Spring training is in the air which means it’s time for our fourth-annual On The Verge prospect list, a venture that was expanded to 50 names last year.
The process is pretty simple. All three of us put together our own individual lists and then they are aggregated together to come up with our final list presented below.
You can listen to the full podcast episode where we break down the list here.
1) SS Gunnar Henderson– It’s difficult to find another prospect in baseball who took the jump forward in 2022 that Henderson did. While not facing a single pitcher younger than him in Bowie and Norfolk, Henderson walked more than he struck out in Double-A (41 BB/38 K) and continued to excel while being promoted to Triple-A before his 21st birthday. In Norfolk, Henderson slashed .288/.390/.504, hit for the cycle just hours before he turned 21, and hit lefties well, one of the few knocks on his game. Once promoted to the majors, Henderson’s barrel percentage, average exit velo, and hard-hit rate were all well-above major league average, and he showed off a “secret” tool of his that doesn’t get discussed enough- his speed- ranking in the 91st percentile in sprint speed. He’s poised to be the primary third baseman for the Orioles in 2023 where projection systems forecast a potential 5 fWAR season as a rookie.
2) RHP Grayson Rodriguez– If not for a lat strain, Grayson Rodriguez would have shed his prospect status last year with the Orioles, but he’s healthy entering 2023 and will be given every opportunity this spring to earn a rotation spot, giving the Orioles two of the odds on favorites for AL Rookie of the Year honors. Rodriguez attacks hitters with a fastball that has touched 100 mph, a dominant slider, curve, cutter, and screwball like changeup that has been described in the past as a “unicorn pitch”. He has the makeup of a power ace who works deep into games, but we haven’t seen what he can do with an extensive workload yet and he has yet to make his MLB debut so while there are still plenty of questions to answer, his ceiling is not one of them.
3) SS Jackson Holliday- With a plethora of high-end high school talent available at the top of the 2022 draft and the hope that last year was the final time for the foreseeable future that the Orioles wold be picking at the top of the draft, Baltimore needed to hit a home run with this pick. They went with Holliday, giving him a record signing bonus for a high school draft pick, and all early signs point to this pick being the correct one to keep the enormously high ceiling of the system intact after the graduations of Adley, Gunnar, Grayson, and DL. His batted ball data and swing decisions show a hitter with few holes in his game and expect his power to start shining through as he matures physically. The Orioles were aggressive with him last year and as long as he can rise to the challenges presented to him, they will surely be aggressive with him again. He will play all season as a 19-year-old and could find himself in Double-A by the end of the year.
4) OF Colton Cowser– Cowser didn’t do too much in his first full season as a professional, only play across three levels and end the year in Triple-A, collect 57 extra-base hits, and reach base in nearly 41% of his plate appearances. After posting a 184 wRC+ in Double-A, Cowser struggled during his first two weeks in Triple-A, but broke out of a five-game hitless streak by going on a 12-game on-base streak that featured at least one hit in 11 contests just before the end of the season. His impressive 2022 season was a bit overshadowed by elevated strikeout numbers, but he improved in that area as he went from High-A to Double-A and was doing the same in Triple-A before the year ended. If this organization can help Kyle Stowers lower his K-rate from 30-34% in the upper levels of the minors to 25% over the course of a year, expect to see someone with an impressive hit tool as Cowser’s to show the same type of improvement in 2023. And even if the strikeouts remain a bit higher than some may like to see, it’s not a major cause for concern.
5) LHP DL Hall- Hall made just seven starts in 2021 before being shutdown for the year and didn’t throw a baseball again until December. After a delayed start to the season and a couple of outings in Aberdeen and Bowie, Hall struck out 36% of hitters in 76 Triple-A innings and put together one of the more dominant stretches in baseball in July (21.2 IP, 2 ER, 8 BB, 42 K). We’ve long known that few pitchers in the game can match his raw stuff, but high walk totals have held him back from reaching his potential and led to elevated pitch counts early into outings. In the majors, Hall struck out 30% of batters he faced, was tracking to have the lowest walk rate he’s had at any stop by a considerable margin, avoided barrels and allowed a hard-hit rate of just 18%, well below league average. We obviously need to see him do this across a substantial sample in the big leagues, but his time in the majors last year was effective and promising. Over his final 8 appearances (8.2 IP), Hall allowed just one earned run, walked two, and struck out 11.
