Baltimore Orioles Top Fantasy Baseball Prospects 2023

The Baltimore Orioles' top 15 fantasy prospects.

Typically when an organization nears the end of its rebuild phase and starts graduating its top prospects into the major leagues, they take a hit when it comes to farm system rankings. That hasn’t been the case for the Baltimore Orioles, despite three players from their pre-season top 10 losing prospect status including the number one prospect in baseball in Adley Rutschman (the others are Kyle Bradish and Kyle Stowers) and another one just outside (Terrin Vavra).

In fact, they simply replaced the top prospect in the sport with another one, Gunnar Henderson, and still have eight or nine prospects that have a case to be in the top 100. What is the difference between what the Orioles have been able to do and other recent participants in the tanking strategy (the Detroit Tigers come to mind)? Player development. Every organization is going to have misses whether its due to injury or performance related but by and large the players in the Orioles farm system have gotten better since Mike Elias, Sig Mejdal, Eve Rosenbaum, and Matt Blood have been able to institute their player development system that has a consistent message from short season ball all the way up to the majors.

It remains to be seen whether or not the system in place will consistently churn out above-average major leaguers, but I think it’s fair to assume they will find a way to fill the void those players leave behind. It should also make the team more confident in trading prospects for established major league talent when it’s warranted. It was hard for me to stop at 15 when making this list as it is a system that goes deep on potential big-league contributors, but here they are:

 

Baltimore Orioles Top Prospects For Fantasy Baseball

 

1. Gunnar Henderson, SS

Age21/2022 Stats (AA/AAA): 407 AB/.297 BA/.416 OBP/.531 SLG/19 HR/22 SB/101 R/76 RBI

MLB: 116 AB/.259 BA/.348 OBP/.440 SLG/4 HR/1 SB/12 R/18 RBI

Mike Elias made his first draft as general manager of the Baltimore Orioles count in 2019. With his first three picks he took the former number one overall prospect Adley Rutschman, current number one overall prospect Gunnar Henderson, and former top 10 organizational prospect Kyle Stowers. It was a surprise to see Henderson fall into the second round and the Orioles took him at the 42nd pick overall. The 2020 minor league season being canceled stunted many prospects’ development throughout the league, but it seems like Henderson made the most of his time at the big league alternate camp.

That was where he competed against top-line pitching such as Grayson Rodriguez and DL Hall day in and day out as a teenager. He broke out in 2021, racing through low A Delmarva, struggling a bit in high A Aberdeen, but ultimately making adjustments that saw him end the year in AA Bowie. He returned to AA to start 2022 and made the competition look easy, putting up an OPS over 1.000 over 208 plate appearances while significantly raising his walk percentage and lowering his strikeout percentage at the same time. A promotion to AAA Norfolk did nothing to slow him down. He had a .894 OPS and 137 wRC+ over 295 PAs before forcing the team to promote him to the majors having recently turned 21.

Henderson brought an advanced hit tool and natural power to the opposite field with him into the Orioles organization and embraced the player development philosophy of making good swing decisions. That growth mindset mixed with an incredible work ethic lead to big improvements over a short amount of time. Now he can turn on the ball as evidenced by his iconic home run in his major league debut against the Guardians in Cleveland. He went from a relatively free swinger in 2021 to having a lower chase rate than Adley Rutschman during their respective time in the majors.

When I saw him play shortstop at Aberdeen in 2021 I didn’t see him as someone who could stick at the position. He was obviously athletic enough but was just missing ground balls and looked like a more natural third-baseman with his strong arm. Just like his play at the plate, he made significant strides in the field this past season as well to the point that I do think he can be an above-average shortstop at the major league level, at least in the early stages of his career. Still underrated is his baserunning and ability to steal bases. Since 2021 he has 38 stolen bases and has only been caught five times. With 116 ML at-bats, Henderson won’t be prospect-eligible very long but he should be a favorite to win rookie of the year and has a chance to be a star in the league long term.

