Dynasty: Baltimore Orioles’ 2020 Preseason Top 50 Prospects

After years stuck in baseball purgatory, the Baltimore Orioles have finally used their resources on rebuilding their farm system, and the new front office led by Mike Elias has done a wonderful job.

The Orioles farm is impressive with its depth of starting pitching, which is key given how their pitching development has been the laughing stock of baseball over the past decade. The farm needs its top outfielders to pan out, but it’s a strong system. 

Finally, the club has reason for excitement. Here are the Top 50 dynasty prospects in the emerging Orioles farm system.

Note: These Top 50 lists are all done through a fantasy baseball-focused lens. Many players who are ranked higher or lower on other platforms will get a boost here. For example, players who profile as middle relievers or glove-first infielders likely won’t have much fantasy relevance, so they won’t be ranked as highly. 

 

1. Adley Rutschman

 

Age: 21

HIghest Level: A-Ball

The clear top prospect in 2019’s draft, Adley Rutschman is the best in the organization. Rutschman is the rare catcher prospect who projects as a middle-of-the-order bat. His hit tool is incredible for a catcher his age, and his power projects to be above-average as well. He’s also fantastic behind the dish and has a good arm. The only flaw in his game is that he won’t steal any bases, but that’s just being picky.

Rutschman will be an important part of the next great Orioles team, but with the club likely being in the cellar for the next couple of seasons, he may have to wait a year or longer in the minors than his talent indicates he should. However, he’s still one of the best prospects in baseball and has a chance to be one of the best catchers in the sport upon his MLB arrival. 

 

2. Grayson Rodriguez

 

Age: 19

Highest Level: A-Ball

A 2018 first-round pick, Grayson Rodriguez has quickly established himself as one of the top pitching prospects in baseball. In 2019, Rodriguez proved he was just too dominant for A-ball hitting, as he pitched 94 innings with a 2.68 ERA and a 36:129 BB:K ratio. 

Rodriguez’s legitimate four-pitch arsenal is rare for such a young hurler. His fastball sits at around 93-95 mph with subtle movement, and it projects as his best pitch. Rodriguez also possesses a dominant slider that comes in at around 87 mph with sharp movement. His changeup also shows signs of being a dominant offering, with great deception and a consistently steep velocity drop from his fastball. His curveball is his fourth pitch, and it’s distantly his worst. He’s continuously had struggles locating it, but as he develops, it could turn into an average offering. 

It’s scary to put a future ace label on a 19-year-old, but Rodriguez shows all the signs of it. 

 

3. DL Hall 

 

Age: 21

Highest Level: High-A

The 21st pick of the 2017 MLB draft, DL Hall has quickly emerged as one of the higher-upside pitching prospects in baseball. His 2019 was an interesting one, as he took the jump from A-ball to High-A and pitched well. His 3.46 ERA across 80.1 innings isn’t jaw-dropping, but the 12.9 K/9 for the season is. The control still has a ways to go, especially in his secondary pitches.

Hall’s fastball is already a very good pitch. Coming from the left side at 92-94 mph with significant movement, it’s his most consistent pitch. His curveball has a crazy-high spin rate that leads to lots of swings and misses from immature batters. It needs a lot of work on its control, but it shows signs of being an elite pitch. His changeup is a work in progress as well, but the velocity dip between it and the fastball is where it should be. 

Hall isn’t a prospect for people who primarily value safety. His control has been alarmingly inconsistent in the lower levels. However, lefties who throw this hard with two potentially elite pitches do not come around often. Hall’s ceiling is at a level of James Paxton’s production, with the floor being extremely low due to the command issues. The Orioles seem to be taking an intentionally slow approach with Hall, as he went from 94.1 innings a season ago to just 80.2 in 2019. 

 

4. Ryan Mountcastle

 

Age: 22

Highest Level: AAA

Just about the definition of a bat-first prospect, 2015 first-round pick Ryan Mountcastle has been ready for the bigs at the dish for a while; however, his lack of development in the field is what’s kept him away from the big leagues. 

At the plate, Mountcastle could be the Orioles’ second-best hitter in 2020. He has a great combination of elite bat speed and above average raw power. He isn’t going to be the .312 hitter he was in Triple-A, but 30 home runs with a .280 average at his peak is not far-fetched by any means.

His flaws are abundantly clear as well. His plate discipline has not improved throughout his time in the minors. In 2019, in which he spent the full season in Triple-A, Mountcastle had a 4.3% walk rate and a 23.5% strikeout rate for the season. It’s a bit concerning that there’s the combination of bad plate discipline and a lack of a true position in the field, but the bat should make it worth it. 

At worst, he’s a DH who produces similar lines to what Mark Trumbo did in his early Angels career, and at best he’s a better version of Nicholas Castellanos—the difference between those two being how his plate approach improves against mature pitching, and if the power is closer to great than just above average.

