Top 40 Prospects: Baltimore Orioles

Below is an analysis of the prospects in the farm system of the Baltimore Orioles. Scouting reports are compiled with information provided by industry sources as well as my own observations. For more information on the 20-80 scouting scale by which all of our prospect content is governed, you can click here. For further explanation of the merits and drawbacks of Future Value, read this.

All of the numbered prospects here also appear on The Board, a resource the site offers featuring sortable scouting information for every organization. It can be found here.

Orioles Top Prospects
Rk Name Age Highest Level Position ETA FV
1 Adley Rutschman 22.0 A C 2021 60
2 Grayson Rodriguez 20.2 A RHP 2023 55
3 DL Hall 21.4 A+ LHP 2022 50
4 Ryan Mountcastle 23.0 AAA LF 2020 50
5 Gunnar Henderson 18.6 R 3B 2024 45
6 Yusniel Diaz 23.3 AA RF 2020 45
7 Austin Hays 24.6 MLB CF 2020 45
8 Ryan McKenna 23.0 AA CF 2020 45
9 Michael Baumann 24.4 AA RHP 2021 45
10 Kyle Stowers 22.1 A- RF 2023 45
11 Dean Kremer 24.1 AAA RHP 2020 40+
12 Zac Lowther 23.8 AA LHP 2020 40+
13 Adam Hall 20.7 A SS 2022 40+
14 Keegan Akin 24.8 AAA LHP 2020 40+
15 Cadyn Grenier 23.3 A+ SS 2022 40
16 Zach Pop 23.4 AA RHP 2021 40
17 Rylan Bannon 23.8 AAA 3B 2021 40
18 Bruce Zimmermann 25.0 AAA LHP 2021 40
19 Drew Rom 20.1 A LHP 2023 40
20 Hunter Harvey 25.2 MLB RHP 2020 40
21 Brandon Bailey 25.3 AA RHP 2020 40
22 Darell Hernaiz 18.5 R SS 2024 40
23 Kyle Bradish 23.4 A+ RHP 2022 40
24 Alex Wells 22.9 AA LHP 2020 40
25 Zach Watson 22.6 A CF 2022 35+
26 Joseph Ortiz 21.6 A- SS 2023 35+
27 Maverick Handley 21.9 A- C 2023 35+
28 Marcos Diplan 23.4 AA RHP 2020 35+
29 Michael Rucker 25.8 AAA RHP 2020 35+
30 Cody Carroll 27.3 MLB RHP 2020 35+
31 Blaine Knight 23.6 A+ RHP 2022 35+
32 Isaac Mattson 24.6 AAA RHP 2021 35+
33 Lamar Sparks 21.4 R CF 2022 35+
34 Brenan Hanifee 21.7 A+ RHP 2021 35+
35 Brett Cumberland 24.6 AA DH 2020 35+
36 Ofelky Peralta 22.8 A+ RHP 2021 35+
37 Andrew Daschbach 22.3 A- RF 2023 35+
38 Zach Peek 21.7 R RHP 2022 35+
39 Jake Zebron 20.0 R RHP 2023 35+
40 Felix Bautista 24.6 A RHP 2021 35+
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60 FV Prospects

Drafted: 1st Round, 2019 from Oregon State (BAL)
Age 22.0 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 216 Bat / Thr S / R FV 60
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
45/60 60/60 40/55 40/35 60/70 60/60

Rutschman is the total package, a physical monster who also has superlative baseball acumen and leadership qualities. From his sophomore season onward (and arguably starting in the fall before that) Rutschman went wire-to-wire as the top draft prospect in his class, a complete player and the best draft prospect in half a decade. His entire profile is ideal. It’s rare for ambidextrous swingers to have polished swings from both sides of the plate, even moreso to have two nearly identical, rhythmic swings that produce power.

It’s further atypical for that type of hitter to be a great defender at a premium position. Rutschman has a pickpocket’s sleight of hand and absolutely cons umpires into calling strikes on the edge of the zone. Resolute umpires end up hearing it from biased fans who are easier marks. Aside from two instances, all of my Rustchman pop times over three years of looks are between 1.86 and 1.95 seconds, comfortably plus timed throws often right on the bag. Rutschman has the physical tools to become the best catcher in baseball, provided he stays healthy (he had some shoulder/back stuff in college). He’s also an ultra-competitive, attentive, and vocal team leader who shepherds pitchers with measured, but intense encouragement. It fires up his teammates and feels like it comes from a real place, not something he’s forcing. Aside from the questions that arose as teams scrutinized Rutschman’s medicals with a magnifying class before the draft (described to me as “stuff consistent with catching and playing football”) he’s a perfect prospect subject only to the risk and attrition all catchers are.

