The 2022 season has seen a number of Orioles prospects being promoted up through the minors already and more are coming. On Monday afternoon, the team announced that three players are getting bumped up from High-A Aberdeen to Double-A Bowie. That group is last year’s first and second round picks, Colton Cowser and Connor Norby, as well as 2020 fourth round pick Coby Mayo.
Batting lines for the trio for the IronBirds so far this season:
- Cowser: .258/.385/.411
- Mayo: .250/.326/.479 with 13 home runs
- Norby: .237/.311/.425
Cowser and Norby are 22 years old, having been drafted as college juniors by the Orioles last year. Mayo, picked from the high school ranks two years ago, is still just 20 years old, so his already reaching the Double-A level is an exciting development. We’ll see how these guys can manage from there.
It’s nice to see top prospects performing well enough to warrant midseason promotions, and just as nice to see that the Orioles aren’t shying away from making them.
All three of Cowser, Mayo, and Norby started out the season well for Aberdeen before scuffling in May. Last month was the worst month of the year so far for each of these guys. Cowser and Mayo have turned things back on in June, each OPSing about .850 this month. Norby hasn’t been so hot for this month (.671 OPS) but the Orioles seem to have decided it’s time to get him to Bowie anyway.
In his college days, Cowser was in the “more walks than strikeouts” club, which is a nice club to be in, but that was also when he was facing competition at the not-exactly-powerhouse Sam Houston State.
This season, his first full one as a pro, Cowser has struck out in 28.4% of his plate appearances to date, and with only four home runs, he’s not exactly delivering the power you’d hope is also coming with so many strikeouts. Cowser is still walking a healthy amount though, 16.2% of plate appearances this season. It’s not hard to like that OBP.
Mayo was already about two and a half years younger than the average player in his league before this promotion, so if he can carry on success at Bowie, that will be even more impressive and probably a serious boost to his prospect stock. Maybe not to GUNNAR HENDERSON levels right away, but still something. Mayo hit his 13th home run of the season for Aberdeen yesterday. He’d be tied for the Orioles lead with that many dingers at the MLB level.
At MLB Pipeline, where Mayo is the team’s #7 prospect, the scouting report from before this season offers some pluses and minuses:
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’s profile suggests he might struggle to get to that power consistently when exposed to better pitching at higher levels and not everyone is convinced he’ll stick at third, either.
With the IronBirds, Mayo made 54 starts at third base. It’s the only position that he played with the team. One thing to watch as he hits the high minors is whether the Orioles start to move him elsewhere. The third base job at Bowie has been open since Henderson and Jordan Westburg! were promoted to Norfolk earlier, but they could also start trying the first base or corner outfield position instead.
There was also concern he would strike out a lot. So far at least, he’s gone down on strikes 22.2% of the time. That’ll work. Of course, Double-A is going to be harder than High-A and the levels above that will be even harder still. Every level is a new test. With the talent he’s shown so far, we can hope he’ll be equal to this test and the coming ones.
Norby kept the walks and strikeouts close to one another in his pro debut at Low-A Delmarva last year, with 21 walks to 28 strikeouts in 26 games. They are farther apart for him this year at Aberdeen, 18 walks to 50 strikeouts in 48 games. Looking only at the batting line, this promotion is a bit more of a head-scratcher, but I don’t mind the Orioles challenging these guys and moving them up as a group.
With this set of promotions, 14 of the top 15 players from our preseason composite top Orioles prospect list are now at the Double-A level or higher. Only recently-active Heston Kjerstad at Low-A Delmarva is below that, and with how he’s done in his long-awaited pro debut, I suspect we might see him at least at Aberdeen soon. Recent solid play from the big league team is more exciting with this knowledge. More prospects are coming, if not this year then maybe in 2023.