Baltimore Orioles: Third Base Prospects To Watch In 2020
Contributor Chuck Boemmel continues his series of looks into a position-by-position breakdown of the prospects in the Baltimore Orioles organization. Up next, a look at the third base prospects down on the farm.
Spring training is quickly approaching for the Baltimore Orioles (their first full-squad workout is scheduled for Feb. 17th) and with that in mind, Birds Watcher felt it was an ideal time to take a look at the prospects in the talent pipeline on a position by position basis.
Third base, at first glance, appears to be a position lacking in options, both at the major league and minor league level. Case in point, MLB.com’s depth chart lists Rio Ruiz, Hanser Alberto and Stevie Wilkerson as the three options in 2020 for the Orioles. Help on the farm may be a few years away and may include someone who hasn’t played the position previously. I will not speculate on who could move to the hot corner; for this series, I am sticking to the prospects listed as third basemen.
You can view previous parts one of our series here:
Baltimore Orioles Top 3B Prospect
The Orioles top prospect and the prospect closest to providing help at the hot corner is Rylan Bannon. Included in the trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers for Manny Machado, Bannon struggled in his brief time in Bowie (AA) following the trade; he slashed .204/ .344/ .327 in 32 games in 2018 for the Baysox.
Bannon returned to Bowie for the 2019 season where he produced a solid .255/ .345/ .394 slash line with 45 runs scored and 42 RBI. He also displayed a bit of pop with his bat by hitting eight home runs (120 wRC+). Bannon performed on a level to be worthy of being named to the Eastern League All-Star team.
Promoted to Norfolk (AAA) in August, Bannon produced a .317/ .344/ .549 slash line with three home runs, 18 runs scored and 17 RBI, albeit with the major league baseball.
Bannon finished the 2019 regular season with a combined slash line of .266/ .345/ .421. That improvement over 2018 was enough for the Orioles to send Bannon to the Arizona Fall League where he struggled a bit as his .200/ .258/ .247 slash line illustrates. Despite the tail-off at the end of 2019, I see Bannon, who is currently the Orioles 24th ranked prospect according to MLB Pipeline, starting the 2020 campaign in Norfolk where he will be a call away from Baltimore if needed. Of course, the Baltimore Orioles decision on who gets the utility infielder job(s) could force a return to Bowie for Bannon.
One To Watch
Deserving attention in 2020 is a 2019 draft pick who made quite an impression on the diamond in 2019: Toby Welk. The 21st-round draft pick put himself on the radar by simply out-performing his place in the draft.
All Welk did was hit .344/ .397/ .500 with four home runs and 28 RBI for Aberdeen (A-Short) before moving to Delmarva (A-Low) where he hit .250/ .333/ .281 over nine games for the Shorebirds.
I anticipate that Welk will return to Delmarva for the 2020 season where his continued development and progression will be worth keeping an eye on.
Drafted in the 25th round of the 2017 draft, Willy Yahn has performed well since joining the organization. His best minor league stop was produced this past year in Frederick (A-Adv.) where he hit .296/ .314/ .426 before being promoted to Bowie in June. Yahn hit .223/ .241/ .304 in 32 games for the Baysox and should return to their infield in 2020.
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Acquired from the Pittsburg Pirates in the Yefry Ramirez trade, Patrick Dorrian presented himself well in his first taste of High-A baseball in Frederick. Possessing a smooth and steady glove, Dorrian produced a .910 fielding percentage with eight errors over 89 total chances to go along with his .233/ .279/ .344 slash line for the Keys.
Delmarva’s JC Encarnacion is still trying to live up to the expectations that accompanied him when he arrived as a part of the Kevin Gausman and Darren O’Day trade to the Atlanta Braves in 2018. While not being able to move beyond Delmarva, Encarnacion’s .240/ .293/ .356 slash line with 53 runs scored, 50 RBI and 12 stolen bases represented a marked improvement over his 2018 numbers. Look for the 22-year-old, who is considered the Orioles 30th ranked prospect, to play in Frederick during the upcoming season.