55 FV Prospects

Drafted: 1st Round, 2018 from Central Heights HS (TX) (BAL)
Age 20.2 Height 6′ 5″ Weight 230 Bat / Thr L / R FV 55
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Cutter Command Sits/Tops
55/55 50/55 55/60 45/55 50/55 40/50 90-95 / 97

Rodriguez is a Forrest Whitley sequel currently in production. Like Whitley, Rodriguez was once a hefty Texas high schooler with average stuff. A physical transformation coincided with a senior spring breakthrough, which was then bettered by cogent repertoire work in pro ball. Rodriguez’s changeup, which was an afterthought back in high school, has screwball action and has become very good, very quickly. He’s now tracking to have a four-pitch mix full of above-average pitches: a mid-90s fastball, a lateral, mid-80s slider, a two-plane upper-70s curveball, and the low-80s change. His delivery isn’t great (there’s a little bit of head whack, and Rodriguez has a tightly-wound lower half) but he’s never been injured and has thrown an acceptable rate of strikes to this point. Among the highly-drafted 2018 prep arms, only Rodriguez and Simeon Woods-Richardson are trending above their pre-draft grades. Rodriguez has a No. 2/3 starter ceiling.

50 FV Prospects

3. DL Hall, LHP
Drafted: 1st Round, 2017 from Valdosta HS (GA) (BAL)
Age 21.4 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr L / L FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
60/60 55/55 50/55 35/45 93-96 / 98

Ultra-competitive, athletic southpaws with this kind of stuff are very rare. Here’s the list of lefty starters who throw as hard as Hall, who averaged 94.9mph on his fastball in 2019: Blake Snell. That’s it.

Because Hall’s release is inconsistent, not only did his walk rate regress in 2019, but the quality of his secondary stuff was also less consistent than it was during his very dominant mid-summer stretch in 2018, when Hall’s changeup clearly took a leap. Both of his secondaries are often plus; Hall simply has a higher misfire rate than most big league starters. He’s still just 21 and has All-Star upside if he starts locating better, which may not come until after he has a couple big league seasons under his belt.

Drafted: 1st Round, 2015 from Hagerty HS (FL) (BAL)
Age 23.0 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
50/55 60/60 45/55 45/40 35/40 30/30

Beware the swing-happy hitter with no position. Mountcastle’s long-awaited slide down the defensive spectrum accelerated last year. He was a woebegone, full-time shortstop until 2018 when he began playing third base, then last year he spent an overwhelming majority of his time at first base, while playing a bit at third and closing the year with a month in left field. The eerie shadow of the LF/DH projection (he’s had issues throwing to first base) has loomed around Mountcastle’s profile for a while now, but he keeps hitting enough for me to like him anyway.

Mountcastle’s timing is sublime, and he has one of the more picturesque righty swings in all of pro baseball, featuring a big, slow leg kick that eventually ignites his deft, explosive hands. He has great plate coverage and hits with power to all fields. Mountcastle swings a lot: He has a 4.5% career walk rate, and it’s rare for DH/LF sorts to walk that little and be star-level performers. DH types with OBPs in the .310-.320 range typically max out in the 2-3 WAR range, which is where I expect Mountcastle to peak. But his contact quality is quite good, and the visual evaluation of the hit tool and on-paper performance have been strong for several years, so the degree of confidence that Mountcastle will hit is relatively high for a prospect with plate discipline issues.

45 FV Prospects

Drafted: 2nd Round, 2019 from Morgan Academy HS (AL) (BAL)
Age 18.6 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr L / R FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
25/50 50/55 20/50 50/50 45/55 60/60

Henderson played shortstop in high school and he can make fundamentally routine plays there, but at his age and size he’s much more likely to transition to third base while he’s still in the minors. He’s actually taller than just about every big league third baseman aside from the Brian Anderson, Hunter Dozier types who play other positions. He’s a lefty stick with precocious power and a relatively projectable frame in spite of somewhat narrow shoulders. He squared up elite high school pitching all throughout his showcase summer, giving the industry confidence in the hit tool. It’s reasonable to hope for his bat to profile in an everyday capacity at third base, especially if the currently historic crop of hot corner talent has started to age by the time he’s ready.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2015 from Cuba (LAD)
Age 23.3 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
45/55 50/50 40/50 50/50 50/55 55/55

Two more IL stints in 2019 means Diaz has now been shelved with an ailment six times since 2016. He had issues with his shoulder, hip, hand, quad, and hamstring during that time, and developed a tightly-wound lower half. He still hunts hittable pitches and can move the barrel around the zone, but this is an approach/contact-based skillset rather than one with loud, first division tools. The ball/strike diagnosis and barrel control are both enough for Diaz to play everyday, but he doesn’t thump like a star corner outfielder and the injury track record is a reason to round down a bit.

