioles' deficit in the AL East reached double digits by April 18 and they were 8-27 on May 8. By the end of July, Baltimore fully entered rebuilding mode, leaving Showalter with the dubious distinction of overseeing a team that finished with the poorest record in the majors and one that surpassed the 1939 St. Louis Browns for most losses in franchise history.

Showalter never offered an excuse. He just grinded forward, working to prepare the team for 2019 even though he knew he might not be around to follow through.

At the outset of a season-ending series against Houston, Showalter was asked if he was thinking these might be his final days in the Baltimore dugout.

"We all have some private thoughts and emotions about that, but I don't think it serves the organization well for me to be worried about that right now," he said. "We've got some things to do these last four games that need to get done."

Showalter has a reputation as a no-nonsense manager, but his players appreciated his baseball knowledge and skill at handling a team. He made a point of talking to each of them on a regular basis, almost always offering encouragement.

"He gave me a chance," said catcher Caleb Joseph, who played six-plus years in the minors before arriving in Baltimore. "He believed in me in 2014, ran me out there and gave me a chance to be part of a championship team. He's really vouched for me ever since. I owe a lot to Buck and his loyalty. He's been a main figure here for a long time."

Sensing the end was near for the only big league manager he had ever played for, first baseman Trey Mancini said: "It's been an absolute honor to play for Buck. He's been incredible."

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Red Sox beat Orioles 6-2 to clinch home field through Series

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Red Sox beat Orioles 6-2 to clinch home field through Series

The Boston Red Sox broke a 106-year-old franchise record with their 106th victory on Monday night, clinching home-field advantage through the postseason by beating the Baltimore Orioles 6-2 thanks to a pair of hits from major league batting leader Mookie Betts.

Nathan Eovaldi struck out 10 hapless Orioles batters to assure the Red Sox of the best record in baseball this season and home-field advantage through the World Series, if they make it that far. For now, they know they will open the Division Series at Fenway Park on Oct. 5 against the winner of the AL wild-card game between the New York Yankees and mostly likely Oakland.

The 1912 Red Sox won 105 games in their first season at Fenway Park.

The Orioles (45-111) became the sixth AL team and the first since the 2003 Tigers to lose 111 games, falling 60 games behind Boston (106-51) in the division. It's the first time since 1939 that teams separated by 60 wins in the standings have played each other.

Boston scored four in the second inning, getting back-to-back doubles from Steve Pearce and Brock Holt, an RBI single from Christian Vazquez and Betts' two-run homer over the Green Monster. It was the 32nd homer of the season for Betts, a new career high.

Betts also singled and scored in Boston's two-run fourth, moving him into the major-league lead with 125 runs scored. In his last three games, he is 10 for 16 with three homers and four doubles, and he leads teammate J.D. Martinez (.328) in the AL batting race.

Renato Nunez had three hits for the Orioles, who fell to 2-15 against Boston and 18-61 on the road this season.

FOR STARTERS

Six days after throwing six scoreless innings against the Yankees, Eovaldi (6-7) allowed one run on four hits in five innings, walking none but uncorking a pair of wild pitches.

Baltimore starter Dylan Bundy (8-16) gave up four runs on five hits and three walks in three innings, striking out five.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Orioles: RHP Yefrey Ramirez is scheduled to start on Wednesday, but manager Buck Showalter said he wanted to give him an extra day or two. "I think Yefrey will pitch again, I just don't know when," Showalter said.

Red Sox: SS Xander Bogaerts was back in the lineup after feeling soreness in his left shoulder during a swing and leaving Sunday night's game. ... INF Eduardo Nunez ran on Sunday to test his hamstring and was scheduled to run again on Monday with the goal of having him back in the lineup by Wednesday or Friday.

UP NEXT

LHP David Price (15-7) tries to bounce back from a rough start in Yankee Stadium in the second game of the series in what could be his last start of the regular season.