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#51) Fernando DeNaball- The 22 year old fireballer out of the Dominican Republic had a moderately successful campaign in the New York-Penn League. Working mostly out of the bullpen, DeNaball recorded 8.14 K/9, but struggled with his command with 6.95 BB/9. Right now, all he has is his mid-90’s fastball. He’s working on gaining consistency with his slider, which shows promise, but he has struggled mightily with developing an effective changeup. With his arm strength and power arsenal, DeNaball profiles as a reliever at higher levels and his success will depend on his ability to refine his secondary pitches.
#52) Kyle Schmidt- A 14th round pick in 2004, Schmidt split his age 22 season between Aberdeen and Delmarva. Schmidt works with a plus curveball and an average fastball at 89-91 MPH. He’s shown a great ability to miss bats, but he has had some trouble keeping the ball in the park. Much of this can be attributed to his poor 0.76 GO/AO ratio. Nevertheless, his strikeout rate makes Schmidt a sleeper worth tracking at higher levels.
#53) Jason Fransz- Fransz can not run, nor can he field any position adequately. What Fransz can do is hit the ball with authority. Originally an 8th round pick by the Chicago Cubs in 2002, he has been traded to the Rangers, released after a knee injury threatened his career, and then signed as a minor league free agent by the Orioles. Although he is already 25 years old and has not yet played above A-ball, Fransz’s power is legitimate. If he has another strong campaign for the Bowie Baysox in 2007, he could end up with a big league career.
#54) Brandon Tripp- After the Orioles failed to sign their 10th round pick, Emeel Salem, many Ironbirds fans were deprived of an opportunity to watch some defensive wizardry in the outfield. Fortunately, the O’s did sign their 12th round pick, Brandon Tripp, who may lack Salem’s pizzazz but is nonetheless a plus defender in center field. Tripp is a very good athlete, although he had trouble converting that into success at the plate. The few positives from Tripp‘s 2006 season at the dish were a solid walk rate, twelve hit by pitches in 145 at bats (which is a demonstrated skill, not a fluke), and success against left-handers in limited at bats.
#55) Cory Morris- Morris has seemingly alternated good seasons with bad ones for the better part of a decade. After a very intriguing 2005 campaign in Bowie, however, more was expected from the 27 year old right-hander than his middling contributions in Ottawa. Morris works primarily with an 89-92 MPH fastball and a big breaking curveball. His strikeout rate will keep getting him chances but his place on the 40-man roster may be in jeopardy this off-season. Morris could end up as anything from an acceptable back-end of the rotation starter to a middle reliever to a AAA journeyman. It is up to him to prove that he is capable of being more consistent.
#56) Fredy Deza- The 23 year old Deza is a slender 6’2’’ and 165 lbs., but he can still dial up his fastball. Just ask teammate Paco Figueroa, who told ITW “He’s got, I think, the nastiest stuff in the league. He’s got a fastball that runs in on your hands at 93, 94 MPH and then he comes back with the slider.” Deza has some trouble with his pitch sequencing, which ultimately left him with a middling strikeout rate despite his quality stuff. He did, however, induce grounders at an excellent clip.
#57) Daniel Figueroa- Figueroa’s consideration on any prospect list a bet on his pure athleticism. It is hard to believe that Daniel was actually the more highly recruited Figueroa brother out of high school. Unfortunately, a litany of injuries that began at the University of Miami has derailed his promising career. Figueroa has excellent speed and defense in the outfield. It is just a matter of him staying healthy enough to get consistent at bats. Daniel still has a higher physical ceiling than his brother Paco.
#58) Beau Hale- Long-time O’s fans will be happy to see Beau Hale back on the radar. The 27 year old former first round pick has made his latest resurgence as a swingman for the Baysox. Hale demonstrated excellent control of his three pitch arsenal and was back to consistently throwing in the low-90’s. He looked particularly effective in the bullpen where he got excellent sink on his fastball and held opponents to a 1.31 ERA.
#59) Rommie Lewis- Lewis is no newcomer to prospect lists, but it has been a while since he showed the promise he did as a teenager. In his age 23 season, Lewis was a staple in the Keys‘ bullpen, posting a 2.09 ERA in 51.2 innings pitched. While his strikeout rate was underwhelming, Lewis did induce tons of groundballs. Makeup questions continue to surround Lewis, but Frederick Pitching Coach Blaine Beatty is less concerned, telling ITW “He has shown that he is able to do the job and and be resilient and come in back to back outings in short and/or long relief. He’s done a tremendous job. He goes after hitters and throws strikes and he has a good feel for it.”
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