After a disappointing end to the 2023 season, the Baltimore Orioles still have plenty to be happy about. They are ahead of schedule in the rebuild that began just four years ago and should only be getting better. Gunnar Henderson and Adley Rutschman are superstars in the making, Kyle Bradish and Grayson Rodriguez looked like legitimate number one's in the second half of the season and they continue to possess the top farm system in baseball.
The Orioles saw many of their young players succeed this season as the young core looks to become the future leaders. Fans were also treated to a bevy of major league debuts. Former top prospects Colton Cowser, Jordan Westburg, GrayRod, Heston Kjerstad and Joey Ortiz got to live out their childhood dreams of playing major league baseball for the first time. While some had more success than others, they are all expected to either stay with or return to the Orioles in what should be a very exciting 2024 season.
Even with those players returning to an already loaded Orioles team, there are several players in the minor league system that should get their shot at playing major league ball next season. The only problem the O's will face is just where to put them all.
5 Orioles prospects that should make their MLB debuts in 2024
Mike Elias has already announced that the reigning Baseball America Minor League Player of the Year will be at the major league camp when spring training starts. This comes as a surprise to nobody since he had such an amazing year, rising four levels from Low-A to Triple-A, and was in the big league camp this past spring training.
Holliday had a great spring this season and stuck around longer than anyone expected. He should have a legitimate shot at making the roster this spring, but the Orioles are known to slow play their prospects. Holliday got limited time in Norfolk and the O's have enough talent to wait. If he doesn't make the team this spring, he should debut by early May at the latest playing either shortstop or second base.
The best player on the National Champion Norfolk Tides that was not called upon by the Orioles this season was Connor Norby. Norby had a record-breaking season this year as he scored more runs and had more hits in a single season than any player in Tides history.
Primarily a second baseman, Norby also saw plenty of time in the outfield this season giving him some much-desired versatility. He would be a very capable backup second baseman behind either Westburg or Holliday and can be a very good hitter at the bottom of the order. If Norby gets enough playing time, he could score a lot of runs by getting on base for guys like Henderson, Rutschman and Anthony Santander to drive in.
One thing the Orioles will be looking to add to their lineup is a big power bat. Some should be available in free agency and on the trade market, but if they want to keep it in-house, they have Coby Mayo. Listed at a towering 6-5, 230 lbs., Mayo had a great season split between double-A and triple-A and earned Eastern League MVP honors.
Drafted as a third baseman, Mayo has also received plenty of playing time at first base. While he is a more than capable defender at both positions, he may see the majority of his Orioles playing time in 2024 come as a DH where he and Kjerstad could form a very powerful platoon.
Now that Rodriguez and DL Hall are in Baltimore to stay, the Orioles new top pitching prospect is Chayce McDermott. McDermott had a great season split between Bowie and Norfolk, highlighted by pitching the first five innings of a combined no-hitter for the Baysox. After being promoted to Norfolk he somehow got even better, pitching to a 2.49 ERA over 50.2 innings.
McDermott averaged 11.5 K/9 this season but did struggle a bit with control. The Orioles saw a lot of success from their starters this season, but some of that faded due to fatigue in a very young staff. McDermott may not make the team out of spring training, but he could be the first man called upon if one of the starters gets hurt or struggles.
No manager in baseball history has ever complained about having too much pitching. Povich, who was the center piece of the Jorge Lopez trade to the Minnesota Twins in 2022, looks ready to make his run at a spot in the Orioles rotation. The left hander averaged 12.2 K/9 this season between Bowie and Norfolk and can throw five pitches for strikes.
Povich is more of a control pitcher that can pound the strike zone and could get some additional help from the huge left field in Camden Yards. Like McDermott, Povich probably won't make the Orioles out of spring training, but he should be there at some point next season.
Even though this season did not have the fairy tale ending that we were all hoping for, it was a great season. The Orioles have established themselves as one of the top teams in baseball and should only be getting better. It's only four months until pitchers and catchers report for spring training.
Bonus selection: Samuel Basallo
Another teenager looking to debut next season is Samuel Basallo. The big catcher was named the Carolina League MVP for his efforts this year that saw him climb three levels. Basallo will likely start next season back at Bowie after only playing in four games for them at the end of the season, but he could quickly make the jump to Norfolk after they just lost two catchers to free agency.
He's coming off his best season both offensively and defensively while playing catcher and first base. He has good speed for a catcher, great knowledge and control of the strike zone and good power from the left side.
The Orioles showed an interest in keeping three catchers on the roster so they can DH Rutschman more, and Basallo could be the guy who makes that happen. I would not be surprised to see Basallo make his debut shortly after he turns 20 years old as a September call-up.