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The top 20 Orioles prospects for 2022

Every Orioles prospect ranking is a little different. We’ve put them all together for a composite top 20.

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Reading Fightin Phils v Bowie Baysox
Adley Rutschman is once again the unanimous #1 Orioles prospect. I hope he’s in Baltimore soon.
Photo by 2021 Rodger Wood/Diamond Images via Getty Images

The 2022 season will be the fourth since Mike Elias took the helm of the Orioles rebuilding project. The two full regular seasons saw the O’s lose 108 and 110 games. The outlook for the 2022 team is not a whole lot better than that. This season starts out the same as any of the others since Elias arrived: The building blocks for a better future remain largely in the minor leagues.

Some good news for an Orioles fan who’s seen enough of all of the losing is that praise keeps rolling in for the O’s farm system. The organization stands at the top of the recently-unveiled MLB Pipeline ranking of all 30 farm systems. Having two of the six top prospects in Adley Rutschman and Grayson Rodriguez certainly helps sustain some excitement for the future.

At the same time, the cold truth of reality looms: Rutschman plus Rodriguez plus the 2022 Orioles roster is not very likely to rocket the team back into postseason contention. If you are mega-hype for D.L. Hall as a starting pitcher, his addition into the rotation does not do much to change that outlook. Until the Orioles show an ability to attract top free agent talent and a willingness to shell out cash for it, the only hope for improvement is on the farm. There will have to be successes beyond the big two or the big three.

As the minor league season gets under way today with Opening Day for the Triple-A Norfolk Tides, you might wonder: Who are the other prospects worth following in the system? There are a lot of prospect lists floating around out there and even the good, professional ones have different opinions about who is and isn’t a top-ranked prospect in the system. Rather than take any one as gospel, I’ve put together a composite list from four big rankings: Baseball America, FanGraphs, MLB Pipeline, and The Athletic.

There is a lot of agreement across the lists. Rutschman and Rodriguez are the unanimous 1-2. All four lists have the same top five prospects, and each list has eight of the same prospects in the top ten. The most dyed-in-the-wool optimist can hope to see six of this combined top ten in an Orioles uniform by year’s end. That would be fun.

Ties in the composite rank are listed by descending order of tenure in the Orioles organization. Starting assignments based on break camp rosters where available, educated guesses otherwise.

#1 - Adley Rutschman

  • Starting level: Triple-A Norfolk (once healthy, then hopefully not for long)
  • How he got here: 2019 draft, 1st round, 1st overall
  • Chance of seeing on Orioles this year: I don’t want to jinx anything
  • One exciting paragraph: (from FanGraphs)

Rutschman is a complete, franchise-altering prospect, and one of the most exciting young players in the entire sport. He’s a switch-hitter with a hit/power combination that would probably make him an All-Star anywhere on the diamond, while also being a plus defender at the most demanding position in baseball, and an intense, vocal, charismatic leader.

#2 - Grayson Rodriguez

  • Starting level: Triple-A Norfolk
  • How he got here: 2018 draft, 1st round, 11th overall
  • Chance of seeing on Orioles this year: Looking pretty good
  • One exciting paragraph: (from MLB Pipeline)

Rodriguez has always had a legitimate four-pitch mix at his disposal, and all four have continued to get better as he’s learned how to use them more consistently. In 2021, he threw his fastball in the 95-101 mph range, commanding it extremely well with high spin rates and plus life. His mid-80s changeup continues to improve; it’s hard, late and really deceptive, especially coming off of his fastball. His slider is a plus out pitch, also in the mid-80s and he’s tightened his curve a bit to provide a fourth, low-80s, offering.

#3 (tied) - D.L. Hall

  • Starting level: Double-A Bowie (after extended spring)
  • How he got here: 2017 draft, 1st round, 21st overall
  • Chance of seeing on Orioles this year: Mike Elias seems to be a big fan
  • One exciting paragraph: (from FanGraphs)

Ultra-competitive, athletic southpaws with this kind of stuff are very rare. Hall has incredible arm speed and his fastball has flat, bat-missing angle. Only two big league lefty starters threw harder than Hall in 2019 (he averaged 95 mph), and he enjoyed a two-tick velo bump to start last season and was sitting an incredible 97 mph before shutting things down. ... Hall is going to be an impact big league arm, and probably very soon.

#3 (tied) - Gunnar Henderson

  • Starting level: Double-A Bowie
  • How he got here: 2019 draft, 2nd round, 42nd overall
  • Chance of seeing on Orioles this year: Minimal to zero
  • One exciting paragraph: (from MLB Pipeline)

With a cannon for an arm and off-the-charts athleticism, there is confidence Henderson could play shortstop long-term despite his size. He’s also shown he can handle playing third base and has gotten enough work in the outfield for the Orioles to believe he could play all three spots if needed. He has superstar potential if he can continue to refine his approach.