Drafted: 3rd Round, 2016 from Jacksonville (BAL)
Age 24.6 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 205 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
45/50 60/60 45/50 55/55 50/55 60/60

Every now and then, toolsy college prospects turn into George Springer. Their swing and approach are refined with pro instruction, and previously dormant production suddenly shows up in games. It seemed like Hays was quickly becoming this sort of player during his 2017 breakout, a power/speed monster who had one of the best statistical line in the minors that year. But an aggressive, pull-heavy approach and ankle injury derailed Hays’ 2018, which was so putrid that he never got a big league look even though he’d already debuted the previous September.

His 2019 season was much better, though it too was interrupted by injury, this time a hamstring strain. Hays’ swing makes him a 40 runner from home to first, but underway he’s a plus runner capable of handling center field. His leaping ability should also make him a threat to rob the occasional homer. Most importantly, Hays’ ability to play center field (which I’ve not always been optimistic about but have come around on) gives the approach issues some room to breathe on the offensive end. I still don’t consider him a lock to generate everyday value because of the plate discipline, but he’s talented enough to be a high-variance player who has some big years.

Drafted: 4th Round, 2015 from St. Thomas Aquinas HS (NH) (BAL)
Age 23.0 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
40/50 45/45 30/35 70/70 55/60 50/50

McKenna can fly and he has all-fields, doubles power, peppering the right-center gap with inside-out swings. Some of the power production is speed-driven, but McKenna has enough strength to deal with big league velo. His walk rates may come down as pitchers attack him in parts of the zone where they don’t think he can hurt them, but he has a shot to be a league average hitter who also plays a good center field. That’s an everyday player, just probably one without the pop to be a 50 or better on the scale.

Drafted: 3rd Round, 2017 from Jacksonville (BAL)
Age 24.4 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 225 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
60/60 50/50 45/45 50/50 45/50 92-95 / 97

In a year, Baumann transformed from what many clubs considered a two-pitch relief prospect to a nearly ready, four-pitch rotation piece. His upper-80s slider is terse and cuttery, the type of pitch that induces weak contact rather than whiffs, and when mixed with a more shapely curveball, keeps hitters sufficiently perplexed. The mealticket offering, though, is Baumann’s fastball, which has huge carry. That pillar pitch complimented by lots of viable other elements should enable Baumann to work as a No. 4/5 starter.

Drafted: 2nd Round, 2019 from Stanford (BAL)
Age 22.1 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 205 Bat / Thr L / L FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/45 50/55 35/55 50/50 50/55 60/60

Stowers swings so hard that he looks like he’s going to corkscrew himself into the ground. The Bellingerian cut makes Stowers’ whiffs seem worse than they are, and also make his dingers aesthetically pleasing. Kiley and I liked him as a sandwich/early second round prospect and Stowers ended up falling all the way to the top of round three. That prompted a reevaluation but, ultimately, there’s rare ability to rotate here and a chance for big, in-game power production, enough to profile in right field.

40+ FV Prospects

11. Dean Kremer, RHP
Drafted: 14th Round, 2016 from UNLV (LAD)
Age 24.1 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
50/50 45/50 55/55 45/50 55/60 90-93 / 95

If Kremer is going to continue missing bats at the rate he has thus far, especially with a fastball a few ticks down from his reliever days in the Dodgers system, then his command will need to get where I have it projected. That’s very possible for a guy who threw 60% of his fastballs in the strike zone last year. Kremer’s repertoire is well-composed but relies on location to generate whiffs because his raw stuff isn’t nasty enough to miss when he makes mistakes. He doesn’t make many of them though, and his fastball still played against good Fall League hitters even when he sat 90-92 there. If that isn’t sustainable more than twice through an order, perhaps Kremer will move to some kind of valuable long relief role eventually. For now, he’s much more likely to begin his big league career in Baltimore’s rotation.

12. Zac Lowther, LHP
Drafted: 2nd Round, 2017 from Xavier (BAL)
Age 23.8 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 235 Bat / Thr L / L FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
50/50 55/55 50/55 45/50 88-91 / 94

He doesn’t throw very hard, but it takes hitters a few looks to get comfortable with Lowther, whose mechanical funk disrupts their timing. The sinking and tailing action on Lowther’s heater makes it tough to square up, and the southpaw leans on his secondary stuff to finish hitters. His curveball has depth and it bites hard, but doesn’t pair very well with the sinker and is best deployed as a means to get ahead of hitters early in the count. The changeup, which Lowther uses against both-handed hitters, has become his out pitch. It’s a Ryan Yarbrough sort of mix, and Lowther’s future role should be similar.