 

5. Yusniel Diaz

 

Age: 23

Highest Level: AA

The leading return from the Dodgers in exchange for Manny Machado, Yusniel Diaz is a potential five-category contributor. Diaz’s leading tool is his hit tool; he makes very good contact and projects to regularly carry low strikeout rates and average to above-average walk rates. 

His power is questionable, and from a production standpoint, he has yet to show consistent results, but I still believe him to be a 25-ish home run bat at his peak. His speed is more useful in the field than it will be on the basepaths, but he projects to be very useful in a corner outfield role, with the ability to spot start in center. 

Diaz’s biggest flaw is just his general lack of upside. There’s really no elite or outlier tool in his game, but he makes up for it by being average to above-average everywhere and fits a Nick Markakis mold where the highs may not be crazy, but his consistency gives him a floor of a starting-level outfielder. He’ll be a member of the Orioles roster by 2021, with a chance for it to be sooner if he starts 2020 on a tear in Triple-A. 

 

6. Adam Hall

 

Age: 20

Highest Level: A-Ball

A second-round pick out of Canada in 2017, Adam Hall is a high-floor shortstop prospect and is an adjustment or two away from being one of the top hitting prospects in this system.

Hall’s swing is consistent and represents an all-fields approach. His raw power is better than normal for a speedy, high-contact middle infielder. The speed is the best tool in his game, as his 33 steals a season ago in A-ball were fairly representative of what he can be as a regular. His range in the field is more than good enough to make up for an average arm and should keep him at shortstop throughout his development. 

If Hall taps into his raw power, he legitimately has five-category-contributor upside, but even if he doesn’t, there’s enough here where there’s a high floor for Hall. Young prospects who have multiple seemingly bankable skills are always going to stand out, and Hall’s speed and hit tool both represent standout skills. I already see Hall as being a better prospect than his “low-ceiling” detractors would argue, and would be looking to buy ahead of a potential 2020 breakout. 

 

7. Austin Hays

 

Age: 24

Highest Level: MLB

A former Top 100 prospect, Austin Hays followed his breakout 2017 season with disappointing minor league stat lines in 2018 and 2019. However, a short but highly impressive MLB sample at the end of 2019 has given him some hype once again. 

The big reasons for his struggles the past few seasons have been nagging injuries, as he’s logged just 183 games over his past two campaigns. The power that was the lead tool in his breakout 2017 is clearly still prevalent; however, he’s at his best when keeping his swing compact and using more of an all-fields approach. Hays can play all three outfield positions but profiles as a great corner outfielder. He will likely get a long look in center field with the 2020 Orioles, given that the only options blocking him are Stevie Wilkerson or a Cedric Mullins breakout. 

Hays isn’t a guy who will walk a lot or steal a lot of bases. However, if he can stay healthy and consistent with his plate approach, he’ll be an everyday outfielder. There’s a lot of Randal Grichuk in this profile, which is probably on the overly optimistic side of thinking with Hays, but I believe in his ability to progress where he needs to. 

 

8. Cody Sedlock

 

Age: 24

Highest Level: AA

An Orioles pitching prospect whose early career has been marred by injuries (shocking, right?), 2016 first-round pick Cody Sedlock had a very encouraging 2019 that restored some of his prospect shine.

Sedlock’s 95 innings in 2019 were the most of his professional career, and he showed a lot of signs that there is a path to his becoming a capable starter. His fastball command was great early in the season, although walks were a bit of an issue in the second half. After dominating High-A, Sedlock was called up to Double-A for the first time. His results weren’t bad with 34 strikeouts and a 3.71 ERA over 34 innings, but the 20 walks in that stint were a bit concerning, The majority of the rougher-looking results came at the end of his season, as he ended the campaign with a 5.48 ERA and a 12:19 BB:K ratio in 19 innings over his last six starts—which is a bit understandable given how long it had been since he threw that many innings in a season. 

Sedlock’s repertoire is led by his two-seam and four-seam fastballs that sit at around 90-93 mph with consistent movement. His changeup was extremely impressive when I watched him, although reports of it were mostly mediocre to below average down the stretch. The same goes for his slider, but I believe him to be a legitimate four-pitch pitcher if everything can go right.

Sedlock is somebody I’m heavily buying. I believe the bad results at the end of his 2019 were fatigue-based, and while injuries have been an issue, Sedlock has the talent and especially the pitch mix to be a legitimate mid-rotation pitcher. There’s a big clump of Orioles prospect starting pitchers that different people will evaluate in different ways after the top two of Hall and Rodriguez, and I think Sedlock has a chance to establish himself as the clear third-best starting pitching prospect in this organization. If you can get people in your dynasty to value him as part of that clump, or as more of a back-end arm, I would definitely be looking to buy.

 

9. Zac Lowther

 

Age: 23

Highest Level: AA

A 2017 second-round pick, Zac Lowther is a crafty left-handed starter who relies on his ability to command the strike zone and a very high spin rate on his fastball to be one of the more interesting starters in the Orioles system.

