Baltimore Orioles Top 38 Prospects by Eric Longenhagen February 3, 2023 Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports Top Prospects Team Lists 2023 2022 ALBALCHWHOUBOSCLELAANYYDETOAKTBRKCRSEATORMINTEX NLATLCHCARIMIACINCOLNYMMILLADPHIPITSDPWSNSTLSFG ALBALCHWHOUBOSCLELAANYYDETOAKTBRKCRSEATORMINTEX NLATLCHCARIMIACINCOLNYMMILLADPHIPITSDPWSNSTLSFG Below is an analysis of the prospects in the farm system of the Baltimore Orioles. Scouting reports were compiled with information provided by industry sources as well as my own observations. This is the third year we’re delineating between two anticipated relief roles, the abbreviations for which you’ll see in the “position” column below: MIRP for multi-inning relief pitchers, and SIRP for single-inning relief pitchers. The ETAs listed generally correspond to the year a player has to be added to the 40-man roster to avoid being made eligible for the Rule 5 draft. Manual adjustments are made where they seem appropriate, but I use that as a rule of thumb. A quick overview of what FV (Future Value) means can be found here. A much deeper overview can be found here. All of the ranked prospects below also appear on The Board, a resource the site offers featuring sortable scouting information for every organization. It has more details (and updated TrackMan data from various sources) than this article and integrates every team’s list so readers can compare prospects across farm systems. It can be found here. Orioles Top Prospects Rk Name Age Highest Level Position ETA FV 1 Gunnar Henderson 21.6 MLB SS 2023 65 2 Jackson Holliday 19.2 A SS 2028 60 3 Grayson Rodriguez 23.2 AAA SP 2023 55 4 Coby Mayo 21.1 AA RF 2025 55 5 DL Hall 24.4 MLB MIRP 2023 50 6 Joey Ortiz 24.6 AAA SS 2023 50 7 Heston Kjerstad 24.0 A+ RF 2024 45+ 8 Cade Povich 22.8 AA SP 2025 45 9 Jordan Westburg 24.0 AAA 2B 2024 45 10 Connor Norby 22.7 AAA 2B 2025 45 11 Dylan Beavers 21.5 A+ RF 2027 45 12 Colton Cowser 22.9 AAA LF 2024 45 13 Jud Fabian 22.4 A+ CF 2027 45 14 Samuel Basallo 18.5 R C 2027 40+ 15 Frederick Bencosme 20.1 A+ SS 2027 40+ 16 Seth Johnson 24.4 A+ SP 2023 40+ 17 Leandro Arias 18.0 R SS 2027 40+ 18 Max Wagner 21.5 A+ 3B 2027 40 19 Chayce McDermott 24.4 AA MIRP 2025 40 20 Juan Nunez 22.2 A SP 2025 40 21 Hudson Haskin 24.1 AA CF 2024 40 22 Noah Denoyer 25.0 AA MIRP 2023 40 23 Kyle Brnovich 25.3 AAA SP 2024 40 24 Justin Armbruester 24.3 AA SP 2025 40 25 Carter Baumler 21.0 A SP 2025 40 26 Carter Young 21.5 A SS 2027 40 27 Cesar Prieto 23.7 AA 2B 2024 40 28 Reed Trimble 22.7 A CF 2025 40 29 Drew Rom 23.1 AAA SP 2023 40 30 Andrew Politi 26.7 AAA SIRP 2023 35+ 31 John Rhodes 22.5 AA 3B 2025 35+ 32 Carlos Tavera 24.3 A+ MIRP 2025 35+ 33 Brandon Young 24.5 AA SP 2024 35+ 34 Silas Ardoin 22.4 A C 2027 35+ 35 Trace Bright 22.3 A SP 2026 35+ 36 Jean Pinto 22.1 A+ MIRP 2024 35+ 37 Xavier Moore 24.1 A+ SIRP 2024 35+ 38 Yennier Cano 28.9 MLB SIRP 2023 35+ Reading Options Detail Level Data Only Full Position Filter All All C 2B SS 3B LF CF RF SP SIRP MIRP 65 FV Prospects 1. Gunnar Henderson, SS Video Drafted: 2nd Round, 2019 from Morgan Academy HS (AL) (BAL) Age 21.6 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 210 Bat / Thr L / R FV 65 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 45/50 65/70 55/70 60/55 55/60 70 Henderson, still just the age of a college draft prospect, had one of the best offensive performances in minor league baseball in 2022 and made his big league debut late in the season. After strikeouts were an issue for him in 2021, he narrowed his approach (which is now surgically precise) and began to attack pitches he could damage, avoiding ones on the outer edge of the zone until he has no choice but to put them in play. The change made Henderson a dominant offensive force even though he continued to swing and miss at a worse-than-average rate, and he slashed .297/.416/.531 combined at Double-A Bowie and Triple-A Norfolk before being called up to Baltimore for the last month of the season. The offensive package, even with a bat-to-ball blemish (for now), is still befitting a star-level talent at shortstop or third base, wherever Henderson ends up playing. He is short to the baseball and still generates huge, all-fields power, swinging with so much effort and might that sometimes his head rattles around and his helmet flies off as he’s making contact. While this might contribute to some of his in-zone and overall swing-and-miss rates (he posted a 77% Z-contact% and 72% overall contact% in 2022, both comfortably below the big league average), Henderson shows plenty of hitterish traits that instill confidence in his 2022 output. He has terrific breaking ball recognition, uses his whole body to maneuver the barrel around the zone, and can let pitches travel deep before driving them the other way, and Henderson is strong enough to do damage to left field even when he’s late or mis-hits a pitch. He can be beaten with high velocity more regularly than anything else, but if pitchers miss and catch too much of the meat of the zone, that mistake is going to get hit hard somewhere. Henderson’s hard-hit rate (52%), average exit velocity (92 mph), max exit velo for his age (116 mph), barrel rate in the minors, and anything else that measures power and contact quality are all a 60 or 70 on the scouting scale, and so is his plate discipline. Even with a 40 or 45-grade hit tool, which feels like a low-end outcome, that’s a star player at shortstop and an above-average regular at third base. He’s a little more tightly wound than is typical for a big league shortstop, but Henderson’s straight-line speed is plus and so is his defensive range, and his arm strength enables him to make some plays that many other infielders can’t. His feeds around the bag sometimes lack touch and accuracy, but he’s otherwise a capable shortstop defender and would easily be plus at third base. On a universal prospect continuum, Henderson grades out a shade below some of the 70 FV or better prospects from recent years like Shohei Ohtani, Wander Franco, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., and (gulp) Gavin Lux (who is now tracking like a 60, thank goodness) because we’re talking about a corner bat with what might be a 45-grade hit tool. Still, he’s poised to be a franchise cornerstone for the Orioles’ looming renaissance. 60 FV Prospects 2. Jackson Holliday, SS Video Drafted: 1st Round, 2022 from Stillwater HS (OK) (BAL) Age 19.2 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr L / R FV 60 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 25/60 50/60 25/60 50/50 40/50 55 Holliday exited his pre-draft summer as a mid-to-late first round prospect. Among the high school prospects, he not only had perhaps the best chance to remain at shortstop, but he also had one of the better bat-to-ball track records in the class, accumulating a 3-to-1 ball in play-to-whiff ratio on the showcase circuit. He was also one of the better rotational athletes available, with one of the loosest, most beautiful swings in the class. It seemed plausible he might eventually grow into meaningful power, too. By his senior year of high school, Holliday already had. During his 2022 spring break, Holliday came to Arizona to work out and take BP with his high school team at some of the big league teams’ complexes, and he (and his younger brother, Ethan) put balls out of big league backfields into the teeth of the wind with ease. As Jackson worked out on one field and minor leaguers played and took BP on the quad’s other three diamonds, he stood apart from the rest in virtually every way. He left Arizona with top-five pick buzz and ultimately went first overall to Baltimore. He checks literally every scouting box, and for as much as analytical boxes matter for a high school hitter, he checks those, too. There aren’t many lefty-hitting shortstops with this kind of offensive juice. Holliday’s range, hands, actions and arm are all above average, while his baseball instincts and internal clock are both very good, and season his defensive skill set enough to project him as a long-term shortstop even if he keeps getting bigger. At the plate, he takes a big (but balanced) stride, and can adjust his barrel depth by getting deeper into his lower half through contact. He has retained foundational feel for the barrel while coming into all that power, and is one of the higher-ceilinged all-around players in the minors. 