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Wednesday, March 13, 2013
Will Orioles youngsters all become stars?

By David Schoenfield

The Baltimore Orioles, after years of failing to develop much quality major-league talent aside from Nick Markakis and Matt Wieters (Adam Jones came over in a trade from Seattle) are suddenly flush with young talent. Manny Machado's rookie eligibility expired last season but the 20-year-old looks like a future star, whether at third base or down the road at shortstop once he replaces J.J. Hardy.

Behind Machado, the Orioles have three other high-upside youngsters. Dylan Bundy made his major-league debut at 19, just a season after being the fourth overall pick in 2011. LSU right-hander Kevin Gausman went fourth overall in 2012 and has the stuff to reach the majors sometime this year. And if you've watched any of the World Baseball Classic, you've seen infielder Jonathan Schoop playing second base for the Netherlands. He held his own in Double-A last year at age 20, hitting .245 but with 14 home runs.

Jon Shepherd of Camden Depot asked, "What are the chances of Machado, Schoop, Bundy and Gausman all being stars?"

Jon looked at where these guys rank as prospects (Machado and Bundy in the top 10, Gausman in the 21 to 30 range and Schoop in the 91-100 range) and how often players in those groupings turn into busts, regulars or All-Stars.

Jon's conclusion of the probability of the following:
Four All-Stars -- 0.2%
Three All-Stars -- 3.5%
Two All-Stars -- 19.7%
One All-Star -- 44.0%
Zero All-Stars -- 32.6%

Jon suggests that at least two of them need to develop into exceptional players for the Orioles to remain relevant. Even then, an organization has to develop enough talent around its stars. Even four All-Stars is no guarantee of future success. In 1989, for example, the Seattle Mariners' rookie class included Ken Griffey Jr., Randy Johnson, Edgar Martinez and Omar Vizquel. From there, it only took the team six years to make the playoffs and that group never did reach a World Series.

The Orioles already have a solid foundation with Wieters, Jones and Markakis. Machado looks like a can't-miss player. If Bundy and Gausman reach their potential, I see the Orioles being relevant far beyond just 2012.