Orioles Who Won’t Make Opening Day Roster but Will Contribute
Baltimore Orioles’ mid-season call-ups could make a big impact in 2021
With the team in the midst of a rebuild, the Baltimore Orioles‘ main goal this season should be to develop and graduate their prospects. According to MLB Pipeline’s pre-season 2021 prospect rankings, the Orioles have several prospects who are being projected to debut at the Major League level this season. Although many of these players won’t break camp with the big league team and hold a spot on the Major League roster on Opening Day, they do have serious potential to make a positive impact on the team as mid-season call-ups.
Rylan Bannon, 3B/2B (Orioles’ 24th ranked prospect)
The Orioles have an array of infielders who could make appearances at the Major League level in 2021 and Rylan Bannon is a promising member of that group. Baltimore acquired Bannon in 2018 as part of the five-player package that the Los Angeles Dodgers traded for Manny Machado.
Bannon, 24, has yet to make his Major League debut, having made the jump to AAA Norfolk during the 2019 season. In his 90 plate appearances at Norfolk, Bannon slashed .317/.344/.549 with three home runs. Bannon is also a versatile defender, having logged innings at second base, third base, and shortstop during college games and in the Minor Leagues.
Here’s an excerpt from Prospects Live’s scouting report of Bannon:
"A small utility infielder with good physical tools. Surprising power from a small frame will make him a useful bat off the bench against left-handed pitching in situations where his defensive versatility doesn’t afford him a spot in the everyday lineup. Swing and miss issues limit his ability to get to his raw power in game situations but above average plate discipline will carry an average hit tool."
This Spring, Bannon is batting just .176 in 13 games, although his .417 OBP tells a better story of his contributions. Bannon has seven walks in 24 plate appearances during Grapefruit League play.
Jahmai Jones, 2B/OF (Orioles’ #20 ranked prospect)
One of the Orioles’ recent moves to progress their rebuild was the acquisition of Jahmai Jones, the prospect the Los Angeles Angels traded to Baltimore in exchange for Alex Cobb this offseason. Prior to the deal, Jones ranked as the Angels’ 7th-best prospect according to Joe Trezza’s report for MLB.com.
Defensive versatility is a big part of Jones’ game, having logged games across the outfield and at second base. According to FanGraphs’ 20-80 scale grades, Jones has average power and above-average speed.
Jones is a top candidate to make the jump to the Major Leagues if the Orioles’ outfield core suffers any injuries throughout the season. Jones has previous experience in the big leagues to back up that role as well, having played 3 games for the Angels in 2020, scoring twice, knocking in one RBI, and posting an average of .429 over that span.
Adley Rutschman, C (Orioles’ #1 ranked prospect)
With catcher being one of the team’s weaker positions, the Orioles’ number one prospect, Adley Rutschman, could make the leap to the Major Leagues at some point during the 2021 season. Baltimore drafted Rutschman out of Oregon State University with the first overall pick in the 2019 MLB Draft and see a very bright future for the former Collegiate Baseball Player of the Year.
Rutschman has yet to appear above Single-A Delmarva in his professional career due to the COVID-19 outbreak forcing Minor League Baseball to cancel its 2020 season. In the small sample of 37 games played across Rookie, Low-A, and Single-A ball in 2019, Rutschman held an OPS of .774.
Here’s an excerpt from MLB Pipeline’s scouting report of Rutschman, who is ranked as the 2nd-best prospect in baseball on the MLB Pipeline Top 100 Baseball Prospects rankings:
"His already-plus defense also got better in his first full year of pro ball as he acclimated well to working with high-level pitching talent. He knows how to call a game, works very well with pitchers and has soft hands and excellent agility behind the dish. He couples that with a very strong arm, which should help to control the running game and is already exhibiting the kind of leadership teams covet from a big league backstop, something he should be in the very near future."
In his 6 games played this Spring, Rutschman has an OBP of .400, two doubles, an RBI, and a run scored.