ETA: 2023

 

2. Grayson Rodriguez, SP

Age: 23/2022 Stats (A+/AA/AAA): 75.2 IP/2.62 ERA/0.99 WHIP/109 K

If not for a grade 2 right lat strain during what appeared to be his final start in AAA Norfolk before getting called up to make his major league debut in early June, Rodriguez would no longer be eligible for this list. The former first-round pick out of the 2018 MLB draft had a 2.09 ERA, 37.4% strikeout rate, and 6.5% walk rate over 56 innings to that point in the season. It was feared he would miss the remainder of the season but he was able to come back for a handful of starts at the end of the season. When he got back to AAA he made three final starts that amounted to a 2.63 ERA and 17 strikeouts over 13.2 innings.

He will enter spring training in line to break camp as part of the big league rotation and could immediately be the best starting pitcher on the team. There will of course be growing pains as he makes the adjustment to facing major league hitters but there may be nobody more prepared to do that in the minor leagues than Rodriguez. He is an intimidating presence on the mound at 6’5”, with a fastball that is consistently in the mid to high 90s with life. His changeup is his best offspeed pitch and has a chance to be one of the best in baseball but he also has three other plus pitches with his slider, curveball, and cutter. Walks have never been an issue for Rodriguez but he will of course have to refine his command as he matures. There aren’t many sure things when it comes to pitching prospects but this is as close as I can remember for the Orioles, except maybe pre-injury Dylan Bundy. He could be a top-of-the-rotation starter as soon as 2023 and having Adley Rutschman to throw to on a consistent basis doesn’t hurt either.

ETA: 2023

 

3. Jackson Holliday, SS

Age: 19/2022 Stats (FCL/A): 64 AB/.297 BA/.489 OBP/.422 SLG/1 HR/4 SB/14 R/9 RBI

The number one overall pick in the most recent MLB draft comes into professional baseball with plenty of pedigree. The son of 15-year major league outfielder Matt Holliday is shorter in stature but maybe more athletic as he promises to be the perfect fit in a middle infield. There was plenty of debate entering the draft on who the Orioles should and would take. College SS/3B Brooks Lee was a betting favorite at one point, Druw Jones was the other obvious high-profile high school position player with a famous father, and I leaned towards second baseman Termarr Johnson for his natural hitting ability from the left side of the plate. After all is said and done though it’s hard to argue that the Orioles didn’t make the right choice.

As an 18-year-old, he proved to be much too good for the competition in the Florida Coast League hitting .409 with a 1.167 OPS, 30.3% walk rate, and an astonishing 6.1% strikeout rate over 33 plate appearances. He had a bit of an adjustment period after being promoted to Low-A Delmarva (again, at 18 years old) but still finished with more walks than strikeouts and four doubles while providing a .772 OPS over 57 PAs. MLB Pipeline’s Jim Callis has been quoted saying he could race through the system, a la Gunnar Henderson, and there appears to be a good case for that happening.

He should start 2023 back in Low-A but I would expect a quick promotion to High-A Aberdeen and a chance to end the season in AA Bowie depending on how things go. All while being 19 years old for the entire season. The power is the last thing to come for most young players and that is the case here, but I don’t see much reason to worry about it becoming an issue. This is where you can look at the way he is built and compare it to his father, there is certainly a frame to add good muscle and the power that comes along with it. I wouldn’t be shocked if Holliday was in the conversation for top-five prospect in baseball around this time next year.

ETA: 2025

 

4. DL Hall, SP

Age: 24/2022 Stats (A+/AA/AAA): 84.1 IP/4.48 ERA/1.39 WHIP/137 K

MLB: 13.2 IP/5.93 ERA/1.68 WHIP/19 K

It is so hard not to get tantalized by DL Hall‘s left arm. It is also incredibly hard not to get frustrated by it. When he is hitting his spots and on his A game, he is almost untouchable. The raw stuff is better than Grayson Rodriguez‘s, especially since he has really worked on his changeup in 2022. It all comes down to how well he can control his upper 90’s fastball with plenty of hop, his knee buckling breaking pitches, and his changeup that is unfair and leaves batters shaking their heads as they walk back to the dugout.

The good news is there is a high enough floor here that, outside of injury, the worst case appears to be a fireballing lefty out of the pen that can give you multiple innings if needed. Think prime Josh Hader (a former Oriole farmhand by the way). But the team has to give him every chance to remain a starter because if he can ever get some consistency when it comes to his command he could be a better version of Blake Snell.