Lowther’s fastball, which has been insanely dominant in his professional career thus far, only sits at around 88-90 mph, but he makes up for that with an aforementioned great spin rate, leading to consistent last-second movement. Lowther also throws a 12-6 curveball that he is able to consistently locate in the bottom of the zone. His changeup is probably my least favorite pitch of his, as I see it being the one he locates least consistently, but by the time he fully develops the pitch, it will be enough to keep hitters honest. 

Lowther is similar to a lot of the other pitchers in the Orioles system, as he relies on craft and command to yield good lower-level results. However, Lowther offers two very good pitches in his fastball and curveball, and has a third pitch that flashes as a good offering in his changeup. Lowther very much has the profiles of somebody who could quickly rise through the minors, but don’t be alarmed if he struggles and is forced to adjust in his first time against Double-A hitting. I see Lowther as a mid- to back-of-the-rotation arm who flashes top-end upside. He’s a unique pitcher, and if his command continues to improve, he could be a low  Top 100 prospect by midseason 2020. 

 

10. Dean Kremer

 

Age: 23

Highest Level: Triple-A

Another part of the Machado return for the Orioles, Dean Kremer entered 2019 looking to build off his impressive 2018 in which he threw 45.1 innings for the Orioles’ Double-A team with an impressive 2.58 ERA and 10.5 K/9. He followed that with a similarly impressive 2019 in which he posted a 2.98 ERA across 84.2 innings; that proved he was ready for a bigger test. In four Triple-A starts at the end of the season, Kremer struggled across 19.1 innings with an 8.84 ERA, but he did have a 21:4 K:BB ratio in that span. 

Kremer’s repertoire starts with an average fastball that sits around 92 mph but has flashed 94-95 for starts at times. His best secondary is a tight curveball that he can keep in the zone and has been his best strikeout pitch in the minors. His changeup showed a lot of improvement in 2019 but still needs some work before it becomes a stable secondary. A lot of Kremer’s success comes from a deceptive delivery that won’t work to the same degree against more advanced hitters, which is why the awful Triple-A sample scares me a little bit. However, his control is great—especially of his fastball—and if everything goes right in his development, he’s a future No. 2-3 starter. But that’s hoping for some big-time improvements from his changeup. Realistically, he’s more of a No. 4-5 who gets an extended look if he struggles thanks to being on a rebuilding team. 

 

11. Gunnar Henderson 

 

Age: 18

Highest Level: Rookie Ball

A 2019 second-round pick, Gunnar Henderson has five-category contributor upside. Henderson hits the ball with much better contact than most hitters his age. Although his power needs further development before it becomes a guarantee, there should be above-average production there as well. The speed was reportedly better than expected when he was tested at draft workouts, and it earned above-average grades from scouts who saw him in Rookie ball, but given he’s expected to fill out his frame, that may grade back from average to below average as he fills out. He’s currently a shortstop, but I think a move to third is more likely given his range concerns as he fills out. 

Henderson has huge upside, but he’s so young that there’s still plenty of concerns about how his development goes. The main ones being how will his walk and strikeout rates look against better competition, and whether he’ll be a stolen base asset. The power is legitimate, and that’s a strong starting point for an 18-year-old, but there are still plenty of question marks, which is why he’s not higher on this list. 

 

12. Michael Baumann

 

Age: 24

Highest Level: AA

A 2017 third-round pick, Michael Baumann is coming off a dominant first stint in Double-A in which he posted a 2.31 ERA over 70 innings with a 65:21 K:BB ratio. The highlight of his 2019 was a 10-strikeout no-hitter in his third Double-A start. 

Baumann’s fastball is his best pitch; it’s dominated the lower levels and is already an MLB-ready offering. It sits at around 95 mph but can make its way up to 98 at its best. His only other secondary with any sort of consistency is a hard slider that probably has to be a strikeout pitch at the next level. Baumann also throws a changeup and curveball, but both pitches need tons of development before he’s an MLB-level starter. 

Baumann’s struggles with command on his secondaries lead me to believe the best path for him is to focus on his fastball and slider and move to the bullpen, but the Orioles will likely try him as a starter first given his dominant minor league results. If he remains a starter, there’s mid-rotation upside, but he really needs at least a third pitch to reach that. As a reliever, the sky could be the limit, as his fastball-slider combination screams dominant late-inning option. 

 

13. Zach Watson

 

Age: 22

Highest Level: Rookie Ball

A 2019 third-round pick, Zach Watson checks a lot of tool boxes for what you expect a future leadoff hitter to be. Watson’s overly patient plate approach worked to his detriment a bit in his first professional season, but he profiles as somebody who should register above-average plate-discipline results. His power profiles as slightly below average, but if he can put more lift into his swing, there’s a chance for it to get to average. 

