The Orioles finished over .500 last year for a second straight season, but they failed to make the playoffs, going 85-77 and finishing seven games out of the wild card. Their starting rotation looks pretty full to me, but it looks like a conglomeration of No. 3 and No. 4 starters and reports are that they have no cash to spend on a better pitcher in free agency. Could they dream on the upside that some still see in Jeff Samardzija?
Here are the articles I'm digging from:
The Orioles system seems very top heavy, with five top players and then a huge drop off. Let's go through all five and then a couple of secondary pieces that might be of interest.
Dylan Bundy, RHP: Did not pitch in 2013; had Tommy John surgery
Dylan Bundy was the #2 prospect in all of baseball heading into 2013. After aggravating his elbow in spring training, the Orioles finally decided he should have TJS in June. Bundy has an excellent fastball that works in the mid-upper 90s with movement. His cut fastball was so good, the Orioles didn't want him to use it in the minors because of how devastating it was, instead pushing him to work on his other secondaries. Those secondaries, his curve ball and change, improved in 2012 to the point where the curve is considered a plus pitch and the change is almost there. He could improve his command a bit, but really the only concern with Bundy seems to be the Tommy John he just had. This is a guy who's a potential No. 1 starter.
Kevin Gausman, RHP, Triple-A: 35.2 IP, 8.22 K/9, 2.27 BB/9, 4.04 ERA, 2.56 FIP
Gausman is a Top-20 pitching prospect in baseball who is major league ready and a potential No. 2 starter with a high floor. He has a great fastball that sits in the mid-upper 90s with movement and he counters that by throwing a great change. The big question here seems to be his slider, which is still a work in progress and which he can't really control, but many see it as an eventual plus pitch. Some comment too that while he stays in the zone, he needs to improve his command so that he isn't throwing belt-high fastballs to big-league sluggers.
Eduardo Rodriguez, LHP, Double-A: 59.2 IP, 8.90 K/9, 3.62 BB/9, 4.22 ERA, 3.62 FIP
Rodriguez split time last year between High-A and Double-A, but he's widely regarded as a Top-100 prospect with a No. 3 ceiling. Still only 20, Rodriguez has a good fastball with the potential for a good slider and a good change. His upside is limited because he doesn't have an elite pitch and his command could use some work, but he could be ready as soon as next year.
Hunter Harvey, RHP, Short-Season A: 12.0 IP, 11.25 K/9, 3.0 BB/9, 2.25 FIP, 1.70 ERA
Harvey, the Orioles' first-round pick in 2013, had a mere 25 innings in the Orioles' system last year, but he was absolutely dominant in those innings. Picked out of high school, Harvey throws a good low- to mid-90s fastball and a plus curveball. He needs to improve his change up and his command. He's young, so he has a long way to go, but he's got top of the rotation upside and is projected as a Top-100 prospect.
Jonathan Schoop, 2B, Triple-A: 270 AB, .286 AVG, .301 OBP, .396 SLG, .316 wOBA
Schoop, a one-time Top-100 player, was injured for much of last year and had just a so-so performance in Triple-A. He's capable of playing second base, shortstop and third base, although most seem to think his eventual position will be second. He could develop solid power, but his plate discipline is just OK and he needs work against offspeed pitches. His upside seems to be an above average second baseman and it appears as though his floor would be as a utility infielder, with the most likely outcome somewhere in between.
Mike Wright, RHP, Double-A: 143.2 IP, 8.52 K/9, 2.44 BB/9, 3.26 ERA, 3.14 FIP
Wright projects as an innings eating No. 4 who throws four pitches (fastball, slider, change, curve), none of which are plus but all of which he can command. He could be up as soon as 2014.
Tim Berry, LHP, High-A: 152 IP, 7.05 K/9, 2.37 BB/9, 3.85 ERA, 3.69 FIP
Berry has No. 3 upside if he fills out and develops his stuff and command a bit more. He throws a fastball, change and curve that are all fairly average, but could eventually get to plus. He dominates lefthanders but gets lit up a bit by righthanders.
Others to keep an eye on:
Eduardo Rodriguez and Jonathan Schoop
That's about right:
Hunter Harvey, Eduardo Rodriguez and Mike Wright
Dylan Bundy/Kevin Gausman and Mike Wright
I'm not really sure that this is a great fit for the Orioles. I think the Cubs will require one of Bundy, Gausman and Harvey to be in any deal where Shark is included. Gausman makes very little sense to include as he could replicate Shark's performance over the next two years and then the O's would have control over him for several years thereafter. If the O's get scared of Bundy's elbow, maybe they'd be willing to include him, but he's one of the few minor league pitchers that could be a No. 1, so I don't think they'll give him up. That leaves Harvey, who would have to be included as a PTBNL if the deal is done this offseason. I just don't see the point of the Orioles adding another mid-rotation starter, even if Shark does have some upside left.
Feel free to tear my proposed deals to shreds in the comments and create your own.