I continue my countdown of the Top 33 Orioles prospects headed into 2022.
22. 1B J.D. Mundy
From UDFA to passing lots of guys in the org depth chart, J.D. Mundy deserves some hype. Like most of the hitters on this list he’d benefit from being choosier, but being dissatisfied with .291/15HR and .926 OPS doesn’t make sense. Over 333 total chances at first, he made just one error, telling me he’s got his position solidified. I love a guy that can be counted on to squeeze that out at 1st so his 300+ putouts in 350 innings is music to my ears. I guess if there’s a sleeper in the group who may be significantly better than the good they’ve already shown, Mundy would fit.
21. RHP Jean Pinto
Upside, powerful arm action through the release and recent success force you to take notice of Jean Pinto, who sports forearms like Popeye. Limiting hard contact and holding his foes to a .171 average shows the requisite amount of low minors dominance. Scouts asked me about him and some were downright giddy going over his results before he got moved up from Sarasota so that’s a sign in itself that he is now noticed. Supported by a loyal army led by @nickstevensR its ok to wonder if he’ll shoot through A and start to measure himself against the game’s best prospects at AA.
20. C Samuel Basallo
The reports of Samuel Basallo‘s weight in the 160-170 range are going to need to hit refresh. He’s the size of a shed and can swing with authority and violence at a very young age. Kind of going out on a limb here but he might have already begun to outgrow a position where squatting is a constant requirement. His wide lower body produces a big swing too, one that’s made for Camden Yards’ RF power alley. His strength at age 17 is his true separating skill. When you see him in shorts the impression is not ‘teenager.’ He allowed 51 of 69 base stealers to be successful so he seems to be on a DH/corner track more than a backstop.
19. 2B Anthony Servideo
Another solid second baseman, Anthony Servideo is known for an elite eye. Hurt after a few series, he was on-base at .489 and that’s not a typo. He was drafted high, paid nearly a million bucks and will turn 23 during spring training. I guess I’ll have to trust scouts and players I’ve talked to about him but I would expect this to be his profile. Leadoff skills are always in demand and can provide a foundation for other aspects to present themselves. I’m relatively confident that he’ll add himself into a fiery competition on the farm for 2B reps.
18. 2B Darell Hernaiz
Being suddenly stacked at 2B is such a thrill, and a player like Darell Hernaiz used to simply not be in the Orioles system at all. Someone who brings acceleration skills and solid pivot ability at the bag to combine with outstanding hands is someone who other smart organizations draft. The Orioles plucked Hernaiz in 2019’s 5th round and that’ll always be too low for Darell, whom I absolutely love! The weight gain will mean significantly improved data and I’ve been as eager for that to occur as anyone. 2022 is when that will shine through making 2nd a great spot to compete for.
17. OF Hudson Haskin
Something about Hudson Haskin‘s swing and abilities to maximize his frame stand out to me, and it’s not the aesthetics, it’s the results. I can’t tell if Haskin is stronger or faster than his 6-0 200lb body suggests, but I can like the output in year one very much, especially the steals (22-for-29). He’s got some room to improve both there, and with his eye (32 BB/78 K) so as he develops it’s reasonable to expect some more. Just a reminder that he’s 23 as of the end of 2021 and drafted 39th overall. His profile could go in several directions, but most of them now seem positive. Not exactly polarizing but due to his age and experience I’m really paying attention to his starting spot for the 2022 season.
16. OF Heston Kjerstad
It seems that the 2020 draft turned out pretty great even without Heston Kjerstad. That’s in no way fair and now the SEC stud with the legs that propelled so many aluminum bat dingers gets to catch up to his fellow farmhands. I have no evidence of seeing him play save for his own social media and less than 10 swings through a fence so there’s no reason to pretend I know his game. Will it bounce back to the levels that boosted him to the 2nd overall selection in that franchise-changing draft? Hard to say and again, the not seeing him doesn’t help. I can speculate on his health, pedigree and those I know to be helping him that he’ll now have that opportunity to prove people who doubted him wrong. I don’t know where I am on that scale, but like everybody else I’m thankful he’s OK and eager to see him in a uniform. It’s now a very different kind of pressure on Kjerstad’s shoulders now. If he can show a semblance of that shine, there’s reason to believe the O’s drafters are seriously better than we thought. Cross your fingers.
15. RHP Carter Baumler
This is another arm who I expect to do big things from the absolute jump. So far he’s been in the O’s strength program while he recovered from Tommy John surgery and I believe the muscle will not only help him last longer this year, but help with the movement and drop on his pitches. Seeing his motion at a post-draft camp I could tell from hundreds of feet away just how organized and fine his release was pre-procedure. Talking to him in the stands about slider movement and how to initiate it I was able to learn about his approach. This is not a middle of the rotation profile at all. Get ready for Baumler, Bawlmer. I did.
14. 2B Terrin Vavra
If Norby (see #13) doesn’t rush to grab 2B, it’ll be because of Terrin Vavra. Limited by injuries in year 1 as an Oriole coming over from Colorado he showed himself to be relatively patient at the plate. I’ve heard lots of people wonder if he’ll get stronger and put up better metrics. To them I issue this reminder: 730 innings at 2nd w/a paltry five errors. At 24 years old, 700+ ABs in MiLB and a .400 on-base. Yea I’ll take that exact profile to make the competition for the keystone legit.
13. 2B Connor Norby
It’s really tough to evaluate a hitter like Connor Norby, with so much amateur pedigree after such little pro experience. The sample size is small so there’s just not enough data to draw info or base expectations. The times I watched him play I saw a quick swing through the contact zone and someone who handles pitches up better than at his knees. A good look at a fastball meant a measured and hand-led cut that found the sweet spot often. His movements at 2nd were equally measured, this is not a wasted motion athlete. I see piles and piles of line drives between 2nd and short for Norby. .333 w/RISP ain’t nothing and pitchers moving the ball horizontally didn’t faze him a bit. Again, not lots of chances but more than a few good signs.
12. RHP Zach Peek
The Dylan Bundy trade is looking absolutely brilliant and the best is still ahead with Zach Peek. I think as he matures and gains experience that he’ll turn into an even better strikeout machine than he’s shown so far. With 122 in 90 innings so far he’s been outstanding. The competitive fire and lofty ceiling is why I think to rank him this high, but his confidence in himself is the clincher. Being a student and a coachable player have shown me a future for Peek that even his strongest supporters aren’t expecting. A little bit of stability through delivery could be the final piece that sends his development to the moon.