His calling card is his 65- to 70-grade speed. He never put up crazy steal numbers at LSU, but he’s shown himself to be a very good baserunner with 40-steal upside. If Watson improves against breaking pitches and tinkers with his plate approach, he could be a speedy riser through the minors. 

 

14. Hunter Harvey

 

Age: 24

Highest Level: MLB

A 2013 first-round pick, Hunter Harvey has seen his career marred by injury, as the 75.2 innings he threw in 2019 were the most in a season since 2014. Around the All-Star break, the Orioles made the decision to use him as a reliever, and the results gave rise to the most optimism around Harvey’s dynasty stock in years. 

In 6.2 innings for the big league club, Harvey looked like the real deal as a potential late-inning reliever. His 11:4 K:BB ratio was also impressive, as was his 22:5 K:BB ratio in 16.2 innings as a reliever in Triple-A. Harvey’s best pitch is his fastball, and it especially plays up in a short-inning role. His fastball averaged out at 98.3 mph but touched 100 at times and had a 1.3 pitch value.

His secondaries aren’t great yet, as he throws a changeup and a curveball around 15% of the time each, but the curveball is only an 0-2 dump pitch at this point, the changeup has some deceptiveness to it but also needs lots of work before it can become a second pitch for a really good reliever. 

Harvey’s upside is clear, his fastball is electric, and he is a glimmer of hope for 2020 in what will likely be another tough season. There’s great closer potential, and he will be the closer at some point for the 2020 Orioles, but with the questions about his health and such a small sample of success, there’s plenty of reason to be skeptical of Harvey’s impressive 2019. 

 

15. Rylan Bannon 

 

Age: 23

Highest Level: AAA

One of the secondary prospects the Orioles received in the Machado trade to the Dodgers, Rylan Bannon is a high-floor infielder, and if utilized correctly he could be an extremely valuable, versatile, utility infielder. Bannon’s plate discipline is very good, and his mature plate approach makes up for a lack of power production. His raw power is about average, as is his hit tool, but he’s a very smart player and is competent at both second and third base. 

The easy comparison for Bannon is somebody like Aledmys Diaz—around a .260 hitter with average power and very little stolen base contribution. Diaz had a 26:28 BB:K ratio in 247 plate appearances, and while I don’t think Bannon is going to be that helpful in the plate discipline department, there’s still a ton of floor and some ceiling if the juiced ball can turn someone like Bannon into a 25-home run bat. My prediction is that at some point in 2020, Bannon overtakes Hanser Alberto as the Orioles’ primary second baseman, and he’s the type of prospect who will need everyday chances on a bad team to put up useful fantasy numbers. I am higher on Bannon than most. I see him as a utility infielder who rarely starts seasons as an everyday player but is more than competent as an injury replacement for stretches. 

 

16. Alex Wells

 

Age: 22

Highest Level: AA

Alex Wells has one great skill: remarkable control. His fastball tops out at around 91 mph from the left side, but his best pitch is a changeup with great drop that consistently finds the bottom parts of the zone. Similarly, his curveball is a pitch he is able to consistently find the zone with, but it doesn’t miss bats regularly and probably becomes a dump pitch in more advanced levels. He also throws a slider almost primarily against lefties that needs some work but has a chance to become a legitimate secondary.

The numbers Wells has posted in the lower levels have been extremely impressive. In his first test against Double-A hitting, Wells was fantastic, posting a 2.95 ERA with a 105:24 K:BB ratio across 137.1 innings. There’s probably a point where Wells’ craftiness with using so many pitches and elite command stops working to the degree it has, but if he can add a few ticks to that fastball and the changeup can remain as good as it’s been, there’s definitely some John Means potential in Wells. But we’re probably a full season in Triple-A away from getting to see Wells against MLB competition. 

 

17. Ryan McKenna

 

Age: 22

Highest Level: AA

A 2015 fourth-round pick out of high school, Ryan McKenna looked like he was breaking out in 2018 with a huge first half in High-A, but since being called up to Double-A at midseason in 2018 and spending all of 2019 there, McKenna has seen his stock drop a bit. 

His best quality is his defense. He’s probably the best outfielder in the Orioles system, just looking at performance in the field. His arm is a bit below average in strength, but made up for with consistent accuracy. His speed is great as well, not elite, but it should register 20-25 steals in an everyday role. 

McKenna’s flaws are in his swing. He doesn’t hit the ball particularly hard and hits a lot of ground balls. His power is clearly below average, and while he’s better than the .232 hitter he was in Double-A a season ago, he probably needs to be an average contributor to be a legitimate dynasty asset.

There’s a high floor here thanks to the great defense and speed, but the bat needs to come around relatively quickly. He’ll likely start in Double-A but is due for a jump to Triple-A. He’s probably a fourth outfielder, but watch him in 2020, and if another tool, such as improved plate discipline or an increase in power is shown, I will definitely be buying quickly.