#3 (tied) - Colton Cowser

  • Starting level: High-A Aberdeen
  • How he got here: 2021 draft, 1st round, 5th overall
  • Chance of seeing on Orioles this year: Minimal to zero
  • One exciting paragraph: (from The Athletic)

(Cowser) has great bat speed and excellent hand-eye coordination, all of which should lead to high contact rates even as he moves up the ladder, but to get to power, he’ll have to make some mechanical adjustments, like creating some separation between his hip rotation and his hand movement, and keeping his weight back for longer. He has room on his frame to add some more strength, and he could end up a 20-25 homer guy with some tweaks. His floor as a corner outfielder who hits for a high average with some doubles power would still make him an everyday guy.

#6 - Jordan Westburg

  • Starting level: Double-A Bowie
  • How he got here: 2020 draft, 1st round (CB A), 30th overall
  • Chance of seeing on Orioles this year: 50/50
  • One exciting paragraph: (from MLB Pipeline)

Westburg’s most notable attribute is his combination of strength and bat speed. He has a compact right-handed swing that can drive the ball gap-to-gap and with power, particularly to the pull side ... All told, it’s an offensive profile some believe could produce 20 or more homers annually in the big leagues. Defense isn’t Westburg’s calling card given his size and average speed, but he’s a reliable defender at short and athletic enough to move around if need be.

#7 - Coby Mayo

  • Starting level: High-A Aberdeen
  • How he got here: 2020 draft, 4th round, 103rd overall
  • Chance of seeing on Orioles this year: Sorry, no
  • One exciting paragraph: (from MLB Pipeline)

Standing 6-foot-5 and 215 pounds, Mayo makes louder contact than almost any other player in the O’s system. He uses a clean swing path and freakish raw strength to flat-out crush the ball, consistently ranking near the top of Baltimore’s system’s exit velocity readings. Mayo showed off significant bat speed and light-tower power at the club’s 2020 instructional camp and then enjoyed an excellent debut in ’21, hitting .319 with nine homers while reaching Low-A Delmarva. He also did well to quell plate discipline concerns, walking nearly as much as he struck out in his first pro season.

#8 (tied) - Kyle Stowers

  • Starting level: Triple-A Norfolk
  • How he got here: 2019 draft, 2nd round (CB B), 71st overall
  • Chance of seeing on Orioles this year: High, but beware the strikeouts
  • One exciting paragraph: (from FanGraphs)

Stowers’ best assets are his approach and his well above-average power. He makes good swing decisions, which allow him to hang in well against left-handed pitching, and he has the ability to drive the ball out of any park and to any field. ... He’s a solid athlete who runs well and has enough arm for right field, but his future will be defined by what he can do at the plate.

#8 (tied) - Kyle Bradish

  • Starting level: Triple-A Norfolk (after extended spring)
  • How he got here: Traded for Dylan Bundy, 12/4/19
  • Chance of seeing on Orioles this year: High, but beware the walks
  • One exciting paragraph: (from FanGraphs)

Once sitting in the low-90s while touching 95 mph, Bradish now parks his fastball in the 94-96 mph range, and while the qualities of the fastball make it quite difficult to locate within the lower half of the strike zone, he uses the upper half to great effect. He complements the fastball with a pair of good breaking balls, with his downer curve giving him a classic vertical attack and a sweeping slider adding a horizontal aspect to his game.

#10 - Heston Kjerstad

  • Starting level: Sigh
  • How he got here: 2020 draft, 1st round, 2nd overall
  • Chance of seeing on Orioles this year: This poor unfortunate soul
  • One exciting paragraph: (from MLB Pipeline)

Kjerstad was seen as the best left-handed power bat among college hitters in his Draft class, with significant strength and bat speed and well-above average raw power to all fields.

Kjerstad suffering a multi-month hamstring injury during spring training last month is such a bummer. He was finally on the road to maybe end up somewhere, then... nope.

#11 - Connor Norby

  • Starting level: High-A Aberdeen
  • How he got here: 2021 draft, 2nd round, 41st overall
  • Chance of seeing on Orioles this year: Minimal to zero
  • One exciting paragraph: (from The Athletic)

Norby hit everything he saw for East Carolina, going .414/.484/.659 and missing a perfect 1:1 strike-to-walk ratio by just one walk. ... And he went out and did the same in Low A after signing, with a .283/.413/.434 line in 26 games. He can hit, obviously, with a compact swing and approach that focuses on using the whole field, so there’s not a ton of power here, but he should get to 35-plus doubles and double-digit homers. He’s limited to second base by a fringy arm, but if he hits like this, so what?

#12 - Terrin Vavra

  • Starting level: Triple-A Norfolk
  • How he got here: Traded for Mychal Givens, 8/30/20
  • Chance of seeing on Orioles this year: Probably depends on his staying healthy
  • One exciting paragraph: (from FanGraphs)

Vavra is adept at picking out pitches he can drive until he has to expand with two strikes, peppering the middle of the diamond with liners. He has 35-grade raw power, but lefty sticks with Vavra’s feel for contact who can also play up the middle (both middle infield spots and, starting in 2021, center field) tend to be luxury utility types.

#13 - Mike Baumann

  • Starting level: MLB
  • How he got here: 2017 draft, 3rd round, 98th overall
  • Chance of seeing on Orioles this year: Near-certainty
  • One exciting paragraph: (from MLB Pipeline)

The 6-foot-4, 225-pound righty is an imposing presence on the mound, with broad shoulders and a strong lower half he uses to create a downhill plane that accentuates his stuff. Baumann’s fastball sits in the mid-90s and flashes 98-99 mph at times. It has angle and carry that generates plus vertical movement, enabling him to miss bats up in the strike zone.