55 FV Prospects 3. Grayson Rodriguez, SP Video Drafted: 1st Round, 2018 from Central Heights HS (TX) (BAL) Age 23.2 Height 6′ 5″ Weight 220 Bat / Thr L / R FV 55 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Cutter Command Sits/Tops 60/60 55/55 50/50 70/70 40/45 40/50 93-97 / 99 The 11th overall pick in 2018 out of a Texas high school, Rodriguez saw his stuff tick up immediately after turning pro, and it steadily climbed each year until it took a step backward in 2022 amid a shoulder injury. Rodriguez was quite comfortably the most dominant pitcher in the minors in 2021, when he racked up nearly three times as many strikeouts as hits allowed. As is customary for pitching prospects near the tippity top of prospect lists, Rodriguez got hurt in 2022, suffering a Grade 2 lat strain in early June. Prior to the injury, he had allowed just 48 baserunners in 56 innings and struck out 80 men. He returned three months later and labored through a rocky September with Norfolk, during which he struggled with walks. Across the season as a whole, his fastball “only” sat 95 mph, and in his final start of the year it was mostly in the 93-96 mph range, which is a two-tick regression from 2021, when Rodriguez sat 96-98 all year. Scouts who saw him after Labor Day thought the quality and utility of his breaking balls (while still good) had also backed up a bit. Certainly from a velocity and spin (about 200 rpm) standpoint they had, though each is still capable of missing bats. There is still a front-end arm here, as well as a big, sturdy-looking frame that theoretically should be able to eat a ton of innings. Rodriguez’s changeup, which falls through a trap door just as it approaches the plate, is among the best secondary pitches in the minors, garnering a 42% chase and whiff rate in 2022. He can vary his breaking ball shape and will occasionally show you 88-91 mph with cut, at other times 77-83 mph with sweep. It’s still quite the arsenal, it’s just that the breaking balls aren’t all 60s and 70s anymore, or at least they weren’t at the end of 2022. On last look, it was stuff that profiled in the middle of a contending team’s rotation, rather than at the very front. Rodriguez is still a major league-ready impact prospect and is a prime American League Rookie of the Year candidate. He has a shot to break camp with the big club and play a huge role on the next Orioles contender. 4. Coby Mayo, RF Video Drafted: 4th Round, 2020 from Stoneman Douglas HS (FL) (BAL) Age 21.1 Height 6′ 5″ Weight 215 Bat / Thr R / R FV 55 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 40/55 60/70 50/60 55/40 30/50 70 Cue the Hunter Pence comps because Mayo’s swing is still wacky looking and odd, but it clearly works for him. After slashing .251/.326/.494 at Aberdeen, the 20-year-old was promoted to Bowie for the stretch run. Mayo makes frequent, hard, pull-heavy contact despite his sometimes ugly-looking cut, which features a strange, choppy stride. If most hitters’ leg kicks and “move forward” are “outies,” Mayo’s is an “inny” — his front foot often lands closer to his rear foot than where it began. All of his swing’s components fire in a short period of time, which can be jarring to watch, but Mayo has been smoking liners and hitting huge pull-side homers with this swing since he was a high school underclassman. Hilariously, Mayo’s swing is perhaps well-suited for the current “metagame,” because so many contemporary fastballs ride to the top of the strike zone, which is where Mayo’s barrel hunts. He has no underlying swing-and-miss issues and his massive 6-foot-5 frame still has room for more strength. Drafted and mostly deployed as a third baseman, Mayo has projected as a right fielder since his draft year because of his size. He is more than capable of making a subset of plays at third, where his range and lateral agility are both plus, but he really struggles to make plays coming in on the grass. He actually looks more comfortable and accurate making max-effort throws from deep in the hole than he does when moving toward the first base line. Baltimore has tried him some at second and first base, but because he’ll show you a 70 arm on his best throws and runs pretty well, right field continues to feel like the best long-term fit even though Mayo hasn’t played there yet. The toolset to profile as a 50 in right is arguably already in place, and there’s a chance Mayo ends up with 70 raw at peak and becomes a star out there. 50 FV Prospects 5. DL Hall, MIRP Video Drafted: 1st Round, 2017 from Valdosta HS (GA) (BAL) Age 24.4 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr L / L FV 50 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops 70/70 55/55 55/55 60/60 30/40 93-97 / 99 Hall might have debuted at some point in 2021 had he not dealt with elbow tendinitis and a stress reaction in his elbow, which was uncovered when he had a setback during rehab from the tendinitis and ultimately ended his season. He began the 2022 slate on a delay and rehabbed in extended spring training until the very end of April. Quickly thereafter he was at Triple-A Norfolk and looked like the usual DL Hall, wielding three plus pitches and struggling with walks. In mid-August, the Orioles moved Hall to the bullpen, and after just four relief appearances over a span of 12 days, he was promoted to Baltimore for a 13-inning cup of coffee. Hall didn’t throw harder in a relief role — he was still parked in the 95-97 mph range — and in fact his velo keeled off a little bit right at the very end of the season. His plus velocity and uphill approach angle make Hall’s fastball extremely difficult for hitters to get on top of, and righty batters who are trying to anticipate the heater often end up embarrassing themselves against his changeup, which generated a whopping 54% whiff rate in 2022. His slider (Hall was almost exclusively a fastball/slider pitcher against lefties during his big league run) is firm and now has better movement demarcation from his curveball, which is easily his least-used offering, usually a backdoor option to righties. It’s possible that aspects of his repertoire will be pared down in relief. Even as a pure reliever at this point, Hall still belongs on a Top 100 list due to his proximity and the likelihood that he becomes a lights out lefty closer or multi-inning buzzsaw who provides some amount of karmic retribution for the Josh Hader trade. 6. Joey Ortiz, SS Video Drafted: 4th Round, 2019 from New Mexico State (BAL) Age 24.6 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 50/60 40/40 30/35 55/55 55/60 60 Ortiz put up some silly offensive numbers as an amateur, including a .422/.474/.697 line as a junior at New Mexico State that was caricatured by the elevation of Las Cruces, which is one of the most hitter-friendly environments in college baseball. The Orioles selected Ortiz in the fourth round based largely on his defensive prowess, and he has lived up to those expectations while exceeding them on the offensive side. He has reached Triple-A Norfolk while accumulating a career .271/.349/.425 line in the minors, generating plus underlying contact data in 2022 (an 89% Z-contact%, which would be top 10 among major league shortstops) in the process. Ortiz is a plus defender anywhere on the infield dirt. He makes up for mediocre twitch and range with outstanding instincts, elegant body control, lightning-fast hands and actions, and a plus arm. The floor for Ortiz looks something like Isiah Kiner-Falefa, a slick-fielding utilityman with plus bat-to-ball ability, but not enough power to be a true everyday option, essentially a 45-grade player. Except Ortiz hit 19 homers and had 60 total extra-base hits in the upper-minors last year, and while he doesn’t project to produce that kind of power against big league stuff, it’s enough damage to project Ortiz’s offense above the median bar at shortstop. He projects as a 2-WAR player whose versatility could help optimize the way Baltimore’s other young infielders are deployed. 