Minor Monday: Orioles' farm system at the top in key measure - BaltimoreBaseball.com


Minor Monday: Orioles’ farm system at the top in key measure

Photo credit: Joy R. Absalon

There is hope for Oriole fans. That’s the message from MLB.com Pipeline’s  Jim Callis, who recently ranked the franchise’s minor-league system No. 1 among all 30 teams.

Under executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias, the Orioles have gone from having one of the worst farm systems to the best in this ranking.

”The growth of the system has been impressive,” Callis said. “It was a bottom-third system when Elias was hired in November 2018 and now we’ve ranked it the best in baseball. They have both the game’s best prospect in Adley Rutschman and the game’s best pitching prospect in Grayson Rodriguez, and their minor league talent depth is the best it has been in years.”

The good news is that the teams that have top-tier minor league systems generally see a boost at the major-league level. Major League Baseball teams that stock their farm system with talent should see the fruits of their labor.

Teams that contend for playoff spots at the major-league level are usually full of homegrown players who thrived in their farm systems.

“The track record of top-ranked farm systems translating into big league success is strong,” Callis said. “We’ve been ranking the farm systems since 2015 at MLB Pipeline, twice a year before the season and after the trade deadline. Our first three No. 1s — Cubs, Red Sox and Dodgers —  all have won the World Series. The next two — Brewers and Braves — have made three straight playoff appearances, and the two after that — White Sox and Padres — ended long playoff droughts last year and are well-positioned for the future.

“Then the Rays ranked No. 1 three times in a row, and they went to the World Series last year and currently have the best record in the American League. I spent most of the previous 25 years at Baseball America, and most of our No. 1 systems there experienced a lot of success.”

 Rutschman, who was the top overall pick in the 2019 draft,  has been exceptional all the way through his recent promotion to Triple-A Norfolk. Callis contends that Rutschman is a generational talent who is going to make an impact at the MLB level when he eventually makes his way to Camden Yards.

“Rutschman is the best catching prospect I’ve covered in 30 years of covering prospects,” Callus said. “He has more power than Joe Mauer or Buster Posey, and he’s more advanced than Posey was at the same stage. I had a scout liken Rutschman to Mark Teixeira offensively — and then you throw Gold Glove potential as a catcher on top of that. He’s ready now. If there weren’t service-time reasons to keep him in the minors, he’d be up already.”


The Orioles have prioritized developing pitchers. Grayson Rodriguez has been dominant throughout the season and is thriving at Double-A Bowie. The Orioles have a number of other pitches who could make their MLB debuts before the end of the season.

The team’s other top prospects include left-handed pitcher DL Hall (No. 78 overall), High-A Aberdeen shortstop Gunnar Henderson ( 80), and Low-A Delmarva outfielder Colton Cowser (83).

Hall, who began 2021 at Double-A Bowie, had his season cut short because of an elbow injury.

The overall success of the Orioles’ rebuild could hinge on their young pitchers.

“The Orioles’ ability to develop pitching will determine how quickly they return to contention,” Callis said. “Rodriguez is the best pitching prospect in baseball and  DL Hall has a lot of upside, though he still needs to throw more strikes. But a lot of Baltimore’s best prospects are bats and they’re going to need more arms beyond Rodriguez and Hall. Guys like [Norfolk’s] Kyle Bradish and Kevin Smith are sort of sleepers, but they’re going to need more than that.”

Elias has not publicly estimated when the Orioles might be competitive again. Callis said the organization has the pieces in place to turn its fortunes around. The Orioles could still be a couple of years away from contending, but the wait could be worth the current angst.

“Teams with outstanding farm systems tend to contend sooner than expected, too,” Callis said. “The difficulty facing the Orioles is that they’re in the strongest division of baseball and the rest of the AL East teams either have a lot of young talent, immense financial resources or both. The Orioles are still at least a couple of years away.

“Orioles fans have legitimate hope. The track record of success for No. 1-ranked farm systems is encouraging. But they’re still a couple of years away.”

