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Orioles minor league season so far: Star turns from Jackson Holliday and others

Things are also exciting for Heston Kjerstad fans, Coby Mayo fans, and others

SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images

Each week on Camden Chat, we’ve been checking in on the progress of the players in the Orioles minors. The affiliates have only played three games since we last checked in on them, since they had time off during the MLB All-Star Game as well. This time around, I’ll be looking at the picture of the minor league seasons for each of the team’s top prospects so far.

The players listed below are from the composite top Orioles prospects list posted back in April. We’ve already seen a number of the players from the top-ranked farm system in Baltimore. Some others could be traded over the next 13 days between now and the trade deadline. Here’s who’s kept the arrow going up and who hasn’t.

#1 - Gunnar Henderson

  • Starting level / current level: MLB / MLB
  • The stats: .245/.342/.462 through 82 games, 2.3 bWAR / 1.9 fWAR
  • The story: After an April that saw him finish below a .200 average and a May where he ended barely above it, Henderson has OPSed .933 in the six weeks since then, including nine of his 14 homers so far this season. Defensive metrics have been a slight positive when playing shortstop, slight negative when playing third base. Now frequently leading off against righties.

#2 - Grayson Rodriguez

  • Starting level / current level: Triple-A Norfolk / MLB
  • The stats: 11 GS, 7.33 ERA, 1.75 WHIP in MLB / 8 GS, 1.96 ERA, 1.089 WHIP in AAA
  • The story: I was disappointed when Rodriguez didn’t make the team out of spring training, but he arrived in the aftermath of the first-start injury to Kyle Bradish. Half of his big league starts were fine and half were pretty bad, with a particular home run problem (13 HR in 45.1 IP) and command challenges as well. He’s looked more like last year’s pre-injury version of himself since being at Norfolk. Monday’s return to MLB was looking decent until Bryan Baker’s deuce-dropping saddled Rodriguez’s ERA with the inherited runners.

#3 - Jackson Holliday

  • Starting level / current level: Low-A Delmarva / Double-A Bowie
  • The stats: Combined batting line of .338/.471/.556, seven homers, 20 stolen bases, almost as many walks (66) as strikeouts (69)
  • The story: The consensus top 10 prospect in the game before the season has ascended to a consensus top 3 and maybe top 1. Just 19 years old, he conquered Low-A quickly and High-A within a couple of months. Even at Double-A, they’re afraid of him. Holliday was walked in the ninth inning of a tie game in just his third game. The only real question with him feels like how soon until we see him in Baltimore.

#4 - DL Hall

  • Starting level / current level: Norfolk / Florida Complex League
  • The stats: 11 GS, 4.57 ERA, 1.476 WHIP for Norfolk
  • The story: It seems like the story with Hall is always changing. It’s mostly been short starts at the Triple-A level, which the team said was part of a “deload” meant to give Hall a chance to do weight-lifting to help him work on velocity that he couldn’t do over the offseason. That’s been going on for nearly a month all the way down at the FCL, where he hasn’t even pitched in organized games. Big shrug.

#5 - Colton Cowser

  • Starting level / current level: Norfolk / MLB
  • The stats: .330/.459/.537 in 56 games for Norfolk, .130/.375/.130 in 8 games for Orioles
  • The story: Cowser might have debuted for the Orioles sooner if he wasn’t on the injured list when Cedric Mullins landed on the MLB IL. A couple of weeks ago, the O’s were ready to get him in the big league mix even with every outfielder playing decently or better. He walked more than one in six times with Norfolk. He’s walked even more in his early MLB tenure - over one in five times. Still waiting for damage to be done when he swings.

#6 - Jordan Westburg

  • Starting level / current level: Norfolk / MLB
  • The stats: .295/.372/.567 in 67 games for Norfolk, .240/.309/.380 in 14 games for Orioles
  • The story: Calling up Westburg when the Orioles did, past the likely “Super Two” cutoff, was a no-brainer. Unlike outfield, there was a clear hole in the lineup among the infielders, since Ryan Mountcastle and Jorge Mateo both had their struggles, and Ramón Urías has not hit for much power. No MLB homers yet after 18 in 67 AAA games.

#7 - Joey Ortiz

  • Starting level / current level: Norfolk / Norfolk
  • The stats: .333/.389/.554 in 45 games for Norfolk, .212/.206/.242 in 15 games for Orioles
  • The story: Actually the first of the Orioles position player prospects to make a debut in 2023, the O’s did not utilize him as much more than a reserve in any of his stints with the team. It’s weird and I don’t know what it was about. If the Orioles only view him as trade bait, it seems like the way they used him didn’t exactly maximize that.

#8 - Coby Mayo

  • Starting level / current level: Bowie / Norfolk
  • The stats: Combined batting line of .302/.419/.591 in 81 games with 17 homers
  • The story: Batted over .300 while getting extra-base hits more than half of the time he got a hit with Bowie. This dude is still just 21 and only a rung away from MLB. He is hitting the ball with authority. Where is his home? Third base? First? Right field? The O’s have mostly only used him at third, but we’ll see if that changes at Norfolk. One thing that’s nerve-wracking about the coming deadline is the idea that an awesome prospect like Mayo could be traded.

#9 - Connor Norby

  • Starting level / current level: Norfolk / Norfolk
  • The stats: .287/.344/.473 in 84 games with Norfolk
  • The story: Norby struggled in April but has done better since, though his season numbers still aren’t that close to as amazing as the players like Westburg and Cowser forced promotions. Last year, he homered about every 16 at-bats. This year, he’s averaging about 27 at-bats per homer. It’s a big difference.

