Baseball America placed eight Oriole prospects in their top 100 last week. MLB Pipeline has seven Orioles in their top 10 positional rankings in advance of releasing their top 100 list on Thursday.
Gunnar Henderson, who was the top overall prospect in Baseball America, is MLB Pipeline’s top third base prospect. Coby Mayo, the Orioles’ fourth-round selection in the 2020 draft, is rated ninth.
Grayson Rodriguez, expected to begin the season in the Orioles’ starting rotation, is the second-ranked right-handed pitcher. DL Hall, who made his debut last August, is rated fifth among left-handers.
The Orioles had a player at each position except catcher, where Adley Rutschman was baseball’s top prospect a year ago, and at first base.
Connor Norby, the second-round pick in 2021, is the sixth-rated prospect at second. Jackson Holliday, the first overall pick last year, is fifth among shortstops, and Colton Cowser, the top pick in 2021 and the fourth overall choice, is the 10th-rated outfielder.
Henderson made his debut with the Orioles last August 31st and hit .248 with four home runs and 18 RBIs in 34 games. He remains a rookie because he had only 116 at-bats, 14 short of the 130 needed to disqualify him from rookie status.
MLB Pipeline also evaluates prospect’s tools, and Henderson is at the top of the list in four of the five categories (power, run, arm, field). Henderson is tied with Arizona’s Deyvison De Los Santos, the 10th-rated third base prospect, for power and with Mayo for best arm.
Henderson is rated as having the “highest ceiling” and third base’s most likely Rookie of the Year candidate. The Orioles haven’t had a Rookie of the Year winner since relief pitcher Gregg Olson in 1989. Rutschman finished second to Seattle’s Juan Rodriguez in the voting last season.
Rodriguez, who missed three months last season because of a lat injury, was Pipeline’s top-rated pitching prospect in 2022. He has been supplanted by Philadelphia’s Andrew Painter.
Tied with Miami’s Eury Pérez and the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Gavin Stone for top fastball, Rodriguez is considered to have the “highest floor.” MLB Pipeline cites his “deep four-pitch mix and plus control.”
They also consider Rodriguez the most likely Rookie of the Year candidate among right-handers, and consider him a better pitcher than Atlanta’s Spencer Strider was a year ago.
Strider, who was 11-5 with a 2.67 ERA in 21 games for Atlanta, finished second in the National League Rookie of the Year voting to his teammate, outfielder Michael Harris.
Hall is tied with three other left-handers — San Francisco’s Kyle Harrison, Toronto’s Ricky Tiedemann and Oakland’s Ken Waldichuk — for best fastball.
In a curious move, Hall was asked to make his debut in an August 13th start at Tampa Bay and then was returned to Triple-A Norfolk after the game. He returned on September 1st to pitch in relief. Hall was 1-1 with a 5.93 ERA and a save in 11 games.
Norby hit .279 with 29 home runs and 73 RBIs for High-A Aberdeen, Double-A Bowie and Norfolk. Mayo hit .247 with 19 homers and 69 RBIs for Aberdeen, Bowie and the Florida Complex League Orioles.
Although Joey Ortiz, the Orioles’ fourth-round pick in 2019, is not on the list of top 10 shortstops, MLB Pipeline rated him as a player to “keep Your eye on.”
Baseball America ranked Rodriguez sixth overall, Holliday 15th, Cowser 41st, Hall 75th, infielder Jordan Westburg 76th, Norby 93rd and Ortiz 95th.
MSA changes: Governor Moore, who took office last week, is replacing Thomas Kelso as head of the Maryland Stadium Authority. Kelso was an appointee of former Governor Larry Hogan.
The MSA negotiates the Orioles’ lease, which expires at the end of the year, and the team can exercise a one-time five-year extension on the lease by February 1st.
On January 16th, Orioles Chairman and CEO John Angelos said: “The Orioles will continue to work with the Stadium Authority, Tom Kelso and the next administration.”
Angelos said Governor Moore and Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott were “my personal friends.”
Angelos said the Orioles would remain in Baltimore. “We’re going to get this done for just about every reason. We’re all local people who have the best of intentions. Fear not, the Orioles will be here.”
Spring Training tickets: Spring training tickets can be purchased at the Ed Smith Stadium box office beginning January 30th at 10 a.m. Tickets will be on sale Monday-Friday from 10 a.m. to 3.p.m. through the end of spring training.
Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB