We’ve been rolling through some Orioles prospects to watch over the past few weeks with the top names to track as 2018 rolls along. In this final installment of notable names in the top 30, we take a look at a few guys flying under the radar who deserve to be shouted out as the season begins to really take off.
There has to be excitement somewhere. Leave it to the prospects to provide a glimmer of baseball hope this season!
Ademar Rifaela (#27)
Here’s a guy who we haven’t talked about much in the past, but he’s having a big season at Bowie and deserves some recognition. Rifaela has been in the system since 2013 and had somewhat of a coming out party in Frederick last year in his age-22 season (.284/.358/.500).
This season, he’s made the most of his time with the Baysox, hitting .347 in 19 games with four doubles, a triple and just 11 strikeouts in 71 at-bats. His MLB Pipeline profile says he’s a “below-average runner” but makes up for that part of his game with “impressive left-handed power.” Needless to say, an outfielder with pop and not much in the speed department sounds like the type of guy the Orioles would be interested in.
It’s very early and Rifaela hasn’t even strung together 100 plate appearances this year. But he’s someone to watch. Anyone who can stay above the .300 mark through a good portion of the season at double-A deserves some looks, regardless of the situation. Considering he’s only 23, there’s reason to keep an eye out.
Zac Lowther (#17)
Since he was drafted fairly high out of Xavier last season, Lowther is a guy who we’ve gotten some exposure to over the course of his time with the organization. He’s a big left-hander with plenty on his resume, so it shouldn’t be much of a surprise that he’s had some decent success in pro ball. But with the recent results of pitching prospects brought in by the team, any success tends to be a bit of a shock.
Lowther has dominated in his four starts at Delmarva this season, tossing 22 innings with a 1.23 ERA. He’s allowed just nine hits, walking three and striking out 39. How’s that for a walk-to-strikeout ratio?
He had similar numbers through 12 outings last year at Aberdeen, so this doesn’t seem to be a fluke. At least at the lower levels, Lowther is clearly head and shoulders above the competition that he’s facing. He throws strikes, has two plus off-speed pitches (CB, CH) and has the ability to make hitters miss. Get this — in 76.1 minor-league innings, opposing batters are hitting .165. That’s not terrible.
Michael Baumann (#15)
Think the Orioles are happy about Lowther and Baumann, two of the team’s picks in the first three rounds last season?
Baumann, the third-round selection out of Jacksonville (also known as Austin Hays University), is performing well yet again in Delmarva after holding opposing batters to a .168 average in Aberdeen last season. In 19 innings over his first four starts, he’s posted an early 2.37 ERA with nine walks and 27 strikeouts.
Ranked just a touch higher than Lowther in the MLB Pipeline rankings, here’s what his bio on the site has to say about his game:
A big and physical right-hander, Baumann can run his fastball up to 96-97 mph, but usually sits more in the 92-94 mph range, also using his height to his advantage to work on a downhill plane. He throws two breaking balls, a fringy curveball and a slider that flashes above average, as well as a promising changeup. Baumann is adept at missing bats, although the effort in his delivery, along with his longer arm action, does raise questions about Baumann’s ultimate command profile.
Sign me up.
There’s a lot to like with Baumann’s numbers. If he can continue to perform, things might just be on the right track for the 22-year-old to climb up the ladder rather quickly along with Lowther.