13. Adam Hall, SS
Drafted: 2nd Round, 2017 from Lucas HS (CAN) (BAL)
Age 20.7 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 170 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/50 45/45 30/40 60/60 45/50 55/55

Hall’s speed has put several atmospheres of pressure on low-level minor league defenses. He puts lots of balls in play on the ground and hauls ass to first, to this point running a nearly .400 BABIP as a pro. Hall does have advanced feel for contact for a 20-year-old with an odd developmental path (he left Bermuda as an adolescent to pursue baseball in Canada) and several catalytic qualities that fit in a traditional, perhaps regressive, top-of-the-lineup role. He’s stolen 56 bases in 70 career attempts (80% success) and is fast enough for that skill to keep playing as he climbs the latter, though his offensive production will likely come down. Hall is not lacking big league physicality, but he isn’t very projectable either, and what you see now is probably what you’ll get. His exit velos are close to big league average, and he did lift the ball more in 2019, but power is unlikely to impact the profile. He’s tracking like an Everth Cabrera sort of player.

14. Keegan Akin, LHP
Drafted: 2nd Round, 2016 from Western Michigan (BAL)
Age 24.8 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 225 Bat / Thr L / L FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
50/55 50/50 55/55 45/50 89-93 / 96

Akin’s stuff was down a little bit in 2019, as he was 92-95 and bumping 98 in 2018. He’s walked a batter every other inning for basically his entire career, but Akin has a three-pitch mix sufficient for starting and missing bats. He projects as an inefficient No. 4/5 starter who taxes the bullpen, or a four- or five-out reliever.

40 FV Prospects

Drafted: 1st Round, 2018 from Oregon State (BAL)
Age 23.3 Height 5′ 10″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/35 50/50 35/45 70/70 50/55 60/60

Grenier is a good defensive shortstop with some raw pop and elevated peripherals. His overt physical tools — the power, straight-line speed, arm, defensive ability — have been well-reviewed since Grenier was in high school and they forced to move Nick Madrigal from shortstop to second base during the last year and a half of Grenier’s time with Oregon State. He was a swing-change candidate for pro ball and his hands do load a little differently now, coming toward his rising front knee before circling back around in a loop toward the ball. This is reminiscent of lots of Donaldsonesque swings implemented in the minors right now. If something clicks, Grenier could be an everyday shortstop. For now, the strikeouts push him toward a lesser, middle infield utility role.

16. Zach Pop, RHP
Drafted: 7th Round, 2017 from Kentucky (LAD)
Age 23.4 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 220 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Command Sits/Tops
70/70 55/55 40/40 91-96 / 97

We might have seen Pop in the big leagues last year had he not blown out and needed TJ in mid-May. Now, the Orioles are just months from needing to decide whether to put him on the 40-man roster. Healthy Pop looked much like Brandon League, a turbo sinker/slider, high-leverage sidearm reliever. Baltimore will have a better idea of how Pop’s stuff is progressing during rehab than the rest of the industry does, and other teams may only have a short window to evaluate Pop in games ahead of Rule 5 consideration, should Baltimore not add him and hope the lack of looks keeps teams away. He’s a high profile rehab target for clubs with scouts on the backfields.

Drafted: 8th Round, 2017 from Xavier (LAD)
Age 23.8 Height 5′ 10″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
50/55 45/45 40/45 50/50 40/40 45/45

He isn’t especially graceful nor does he have great hands or actions, but Bannon plays an adequate, effort-based second and third base. More importantly, he can hit. His low load enables him to lift pitches with regularity, but he’s also short back to the ball and tough to beat with velocity. This becomes especially true with two strikes, when Bannon chokes up and spoils tough pitches. He runs deep counts and walks a bunch, he’s going to hit a ton of doubles and play a shift-aided spot on the infield. That’s a big league role player.

Drafted: 5th Round, 2017 from Mount Olive (ATL)
Age 25.0 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 215 Bat / Thr L / L FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
40/40 50/55 50/50 40/45 50/55 90-92 / 95

An athletic lefty with a four-pitch mix, Zimmerman is a fully baked, pitchability backend starter with a good slider.

19. Drew Rom, LHP
Drafted: 4th Round, 2018 from Highlands HS (KY) (BAL)
Age 20.1 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 170 Bat / Thr L / L FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Splitter Command Sits/Tops
40/45 50/55 45/55 45/55 88-92 / 93

After a post-draft velocity dip, Rom’s heater returned to the upper-80s last year and it missed a lot full-season bats, many more than fastballs like his typically do. It has a well above-average spin rate for its velocity and nearly perfect backspin. An equally important part of Rom’s success to this point — 150 strikeouts, 39 walks in 126 innings — has been his breaking ball command. He can vary shape and locate to his glove side, and Rom has a crude splitter with late dive that has a shot to miss bats. If he can add velo he’s going to really blow up, and he’s only 20. Velo gains are rare though, and Rom has a mesomorphic build, not the sort that has a ton of room for mass. If he settles at this velo he’ll be a backend starter.

