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Friday Bird Droppings: Where the Orioles’ farm system has dramatically improved

The Orioles, once a barren wasteland for prospects, now have the eighth-best farm system in baseball, according to Baseball America.

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San Diego Padres v Baltimore Orioles
It’s amazing what drafting the top overall pick can do for your ballclub.
Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Good morning, Camden Chatters.

To fans of a rebuilding club, there may be nothing sweeter than to hear that their club is building one of the best farm systems in baseball. And yesterday, Baseball America gave Orioles fans plenty to celebrate.

In their updated midseason MLB organizational talent rankings, the minor league-focused publication rated the Orioles as the eighth best farm system in baseball. That marks a dramatic leap forward from this past offseason, when Baseball America pegged them at No. 22.

Is it too early to call Mike Elias a wizard? When he took over as general manager, the Orioles’ farm system was ranked in the bottom third in baseball not just by BA, but by most other publications as well (including dead last by ESPN’s Keith Law). In just a matter of months, Elias and his crew have reinvigorated the once-moribund system. Drafting Adley Rutschman, the nation’s top amateur, with the first overall pick had a lot to do with that; Baseball America ranks him as the No. 5 prospect in baseball. Other prospects have seen their stock rise as well, with help from the more analytic-minded front office.

But credit is due to the previous administration, too. Four players acquired during the Dan Duquette regime also place in BA’s top 100. Former first-round picks DL Hall (2017), Grayson Rodriguez (2018) and Ryan Mountcastle (2015) rank No. 41, 53, and 100, respectively. And Yusniel Diaz, the prize prospect of last year’s Manny Machado trade, slots in at No. 86.

This is, ultimately, just one publication’s opinion, and it doesn’t mean that all or most these prospects will pan out. But it’s encouraging news all the same. And you can’t blame Orioles fans if they’re suddenly feeling a lot more optimistic about the future of this franchise.


Source: Rutschman nearing Class A promotion -
Speaking of Rutschman, it appears we’re just days away from his Maryland debut. Show of hands: who’s bought their tickets to Aberdeen for Saturday?

The worst seems to be over for the Orioles -
Considering the Orioles’ improved minor league system, and their recent (albeit modest) upswing at the major league level, I agree with Rich Dubroff’s premise here. It doesn’t mean the playoffs are in the near future or anything, but we’ll take what we can get.

Orioles select Jace Peterson's contract - School of Roch
Jace Peterson is back, everyone. Because the public demanded it.

Brandon Hyde on roster moves, O's Baseball America rating - Steve Melewski
The Orioles manager speaks about the Peterson promotion, the Rio Ruiz demotion, and the encouraging ranking from Baseball America. I get the feeling his job will be getting a lot more fun pretty soon.

The leader in (another) clubhouse: What Adam Jones’ new teammates think about the unique ex-Oriole – The Athletic
Dan Connolly interviews Adam JonesDiamondbacks teammates to survey the opinions on Adam Jones. Surprise, surprise: they all love him. Was there ever a doubt?

Orioles birthdays and history

Is today your birthday? Happy birthday! You share a birthday with current Oriole and proud member of #teampaul, Paul Fry, who turns 27 today. Fry has been a pretty decent member of the O’s bullpen the last two years after being acquired for international bonus slot money in 2017, one of the few trades of that nature that panned out for the Birds.

Fry is one of a whopping eight players in O’s history whose birthday is on July 26. It must be something in the water. The most prominent among them is the late Hall of Fame knuckleballer Hoyt Wilhelm (b. 1922, d. 2002), who pitched for the Orioles from 1958-62 in the midst of his 21-year major league career. Wilhelm had an MLB-leading 2.19 ERA in 27 starts in 1959, the only season of more than 11 starts for a guy who was normally a relief ace.

Other late Orioles born on this day are lefty Bill Miller (b. 1927, d. 2003); outfielder Lou Jackson (b. 1935, d. 1969); and first baseman Norm Siebern (b. 1933, d. 2015). Among those still with us, it’s the 82nd birthday of outfielder Pete Ward and the 32nd birthday for both righty Alex Burnett and lefty Vidal Nuno.

On this day in 1970, Boog Powell had a grand slam as part of a six-RBI game, giving him an AL-leading 86 RBIs. Boog ultimately finished third with 114 RBIs that year, winning the AL MVP award for the world champion Orioles.