#14 - Joey Ortiz

  • Starting level: Double-A Bowie
  • How he got here: 2019 draft, 4th round, 108th overall
  • Chance of seeing on Orioles this year: Keith Law likes Ortiz’s chances
  • One exciting paragraph: (from The Athletic)

Ortiz started last year on the way up (and continued) thanks to a swing change that produced much harder contact. The summer after the Orioles drafted him in the fourth round, he had good contact skills, but no impact, whereas he started last year hitting the ball much harder without any loss in contact rate. ... (if he hits like last year) I’d be surprised if he weren’t (the Orioles) shortstop by Labor Day.

#15 - Drew Rom

  • Starting level: Double-A Bowie
  • How he got here: 2018 draft, 4th round, 115th overall
  • Chance of seeing on Orioles this year: Minimal to zero
  • One exciting paragraph: (from FanGraphs)

It looks like the velocity is starting to arrive for Rom, the missing link to a profile that already includes bat-missing fastball shape, natural breaking ball feel, and advanced command. ... If he grows into even average velocity, the heater’s other traits and Rom’s command will season the pitch enough to make it play like a 55- or 60-grade fastball. ... He has a shot to break out in 2022.

#16 (tied) - Maikol Hernández

  • Starting level: Florida Complex League (presumably)
  • How he got here: 2020-21 international signing, 1/15/21
  • Chance of seeing on Orioles this year: Zero
  • One exciting paragraph: (from MLB Pipeline)

Hernández’s right-handed swing is smooth and easy, with flashes of raw power potential that have yet to show up in games. He can hit to all fields, make consistently hard contact and show a prescient understanding of the strike zone. ... Tool-wise, Hernandez is more advanced at this point on defense, where his athleticism shows in abundance. He has an above-average arm, smooth hands and good footwork.

#16 (tied) - César Prieto

  • Starting level: High-A Aberdeen
  • How he got here: 2021-22 international signing, 1/16/22
  • Chance of seeing on Orioles this year: Minimal to zero
  • One exciting paragraph: (from MLB Pipeline)

The athletic Prieto has shown good instincts and polish, particularly at the plate. ... Prieto is a left-handed hitter who walks more than he strikes out. ... He profiles as a second baseman at the highest level and an average defender who could handle short and third base if needed.

#18 (tied) - Hudson Haskin

  • Starting level: Double-A Bowie
  • How he got here: 2020 draft, 2nd round, 39th overall
  • Chance of seeing on Orioles this year: Theoretically possible
  • One exciting paragraph: (from MLB Pipeline)

The easiest thing to notice about Haskin is his unorthodox swing, which has drawn comparisons to Hunter Pence. ... He is a potential double-plus runner who broke (George) Springer’s stolen base record at Avon Old Farms (high school), and shows good instincts and an average arm defensively. The athleticism and skillset lead many to believe Haskin will be able to stick in center field long-term, giving him the ceiling of a big league regular who can do a little bit of everything offensively.

#18 (tied) - Reed Trimble

  • Starting level: Low-A Delmarva (presumably; out 6-9 months after December surgery)
  • How he got here: 2021 draft, 2nd round (CB B), 65th overall
  • Chance of seeing on Orioles this year: Zero
  • One exciting paragraph: (from FanGraphs)

A switch-hitter, Trimble is an explosive rotator from both sides of the plate. He has pull-side power as a righty hitter but will take you deep to any field from the left side. Both of his swings have natural loft, but they’re not all that long because Trimble is so compact. He’s also a plus runner with gap-to-gap range in center field and an above-average arm.

#20 - Carter Baumler

  • Starting level: Extended spring training, then Florida Complex League?
  • How he got here: 2020 draft, 5th round, 133rd overall
  • Chance of seeing on Orioles this year: Zero
  • One exciting paragraph: (from FanGraphs)

In high school, Baumler featured an effective vertical attack with a low-to-mid-90s fastball with rising action and a deep, upper-70s curveball that showcased some natural ability to spin a baseball. His changeup was rarely seen, but he showed some ability to deaden the ball. He was a two-sport star in high school and is a fantastic athlete with a repeatable delivery who tends to keep the ball in the strike zone. Still just 20 years old, Baumler has plenty of reps to make up (due to Tommy John surgery) but plenty of time to do so.

The next ten names and where to find them

21. Jahmai Jones (Triple-A Norfolk)
22. Kyle Brnovich (Triple-A Norfolk)
23. John Rhodes (High-A Aberdeen)
24. Kevin Smith (Triple-A Norfolk)
25. Samuel Basallo (Florida Complex League)
26. Leandro Arias (Dominican Summer League)
27. Adam Hall (Double-A Bowie)
28. Yusniel Díaz (Triple-A Norfolk)
T-29. Logan Gillaspie (Triple-A Norfolk, presumably)
T-29. Darell Hernaiz (Low-A Delmarva)