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Tuesday Bird Droppings: Where the Orioles are looking to the future

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As some young O’s hopefuls show their stuff in spring training, a few others continue to get recognition in national prospect rankings.

Grayson Rodriguez waves to the Camden Yards crowd
Grayson Rodriguez, one of the few top-50 MLB prospects who lives in an RV.
Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning, Camden Chatters.

The Orioles’ Grapefruit League schedule continues this afternoon with their first split-squad day of the spring, so it’ll be all hands on deck as half the club travels to Fort Myers to play the Red Sox while the other half hosts the Rays in Sarasota.

Yesterday, the O’s took a walkoff 8-7 defeat to the Phillies, losing on the kind of ridiculous defensive play you’ll sometimes see in spring training, especially late in games when the field is full of minor leaguers and non-roster camp filler types. Prior to that, though, there were some things to like. David Hess, trying to bounce back from a disastrous 2019, pitched two scoreless innings with three strikeouts. Righty prospect Dean Kremer, despite being tagged with the loss, flashed some good stuff. Eleven different Orioles collected a hit as the club battled back from a 7-1 seventh-inning deficit.

There were also some less than impressive performances from prospects, including lefty Keegan Akin, who coughed up three runs in two innings, and left fielder Ryan Mountcastle, who went 0-for-3 and misplayed a fly ball into a double. It is, of course, only one game — and a meaningless one at that — so let’s not go crazy about anything, good or bad.

In the meantime, the Orioles’ top prospects are continuing to get national recognition, with three of them placing in Keith Law’s just-published Top 100 list. Like everyone else, Law deems Adley Rutschman to be the cream of the Orioles’ crop (though he has him at No. 10, whereas MLB Pipeline, Baseball America, and Baseball Prospectus all put Rutschman in the top five).

Where Law differs from all the others is that he pegs lefty DL Hall, rather than righty Grayson Rodriguez, as the Birds’ top pitching prospect. Law ranks Hall No. 50, saying “his stuff is electric coming out of his hand” and he “has the pure stuff to be at least a No. 2 starter” if he can be more consistent with his delivery. As for Rodriguez, Law slots him 10 slots lower — so, not a big difference — and says he’s “built like a workhorse top-of-the-rotation starter” and blows hitters away with his fastball but needs to improve his curveball and changeup. Both of those assessments sound pretty optimistic from Law, who hasn’t always been effusive with praise for the Orioles and their prospects.

It’s exciting that the Orioles, whose farm system was somewhat barren just a couple of years ago, now have some legitimately exciting youngsters making their way up the ladder. Of course, we’re not going to be seeing Hall, Rodriguez, or Rutschman in an Orioles uniform anytime during the 2020 regular season, so for now, we can only play the waiting game.

Links

Cobb exits after one inning due to illness; Akin’s first Grapefruit League appearance - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Alex Cobb finally made his first appearance on a mound since April 26...and had to leave after one inning with an illness. If you look up “snakebitten” in the dictionary, you’ll find his picture.

Road to the show: Meet the Orioles prospects who live out of campers to create comfort in minor league chaos - Baltimore Sun
This story is a delight, if only for giving me the mental image of two twentysomething professional athletes playing shuffleboard and gossiping with their 80-year-old neighbors at the RV park.

Q&A with Adley Rutschman: On his first spring camp, learning pitchers and TMZ – The Athletic
Adley Rutschman isn’t the guy who buys himself a new car with his signing bonus. Adley Rutschman is the guy who buys two new cars and gives them to his parents.

Orioles who stayed back in camp engaged in cage competition - School of Roch
In case you’re wondering what the players who don’t go on the road trips are doing, they’re keeping busy with an intense batting practice competition. Chris Davis jokes that he owes Hanser Alberto a car. Just ask Adley to take care of it!

Orioles birthdays and history

Is today your birthday? Happy birthday! Your two O’s birthday buddies are 1964 righty Dave Vineyard, who turns 79, and the late lefty Kevin Hickey (b. 1956, d. 2012), a reliever on the 1989 “Why Not?” club.

On this day in 1975, the Birds parted ways with one of their most popular players ever, Boog Powell, trading him to the Indians in a four-player deal. That ended Powell’s 14-year career in Baltimore, during which he clubbed 303 home runs (third most in franchise history) and notched 1,063 RBIs (fourth most), while earning AL MVP honors in 1970 and winning two World Series championships. Nowadays, the Orioles Hall of Famer is best known for his eponymous — and delicious — barbecue stand at Camden Yards.