6) 3B Coby Mayo- Bringing eye-opening raw power to the plate, Mayo finished his 2022 season in Double-A at the age of 20 and while his overall numbers in Aberdeen and Bowie didn’t jump off the page last season, his batted ball date and underlying metrics paint a different picture, one of a 21-year-old prospect waiting to showcase his true breakout season in 2023. He shows very little swing-and-miss concerns and still has plenty of room to fill out physically and add even more strength to his 6’5” frame. A major focus has been on his defense and where he ends up. While that’s still up in the air, Mayo plays an above-average third base with an arm that has had 70 grades placed on it. That arm strength could help ease a transition to the outfield if that’s ultimately the move, but for right now Mayo continues to make strides at third base and should be the primary man in Bowie to start the year.
7) IF Jordan Westburg- A common theme among Orioles draft picks in 2020 was whether or not their COVID-shortened college gains were legitimate or not, with Westburg’s power fitting into that conversation. After hitting 15 home runs across three levels in his debut season, Westburg finished with 27 last season, behind only Connor Norby down on the farm. It’s pull-heavy power but it’s legitimate. Now 250 games into his minor league career, Westburg owns an .851 OPS with 66 doubles, 8 triples, 42 home runs, and even 29 stolen bases. Combine that with reliable defense at second, short, and third and Westburg gives the organzation a fundamentally sound player who can do a bit of everything. He even cut his strikeout rate to a career low 22% in Triple-A last season. There’s really nothing left to prove in the minors but the major league infield is going to be a tough group to crack, barring injury or trade, and Westburg isn’t on the 40-man yet. He is a streaky hitter so it would not be surprising to see Westburg back in Triple-A to show he can be more consistent and maybe even add some outfield to his tool chest.
8) SS Joey Ortiz- A wizard with the glove, Ortiz shook off any “glove-first” labels still attached to him as he torched AA and AAA pitching, hitting 15 home runs with Bowie and then slashing .346/.400/.567 with 4 HR/7 2B/2 3B in AAA (26 games). It was a slow start to the season for Ortiz, but after taking some time to settle back in after missing most of 2021 due to a major shoulder surgery and a few small tweaks with his swing, Ortiz took off and never looked back offensively. He’s been in the system since 2019 but has played in just 228 games, with 137 of those games coming last season. He’s bigger, stronger, faster, and if the bat he showcased last season can excel against major league pitching, Ortiz will carve out himself a long and successful career in the majors.
9) 2B Connor Norby- The nation’s hits leader in D1 baseball at ECU in 2021, Norby played across three levels last season and led the farm in home runs with 29 in 121 combined games (missed time due to a scary incident at the plate). Like Ortiz, Norby made a few small tweaks with his swing which led to a breakout offensively and big change in his future outlook. With most of his power going to center/right-center, Norby isn’t just a “hitterish” second baseman, but a second baseman with 20+ home run potential in the big leagues and superb command of the strikezone. Defensively, Norby has worked extensively on improving his abilities at second base, but will likely see some more time in LF back in AAA after getting a few starts out there last season (at his suggestion as he told us in a recent interview). Norfolk’s infield of Westburg, Ortiz, and Norby will be the most exciting unit to watch in the minors at the beginning of the season as all three work to force their way into the big leagues.
10) OF Dylan Beavers– Despite a number of first-round grades on Beavers going into last year’s draft, the Cal product fell to the Orioles at 33, likely due to concerns over his swing. However, the Orioles weren’t scared off and brought in an outfielder with a high ceiling if he can follow the developmental path many ahead of him have traveled. The organization made a few initial tweaks to his swing and he proceeded to hit .359 with more walks (12) than strikeouts (11) in 16 games with Delmarva before a promotion to High-A to close out the season. He can play all three outfield positions and could be a 30+ home run power hitting corner outfielder with a strong arm.