He got a cup of coffee at the major league level this past season and had his ups and downs working mostly out of the bullpen. But even with diminished stuff after his first full healthy season since 2019 (he was touching 100+ mph in spring training and when he was with AA Bowie during the season, down a few notches later in the year) you saw flashes of what he could be. Depending on how much you believe in him and the Orioles’ pitching development to improve in that area will determine how much you value him as a prospect. For me, it’s enough to have him ahead of the next few names listed.

ETA: 2023

 

5. Colton Cowser, OF

Age: 23/2022 Stats (A+/AA/AAA): 510 AB/.278 BA/.406 OBP/.469 SLG/19 HR/18 SB/114 R/66 RBI

The Orioles took Cowser fifth overall in the first round of the 2021 MLB draft and there were some questions as to whether that was the right choice. Cowser had a lot to prove coming from a small college in Sam Houston State, despite having one of the best hit tools coming out of the draft. Will that hit tool translate as he moves up toward the upper minors? Will he develop enough power? Can he stick in center field? It’s still too early to know the answers to all of these things but 2022 gave us plenty of information to work with.

The season started off slow and there were some murmurs on Orioles’ twitter about a “Colton Cowser problem” due to a high strikeout rate in high A Aberdeen. The strikeouts did remain high, especially compared to the 15.3% rate he put up in Low-A Delmarva after the draft, but everything else trended up throughout the season. He left High-A with a .795 OPS and 123 wRC+ over 278 plate appearances driven by a 16.2% walk rate. He kept that same walk rate in AA Bowie, cut down his strikeout rate by 3%, and started driving the ball leading to a 1.037 OPS and 184 wRC+ over 224 PAs. He even got 124 PAs in AAA Norfolk to end the season and started ice cold but did bat .299 with a .972 OPS over his last 17 games there.

Coming into 2023, he will start back in AAA but could be just a few good months away from joining the major league team. So, will the hit tool translate? The strikeouts do need to come down (27.8% for the season) but his .278 batting average and 15% walk rate indicate that it should. Will he develop enough power? Still room to grow, but he did have 36 doubles, two triples, and 19 home runs (.190 ISO) for the year. Can he stick in center field? He may not have the range that Cedric Mullins does but he reads the ball really well, makes all the plays, and has a solid arm. He would at least be an above-average left fielder in the new spacious Camden Yards outfield.

ETA: 2023

 

6. Coby Mayo, 3B

Age: 21/2022 Stats (FCL/A+/AA): 388 AB/.247 BA/.326 OBP/.456 SLG/19 HR/5 SB/72 R/69 RBI

If you’re looking for the big breakout season to come out of the Orioles’ system in 2023 this would be a great spot to stop. Mayo got a delayed start to the 2021 season due to a knee injury but once he was on the field he made his presence known as an over-slot fourth-round pick in the shortened 2020 draft out of high school in Florida. He had a 1.005 OPS and 165 wRC+ over 91 plate appearances in the FCL and was promoted alongside the 2021 college class (Colton Cowser, Connor Norby, John Rhodes, Reed Trimble, etc.) to Low-A Delmarva where he continued to mash (.963 OPS, 159 wRC+ over 125 PAs) which raised expectations for him coming into 2022.

He started this past season at High-A Aberdeen as a 20-year-old and had his numbers suppressed due to the Ironbirds’ stadium being tough on hitters and after looking at batted ball data he also ran into some bad luck. He still managed to hit 16 doubles, 2 triples, and 14 home runs to go along with a .821 OPS and 118 wRC+ over 288 PAs before being promoted to AA Bowie. Unfortunately, he had a minor back injury soon after and missed a chunk of time. He struggled upon return but did put up a .838 OPS and 130 wRC+ over his last 95 PAs of the season.

A healthy offseason of training with the Yankees’ Anthony Rizzo should set him on track to copy Gunnar Henderson and put the Eastern League on notice the second time around. Mayo hits the ball incredibly hard and has mammoth power already despite having plenty of room to fill out. The Orioles are loaded with infield prospects so he may have to eventually relocate his cannon for an arm to right field, but he does have the ability to play third base capably. If you’ve ever seen him hit a home run in person you’ll know that the new wall in left field at Camden Yards doesn’t stand a chance.

