Analyst Adam McInturff likes direction Orioles system is heading - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Rich Dubroff

Analyst Adam McInturff likes direction Orioles system is heading

Photo credit: Steven Branscombe - USA Today Sports

Adam McInturff is the assistant director of pro scouting for 2080 Baseball. He has worked in the Orioles’ operations department. He talked with BaltimoreBaseball.com’s Rich Dubroff about the draft and his observations of the Orioles’ minor league system.

Question: What did you think about the Orioles’ draft?

Answer: “I felt pretty positively about the last three drafts, and this one was certainly like it. I think there’s no doubt that it’s a little different at the top because the last two of [former scouting director Gary Rajsich’s] drafts focused on high school pitching at the top.

“I think anytime that you do what they did, which is, they brought in easily the number one player on the board, in my opinion in [Adley] Rutschman. We’ll see if they get him signed, but I’m pretty sure they will, given where they took him.

“Moving a guy like Gunnar Henderson down the board to 42, who really was a back of the first round type of talent … when you come away with those two players, they certainly think, not to mention the rest of the group, I think they’re excited about the rest of the class. But because of what they did at the top, specifically, and the way that guys like [DL] Hall and Grayson Rodriguez have performed already in the organization, I think they’re adding two premium talents to a group that’s already getting better.”

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Q: One of the things that general manager Mike Elias has said is that he’s not used to having a farm system that isn’t highly ranked. Will this draft class change that low ranking?

A: “I think it gives them a big boost. I’d have to think probably a little bit harder whether it was truly in the top 10, but it pushes them … out of the bottom 10, for sure. I also imagine the way Rodriguez and Hall have pitched helps a lot, too. I think you’re now looking at a farm system that probably has four top 125 guys, in my opinion in Rutschman, Hall, Grayson, and then you could probably put [Ryan] Mountcastle with the way he’s played and his proximity. Maybe Yusniel Diaz. That’s four if not five, and that’s pretty much on par with the better systems in the game.

“They’re certainly close. They’re in the neighborhood of the top 10 when you consider who’s running the organization, the track record that they have of cultivating prospects and outstanding player development and the amount of high picks that Baltimore is going to continue to have. I certainly think that down the road … you’re going to see them place in the better farm systems in baseball at this rate.”

Q: How soon can fans see discernible improvement in the major league team?

A: “I think it depends what type of fan you are. If you’re the type of fan that’s a fairly casual fan worried about wins and losses, I think if we use the Houston blueprint and we assume that Mike and that [assistant GM Sig Mejdal] and the rest of the front office is trying to enact, I think you’re probably looking at another three, four years. But, if you’re the type of fan that’s listening to podcasts or reading this type of work, and you’re really watching this team, day-in and day-out, I think you’re going to start to see progress … as soon as some of these young guys come up.

“I think what’s tough is, and this is just my opinion, what’s really hard about the first half of a season like this one for Baltimore, when everyone knew it was going to be tough, everyone knew they weren’t going to be good, is you’re oftentimes in the early portions of a rebuild without the young players that you’re cultivating to ultimately compete. That’s definitely difficult, and it’s hard for a fan. There’s been a lot of ugly stuff to watch.

“I think the baseline wins and losses, I think it’s going to take a while to turn this ship around. I think that’s partially because they’re dedicated to doing it the right way and taking their time. I certainly think if they wanted to half-measure this thing and have the team win 82, 83, 84 games and spend reckless money and Band-Aid stuff in the offseason like the Orioles have done in years past, they could do that in one or two years, but I think they’re much more dedicated to creating a sustainable, contending team. The Orioles really haven’t had that commitment to a sustainable infrastructure in a long time. That’s what’s most exciting.”

Q: In the previous three drafts, seven of the top nine picks were pitchers, including DL Hall and Grayson Rodriguez. Besides those two, are any of the other pitchers showing promise?

