Orioles pitching prospect acquired in trade makes organization debut on Saturday

A pitching prospect the Orioles got at last year's trade deadline has finally made his organizational debut
Baltimore Orioles Photo Day: Orioles pitcher Seth Johnson
Baltimore Orioles Photo Day: Orioles pitcher Seth Johnson / Julio Aguilar/GettyImages

One of the multiple trades made by the Orioles at last year's trade deadline was trading Trey Mancini to the Houston Astros in a three team deal with the Rays. Chayce McDermott, one of the pieces in the trade, has enjoyed a strong season in the Orioles farm system and has made his way to Triple-A, one step from the majors.

The other piece the Orioles received was another pitcher, that being Seth Johnson. At the time of the trade, Johnson was set to undergo Tommy John Surgery, but that didn't stop the Orioles from acquiring him. Now, a little over a year later, Johnson made his return to the mound in a rehab outing.

Orioles prospect Seth Johnson returns to mound post-Tommy John Surgery

On Saturday, Johnson made his Orioles organization debut, pitching the first inning in the game for the FCL Orioles against the FCL Pirates. The FCL Orioles won the game 6-4, with Johnson allowing one hit while striking out two hitters in a scoreless first inning.

It was a much-anticipated return to the mound for Johnson, ranked as the 16th overall prospect in the Orioles system per MLB Pipeline. According to Roch Kubatko of MASN, the Orioles want Johnson to be with the Delmarva Shorebirds before the season ends. That would set Johnson up for a quick stay in the FCL, with Delmarva's regular season schedule ending on September 10.

Before getting injured, Johnson's fastball maxed out at 98 on the gun, and he pairs it with a swing-and-miss slider to take down batters. If all things go well at Delmarva, it's reasonable to see Johnson starting 2024 at High-A Aberdeen.

Last year, Johnson was pitching for High-A Bowling Green in the Rays system before he got hurt. A first round pick in the 2019 draft, Johnson averaged 13.7 strikeouts per nine and 3.7 walks per nine. He paired that with a 3.00 ERA and 1.259 WHIP in 27 innings across seven games, all starts.

The return of Johnson to the mound to further his development is only a good thing for the Orioles, who are still ranked as the best farm system in baseball. If Johnson continues to develop the way he was before the injury, he'll be a really good big league starter in a few years.