ETA: 2024

 

7. Jordan Westburg, SS

Age: 24/2022 Stats (AA/AAA): 544 AB/.265 BA/.365 OBP/.496 SLG/27 HR/12 SB/96 R/106 RBI

The 23-year-old infielder is the position player closest to making his major league debut in the Orioles farm system. There is an argument that Westburg should have made his debut alongside Gunnar Henderson towards the end of the 2022 season as they have pretty much moved up side by side throughout their professional careers. The problem for him compared to his fellow top prospect in 2022 was consistency. Westburg had stretches like May 17th – June 24th (1.075 OPS, 183 wRC+) where he looked like a middle-of-the-order slugger but then he would also have stretches like July 10th – September 2nd (.196 BA, .703 OPS, 91 wRC+) where the only thing keeping him afloat was a 14.3% walk rate and a splash of power when he did get the hits to land.

Overall he proved that he should be capable of being an upper-division regular between third base, second base, and shortstop. He improved his power stroke to the tune of 39 doubles, 3 triples, and 27 home runs between AA Bowie and AAA Norfolk while maintaining above-average walk and strikeout rates. Defensively he is probably best suited for third base with smooth hands and a strong arm but can handle second and short solidly if not spectacularly. One thing about Westburg is that he brings a competitive intensity that I could see being valuable in potential playoff pushes. The Orioles really do look at clubhouse chemistry and makeup when they’re acquiring players whether it’s in the draft or in trades. It is impossible to quantify how much that means in the long run but I felt it was worth pointing out.

ETA: 2023

 

8. Connor Norby, 2B

Age: 22/2022 Stats (A+/AA/AAA): 477 AB/.279 BA/.360 OBP/.526 SLG/29 HR/16 SB/92 R/73 RBI

Probably the system’s biggest breakout not named Gunnar Henderson in 2022, when Norby was drafted out of East Carolina in the second round of the 2021 MLB draft he was known as a pure hitter with some sneaky pop but instead he led the organization in home runs with 29 while maintaining that hit tool (.279 batting average over 547 plate appearances). He also added 23 doubles, four triples, and 16 stolen bases to go along with those long balls that were hit to all fields and were not wall scrapers. He is going to have to hit if he is going to be an everyday player in the majors since he is a fringy defender at second base with left field, first base, and DH being the only other likely positions he could be played at.

Luckily for him and the Orioles that was less in doubt every month of the season in 2022. He was like a snowball rolling downhill last year, starting off slow in High-A Aberdeen for similar reasons as the aforementioned Coby Mayo – pitcher’s park, bad luck based on the metrics – but was still promoted to AA Bowie after putting up a league average (99 wRC+) .736 OPS over 209 PAs. That was when his season took off. He raised his walk rate from 8.6% to 11.5% while at the same time lowering his strikeout rate from 23.9% to 19.9%. Also his power and batting average spiked resulting in a .960 OPS and 157 wRC+ over 296 PAs forcing his way to AAA Norfolk for the last couple weeks of the season. There he only managed to bat .359 with two doubles and four home runs in just nine games for a 1.123 OPS and 190 wRC+. He’ll start back there to begin 2023 but his bat will decide how long he remains in the minors. That and maybe how well Adam Frazier is playing come June or July.

ETA: 2023

 

9. Joey Ortiz, SS

Age: 24/2022 Stats (AA/AAA): 539 AB/.284 BA/.349 OBP/.477 SLG/19 HR/8 SB/91 R/85 RBI

Ortiz was drafted out of New Mexico State in the fourth round of the 2019 draft (there it is again) as a glove-first shortstop who put up some loud numbers at the plate in a very hitter-friendly run environment. The bat predictably came back down to earth at then Low-A Aberdeen after the draft but the defense was all it was cracked up to be and then some. He is easily the best defender in the system and could be a plus shortstop in the majors as soon as he steps on the field who can also play second and third.

