By JAY LeBLANC
Top prospect Brian Matusz made an earlier-than-expected arrival in Baltimore in August and picked up his first three big-league victories. Down on the farm, the returns from the George Sherrill trade - third baseman Josh Bell and right-hander Steven Johnson - impressed for Bowie while Matt Hobgood began to flash the form that prompted the Orioles to select him with the fifth overall pick in June’s MLB Draft. Fellow draftees including second-rounder Mychal Givens and late-round bonus babies Cameron Coffey and Michael Ohlman agreed to terms, adding depth to an already impressive farm system.
Since these will be the final monthly prospect rankings of the season, I’ve decided to double up and do a top-50 list. Please note that players with big league experience are ineligible for inclusion in these rankings. August rankings are in parentheses.
CREAM OF THE CROP
1. Jake Arrieta, RHP, Norfolk (2)
Arrieta struggled through his worst month as a pro in July but bounced back with a 3.03 ERA in August. The 23-year-old had a run of four starts in which he pitched six or more innings and allowed two or fewer earned runs.
2. Zach Britton, LHP, Frederick (3)
Britton fanned 31 batters in as many innings in August and now has a Carolina League-best 131 K’s in 140 innings this season. The 21-year-old also ranks third in the circuit in ERA (2.70) and is tied for fourth in wins (nine).
3. Brandon Erbe, RHP, Bowie (4)
Erbe overcame a 22-to-17 K-to-walk ratio in 26 1/3 innings to post a 2.39 ERA in August. The 21-year-old will make up for some of the innings he lost earlier this season to shoulder fatigue in the Arizona Fall League.
4. Matt Hobgood, RHP, Bluefield (6)
Hobgood, who turned 19 on Aug. 3, has a 5.40 ERA in his first 21 2/3 pro innings but showed some flashes of brilliance in August. He fired five shutout frames on Aug. 13 and allowed one earned run in 4 2/3 innings on Aug. 26.
5. Josh Bell, 3B, Bowie (8)
Bell made an immediate impact with his new organization in August, slugging five homers for the Baysox to bring his season total to 16. The 22-year-old switch-hitter will continue to refine his game in the Arizona Fall League.
6. Steven Johnson, RHP, Bowie (10)
Dave Johnson’s son posted a 3.55 ERA in his first five starts in the Orioles organization and stuck out nearly a batter per inning in the process, though he did issue 14 walks in 25 1/3 innings as well. He turned 22 on Aug. 31.
7. Brandon Snyder, 1B, Norfolk (5)
Snyder’s Triple-A power outage continued in August as he failed to go deep in 92 at bats. The 22-year-old hit .343 with 10 home runs for Bowie but has managed just a .250 average and two homers in 65 games with Norfolk.
8. Xavier Avery, OF, Delmarva (9)
Avery, the fastest baserunner in the organization, swiped his 30th base of the season on Aug. 26. He still has a long way to go at the plate but the Orioles have to be pleased with his performance as a 19-year-old in Class A.
9. Caleb Joseph, C, Frederick (7)
Joseph entered August as the Carolina League’s leading hitter but hit just .156 to drop his season’s average to .295. Fatigue is likely to blame, and the 23-year-old still raised his stock as much as any O’s prospect this year.
10. Brandon Waring, 1B/3B, Frederick (13)
Waring closed out a solid first season in the Orioles organization with his best month of the year, smashing nine homers to bring his season total to 26. The 23-year-old will join Erbe and Bell on the AFL’s Phoenix Desert Dogs.
BEST OF THE REST
11. Luis Lebron, RHP, Bowie (18)
12. Mychal Givens, SS (NR)
13. Chorye Spoone, RHP, Frederick (14)
14. Wilfrido Perez, LHP, Bowie - 7-Day DL (15)
15. Joseph Mahoney, 1B, Delmarva (16)
16. Tyler Henson, 3B/OF, Frederick (NR)
17. Ronnie Welty, OF, Delmarva (23)
18. Kyle Hudson, OF, Delmarva (12)
19. Cameron Coffey, LHP (NR)
20. Justin Turner, 2B, Norfolk (17)
21. L.J. Hoes, 2B, Delmarva (21)
22. Bobby Bundy, RHP, Bluefield (19)
23. Jacob Cowan, RHP, Aberdeen (NR)
24. Pedro Florimon Jr., SS, Frederick (NR)
25. Matt Angle, OF, Frederick (22)
26. Oliver Drake, RHP, Delmarva (20)
27. Cole McCurry, LHP, Delmarva (NR)
28. Eddie Gamboa, RHP, Frederick (NR)
29. Brandon Cooney, RHP, Frederick (25)
30. Ryan Adams, 2B, Frederick (NR)
31. Pat Egan, RHP, Frederick, (24)
32. Nicholas Haughian, LHP, Aberdeen (NR)
33. Tim Bascom, RHP, Bowie (11)
34. Brett Jacobson, RHP, Frederick (NR)
35. Miguel Abreu, 2B, Bowie (NR)
36. Ashur Tolliver, LHP, Aberdeen (NR)
37. Michael Ohlman, C, GCL Orioles (NR)
38. Tony Butler, LHP, GCL Orioles - Rehab (NR)
39. Vito Frabizio, RHP, Aberdeen (NR)
40. Randy Henry, RHP (NR)
41. Pedro Beato, RHP, Bowie (NR)
42. Ryan Berry, RHP (NR)
43. Billy Rowell, OF, Frederick (NR)
44. David Baker, RHP, GCL Orioles (NR)
45. Rhyne Hughes, 1B, Norfolk (NR)
46. James Brandhorst, RHP, Aberdeen (NR)
47. Kenny Moreland, RHP, Frederick (NR)
48. Rick Zagone, LHP, Frederick (NR)
49. Nathan Moreau, LHP, Delmarva (NR)
50. Robert Widlansky, 1B, Frederick (NR)
WELCOME TO THE SHOW:Brian Matusz, LHP (1)
Jay LeBlanc is an assistant news editor at The Washington Times. He can be reached at email@example.com.