The Orioles farm system is widely, if not universally, believed to be the best in baseball at the moment. That belief got more support Wednesday morning with the revelations American baseball List of the top 100 predictions for the 2023 season. Eight Minor O’s made the cut this year, up from five this time last year.
The collection is headlined by Gunnar Henderson, who ran from #57 onwards Bachelor’s The 2022 roster is up to the top with minor league strength and last year’s big league performance. This is the second year in a row that an Oriole client has been ranked No. 1, with Adley Rutschman sitting at the helm of the 2022 roster. We can hope that Henderson’s first full MLB season will go at least as well as Rutschman’s. And maybe also last year’s first overall pick, Jackson Holiday, could make him a three-pointer with the 2024 roster.
The eight prospective Orioles who made the list:
- #1 – Gunnar Henderson
- #6 – Grayson Rodriguez
- #15 – Jackson Holiday
- #41 – Colton Kauser
- # 75 – DL Hall
- # 76 – Jordan Westberg
- # 93 – Connor Norby
- #95 – Joey Ortiz
Three in the top 15, four in the top 50, and eight in the top 100 overall is a very good showing. Both Henderson and Kouser (No. 98 on the 2022 list) have improved their stock significantly since this time last year. Westburg, Norby, and Ortiz are new additions to the preseason roster. Holliday, as a 2022 recruit, is making his first preseason roster debut he could make.
Rodriguez, seeded 6, sits in the same spot as he was on last year’s roster. Had he not sustained the injury he sustained in June, he would almost certainly have done enough in MLB last season to no longer be eligible for these prospect lists. Instead, we’re still looking forward to his debut. Rodriguez has now been passed as the game’s MVP, with rosters that now include Phillies prospect Andrew Painter ahead of Rodriguez. Painter, a first rounder in 2021 from high school, made his way to Double-A last year, an impressive feat.
Hall is the holding person who has slipped inside the rankings since this time last year, dropping slightly from where he was at No. 52 last year.
It’s an exciting list for one big reason. This is a group of players who could have a huge impact on the fortunes of the Orioles major league as soon as this year. Two have already appeared in MLB. Seven of the eight have reached at least Triple-A; Only Holiday stays in the lower minors.
One thing to watch is that five of these eight men are attackers. Even if all goes well with all of these players, which in itself is not a guarantee even for the top 100 caliber, there are more of them than there are places to play in their natural (or near natural) locations. This is without even getting into the big league, where there are already more than 3 WWII players from 2022: Jorge Mateo and Ramon Llorias. It seems inevitable that one or several people will trade.
The Orioles farm system was able to continue rolling at the top even after Roachman graduated to the big leagues last year. This was greatly helped by Henderson’s appearance and holding onto his potential by 14 at bats. At a minimum, it looks like they’ll be graduating Henderson, Rodriguez, and Hull this year, with any of the rest besides Holiday also being a candidate, depending on how they play and how current MLBers play.
I’ll be curious to see as the upcoming minor league season goes on, which, if anything, the Orioles can start to look like favorites for next year’s top 100 run. The encouraging thing about it is that half of those players weren’t a Top O pick in the draft class. This isn’t a slate caused solely by making money on high first innings, which the Orioles won’t continue to do now that they’ve improved. If O’s can continue to develop non-first settlers to greater heights, things will work out here.
Depending on your level of optimism and gratitude, a case can be made for a variety of current prospects for a top 100 sparkle by 2024. We could see the Orioles’ first international signing under Mike Elias hit the top of the lists if Samuel Pasallo’s full-season debut goes on. Okay. Coby Mayo has already cracked the top 100 in other publications. Daryl Hernaz is another guy who might be ready to break through. The two recently drafted players Dylan Beavers and Judd Fabian are promising, and you can’t even totally count on Heston Kjerstad’s revival here.
It would be nice to see a pitcher show up so that it won’t be a group of position players next year. I think Cade Povich, which was acquired in a Jorge Lopez trade last year, might be the best candidate for that. All six players are recruits from the Elias era, but the two pitchers are still around from the time of Dan Duquette. Elias simply wasn’t using his high picks on shooters and that goes to show how talent is piling up now. It’s another reason to wonder if one or more of the Westburg/Ortiz/Norby combination in particular could be traded for pitching.
When Elias took charge of the team’s baseball operations a few years ago and talked about building an elite talent pipeline, that was the thing he had in mind. Hopefully it means better and better things for the Orioles as time goes on.