Who should the Orioles keep this season between their two mashing young outfielders?

Baltimore has a really tough decision to make before the start of the season as to which top prospect to carry in their outfield.

Houston Astros v Baltimore Orioles
Houston Astros v Baltimore Orioles / G Fiume/GettyImages

The old saying goes that a team can never have too many good players. However, the Baltimore Orioles are really starting to test the limits of that, given the sheer amount of talent they have on the position player side, between the guys they have on the 40-man roster as well as in the minor leagues.

Take, for example, the competition down at Orioles camp for the outfield. Kyle Stowers seems to have been the favorite among those projecting the 2024 outfield thus far -- which makes sense, as he has had a very strong spring thus far and has some prospect pedigree on his side.

However, the Orioles also have top prospects Heston Kjerstad and Colton Cowser in camp, along with Ryan McKenna, and that is where the outfield competition gets a bit stickier.

Colton Cowser needs to be on the Orioles' Opening Day roster

Let's try to eliminate a couple of names first. Heston Kjerstad is a tremendous talent at the plate, but he missed so much time after being drafted that there is some wisdom to giving him some more time to develop in the minors, especially with his mediocre performance in the majors in 2023 and in spring training this year. Ryan McKenna is a fine defensive player, but his offensive profile is very limited.

That leaves Cowser and Stowers, who have both looked great this spring. Cowser has been playing like a man possessed this spring, with a 1.550 OPS in seven games including three homers. Stowers has not been a slouch himself, as he has also cracked three homers and is a member of the 1.000+ spring OPS club as well. So how does one decide?

Well, the Orioles may not have to. With Cedric Mullins dealing with hamstring issues, there is a very real chance that carrying both Cowser and Stowers is the correct option to protect against any injuries and to allow Baltimore to rotate guys in and out to keep them fresh.

If forced to choose, however, then the edge probably belongs to Cowser. Neither Stowers nor Cowser lit the world on fire with their play in the majors last year. However, Cowser does seem to possess better bat to ball skills and approach at the plate, which more than offsets any advantage that Stowers has in terms of raw power. Both are capable enough defenders out there, so that ends up being a wash.

So how will this competition shake out? That is anyone's guess. If the Orioles are super worried about losing guys without minor league options, McKenna could end up stealing a spot, as he is out of options. If the team wants to simply field the best team possible with the knowledge that both Cowser and Stowers can be optioned to the minors with little difficulty, the edge should belong to Cowser, even though it is rather close.

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