On July 18 of last season, the most bittersweet – yet expected – move finally came to fruition. The Orioles traded superstar Manny Machado to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
At the time, MLB Pipeline only had three of the five pieces ranked in the Dodgers’ top-30 prospects: Diaz fourth-best, Bannon 27th, and Kremer 28th.
At the end of the 2018 season, this is where they ranked in the O’s system: Diaz at number one (also 52nd in all of baseball), Kremer 16th, Bannon 22nd and Pop 26th.
Some Orioles fans felt the organization didn’t get enough in return. If you don’t follow prospects closely and you’re just looking at prospect rankings, that would’ve been a defensible stance.
How are things looking now?
Valera wasn’t much of a prospect, if at all one. He made his major-league debut with the St. Louis Cardinals in 2017 for five games and also played 32 games in 2018 with the Dodgers and Orioles. Valera was designated for assignment by the Orioles in January and later shipped to the San Francisco Giants. He has spent time at the Triple-A affiliates for Giants and New York Yankees since.
Diaz hasn’t put up impressive numbers in Double-A Bowie, slashing .225/.313/.338 in 20 games. It is important to mention that this is a small sample size and he is currently on the seven-day injured list. The 22-year-old outfielder was placed on the IL on April 26 with an undisclosed ailment. Until we find out more about the injury and see what Diaz can do while healthy with more plate appearances, his numbers aren’t anything to stress over right now. He is currently ranked the second-best prospect in the Orioles system and 83rd in all of baseball, per MLB Pipeline.
Kremer was certainly a pleasant surprise for the Orioles since coming over in the deal. He posted a 2.58 ERA with 10.52 K/9 in eight starts with Bowie in 2018. The right-hander was held out from activities from the start of spring training with a left oblique strain, but recently got back on the mound. He was assigned to High-A Frederick, where he has dominated in two starts, striking out 14 and allowing no runs over 9 2/3 innings. I assume he’ll be making his way back to Bowie soon. MLB Pipeline currently has Kremer ranked as the ninth-best prospect in the organization, but there’s reason to believe he could be ranked even higher when they do their next team updates later this season.
Pop, 22, got off to a great start out of the bullpen for Bowie this season. He recorded a 0.84 ERA and struck out 11 batters in 10 2/3 innings over eight appearances. However, his season has come to an early end, as he underwent successful Tommy John surgery on May 14. He usually sits mid-90s and can reach back for a couple ticks in the upper-90s, so I assume one of Pop’s goals is to gain the above-average velocity back when he returns to the mound next season. At the moment, MLB Pipeline currently ranks Pop 19th on the O’s top prospects list. They listed Pop’s major-league ETA as 2020, but one can wonder if that will push back to 2021 after the successful surgery. The Orioles don’t have any reason to rush Pop, especially after recovering from a serious operation, so that could very well be the case.
Lastly, let’s take a look at Bannon. He’s slashing .293/.371/.464 with four home runs and 12 doubles in 39 games with Bowie. The 23-year-old has seen his defensive time split between third base (167 innings) and second base (146), and he can play both positions well. According to Luke Siler of Orioles Hangout, Bannon has cut down on what was once a very big leg kick and, in return, has improved the quality of the contact he makes on pitches so far this season. So this adjustment is something to keep an eye on going forward. MLB Pipeline has Bannon ranked 22nd in the O’s system, but he could make a jump in the rankings if he continues to impress throughout this season.
— Luke_Siler (@The_Luke_Siler) May 4, 2019
The Orioles traded away a half-season of one of the best infielders in all of baseball. In return, they acquired an outfielder who is a Top 100 prospect, as well as two promising arms and an infielder whose stock is rising. Obviously, all four of these players are still prospects, so nothing is guaranteed. But for the time being, it looks like the O’s may have stolen a few underrated pieces from the farm system in Los Angeles.