11) OF Heston Kjerstad- We had to wait even longer to see Kjerstad make his pro debut after a spring training hamstring injury kept him out until June 10th, but when he finally stepped on the field with Delmarva, Kjerstad put up video game numbers, hitting .463 with a 1.201 OPS in 22 games. He was challenged in Aberdeen and had a tale of two seasons with the IronBirds. He ended the season on a high note and carried that into an MVP performance in the Arizona Fall League. Despite missing years of development, Kjerstad could find himself on Bowie’s opening day roster and back on track to push for the big leagues within the next year or so.
12) RHP Seth Johnson- The former SS turned pitching prospect underwent Tommy John surgery late last season (same day as RHP Zach Peek), so we very likely won’t see him in any meaningful innings this season, but the Orioles knew that when acquiring him and believe the wait, and having to place him on the 40-man roster when healthy again, will be worth it. We’re buying the ceiling here with his upper-90s fastball and wipeout slider that stand out the most. He’s already 24 and could be 25 before we see him with an affiliate, but he was also still pretty raw before the injury. There are a lot of questions about Johnson, like what will he look like when healthy, is he suited better as a bullpen piece, etc, but there’s alot to dream on when he’s back on the mound.
13) OF Jud Fabian- It took an extra year, but the Orioles were finally able to land Fabian in last year’s draft and he quickly showed everyone why Baltimore wanted him in this system. After four games in the FCL where he walked six times and collected five hits, Fabian demolished Low-A pitching to the tune of a .386 average, .481 OBP, and a monster 243 wRC+ (100 is league average). Needing more of a challenge than Low-A fastballs, Fabian ended the year in High-A where he homered twice and posted a 1.107 OPS in six High-A playoff games. Fabian’s plus-power and defense, combined with his swing decisions and work ethic could very well lead him down a path of developing into an everyday major leaguer.
14) LHP Cade Povich- Whether it’s his fastball that touched 97 mph last season, his Clayton Kershaw inspired curveball, sweeper, cutter, or changeup, Povich has a deep mix of pitches to attack hitters with and flashed why the Orioles believe his ceiling is much higher than industry consensus (more matching ESPN’s Kiley McDaniel and his ranking of Povich as the #54 overall prospect in baseball). A full offseason working with Orioles instructors, the stability of knowing he’s likely going back to Bowie to begin the year, and getting some time in big league camp this spring could propel him to a strong start to the season, giving him an open path to move up through the upper levels of the minors fairly quickly.
15) LHP Drew Rom- Despite endless write-ups about his fastball velo, Rom has excelled at every stop in the minors, owning a career 3.41 ERA and a 414/112 K/BB in 353 IP. Now on the 40-man roster, Rom has a deep pitch mix, utilizes different arm angles to attack hitters, and has a smooth, easy, and repeatable delivery. He finished last season in Triple-A, making seven starts and continuing to pile up the strikeouts limit the home runs while bringing his groundball rate back closer to 50%. He led all minor league arms in the system with 144 strikeouts. The debates about Rom have dragged on for years now. Luckily, he should be given his shot in the big leagues this season where he finally get more answers- can the improved velo and underlying traits make his fastball a reliable option in the big leagues or does he meet the same fate that other lefties with similar profiles have faced in the past?
16) C Samuel Basallo- The Basallo hype train has been gaining speed this offseason and is just gearing up as he prepares to begin the year in Delmarva as an 18-year-old. During his stops in the DSL and FCL, Basallo has showcased massive raw power and the ability to produce some of the biggest hard-hit rates among players his age. Despite his size (listed at 6’3” and 230 pounds), it’s not hard to find someone who has seen him work behind the plate tell you that there’s a real chance he could stick at the position as he moves up through the ranks. His age, size, and tools all combine to form arguably the most intriguing prospect in the system, one who some believe could be a Top 5 prospect in the system within the next year.