20. Hunter Harvey, RHP
Drafted: 1st Round, 2013 from Bandys HS (NC) (BAL)
Age 25.2 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
60/60 55/55 45/45 40/40 92-97 / 99

This will be Harvey’s eighth year in pro baseball. He’s battled through an awful lot of injuries to become a fastball-heavy reliever.

21. Brandon Bailey, RHP
Drafted: 6th Round, 2016 from Gonzaga (HOU)
Age 25.3 Height 5′ 10″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Cutter Command Sits/Tops
50/50 45/50 55/55 60/60 50/50 40/40 89-93 / 94

One of the earlier pitch design guinea pigs, Bailey’s arsenal is robust for a reliever. Houston traded Ramon Laureano to Oakland for Bailey, then lost him to Baltimore for nothing in the 2019 Rule 5 draft. Now, he’s very likely to stick on the Orioles’ 25-man next year. Like most pitchers who’ve been touched by Astros player development, Bailey’s fastball plays at the top of the strike zone, and it helps set up an above-average, 12-to-6 curveball. His changeup will flash plus and he can vary his breaking ball shape to look like a slider or cutter to give hitters different looks. All of these components allow Bailey to strike out lots of batters without big velocity (91-94, touch 96), but his approach to pitching is not conducive to efficient strike-throwing, so he’s likely a multi-inning relief piece or swing man.

Drafted: 5th Round, 2019 from Americas HS (TX) (BAL)
Age 18.5 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 170 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
25/50 45/50 20/45 50/45 40/50 55/55

A GM once told me (I’m paraphrasing) that if a player is well-built and has some baseball acumen, they deserve serious consideration even if their tools are very average. Such is the case with Hernaiz, who has a bunch of average tools right now, but could grow into a carrying, impact trait. He has pro ball pedigree (his father played throughout the ’90s), and the ability to drop the bat head and lift pitches toward the bottom of the zone. He can rotate and create leverage, and might just stay at shortstop. This was a strong $400k signing; Hernaiz is one of the more interesting young players in this system.

23. Kyle Bradish, RHP
Drafted: 4th Round, 2018 from New Mexico State (LAA)
Age 23.4 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 205 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
45/50 50/50 55/55 45/50 35/40 90-93 / 95

Bradish’s stuff is straight out of middle relief central casting. He sits 90-93 as a starter and has an overhand power curveball. The picturesque way Bradish rotates and unfurls belies his lackluster control, though his changeup has improved in pro ball. I think he’s unlikely to start and is instead a high-probability relief piece.

24. Alex Wells, LHP
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2015 from Australia (BAL)
Age 22.9 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr L / L FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
35/35 45/45 55/55 50/55 60/65 86-89 / 91

How good does one’s secondary stuff and command need to be to succeed in today’s game with an upper-80s fastball? We may be about to find out. Baltimore’s rebuild should give Wells an opportunity to perform six innings worth of surgery every fifth day.

35+ FV Prospects

25. Zach Watson, CF
Drafted: 3rd Round, 2019 from LSU (BAL)
Age 22.6 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 166 Bat / Thr S / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/50 45/45 30/35 55/55 45/50 60/60

With geyser-like regularity, LSU churns out high-effort, tweener fourth outfield prospects like Watson, who hit .311/.373/.484 while in college.

Drafted: 4th Round, 2019 from New Mexico State (BAL)
Age 21.6 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/45 40/45 30/35 55/55 50/55 55/55

Ortiz’s junior year production at New Mexico State was undoubtedly aided by the hitting environment there, but he also has relevant talent. He’s tough to strike out and plays a good shortstop, though he lacks typical big league strength and explosion. Realistically, he looks like a bench infielder.

Drafted: 6th Round, 2019 from Stanford (BAL)
Age 21.9 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 205 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/50 40/40 30/40 50/50 45/55 40/40

Handley is an agile catcher with control of the strike zone. His quickness enables the arm to play behind the plate even though Handley’s short on pure zip. Without an impact offensive tool, he likely maxes out as a backup.

