9. Ryan Minor
He never received quite as much national attention as other top Orioles prospects, but how could we forget the man who finally replaced Cal Ripken in the starting lineup after the legend had played an incredible 2,632 consecutive games by the end of the 1998 season?
Though clearly over-hyped by the organization, Minor was considered the heir apparent to Ripken by 1997 as many fans wondered when the aging future Hall of Famer would step aside and give the 6-foot-7 prospect a chance. A star basketball player at Oklahoma who was expected to go to the NBA — he was drafted in the second round of the 1996 draft by the Philadelphia 76ers — the Orioles surprisingly enticed him to play baseball instead after he was drafted in the 33rd round of the MLB amateur draft.
Minor clubbed a remarkable 67 extra-base hits in his first full professional season playing at Single-A Delmarva in 1997 to move to the top of the club’s prospect list in 1998, but he was soon exposed for having too long of a swing at the major league level, hitting a measly .185 with three homers and 66 strikeouts in 235 plate appearances with the Orioles over three seasons. Minor not only failed in becoming the club’s third baseman of the future, but he was traded to Montreal in exchange for eventual closer Jorge Julio after the 2000 season, leaving the Orioles a year before Ripken did.
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