45+ FV Prospects 7. Heston Kjerstad, RF Video Drafted: 1st Round, 2020 from Arkansas (BAL) Age 24.0 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 215 Bat / Thr S / R FV 45+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 40/50 60/60 45/55 40/40 40/50 50 Kjerstad was the second overall pick in the 2020 draft after putting up a 1.011 OPS during his three years at Arkansas, but he was diagnosed with myocarditis shortly after signing. A high grade hamstring strain put him on the IL for the first half of 2022, and it wasn’t until June that he was finally cleared to be sent to an affiliate. In his first pro action, Kjerstad slashed a combined .309/.394/.457 at Low- and High-A, then laid waste to the Arizona Fall League, where he hit .357/.385/.622 and was named league MVP. The pitching in all of those locations is no better (and in the Carolina and Fall Leagues, probably worse) than what Kjerstad saw in the SEC, but it’s incredible that he was able to miss so much time and perform like this from the jump. If you buy that his bat-to-ball performance against A-ball pitching is for real, or that he’ll find a way to more readily get to his plus raw power in games, then Kjerstad belongs on your personal top 100. The combination of his severe hamstring injury and the visual stiffness of his lower half (especially his front side) during his swing should give one pause in both regards. Kjerstad is capable of generating huge bat speed simply by turning his hands over through the zone because his wrists are incredibly strong. Often, Kjerstad does this with a flat bat path that enables him to snatch high fastballs, but his lower half’s stiffness makes it tough for him to elevate lower pitches. He tracks pitches well with his eyes and tends to hit the ball hard somewhere, just not with home run launch befitting his level of raw power. Kjerstad’s signature AFL moment came at Scottsdale Stadium when he hit a ball over the Charro Lodge, an elevated party deck in right field, which is something like 450 feet away. That kind of thump is in there, it’s just not actualized in games because of Kjerstad’s swing, and it’s tough to proactively project a swing change for such a stiff-legged athlete. If one somehow occurs, then Kjerstad will be a middle-of-the-order force. If not, he’s more of a well-rounded corner platoon outfielder. 45 FV Prospects 8. Cade Povich, SP Drafted: 3rd Round, 2021 from Nebraska (MIN) Age 22.8 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr L / L FV 45 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops 40/50 50/55 50/55 35/50 35/60 86-92 / 96 Of the non-Top 100 pitching prospects in this system, Povich is the one with the best chance to take a leap and become a mid-rotation option on a contender. His wiry, broad-shouldered build and mechanical fluidity are both characteristics associated with innings-eaters, and with pitchers who continue to refine their secondary stuff and maybe even add velocity deeper into their 20s. Povich’s delivery is loose, athletic, and crisp. His arm swing is so compact that it often catches hitters off guard, and they end up being late on his low-90s fastball. Povich works east and west with his secondaries and often creates above-average depth on the slower of his two breaking balls, a mid-70s curveball. He changeup lacks great movement but Povich has feel for locating it. It’s a great lefty pitchability foundation with several late-bloomer traits, like Povich’s age (he was shy of 21 on draft day and won’t turn 23 until just after the 2023 minor league season begins) and the development he lost due to the pandemic. There is also optimism supported by his frame and athletic look. He’s tracking like a no. 4/5 starter who still has a chance to pop above that. 9. Jordan Westburg, 2B Drafted: 1st Round, 2020 from Mississippi State (BAL) Age 24.0 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 203 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 35/40 55/55 45/55 50/50 40/40 40 Westburg improved every year during his three at Mississippi State, and a fantastic showing during the 2019 Cape Cod season helped push him into the end of the first round in 2020, where the Orioles selected him with the 30th overall pick. He has more or less coasted through the minors, slashing .274/.371/.489 as a pro, albeit with higher strikeout rates (often in the 24-27% range, depending on the level) than one would have anticipated when Westburg was an amateur prospect. He spent most of 2022 at Triple-A Norfolk, where he hit 18 of his 27 home runs in just 91 games. Westburg tends to swing over the top of breaking balls executed in the bottom third of the strike zone and below, often pulling off of those too early, and he’s vulnerable enough within the strike zone to project his hit tool below the big league average. This is a pull-centric, power-over-hit skill set despite the career batting average. Even though he’s on the doorstep of the big leagues, Westburg doesn’t have a clear position yet. He’s played all over the infield but his arm is best suited to play second base, maybe even left field eventually. Seemingly similar to other upper-level hitters with bat-first (some would argue bat-only) profiles, Westburg’s handedness slides him behind guys like Jonathan Aranda, Edouard Julien and Michael Busch, while other righty bats like Miguel Vargas and Spencer Steer have superior bat-to-ball skills. There has to be some separation between Westburg and that group of 50s to account for his combination of strikeouts and below-average defense. He’s still pretty likely to poke out 20-25 homers while playing fringy infield defense, a complementary regular who needs a late-inning replacement. 10. Connor Norby, 2B Drafted: 2nd Round, 2021 from East Carolina (BAL) Age 22.7 Height 5′ 10″ Weight 187 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 35/40 45/50 45/55 50/50 40/40 40 Norby had some of the best numbers in college baseball in 2021, hitting .415/.484/.659 at East Carolina and ultimately going in the second round to the Orioles. He had a fantastic full-season debut, hitting .279/.360/.526 with 29 homers (nearly twice his college career total) while reaching Norfolk. It was an unexpected outburst for a player who had a contact-driven skill set in college. Some of it was likely due to the hitting environment at Bowie, which inflates home runs (again, Matt Eddy’s annual park factor research over at Baseball America is very useful), but there have been mechanical changes here, too. Norby’s stride has been closed off, his little toe tap has been modified, and most substantially, the position in which his hands load has been raised. Have these changes, in concert with one another, truly made Norby into a 25-plus home run threat? Actually, yeah, they may have. Even though his peak exit velocities are still below those of the average second base regular’s, Norby’s barrel and hard-hit rates are above, and Bowie’s ballpark has zero to do with that. He is tracking almost exactly like Westburg, which extends to the in-zone offspeed swing-and-miss that runs counter to Norby’s amateur output, as well as the shrug-inducing second base defense. Norby has played some left field, as well. 11. Dylan Beavers, RF Video Drafted: 1st Round, 2022 from California (BAL) Age 21.5 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 206 Bat / Thr L / R FV 45 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 30/40 60/70 30/60 55/55 30/50 60 Beavers was one of the 2022 draft’s many tooled-up (mostly west coast) college outfielders who also had scary bat-to-ball indicators. In fact, he was arguably the toolsiest and most athletic and projectable of that group. At a strapping and angular 6-foot-4, Beavers body comps to Christian Yelich, and his swing (especially the way his back elbow stays tucked into his body during his load) is similar to Yelich’s as well. He generates incredible power across a short distance, needing just a little bat wrap to get his barrel moving with extra-base force. The nature of Beavers’ bat path makes it tough for him to get around on fastballs, especially on the outer third of the zone. His career strikeout rate (21%) on its own isn’t all that scary, but Beavers’ inability to catch up to certain pitches (ones he’ll see in pro ball) is. Per Synergy, Beavers hit just .125 against fastballs 92 mph and above across all of 2021 (NCAA, Team USA and Cape Cod) and ’22. He tends to inside-out pitches he should pull or be so late on those outer-third fastballs that he misses them entirely. Still, Beavers had one of the freakier body/athleticism/power/speed skill sets in the 2022 draft class and was ranked as a top 50 draft prospect here at FanGraphs despite the risk that he won’t hit. If his swing can be dialed in, he could break out in a big way, as he has the ability to hit 30 bombs and play great corner outfield defense. 