28. Marcos Diplan, RHP
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2013 from Dominican Republic (TEX)
Age 23.4 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 170 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Splitter Cutter Command Sits/Tops
55/55 50/50 45/50 50/55 30/35 92-95 / 97

Diplan was electric early in his pro career and looked like a top 100 talent back in 2016, when he mowed over the Midwest League. Since then his conditioning has been mixed, and his control increasingly problematic. He’s been shuttled around the DFA wire lately and has now landed with an org that, theoretically, should be good at developing pitching. He once had three potential plus pitches, so we’re still on Diplan to some degree in the hope that he can recapture the stuff of his teenage years in Baltimore’s bullpen.

29. Michael Rucker, RHP
Drafted: 11th Round, 2016 from BYU (CHC)
Age 25.8 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
55/55 55/55 50/50 45/50 45/50 92-95 / 97

We’ve been on Rucker for a little while because his deceptive delivery (he hides the ball well) helped enable an otherwise fringy fastball to play. Rucker pitched his way into the Double-A rotation in 2018 but went back to the bullpen last year and his velocity jumped. He’s now 92-95, touching 97, and his curveball and changeup are both average, while the curve flashes above.

30. Cody Carroll, RHP
Drafted: 22th Round, 2015 from Southern Mississippi (NYY)
Age 27.3 Height 6′ 5″ Weight 210 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Command Sits/Tops
60/60 50/55 35/40 94-97 / 99

Carroll seemed like a sure bet to spend most of 2019 in the big leagues, but a slipped disc that was pinching a nerve in his left leg shelved him all summer. He made two, single-inning August rehab appearances in the GCL (a hurricane wreaked havoc on the last couple weeks of games in Florida) and then went to the Fall League, where he threw an inning every three or four days. He sat 94-97 with inconsistent slider quality and control.

31. Blaine Knight, RHP
Drafted: 3rd Round, 2018 from Arkansas (BAL)
Age 23.6 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 170 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
45/50 50/50 55/60 40/45 40/45 91-94 / 97

Knight was parked at 89-93 as a starter in 2019. He has a better chance of missing bats in relief, where he could theoretically bully hitters with a little more velo and live off his slider a bit more.

32. Isaac Mattson, RHP
Drafted: 19th Round, 2017 from Pittsburgh (LAA)
Age 24.6 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 205 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
55/55 50/50 45/45 45/45 90-93 / 96

Since moving to the bullpen in July of 2018, Mattson has struck out more than a batter per inning in what are almost always multi-inning appearances. After a dominant month at Hi-A to begin 2019, the Angels moved Mattson to Double-A and started varying his workload, first asking him to throw on back-to-back nights at the end of July. He’s being groomed for a relief role, one that will likely be fastball-heavy. His heater has big time life at the top of the zone and Mattson really hides the ball well, so he’s able to slip it past hitters at the letters. His secondary stuff is average on pure stuff but plays well off his fastball. He profiles as a middle reliever.

33. Lamar Sparks, CF
Drafted: 5th Round, 2017 from Seven Lakes HS (TX) (BAL)
Age 21.4 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 170 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/50 45/50 30/35 60/60 40/55 60/60

Sparks has only been healthy enough to play about 70 games in parts of three pro seasons, but he has major league ingredients. His frame, twitch, speed, arm strength and, shockingly, exit velos, are all of big league quality; we just know very little about the hit tool and power actualization because of his lack of reps. This is a two-year evaluation window for Baltimore because Sparks has to go on the 40-man two Decembers from now. Come June, he will have spent three years on the complex, and the track record for players who have done that is very poor. If the Orioles like him, they have to hit the gas on his development at some point, whether that’s a cup of coffee at Low-A late this year or a quick hook to Hi-A in 2021.

34. Brenan Hanifee, RHP
Drafted: 4th Round, 2016 from Ashby HS (VA) (BAL)
Age 21.7 Height 6′ 5″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Cutter Command Sits/Tops
55/60 45/50 40/45 45/50 91-93 / 95

Baltimore had originally planned on taking Hanifee, who grew up an Orioles fan, in the third round of the 2016 draft but instead took Austin Hays, who they expected to be off the board by that point. Hanifee was still available the next time Baltimore was on the clock and he signed for $500,000. Our year-to-year notes on Hanifee have his velo down two ticks in 2019 (91-93 t95 in 2018, 89-92 t93 in 2019), and his control regressed, too. His appeal for the past two years had been his present arm strength and a lean, broad-shouldered, 6-foot-5 frame that foreshadowed more. That hasn’t happened, even as Hanifee’s gotten stronger-looking.

His delivery is odd. After his hands break, Hanifee holds the ball out and up above his head like a waiter carrying a tray, then his stride and arm stroke are both very short. It’s deceptive and strange. He’s a bounce-back candidate, and a reasonable outcome to hope for is a fastball-heavy reliever.