Rodriguez dominant: Rodriguez had another solid performance for Double-A Bowie, allowing two runs with nine strikeouts in five innings in a 6-5 loss to Erie on Saturday night. Rodriguez is a combined 8-1 with a 2.60 ERA in 49 games (48 starts) for Aberdeen and the Baysox. He has struck out 144 batters in 90 innings.

More Baysox: Bowie had an impressive display of power with four home runs, including three consecutive homers from designated hitter Kyle Stowers, first baseman Andrew Daschbach, and rightfielder Zach Watson in a 6-5 victory over Erie on Sunday. The stakes become higher this week when the Baysox play the Somerset Patriots, who are just behind them for the second and final playoff spot.

Cowser sets the tone:  Cowser, the Orioles first-round pick in this year’s draft, homered in his first game for Delmarva. In his first 10 games with the Shorebirds, Cowser had a hit in each game, including the walk-off single on Saturday. He’s batting .324 with an .885 OPS.



  1. OriolesNumber1Fan

    August 30, 2021 at 7:23 am

    Let’s see how Misery and Company can spin this so they can cry some more!

    • OriolesNumber1Fan

      August 30, 2021 at 9:54 am

      Oh and AWESOME article Todd!!! But, I do believe the Orioles were smart not to bring up Adley Rutschman to the Majors this year however, with the contract agreement between MLB and the players union about to expire this December. A possible lockout by owners or players strike would already hurt the continued growth and development of possible ROY candidate Ryan Mountcastle and we don’t need another with Adley Rutschman. Also, “Ryan Mountcastle’s clock” would continue during the lockout or strike if it continued during the season next year and again we don’t need “Rutschman’s clock” to continue this way as well. But with the minor leagues not affected, Adley Rutschman could continue to play in the minors along with the other players while major league players sit around. It’s the sorry side of doing business in baseball.
      And the Orioles were smart to save their money on FA’s this year just in case there is a lockout or strike, because all the players like I stated would continue to get paid if there was no agreement in place delaying next season. And with no games being played meaning no tickets and parking receipts being sold, it would be costly for the small market teams to continue paying ML players including the Orioles, especially after last year as well. But hopefully, that gets settled soon enough so there will be no more delays with the Orioles minor league players growth and development!

      • Baltimore Castaway

        August 30, 2021 at 1:31 pm


        You are correct!

      • ToddKarpovich

        August 30, 2021 at 8:06 pm


    • Baltcf3

      August 30, 2021 at 1:46 pm

      Exactly, I’ve been waiting for 30 years except for ’12 and ’14. Prospects don’t mean squat!! Especially for this team. The way I see it to become competitive from this situation they’re going to need at least 8 pitchers who are of ML quality and that’s just a start.

  2. CalsPals

    August 30, 2021 at 7:35 am

    Glad to see someone else sees the manipulation in Rutschman’s time in the majors, “He’s ready now. If there weren’t service-time reasons to keep him in the minors, he’d be up already.” Obsessed, but with the O’s…go O’s…

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      August 30, 2021 at 12:44 pm

      My tongue is being severed, I’m biting it so hard.

    • willmiranda

      August 30, 2021 at 1:57 pm

      Like the man said, Mauer with power.

    • CalsPals

      August 30, 2021 at 6:09 pm

      He should be talked to, remember our email from November?….go O’s…

      • Boog Robinson Robinson

        August 30, 2021 at 9:13 pm

        If you’re talking about being asked to lay off, then I do.

  3. CalsPals

    August 30, 2021 at 8:09 am

    Telling stat, Fry vs TB this yr, era 101.25, yikes…great job again Todd…you’re an easy read….go O’s…

    • Rich Dubroff

      August 30, 2021 at 9:27 am

      Fry’s ERA against Tampa Bay this year is 34.71.

      • BigBirdsBird

        August 30, 2021 at 10:01 pm

        Tell em Boog Robinson Robinson, tell em all how ridiculous this is

        • Boog Robinson Robinson

          August 30, 2021 at 10:54 pm

          That’s your M.O. Joe, not mine.

