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Orioles Top 25 Prospects for 2023: 13-25

Basallo
photo: Eric Garfield
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With baseball right around the corner, it is time to update my prospects list from last summer. As a bonus, I have added five slots to my list.

Before we begin, I have to address something. When I make my list, I follow my own set of rules to make my list different from others. One of those rules is how soon these prospects will graduate. I personally think MLB Pipeline’s amount of games played/at-bats is a little too steep, so I lowered it.

So, If a player has appeared in 10 or more games, he is no longer a prospect. This is important to remember because, with these guidelines, Gunnar Henderson and DL Hall are not prospects, so they will not be on this list. If they were eligible for this list, they would be on here, but they aren’t prospects in my eyes. To remind you, this is my list, my opinions, not MLB Pipeline’s or Baseball America’s or anyone else’s.

So with that housekeeping out of the way, let’s go back and look at this list I had last summer.

20. Samuel Basallo

19. Cade Povich

18. Drew Rom

17. Joseph Ortiz

16. Chayce McDermott

15. Jud Fabian

14. Hudson Haskin

13. Seth Johnson

12. Dylan Beavers

11. Connor Norby

10. Heston Kjerstad

9. Terrin Vavra

8. Jordan Westburg

7. Kyle Stowers

6. Coby Mayo

5. Colton Cowser

4. Jackson Holliday

3. DL Hall

2. Grayson Rodriguez

1. Gunnar Henderson

Now, this year’s list:

  1. Max Wagner, 3B

We will see many new names on this list, so it is good to get our feet wet with one to start. Wagner was on nobody’s radar coming into this year; then he had a breakout season for Clemson. He wasn’t even starting full-time to begin the year, but his play kept him in the lineup. He would win the ACC player of the year, finishing with 27 home runs and the second-best slugging percentage in the conference at .852. Despite having another year of eligibility, Wagner decided to enter his name into the Draft, where the Orioles got him in the second round. Wanger’s most obvious tool is his power. He has a compact swing focused on driving the ball into the air. He is so low here because he doesn’t have a stand-out tool besides that power. He has a decent hit tool and can survive at third, but players like Wagner don’t have a high priority to me. The power is nice to have, but if Wagner is to move up this list, he will have to find more consistently and make more contact.

  1. Justin Armbruester, RHP

Armbruster is an underrated pitcher in the system. He was used in a hybrid reliever/starter role to begin 2022 with Aberdeen. The results were mixed, but he was pitching in a hitter’s environment. He was called up to Bowie, and he pitched a lot better. Armbruster has a fastball that sits in the mid-’90s and a good slider, but he needs to develop the change-up if he wants to break out of his back-end starter/long reliever mold. This is why he is this low; he just doesn’t have the ceiling of the other pitchers. Mixed in with a low ceiling is that his stuff just isn’t the best, it can work, but he needs to develop that third pitch if he is to move up.

  1. Carter Young, SS

Young was one of the more hyped-up players going into the 2022 Draft. However, an underwhelming season tanked his value, and his eyes were set on returning to Vanderbilt. The Orioles, however, had a million dollars left over after being unable to sign Nolan McLean and gave it to Young instead. Young was seen as a contact-hitting defensive Shortstop coming out of high school, but that profile is wrong. He has good power and the ability to switch hit, but everything else is a question mark. He can make good plays from short, but he makes a ton of mental lapses as well. He has good speed, but his contact ability is a real concern. Young is one of the toughest evals because he has the tools to be a great player,  he just hasn’t put it together.

  1. Carter Baumler, RHP

Carter Baumler was one of the over-slot slot selections in the 2020 Draft. He has had a tough time trying to stay on the mound for the Orioles. He had to get Tommy John in October 2020, keeping him out until 2022. He finally made his debut, but it was limited due to a shoulder injury, and he only made four starts. The four starts were awesome, but he remains the biggest wildcard in the Orioles’ farm system. If he is healthy, he has a shot at being a top-100 pitching prospect, but we haven’t seen a fully healthy Baumler in a long time, so long that the Orioles have never seen it. His potential is high enough to get him on this list, and if he pitches healthy this year, Baumler will be on the way up.

  1. Braylin Tavera, OF

Look at that, some international talent. Tavera received the highest bonus the team has ever given out until a couple of days ago. Tavera spent the first season in the Dominican Summer League, where he did decently. Tavera is a well-balanced hitter that just makes contact with his improving power. He is slowly adding to the power, which will be huge for him because he is already a good defender in center and is quick. He will make his debut in the states coming this year, so how much he moves will be determined by his first time playing here. As we know, these guys can take a while to get comfortable and acclimated.