12. Colton Cowser, LF Drafted: 1st Round, 2021 from Sam Houston State (BAL) Age 22.9 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr L / R FV 45 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 40/45 45/50 40/50 55/55 50/55 40 A pre-draft 50 FV prospect on the strength of his hit tool projection (once a 70 on the scale, based on his college track record), bat-to-ball cracks began to show for Cowser in 2022 as he punched out at least 25% of the time at each of the three minor league levels at which he played. Cowser’s stiff lower half makes it tough for him to bend and barrel low, offspeed pitches, even ones that finish in the strike zone, and similar to Jarred Kelenic, he swung over the top of lots of them throughout the 2022 campaign. This was a stark departure for Cowser, who struck out at a 15% clip in his first pro season, a rate that nearly doubled in 2022. His bat is still quick, and Cowser is capable of punishing pitches to all fields provided he can actually get the bat head to them. He’s still able to do this in the very middle and middle-away portion of the strike zone, but not usually on the inner third of the plate. Cowser’s contact quality is terrific when he makes it. His hard-hit and barrel rates are about the average among starting big league center fielders, it’s just that suddenly his contact rates are not. An above-average straight-line runner, Cowser is still a “maybe” in center field, and historically those players find their way to a corner, usually because superior options tend to occupy the center field job on big league rosters. Reasonable minds can disagree about whether or not Cowser can actually play center, and if you think he can, he fits as a 50 FV prospect despite the recent issues he’s had with contact. If you think he belongs in a corner (which is how Cowser is assessed here), then he’s more of a platoon outfielder. 13. Jud Fabian, CF Drafted: 2nd Round, 2022 from Florida (BAL) Age 22.4 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr R / L FV 45 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 30/35 50/60 30/55 60/60 45/60 60 It’s been somewhat trendy for a top prospect or two to skip the draft as a high school senior and early-enroll in college to reach college draft eligibility a year sooner, and that’s what Fabian did in 2018. This path allows hitters to build a robust statistical resume and also be young for their draft class, hopefully enhancing the way model-driven teams will view them. Fabian had a good freshman season for a first-year hitter in the SEC, then went to the Cape and raked, which he continued to do during his COVID-shortened sophomore year. His first draft-eligible year, 2021, featured an exorbitant number of strikeouts, but also lots of home runs: Fabian had the second-most strikeouts in Division-I baseball, with 80 in 270 plate appearances, and was eighth in homers. The strikeout issues needed to be viewed in the context of Fabian’s age, as this was a 20-year-old center fielder in the SEC hitting for huge power. Ultimately, there was a gap between what teams were willing to do to sign Fabian and what he thought he could get in 2022 as a fourth-year junior, so even though Boston drafted him in the second round, he didn’t sign and went back to Florida for a fourth season. He did quell his strikeout issues somewhat, with his K% dropping from 29% to 22% in 2022, though Fabian still has a hole at the very top of the zone and tends to pull off of in-zone sliders. Fabian’s power is still likely to play in games because he has great feel for the zone and lifts the ball consistently, and he has some room to strike out in excess because of his defense in center field. There’s definitely bust risk associated with the strikeouts, but there’s also clearly everyday ability. 40+ FV Prospects 14. Samuel Basallo, C Signed: July 2nd Period, 2021 from Dominican Republic (BAL) Age 18.5 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 230 Bat / Thr L / R FV 40+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 20/40 60/70 25/60 20/20 20/45 45 There are all kinds of potential stumbling blocks for a propect like Basallo. He’s huge (comically listed at 6-foot-3 and 180 pounds, Basallo is probably closer to 250 than he is to 180) and has some swing-and-miss issues that, should his size move him out from behind the plate and to first base, could make it hard for him to profile. But Basallo also has so much power, an incredible amount for an 18-year-old catching prospect, that he’ll be an impact player if he can continue to develop as a catcher even if he ends up with a 40 hit tool. Basallo’s hard-hit rate (37%) in 2022 was fourth among 18-year-old pro hitters, with Jackson Chourio, Miguel Bleis, and the Twins Jose Rodriguez the only ones ahead of him who generated a sufficient sample to qualify. If we expand the population to all teenage hitters, Basallo was 18th. He can generate extra-base power with just a flick of his wrist and his max-effort swings are the stuff of Paul Bunyan. There is already a terrifying amount of raw power here and enough feel to hit (especially low pitches) to weaponize it against rookie-level arms. How Basallo’s frame and size change and interact with his mobility and athleticism behind the dish as he matures will be key to keeping him back there. In this regard there is so little precedent for a hitter this size at this age that it’s a difficult thing to project. The Orioles aren’t yet in a prospect-trading frame of mind, so other teams aren’t hammering their complex group with looks, and it was tough to find cogent visual assessment of Basallo’s defense as a pro during work on this list. He only caught about 30 games during the Complex League regular season, and while mining director and front office-level sources yielded very little new intel on his defense, some did trickle in. He’s seen as a potentially suitable defender but not a great one. His average arm plays down due to a slow release and the slow-twitch elements extend to his ball-blocking. Readers should consider him a high-risk/high-ceiling prospect with 30-homer potential if his hit tool continues to carry enough water against upper-level pitching. Here he’s FV’d as if he were a second round high school prospect. 15. Frederick Bencosme, SS Signed: July 2nd Period, 2020 from Venezuela (BAL) Age 20.1 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 160 Bat / Thr L / R FV 40+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 35/70 30/40 30/35 45/50 30/50 50 Along with Basallo, the lefty-hitting Bencosme is the other young hitting prospect in the system who may be poised to take a leap in 2023. Bencosme is a skills-over-tools type of prospect with smooth infield footwork and actions, and most importantly, precocious feel for contact. He tracks pitches well and guides the barrel to them consistently. There isn’t huge bat speed or strength here right now, and Bencosme’s game is more slick and skillful than it is electric. Even though he’s still growing into his body, slow twitch athletes like him are thought to be less likely to develop impact power through physical maturity. His bat-to-ball talent is so good, however, that Bencosme might only need to develop 40-grade power to be an effective offensive player, especially if he can stay at shortstop, though his piriform build makes him a “maybe” there. Developing power becomes more important should Bencosme have to move. 16. Seth Johnson, SP Drafted: 1st Round, 2019 from Campbell (TBR) Age 24.4 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops 60/60 55/60 50/55 40/45 30/45 92-97 / 99 Johnson didn’t have great college numbers at Campbell in 2019, but he intrigued scouts and analysts alike as an athletic former middle infielder who was new to the mound and already showing some intriguing pitch data. The Rays selected Johnson with the 40th overall pick, then watched his stuff take a leap as he posted a strikeout rate of nearly 30% in his 2021 full-season debut. He made it just a month into 2022 before he was shut down with an elbow injury. He was traded from Tampa Bay to Baltimore at the deadline as part of the elaborate, multi-team Trey Mancini swap, and had Tommy John just a few days afterward. The Orioles were willing to use a 40-man spot on a rehabber while the Rays were not. He may not throw a pitch with the org until 2024, but Johnson has big ceiling and gives the Orioles a shot to develop an impact pitcher from within, something their system is thin on. Healthy Johnson sits 95-97 mph and has a pair of power breakers: an upper-70s curveball and a mid-80s cutter/slider. His changeup has improved since signing, too. There was relief risk here, even before the oddly-timed injury. Johnson’s fastball doesn’t have great movement, his in-zone command is pretty loose, and his delivery is relatively violent. Because he was so new to pitching as a draft prospect, you could project on these elements. That’s still true to some