Drafted: 2nd Round, 2016 from Cal (ATL)
Age 24.6 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 188 Bat / Thr S / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
45/50 50/50 40/45 30/30 30/30 45/45

The Braves originally drafted Cumberland with a pick they bought from Baltimore in exchange for Brian Matusz’s contract, then later shipped him to Baltimore as part of the package for Kevin Gausman and Darren O’Day. Cumberland was a bat-first catching prospect at Cal and he remains so today. He’s still very rough defensively but has done nothing but catch to this point in his career. Both the receiving and arm strength are issues, so I’ve got Cumberland evaluated as a DH. Robo zone implementation might change that.

36. Ofelky Peralta, RHP
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2013 from Dominican Republic (BAL)
Age 22.8 Height 6′ 5″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
60/60 45/50 40/45 30/35 94-97 / 99

Peralta has been simmering in A-ball for a while now, continuing to start (mostly) despite control issues that will certainly push him to the bullpen. The starter reps have been helpful in developing Peralta’s secondaries though, which are now both close to average. One of them still needs to step forward for him to seize a steady relief role.

Drafted: 11th Round, 2019 from Stanford (BAL)
Age 22.3 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 220 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/50 55/55 35/50 40/40 45/50 45/45

Daschbach is a R/R 1B/OF power bat with strength-driven thump. He smoked Pac-12 pitching as a sophomore and junior, but has a high offensive bar to clear.

38. Zach Peek, RHP
Drafted: 6th Round, 2019 from Winthrop (LAA)
Age 21.7 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 205 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
45/45 50/50 45/50 45/55 89-93 / 95

Acquired as part of the college pitching hydra sent to Baltimore in the Dylan Bundy deal, Peek will bump 95 with ride at the top of the zone. His changeup progressed during his draft year but otherwise his stuff was better on the Cape the summer before, and his curveball is fine. He’s a swingman/depth starter type.

39. Jake Zebron, RHP
Drafted: 18th Round, 2018 from Colonel Richardson HS (MD) (BAL)
Age 20.0 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
40/45 50/60 30/45 35/50 88-92 / 94

Last year we suggested that Zebron might repeat the GCL because he was a raw, two-sport high schooler and indeed that’s what happened. Baltimore was one of only a few teams that were on Zebron, who was pitching on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, before the 2018 draft. A year after becoming an intriguing summer sleeper, his fastball remains in the low-90s, up to 94, paired with a deep, two-plane curveball.

40. Felix Bautista, RHP
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2012 from Dominican Republic (MIA)
Age 24.6 Height 6′ 5″ Weight 220 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Splitter Command Sits/Tops
65/65 45/45 30/35 93-98 / 100

Bautista is way behind the developmental curve — he was originally signed by the Marlins in 2012 and released in 2015 — but he has a huge frame and he sure does throw hard. He’s of the Tayron Guerrero ilk.

Other Prospects of Note

Grouped by type and listed in order of preference within each category.

Sleeper College Bats
Toby Welk, 3B
Johnny Rizer, CF

Welk was drafted in the 21st round out of Penn State Berks, a D-III satellite campus of Penn State. He’s the second ever player drafted out of that conference. Welk is a big, athletic guy with average power and shocking feel to hit for someone who just got done seeing bad amateur pitching. His timing is great and his top hand gets over quickly, which enabled him to get around on NYPL fastballs. He probably fits at third base and would be one hell of a story if he turns into something. Rizer is an above-average runner with some pop who needs to be more selective. He could be a lefty stick fourth outfielder.

Corner Power Bats
JC Encarnacion, 3B
Robert Neustrom, RF
Jomar Reyes, 3B
James Rolle, 1B
Josue Cruz, 1B
Cristopher Cespedes, RF

Encarnacion is far too aggressive, but he has the best frame, athleticism, and defensive ability on this heap, so he’s at the top of it. Low-A assignments are fine for Big Ten hitters and Neustrom played well during his. He has 55 raw and a chance for a 50 bat. Reyes had a good year repeating Hi-A (111 wRC+) as a 22-year-old, but he’s still very impatient and likely to wind up at first. Rolle is one of two Bahamian players in the system. He’s a stocky 6-foot, 240 and has above-average pop. Cruz is a little older but leaner and might get stronger. Both are teens who have to hit all the way up the ladder. Cespedes was a minor league Rule 5 pick from Cleveland. He had one of the highest average exit velos in all the minors, averaging 96 mph off the bat, albeit as a college-aged hitter in the AZL. He spent several years in rookie ball and those guys almost never pan out.

International Signees. Seriously.
Dax Stubbs, SS
Luis Gonzalez, OF
Luis Ortiz, LHP

Stubbs hasn’t turned 17 yet. He’s got a good frame and can really rotate, so there’s power potential there. Gonzalez is a feel-to-hit corner outfielder. This Ortiz is not the Rich Garcesian righty who has some big league time but rather the semi-projectable lefty the team signed for $400k in July. He has a vertical arm slot and some feel for a curve.

