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Friday Bird Droppings: Ruminating on the Orioles’ loaded farm system

Baseball America’s newly unveiled top 10 prospects list is a reminder of how stacked the O’s are with big league-ready young talent.

Bowie Baysox v Akron RubberDucks
Jackson Holliday will be all smiles once he arrives in the big leagues next year.
Photo by Nick Cammett/Diamond Images via Getty Images

Good morning, Camden Chatters.

Yesterday was a quiet day for the MLB hot stove, as every day has been for the Orioles so far, so let’s turn our attention for a moment to the O’s farm system. In case you’d forgotten, it’s absolutely loaded with talent.

Baseball America unveiled its top 10 Orioles prospects list yesterday, as ranked by longtime O’s beat writer Jon Meoli, and it’s a stellar list of one gloriously talented youngster after another. Long gone are the days of threadbare Orioles systems in which the top 10 list would include low-upside players who amounted to organizational filler at best. This year’s list, like most recent prospect rankings in the Mike Elias era, is filled with bonafide blue-chippers who have a great chance of playing a significant role in the Orioles’ future, whether by starring for the Birds themselves or by being used as trade chips to acquire prominent major leaguers.

What strikes me about BA’s top 10 is how major league-ready most of these prospects are. The #4-7 prospects — Colton Cowser, Heston Kjerstad, DL Hall, and Joey Ortiz — already have big league experience. (I’m surprised Hall was included as a prospect in this list since he’s no longer rookie eligible, but hey, I’m not the boss.) Four others — Jackson Holliday (#1), Coby Mayo (#3), Connor Norby (#8), and Chayce McDermott (#10) — are almost certain to arrive in the majors next year, even if some might be with a team other than the Orioles. Only Samuel Basallo (#2) and Enrique Bradfield Jr. (#9) figure to remain in the minors for all of 2024, barring a meteoric ascent by Basallo.

You’d think an Orioles team that won 101 games this year couldn’t possibly get better. And, well, the odds are that they won’t win that many again. But with the quality and quantity of talented prospects on the precipice of joining the team, it’s not completely out of the question.


Jon Meoli: Appreciate the Orioles dominating Baseball America’s prospect list while you can - The Baltimore Banner
In assessing his prospect rankings, Meoli acknowledges that it’ll be hard for the Orioles to continue churning out top-tier prospects every year. They won’t be drafting as high as they used to, and they’re not always going to strike gold as often as they apparently have so far.

Orioles roundtable: Four questions heading into MLB winter meetings - Baltimore Sun
The Sun baseball crew addresses some Orioles topics ahead of next week’s winter meetings. Their answers to the question, “Will the Orioles actually spend money?” probably won’t fill you with joy.

John Means September return was a 2023 highlight for the Orioles - Steve Melewski
The Orioles won 184 games the last two years almost entirely without the guy who was their ace the previous three seasons. Just imagine what this team could do with a full, healthy season from Means in 2024.

Zack Britton reflects on fateful 2016 Wild Card Game - The Baltimore Banner
In case you feel like reliving old trauma today, here you go.

Orioles birthdays and history

Is today your birthday? Happy birthday! Two former Orioles were born on Dec. 1: right-hander Dan Straily (35) and catcher Jeff Tackett (58).

On this date in 1970, the O’s traded four players for Padres swingman Pat Dobson, a deal that turned out stupendously for Baltimore. The Orioles plugged Dobson into the rotation and he was a 20-game winner in his first year (one of the Birds’ four 20-game winners that season) and an All-Star in his second, posting a 2.78 ERA as an Oriole.

And on this day in 1998, the O’s overhauled their roster with a flurry of moves. They traded closer Armando Benitez to the Mets in a three-way deal that landed them catcher Charles Johnson, and more notably, they signed controversial slugger Albert Belle to a five-year contract, replacing Rafael Palmeiro, who agreed to a deal with the Rangers and left the O’s after five seasons. Spoiler: none of those moves made the team any better.