    • CalsPals

      August 30, 2021 at 9:47 am

      Sorry, but that wasn’t what ESPN said this morning, maybe this month, but I’m sure ESPN wouldn’t have false facts…;)…either way 34.71, still telling, especially in the era of analytics…yikes…go O’s

    • Rich Dubroff

      August 30, 2021 at 10:14 am

      I just totaled it, and Fry allowed 15 earned runs in August and recorded four outs for a 101.28 ERA this month against the Rays, 34.71 for the year.

      • Buzz1979

        August 30, 2021 at 11:29 am

        Wow!!! Glad we hung on to him….”D’OH'”

    • CalsPals

      August 30, 2021 at 10:35 am

      That must’ve been what they referred to, thx for clarifying…go O’s…

  4. Orioles20

    August 30, 2021 at 8:26 am

    I think the second half of next year is when you start to see a slight turnaround. Rutschman and Rodriguez will be up next year. How soon remains the question. I think Stowers and Westburg will also be up at some point next year. Elias was on MLB network radio and said they will be more involved in free agency then they have been in years past. If they sign some key players and start to bring up guys then they can easily start to turn this around.

    • CalsPals

      August 30, 2021 at 8:29 am

      Totally agree O’s20, haven’t significantly been involved in FA, they’ll need to be for some pieces, both offensively/defensively & pitching…go O’s…

  5. Orial

    August 30, 2021 at 8:37 am

    I may be in the minority but I see the point of “service time” and the disadvantage that would result with calling up Rutschman for one month. The air is probably a little negative at the Major League level now so let’s get a fresh,upbeat start in Feb 22 to start the clock ticking. Oh and we can’t forget the ever looming player stoppage that could put Rutschman on the shelf for a period of time if he were in the 40 man roster. YES it is mandatory that Elias/Angelos pursue a FA or two this winter. From one the 5 worst Minor League systems to the best in 3 years is nothing to sneeze at but the process is still incomplete.

    • Phil770

      August 30, 2021 at 4:55 pm

      Good points on possible CBA issue, but I also see a 40-man roster limit needing consideration. Assuming it stays in the CBA, AR does not have to be protected this year, but others do need protection, under current rules.

      As for a potential lockout next season, these two sides don’t trust each other, so each looks to win an advantage and the other side loses. Not a great situation for fixing flaws in the current agreement. I fully expect service time to be addressed so that it is not such a barrier; I also hope that there is a change in the Arbitration system, which is also a barrier for equity, as are fully guaranteed contracts when there is severe non-performance (CD, Prince F., et al). J. Villar is a great example of what is wrong with arbitration rules now. When traded to O’s he was making $4.5M; had a productive year, arbitration projected to be $10M (each side puts up a number the arbitrator can only pick one. If the club low-balls their offer, the agent is likely to get the higher amount. As a result, even the club offers have to be be inflated a bit or their is a chance that the player will get rewarded even more. O’s balk at $10M, but Villar has little incentive to consider less. In this case Villar is traded to Miami, he signs for $8.1M; Miami trades him to Buffalo Jays at mid-season. Villar performance for Marlins and Jays no where close to what it was for O’s. Jays release him. Villar signs w/Mets this season for $5M+, when he was actually a free agent. He seems to be playing somewhat regularly with the Mets at 3B, but not hitting as well as he did with the O’s. System not working well for either side. This arbitration system can also make it too expensive to “buy out” a player’s arbitration years.

  6. musicmanjr

    August 30, 2021 at 8:42 am

    Did anyone see Sunday’s MLB Network Showcase? Harold Reynold’s take on baseballs top rookies was enlightening. Apparently Adley Rutschman is out performing all of the 2021 rookies. Adley is putting up great stats against minor league pitching, but his overall performance is superior to rookies playing at the major league level. Harold Reynolds felt that the O’s weren’t doing the best thing for their fans or Rutschman by holding him back.

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      August 30, 2021 at 8:50 am

      What? Not doing the best thing for their fans? There’s a novel thought.

