Mike Elias made it clear this winter: The Orioles are not a rebuilding membership.
“I believe that our rebuild is behind us,” the workforce’s govt vice chairman and basic supervisor stated in early February.
Elias added that the “focus” of the group is now extra on placing the large league membership ready to make the playoffs than on the event of its farm system.
At the identical time, although, the Orioles’ future success remains to be closely depending on how the present crop of prospects within the minors carry out. Some of them will arrive at Camden Yards sooner or later to hitch the likes of Adley Rutschman and Gunnar Henderson. Others, nonetheless, could possibly be used as commerce chips for Elias to amass a star on the deadline. Either method, the gamers in Norfolk, Bowie, Aberdeen and past are nonetheless necessary.
When wanting on the farm system, there are many names to get enthusiastic about. As the worst workforce within the majors from 2018 to 2021, the Orioles picked within the high 5 of the draft for 4 straight years and accrued a stockpile of expertise as a part of their rebuild.
Now, for the primary time since Baseball America started rating minor league programs in 1984, the Orioles are on high as the perfect farm in baseball with eight gamers inside the highest 100 and several other others value following.
Here are the ten most fascinating Orioles prospects to observe all through the minor leagues in 2023.
The Triple-A infielders
This group of center infielders — all high 10 Orioles prospects and high 100 on Baseball America’s checklist — is anticipated to start out the 12 months in Triple-A, however every participant additionally has the chance to play their method onto the large league membership in 2023. They ended their 2022 campaigns in Norfolk, with all three sharing the sphere in September.
Jordan Westburg: With probably the most Triple-A expertise of this group, Westburg could possibly be seen as the subsequent man up after Henderson’s call-up late final season. Westburg, who can play second, third and shortstop, was named the Orioles’ Brooks Robinson Minor League Player of the Year in 2022 after tallying 69 extra-base hits and driving in 106 runs in 138 video games — 91 of which got here in Triple-A.
Connor Norby: Norby’s 2022 season was uncommon, because the second baseman really hit higher as he moved up by the Orioles’ system. The 22-year-old posted a .736 on-base plus slugging share in High-A, a .960 OPS in Double-A and a 1.123 OPS in 9 video games with Norfolk. Norby, a second-round decide in 2019, led all Orioles minor leaguers with 29 house runs in 2022.
Joey Ortiz: If Norby and Westburg are the muscle, Ortiz is the finesse. The 24-year-old is a “defensive wizard kind of shortstop,” in response to Elias. However, whereas Ortiz is well-regarded for his glove, his bat is what opened extra eyes in 2022. After hitting .251 in his first 91 minor league contests in Aberdeen and Bowie, Ortiz slashed .284/.349/.477 in 137 video games final season between Double-A and Triple-A.
The outfield sluggers
These three outfielders — the highest three within the Orioles’ system — all have a profession minor league OPS above .850. All three had been additionally excessive alternatives by the workforce in every of the previous three drafts. While the Orioles’ infield depth is why their prospect stash is so coveted, these outfielders are additionally key items inside the system.
Colton Cowser: The fifth decide within the 2021 draft, Cowser could possibly be the subsequent Orioles prospect to play at Camden Yards. Cowser, who turns 23 in late March, hit his method from Aberdeen to Bowie to Norfolk final season, amassing 36 doubles, 19 house runs and 18 stolen bases whereas posting a .406 on-base share. According to Baseball America, Cowser is the fourth greatest prospect in Baltimore’s system and No. 41 within the sport.
Heston Kjerstad: If Kjerstad finally ends up enjoying for the Orioles, his path to get there will probably be as unconventional as maybe anybody within the sport. The No. 2 general decide within the 2020 draft, Kjerstad didn’t make his skilled debut till 2022 due to a coronary heart situation and a extreme left hamstring pressure. The 24-year-old dominated Low-A pitching (.463 batting common in 22 video games) earlier than struggling at High-A (.233 common in 43 video games). But within the fall, he confirmed why he was a first-round decide, profitable the Arizona Fall League Most Valuable Player award after logging a .357 batting common and hitting 5 homers.
Dylan Beavers: After choosing Jackson Holliday first general within the 2022 draft, the Orioles took Beavers within the Competitive Balance A spherical following his standout junior season at Cal. Beavers, 21, performed solely 23 minor league video games final season, however he slashed .322/.438/.460 and ended the 12 months in Aberdeen. 2023 will probably be a vital 12 months for the Orioles to study what they’ve within the younger outfielder.
The unheralded pitchers
Of the ten Orioles on main high prospect lists (Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus, MLB Pipeline), solely two are pitchers. And each of them, Rodriguez and left-hander DL Hall, are anticipated to spend all or most of 2023 within the majors. Once they graduate, who would be the subsequent arms to observe?
Cade Povich: As the principle prospect the Orioles acquired in return for All-Star nearer Jorge López final summer season, Povich could possibly be the group’s high pitching prospect on the finish of 2023. The 22-year-old left-hander posted a 4.50 ERA in 114 innings between High-A and Double-A final 12 months. Povich, a third-round decide by the Minnesota Twins in 2021, has recorded 12.1 strikeouts per 9 innings within the minors.
Ryan Watson: A 25-year-old right-hander, Watson has maybe flown below the radar, however not by the Orioles. Last season, Watson was named the Orioles’ Jim Palmer Minor League Pitcher of the Year after going 7-5 in 107 1/3 innings between Bowie and Norfolk. Watson, who signed as a free agent after not being chosen within the five-round 2020 draft, ranked third in each ERA (3.44) and WHIP (1.10) amongst Orioles minor leaguers who pitched 75 or extra innings final season.
Since Elias took over, the group has constructed up its worldwide scouting division, spending greater than $1 million on 4 gamers previously three signing lessons. Most of the Orioles’ high teenage expertise, together with 16-year-old shortstop Luis Almeyda and 18-year-old outfielder Braylin Tavera, will seemingly spend the 12 months in rookie ball. Oh, after which there’s Holliday.
Samuel Basallo: Perhaps the perfect Orioles prospect to come back from the worldwide market, Basallo might spend 2023 in full-season ball after enjoying within the Dominican Summer League in 2021 and the Florida Complex League final 12 months. Basallo, an 18-year-old catcher from the Dominican Republic, slashed .279/.350/.424 in 43 rookie ball video games final season. The Orioles gave him a $1.3 million signing bonus in 2021.
Jackson Holliday: The 19-year-old shortstop is on monitor to turn out to be the Orioles’ high infield prospect — and doubtlessly the group’s general greatest — later this 12 months when Henderson, the consensus No. 1 prospect within the sport, and right-hander Grayson Rodriguez, the Orioles’ second-best prospect, lose their eligibility. Holliday, the son of former All-Star outfielder Matt Holliday, posted a .911 OPS in 20 video games between the FCL and Low-A Delmarva final 12 months. He spent the start of spring coaching in main league camp, which Elias stated is atypical for a highschool participant the 12 months after he’s drafted. However, Elias believes “he was ready for it.”