17) OF Hudson Haskin– A member of the growing Tulane-Baltimore pipeline, Haskin has very quietly and steadily risen through the organization since being drafted in the 2nd round of the 2020 draft. A broken thumb ended his 2021 season early, but even after just 26 games in High-A, the Orioles challenged him in AA where once again he was limited a bit to 109 games, but he posted a 126 wRC+, hit 41 extra-base hits (15 HR) and posted respectable BB and K numbers. Defensively, Haskin is a true centerfielder but may get moved around in Triple-A looking at who he’s likely going to be playing with for much of the season. His speed is not highlighted enough and if getting hit by a pitch at a high rate year after year is a skill, then Haskin is a double-plus in this category.
18) RHP Chayce McDermott- Acquired as part of the Trey Mancini trade with Houston, McDermott can run his lively fastball up to 96/97 mph (a pitch that seems like to explode on a hitter right as it reaches the plate) and has a a trio of secondaries headlines by a wicked curveball. While he struck out 35.4% of hitters in A+ with Houston and then 31.3% in Bowie, McDermott does walk a lot of batters. We’ll see what the Orioles can do with his control in his first full season in the org, but if it remains an issue, we likely see a move to the bullpen where McDermott’s profile fits pretty well.
19) OF Luis Almeyda- The 16-year-old SS signed for a franchise record $2.3 million in January, headlining another deep and impressive class for Koby Perez and company. Growing up in New Jersey, Almeyda moved to the DR with his family to care for his grandmother, allowing him to sign as an international free agent this year. Scouting reports rave about his bat speed and power potential, and also note an eventual move to third as he grows physically, but for right now, he’s 16. Almeyda appears to be a very unique international signing, seeing as he could bypass the DSL and begin his pro career in Sarasota, thanks to his experience playing in the States before his move to the DR.
20) OF John Rhodes– Injuries greatly impacted Rhodes in 2022, limiting him to just 83 games, but he still reached Double-A at the age of 21 and displays some of the better in-zone swing and miss and chase rates in the organization (H/T Jon Meoli’s “Maximizing Playoff Odds” newsletter). On top of the heralded swing decisions, Rhodes is a good defender and is one of the more athletic players in the entire system. A healthy offseason and fresh restart in Bowie could help unlock a breakout season for Rhodes.
21) 3B Max Wagner- A reserve at Clemson turned ACC Player of the Year over the course of his final collegiate season, Wagner is yet another young college bat with late helium who the Orioles have drafted, a strategy that has netted the system a few high-ceiling prospects. Wagner has his own high ceiling with a powerful bat, high on-base numbers, and little concern about his defense at third base. He didn’t show much of the strikeout concerns some had about him coming out of the draft, but we’ll see how he handles more advanced pitching as he begins 2023 in High-A with a likely final destination of Double-A in his first pro season.
22) OF Reed Trimble- A second round pick out of Southern Miss in 2021, Trimble saw limited action as a pro after the draft and then underwent shoulder surgery in December, putting his 2022 season in jeopardy. He made his season-debut with Delmarva on July 22 and didn’t take long to settle in, hitting .319 with an .812 OPS in August, including a pair of homeruns. Trimble is an athletic switch-hitter with lots of power potential ready to shine through. Despite missing an extensive amount of time, Trimble didn’t show a ton of swing and miss, which is one of the more promising signs entering 2023. He has breakout written all over him in 2023.
23) IF Frederick Bencosme- A relative unknown entering 2022, Bencosme played just two games in the FCL before being promoted to Delmarva and ultimately ending the season in High-A as a 19-year-old. He hit a combined .311 and struck out just 40 times, showcasing premier bat-to-ball skills and the type of swing decisions the organization preaches. He started flashing more power as the season progressed and after putting in a bunch of work in the offseason on getting stronger, don’t be surprised if you see a spike in home runs. The hype surrounding Bencosme is very real and well deserved. He’s a future Top 10 prospect in this system, probably even by the end of the year. Truly #Fregendary.