He went to work putting on muscle and working on his swing during the lost 2020 season and came into 2021 looking like a different player at the plate. He returned to Aberdeen (now in High-A) and batted .289 with a .816 OPS over 89 plate appearances before quickly being promoted to AA Bowie. That’s when the added strength started showing up in game with four home runs over his first 16 games before his season was unfortunately cut short due to a shoulder injury that required surgery right in the midst of what looked like a breakout season.

2022 was a tale of two halves for Ortiz who struggled in the first half of the season coming back from injury and finding his swing again. He hit an anemic .207 with a .601 OPS over 266 plate appearances only walking 6.4% of the time and striking out 20.3% through June 28th. A minor swing adjustment and things clicked over the next two months. He batted .347 with 1.029 OPS over 219 PAs with 16 doubles, a triple, and 11 home runs to go along with an 11% walk rate and 12.3% strikeout rate on what seemed like an extended heater until he was promoted to AAA Norfolk and kept doing the same exact thing over the last month of the season (.346 BA, .967 OPS) while making highlight-reel plays on defense at a near-nightly rate. The helium was enough to carry him into the top 10 of one of the best farm systems in baseball and could carry him right into a major league role fairly quickly in 2023 if he can keep it up.

ETA: 2023

 

10. Dylan Beavers, OF

Age: 21/2022 Stats (FCL/A/A+): 87 AB/.322 BA/.438 OBP/.460 SLG/0 HR/6 SB/14 R/15 RBI

Beavers was taken 33rd overall in the most recent draft this past year out of the University of California as a lefty-hitting outfielder with big power but a swing that could use some work. The pick reminded of Kyle Stowers coming out of the 2019 draft, except you saw positive changes immediately from the Orioles’ improved player development team. After a quick stop in the FCL to get his feet under him alongside his fellow draftees, Beavers went to Low-A Delmarva where he proved to be too much for that level of competition.

He hit .359 with a .999 OPS, more walks than strikeouts (15.6% to 14.3%), and a 178 wRC+ despite not tapping into his power for any home runs (he had seven doubles and two triples). Four games in High-A Aberdeen for their stretch run doesn’t provide anything of value to take from it, but the positive sign from his month in the system was that he bought into the changes the team wanted to make and improved his chase rate and in-zone miss rate over the course of the month, ending at 15% and 18% respectively.

The power doesn’t seem to be in question, even if it would be nice to see him get his first professional home run out of the way, so if he can follow the trend of young Orioles players and prospects that don’t swing at bad pitches and make contact when they do swing (Adley Rutschman, Gunnar Henderson, Colton Cowser – at least for the first category) then he is another guy that could break out in 2023 and move quickly up the system. 2022 saw Cowser and Connor Norby move from high A to AAA in their first full season after being drafted and 2023 could see the same thing for Beavers and another college outfielder I will discuss a little later.

ETA: 2025

 

11. Heston Kjerstad, OF

Age: 24/2022 Stats (A/A+): 243 AB/.309 BA/.394 OBP/.457 SLG/5 HR/1 SB/45 R/37 RBI

What a journey it has been for Kjerstad, the second overall pick in the pandemic-shortened 2020 draft. It was a controversial pick for the Orioles who let college performer extraordinaire Austin Martin and a few other notable names (Asa Lacy, Nick Gonzalez, Emerson Hancock) pass them by, instead opting for the power-hitting outfielder out of Arkansas. It was an under-slot pick that allowed them to take fellow top prospect Coby Mayo and talented but oft-injured pitcher Carter Baumler out of high school with their last two picks of the draft. But it didn’t help their case when Kjerstad missed all of 2021 due to a battle with myocarditis, a heart condition that needed to be proceeded with caution before returning to baseball activities.

Fully healthy in spring training of 2022 and ready to finally make his pro debut, he suffered a fairly significant hamstring strain that delayed his start for another few months. Finally, in early June he joined Low-A Delmarva and didn’t look like he missed a day, dominating the league with a 1.201 OPS, nine doubles, two home runs, a 13.3% walk rate, 17.3% strikeout rate, and a ridiculous 228 wRC+ over 98 plate appearances before being promoted to High-A Aberdeen. It was a different story there where he saw his walk rate and power drop, strikeout rate climb, and was even benched at one point for not running out a groundball out of frustration.

