There are now 70 days remaining until Orioles Opening Day. That’s exactly ten weeks from today! The uniform number 70 has been worn by four players in O’s history, most recently Travis Lakins Sr. in 2020 and 2021 - but not 2022, when he switched to 54. I have now spent entirely too much time today thinking about Travis Lakins Sr.
Before this year, there had never been a season in which the Orioles had more than five prospects who placed in a preseason top 100 list generated by Baseball America. The Orioles have set a new record for the franchise by placing eight prospects on this year’s edition of the list, the most of any team in MLB this year. The closest competition, the Guardians, had seven in the top 100.
This includes three prospects in the top 15. That’s Gunnar Henderson, Grayson Rodriguez, and Jackson Holliday. Add in Colton Cowser and it’s four in the top 50. Many organizations did not have four on the list at all. We’ve come a long way from six and seven years ago, when the Orioles had zero top 100 guys, and just about as far since four years ago at the start of Mike Elias’s tenure, when the Orioles had three guys, the highest placed of which was Yusniel Diaz.
It’s worth remembering Diaz when thinking about these prospect lists because the reality is that even among guys who are universally thought to be top 100 guys, not everyone makes it. They might get hurt along the way, or they might just end up not being as good as all of the scouting-industrial complex who got them onto the rankings thought. It happens a lot. Among those top 100 guys hyped during Dan Duquette’s time were Hunter Harvey and Chance Sisco. Sometimes it just doesn’t happen.
We can hope that the Elias people have got a better process, both in scouting and in development, so that there will be more success stories among this group. Yet even they’ll have some top prospect whiffs. And it seems likely that some of this eight could be traded at some point. Better pitchers are going to have to come from somewhere, and Elias certainly isn’t drafting those sorts of guys himself, or at least he hasn’t up to this point.
Even with that caution, there’s plenty to be excited about. Gunnar Henderson’s #1 ranking gives the Orioles the #1 slot in back-to-back years after Adley Rutschman was there last year. It’s not out of the realm of possibility that Jackson Holliday could make it three in a row by this time next year, though there’s certainly a lot of competition for prospects who are rapidly ascending the lists.
Around the blogO’sphere
Orioles CEO John Angelos’ unwillingness to answer questions just creates more of them for ‘next week’ (The Baltimore Sun)
The Sun’s Nathan Ruiz sounds just a bit skeptical that the Orioles owner is going to follow through with his verbal offer to let Orioles reporters ask him questions and see financial information next week. I think anyone who heard that remark is equally skeptical.
Orioles spring training storylines (Baltimore Baseball)
Rich Dubroff is considering a variety of questions, some of which have obvious answers, like whether any rookies will make the club. Others are not so obvious, like who will end up being the Opening Day starter for the team.
From minor league top 100’s to O’s rotation: Could happen for two this year (Steve Melewski)
I’m sunnier about Grayson Rodriguez’s chances of doing this than I am about DL Hall’s.
And finally, some news with more to apparently come soon about concessions at Oriole Park at Camden Yards this year:
Hearing there will be one major change at Camden Yards this year: A switch away from concession provider Delaware North. An announcement by the Orioles is expected soon. No details yet on who is replacing the concession giant and how it will affect prices and selection at OPaCY— Dan Connolly (@danconnolly2016) January 18, 2023
Pretty much nothing was good about getting food at OPACY last year for me, so I am hopeful that this change will end up being a positive for fans if only because it’s hard to be worse. That said, there may be only so much room for improvement. It has to be a challenge to operate concessions in a ballpark where you’ve got to be prepared for only like 7,000 people on a Tuesday night but you might get 25,000 or more for popular weekend games.
Birthdays and Orioles anniversaries
Today ten years ago, Earl Weaver passed away at age 82. He was not the only Baseball Hall of Famer to die on that exact day, as Stan Musial also passed away.
There are a few former Orioles who were born on this day. They are: 1995-97 pitcher Rick Krivda, 1994 goggle-wearer Chris Sabo, and 1959/63/68 outfielder Fred Valentine. Last month, Valentine passed away at the age of 87.
Is today your birthday? Happy birthday to you! Your birthday buddies for today include: writer Edgar Allan Poe (1809), musician Dolly Parton (1946), J-pop singer Hikaru Utada (1983), and gold medal gymnast Shawn Johnson (1992).
On this day in history...
In 1419, England’s Henry V temporarily regained control of the entirety of Normandy for his country with the surrender of the city of Rouen. The Hundred Years’ War was waged for another 34 years, at the end of which England had lost all possessions on the continent except for Calais.
In 1953, I Love Lucy aired an episode in which Lucy gave birth. It’s thought that 71% of all television sets in the United States were tuned in to this episode.
In 1981, the agreement was reached between the American and Iranian governments that secured the release of 52 hostages from the embassy in Iran who had been held captive for 14 months. The hostages were released two days later.
And that’s the way it is in Birdland on January 19. Have a safe Thursday.