Orioles baseball throughout 2018 has already been a journey. It’s clear to see where this team is headed and unfortunately it doesn’t look bright. But there’s always room for optimism in the form of prospects down on the farm (have you heard this before?).
This year, the minor leagues seem a bit more intriguing. There are surprising performances being turned in and there’s genuine interest surrounding the top prospects. Things on the big-league stage are rough, so why not take a bit more time focusing on the young guys who are showing off on their teams?
Last week we focused on some of the pitching prospects around the top of the rankings. This week, we’ll go over the hitters in the top-10 and check in on them, laying out expectations for the rest of the year.
Austin Hays (1)
Hays, a favorite in the Camden Chat community, has somewhat struggled out of the gate in Bowie this season after spending camp with the Orioles and showing off flashes of what he did last season. With the Baysox, he’s hitting .232/.308/.391 with three home runs in 17 games. It’s a cool start from what we’ve been used to since he was drafted in 2016, but there’s no obvious reason concern in terms of Hays’ long-term outlook.
It’s a good one. As long as he continues to progress, he’ll be in the bigs in no time. For expectations, it’s all about staying healthy and continuing to hit the ball and develop as a hitter. Don’t forget that he hit .330 in Bowie last season. Things will be fine, and Hays is going to be roaming the outfield for the Orioles sooner rather than later.
Ryan Mountcastle (2)
Mountcastle hasn’t played this year with a hairline fracture in high right hand. It seems as though he is progressing, but Buck Showalter has not provided any update in terms of a new timeline for his return.
Cedric Mullins (7)
Mullins has seemed to do all of the right things since entering the Orioles organization, deserving very well the spot he has in the prospect rankings. This year, he’s hitting .261/292/.493 with three home runs and five doubles in 16 games. He continues to showcase his power after a 2017 season in Bowie that was cut short due to injury.
There’s good reason to believe that Mullins is going to have the opportunity to see time with the Orioles soon. He’ll be 23 this whole season — there’s still plenty of time to develop and grow both in the outfield and at the dish. For now, you’d like to see him put up consistent numbers that put him on the track to keep earning promotions. Ultimately, he seems like the kind of guy who just needs the opportunity to showcase he’s the real deal.
Chance Sisco (3) and Anthony Santander (8)
For Sisco, expectations have been pretty solidly set after throwing out three runners in one game. After that, he’ll probably have a Hall of Fame career and there’s not much more that needs to be said.
In seriousness, Sisco just needs to continue to get reps behind the dish and work on rounding out his game. He’s a good catcher, that’s obvious. But with 2018 being a bit of a difficult year for the rest of the team, he has the opportunity to thrive and work on growing in his game without much pressure. For him, it’s not a bad situation.
Santander has struggled (9-59), but it’s difficult to jump to any conclusions regarding his future with the Orioles. Bad stretches hit everybody and he’s in the midst of one right now. For him though, there is a bit of a question mark that lingers. Remember, he’s only played 15 games above the single-A level in the minor-leagues. This is a guy who lacks experience and might have, despite some different circumstances, been rushed to the MLB.
What do we do with that? I’m not entirely sure. But one thing is for certain — drawing conclusions from less than 100 big-league at-bats is probably not a very wise idea.