A: “Absolutely. A guy that I like a good amount, and I know that’s he taken his lumps, I’m a big Keegan Akin guy. I think at the very least, he’s a back-of-the-rotation lefty. He’s kind of quietly made his way through the organization, which is funny because he was the Eastern League Pitcher of the Year last year, and the organizational pitcher of the year. That’s to me the first name that comes to mind.

“Akin has certainly been a guy to me in the past that I’ve always liked, maybe No. 5 for a good team and maybe a 4 for a bad team. Another one I’m excited about is Zac Lowther … He’s pretty funky. He’s not a traditional hard-throwing guy, but I think the deception and the spin. He’s kind of the TrackMan darling, how deceptive he is, the amount of strikes he throws. I think Lowther has a chance to be a No. 5 starter as well … Michael Baumann is another one who’s had a good year this year.”

Q: One of the areas the Orioles haven’t done well at in recent years is producing infielders. Is there any help coming along?

A: “I don’t think that some of the infield help is very high up in the organization. I think that if you want to look down on the farm, maybe you go to an Adam Hall and the season that he’s having in Delmarva … He’s kind of an undersized, contact and speed-oriented type of shortstop … He’s a player that’s performed a little better than I thought he was going to be.

“I think of Trea Turner when I see him because I missed on Turner. I missed on Turner because I thought he was too small. I didn’t really think his arm was going to play across the infield, and I underestimated how his speed plays his game up, and I think Hall is starting to turn into a similar type of player.”

Q: The Orioles seem to have a lot of nearly major league ready outfielders. Who do you like among them?

A: “I think that’s one of the strengths of the system. That’s one of the strengths I highlighted in our organizational review this winter for 2080. That really going into this year, especially … was the strength of the system. Yusniel Diaz and Austin Hays … Ryan McKenna, I think, played himself into one of the better and more notable prospects in the organization. He’s in the outfield as well.

“Then you look at this draft, and I think they added two more in Kyle Stowers from Stanford and Zach Watson from LSU, so you kind of pair that with, they already have Cedric Mullins, [Trey] Mancini, [Anthony] Santander, so there’s a lot of outfield options for them, and I think long-term, they’re going to be able to put together a competitive group with all the depth they have at that position.”

43 Comments

43 Comments

  1. Fareastern89

    June 22, 2019 at 7:30 am

    Great interview, Rich. It’s much-needed reassurance that the organization is on the right track. This was always going to be hardest season to get through, because you have to watch fringe-type players who — if they were really any good — would not have been available to the O’s in the first place. Looking forward to seeing some prospects arrive maybe at the end of this year (perhaps Akin, Mountcastle) or early next season. In the meantime, it’s fun to watch the minor league clubs; Bowie has won 14 of its last 17, I think, and everyone knows how good Delmarva has been.

    • Rich Dubroff

      June 22, 2019 at 10:09 am

      Thank you, Fareastern.

  2. Orial

    June 22, 2019 at 8:16 am

    Don’t like the Rutchsman signing being referred to as “if” instead of “when”. Gunnar Henderson is definitely an “if”. One thing to also take into consideration—July 2 International signing period. Could be VERY significant. Rich what reasons would Adley have to possibly say no? The Oriole organization is historic(stop laughing),will give an almost immediate opportunity to play,and seem to be financially ready to meet his needs.

    • Rich Dubroff

      June 22, 2019 at 10:09 am

      Not signing Adley Rutschman would be beyond the realm of my conception, Orial.

      • BigBirdsBird

        June 24, 2019 at 1:56 am

        I just read somewhere late tonight Gunner is expected to now sign sometime in the next few days. Great news indeed if true as he seems to be the big question mark right now

    • BigBirdsBird

      June 23, 2019 at 2:32 am

      Any news on the SS signing

    • Rich Dubroff

      June 23, 2019 at 7:53 am

      Not yet, BBB.

  3. jimcarter

    June 22, 2019 at 8:21 am

    The same DL Hall that walks over 6 per 9 innings? That’s great?? It’s Summer, enough of the snow jobs.