 

18. Keegan Akin 

 

Age: 24

Highest Level: Triple-A

Keegan Akin broke out in 2018 with a superb season in which he threw 137.2 innings for a 3.27 ERA with a 1.25 WHIP and a 142:58 K:BB ratio in his first test against Double-A hitting. His first test against Triple-A bats didn’t go as well, as Akin spent his whole 2019 in Norfolk, surrendering a 4.73 ERA with a 1.51 WHIP and a 131:61 K:BB ratio in 112.1 innings. 

Akin’s profile is a low-upside one that likely presents itself with a mid-rotation ceiling. His fastball is fine. It sits around 91-92 mph, which is good for a left-handed pitcher, but he lacks an elite secondary pitch. He throws a slider and a changeup with his fastball, but neither will be difference-making pitches at the major league level. He’s not the bat-misser he’s shown himself to be in the upper minors and needs to improve his control to be a reliable No. 5 starter. He’s more likely than not a long reliever with upside if his velocity and below-average secondaries play up in short-inning role. 

 

19. Connor Gillispie

 

Age: 21

Highest Level: Low-A

A relief-only prospect, Connor Gillispie had a stellar season at VCU with a 2.50 ERA and 118:24 K:BB ratio in 86.1 innings before being selected as a ninth-round pick by Baltimore in the 2019 draft. Gillispie doesn’t throw hard, with his fastball topping out at around 93 mph, but his slider has a huge spin rate and has the chance to be a dominant pitch at the lower levels. There’s a shot he’s a huge riser in 2020, as the control combined with the dominant pitch could yield some crazy numbers in A-ball next season. 

 

20. Jean Carlos Encarnacion 

 

Age: 21

Highest Level: A-Ball 

As part of the return in the Kevin Gausman trade, Jean Carlos Encarnacion is an extremely raw prospect. His bat speed and raw power are clearly above average when you watch him, but his plate approach is beyond undisciplined. He looks bigger than the 6’3”, 195-pound frame he’s listed with, and he’s clearly a great athlete when you watch him play third, but the game-to-game consistency at the plate and in the field isn’t there yet.

Encarnacion is the kind of prospect who gets undervalued in dynasty leagues. His stats don’t really matter yet, and he’s shown upside in spurts. If he can improve his plate discipline from the 5.8% walk rate and 29.9% strikeout rate he posted a season ago, he can start to establish himself as a legitimate part of the Orioles’ future. 

 

21. Elio Prado

 

Age: 17

Highest Level: Dominican Summer League

The leading return in the Andrew Cashner trade to the Red Sox, Prado is an extremely raw center field prospect. Obviously, Prado at 17 is very far away from any dynasty impact, but his combination of speed and potential power is intriguing. He’s very athletic and should develop into a rangy center fielder. He still probably has another year in the DSL in him, so it’s hard to rank him much higher than this. 

 

22. Cadyn Grenier

 

Age: 22

Highest Level: High-A

A 2018 first-round pick from Oregon State, Cadyn Grenier is a better real-life prospect than a dynasty one. Grenier has an odd profile: He doesn’t hit the ball particularly hard and doesn’t have a ton of power yet. He’s great in the field and should definitely remain at shortstop throughout the minors and into the majors. His speed is above average, and there’s a chance he hits for a solid average if he can improve his strikeout rate drastically. 

His raw power is his most intriguing tool from a dynasty standpoint, but even if he taps into that, I’m not sure if there’s anything special about Grenier’s outlook. His ceiling is in the Zack Cozart mold, but that’s with a ton of optimal projection. Grenier will likely spend all of 2020 in High-A and is currently blocked by Mason McCoy directly above him, so it may be tough for him to rise through the minors, even if he taps into some of his upside in 2020. 

 

23. Brett Cumberland

 

Age: 24

Highest Level: AA

Another part of the return from the Gausman trade, Brett Cumberland is a hit-first catcher with an elite plate approach. He’s not particularly good behind the plate, and that may be a problem if Cumberland can’t become at least an average power hitter. If his plate approach continues to develop positively (31:47 BB:K ratio in 2019), then Cumberland can profile as a backup catcher with platooning at DH as his upside. 

 

24. Gray Fenter

 

Age: 23

Highest Level: A-Ball

Tommy John surgery had derailed Gray Fenter‘s career until a breakout 2019 that saw the 2015 seventh-round pick register a 1.81 ERA across 94.1 innings with 123 strikeouts primarily as a starter. His control has been slow to develop, and he’s Rule 5 eligible this season despite not yet hitting High-A. He’s more likely than not a reliever due to a limited arsenal, but when his fastball is on, it’s been unhittable for younger hitters.

