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Tracking a trio of Orioles prospects who could emerge in 2018

There’s plenty of positivity to discuss down on the farm as the Orioles minor-league teams kick into gear this season.

MLB: Spring Training-Tampa Bay Rays at Baltimore Orioles Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

There isn’t much you can definitely conclude from stats in the minor leagues. It’s possible to get a feel for how a prospect is performing and the chances they have to be successful at the big-league level, but definite conclusions just don’t exist at the minor-league level.

So after less than a week of the season behind us, it only seems to make sense to make some definite conclusions about a few Orioles prospects and put on them a stamp of a approval to head straight to the Hall of Fame!

It’s early, but there have been quite a few encouraging performances down on the farm throughout the system. And with the Orioles sitting at 4-8, why not spotlight some of the good that’s been happening at the lower levels? It’s April. Optimism might never be higher, so let’s take advantage of it.

As a note, this will spotlight some new names into the fold for this season. These won’t be your Austin Hays’ of the world, but guys you should at least track as the weeks carry on.

Cole Billingsley

Here’s a guy who is incredibly fascinating. You probably read his name a bit last year throughout our minors recaps, but Billingsley is someone who is beginning to be deserving of a bit more attention. Last year, the 19th-round pick out of South Alabama hit .282 at Delmarva, compiling a .349 on-base percentage and stealing 27 bases along the way. Speed kills, and Billingsley has it.

This year, the left-handed hitter has eight hits and is hitting an early .296. He’s 23 and will need to continue to showcase his ability to be above-average in the field, but that speed might just be the ticket to him making a case for promotion over the next several years. Keep an eye on him with the Keys this season.

Trevor Craport

Craport was taken in the 11th round out of Georgia Tech last season and really emerged as a guy to enjoy following over the second half of the minor-league season. With Aberdeen, he hit .302 with some good pop, totaling 15 doubles and three home runs over 52 games.

Craport, a utility man at Georgia Tech who was known for his well-rounded hitting abilities, has gone 6-17 early with a double, triple and seven RBI down at Delmarva. He’s picking up where he left off, and it’s worth paying attention to. He won’t be 22 until June and has a good collegiate resume. Should he stay consistent, he won’t stay an “unknown” for long.

Zac Lowther

The Orioles took Lowther 74th overall out of Xavier last season in a pick that went a bit under the radar. He certainly earned attention with what he did at Aberdeen in his pro debut — a 1.66 ERA and 0.85 WHIP in 54.1 innings, with 75 strikeouts and just 11 walks — but it’s the performance he put on in his first outing this season that gives him this early spotlight.

On Sunday against Hickory, Lowther absolutely dominated over six innings. He didn’t allow a hit and walked just one, striking out a whopping 13 batters in his shutout start. That’s not a bad way to prove that last year wasn’t a fluke.

The Orioles were high on Lowther’s swing-and-miss stuff, particularly his breaking ball, when they drafted him. At Xavier, the left-hander struck out 123 in 83.1 innings over his junior year in 2017. He has the stuff — if it can stay consistent and lead to the kind of results he’s been posting, he won’t need any introduction soon enough.