His .674 OPS was not what he or the team wanted to see but he was sent to the Arizona Fall League to continue to get at-bats in preparation for 2023 and ended up winning the league MVP. He had the most plate appearances of any player in the six-team league with 104 and made the most of them batting .357 with a 1.007 OPS, nine doubles, one triple, and five home runs. The bad news is he only walked five times and struck out 31 times but the good news is he hit the ball harder in the AFL than he did at any point during the minor league season. He should start next season in AA Bowie at a delayed 24 years old but could start close that gap with a solid season.

ETA: 2024

 

12. Seth Johnson, SP

Age: 24/2022 Stats (A+): 27 IP/3.00 ERA/1.26 WHIP/41 K

Acquired from the Tampa Bay Rays as part of the three-team trade that saw Trey Mancini go to the Houston Astros before the 2022 trade deadline (Chayce McDermott was another pitcher that came back in return from Houston), Johnson underwent Tommy John Surgery shortly after and could next see game action very late in the 2023 season if things go well. And yet he is still the most talented arm in the organization after the dynamic duo of Grayson Rodriguez and DL Hall at the top of this list.

If he was healthy there is no way the Rays would’ve given him up so easily, but if he is able to come back strong from surgery it could be a steal for the Orioles. Johnson was taken in 40th overall in the competitive balance round of the 2019 draft as an upside play, having a big arm but only recently focusing on pitching. The lost 2020 hurt his development a bit but he at least got more time to work with Tampa Bay’s renowned pitching development team and had great success in Low-A during the 2021 season. He had a 2.88 ERA over 93.2 innings with a 29% strikeout rate and 8.3% walk rate albeit being a little old for the competition. He pitched in seven games last season before being shut down, pitching to a 3.00 ERA over 27 innings with a 37.3% strikeout rate and 10% walk rate.

His fastball sits in the mid to high 90s and he has a pair of solid breaking pitches with his slider and curveball. His changeup is lagging behind but luckily the Orioles have been confident in their ability to develop that pitch and they may be able to get more movement out of his slider as they did with Austin Voth and many others last season, turning it into the trendy sweeper. Johnson’s health has him a little lower on this list than he would be otherwise but 2024 could see that corrected granted he recovers the way most pitchers do nowadays from TJ.

ETA: 2025

 

13. Cade Povich, SP

Age: 22/2022 Stats (A+/AA): 114 IP/4.50 ERA/1.18 WHIP/148 K

The Orioles’ draft strategy since Mike Elias and company took over has been to lean heavily towards position players, and college ones at that, while only dipping into the pitching and high school pools when they are really confident in the selection. They tend to go pitching heavy in the later rounds grabbing guys who fit their development model over impressive performers in the college ranks. That leads to the impression of a bare cupboard when it comes to pitching prospects in the organization, at least until they are able to turn some of those later-round picks into higher-upside arms.

Another part of that strategy is to acquire pitchers from other organizations through trades. That’s what they did with Dylan Bundy, getting Kyle Bradish in return as well as Kyle Brnovich and Zach Peek – two pitchers with potential who both underwent Tommy John Surgery last year, as well as Trey Mancini as mentioned above. Not only did the O’s acquire Seth Johnson and Chayce McDermott at the trade deadline but they also received four pitchers including Povich from the Minnesota Twins in exchange for Jorge López.

Those weren’t popular trades with everyone, especially the latter, but in Povich the team has a high-upside left-handed pitcher who saw his stock rise in 2022. The stuff started to tick up and despite having a 4.46 ERA over 78.2 innings for the Twins’ high A team his FIP and xFIP were 3.36 and 3.31 respectively while maintaining a great 31.8% strikeout rate and 7.7% walk rate. He pitched 12 scoreless innings for High-A Aberdeen after the trade but then struggled in AA Bowie to the tune of a 6.94 ERA over 23.1 innings. He has a full offseason now to work with the Orioles’ pitching development and turn that potential into a breakout 2023 campaign.

