It’s common knowledge that the Orioles’ farm system is improving. MLB Pipeline has it rated as baseball’s eighth best. Baseball America ranks it 12th.
MLB Pipeline compiles a list of each team’s top 30 prospects. Let’s look at the Orioles’ list and see how many could be contributing to the team in 2021 and beyond.
- Adley Rutschman, catcher
- Grayson Rodriguez, right-handed pitcher
- Heston Kjerstad, outfielder
- DL Hall, left-handed pitcher
- Ryan Mountcastle, outfielder/first baseman
- Gunnar Henderson, shortstop
- Jordan Westburg, shortstop
- Yusniel Diaz, outfielder
- Michael Baumann, right-handed pitcher
- Dean Kremer, right-handed pitcher
- Zac Lowther, left-handed pitcher
- Kevin Smith, left-handed pitcher
- Terrin Vavra, shortstop
- Hudson Haskin, outfielder
- Keegan Akin, left-handed pitcher
- Adam Hall, shortstop/second baseman
- Kyle Stowers, outfielder
- Carter Baumler, right-handed pitcher
- Alexander Wells, left-handed pitcher
- Anthony Servideo, shortstop
- Ryan McKenna, outfielder
- Tyler Nevin, first baseman/third baseman
- Drew Rom, left-handed pitcher
- Coby Mayo, third baseman
- Rylan Bannon, second baseman/third baseman
- Garrett Stallings, right-handed pitcher
- Cody Sedlock, right-handed pitcher
- Brenan Hanifee, right-handed pitcher
- Kyle Bradish, right-handed pitcher
- Luis Ortiz, left-handed pitcher
The list is equally divided between prospects that preceded Mike Elias’ arrival as executive vice president/general manager in November 2018 and those he inherited.
Let’s look first at the 15 players acquired by the Dan Duquette regime.
Three of them –Ryan Mountcastle, Dean Kremer and Keegan Akin — made their major league debuts in 2020 but maintain rookie status.
Five — Yusniel Diaz, Michael Baumann, Zac Lowther, Alexander Wells and Rylan Bannon — were added to the 40-man roster in November. Another, Ryan McKenna, was added to the 40-man roster in in November 2019.
It’s possible all six could play for the Orioles in 2021.
Of the remaining six, DL Hall, the team’s No. 1 draft pick in 2017, could join the Orioles late in the season. Even if he doesn’t, he’ll be added to the 40-man roster next November.
Grayson Rodriguez, Adam Hall, Drew Rom, Cody Sedlock and Brenan Hanifee aren’t likely to play for the Orioles in 2021. However, Sedlock, the team’s No. 1 pick in 2016, did pitch nine times for Double-A Bowie in 2019.
Of Elias’ 15, the most attention will be on Adley Rutschman, who should begin 2021 with the Baysox. Even though the minor league schedule and final composition of leagues has yet to be announced, there will be plenty of attention on Rutschman.
Fans hope to see him in Baltimore this season, but it’s possible that none of the other 14 players acquired by Elias will play at Camden Yards in 2021.
Two of them, Gunnar Henderson and Kyle Stowers, were 2019 draft choices and have scant minor league experience.
The six-man draft class of 2020 — Heston Kjerstad, Jordan Westburg, Hudson Haskin, Carter Baumler, Anthony Servideo and Coby Mayo — have yet to play. Baumler, who had Tommy John surgery in September, isn’t expected to play at all this season.
Of the remaining six, Kevin Smith, Terrin Vavra and Tyler Nevin, were added in late August trades.
Smith came from the New York Mets along with shortstop Victor González for relief pitcher Miguel Castro.
Vavra, Nevin and outfielder Mishael Deson were sent from the Colorado Rockies for reliever Mychal Givens.
It’s possible that Smith, who reached Double-A with the Mets in 2019, and Nevin, who also played in Double-A in 2019, reach Baltimore some time in 2021.
Vavra had an outstanding season in Low-A in 2019 (.318 batting average, .899 OPS) in the Rockies’ organization but is probably at least a year away from the Orioles.
Garrett Stallings arrived last month from the Los Angeles Angels in the trade for shortstop José Iglesias, and Kyle Bradish also came from the Angels in December 2019 as one of four right-handed pitchers received for starter Dylan Bundy.
Stallings has yet to pitch professionally, and Bradish, who was at the Orioles’ alternate site in Bowie in 2020, pitched in High-A in 2019.
Perhaps the most intriguing of all the players on the prospect list is the final one, left-hander Luis Ortiz.
Ortiz was part of international scouting director Koby Perez’s first signing class in 2019. After not pitching in 2020, he could pitch in the Dominican Summer League in 2021.
There are some interesting names not among the top 30. Left-hander Bruce Zimmermann pitched in two September games for the Orioles in 2020 and could begin the season with the Orioles.
Isaac Mattson, who was also put on the 40-man roster in November, was another right-hander who came in the Bundy trade. Mattson was at the alternate site, and it’s possible he’ll be with the Orioles some time in 2021.
Catcher Brett Cumberland, who came from Atlanta along with Zimmermann, right-hander Evan Phillips and infielder JC Encarnacion in the July 2018 trade for starter Kevin Gausman and reliever Darren O’Day, reached Double-A in 2019.
Since Iglesias was traded, there’s been much attention on the Orioles’ search for this season’s shortstop. With five shortstops among the top 30, perhaps the team’s long-term answer for the position is on that list.