Paul Chmiel seems like an unlikely candidate to be ranked this high, but he has shown considerable promise during his second professional season. Although the Orioles tracked him throughout most of his high school career, it wasn't until Chmiel showed off his hitting ability in front of Scouting Director Joe Jordan in Frederick that he got a substantial offer. Since then, his teammates in Bluefield have taken to calling him "the Weatherman", due to his fondness for meteorology and the Weather Channel.
DOB: 05/17/87 Height: 6-5 Weight: 200 B/T: L/R
Paul Chmiel's age 19 season:
Ever since Joe Jordan saw the tall, brawny Chmiel swing a bat, the Orioles have known he had a sweet stroke. They're just happy that it has finally led to some results after an abysmal professional debut. Chmiel only hit 2 homeruns this past season, but he should add plenty of power as he moves up the organizational ladder. His 13 doubles in 161 at bats are also a good indicator of the power to come.
Chmiel shows a discerning eye at the plate that betrays his youth. Occasionally, he will let a good pitch or two go by and get himself into a jam, but that's a problem that should subside with experience. Chmiel is also pretty helpless against southpaws. It will likely take hundreds of more at bats against lefties to determine if this is going to be a long-term problem. He is also a slow runner without strong instincts on the basepaths.
It's not easy starting out a professional career all the way down the defensive spectrum. Like any teenager that is already confined to first base, Chmiel's bat is going to have to get him to the show. At 6'5'', he has plenty of reach, but he has work to do on his footwork. His coaches are confident that he'll be a fine first baseman in the long run and the Orioles will give him ample opportunity.
Paul Chmiel could begin next season in any number of places. Right now, Chris Vinyard is similarly limited to first base on defense and is ahead of Chmiel on the organizational depth chart at this point. If Vinyard has a good showing in the spring, he could start out at Hi-A Frederick, leaving Chmiel a starting job in Low-A Delmarva. Otherwise, Chmiel will either have to take a good chunk of his at bats as a designated hitter or stay in extended spring training until Aberdeen's season starts. Either way, 2007 will be a big jump for Chmiel.
Michael Hollman is the Senior Writer for Inside The Warehouse and can be reached via email at Publisher@InsideTheWarehouse.com