extent, but the way Johnson’s injury will limit his innings across multiple seasons, all while his option years dwindle, makes it more likely that he ends up in relief. Given his stuff quality, it will probably be high-leverage relief assuming Johnson’s stuff comes back. 17. Leandro Arias, SS Signed: July 2nd Period, 2022 from Dominican Republic (BAL) Age 18.0 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 170 Bat / Thr S / R FV 40+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 25/60 20/45 20/40 55/60 45/60 55 On paper, Arias didn’t have a mind-blowing 2022, his first pro season. Despite signing for only $600,000, he was one of the more highly-ranked international amateurs from the 2022 class because of his glove, switch-hitting feel for contact, and projectable frame. The skills foundation Arias presented (and still presents) is the sort that might break out if he starts getting stronger. He only slashed .217/.344/.306 in the DSL, but his underlying hit-tracking data is better than that, grading around a 45 in all facets of hitting. Set to turn 18 just a few days after initial list publication, it’s too soon to reposition Arias from an FV standpoint, and he should still be considered one of the better long-term prospects in the system thanks to his defense and well-rounded offensive skill set. His physicality is the key variable to watch develop over the next calendar year or two. 40 FV Prospects 18. Max Wagner, 3B Drafted: 2nd Round, 2022 from Clemson (BAL) Age 21.5 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 215 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 30/45 50/55 35/50 50/50 35/55 60 Wagner began the 2022 season on Clemson’s bench and ended it with 27 home runs, third in the NCAA. He was a draft-eligible sophomore with very little track record of performance aside from his amazing 2022 sprint, during which he hit .369/.496/.852. Look under the hood and there is a little more swing-and-miss than average, both in terms of his strikeout rate (for a prospect, not compared to the average college hitter) and underlying swinging strikes. Things aren’t in a red flag area so much as it’s clear Wagner isn’t a right-handed Tony Gwynn or anything like that. Aside from his plus arm, his tools are all about average. His swing is gorgeous and well-timed, but he does tend to swing inside of sliders and does almost all of his damage to his pull-side. Wagner, Westburg, and Norby are all Russian nesting dolls of this ilk. Wagner still has some “tip of the iceberg” characteristics, as he was young for his draft class, he hasn’t played all that much in part because of COVID, he hails from a cold-weather state, and he entered college ball with less high-level experience than most of his peers. If you want to project on his hit tool based on his background, then he has a puncher’s chance to be a well-rounded regular. 19. Chayce McDermott, MIRP Drafted: 4th Round, 2021 from Ball State (HOU) Age 24.4 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 197 Bat / Thr L / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops 55/60 50/55 55/60 30/30 30/40 93-95 / 97 McDermott, whose brother Sean plays basketball for the Grizzlies’ G League team, was drafted by Houston in 2021 and traded to Baltimore as part of the Trey Mancini multi-team swap. He struck out 160 hitters in 103 innings while walking 64 guys throughout his first full pro season, reaching Double-A Bowie after the trade. It’s promising that McDermott was able to maintain plus stuff while carrying 20 more innings than the previous season, but both on paper and visually, he looks like a relief-only prospect. Spindly and long-levered, McDermott’s arm swing and release point often waver, which causes him to spray his fastball all over the place. Even at age 24, it’s feasible that he’s still just growing into his length and that starter-level feel for location will come with time, but based on how far McDermott is from that reality right now, it’s unlikely. He’s likely to be a pretty nasty reliever, though. McDermott sits 93-95 mph as a starter and might throw harder out of the ‘pen. Both of his breaking balls are at least above average, with his curveball more often plus. McDermott can sometimes create arm-side tumble on his curveball and make it run away from lefty batters, which would be a platoon-fighting weapon if he can do it consistently. The whole operation fits in an integral multi-inning relief role, but because McDermott doesn’t have to be added to the 40-man until after the 2024 season, Baltimore has two years to try to make his arm action more consistent and get him in a position to start. 20. Juan Nunez, SP Signed: July 2nd Period, 2019 from Dominican Republic (MIN) Age 22.2 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops 50/50 60/60 40/50 30/50 93-95 / 96 Of the four pitchers who came back from Minnesota in the deadline deal for Jorge López, Nunez is the one who throws the hardest. He sits 93-95 mph (working three or four innings at a time) and has a big, sweeping, mid-80s slider with plus action and finish. Nunez is short but very strong and stocky. He’s not especially projectable, but he is loose and flexible, and he has a powerful lower half. He also throws strikes with his fastball (which has in-zone bat-missing utility), and you can project heavily on his changeup based on his arm speed and general athleticism. Nunez is perhaps the most exciting low-level arm in this system, a developmental starter with a naturally nasty breaking ball. 21. Hudson Haskin, CF Drafted: 2nd Round, 2020 from Tulane (BAL) Age 24.1 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 35/50 45/45 30/40 60/60 45/55 50 Perhaps the most entertaining player in the entire system, Haskin is a plus runner whose swing’s natural jailbreak enables him to post 70-grade home-to-first times. He also has one of the org’s more entertaining swings, one in which Haskin gets deep into his legs and slowly dives to the outer half of the plate before unloading with big effort at the last moment. His tendency to bend and dive enables him to hit pitches out away from him with power, and he sprays most of his contact that way. This also leaves him pretty vulnerable to fastballs running in on his hands, which he tends to fight off. Some of those bloop into the shallow outfield, others Haskin tries to outrun to first. There’s enough raw power here to make him dangerous in a narrow part of the strike zone, but pitchers who execute location are going to be able to limit his damage. Haskin runs well enough to play center field (he’s much better at breaking to his right than to his left, for what that’s worth) and has a modern fifth outfielder’s skill set. His speed, defense, and situationally-useful offensive ability will come in handy pretty often off the bench, and he’ll get some starts against opposing lefties. 22. Noah Denoyer, MIRP Video Undrafted Free Agent, 2019 (BAL) Age 25.0 Height 6′ 5″ Weight 225 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Curveball Splitter Command Sits/Tops 40/40 45/50 60/60 55/55 40/45 93-94 / 96 Denoyer signed as an undrafted free agent after the Orioles were impressed with his stuff in the 2019 Northwoods League. He spent most of his first full pro season (2021) as a starter before transitioning to a three- or four-inning piggyback relief role in 2022. He thrived, reached Double-A, and was impressive enough in the Arizona Fall League to warrant a 40-man add after the season. Denoyer’s four-pitch mix features a fastball that has enjoyed a two-tick bump from 2021 and now sits 93-94 mph and will touch 96. The angle of his heater makes it vulnerable in the strike zone, so Denoyer often pitches backwards off his breaking balls to get ahead, then finishes hitters with a combination of high fastballs and diving splitters. It’s not an efficient means of accruing outs but it works, enough that Denoyer has gone from “undrafted sleeper” to “high-probability big league contributor” in a span of three years. He’s likely to debut at some point in 2023 and be an innings-eating mid-game option. 