Believe it or not, there are fewer than two weeks before spring training begins.
Orioles pitchers and catchers will report to the Ed Smith Stadium complex in Sarasota, Fla., on Feb. 13. A day later, they’ll start workouts. Position players are due to report a few days after that (Feb. 18), with the first full-squad workout scheduled for Feb. 19.
It seems like 2017 just ended, but the 2018 season will be here before we know it.
The Orioles are coming off their first, last-place finish since it happened in four straight seasons from 2008 to 2011. They still need to fill several holes before the first pitch of the regular season is thrown against the Minnesota Twins on March 29 at Camden Yards.
Naturally, fans look to the minor leagues as a way to solve the club’s problems.
While the Orioles likely won’t receive much national recognition for the current depth of their organization, some of the top prospects could fit into the club’s plans at the major-league level in 2018. And beyond that, several younger players could do so down the road.
Earlier this year, Baseball America released its Top 100 prospects list. For the first time since 2014, the Orioles had three players on the list – outfielder Austin Hays (No. 21), catcher Chance Sisco (No. 68) and third baseman Ryan Mountcastle (No. 71).
My colleague Dan Connolly recently asked BaltimoreBaseball.com readers about which Orioles’ prospects they’re most excited to watch in the major leagues. Today, I hope to give you a little bit more guidance on some players who could fit that role in the coming years.
I’m talking about my preliminary 2018 “Dean’s Dozen” rankings. In the following pages, you’ll find the 12 players who I believe are at the top of the organization right now.
It’s important to note that the Top 4 – the three players mentioned earlier and right-hander Hunter Harvey – stand out from the rest of the list. Beyond that, I considered many different orders of the final eight prospects before settling on these rankings. I also thought about placing a handful of other players near the bottom of the list.
Before the minor-league season begins in early April, I plan to re-evaluate my rankings. If any of these players make the Orioles out of spring training – I’m looking at Hays and Sisco, for the most part – then I’ll adjust accordingly. And if other minor leaguers cause a stir heading into the regular season, I’ll have to find a spot for them on the list.
With all of that out of the way, let’s get to the updated Dean’s Dozen rankings: