Despite poor performance at the Major League level, the Baltimore Orioles’ future is very bright
With Wander Franco graduated from prospects rankings, the Baltimore Orioles have now passed the Tampa Bay Rays for the top spot in FanGraphs’ live farm system rankings. Moving up based on a process of elimination may not be as exciting as adding new prospects, but the re-ranking shows the Orioles have a great chance of contending in the next few years.
Unlike other prospect sites that prioritize depth as well as top prospects, FanGraphs places extra emphasis on the highest-ranked players. The website uses future value measurements, which give players a number on the 20-80 scouting scale as a shorthand for how much they are expected to produce during their team control years. Franco, who is expected to become a superstar, had a future value of 80, the highest possible. The lowest players who make prospect lists are 35 or 35+ overall.
Former writer Craig Edwards, who now works with the Players Association, figured out roughly how much each future value tier is worth to MLB front offices. Intuitively, having just one or two potential award winners in a given farm system is worth more than a whole bunch of potential bench players. According to this model, Franco’s 80-grade value is worth $180 million, which boosted the Rays system $158 million above any other system. Now that he and some of their other top prospects have graduated, the Orioles possess baseball’s most valuable farm system.
Adley Rutschman is now the consensus #1 overall prospect and is the only player across all 30 Minor League systems with a future value of 70. According to Edwards, a 70-grade player is worth $112 million, so Rutschman takes up a huge chunk of the Orioles’ $374 million total among all their prospects.
If having the top prospect wasn’t good enough, the O’s have a strong contender for baseball’s top pitching prospect in Grayson Rodriguez as well. Rodriguez is one of only two pitchers in the 60-grade FV tier, and he will soon be the only one as Detroit Tigers pitcher Matt Manning is currently in the Majors and set to graduate this season.
Because of these high-ceiling prospects, the Orioles have a distinct chance to be competitive in the somewhat-near future. Along with their other Top 100 prospects in D.L. Hall, Colton Cowser, Heston Kjerstad, and Gunnar Henderson, the Orioles have a very real core to get excited about.