23. Kyle Brnovich, SP Video Drafted: 8th Round, 2019 from Elon (LAA) Age 25.3 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops 40/40 55/60 45/50 55/60 88-92 / 94 Brnovich was on track to be part of Baltimore’s rotation at some point this year, but he had Tommy John in May of 2022 instead. Assuming a normal rehab timeline, he’ll be back during the second half of 2023 and it’s possible he could make a push for a 40-man spot during that time. By virtue of his command and one-of-a-kind breaking ball, he was a high-probability backend starter prospect prior to the injury. Brnovich fills the zone, his fastball has enough action that it isn’t easy to square up, and he has a legit out pitch in his unique, double-knuckle curveball, a traditional-looking curveball that Brnovich puts the first knuckle of both his middle and forefinger on. The pitch snaps out of Brnovich’s hand with nearly perfect end-over-end tumble and is a real weapon despite it’s incredibly low spin rate. If his rehab timing makes it hard for Brnovich to build an innings foundation in 2023, he could debut as a long reliever next season. 24. Justin Armbruester, SP Drafted: 12th Round, 2021 from New Mexico (BAL) Age 24.3 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 235 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Changeup Cutter Command Sits/Tops 50/50 50/55 30/40 40/45 40/50 92-94 / 95 Armbruester has added four ticks to his riding fastball’s average velocity since entering pro ball and has also begun to use a second, harder breaking ball. He now has a pretty standard four-pitch attack headlined by a vertical fastball/slider combination. At least one of his other offerings — either the new upper-80s cutter or a changeup — would ideally take an eventual step forward so Armbruester can comfortably profile as a starter. He reached (and performed at) Double-A in his first full season and has already made multiple adjustments, so that seems reasonable to expect. 25. Carter Baumler, SP Drafted: 5th Round, 2020 from Dowling Catholic HS (IA) (BAL) Age 21.0 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops 50/55 35/50 50/55 30/40 30/45 91-93 / 95 Injuries have made it tough for Baumler’s career to get off the ground. He was an over-slot ($1.5 million bonus) fifth round pick in 2020, but didn’t pitch in a pro game until 2022 due to a late-2020 Tommy John, and Baumler only made it four starts into his 2022 debut when shoulder inflammation shut him down for the remainder of the season. Healthy Baumler features an effective vertical attack via his low-to-mid-90s fastball, which has plus rising action, and a deep, upper-70s curveball. His changeup is rarely seen, but he’s shown some ability to deaden the ball out of his hand, albeit in a very small sample. He was a two-sport star in high school and is a fantastic athlete with a repeatable delivery who tends to keep the ball in the strike zone. Shoulder stuff is scary and if this list were manufactured solely based on trade value, Baumler would probably be even lower because he’s barely been seen as a pro. But when healthy, he looks every bit as good as his draft bonus would indicate and has no. 4 starter ceiling, among the highest in the org. 26. Carter Young, SS Drafted: 17th Round, 2022 from Vanderbilt (BAL) Age 21.5 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr S / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 30/35 45/50 35/45 55/55 45/60 60 Young was a known, toolsy high school prospect who looked incredible taking infield and BP, then struggled to hit in games. Concern about his hit tool and a strong commitment to Vanderbilt brought Young all the way from mountainous Selah, WA to Nashville, where as an underclassman he showed that he was capable of tapping into the power even while swinging and missing a lot. He had 33 extra-base hits in 61 games as a sophomore in the SEC, while also playing excellent shortstop defense. Things came unglued in his draft year, when he K’d 30% of the time and hit .207 with just 16 extra-base hits. He can still pick it at shortstop and is an interesting bounce back candidate, but he now projects as a glove-first utility infielder. 27. Cesar Prieto, 2B Video Signed: July 2nd Period, 2022 from Cuba (BAL) Age 23.7 Height 5′ 8″ Weight 170 Bat / Thr L / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 50/60 40/40 30/35 40/40 30/40 40 While playing pro ball in Cuba, Prieto broke Kendrys Morales‘ rookie hits record, then broke the Serie Nacional’s hit streak record (40 games) in 2020 while striking out just six times in 250 plate appearances. The rate of player defections from Cuba has significantly diluted the quality of pitching in pro ball down there, so it was difficult to gauge Prieto’s hit tool with precision. Stout and strong, but without much in-game power, Prieto’s body and skills resembled Eric Sogard’s if you bought that the hit tool was for real. He defected from the Cuban National Team not long after arriving in Miami for an Olympic qualifier in May of 2021 (there’s a riveting Sports Illustrated story that details his “extraction”), and he signed a $650,000 deal with Baltimore at the beginning of the 2022 international signing period. After torching High-A for a few weeks, he was promoted and spent most of his first minor league season with Double-A Bowie, where Prieto struggled, slashing .255/.296/.348 in 90 games. Prieto can actually hit. His short levers make him extremely difficult to beat in the strike zone, and he can let the baseball travel deep before striking it the other way, generating doubles power pole-to-pole. Prieto’s big issue is his propensity to chase, which he did at a 36% clip in 2022. It hinders the quality of his contact as well as his ability to reach base, so much so that even if you were ensured he was a capable middle infielder, it’d be tough to project him as an impact player. But lefty sticks who make this much contact tend to carve out some kind of role, especially if they can play multiple positions. Prieto is a below-average infield athlete and presents a stiff, non-traditional look at both second and third base, but he has only had access to Baltimore’s conditioning and developmental tools for about a year. Even though he’ll turn 24 this year, there’s reasonable optimism for growth in this area, and with regard to his ball/strike recognition after Prieto was asked to go from seeing lots of mid-80s fastballs in Cuba to seeing Double-A stuff in the States. Plus, because of when he signed, Prieto still has several years of developmental runway. Once slim, the chances that he’s an impact bat are now probably nil, but despite a rough statistical 2022, Prieto still projects as a 1-WAR role-playing infielder. 28. Reed Trimble, CF Video Drafted: 2nd Round, 2021 from Southern Mississippi (BAL) Age 22.7 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr S / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 30/35 50/50 35/45 60/60 45/55 55 Trimble was a favorite here at FanGraphs before the 2021 draft, as the toolsy, switch-hitting center fielder was coming off a .345/.414/.638 spring at Southern Miss during which he hit 17 homers, with several during postseason play. It was a breakout year for him since Trimble was a draft-eligible “freshman” whose first collegiate season was wiped out by COVID. He seemed like a “tip of the iceberg” prospect who might have gone higher if his performance track record were longer, but the Orioles were able to scoop him up in the third round. A torn labrum in his non-throwing shoulder required surgery during the 2021-22 offseason, which squashed most of Trimble’s 2022 campaign. He only played in 33 games before picking up reps as a part-timer (just 16 more games) in the Arizona Fall League. In the desert, Trimble looked like a hitter who had spent the year on the shelf. While he showed you the big bat speed on occasion, he struggled to time opposing pitches and was often late getting his front foot down prior to contact. In college, Trimble showed an expansive approach and was apt to chase, but he hasn’t generated enough of a pro sample to show whether or not he’s made progress in this area. An explosive rotator from both sides of the plate, Trimble’s lefty swing has is bottom-hand dominant, which creates some length, but he swings so hard that he’s capable of putting balls out to all fields that way. His thump is of the pull-only variety as a righty hitter. There’s room for swing-and-miss on offense because Trimble is a plus runner with gap-to-gap range in center field and an above-average arm (he can get a little carried away trying to throw guys out), and you can project on some skill refinement here because Trimble has basically missed two of the last three seasons. He’s a risky, high-variance prospect who has a reasonable chance to be a part-time outfielder on the strength of his physical tools. 