  4. ZantiGM

    June 22, 2019 at 8:21 am

    Thanks, Rich I love this kind of info. I have always followed minor league prospects very closely and watch a lot of games on Miilb Can’t get enough.

    • Rich Dubroff

      June 22, 2019 at 10:10 am

      Always happy to please you, Phil.

  5. ButchBird59

    June 22, 2019 at 8:51 am

    Rich, thanks for the great piece. Off topic a bit: Adam McInTURFf is really his name? That’s one of those classically apropos names like Sally Ride, Gary Player, or Lake Speed. 🙂

    I like the way he’s thinking:
    “I certainly think if they wanted to half-measure this thing and have the team win 82, 83, 84 games and spend reckless money and Band-Aid stuff in the offseason like the Orioles have done in years past, they could do that in one or two years, but I think they’re much more dedicated to creating a sustainable, contending team.”
    I agree particularly when it comes to pitching, we can do without more Cobbs and Strailys. The chances of finding front line pitching in the Free Agent basement bin are negligible.

    • VICTORTEE

      June 22, 2019 at 9:19 am

      When the Braves traded their top vets a few years ago they also signed Nick Markakis and acquired a few other vets so they were losers for several seasons but still had some major league talent. And they are a good upcoming team now. So there is a middle ground between contending and total tanking. I wish some of the Baltimore writers and radio/TV guys would acknowledge this and not say the Elias/Houston tanking method is the only way to rebuild.

      • Fareastern89

        June 22, 2019 at 9:56 am

        True, every team’s situation is different. I guess it depends in part on the strength of the farm system, international scouting, and proficiency in player development when a team decides to rebuild. But given the O’s deficiencies in so many areas, I think Elias is right in starting almost from scratch.

        • Orial

          June 22, 2019 at 10:23 am

          That’s exactly what it was–strength of farm system or lack there of. There are rebuilds(Braves) then there are “gutting it”(O’s)

          • Jbigle1

            June 22, 2019 at 12:15 pm

            The Braves had a farm system base and some young MLers to build/trade when they started a rebuild. The Orioles have nothing to build on. Mancini isn’t Freddie Freeman. And Means was an absolutely nobody until this year and he looks to be our best big league pitcher. We just dont have the talent to be competitive right now. I’d like to see us add some cheaper rebound pitching this offseason because the guys we have aren’t up to par. Clearly.

    • Rich Dubroff

      June 22, 2019 at 10:11 am

      Butch, yes that’s his name and I thought he was terrific.

    • Rich Dubroff

      June 22, 2019 at 10:13 am

      Victor, I think you make a valid point. I thought a couple of bridge players would be helpful, and in part, that’s what Alex Cobb was supposed to deliver even though he wasn’t signed by the current regime.

    • ClayDal

      June 22, 2019 at 12:41 pm

      Major difference between Atlanta and Baltimore is that the Braves were moving into a brand new stadium, so they were anticipating an increase in revenue. The Orioles on the other hand had their lowest attendance in 40 years last year. Also the young core of the future Orioles isn’t here yet. When the young core ( Diaz, Mountcastle, Rutschman, etc) it will make more sense to bring in veteran players for guidance

  6. willmiranda

    June 22, 2019 at 10:19 am

    I demur at calling tanking a “method.” I don’t think it’s repeatable with a high degree of confidence. Many other variables are involved in the turnaround of a team; some teams lose a lot without ever getting better. Good signings –draft, trade, free agent– and good player development, as well as good game management, are more important than losing games. In another sport, where draft choices are even more important, the Cleveland Browns dipped into tanking with Baltimore’s own Sashi Brown and Hue Jackson (both with remarkable similarities to Elias and Hyde). Promoting failure, they went 1-15 and promised never to do it again. Then they went 0-16. The next phase would have involved extending the season to 18 games. When the team pulled the plug on tanking, concluding that no team had to be THIS bad to become good, improvement ensued.

