This top Orioles prospect’s bat is worth the defensive risk at this point

At some point, loyalty can only go so far and the Orioles need to try and field the best team possible.
Baltimore Orioles v Pittsburgh Pirates
Baltimore Orioles v Pittsburgh Pirates / Christopher Pasatieri/GettyImages

By now, fans are well aware of the Baltimore Orioles' growing problem of having too many top position player prospects and not enough playing time for all of them. Baltimore has done pretty well to accommodate guys for the time being, but they are very close to their limit, and that roster crunch was a big reason why Heston Kjerstad got sent back down to the minors. The Orioles simply couldn't play him anywhere, as things stand.

One position that remains intriguing is third base, which has been manned by Jordan Westburg and Ramon Urías in 2024. Westburg isn't and shouldn't go anywhere, as he has been a solid defender at the hot corner while also providing a 176 wRC+. Urías, however, has been bad on both sides of the ball, and it feels like the Orioles are giving up quite a bit every time he is in the lineup at third.

The solution could be sitting down at Triple-A right now in top hitting prospect Coby Mayo, although a promotion would carry some risk along with it.

Editor's Note: Yes, Mayo did just suffer a broken rib and is going to miss some time. We can only assume that we are the cause of his injury by scheduling this piece. We promise to try to use our powers for good going forward

Orioles calling up Coby Mayo may require some shuffling and carry some risk, but it would be worth it

Mayo has become a familiar name to Orioles faithful, as he's mashed down in the minor leagues since the Orioles drafted him in the fourth round of the 2020 MLB Draft. Through 39 games at Triple-A in 2024, Mayo is slashing .293/.361/.616 with 13 homers. Mayo does come with some swing and miss, but he would almost certainly be a substantial upgrade over what they are getting out of Urías offensively, given how he impacts the ball.

The bigger issue is that Mayo's defense remains questionable at third base, with evaluators pretty split on whether or not he can play there in the majors. However, even in a world where Mayo gets called up and struggles with the glove, there is still a path to getting Mayo's bat in the Orioles' lineup if Baltimore is willing to make some potentially painful choices.

The nice thing about Jordan Westburg is that he can move around the field. In addition to playing any position in the infield, he also has a little bit of experience playing in the outfield in the minors as well. Baltimore could, in theory, move guys around and play matchups as a result, while still giving guys playing time. However, such a move would probably require the Orioles to move on from Urías -- and possibly Anthony Santander as well, to make the numbers work. Cedric Mullins is another guy that poses long-term challenges if he can't stay healthy and start hitting.

Such a choice isn't an easy one -- especially in Santander's case, given how important he has been to the Orioles in the past. However, Santander's .731 OPS is mediocre at best, and he is only really productive unless he is consistently hitting the ball out, which isn't happening at the moment. Mullins has loads of talent and has had big seasons in the past, but he is mired in a terrible slump and hasn't had a legitimately good and healthy season since 2021 (sorry, sorry!).

Baltimore is fortunate to be in this position after years of successful player development, but it doesn't make these choices any easier. Hopefully after the trade deadline, there will be more roster clairty going forward.

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