3 Orioles prospects whose stock is up, 2 who are falling down

Five Orioles prospects who are either stepping up or stepping back.
Baltimore Orioles v Pittsburgh Pirates
Baltimore Orioles v Pittsburgh Pirates / Christopher Pasatieri/GettyImages

The Baltimore Orioles are just about halfway through the regular season, and even though they have one of the best records in baseball, their minor-league teams have not been able to find quite the same success.

The Bowie Baysox were the only team in the farm system to post a winning record in the first half of the minor-league season. Even without the team success that we saw last year down on the farm, several players have continued to shine, while others have faltered.

3 Orioles prospects rising, 2 who are falling in 2024 minor-league season

Coby Mayo: Riser

It's hard to say that the No. 3 prospect in the best farm system in baseball is a riser, but Mayo has played even better than his expectations. The big third baseman is having a banner year for the Triple-A Norfolk Tides and appears poised to make the jump to the majors as soon as the Orioles can find a place for him. In 62 Triple-A games last season, Mayo hit .267/.393/.512 with 58 hits, 15 doubles, one triple, 12 home runs and one stolen base. He's on pace to smash all of those numbers with Norfolk this year and is hitting .317/.393/.647, with 72 hits, 17 doubles, two triples, 20 home runs and three stolen bases through 57 games.

Mayo's been on an absolute tear recently and is fresh off an eight-game hitting streak where he demolished the competition. In that time, he went 15-for-31 with eight runs, three doubles, four homers and 10 RBI. Orioles GM Mike Elias, who was in Norfolk to watch the Tides play on Thursday, had this to say about Mayo: "He’s at the level of talent and experience where you start figuring out ways to work him in because I do think he’s ready, very close to ready for a major league challenge." The O's will find a way to get Mayo to the majors, hopefully sooner than later.

Justin Armbruester: Faller

The Birds pitching staff has been bitten by the injury bug repeatedly this season. They currently have four starters on the IL, with only one of them set to return this season. Now is the time for pitchers in the Orioles' minor-league system to step up, and while several of them have, Armbruester has not. The seventh-ranked pitcher in the farm system, Armbruester came into the season as the third-best starter on the Tides behind Cade Povich and Chayce McDermott.

As Povich and McDermott have flourished, Armbruester has struggled mightily. He is currently 1-6 with an astronomical 8.36 ERA. His one win came in his only quality start of the season, where he pitched 6.0 innings and gave up three runs. He's allowed multiple earned runs in 13 of his 14 starts and surrendered one earned run in the other start. Armbruester earned his first career save in his only scoreless outing of the year on April 26 when he pitched the last four innings of a Tides win and only allowed one hit. His career numbers are much better than what he's shown this season. Hopefully, he can figure things out soon.

Seth Johnson: Riser

One pitcher who could soon be joining Armbruester in Norfolk is Seth Johnson. Acquired from the Tampa Bay Rays in the three-team trade that sent Trey Mancini to Houston, Johnson has shown the talent that has led the Orioles to keeping him on the 40-man roster, even while he's stuck in Double-A. His season record is 0-5, but that can be attributed to the pitch count he is on. The most pitches Johnson has thrown in a game this season is 68. The O's have been very careful with their No. 10 prospect as he continues to build his strength back up after having Tommy John surgery in 2022.

Johnson has not given up more than two runs in any of his 14 starts this season. He currently has a 2.81 ERA with 52 strikeouts in 48.0 innings. He received an invite to the Orioles spring training this year, and was impressive in his time facing major-league hitters. Provided that his arm holds up, Johnson should be rising through the minors in no time.

Hudson Haskin: Faller

One of the most crowded positions in all of baseball is the Orioles outfield. It has been frustrating for fans watching Heston Kjerstad and Kyle Stowers get bounced back and forth between Baltimore and Norfolk, and I'm sure more frustrating for Brandon Hyde, as he tries to split playing time between Cedric Mullins, Colton Cowser, Anthony Santander, and Austin Hays while incorporating Kjerstad or Stowers into the picture. Just getting to Baltimore in the outfield is very difficult, but when you add in the quality of play from offseason acquisition Daniel Johnson and the promotion of Donta' Williams, finding playing time in Norfolk's outfield is becoming nearly as competitive.

After losing the second half of the 2023 season to injury, Haskin has just not been the same since he returned this season. In 50 games this season, Haskin is hitting just .200/.349/.306 with a .655 OPS, far below his career numbers. In an outfield that includes three players with major league experience (Stowers, Johnson and Terrin Vavra), along with rising star Billy Cook, Haskin, who has fallen from the Orioles' No. 15 prospect last season to their No. 25 spot this season, could easily become a forgotten player.

Billy Cook: Riser

Speaking of Billy Cook and the fight for playing time in the Tides outfield...

Cook began the season in Bowie, but has spent the majority of the year in Norfolk, where he has continued to ... well, cook. Cook's numbers since his promotion have actually improved over what they were in Bowie. He has been able to maintain the power that helped him get noticed in the first place, all while batting a career best .261 with the Tides.

Cook has great speed and can steal plenty of bases, as well as a strong arm and the ability to play almost any position. So far for the Tides, he's played everywhere except shortstop, pitcher and catcher. He's not major-league ready yet and likely won't be this season. He does still have a lot of swing-and-miss in his powerful swings, but he's made big steps in the right direction. A speedy power hitter that's able to be a super utility guy is an extremely valuable commodity, and Cook is proving this year that he might have what it takes.