#10 - Heston Kjerstad

  • Starting level / current level: Bowie / Norfolk
  • The stats: Combined batting line of .315/.396/.574 with 16 homers
  • The story: Since finally getting onto professional baseball fields, Kjerstad has done nothing but validate the Orioles using the #2 overall pick on him. Played more games at 1B/DH than outfield for Bowie, though he’s been more in Norfolk’s outfield since that promotion. Only striking out 16.2% of the time this season. It now seems like only a trade will stop him from aiming for Eutaw Street for years to come.

#11 - Dylan Beavers

  • Starting level / current level: High-A Aberdeen / Aberdeen
  • The stats: .248/.343/.445 in 73 games, with 16 stolen bases and eight homers
  • The story: Beavers had a strong April before struggling heavily in May. He’s been doing well other than that, and even in his worst month he had a walk rate over 10%. It hasn’t been enough for the Orioles to put Beavers on the promotion train, yet. Playing mostly right field with some center, the speed could keep him in play as a bench player if the offense doesn’t make him a starter.

#12 - Cade Povich

  • Starting level / current level: Bowie / Bowie
  • The stats: 17 GS, 4.83 ERA, 1.349 WHIP
  • The story: The lefty who headlined last year’s Jorge López trade has one really exciting thing going for him: He’s struck out 116 batters in 76.1 innings for Bowie. It’s walks that seem to be holding him back at nearly one every other inning pitched. I think if that was lower, we’d see him at Norfolk by now, because it’s not like that rotation is full of prospects who can’t be displaced.

#13 - Jud Fabian

  • Starting level / current level: Aberdeen / Bowie
  • The stats: Combined batting line of .247/.356/.458 with 13 homers in 75 games
  • The story: Has not quite found his footing yet at the Double-A level, as he’s OPSing just .638 there over 19 games. Hasn’t been long enough to say he’s hit a wall there, especially because he’s keeping a decent walk rate and showing good power even as his batting average struggles. Playing almost exclusively center field this season. He’s also stolen 23 bases.

#14 - Samuel Basallo

  • Starting level / current level: Delmarva / Delmarva
  • The stats: .294/.372/.486 in 72 games, throwing out 32% of base-stealers
  • The story: He’s going to be higher on the next Orioles prospect list, that’s for sure. You’re running out of time to get in early before this turns into a bandwagon. Basallo only turns 19 next month and is in his first season with a full-season affiliate. By all appearances, it’s going great. He’s handling himself on offense and seems to be capable defensively, at least as far as his arm goes. Couldn’t have asked for much better from one of the first O’s seven-figure international amateur signings.

#15 - Seth Johnson

  • Starting level / current level: Injured list / IL
  • The stats: None
  • The story: The Orioles acquired Johnson at last year’s trade deadline knowing he needed Tommy John surgery, which he got shortly after the trade happened. Hopefully, we’ll hear about some rehab plans in the next month or so. The team has kept him on the minor league injured list, so he has been taking up a 40-man roster spot all season.

#16 - Max Wagner

  • Starting level / current level: Aberdeen / Aberdeen
  • The stats: .240/.374/.409 in 69 games
  • The story: If you take out his going hitless in the first five games of the season, he has an .845 OPS for the season, which is a lot more interesting. Fantastic walk rate and he’s stolen 23 bases as well. Eight years ago, this might be a player Orioles fans would fixate on for a lack of high-end prospects. The previous year’s second rounder always had to be interesting, right? Except sometimes that turned out to be Chance Sisco.

#17 - Hudson Haskin

  • Starting level / current level: Norfolk / IL
  • The stats: .268/.368/.463 in 23 games for Norfolk
  • The story: Has spent most of the year on the injured list and his season is over after recently getting surgery to correct a hip impingement. Before the season, I wondered if he was on track to supplant Ryan McKenna as the team’s 4th outfielder, or whether he might be a trade throw-in. The 2020 draft pick has to be added to the 40-man roster this offseason.

#18 (tied) - Drew Rom

  • Starting level / current level: Norfolk / Norfolk
  • The stats: 16 G, 5.50 ERA, 1.735 WHIP for Norfolk
  • The story: Added to the 40-man roster this offseason, Rom would probably be in the Orioles bullpen if not for his season-long struggles. Knowing for keeping his walk rate low, he’s up to a 5.0 BB/9 at Norfolk and batters are damaging him when they make contact, too. Sometimes that’s what happens when you have to put your hopes in a relatively soft-tossing lefty.

#18 (tied) - Chayce McDermott

  • Starting level / current level: Bowie / Norfolk
  • The stats: Combined pitching line: 17 games, 3.66 ERA, 1.262 WHIP
  • The story: McDermott, the healthy pitcher who the O’s got for Trey Mancini last year, is having about the same level of command problems as Rom (5.8 BB/9) but at Bowie he was doing a lot better at keeping batters from squaring him up. He’s only had one outing at Norfolk so far. It’ll be interesting to see how he settles in there. Walks have been an issue in his whole pro career, so it’s nothing new.

#20 - Frederick Bencosme

  • Starting level / current level: Aberdeen / Aberdeen
  • The stats: .246/.356/.324 in 70 games
  • The story: Pulled a little prospect attention after batting .336 as a 19-year-old at Delmarva last year. Not hitting the ball as well this year, but he is walking almost as much as striking out (41-43). When the ISO (SLG - BA) is under .100, that is a player with no power to speak of.


There is a whole lot of good stuff going on in the results here, especially the position players who are in the top ten. One of the really fun things about being an Orioles fan this year is that on top of the MLB team’s amazing record, there’s also this going on among the high-level minor league players to give hope that they can keep things rolling for years beyond this.

If I left out your favorite lower-tier prospect, that’s because this article is already over 2,000 words and most people have stopped reading by now. Feel free to post about your favorite Orioles minor league guy, and how this season is going for him, in the comments below.