As is now the tradition of the first Thursday in December, we interrupt the boring winter Hot Stove League routine to bring back a Thursday evening Shorebirds post. Once again I take the time to announce my SotWHoF page will be reopening tonight with two new inductees.
I predicted last year this might be a small class, figuring that players who were can’t-miss prospects from recent drafts had already made their debuts while the other prospects from Delmarva were concentrated at the advanced-A and AA levels as 2012 closed. My prediction was borne out as the two Shorebirds of the Week who were added to the 40-man roster during the 2012-13 offseason were the two who got to The Show.
In order of major league debut, the two honorees are:
- Zach Clark, who debuted (and made his only appearance) May 1, and
- Jonathan Schoop, who played five games after his September 25 debut – the last five games of the season.
In terms of actual impact by a particular class, this was the leanest crop of prospects ever. Even in 2010, when I had Brandon Snyder as my sole inductee, he played in ten games. Combined, my pair this year played in six.
But that doesn’t necessarily serve as a predictor of future results. Clark, who is now a student at Knuckleball U. with master teacher Phil Niekro, could conceivably use that pitch to stay in the big leagues well after the age of 40 (he turned 30 in July.) Meanwhile, Schoop could end up being the successor to Brian Roberts in Baltimore, showing some signs of brilliance at a tender age. Considering what has become of the Class of 2011, which had seven members but only one full-time major-leaguer just two years later (four of the seven did not play in the big leagues in 2013, and one didn’t play at all) it’s anyone’s guess how this small cadre will do as the seasons progress.
As is often the case, I like to use the twin predictors of those who are added to a team’s 40 man roster and/or participate in the Arizona Fall League as a gauge of the following year’s class. So the list of possibilities on the 40-man roster front are Tim Berry, Eddie Gamboa, and Michael Ohlman, all added to the Orioles roster – although Gamboa was just as quickly removed – along with Jarret Martin of the Los Angeles Dodgers. (Martin was sent to the Dodgers in a trade for Dana Eveland in late 2011.) Berry, Ohlman, and Martin also played in the Arizona Fall League, with Berry having the best numbers. Ohlman was a “taxi squad” player who could only see limited action and Martin was ineffective in 13 appearances.
However, since only Martin has (briefly) played above the high-A level it’s not likely we’ll see any of them play in the majors during 2014.
Out of the remaining Oriole AFL participants, only Branden Kline and Eduardo Rodriguez were selected as Shorebirds of the Week. Based on his 2013 season and polish shown in the AFL I would think Rodriguez has the best chance of making it to The Show next year. (He did not need to be added to the 40-man roster for protection.) Kline is coming off an injury-riddled 2013 and may well be Delmarva-bound again in 2014. He was added to the AFL roster more for the purpose of getting some innings in, not necessarily as a hot prospect.
There are some other players who I think have an outside chance of making it next year: pitchers Jacob Pettit, Oliver Drake, and Sean Gleason, outfielder John Ruttinger, first baseman Christian Walker, and utility players Garabez Rosa and Ty Kelly. Kelly was sent to the Mariners organization in a midseason trade, so he could suit up for Seattle by season’s end. For some in this group, they’re approaching the end of their opportunity as they advance in age – it would be another Zach Clark-style story if they made it.
I suspect when all is said and done there will be another small class next season, on the order of two to three players. It’s hard to predict the out years but I suspect 2015 and 2016 may see another bumper crop.
In the meantime it will also be interesting to see how many of the enshrined players who didn’t make it to the big league level in 2013 make it back next year. Some careers already seem to be in decline, but there are others who could be surprises next season. It’s simply fun to watch as well as select the future possibilities who start out as Shorebirds of the Week.
Finally, I’m going to try something new, an idea which was suggested to me at the end of the season. Sometime around the start of spring training I’m going to try and predict the ten most likely new faces on the Shorebirds. It will be fun to see how it plays out, and may be the bulk of my choices next summer.
After all, we are only seventeen weeks away from the return of Shorebird of the Week. I just hope there’s an exhibition game for pictures because we start out with a week on the road – otherwise my first two picks may be from 2013 photos. Yet they could be the future Hall of Famers.