MLB Pipeline has released their Top 30 Baltimore Orioles prospects list.
On Thursday, MLB Pipeline published their Top 30 prospects lists for the American League East, with reporter Jonathan Mayo having plenty of encouraging things to say about a vastly improved Baltimore Orioles farm system. With four players in the Top 100 overall and a majority of the Top 30 set to debut in the next two seasons, Mayo says that “the rebuilding effort is moving very much in a positive direction”.
Those top four players are no surprise to fans who pay attention to prospect lists, with generational catching talent Adley Rutschman fourth overall, followed by right-hander Grayson Rodriguez at #36, lefty DL Hall at #69, and first baseball Ryan Mountcastle squeezing in at #94. Mountcastle showed off his high prospect status in two spring training games against the Pirates, racking up five hits, including a home run and three doubles.
Mayo goes on to comment that Rutschman is “far from alone in this growing system,” something that was very much not true about the Orioles in years past, before GM Mike Elias took over. To his credit, as Mayo notes and fans appreciate, the new front office has paid more attention to the international market, especially Latin America. Only one player on the list is an international signee of the Orioles, and that is Alex Wells from Australia. Expect more Latin American players to pop up as Director of International Scouting Koby Perez develops more relationships.
Former GM Dan Duquette also deserves credit, along with Elias’s pitching development, because 22 of the 30 players are Oriole draft picks, 17 of whom were taken by Duquette. None of them have debuted yet, but the four worthwhile prospects Duquette got in return for Manny Machado are all on the list and look promising, headlined by Yusniel Diaz at #7. Diaz and #9 prospect Dean Kremer are both expected to reach Baltimore this season.
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Neither the biggest riser or faller are surprises, based on the 2019 season. Michael Baumann moved up from #24 to #8 after pitching to a 2.31 ERA and 0.94 WHIP in AA. Blaine Knight dropped from 10 to 26 because of an unsightly 6.13 ERA in Advanced A, a major let down following a 0.68 ERA before the promotion.
The Orioles had a pretty quiet offseason, but what transactions Mike Elias made seem to be good ones. Rule 5 picks Brandon Bailey and Michael Rucker look pretty good so far in exhibitions, and Bailey is now listed as the #20 prospect. By trading veterans Jonathan Villar and Dylan Bundy, the Orioles brought in five more pitchers to the farm, including Kyle Bradish who appears at #22.
Not surprisingly, Rutschman has the highest or tied for the highest grade among four of the five tools, with a 60 in power, hitting, arm strength, and defense. Zach Watson has the highest tool grade of anyone with a 70 speed, so opposing catchers better watch out. Rodriguez has a dangerous pitch mix with a 65-grade fastball and 60-grade slider, while Kremer has a 60-grade curveball and Wells leads with a 60-grade control.
Even though the current reality is bleak at the major league level, there are clear signs that success is on the way, as MLB’s top 30 list shows. With more high draft picks and trades coming this season and next, the Orioles will only move further up team prospect rankings. Here’s to the future!