  1. Fredrick Bencosme, SS

Bencosme had a big breakout last year. His main tool is his great hit tool. Using his left-handed swing, he makes a ton of contact for solid base hits. He was also patient, sporting an on-base percentage of .412. He hits for some power, but it isn’t overwhelming yet, and his defense seems much more fitted for second. He ranks this high because he already has a great hit tool and batting eye, so his lack of power and defense doesn’t hurt his value. Bencosme spent most of the year in the lower minors but got that cup of coffee in Aberdeen, where he will spend most of the year this year.

  1. John Rhodes, OF

Rhodes would be a bit higher on this list if he hadn’t missed a month with an injury and struggled after coming off of it. Honestly, Rhodes’ pre-injury numbers look much better than his post-injury numbers. He didn’t look the same offensively, which might mean that whatever bothered him didn’t heal completely. Rhodes still offers one of the highest floors in this farm system. He has great defense in the outfield, and his on-base ability is impressive. He can hit for power, but he has more of a line drive swing so expecting a lot of power probably isn’t wise. He ranks above a guy like Bencosme because Rhodes, when healthy, has a much higher ceiling due to his defense and solid offense. Rhodes will play most of the year at Bowie, which is a hitter’s environment, so with him fully healthy now, this ranking might look low by the late summer when I update it.

  1. Darnell Hernaiz, SS

Hernaiz was one of the breakout prospects last year. After spending a couple of years developing, he burst onto the scene in 2022, dominating Delmarva and playing well with Aberdeen. By the time September rolled around, he got promoted to Bowie. Hernaiz is such a solid hitter. He has an easy line drive swing that can produce some power, good defense at short, and is a good baserunner, swiping 32 bases last year. Hernaiz’s power is the thing that is holding him back from entering the upper echelon of this farm system. He has some, but he doesn’t elevate the ball enough. If he learns to in Bowie this year, he will fight for a top prospect spot because his other tools are all there.

  1. Ceaser Prieto, UTL

Prieto has an interesting story of how he got into the system. He broke Cuba’s hit record but had to wait a little bit until he was eligible to sign. He eventually chose the Orioles and put together a solid season. He makes plenty of contact, has some pop with a nice swing, and shows athletic upside. The issue with Prieto is that he is a bit older due to waiting to sign, and he didn’t dominate Bowie as he did Aberdeen. Prieto still offers plenty of versatility where he plays, as he can play any spot in the infield. Prieto’s ceiling isn’t high, but the floor of what he is now is enough to keep him in the top 20.

  1. Cade Povich, LHP

Povich was acquired in the Jorge Lopez deal last summer. When I last made this list, he was dominating for Aberdeen. After, he got moved to Bowie and struggled badly. He had an ERA near seven with the Baysox, and the walks returned and haunted him. He did manage to hold opponents to a.231 average, but he gave up a ton of hits and five home runs in five games started. Povich has good stuff, but the lack of a third pitch has been a question mark for a while now. Now we wait and see if he can fully harness his stuff.

  1. Chayce McDermont, RHP

McDermont is another deadline acquisition from the Astros. McDermont’s pure stuff is really good. He has a good to solid Fastball, Slider, and Curveball. The issue is he can be wild. He followed the timeline of Povich and was sent to Bowie soon after his quick start in Aberdeen. There, like Povich, he struggled. He is slightly higher on my list because, despite the six ERA, he pitched better and has a higher upside. He held opponents to only a.179 average. So why was his ERA so high, then? The walks and home runs. Giving up a lot of home runs might be expected in a hitter-friendly Bowie, but these walks have got to get under control. Still, McDermont still has a higher upside than Povich, and if he can get these walks under control, I am bullish.

  1. Samuel Basallo, C

A hot take of mine is that Basallo has one of the highest upsides in this system. His power is insane. He hit multiple baseballs over 100 mph as a sixteen-year-old before signing as an IFA in 2020. 2022 was the first year he showed up in the states, and he impressed. His profile of getting under baseballs and hitting them hard projects well. While he probably won’t stick at catcher, he has plenty of power to profile as a slugging first baseman/DH. He will start the year at Delmarva, and if he impresses there, he will be a contender to become a top-10 Prospect.

  1. Drew Rom, LHP

Rom has been the same guy since the Orioles drafted him. He has good control with a great Slider and a low-velocity fastball. Rom is so high on this list because of his floor. You know what you get from Rom each time he takes a mound. Yes, the ceiling is probably the lowest out of all the top 15 Prospects, but he can control the strike zone and be an actual pitcher. That pitchability and him knowing who he is and not hiding from hit puts him higher. Some don’t have Rom high, but his floor balances his lack of upside for me.

Prospects 1-12 tomorrow!

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