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Saturday Bird Droppings: The Orioles farm system continues to impress

The unending search for rotation help, competition will be brewing in Sarasota, and more prospect love.

Bowie Baysox v Akron RubberDucks Photo by Nick Cammett/Diamond Images via Getty Images

Good Morning, Birdland!

MLB Pipeline revealed its Top 100 Prospect list on Friday, and once again they had good news for the Orioles. Six baby birds featured on the list, the second-most of any team (Cubs) in the league, and many of them appeared towards the top of the list.

That includes the number one prospect in all of baseball, Jackson Holliday. It’s not a surprise to see the top pick in the 2022 draft at the top of these sorts of lists. Baseball America already anointed him their top youngster going into 2024, and Pipeline had previously risen him to that distinction late in 2023. While all of this prospect stuff is subjective, it’s fair to say that Holliday’s status is generally agreed upon around the sport.

Other names on the list were catcher Samuel Basallo (17th), outfielder Colton Cowser (19th), infielder Coby Mayo (30th), outfielder Heston Kjerstad (32nd), and infielder Joey Ortiz (63rd).

Basallo’s ascension has been nothing short of remarkable. The catcher played at three levels in 2023, crushing the ball at every stop. That rose him from being the 19th-best prospect within the Orioles system at the end of 2022 to being 17th in all of baseball to begin 2024. Provided he continues to do well, he may be on the big league doorstep before season’s end.

It’s encouraging to see Cowser remain so high on this list. He really struggled in his 26-game stint with the Orioles last year, but his numbers at Triple-A remained fantastic. The O’s have not exactly cleared a path to playing time for him—or Kjerstad for that matter—going into the season. But if either one of them performs you can be sure that they will get into the lineup.

That seems to be the thesis upon which Elias has approached the season. He wants these young players to force their way into the everyday lineup. Once they do so, perhaps some of the veterans become expendable. But until then, he seems content to both maintain the Orioles floor while learning what their ceiling may be.

Links

Orioles Have Shown Interest In Michael Lorenzen | MLB Trade Rumors
I missed this one a couple of days ago. It’s certainly not the “front half” arm that the Orioles were said to be chasing, but someone like Lorenzen would help the team get through the season’s first couple of months. At this point, that seems to be their goal, then they can chase a bigger arm in July.

For Orioles’ young players and prospects, the competition is only getting better | The Baltimore Sun
Competition does appear to be a key tenet of the organization. If prospects want to stick in the big leagues, they need to earn it. At the same time, others that may already have a spot will need to lose it.

Orioles will look closely at Holliday this spring; Mayo, Ortiz on trade talk; Cowser trying for a better 2024 | Baltimore Baseball
My boring prediction is that there won’t be any surprising names to make the Opening Day roster. Holliday will probably look fantastic, but ultimately the team is going to send him back to Norfolk, for at least a little while. I would love to be wrong!

Cowser on 2023 in majors: “I choose to take it as a learning experience” | Roch Kubatko
Cowser does seem like a really good personality, and I hope he bounces back from a rough first taste of the bigs.

Orioles birthdays

Is it your birthday? Happy birthday!

  • Jonathan Heasley turns 27 today. Acquired from the Royals back in December, Heasley has not yet appeared in a game for the O’s, but is currently on their 40-man roster and seems like a potential bullpen option in the season ahead.
  • Tim Beckham is 34 today. He spent two seasons with the O’s between 2017-18. The first one was good, the second one was not.
  • Ken Huckaby is 53 years old. The catcher played in eight games with the Orioles in 2004.
  • John Lowenstein celebrates his 77th birthday. From 1979 through ‘85, he was a utility player for that O’s that saw time at nearly every position on the diamond.

This day in O’s history

2015 - The Orioles trade pitcher Stephen Tarpley to the Pirates in exchange for outfielder Travis Snider.