Despite prominent graduation, the Baltimore Orioles still rank highly on MLB Pipeline’s newest list, with two players in the top five.
The Baltimore Orioles entered this year with the best farm system in baseball, led by the top position player and the top pitcher in the minors. Three months into the season, the Orioles are losing their top spot but still claim a very strong system, with most top prospects raising their stock.
Adley Rutschman graduated from prospect status this week, prompting MLB Pipeline to release an updated list of their Top 100 prospects Wednesday. Rutschman entered the year as the top prospect at most outlets. Still, Pipeline actually slotted him behind Royals SS Bobby Witt Jr. Since Witt began the season in the Majors, he graduated sooner and left the top spot to Adley.
While Baltimore Orioles fans are excited about watching a generational catching talent playing in Baltimore, there are still plenty of prospects to be excited about in the rest of the region. Grayson Rodriguez is still the top pitching prospect despite being injured until at least August.
MLB Pipeline only moved him down one slot, from #3 to #4, which is more because other players passed him. They are clearly not worried the lat strain will hurt his future. GrayRod earned the title of top pitching prospect after dominating A+ and AA competition last year with a combined 2.36 ERA and a whopping 40.4% strikeout rate.
He cemented his hold this year by playing even better at AAA with a 2.09 ERA, a 37% K-rate, and dropping his HR/9 from .9 to .2. He was on the verge of getting called up before the injury. The biggest mover among Orioles’ prospects is Gunnar Henderson, rising 36 spots from #41 to #5.
5 Baltimore Orioles make the latest MLB Pipeline Top 100
He was also named to the Futures Game roster Thursday, which makes back-to-back days of good news. A 36-slot rise is undoubtedly an aggressive move that other outlets aren’t ready to make, but MLB Pipeline isn’t necessarily wrong.
Henderson started the year in the back half of Top 100 lists after advancing from Low-A to AA in 2021. He went back to Bowie in April and tore up the Eastern League to the tune of a 1.025 OPS in 47 games.
The front office then promoted him to AAA, where he has not slowed down as the youngest player at the level. He currently has a .891 OPS over 25 games, and his defense looks reliably strong at short and third.
The three other Baby Birds also increased since the last update in May, but by a much smaller amount. Colton Cowser rose nine spots from #52 to #43. After the Baltimore Orioles took him fifth overall in last year’s draft, Cowser immediately entered Top 100 lists and backed it up with a .904 OPS in 25 games at Low-A.
This season has been a somewhat different story, as Cowser merely held his own at High-A rather than lighting the Sally League on fire. In 62 games with the Ironbirds, he had a .795 OPS with only four homers, but a .385 OBP and 16 steals shine through. One of three notable promotions to Bowie, he has now played seven games for the Baysox, and the early returns are much better: how about a 1.258 OPS?
The longest-ranked Orioles prospect is D.L. Hall, and he moves up five spots from #68 to #73. While he has been ranked for at least four straight years, outlets tend to vary wildly over their placement of Hall due to clear reliever risk. He has pitched almost the whole year at AAA and continues to take the mound as a Tide until the Orioles call him up.
His surface-level stats do not pop out, but Hall is ready for the Majors. A couple of awful starts bloats his 4.28 ERA, and Hall realized he was tipping his pitches. He seemed to have fixed whatever issue he had because, in his last two starts, Hall has only given up one run in ten innings with 22 strikeouts. It is time to give him a chance.
Rounding out the Orioles’ prospects to make Pipeline’s Top 100, Jordan Westburg moves up four slots from #100 to #96. The last player to make the May update, Westburg now has four new additions behind him. He is a couple of years older than Henderson as a college draft pick, but he is having a very similar season.
Across 47 games in Bowie, Westburg put up a .817OPS, also splitting time at short and third. Since moving up to AAA, he is actually hitting much better, with a 1.002 OPS in 23 games. Against the tougher competition, his batting average is 80 points higher compared to in AA, and his slugging percentage is 141 points higher!
Westburg did not enter the year as a Top 100 prospect, and his current placement is not universal. Other outlets, though, did include Coby Mayo in their preseason rankings, but clearly, Pipeline is more skeptical.
That is understanding since his numbers are not off the charts, and he is dealing with an injury. Maybe he will gain more recognition in the coming months, and the Baltimore Orioles will be back to six prospects in the Top 100.