 

25. Darell Hernaiz


Age: 18

Highest Level: Rookie-Ball

A 2019 fifth-round pick, Darell Hernaiz had an extremely impressive first professional season after being drafted. At just 17 years old, Hernaiz posted a 17:26 K:BB ratio in 116 plate appearances and showed off more raw power than expected. His speed and defense also project from above average to very good. There’s lots of projection left, and he will probably remain in Rookie-ball next season, but Hernaiz’s impressive 2019 makes him an easy buy in deeper dynasties. 

 

26. Kyle Stowers

 

Age: 21

Highest Level: Low-A

A 2019 second-round pick, Kyle Stowers at the very least is going to hit for power. Stower’s left-handed swing has a ton of bat speed but a lot of swing-and-miss in it as well. I do not see Stowers being helpful in the average department, and while there’s some speed, I don’t think it translates to more than five to  10 stolen bases per season. Stowers has always struggled against lefties, and his .143 average with a 4:14 BB:K ratio in 39 plate appearances in Low-A wasn’t a sign he’d shown improvement there. 

I was not a fan of the Stowers pick at the time and remain low on him. If he can make more contact and improve against lefties, then he’s probably a future starting corner outfielder, but I don’t see either of those things happening enough to make me believe he’s more than a bench power bat—with a platoon corner outfield role being his most optimal outcome. 

 

27. Mason McCoy

 

Age: 24

Highest Level: AA

A former sixth-round pick, Mason McCoy is more of a high-floor utility infielder. His above-average contact tool and advanced plate approach yielded nice numbers to start the season in High-A, but he struggled in his first sample against Double-A pitching—to the tune of a mostly empty .266 average with a .669 OPS.

McCoy has above-average speed and can play multiple infield positions, but there’s very limited power. He probably needs to be elite in the contact department to be a difference-maker anyway, but if he can lower his 17.8% strikeout rate from Double-A to a mark closer to 13%-15%, then there’s more legitimate appeal as a batting average stud. 

 

28. Adam Stauffer

 

Age: 20

Highest Level: A-Ball

A 2017 19th-round pick, Adam Stauffer had done nothing of note before a breakout 2019 that saw him throw 44 innings of a 1.02 ERA with a 60:19 K:BB ratio and just one home run allowed across Low-A and A-ball. 

Clearly a relief prospect, Stauffer has sleeper appeal with a stellar fastball-curveball combination that should play well against advanced batters in a relief role. He also throws a changeup that has fooled lefties well, but unless he develops another pitch, which is possible for such a young pitcher, he’s primarily a relief prospect. At this point, I would look for his fastball to gain velocity and for the Orioles to develop him as a reliever. It’s hard to get good velocity data for lower levels, but Stauffer was used as both a starter and reliever in 2019. His strikeout rate as a reliever jumped to 18.9 strikeouts per nine innings, compared to 10.5 as a starter, indicating there could have been a velocity increase to cause that in his short-inning appearances.

 

29. Brenan Hanifee

Age: 21

Highest Level: High-A

A fourth-round pick out of high school in 2016, Brenan Hanifee was successful in run prevention in 2017 and 2018, but posted mediocre strikeout numbers, leading to skepticism about how his stuff would play up in higher levels. In 2019, a lot of that skepticism proved to be fair, as Hanifee posted a 5.4 K/9 with an alarming uptick from 1.6 BB/9 in 2018 to 4.0 in 2019. 

Hanifee’s pitch mix shows signs of being starter-caliber. His fastball sits at 90-92 mph with legitimate sink, as it’s produced some crazy ground-ball rates in the lower levels. His main secondary is a hard slider that may be closer to a cutter, but while he controls it well, it hasn’t proved to be a swing-and-miss pitch. His changeup has flashed the potential to be an above-average pitch, and I like its chances of being a strikeout offering more than his slider, but it still needs development with control.

I’m a lot lower on Hanifee than most. I struggle to see the strikeout upside, and without that I don’t see any sort of ceiling on his potential outcomes. I think the best move for the Orioles would be to have him shift to the bullpen and primarily focus on making his sinker the elite pitch it could be, while ditching the slider and focusing on ironing out that changeup. 

 

30. Dillon Tate

 

Age: 25

Highest Level: MLB

The main prospect sent to Baltimore from the Yankees in the Zack Britton trade, Dillon Tate has seen his prospect shine fade heavily in his time in Baltimore. After struggling in the Double-A rotation, Tate was moved to a relief role and saw some solid results against lower-level competition. But upon an MLB call-up, he was immediately rocked. At this point he’s a two-pitch pitcher, with his slider constantly either wildly out of the zone or hung in the middle of the plate. He profiles as a future middle-relief option if he can get his control in check and add a little velocity to his sinker. 

 

31. Blaine Knight

 

Age: 23

Highest Level: High-A

A third-round pick out of college in 2018, Blaine Knight struggled mightily in 2019. After his impressive stints in Low-A and A-ball, the Orioles decided to call Knight up to High-A, and the results were disastrous. It was his first full professional season, but a 6.13 ERA and a 56:39 K:BB ratio over 83.2 innings were alarming. The walk rate climbing as much as it did from A-Ball to High-A is not a great sign.

