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Underrated O’s Prospects

photo: Eric Garfield
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The Orioles have a loaded Farm system, and we understand this. Throughout the year, I have tried my best to show how good the system is, and I think I’ve covered as much of it as possible.

With that said, some prospects will naturally slip through the cracks and not get the love they deserve.

So that is what I am here to do. Let’s have some fun and point out four prospects that need more love and have become underrated. We do need to establish some rules, though: first, prospects on this list CAN’T be on the top 20 list, and two, they can’t be draft prospects from this year’s class.

So let us begin; these prospects are in no particular order.

Luis Valdez, SS, High-A, (Aberdeen)

Valdez has one main skill that needs to be talked about: speed. He has 59 Stolen Bases this year and hasn’t stolen a base in Aberdeen. That is crazy, but he isn’t a one-trick pony. He has good defense at Short and has the same speed in the field as on the basepaths.

Valdez’s bat is still developing though. He can sometimes show pure hit ability, but he isn’t consistent enough yet for me to consider it a strength. He can show patience, again though he isn’t nearly steady enough. His power will also never be a strength to his game, so his patience and contact ability must improve. He does have over 100 hits this year, so maybe I am being a bit too harsh. He has gotten better as the year goes on, which is huge and was enough to push him onto this list.

Valdez is a fast prospect with improving contact ability that needs to work on plate patience, but he is having a good year and does deserve some love.

Frederick Bencosme, SS, Low-A, (Delmarva)

Bencosme has been one of the highest risers on this farm in 2022, after signing in the 2020 class out of the Dominican Republic. Bencosme is a contact hitter that has elite bat-to ball skills. He can get to any baseball he wants and drive them for base hits. He also has great discipline. He has hit for not only average, but he has been an on-base machine. He is still trying to figure out how to hit for power, and his defense at Short isn’t the best, but his contact ability and patience more than make up for it.

Benscosme is still only 19 and has shown that he has a very high floor.

Garrett Stallings, RHP, Double-A, (Bowie)

In order for this to work, do not look at Stallings’s high ERA at Bowie. Instead, look at his last month. His stats in July are just so night and day compared to his numbers in June. He recorded a 1.46 ERA, with 31 Strikeouts and two walks in 24.1 Innings. He has continued that success into August and has only given up five runs this month. Something has clicked for Stallings in the second half, and he deserves a lot of respect for bouncing back so strongly.

He had nearly a twenty ERA in June, ballooning his yearly numbers. Stallings made this list because we focus on the success of other pitchers who have had much more consistency this year, so Stallings won’t receive the same respect he deserves for the turnaround. Rewarding success is fine, of course, but rewarding a prospect for bouncing back in a big way is also important.

To bounce back as he has from Month to Month, Stallings deserves much more respect than he is getting.

Darell Hernaiz, SS, Low-A, (Aberdeen)

I could make an argument that no prospect has raised his stock higher this year than Hernaiz. Drafted in the 2019 class, Hernaiz was a classic case of a prospect having athleticism and defensive abilities with little to no bat that gets drafted late. Hernaiz has worked on his bat and has now raised his floor. His defense is the first thing that stands out. Man, can this kid field at shortstop. His glove work is smooth, and his range is out of this world with a strong arm. That makes him interesting, but his development offensively gets him on this list. He has taken so many strides offensively that it is hard to keep up with. His bat-to-ball skills are incredible, and he has also shown much-improved patience. His power keeps growing as he gets older, and he has even found a way to conquer the offensive black hole of Aberdeen.

Hernaiz has shaped himself into quite a prospect, and I can’t wait to see how well he will do going forward.

These prospects need more respect, and I hope this article convinces you to keep an eye on them.

Thank you for reading.

Mike Elias on his laptop.
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