    • Orial

      June 22, 2019 at 10:28 am

      Totally disagree. Elias shows no signs of accepting/promoting failure. Hyde (unlike Hue Jackson) is well respected by his players. Its very difficult ,though frustating,to begin a rebuild when the cupboard’s are bare. 2020–2021 is when it really starts.

      • willmiranda

        June 22, 2019 at 2:27 pm

        Thanks for the reply. I don’t think Jackson was unpopular with his players during the first half of his first season. The sympathetic media always presented him as a nice guy It was losing that lost him the players. Like Hyde, he was a long-term subordinate with experience on winning teams, without ever being in charge. Like Hyde, he was a friendly guy who always had explanations for everything. I’m not saying they’re exactly the same or that Hyde can’t be successful. I am saying that there has to be a minimum amount of winning if you want to have credibility. In this I hope we are agreed

    • Jbigle1

      June 22, 2019 at 12:24 pm

      I don’t think that’s what happened with the Cleveland Browns at all. I think they failed to ever take a QB at the top of the draft in a QB league. They finally took one who could play in Baker Mayfield and their fortunes changed. If Deshaun Kizer was still their QB they’d still be a laughing stock no matter how much other talent they had.

      I don’t know what you guys think we could’ve done this year. Duquette and Angelos left us with a team that had no impact guys ready on the farm. Signing a couple Adam Jones’ and Nelson Cruz’s wouldn’t have made us decent. The only guys that are going to want to come to Baltimore right now are guys who are looking to rebound anyway.

      • Jbigle1

        June 22, 2019 at 12:31 pm

        We had a roster full of those guys last year and were absolute atrocious so I’m not buying into that notion whatsoever. It’s easy to say “what if” but in reality this season was going to be a dumpster fire no matter what moves Elias made.

      • willmiranda

        June 22, 2019 at 2:43 pm

        Thanks for the reply, Jb. I think that if Brown/Jackson stayed in power, they would not have drafted Mayfield (too short, analytically) and traded down for some valuable 4th round picks in 2024. DeShone Kizer would have remained quarterback, and the fans would be told to trust the process and be patient until the 2024 draft, where they’d stockpiled choices. As for the O’s, we all know we’re in a hard place. I’m just looking for signs of fight. Having “Just Compete, Baby!” as a war cry doesn’t do it for me. And moves, even small ones, that have an immediate, if small, impact. And how about signing the Number One pick? That should have been set up before the draft. When, as Rich noted, experts are saying “if” about his signing this late, you have to wonder. It would be nice for the kid and his agent to show some confidence in the team.

    • Camden Brooks

      June 22, 2019 at 8:50 pm

      I also don’t buy the tanking conspiracy. I put it right up there with the flat earth folks.

  7. whiterose

    June 22, 2019 at 11:47 am

    Rich, why cant we reply to your replies?

    • Rich Dubroff

      June 22, 2019 at 1:30 pm

      I don’t know, but you’re always welcome to email me: [email protected] if you’d like a personal reply.

    • Raymo

      June 22, 2019 at 8:22 pm

      You can reply to the comment that Rich replied to. I think that will accomplish what you want.

  8. Bhoffman1

    June 22, 2019 at 11:51 am

    Again no one mentions Mason McCoy who has the highest BA of anyone in our system. I don’t know if the guy fields and throws good for a SS but I root for the underdog

    • Jbigle1

      June 22, 2019 at 12:17 pm

      When all prospect evaluators say nothing on the guy it’s probably a sign that his game doesn’t translate that well into the next level. I hope Mccoy carves a career out but Richie Martin tore up AA last year. Those guys get paid for a living to scout players and if they don’t see much there it’s hard for me and my unqualified opinion to argue. Some guys do slip through the cracks (Whit Merrifield is one) and we can hope he’s one of them but I doubt it.

