This time last year, Gunnar Henderson was not among the top 50 players in American baseball in the sport. On Wednesday, the Orioles player ranked in the publication’s Top 100, running back to back in the rankings with fellow 2019 recruit Adley Rutschman.
Even after Henderson, a 21-year-old, graduates from a prospect early this season, the Orioles will still have two players in their deep farm system who won’t have to jump as much as he did to be a baseball player. top rank and awarded Baltimore the honor for the third consecutive season in 2024. They are really only the second organization to have various players ranked first overall in consecutive years and The first to make them come from the same introductory class.
Henderson’s rise from No. 57 to No. 1 is not only thanks to him, but also to the Orioles’ development system, a system that has resulted in seven other Baltimore minors joining Henderson on the roster. Including Henderson, seven of the eight have already made it to at least Triple-A, except Baltimore is the favorite to jump out to the lead.
The Orioles were able to select Rutschman with the opening pick of the 2019 draft due to the worst season in franchise history in 2018. The second-worst season in 2021 allowed them to pick Jackson Holliday first overall in 2022.
Orioles executives have already compared Holiday to Henderson. Both of them are high school recruits and left-handed batters, and both showed up Significant improvement in the spring which led to his own draft.
“There are a lot of similarities there,” Orioles director of recruiting operations Brad Ciolek She told Holiday’s Choice Night.
Holliday, the 19-year-old son of Matt Holliday, is ranked 15th on Baseball America, the highest of any 2022 recruit after his starting post made him third in class. After the draft, he hit .297/.489/.422 in the Florida Combined League and Low-A, walking more than twice as many times as he batted. Between his senior season at Stillwater High School and his first experience with professional baseball, Holiday appeared in just 19 of 255 total games in 2022.
Like Henderson, Holiday’s rise to the top of the table has to be more about his performance than graduating the players ahead of him. Three of the top seven prospects are not yet 20, with Milwaukee’s Jackson Chorio, Philadelphia’s Andrew Painter and Miami’s Yuri Perez all reaching Double-A in 2022. It would be surprising to see Holiday reach that level in 2023, Echoing the path Henderson took in his first full season in 2021.
At worst, Holiday is likely to be the Orioles’ MVP next offseason, with two quarterbacks standing in front of him, Henderson and right fielder Grayson Rodriguez, both expected to be Baltimore’s Opening Day roster and give the team a chance. to earn an additional draft pick if either finishes as the MLS Rookie of the Year. Of the five remaining Orioles prospects in the Top 100 to make it to Triple-A, only left-handed DL Hall has made his major league debut.
There are no guarantees that all members of that cohort will graduate in 2023. Because although the Orioles front office is willing to challenge prospects by developing them through the farm system, that process has usually stalled when it comes to moving a player from Triple-A to the majors, which is a transaction Considerations of serving time, menu space, and more prompt considerations. The Orioles’ efforts to compete this season may change those considerations, but executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias has long advocated keeping the big picture in mind when it comes to how he runs the organization.
Rodriguez didn’t have much to prove in the minors when he suffered a right back muscle strain that sidelined him for three months and kept him in debut and snubbed prospect status in 2022. Henderson was the major hitter for the minors for much of the season but did not receive a promotion Until a point in the season when the Orioles can play regularly but still guarantee that he won’t get enough hits to disqualify a rookie. Kyle Storrs finished 2021 at Triple-A—sharing Organizational Player of the Year with Rutschman—but didn’t have major league time in 2022 so Baseball America wouldn’t consider him a prospect; He ranks ninth in the system, and is the best prospect in Baltimore outside the top 100.
Although football player Colton Kauser and players Jordan Westberg, Connor Norby and Joey Ortiz finished 2022 in Norfolk and will start 2023 as a top 100 prospect, they could certainly still retain their prospect status next year depending on when they are promoted. Ranked 41 a year after his 98th, Cowser would be Holliday’s biggest challenger to be Baltimore’s No. 1 prospect next year and likely the only other player in the system who could reasonably move up to No. 1 if he was still eligible. is being.
Across three levels in his first full professional season, the fifth overall pick in the 2021 draft hit .278 with .874 OPS and had his greatest success with Bowie, slashing .341/.469/.568. This level of performance in his second stint at Norfolk – echoing how Henderson dominated Double-A upon his return – would ideally lead to a call-up early enough that he wouldn’t be eligible later next year. But it would propel him toward the top of the standings if the Orioles’ depth, a factor in Stowers’ still prospect survival, prompts Baltimore to give him the daily hits in the minors late in the season.
Regardless of whether the Orioles manage to secure a third straight prospect, the prospect speaks volumes about their drafting and development successes, even if they are aided by early draft picks as a result of poor league seasons. However, eight of their top 100 prospects were Orioles recruits, and only four were first-round draft picks, with Rodriguez and Hull being the eleventh and twenty-first picks, respectively. Henderson, Westberg and Norby were Baltimore’s second pick in their drafts, while Ortiz went in the fourth round in 2019.
The Orioles first pick in the 2023 draft will be the 17th overall. At Henderson, Baltimore has already turned the No. 42 pick into a No. 1 prospect. Even as a major league team shifts toward competition, Wednesday’s disclosure of the Top 100 shows the Orioles can still produce top talent.