24) RHP Jean Pinto- Our prospect darling of 2021, it was great to see national outlets eventually lean into the hype as well entering the 2022 season. He experienced an up-and-down season, but showcased enough positives to keep him within the Top 30. Pinto spent the entire season in High-A where he struck out more than 10/9 IP, but saw his walk rate take a big jump to to 11.6%. He works extremely fast, so fast I think he needs a reverse pitch clock to slow him down sometimes, His slider and changeup are quality pitches and he tends to rely on them heavily. He just turned 22 and if he starts in Double-A, will be 3-4 years younger than his peers. If he can pound the strikezone and miss Double-A bats, he will be right back on track.
25) IF Cesar Prieto- Due to the timing of his defection from Cuba and availability, the Orioles were able to sign Prieto for $650,000 last year, adding one of the more prolific hitters in Cuban history to an already stacked farm system. We knew the hit tool was top-notch, but Prieto surprised many by mashing 7 home runs in 25 games with Aberdeen before spending the vast majority of the year in Double-A. Prieto didn’t showcase the same power in Bowie, hitting just 4 in 90 games with a .255 average and .296 OBP (77 wRC+). Defensively, he was moved around, playing mostly third where he was adequate. Despite the struggles in Bowie, the Orioles have been aggressive with Prieto, sending him to the AFL and now to big league camp. Adjusting to a new life in the States is enough for anyone to handle, but Prieto was also challenged on the field, so we’ll gladly give him another season to settle in. One thing is for certain, his work ethic is unquestioned.
26) RHP Carter Baumler- It’s been an incredibly long road for Baumler since he was selected in the 5th round of the 2020 MLB draft. His final high school season was impacted by the pandemic, 2021 was spent recovering from Tommy John surgery, and 2022 was cut short after just four outings due to shoulder inflammation. Still, Baumler has one of the highest ceilings among pitchers in the organization and showed impressive swing and miss stuff with an ability to work the strikezone in his 11.2 innings of work. He tossed nine scoreless innings with 15 K to 4 BB in his first three starts, fueling the excitement for a big pro debut before he was shut down after just one more start. He likely begins 2023 in Delmarva where health will be one of the biggest concerns.
27) RHP Noah Denoyer- One of the more remarkable stories in the organization, Denoyer went undrafted through 40 rounds of the 2019 draft and enters 2023 on the Orioles 40-man roster. Touching 96 mph with a beautiful 12-6 curveball, Denoyer posted a 2.61 ERA, 0.79 WHIP, a .167 average against, and a 69/11 K/BB in 51.2 IP with Bowie last season, being used mainly as a bulk-relief arm. He used a stint in the Arizona Fall League to refine his secondaries and makeup for some time lost on the IL in 2022 and now finds himself likely ticketed for Norfolk where a major question becomes whether the Orioles keep him in his bulk-relief role, or is he stretched out and used as a starter. Either way, Denoyer should make his MLB debut in 2023.
28) RHP Justin Armbruester- Labeled as “just an org guy” by one national publication very early on in 2022, Armbruester split last season between A+/AA, posting a combined 3.85 ERA with 126 K to 34 BB. He was solid in Aberdeen, but took his game to another level in Bowie, topping out in the mid-90s with an improved slider. The changeup has been a major focus this offseason for Armbruester, giving him another weapon as he prepares for his Triple-A debut. The 6’4”, 12th round pick out of New Mexico has rotation upside and still a decent gap between where he’s at now and his ceiling.
29) SS Leandro Arias- A switch-hitting, plus-defender who signed for $600,000 out of the Dominican Republic last year, Arias brings good speed and big power potential to the plate. His DSL numbers last season may have been pedestrian, but all of the batted ball date we’ve been privy to paint a much different story for Arias. He should play in Sarasota this season and we’ll see just how much he’s bulked up and if that raw power can start shining through.
30) RHP Ryan Watson- Watson was a career reliever until he started last season in Double-A where he would make 18 starts, striking out 25.9% of hitters and walking just 5.4%. He got a cup of coffee in Triple-A and ended 2022 by taking home Orioles Minor League Pitcher of the Year honors. His velo jumped to 93-95 (T97), his slider (like many in the org) also took a big jump and he’s now on the 40-man roster and should be in Norfolk’s rotation to begin the year. He’s a bulldog on the mound (maybe tiger is a better descriptor? Don’t want to ruffle any SEC feathers) who can work deep into games while holding his velo with a deep pitch mix and seems to have the mentality of a late-inning power arm.