His fastball is below average, topping out at 94 mph, but sitting from 89 to 91 mph. Knight’s secondary pitches show promise. His curveball is his best pitch, and he’s shown signs of having a consistent slider and changeup. Knight still needs a lot of seasoning, which isn’t great for a player who will be going into his age-24 season. He needs to be able to control his secondaries consistently before he can regain some of the prospect shine he lost in 2019. 

 

32. Davis Tavarez

 

Age: 20

Highest Level: A-Ball

A former IFA signing, Davis Tavarez has a solid frame at 6’2”, 190 pounds and has legitimate raw power. His plate discipline was a disaster in 2018 and led to a mostly wasted season, but he came back in 2019 and showed improvement there. He’s got a bit of speed, but not enough to think of it as a carrying tool. Hopefully he starts 2019 in A-ball, and I can get a better idea of where his swing is at, but there’s enough here for some intrigue. 

 

33. Mason Janvrin

 

Age: 21

Highest Level: Low-A

A 2019 14th-round pick out of Central Missouri, Mason Janvrin is only here because he’s one of, if not the fastest player in the Orioles farm system. His plate approach is awful, there’s almost no power to speak of, and the contact he makes is average at best. If he can become a simply below-average power hitter or shows signs of an improved plate approach, I would buy quickly. 

 

34. Drew Rom

 

Age: 19

Highest Level: A-Ball

A 2018 fourth-round pick, Drew Rom posted crazy strikeout numbers in A-ball with 122 strikeouts in 95.1 innings in 2019. His fastball is below average, as it sits at around 89 mph from the left side. The slider has performed well against immature hitters, but it needs a lot of work and probably an increase in velocity to be an MLB-level pitch. The changeup is my favorite offering of his when it is at its best, but it can lack drop, and when hung it’s been rocked. 

Rom has good control and should rise through the minors quickly, but I just don’t think the stuff is good enough to play up against advanced hitting. If Rom can improve his velo a little bit and can turn the slider into a real out pitch, then there’s a chance he’s a back-of-the-rotation arm. But for now I see him more as organizational depth with a possible outcome being a useful long man. 

 

35. Jake Zebron

 

Age: 19

Highest Level: Rookie Ball

A 2018 18th-round pick out of high school. Jake Zebron‘s profile starts with a really good fastball that can hit 95 mph but sits at 91-92 mph. Still, it should jump as he fills out (6’3” 180 lbs). He also has a curveball with tight spin, but the command is iffy. Zebron has a really intriguing K:BB ratio of 57:23 in 71.2 innings over two professional seasons for such a young pitcher. He’s also yet to allow a home run in that span. I will be intrigued if the Orioles choose to develop him as a starter or reliever, although I lean toward the latter due to not seeing anything that looks like a third pitch yet. Still, he’s still super young. 

 

36. Isaac Bellony

 

Age: 17

Highest Level: Dominican Summer League

A 2018 IFA signing. Isaac Bellony is a switch-hitter and plays all three outfield positions well. He’s got above-average raw power and a solid frame at 6’1”, 180 pounds. He needs to make more contact but had great reports out of the Dominican Summer League.

 

37. Bruce Zimmermann

 

Age: 24

Highest Level: AAA

Another part of the Gausman trade, Bruce Zimmermann is a left-handed fifth-round pick from the 2017 draft. Zimmermann throws a lot of strikes and has posted solid numbers in the minors but will likely struggle with giving up too much hard contact against more advanced hitting. His fastball sits at around 89 mph, and his four-pitch mix comes without a standout offering. Zimmermann has great control, so he could find a role as a long man or a spot starter, but I would not expect much more than that. 

 

38. Johnny Rizer

 

Age: 22

Highest Level: A-Ball

A 2019 seventh-round pick, Johnny Rizer is glove-first prospect. He’s a great athlete and has a lot of speed, but has been an inefficient baserunner since college. Rizer probably doesn’t have enough power or plate skills to stick, but he’s worth watching. 

 

39. Toby Welk

 

Age: 22

Highest Level: A-Ball

A 2019 19th-round pick from Division III college Penn State Berks, Toby Welk has a big frame at 6’2”, 205 pounds. Welk is going to strikeout a lot at higher levels but has legitimately huge raw power, and if he walks enough, he could become an interesting option at first base. He needs to hit for a lot of power to be a legitimate prospect, but if everything goes right, he could. 

 

40. Ademar Rifaela

 

Age: 24

Highest Level: AAA

An IFA signing from 2012, Ademar Rifaela hasn’t improved his plate discipline or tapped into the power potential that he showed in his 2017 season, but he’s solid enough in the outfield corners and has enough power to stick as a fourth outfielder. He sports a very similar profile to current Orioles outfielder Dwight Smith Jr.