    • ButchBird59

      June 22, 2019 at 12:37 pm

      I’m with you on McCoy. Perhaps we’ll see some moveups when everyone gets signed and in uniform.

    • Bhoffman1

      June 22, 2019 at 1:16 pm

      Richie Martin should be in TripleA if not for the rule 5. I read a article awhile back on McCoy that said he always outperforms expectations and is a hard worker. Time for him to go to Norfolk

    • Camden Brooks

      June 22, 2019 at 8:53 pm

      I would wager a guess McCoy goes AAA late summer (assuming he continues the stellar play).

  9. deqalt

    June 22, 2019 at 12:51 pm

    Rich terrific interview thank you very much. It’s frustrating to here most of these pitching prospects are projected as #5’s in the rotation. We need #2 and #3’s in the hopes of them settling in somewhere. #5’s typically can only go the wrong way.

    • Rich Dubroff

      June 22, 2019 at 1:34 pm

      Thank you, deqalt. Hall and Rodriguez are higher ranked, but the prospects now in the system are better than they have been in years.

  10. Bhoffman1

    June 22, 2019 at 7:38 pm

    Also Dean Kremer wasn’t mentioned. 5 shutout innings today 8 strikeouts

  11. Raymo

    June 22, 2019 at 8:28 pm

    Two thumbs up Rich! Very informative interview.

  12. Borg

    June 23, 2019 at 6:18 am

    I think most people knew this season was going to be tough to watch, but if your analyst is correct that four more seasons will be required before the major league team is competitive again, there won’t be a single fan in the seats. When you watch home games now it’s five times as many empty seats as fans–I’ve seen a few games this year where it looked like two people had an entire section to themselves. They can spin that any way they wish, but if there isn’t steady improvement there will be nobody at the games, and right now it’s really hard to see the potential of most of the lineup. Other than Mancini, it is difficult to project any of the current Orioles as being productive in four seasons, and Mancini might be doing his thing elsewhere since he is the only real trade chip they have right now and they still need a ton of players.

    • Rich Dubroff

      June 23, 2019 at 7:52 am

      He means four seasons until they’re a contender. In two seasons, there should be some improvement when the younger players start to make the majors.

      • Borg

        June 23, 2019 at 5:36 pm

        It’s still all relative–if they win , say 50 games this year and in two years are winning 60 but still losing lots of games where the starter is done after 3-4 innings, I don’t know if that would count as improvement. They supposedly embraced analytics (I read an article somewhere that said Baltimore was the last MLB team to do so-go figure!) yet are still trotting out a lineup of guys with OBP well south of .310,. Those kids may get better with more ABs, but what is really troubling to me is that they cannot seem to develop pitchers any more. Back in the 60s through the early 80s there was a steady pipeline of serviceable to very good pitchers coming through the system-Palmer, McNally, Bunker, Phoebus, Flanagan, Stewart, Davis, D. Martinez, Stoddard, etc, as well as pitchers from elsewhere who blossomed here like Cuellar, T. Martinez, Stone (for one year anyway) and McGregor. Now, every pitcher they have seems like he is throwing BP and that’s the main reason the record is so bad. With even average pitching this year they could be within 10 games or so of .500 and for a rebuild that would be fantastic. For the sake of the franchise, let’s hope that 2021 is a year with 70 wins in it.

    • Rich Dubroff

      June 23, 2019 at 9:38 pm

      Borg, if they had average pitching, they wouldn’t have needed a total rebuild.

      By 2021, you may get your 70 wins.

      • BigBirdsBird

        June 24, 2019 at 2:05 am

        As painful as this is to go through and with no quick fix available, the reality is we need a top 3 draft pick at least the next two years and in general getting high picks at the top of each round hopefully Nets us some real top level talent across the next 2 or 3 years of drafts to completely reload the farm and in 5 years be able to field a very competitive team.

        It is just very very painful due to how bad this team is across the board from top to bottom and the reality of there being nothing that can be done quickly to fix this is a tough pill to swallow.

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