Orioles executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias said the current Orioles roster of top 10 prospects is as good as any ever. That’s high praise because he was involved in Houston’s rise to the top of Major League Baseball and they had some solid young talent there as well.
Today I look at each player and provide a brief commentary on each player on Baseball’s Top 10 list of prospects.
These are all names that should be familiar to most Orioles fans by now. Three of them have already seen the majors.
The Orioles achieved a rare feat last season when they had two different players ranked first in baseball by Baseball America: catcher Adley Rutschman and later fielder Gunnar Henderson.
No. 1 – If Gunnar Henderson: There’s a lot to like here, and Henderson will likely start next year as the number one prospect in American baseball, just as he does today. I mean, what’s going to change between now and then? However, Henderson’s stay at the top will end when he gets 15 more players into the league, so he won’t be “eligible prospect,” as they say. However – and this will no doubt confuse some – he will still be eligible to win the 2023 AL Rookie of the Year award.
Major League Baseball gives Henderson a score of 60 for hitter, strength, and arm, and some scouts have put higher marks on his arm. He’s extra tools across the board, and we saw what he could do in his short time in the major league late last year. He was MLB Player of the Year 2022. He then had OPS+123 in 34 major league games. Perhaps the best statistic here: He’ll play about half of next season while still only 21 years old.
No. 2 – RHP Grayson Rodriguez: The wait for his league debut is over. He should come early next year, and at this point there is very little going on with keeping him off the big league roster. Later, we figured out how many rounds he would be allowed to throw after a longitude issue limited him to 75 2/3 last year on the ranch. But they were some very powerful, sometimes amazing roles. The ceiling is high here, and we’ll soon find out if this young talent can reach it.
No. 3 – SS Jackson Holiday: What a debut season for this 18-year-old after the Orioles selected him #1 overall last summer, their third-best pick ever. He showed all the drive to become the first pick in 20 minor league games, posting a 0.911 OPS with 25 walks and only 10 strikeouts. The tools are high, the talent is vast, and the makeup is gorgeous. It all prompted Jim Callis of MLBPipeline.com to tell me, “I’d be totally surprised if Jackson Holliday wasn’t a superstar.”
No. 4 – Colton Kauser: Like Henderson and Holliday, Cowser has powerful tools across the board and can influence games with his bat, speed, glove, and arm. It’s an impressive package here, and Kauser should make his major league debut during the 2023 season. He’s another top-100 talent who played at three levels last season, starting at High-A Aberdeen. He ended up with 27 games and an OPS of . 768 at Triple-A. One aspect of Cowser’s makeup that I love is how comfortable it is. He’s confident rather than cocky, and his cool attitude will serve him well going forward, no doubt.
No. 5 – LHP Hall DL: The lefty flamethrower made it to the big leagues last year. Baseball America puts a score of 70 on his fastball, which can touch 100 miles per hour. Another advantage to Hall is that his secondary salarymen have all shown the potential to be extra pitches. On a given day, he could have a dominant slider change, and the next time the dominant slider comes out. Nice to have options. As always, command and control will determine how far he can go. When he’s got it all and can control it, it’s an amazing sight, and I’ve seen it. Right now, I think they have to go all out to use him as a rookie with three or four extra pitches.
No. 6 – IF Jordan Westburg: He’s also now at the back end of the Top 100 list and is currently the 89th player in All-American Baseball. He’s got it with a combination of wit, offense and defense and a relaxed demeanor, but in a manner different from that of the friendlier Cowser. But Westburg’s production in 2022 was significant and he earned the club’s Brooks Robinson Award as the Orioles Minor League Player of the Year.
Westburg spent time between Double-A and Triple-A last season and hit .265/.355/.496/.851 with 39 doubles, three triples, 27 homers, 96 runs scored, 106 RBIs, 70 walks and 12 bases. stolen in 138 games. His major league debut is approaching, and depending on other moves this winter, he could go into spring training looking to win the starting job.
No. 7 – If Connor Norby: Is he the future second man for the Orioles? Norby’s stock jumped this year when he led the organization with 29 homeowners. 886 OPS was second only to Henderson among all farm players with 250 or more games played. He’s played at three levels this year, and his home average has improved as he’s gone. He even scored four goals in his last nine games after joining Triple-A Norfolk. Baseball USA rates his average defense but his arm is under 45 degrees.
No. 8 – If Joey Ortiz: This shortstop was added to the men’s 40 roster in November. It adds to the depth of the growing field for O’s at higher levels of their farm system. In 2022 he had an offense to match D. /. 477/. 826 and played Class 1 defense at shortstop. He produced 35 doubles, six triples, 19 hits and 85 RBI while scoring 91 runs. In Triple-A games alone, he hit .346/.400/.567 with seven doubles, two runs, four home runs, 14 RBIs and nine walks.
No. 9 – Kyle Storrs: This year Storrs and his power arrived at Camden Yards, where he hit this zombie two out in the ninth on an 0-2 home run against Liam Hendrix. She helped the Orioles tie the White Sox in that game in late August, which Baltimore won in 11 innings. We wrote about him here recently, wondering if he might be the left-handed bat the club are looking for. He produced 104 OPS+ with the Orioles after producing a . 527 slugging percentage and . 884 OPS at Triple-A in 95 games. He’s a decent defender with a strong arm and brings depth to Baltimore’s court.
when. 10 If Kobe May: Mayo reached Double-A this year at age 20 and will play the entire next season at age 21. And he’s shown glimpses of his 60-degree power and arm at his Baltimore ranch. 782 OPS in 104 games last year with a few injuries limiting him. Next season will be a big one for him to establish himself as a Double A and remind everyone not to overlook him when they reflect on the increasing depth in the O.C.