It was a dismal season from the Baltimore Orioles, with the only real solace being that they met the record of the appalling 2003 Detroit Tigers of 43-108 with games in hand. Regardless of the record, the baseball played by the Orioles over the course of the 2018 season was on par, if not worse than that of the ’03 Tigers.
Thankfully, in the MLB, there are rewards for enduring a season of hardship, which comes in the form of getting the first overall pick in the amateur draft. It’s evident that the club is going to be making changes, seeing as they traded away almost all veteran pieces of value at the trade deadline, but whether those changes will result in a rebuild from the top down or are merely moves to make the Orioles more sellable is yet to be seen. What we do know is that a completely new-look Baltimore is on the way for 2019.
Orioles players to keep an eye on
GulfBird Sports/Craig Landefeld
Assuming that the trades at the deadline were to make way for a youth revolt in Baltimore, Orioles fans should hope to see some of their most hyped prospects make their way into the MLB team. Two names that came up earlier this season were D.J. Stewart and Austin Hays, who were cited as preferred players to have on the field than the claimed 28-year-old John Andreoli. But, luckily for Orioles fans needing a taste of hope for what’s to come, Stewart made his way up to put in some decent innings.
While many don’t rate the top Orioles prospects in their top-100 rankings, there are some good young players ready to break into the team. The farm system certainly improved at the trade deadline, with Yusniel Diaz coming in from the Manny Machado trade to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Third baseman Ryan Mountcastle comes in as another Baltimore’s top prospect and is expected to join Diaz in arriving in the 2019 season.
As explained by CBS Sports, these two and Hays – who suffered from injuries this season – as well as some others, should be breaking through next season, so there will be plenty of fresh faces preparing to rectify this awful campaign.
There may even be more trades on the way, with Mychal Givens, Mark Trumbo, Dylan Bundy, Alex Cobb, Andrew Cashner, and Jonathan Villar possibly on the block. Cobb will most likely be shipped off next season or in the following campaign as the organization waits for him to bounce back and improve his worth.
Climbing will be tough for Baltimore
ESPN Stats & Info, via Twitter
Unfortunately, a team can’t simply be filled with the organization’s top prospects; there need to be some experienced heads and roster fillers in the locker room. This isn’t just to fill the team and add some level of competitiveness; it’s also to make sure that there are mentors and leaders to help the next star Orioles adjust to the major leagues on and off of the field.
The Baltimore Orioles could stick to the personnel that they have and build in prospects around them or, as expected, they’ll trade for as much value as they can get and then pump some veterans into the team. Keeping Adam Jones would be a wise decision as he can be the guide that the young players need while demonstrating the proper way to play baseball. But, it may be hard to convince others to come on worthy wages.
Baltimore is in a bad situation right now. The Orioles’ prospects don’t break into FanGraph’s top 131 and are said to have the ranked 17 farm system by Baseball America, per Sportsnet. To make matters worse, they’re in what is likely the toughest division in the MLB for the next decade or so.
Right now, the Boston Red Sox are laying waste to all who lay in their path while the New York Yankees aren’t far behind. Then there’s the rebuilding Toronto Blue Jays who boast a top-rated farm system and the young, upcoming Tampa Bay Rays. As of September 19, the Red Sox were favorites at 6/4 to win the World Series with Betway (they now lead the Fall Classic 2-0, of course) while the Yankees were just behind at 11/2. But it’s not just for this season; the Red Sox and Yankees will be at the top of the American League East for quite some time.
The only way for the Orioles to find better fortunes is to embrace a full, top-down rebuild in which valuable veterans continue to be traded and the club experiences some major realignments throughout the organization. More needs to be invested in scouting and analysis while the focus needs to change in the front office – likely by getting new staff members into the club.
In such a tough division, the team has time to change their direction and rebuild everything and try to make their way back up at a time when perhaps one or two of the divisional tyrants begins to slip. But, to do this, they’ll need to find and entrust the organization to someone new and capable of such a huge rebuild.