29. Drew Rom, SP Video Drafted: 4th Round, 2018 from Highlands HS (KY) (BAL) Age 23.1 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 170 Bat / Thr L / L FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Splitter Command Sits/Tops 30/30 50/55 45/50 50/55 88-92 / 95 A 2018 high school draftee, Rom has long been a pitching prospect of note due to the contrast of his performance and fastball velocity. He carved the lower minors even though he was only sitting 86-92 mph, accumulating 150 strikeouts in his first 125 pro innings. His fastball’s shape and angle, as well as its spin relative to its velocity and Rom’s command of it, helped him dominate with 20-grade velocity. He showed a long-awaited increase in arm strength coming out of the pandemic and sat 90-92 in 2021. Things seemed to have plateaued in that range because he was back there in 2022, and even though Rom’s fastball definitely punches above its weight due to its many non-velo features, it’s still a below-average pitch that right-handed hitters get a great look at. Rom’s delivery is effortless, he can manipulate his fastball’s shape, and he consistently commands his slider to his glove side. There are lots of starter elements here, and Rom has struck out batters at an impressive rate up and down the minor leagues, it’s just tough to project him as an impact big laguer with this kind of arm strength. He had been a 40+ FV prospect in the hopes that the upward trend in velocity would continue, but he’s more of a 40 FV type (fifth starter or long reliever) if you think that this is all the fastball he’ll have. 35+ FV Prospects 30. Andrew Politi, SIRP Video Drafted: 15th Round, 2018 from Seton Hall (BOS) Age 26.7 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 191 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Curveball Command Sits/Tops 55/55 55/55 50/50 40/40 93-96 / 98 Politi spent late 2019 through early 2021 trying to stretch out as a starter in Boston’s system. Late in 2021, he was moved to the bullpen. His changeup has been scrapped, and he now sits 93-96 mph with two distinct breaking balls: a mid-80s slider/cutter and a low-80s curveball. The slider is his putaway pitch versus righties and also works like a cutter in on the hands of lefties, while Politi’s curveball is a way to freeze righties early in the count to work ahead of them. He’s a pretty standard middle reliever who is likely to stick on Baltimore’s roster to meet Rule 5 requirements before settling into an up/down role thereafter. 31. John Rhodes, 3B Drafted: 3rd Round, 2021 from Kentucky (BAL) Age 22.5 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 30/35 50/55 30/45 50/50 30/40 55 Originally set to be selected in 2022, Rhodes became eligible for the 2021 draft when the date moved due to the pandemic. Remember, sophomores are eligible to be picked if they turn 21 within 45 days of the draft, and Rhodes was one of a few prospects with an August birthday who benefitted from the shift. He was destined to be an old-for-the-class player in 2022 and instead was a young-for-the-class prospect the year before. Rhodes caught in high school but moved off the position due to a broken back. He played both infield corners and all three outfield positions at Kentucky, but at this point he’s solely an outfield prospect. The most exciting aspect of Rhodes’ prospectdom is his bat speed and rotational verve. His swings are big and elaborate, with his bat often finishing in the dirt behind him. It’s a full-body hack that is best suited for hitting pitches out away from him. He’s getting fully extended on almost every swing and hasn’t yet found feel for shortening up to barrel pitches on the inner third, which often jam him. The weird acceleration of his pro career has made Rhodes young for every level at which he has played. He posted a 124 wRC+ as a 21-year-old at High-A and finished the year at Bowie. There are legitimate long-term questions about his swing’s viability, both in the way it impacts how much contact he makes and the quality of that contact, but hitters who are this athletic and who swing this hard are uncommon. Still more of a toolsy developmental prospect than a short-term big league contributor, look for Rhodes to percolate in the upper minors for a while. 32. Carlos Tavera, MIRP Drafted: 5th Round, 2021 from UT Arlington (BAL) Age 24.3 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops 50/55 45/45 60/60 30/40 93-95 / 96 Tavera threw strikes in college but has been walk-prone in parts of two pro seasons, most recently issuing free passes to 14% of opposing hitters at High-A. That might be because he’s throwing much, much harder. Synergy Sports has his average fastball velocity at 91 mph prior to the 2021 draft, but almost immediately after it he began sitting 93-94, which continued throughout 2022. Tavera’s fastball has big carry, too, but his money pitch is a dastardly high-spin changeup with big tailing action. His sliders are okay when they’re located. We can simultaneously buy that Tavera now has an above-average fastball while also shifting his forecast to include his high-effort style of pitching, which has detracted from his control. Expect him to develop as a starter for a while and move into a multi-inning relief role once he’s closer to the big leagues. 33. Brandon Young, SP Undrafted Free Agent, 2020 (BAL) Age 24.5 Height 6′ 6″ Weight 210 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops 45/45 45/50 55/55 50/55 30/50 91-94 / 95 An undrafted senior from 2020, Young had a great 2021 debut season split between Low- and High-A, striking out a third of the hitters he faced while working about four innings per start. He was assigned to Bowie in 2022 and made just three starts there before he was shut down with elbow tendinitis, which ended his season. Young mixes in a changeup, curveball, and slider very evenly around his fastball, which sits 93 mph. His curveball has nearly elite spin, but Young actually deploys his mid-80s changeup a little more frequently than Uncle Charlie. His stuff quality will be stress tested at the upper levels, but Young looks like a potential backend starter, which would be a great outcome for an undrafted free agent. 34. Silas Ardoin, C Drafted: 4th Round, 2022 from Texas (BAL) Age 22.4 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 215 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 30/40 50/50 30/40 20/20 45/55 60 One of the better defensive college catchers in the 2022 draft, Ardoin also showed significant offensive improvement as a junior when he posted an OPS .200 points higher than the season before. He has solid plate coverage and can ambush fastballs to his pull side, making him dangerous enough to project as a high-probability backup catcher. 35. Trace Bright, SP Drafted: 5th Round, 2022 from Auburn (BAL) Age 22.3 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 199 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops 55/60 40/45 50/55 40/45 30/40 92-94 / 98 Bright’s stuff ticked up as the 2022 draft approached, especially during the NCAA postseason, where he was up to 97 mph with a plus two-plane breaking ball. He has four pitches and started at Auburn for three years, but Bright is likely a long-term reliever barring changes to his arm action and imbalanced lower half, which caused control issues in college. He projects to hold the late-arriving velocity in such a role and could move quickly if the Orioles choose a bullpen developmental path. 36. Jean Pinto, MIRP Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Venezuela (LAA) Age 22.1 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 210 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops 40/40 60/60 50/55 30/40 90-94 / 96 Pinto has a plus mid-80s slider and an above-average upper-80s changeup, but he struggles to throw strikes with his 91-92 mph fastball, a pitch that also lacks the shape and movement to miss bats. As such, Pinto pitches backwards a lot, and scouts tend to think he’ll end up in long relief because he is doing from the beginning of outings what most starters do the second or third time through the order. Pinto has a catcherly build and is an open strider with a long arm action. His walk rate ticked up in 2022 and has been increasing since he entered full-season ball, while his spin rates have keeled off (a 200-300 rpm drop from both his fastball and slider compared to 2021). He looks more like a lower leverage long reliever who makes heavy use of his secondaries to get by. 37. Xavier Moore, SIRP Drafted: 16th Round, 2017 from Steele HS (OH) (TEX) Age 24.1 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 205 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops 50/50 45/50 70/70 30/35 92-94 / 95 Moore isn’t your typical big league athlete, and his delivery is quite gross even though his arm slot helps his fastball and curveball play off one another. But his changeup is ridiculously nasty and you don’t need to squint all that hard to see three viable big league offerings here. Moore sits 93-94 mph and his curveball has vertically divergent movement from his heater. His changeup runs away from lefty batters like the Roadrunner sprints away from Wile E. Coyote, and like Wile, hitters tie themselves into embarrassing knots trying to chase it; the pitch had a 73% whiff rate in 2022. It might be enough on its own to get Moore to the big leagues, though his command is a barrier and projecting on that piece of his game is tough given his level of athleticism. 