In Baseball America’s first top 100 prospects list of 2022, the Baltimore Orioles show they have come a long way in their rebuilding process
On Wednesday morning, Baseball America published its first top 100 prospects list of the new year, ranking baseball’s best up-and-coming players leading into the 2022 season. Among the hundred are five players from within the Baltimore Orioles minor league system, a figure the O’s have achieved just two other times since Baseball America began ranking prospects in 1990.
Although the list is prefaced by stating that the number one spot could have gone three different ways, mentioning Mariners outfielder Julio Rodriguez and Royals shortstop Bobby Witt Jr. as close runners-up for the coveted title, Orioles catcher Adley Rutschman retained his status as baseball’s best prospect. Rutschman is just the second Orioles player to be slated as Baseball America’s number one prospect to begin a season and the first since 2009 when Matt Wieters earned top billing.
Not far behind Rutschman is Baltimore’s top pitching prospect, Grayson Rodriguez, who comes into 2022 ranked the sixth-best prospect in baseball, highest among pitchers. The overpowering right-hander commands four plus pitches according to Baseball America’s scouting report, including a fastball and a slider each graded a 70 on the 80-grade scale.
With the combination of Rodriguez and Rutschman, the Orioles have baseball’s top-ranked pitching prospect and position player prospect. The anticipation of Baltimore’s young battery making the jump to the Major Leagues in 2022, as O’s GM Mike Elias alluded to near the end of last season, should give fans of the team some sense of a light at the end of the tunnel.
According to MLB Pipeline, the Orioles farm system was middle-of-the-pack quality entering the 2020 season, falling in at 13th among the 30 clubs in Major League Baseball. At every stop since then, Baltimore’s young core has moved up the board, jumping to 8th in the mid-2020 rankings, then to 5th pre-2021, and finally to the top spot on the list published following the 2021 MLB Draft. After having limped through several abysmal rebuilding years, the Orioles are finally on the fringe of being one of baseball’s most exciting teams.