      But remember … we were told he wasn’t ready.

    • Baltimore Castaway

      August 30, 2021 at 1:36 pm

      Somewhat off-topic here, but Harold Reynolds should thank his Lucky Stars that he is even on the airwaves still…

      His Commentary about Adley is the same as any annual subscriber to Baseball America would have..

      • Boog Robinson Robinson

        August 30, 2021 at 2:35 pm

        Well then, let me cancel my subscription. 🙂

  7. Bhoffman1

    August 30, 2021 at 9:16 am

    Rutschman is 23 and major league ready now according to ex oriole Harold Reynolds on MLB network. Problem the O’s are not ready for him. He’s not a complete player yet Elias said . Lol

    • CalsPals

      August 30, 2021 at 9:48 am

      Watch the negativity Bhoff…;)…go O’s…

  8. Balt mp

    August 30, 2021 at 9:45 am

    Adley is probably ready now I doubt there is any debate on that . However you have three issues to consider before you promote him. First if he is added to the 40 and there is a work stoppage he can not play in the minors . So he would sit until whenever I wouldn’t want that I’d want him at Norfolk catching Grayson and Hall and other prospects , does it stink yes but I think long term it makes sense.
    Secondly, yes service time is an issue, what is going to be this organization’s commitment to him in six years are they prepared to sign him to a large extension if he is as good as we hope . Alternatively are you going to do a Duquette and trade him for a bag of balls ? If your doing the latter there is no sense starting the clock with this team now.
    Lastly, do you really want to expose him to the current losing culture we now have here . I don’t I’d rather bring him and Grayson and Stowers and Westberg up together and maybe turn the culture and the record around at the same time .

  9. Bman

    August 30, 2021 at 10:15 am

    It is interesting to hear Elias is about to dip into the free agency market this winter. Maybe bring in a starting pitcher or two? Call up Rutschman and Rodriguez next year. DL Hall, Baumann. Maybe sign a DH power bat for the middle of the order. The hitting can turn around fast. It will all depend on what type of rotation they will field next year and beyond.

    • CalsPals

      August 30, 2021 at 10:37 am

      I don’t think they need a DH, already a lil bit of a log jam w/Mountcastle & Mancini, throw in Santander, agree they need to try the FA waters though…go O’s…

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      August 30, 2021 at 12:37 pm

      They need to buy arms only. Not necessarily starters, but arms.

      • Phil770

        August 30, 2021 at 5:17 pm

        Agree, and not the ones who need the sticky stuff for velocity, and command. I do think we need at least one, maybe two real IFs signed to bridge the gap between being watchable and competitive. 2B & 3B still big gaps. Jones is not the answer in the short-term at least at 2B. Sign the right players and if the prospects are chomping, there will always be a trade market for good players. Can’t be for 1- or even 2-year agreements. Position players and pitchers, at least 3-years to fill what is now a huge gap. At least 2 arms and 1 IF, maybe a couple more.

  10. Balt mp

    August 30, 2021 at 11:40 am

    It was interesting to hear him speak about middle infield types Corrius Correa is a free agent who does have a significant history with him so there is that . You have got to change this losing culture this we played hard but got hammered winners just don’t do that .

    • CalsPals

      August 30, 2021 at 6:10 pm

      Would be a lil hesitant to hire a known cheater, rather have a lesser player w/integrity…go O’s…

  11. willmiranda

    August 30, 2021 at 2:04 pm

    Question for Rich: Who is the Orioles’ Players Union rep? I know I asked it before, but I can’t
    find an answer. I checked websites for MLB, MLBPA, and the Orioles, but couldn’t find the answer.
    The only thing on the net was from 2019, and it listed no rep for the O’s. I think that with the
    negotiations for the agreement looming, info about the union as well as the owners and their positions
    would be useful, especially since a key to the O’s plan is player control, which is sure to be a big issue.

    • Rich Dubroff

      August 30, 2021 at 3:30 pm

      John Means is the Orioles Player Representative.

