From young minor league prospects to rookie big-league talent, Prospect Press will be providing an inside look at baseball's best talent for years to come. Today's Prospect Press focuses on Baltimore Orioles prospect Manny Machado
The Baltimore Orioles selected Manny Machado with the third overall selection in the 2010 draft. He's enjoying a strong first professional season, hitting .260/.361/.442 with a .803 OPS between low-A Delmarva and high-A Frederick.
The 19-year-old shortstop was rated the No.14 best prospect in all of baseball in Baseball America's pre-season rankings, and has moved up to the No.5 spot overall in the mid-season updated list.
When Machado was originally drafted by Baltimore, writers in the baseball industry thought that he would eventually move to third base because of his size potential and growth. He's a 6'3'' shortstop that has the upside of a power hitting third baseman.
Machado combines power, size, and speed while showing a terrific arm at shortstop. In addition to having a plus arm, Manny looks smooth on plays at shortstop while improving his footwork and learning the game at the lower levels. Baltimore fans have already heard the comparisons of Machado to a young Alex Rodriguez
His production at the plate has been legit in his young career thus far, as he has the ability to hit for power while drawing walks. Between Delmarva and Frederick, Manny has walked 13.5% of all plate appearances. His strikeout totals have risen a tick from 14.7% to 17.6% (20% league average for both leagues) from low-A to high-A, but given he's 19 years old and still learning the strike zone, his strikeout totals are not alarming.
Baltimore recently signed J.J. Hardy
to a three-year, $22.5 million contract extension, including a limited no-trade clause. With Hardy locked up for three-years, this allows the Orioles to take their time with Machado and ensuring that he's ready for the big leagues. He gave the Orioles a scare back in early May when he injured his left knee playing for Delmarva, but only missed about a month of playing time. Machado is likely to finish the 2011 season with the Frederick Keys and could start the 2012 campaign with Frederick as well.
Regardless of whether he plays shortstop or third base, his bat and position make him one of the best young prospects in all of baseball. His patience and power at the plate is already evident and should only improve as he get's closer to Baltimore.