 

41. Jomar Reyes

 

Age: 22

Highest Level: Double-A

Going into his sixth season in the Orioles farm system, Jomar Reyes is probably not going to breakout like some hoped he would, as he was considered a top prospect in the organization just two seasons ago. 

Reyes still possesses the intriguing raw power and hits the ball very hard. But he has regressed in the field and has awful plate discipline. His strikeout rate a season ago wasn’t bad at 17.6%, but the walk rate was a laughable 2.7%. He needs to show more of his raw power and drastically improve his plate discipline if he wants to make it as a first base/DH prospect. 

 

42. Joseph Ortiz

 

Age: 21

Highest Level: Low-A

A 2019 fourth-round pick, Joseph Ortiz is a better real life prospect than a dynasty one. Ortiz lacks any power, and his small frame (5’11”, 175 lbs) makes me think he won’t develop much in the power department either. Ortiz’s plate discipline is great, and he’s electric in the field at shortstop, but if Ortiz continues to hit for no power and has average speed with good contact skills but bad exit velocities, then the upside is capped.

 

43. Jean Carmona

 

Age: 19

Highest Level: Low-A

Jean Carmona is a high-upside prospect who came over from Milwaukee in the Jonathan Schoop trade, but he has yet to show much in minor league career. His plate approach is horrendous, and the swing needs a ton of work, but despite bad results there’s a good amount of raw power. He needs to show some signs of growth in 2020 or else he’ll be off these lists.

 

44. Zach Pop

 

Age: 23

Highest Level: AA

Another secondary part of the Machado return, Zach Pop is a relief prospect with a great fastball that sits at around 97 mph with great movement that’s had elite ground-ball rates. Pop combines that with a hard slider that can hit the low 90s but has had trouble locating. 

Pop would be much higher on this list, but he underwent Tommy John surgery in May. However, he still deserves mention given the results he had been putting up before his injury. I look at Pop as a future setup man with closer upside, but how he returns from injury is the big question that keeps him low on this list. 

 

45. Trevor Putzig

 

Age: 24

Highest Level: Low-A

A 2018 17th-round pick, Trevor Putzig missed all of 2018 due to a hamstring injury but posted impressive BB:K numbers in 2019. He’s a legitimate power bat, but his small frame (5’11”, 200 lbs) isn’t great. He’s got a good plate approach, which could make him interesting if he stays healthy, but he needs to dominate Low-A and A-ball due to his advanced age. He probably can’t stick at third and will need to move to a corner outfield spot or first base.

 

46. Cody Carroll 

 

Age: 27

Highest Level: MLB

With a very similar status to Pop’s, Cody Carroll came over in a trade at the 2018 deadline, showed setup abilities with intriguing fastball-slider combinations, and missed their entire 2019 seasons due to injury. Carroll will slot in slightly below Pop, as Carroll’s control in his short stint in the Arizona Fall League (7 BB in 7.2 innings) scares me a good amount. 

 

47. Leonardo Rodriguez

 

Age: 21

Highest Level: Low-A

A 2016 international free-agent signing, Leonardo Rodriguez showed interesting signs in 2017, was awful in 2018, and then had a huge 2019. After a 24:38 BB:K ratio over 50.1 innings in 2018, Rodriguez posted a 25:80 BB:K ratio in 2019 over 71.1 innings. An inconsistent, slow, side-armish delivery combined with middling stuff makes me believe it was more deception-based, but he deserves mention for his 2019 improvement. 

 

48. Angel Vargas

 

Age: 17

Highest Level: Dominican Summer League

2019 IFA signing Angel Vargas was reportedly hitting as high as 94 mph with his fastball with legitimate movement at the Dominican Summer League. He’s got a solid frame at 6’1”, 173 pounds. Vargas lacks secondaries, but he’s 17 and can throw hard, so he’ll get a look at the end of this list. 

 

49. Robert Neustrom

 

Age: 22

Highest Level: High-A

A 2018 fifth-round pick, Robert Neustrom has interesting power and some speed, but he has been completely outclassed by more advanced pitching. He needs to show improvement in his plate discipline and in the power department before climbing. 

 

50. Brian Gonzalez

 

Age: 23

Highest Level: AA

Brian Gonzalez is a failed starter but showed improved command in 2019. His best pitch is a hard sinker that forces a ton of ground balls. He probably won’t miss enough bats to be a late-inning reliever, but I would be surprised if he didn’t pick up some holds on the 2020 Orioles.

 

(Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire)

Jt Kohout

Twenty years old. Huge baseball, basketball, and football fan. Most importantly a diehard Orioles fan. Also write for FakeTeams of SBNation and Numberfire.

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Comments


Drew

Do your homework.
Zimmermann was touching 96 this year, sitting 93. 4 pitch mix. 9 K’s per 9 innings. 14th best ERA in AAA with the ML ball.

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