Most baseball fans would not be surprised to hear about a 19 year old Baltimore Orioles prospect, who dominated in the minor leagues all season long, winning an MVP. What they may be surprised to find out is that it was not Jackson Holliday, at least not this time. On Tuesday, Samuel Basallo was named the MVP of the Carolina League and boy did he deserve it.
Orioles catching prospect Samuel Basallo tabbed Carolina League MVP
Basallo's season just ended a few days ago with the Double-A Bowie Baysox, but he started the year as an 18 year old catcher for the Delmarva Shorebirds. Even though he was only 18 years old, Basallo was already entering his third year of professional baseball after being signed as a 16 year old international prospect. The Orioles saw so much potential in the youngster that they gave him a $1.3 million signing bonus, which was the largest the franchise had ever handed out.
In his first two seasons with the Orioles organization, Basallo was a standout player, but this year was truly his breakthrough season. He played in 114 games between three minor league levels in 2023, 83 of which were with the Shorebirds. During his time there he dominated opposing pitchers and posted a .299/.384/.503 slash line with an .887 OPS.
In a partial season with the team, Basallo finished second on the team in home runs (12), first in RBI's (60), tied for second in runs (52), second in hits (92), second in doubles (19), tied for first in triples (4), and second in walks (41).
Samuel is a natural catcher but has also been learning to play first base. He appeared in 51 games for the Shorebirds as a catcher, 21 at first base and was the teams DH in nine others. Basallo posted a .988 fielding percentage at catcher and threw out 36 of 73 potential base stealers, good enough for 33%. The average MLB catcher throws out 32% percent of base stealers. The Orioles are pretty solid at the catcher position with arguably the game's best catcher, Adley Rutschman, and arguably baseball's best backup catcher in James McCann.
That's where Basallo's ability to learn first base comes into play. In his 21 games at first base with the Shorebirds, Basallo had a .982 fielding percentage. He is listed at 6'3 but has reported grown to 6'4 giving him a very large wingspan to make tough catches. The most exciting part about Basallo's season is that as good as his stats were in Delmarva, he performed even better in Aberdeen and Bowie.
After starting the season outside of baseball's top 100 prospects, Basallo has climbed all the way up to #46 and is the #5 prospect in a loaded Orioles farm system. If he keeps playing this way, he could force the Orioles front office to make some difficult roster decisions as early as next season. His left-handed power bat should play nicely in Camden Yards.
For now, Birds fans should be very happy to see the progress the youngster has made and even more excited about the future he will bring with him to Baltimore. This MVP should just be the first of many awards Basallo brings home in his career.