38. Yennier Cano, SIRP Signed: July 2nd Period, 2018 from Cuba (MIN) Age 28.9 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 230 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Splitter Command Sits/Tops 50/50 50/50 55/55 30/30 94-96 / 97 Cano is a sidearmer whose lower half stays very upright throughout his delivery, giving him an atypical look for a low-slot reliever. He also has atypical arm strength for one, sitting 94-96 mph with sink and tail. His fastball, though hard, is hittable because of its shape and Cano’s poor feel for location, which causes him to leave his heater in the middle of the plate too often. It’s easy for him to turn over his changeup from this low slot and create sinking action that plays against both righty and lefty hitters. Cano’s slot also helps his slider, which has one-plane movement, be effective against righties. One of those pitchers whose performance has never quite matched his raw visual stuff, Cano is likely to be an up/down reliever for the Orioles. Other Prospects of Note Grouped by type and listed in order of preference within each category. Bottom of the Bench Luis Valdez, CF Donta’ Williams, CF Cadyn Grenier, UTIL Mark Kolozsvary, C Anthony Servideo, SS Zach Watson, CF This group has a carrying tool of some kind and could conceivably play a low-end bench role in the right situation. Valdez is built like a sprinter and is a 70-grade runner who needs to get stronger. He’s 23. So is Williams, who has a 50 bat with 30 power. If you squint, he’s a fifth outfielder prospect. He slugged .538 during his draft spring at Arizona, which seems like a nice place to hit. Grenier was a high-profile amateur in Vegas and then at Oregon State. He can run and play all over the infield, though his contact quality has dropped him from the list. Kolozsvary is a pretty standard third or fourth catcher in any org, an athletic catch-and-throw guy without a lot of bat. Servideo and Watson were once high picks (Servideo was a one-year wonder at Ole Miss who I thought was good) who haven’t hit in recent pro seasons. Grip-and-Rip, No Feel Ignacio Feliz, RHP Morgan McSweeney, RHP Juan De Los Santos, RHP Kade Strowd, RHP Yeiber Cartaya, RHP Feliz is a converted infielder whose delivery produces big extension despite his diminutive build. He sits 92-94 mph, but his fastball plays better than that. He also has an above-average slider, he just struggles with walks. McSweeney sits 93-95 and will show you a plus slider and a nasty upper-80s cutter on occasion. He is more thrower than pitcher. De Los Santos is a 250-pound 20-year-old who sits 93-95 with a ton of effort. Strowd was hurt for a large chunk of 2022, but he sits 95 with uphill angle when healthy. Cartaya was 20 in the DSL, sitting 93-95 with — you guessed it — very little control. That’s a Neat Trick Keagan Gillies, RHP Zach Peek, RHP Daniel Lloyd, RHP Cole Uvila, RHP Nolan Hoffman, RHP Gillies, 25, was drafted as a fifth year senior after transforming his body and arsenal very late in his college career. He was up to 98 mph in 2021 but dealt with a rotator cuff strain in 2022. Peek (who had TJ in 2022) and Lloyd each boast plus-plus breaking ball spin rates and sit in the low-90s. Uvila, a former 40th round pick, is a three-pitch reliever; his best offering is a plus changeup. Hoffman is a submariner who sits 88 and throws a ton of strikes. This group is all in the up/down area, Peek as a depth starter, the rest as relievers. Youngsters with Helium Anderson De Los Santos, 3B Alfredo Velasquez, OF Elis Cuevas, 3B Isaac Bellony, OF Stiven Acevedo, LF Braylin Tavera, OF De Los Santos, 19, is a smaller-framed righty-hitting third baseman with fantastic bat-to-ball skills and less body projection than most prospects. Velasquez, 18, is a loose rotator with plus bat control and a very slight build. He had more walks than K’s in the DSL, but he needs to get stronger. Cuevas, 18, had a fair 2022 in the DSL and is a pretty physical switch-hitting infielder with a well-rounded offensive skill set. Acevedo and Bellony are A-ball outfielders with plus raw power and scary hit tools. Tavera is a high-profile recent signee with a typical right field/power projection look. Names You Know Who’ve Had a Rough Go Mishael Deson, OF Kevin Guerrero, OF Yaqui Rivera, RHP Maikol Hernandez, SS This whole group is still under 21 years of age, and all but Hernandez were trade targets in pro ball. Deson (Colorado for Mychal Givens) and Guerrero (Miami as part of Tanner Scott and Cole Sulser) were projectable outfielders who had statistical success very early in their careers. Both have stopped hitting. Rivera (also Miami, Scott and Sulser) is still 19. He sits 91-93 mph with uphill angle and has a 77-80 mph slider. He struck out more than a batter per inning in 2022 but also ran an ERA near 6.00. Hernandez signed for $1.2 million in 2021 and hit .155 in 2022. System Overview The Orioles finished the 2022 season as the top-ranked farm system in baseball and are poised to be in the top three at the conclusion of this list cycle. They have six Top 100 prospects and another half dozen near-ready big league role players, most all of them hitters. Deeper projection bats with upside, like Samuel Basallo and Frederick Bencosme, could vault into the system’s no. 5-10 range by the end of the year and not just because of graduations ahead of them. While most of the shuffling among the 50 FV prospects and above resulted in little change to the overall valuation of this system, my continued hesitation to go all-in on Jordan Westburg and newfound cracks in Colton Cowser’s hit tool are likely why Baltimore will “merely” end up somewhere close to third overall. At least, that’s where a $325 million farm system (which is approximately what you’re looking at above) would have ranked at the end of last year. There is imbalance in this system. It is extremely hitter-heavy, and there is redundancy in the 45 FV tier, especially with regard to Norby and Westburg. Is the trade market liquid enough that the Orioles will be able to balance their big league roster as soon as they decide they’d like to? The team has tended to get volume and quantity back in the sellers trades it has made under Mike Elias; the Dylan Bundy and Jorge López deals are prime examples of this. The Orioles seem to be casting a wide net with the hope that applying the developmental philosophies that made Houston successful to enough athletes will help them build the pitching depth they need to actually contend. While it appears they’re doing that with guys who you’d typically find toward the bottom of the 40-man roster, they’re not exactly as flush with 45-grade arms as they are 45-grade bats. Some of those guys (like Dean Kremer, Kyle Bradish, and Félix Bautista if he can keep it up) have already graduated, but at some point there has to be another wave of mid-staff arms to guard against the injury attrition that often befalls major league pitching staffs. When is the right time to start trading prospects? One could argue that the Orioles should already be doing so, or at least behaving like a team in the middle of the competitive spectrum, willing to make deals based on fit like Toronto and Arizona did with the Gabriel Moreno/Daulton Varsho swap. The Cole Irvin deal (Darell Hernaiz will be a 40+ FV prospect on Oakland’s list) is a sign they may be moving in this direction. Is some of Miami’s pitching a fit for them in exchange for a near-ready bat or two? Do teams that are loathe to pay second- and third-year arbitration salaries, like Cleveland and Milwaukee, present an opportunity for a deal within the next year or so? These are new areas of exploration for an Orioles franchise that stumbled up from the AL East basement perhaps a year or two sooner than even they expected to.