Orioles Announce Seven Players for 2022 AFL Roster

Southern Miss Golden Eagles infielder Reed Trimble looks to catch the ball against the Murray State Racers during their baseball game at Pete Taylor Park in Hattiesburg, Miss. Friday, Feb. 14, 2020.Hat 8311
Southern Miss Golden Eagles infielder Reed Trimble looks to catch the ball against the Murray State Racers during their baseball game at Pete Taylor Park in Hattiesburg, Miss. Friday, Feb. 14, 2020.Hat 8311 /

The Orioles continue development in the Arizona Fall League.

The Baltimore Orioles are sending seven players to the Arizona Fall League, according to the team’s Player Development Twitter account.  The group will be playing for the Scottsdale Scorpions along with prospects from the Red Sox, Angels, Giants, and Braves.  The seven players are hitters Heston Kjerstad, Cesar Prieto, Reed Trimble, and pitchers Noah Denoyer, Easton Lucas, Nolan Hoffman, and Nick Richmond.

Much like last fall, the hitters are far more recognizable and exciting than the pitchers.  The 2021 squad included Kyle Stowers, Yusniel Diaz, and a bunch of older relievers.  The only pitcher of note is Nick Vespi, but the difference between one and zero is pretty large when discussing prospects.

Kjerstad is the biggest name since he was the second overall pick out of Arkansas in 2020.  His minor league journey has been derailed by a heart condition and injuries, so getting extra reps in the AFL makes a lot of sense.  His career is finally getting back on track, and he is currently playing in High-A.  He got off to a slow start with the Ironbirds but has been playing better of late.  Overall, he has a .674 OPS in 43 games after crushing Low-A to the tune of a 1.201 OPS in 22 games.

Reed Trimble has similarly been held back by injuries since he was drafted, though thankfully nothing scary like Kjerstad what dealt with.  A second rounder out of Southern Miss in 2021, Trimble has slowly gotten back into game shape.  He played 31 games with the Shorebirds, hitting .291 with a .747 OPS.  His numbers ticked up in August, though he is old for the level.  Most AFL hitters face weaker competition, but Trimble will be facing tougher pitchers than he is used to.

Cesar Prieto was a high-profile international signing in January as a much older player compared to most signees.  He is 23 years old after defecting from Cuba and coming stateside.  In the ’20-’21 winter he hit .403 in the Cuban National Series.  He began this season with Delmarva and earned a quick promotion with a 1.000 OPS in 25 games.  Prieto has struggled to adapt to AA with a .645 OPS in 89 games.  His average has dropped close to 100 points, and he has hit three fewer home runs in 280 more plate appearances.  The AFL will be a good chance to see if the Orioles have a future contributor here.

Noah Denoyer has raised his stock the most among the pitchers here and more than most relievers.  Denoyer went to San Joaquin Delta College and signed with the Orioles in 2019 as an undrafted free agent back when there were 40 rounds.  He pitched to a 4.00 ERA in six games with Aberdeen but had good peripherals.  He earned a promotion to Bowie where he has a 2.61 ERA in 14 games and 51.2 innings while cutting his walk rate.  He is the most likely of this bunch to reach Baltimore.

You might recognize the name Easton Lucas because he was the trade return for Jonathan Villar.  A 14th rounder out of Pepperdine, Lucas has pitched for the Baysox for all of 2022 with mediocre results.  He has a 4.61 ERA with a high walk rate in 31 games.

Nolan Hoffman was the first pick of the minor league Rule 5 last offseason.  Originally a fifth rounder of the Mariners out of Texas A&M, he has been hurt for much of the season.  He has played in 17 games with Bowie pitching to a 4.43 ERA and a low strikeout rate.

Nick Richmond is the most obscure of the bunch.  The Orioles signed him as a minor league free agent in May after the season had already started.  The Pfeiffer University (D-III) product has pitched in 16 games for Aberdeen after three for Delmarva.  He has a 4.43 ERA at the higher level with poor strikeout and walk rates, but no homers allowed.  The AFL stint could be Richmond’s last chance to prove himself.  Maybe the Orioles can still turn around a former-Tigers minor leaguer with better development.