  12. MDNative58

    August 30, 2021 at 2:43 pm

    Elias and crew are brilliantly developing our franchise. Building a strong foundation first. Especially in the Dominican. We did not participate to any degree previously and now have about 50 kids in the DSL. If a few develop we close the gap a bit with other top franchises. Teaching our youth to understand analytics also allows us to catch up. I respect Elias immensely for not trying to win a few extra games this year and costing us Elijah Green in the draft next year. When Green hopefully becomes the next Griffey or ARod then the fans crying the blues now will understand just how wise Elias and his people are.

    • CalsPals

      August 30, 2021 at 5:12 pm

      If he doesn’t go below slot, again…go O’s…

    • calvinisthobbesian

      August 30, 2021 at 6:33 pm

      @MDNative58 glad to know Mike Elias’ relatives follow this site. You may have been to busy hero worshipping to notice a couple things. First, the O’s big league staff is a city dump fire. You can say Rodriguez and Hall all you want, but 2 pitchers do not a roster make and there are not enough arms of any type in the minors to fill all the holes in the O’s pitching roster. Second, as to both pitchers and hitters, the O’s have been terrible at developing talent at the major league level for many years. Yes it’s a relatively new staff at this point but you’ve probably been too busy mooning over Elias to notice that they have been terrible at coaxing much of anything out of their young pitchers this year. As for hitters yes a couple have done well but that just goes to prove that even a blind squirrel finds an acorn every once in a while. Better quit counting chickens before they hatch.

      • Boog Robinson Robinson

        August 30, 2021 at 9:16 pm

        Best post in a loooong time Calvin … made laugh for sure. Thank you.

    • OriolesNumber1Fan

      August 30, 2021 at 7:01 pm

      Elijah Green would be an excellent pick in more ways than one. This kid has two great parents in former Steeler tight end Eric Green and his wife Leslie. His dad, who was a Steeler first round pick himself taught Elijah to have great work ethics and how to be a great teammate. And his mom also taught him to be polite and have great manners. So, this kid has everything going for him and would be a great fit for the Orioles.
      As a young kid he decided to play baseball over football. And he certainly made the right choice, because this kid has it all, what scouts call a 5 tool player and I definitely agree. And it would be awesome if the Orioles drafted him and got him signed.
      However, Elijah has a verbal agreement to go to Miami University so being a number 1 pick although would be great for the Orioles, he could decide to go to college and not sign then re-enter the draft a couple of years later. This would be terrible for the Orioles, losing their number one pick especially during this rebuild.
      This kid also loves the city of Pittsburgh where he grew up and watched his father play, so he might choose to go to college and hope the Pirates pick 1st a couple of years later. But hopefully, if the Orioles do decide to draft him, maybe Mike Elias can talk him into loving the city of Baltimore or a suburb town around the city. Or he could just live in Pittsburgh during the off season whichever makes him happy. I just hope one thing! That Scott Boros doesn’t get his hands on this kid.

      • OriolesREALNumber1Fan

        August 31, 2021 at 5:22 pm

        Great insight! Do you know him?

    • willmiranda

      August 30, 2021 at 8:30 pm

      I believe we’ve already had the next ARod. He’s playing for San Diego now.

      • Baltimore Castaway

        August 30, 2021 at 10:04 pm

        Manny Machado is far less of a player than Rod–IMHO…

        • Boog Robinson Robinson

          August 30, 2021 at 10:40 pm

          No doubt BC. He comes up short between those big old ears of his.

          What a waste of talent. And what a horrible base runner.

          • Baltimore Castaway

            August 30, 2021 at 10:55 pm

            Yep…it is too bad. He has marvelous talent, it hasn’t translated to Achievement–but he did “get paid”…maybe that was his goal.. He still has time to turn things around though, I guess…

  13. jimcarter

    August 30, 2021 at 5:48 pm

    Someone I’ve actually heard of was put on waivers. I guess his name recognition was a no go for the O’s. The Giants apparently will continue to experiment with Jose Quintana as a reliever. It’s a small sample size, but encouraging thus far.

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