A Couple More Arms to Watch
Kyle Brnovich, RHP
Gray Fenter, RHP
Dallas Litscher, RHP
Yeancarlos Lleras, RHP
Leonardo Rodriguez, RHP

Brnovich is the final piece of the Dylan Bundy deal. He could be a breaking ball centric reliever. Fenter has arm strength but his development has been very slow. Litscher has a sneaky heater and good curveball spin rates, but he’s relatively old. Lleras is 19 and touches 95; he was a day-two pick out of Puerto Rico in 2018. Rodriguez, 22, is into the mid-90s, too, but his delivery isn’t great.

System Overview

Baltimore’s rebuild, even the parts of it that began during the previous regime’s final year, has been one focused on quantity, at least as that applies to acquiring pro talent. The Machado, Gausman, and Bundy deals all netted a bunch of players rather than premium singletons. They’ve made seven Rule 5 picks in three years and two prominent minor league Rule 5 picks this past draft (Cespedes is mentioned above, and I also like Wilbis Santiago a little bit, and think he’s been stifled by the middle infield depth in Cleveland’s system). They’ve taken a college-heavy draft approach with lots of signable performers from big programs, while arms in their mid-20s have been slow to graduate.

Baltimore appears headed down the Houston scouting model pathway toward video and data-heavy analysis. They’ve fired some scouts and hired Scouting Analyst Consultants. “Consultant” titles in baseball don’t have to be included on org ledgers so a team can have a lot of them and other teams/general folks don’t always know about it. How Lunhow-y things get in Baltimore is officially up in the air after the namesake’s grizzly end in Houston. Part of the reason baseball’s collective disdain for Houston grew was because of the scout firings, so maybe Baltimore (and Milwaukee) won’t go that far.

We hoped you liked reading Top 40 Prospects: Baltimore Orioles by Eric Longenhagen!

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Eric Longenhagen is from Catasauqua, PA and currently lives in Tempe, AZ. He spent four years working for the Phillies Triple-A affiliate, two with Baseball Info Solutions and two contributing to prospect coverage at ESPN.com. Previous work can also be found at Sports On Earth, CrashburnAlley and Prospect Insider.

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Kevbot034
Member
Kevbot034

Adley maybe the most glowing review for a prospect I have read, wow.

And as a whole, this system is more promising than I anticipated. Shame it seems like Yusniel isn’t likely to be great. The Machado trade was a sad time.

The Stranger
Member

Re: Adley, I agree. OTOH, the cynic in me is reminded of the previous all-world Orioles catching prospect. How long until we get “Adley Rutschman Facts?”

dukewinslow
Member
dukewinslow

just wait until Kumar Rocker is eligible.

dukewinslow
Member
dukewinslow

One thing that’s not clear to me, if he was basically the #1 guy fall of his freshman year, how did he not get drafted out of high school? He wanted to go to Oregon State that badly? I’m genuinely curious about the story

RonnieDobbs
Member
RonnieDobbs

It is probably just not true. There may be some hyperbole in that write-up – just consider the possibility… He hit .234 as a freshman. You read the story.

jdbolick
Member

According to what I have read, Adley had some arm issues in high school that caused him to DH most of his junior year and he didn’t start catching until his senior year, so he wasn’t drafted until the 40th round.

HowBoutDemOs
Member
Member
HowBoutDemOs

When the article refers to the “fall before” his sophomore season, it’s talking about the fall of his sophomore year (because college baseball occurs in the spring semester). So he’s saying that Rutschman emerged as a star AFTER his first full freshman year and the summer that followed.

dukewinslow
Member
dukewinslow

I just backed out the math wrong then- I thought he was talking coming into fall of freshman year (so just on campus, preseason freshman year). Did he play wood bat league between Freshman and Sophomore year? IIRC that was the year OSU changed coaches

RonnieDobbs
Member
RonnieDobbs

Good chance it looks bad in the long run.

tung_twista
Member
tung_twista

Not going to lie, I got turned on a little reading that. And I’m not even an Orioles fan.

jdbolick
Member

Adley maybe the most glowing review for a prospect I have read, wow.

Wait until you see what’s coming at the top of Tampa Bay’s list.

dukewinslow
Member
dukewinslow

“Then I saw when the Dan broke one of the seven seals, and I heard one of the four living creatures saying as with a voice of thunder, “Come.” I looked, and behold, a white horse, and he who sat on it had a bow; and a crown was given to him, and he went out conquering and to conquer.”