You would have to closely follow the Orioles’ minor leagues to know who Keegan Gillies and Morgan McSweeney are. Both are right-handed pitchers and are among the top 45 Oriole prospects in FanGraphs’ latest list.
Gillies was the Orioles’ 15th-round draft pick last July and threw one inning in the Florida Complex League, but that was enough to rank him 40th.
McSweeney was taken in the 17th round in 2019, and last year was a combined 3-5 with a 4.43 ERA and one save for High-A Aberdeen and Double-A Bowie. FanGraphs thinks he’s the 38th best prospect in the Orioles’ system.
Gillies and McSweeney aren’t as well known as two former top prospects, infielder Rylan Bannon and outfielder Yusniel Diaz, who are on the Orioles’ 40-man roster but not included on FanGraphs’ list.
Neither Bannon nor Diaz is on The Athletic’s list of top 20 prospects compiled by Keith Law, though Diaz is mentioned among nine others of note.
In 2020, Diaz was the eighth-ranked prospect by MLB.com while Bannon was 26th.
Both came from the Los Angeles Dodgers in the trade for Manny Machado along with right-hander Dean Kremer, another fallen star prospect who no longer qualifies as a rookie.
Bannon and Diaz have yet to play in the major leagues. Kremer has a 1-8 and a 6.84 ERA in 17 major league starts in 2020 and 2021.
Everyone knew that the Orioles would add Diaz to the 40-man roster after the canceled 2020 minor league season. In 2019, Diaz played in just 76 games for Bowie, hitting .262 with an .807 OPS. Diaz hit 11 home runs and drove in 53 runs despite missing time because of quadriceps and hamstring injuries.
In 2021, Diaz had a groin injury and toe turf and hit only .161 with five homers and 22 RBIs in 65 games for the Baysox and Triple-A Norfolk.
The Orioles would have loved to have given Diaz some time in the outfield when Anthony Santander and Austin Hays were injured. Instead, that time went to Ryan McKenna and DJ Stewart.
As for Bannon, the Orioles hoped he might get some time at third base in 2021. Even though Maikel Franco underperformed and was released in August, Bannon missed time because of a left oblique injury and was limited to 90 games with Norfolk and Aberdeen where he hit just .168 with 16 home runs and 38 RBIs.
Though Bannon isn’t found on any top prospect lists, he remains on the 40-man roster—for now.
FanGraphs’ list, which was released last week, has the usual suspects: Adley Rutschman, Grayson Rodriguez, DL Hall, Colton Cowser and Gunnar Henderson are their top 5.
Law’s top five are Rutschman, Rodriguez, Cowser, Henderson and Hall.
On Tuesday, ESPN.com’s Kiley McDaniel released his top 100 prospects, and he has six Orioles on the list: Rutschman as the top player, Rodriguez 8th and the top pitcher, Cowser (74), Hall (94), Henderson (96) and third baseman Coby Mayo (98).
FanGraphs ranks Mayo, the Orioles’ fourth-round pick in 2020, as its sixth best prospect; Law has him ninth.
Mayo, a 20-year-old, hit .319 with a .981 OPS with nine home runs, 41 RBIs, and 11 steals without being thrown out in 53 games in the Florida Complex League and Low-A Delmarva.
Law ranks infielder Joey Ortiz seventh while FanGraphs ranks him 23rd. Ortiz, the Orioles’ fourth-round pick in 2019, missed most of last season due to a shoulder injury. He played in just 35 games last season at Aberdeen and Bowie, hitting .265.
The remainder of FanGraphs’ top 10 includes right-handed starter Kyle Bradish, outfielder Kyle Stowers, infielder Jordan Westburg and outfielder Heston Kjerstad, the top pick in 2020 who has yet to play because of myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart.
With no major league baseball, these lists are getting more attention than they have in the past, but remember, the Orioles’ top starter, John Means, was never included on any top prospect lists.
Two interesting names on the FanGraphs’ list are 17-year-old Dominican shortstop Leandro Arias (12th) ,and Cuban second baseman César Prieto (14th), who both signed last month.
Starting pitchers Drew Rom (15th), Kyle Brnovich (17th) and Carter Baumler (18th), who had Tommy John surgery in October 2020 and should make his professional debut this spring, and infielders Maikol Hernandez (20th), a Dominican who signed last year, and leftfielder Mishael Deson (21st), an outfielder acquired in the Mychal Givens trade are all of interest.
There are some players with Oriole experience on FanGraphs’ list, too: right-hander Mike Baumann (22nd), second baseman Jahmai Jones (30th), left-hander Alexander Wells (31st), first baseman Tyler Nevin (41st) and right-handed reliever Isaac Mattson (45th).
Right-hander Tyler Burch, who was acquired from Philadelphia in the trade for Freddy Galvis, is 39th, and the oldest prospect on the list is 28-year-old right-handed reliever Cole Uvila, who was taken in the minor league portion of the Rule 5 draft in December.
Another interesting omission on the FanGraphs’ list is shortstop Adam Hall, who hasn’t played above High-A and wasn’t protected for the Rule 5 draft. Law rates him 18th.