ETA: 2024

 

14. Darell Hernaiz, SS

Age: 21/2022 Stats (A/A+/AA): 406 AB/.273 BA/.341 OBP/.438 SLG/12 HR/32 SB/72 R/62 RBI

Hernaiz is the fifth selection from the 2019 draft to either make this list (Gunnar Henderson, Joey Ortiz) or recently graduate from it (Adley Rutschman, Kyle Stowers). The only pick from the Orioles’ first six selections in that draft to disappoint is third-rounder Zach Watson, an outfielder out of LSU who has stalled at AA-Bowie coming into 2023. Hernaiz was selected in the fifth round out of a high school in Texas, a more raw shortstop prospect than Henderson who was taken around 100 picks earlier. A month younger than the top prospect in the system, he took a different route to climbing the system.

While Gunnar played at three different levels in 2021, Darell spent the entire year in Low-A Delmarva and didn’t put up eye-popping numbers. He batted an empty .277 with a .690 OPS, a below-average 6.8% walk rate, and only 18 extra-base hits over 410 plate appearances. But it was clear to those that watched him that there was plenty of upside in his bat and proved it in 2022. Repeating Low-A to start the year he showed off all the improvements that he made over the offseason right away putting up a .852 OPS and 132 wRC+ while almost matching 2021’s XBH total (15 – seven doubles, two triples, six home runs) in almost 300 fewer plate appearances.

He did more of the same after being promoted to High-A Aberdeen – .832 OPS, 127 OPS, 21 XBHs – and ended the season with a 13-game taste of AA in Bowie. He can play all over the infield, stole 32 bases while only being caught four times, and has a frame that can continue to add muscle and power. He talked about doing just that leading up to spring training on the ‘On the Verge’ Orioles minor league podcast that I co-host and is yet another player in this system who could make a big jump in 2023.

ETA: 2025

 

15. Jud Fabian, OF

Age: 22/2022 Stats (FCL/A/A+): 78 AB/.333 BA/.455 OBP/.615 SLG/3 HR/1 SB/19 R/16 RBI

The Orioles taking Jud Fabian with the 67th overall selection in last year’s draft, the comp B pick they acquired from the Miami Marlins along with three prospects in exchange for LHP Tanner Scott and RHP Cole Sulser, just felt like fate after the Boston Red Sox took him one pick before the O’s were about to in 2021. It was a surprise to Baltimore and Fabian who ended up not signing and going back to college at Florida in an attempt to improve his stock after a disappointing 2021 season where he was expected to be a first-round pick.

He did have a better college season in 2022 but still fell 27 spots from where he was taken the year before and settled for about half as much money as he would’ve received from the Red Sox. Despite that, he seemed excited to end up with the Orioles, and played like it too. He put up a 1.247 OPS and 240 wRC+ in four games in the FCL, before doing even better with Low-A Delmarva (1.322 OPS, 243 wRC+) over 10 games. He finished his first month as a professional with High-A Aberdeen and didn’t fare as well (.508 OPS, 53 wRC+) over eight games but he did set himself up to start back there in 2023 and reach AAA Norfolk by season end, the same way Colton Cowser did in 2022.

Fabian has two standout tools that could propel him up this list fairly quickly. The first is his speed that he uses to play an outstanding centerfield and the other is his power swing that has already resulted in nine doubles, two triples, and three home runs in less than 100 plate appearances as a pro. His issue in college was the hit tool, most notably the swing and miss in his game. The Orioles’ player development’s focus on swing decisions might be able to help offset that and he already brings above-average plate discipline to the table. He had a combined 19.2% walk rate which will obviously go down as he moves up the ladder but if he can keep his strikeout rate below 25% (21.2% during last year’s stretch) then he could have more upside than the typical player taken in that range.

ETA: 2024

 

Feature image by Michael Packard (@CollectingPack on Twitter)

One response to “Baltimore Orioles Top Fantasy Baseball Prospects 2023”

  1. Mike Davis says:

    Interesting article according to you the O’s have what should be a solid infield in the near future with at least 4 potential shortstops and three outfielders on the brink. Who stays who goes will make for interesting decisions in the future ? Looking forward to 2024 when we should begin to see answers.

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