Orioles continue to have top minor league prospects in latest rankings; Rodriguez getting ready for Ravens season - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Rich Dubroff

Orioles continue to have top minor league prospects in latest rankings; Rodriguez getting ready for Ravens season

Heston Kjerstad
Photo Credit: Kim Klement USA TODAY Sports

SEATTLE—Shortstop Jackson Holliday, who was the overall top pick in the 2022 draft, maintains his status as the top prospect in minor league baseball in MLB Pipeline’s latest ratings.

The Orioles have six prospects in the Top 100. Besides the 19-year-old Holliday, who is also ranked No. 1 in the latest Baseball America rankings, outfielder Colton Cowser, who’s currently with the Orioles, is ranked No. 14 by MLB Pipeline and No. 12 by Baseball America.

Outfielder Heston Kjerstad, who’s with Triple-A Norfolk,  is ranked 35th by MLB Pipeline and No. 50 by Baseball America. Infielder Coby Mayo, also at Norfolk, is 28th in MLB Pipeline and 27th in Baseball America. Catcher Samuel Basallo, recently promoted to High-A Aberdeen, is 60th in Pipeline and 49th in Baseball America. Norfolk infielder Joey Ortiz is 55th in MLB Pipeline and 72nd in Baseball America.

Infielder Jordan Westburg, who’s been with the Orioles since late June, is ranked 33rd by Baseball America but has too much service time to remain ranked by MLB Pipeline.

In the latest Top 30 Orioles prospects, Norfolk infielder Connor Norby is ranked seventh behind Holliday, Cowser, Kjerstad, Mayo, Basallo and Ortiz.

Outfielder Enrique Bradfield Jr., the first-round draft choice last month who’s now at Single-A Delmarva, is ranked eighth. Bowie outfielder Dylan Beavers and Norfolk left-hander DL Hall round out the top 10.

Two Norfolk starting pitchers — Chayce McDermott, a right-hander, and left-hander Cade Povich — are 11 and 12. Third baseman Mac Horvath, the Orioles’ second-round pick last month who’s also with the Shorebirds, is 13th. Two picks from last year, outfielder Jud Fabian and third baseman Max Wagner, both at Bowie, are 14 and 15.

Right-hander Seth Johnson, who was acquired along with McDermott in last year’s trade for Trey Mancini, is recovering from Tommy John surgery and is 16th. International outfield prospect Brayln Tavera, outfielder Hudson Haskin, who won’t play again this year because of an injury, international shortstop prospect Leandro Arias and Norfolk right-hander Justin Armbruester round up the top 20.

Bowie outfielder John Rhodes, Aberdeen catcher Creed Willems, right-hander Carter Baumler, who’s in the Florida Complex League on a rehab assignment, Aberdeen shortstop Frederick Bencosme, right-hander Jackson Baumeister, drafted in the third round last month, international shortstop prospect Luis Almeyda, Delmarva left-hander Luis De Léon, Bowie outfielder Billy Cook and right-handers Juan Nuñez and Alex Pham, at Aberdeen and Bowie, are prospects ranked 21st through 30th.

Rodriguez is a Ravens fan: Grayson Rodriguez’s other favorite Baltimore sports team is playing its first preseason game of the season on Saturday night.

Rodriguez, a Texas native, has become a huge Ravens fan.

“When I was drafted in 2018, really just seeing I was going to be a part of the city, the football team, coming from a small town back home, no NFL team or anything like that,” Rodriguez said. “I always liked watching the Joe Flacco-era Ravens. I thought that was cool in the Super Bowl and then really just seeing a team develop the last couple of years. I just like watching the Ravens.”

While reliever Nick Vespi is also a Ravens fan because he went to the same Florida high school as Lamar Jackson, Rodriguez’s favorite player is a kicker.

“I met Justin Tucker for the first time in 2021 when I was at Double-A Ever since then I became a big fan,” he said.

Texas has two NFL teams, the Dallas Cowboys and the Houston Texans.

“My parents weren’t really big Cowboys fans,” Rodriguez said. “My brother was a big Texans fan, so watching Arian Foster, Andre Johnson, seeing those early Texans growing up. The whole Deshaun Watson deal kind of went down. I kind of took on the Ravens full time. I still like watching the Cowboys. I enjoy watching those games with Dak [Prescott]. He’s a very respected player, but I like keeping up with the Ravens a lot.”

Rodriguez often tweets about the Ravens during the offseason, and likes both Tucker and Jackson.

“That’s pretty exciting, very exciting brand of football. I like the product the Ravens put out there. I’ve been to one game. It was when they played the Packers on the night that Aaron Rodgers sent the Packers franchise record. Tyler Huntley started that game. He was a lot of fun to watch. He kept them in it.”

Many of the Orioles root for teams from their home regions.

“We definitely have some fun arguments,” Rodriguez said. “A lot of football fans in here. We like playing fantasy football. It’s a lot of fun to watch some days and talk trash here with guys. They just come from different areas.”

Rodriguez wants to take a trip to Owings Mills, but that must wait.

“I haven’t seen the training facility, “ he said. “I hope to go soon. Baseball comes first. Maybe we’ll have a day off and we can go see a practice.”

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