31) SS Carter Young- Once considered one of the top amateur talents in the country, Young went from posting an .899 OPS with 16 home runs as a sophomore at Vanderbilt to hitting just .207 with a second-straight 30% strikeout rate campaign. Some credit his struggles to his shoulder injury, others disagree. The Orioles gave him just north of $1.3 million as a 17th round draft pick last year, clearly believing they can get more out of the bat. There’s little debate about the glove and arm which will carry him up through the organization, but if the bat starts clicking this season, Young could catapult into the 10-15 range, easily. He’s going to be of the most intriguing case studies down on the farm in 2023.
32) LHP Deivy Cruz- Going into 2022, Cruz was a teenage lefty with big velo, massive strikeout numbers, erratic control, and an ERA over 5 in the DSL. By midseason, Cruz was showcasing his stuff in Delmarva and had cracked Baseball America’s Top 30 list. Cruz can run his fastball up to 95 mph and features a slider and changeup in his repertoire. He showcased solid swing and miss rates with Delmarva and pitched well as an 18-year-old who faced just three batters all season who were younger than him. He will need to reign in the control in 2023, but he should find himself pitching in High-A at just 19.
33) OF Braylin Tavera- Signed for a then franchise record $1.7 million signing bonus (eclipsed by Almeyda this year), Tavera had an up down debut in the DSL as a 17-year-old, hitting .286 with a pair of home runs and an .875 OPS in his first month of play, followed by a .451 OPS month of July with 20 K/10 BB, and then a .952 OPS in August with more walks (14) than strikeouts (7). Reports suggest he has the defensive abilities to stick in center as he moves up the organization and his strong finish to the year with a season-long .411 OBP is encouraging. It will be exciting to get our eyes on him for the first time in Sarasota this season.
34) RHP Carlos Tavera- If not for a shortened 2022 season due to what has been reportedly labled as “non-baseball medical issues” (per Baseball America’s Top 30 list) Tavera would have ended the year in Double-A, but he still made the most of his 16 starts with Aberdeen. Armed with one of the best changeups in the organization, a slider that jumped in 2022, and a fastball that he can run well into the mid-90s, Tavera struck out 33% of hitters he faced and hitters struggled to stay above the Mendoza Line against him (.205 BAA). His walk number was a big focus going into 2022 and while he posted a 13.8% walk rate, nearly a third of his walks came from two outings, one of which he was clearly far from 100%. He will be reunited with pitching coach Forrest Herrmann who gets the bump to Bowie this season, setting up Tavera for a potential big breakout year.
35) RHP Kyle Brnovich- The former Elon standout was tracking towards a potential big league debut in 2022, but he made just two starts before undergoing Tommy John surgery. Despite sitting in the upper-80s/low-90s, Brnovich fills up the strikezone with excellent command and hitters have consistently struggled to barrel him up. His famed double-knuckle curve is his go-to out pitch. We should see him back on the mound mid-season, allowing him time to work his way back to Norfolk before the end of the year, when he will be Rule 5 eligible again so a 40-man roster decision will be necessary.
36) RHP Zach Peek- Peek was the biggest unknown when he came over in the Dylan Bundy trade, but he quickly emerged as not only a fan favorite, but an intriguing starting pitching prospect who was settling in pretty nicely in Double-A before succumbing to Tommy John surgery. We likely won’t see him in affiliate ball in 2023 as he recovers, but Peek features an elite-spin curveball and emerging slider that he started leaning in to last season before the injury, to go along with his FB/CH, giving him a deep mix that he commands well. He’s got the ceiling of a major league starter.
37) RHP Chris Vallimont- A waiver claim last season who had a 9.95 ERA and a 20/23 K/BB ratio in 19 IP at the Double-A level with Minnesota, the Orioles tweaked Vallimon’ts game a bit and watched him allow one run in 13 IP, with 18 K/4 BB before being promoted to Triple-A. It was an up-and-down ride for him with the Tides, but Vallimont showcased a fastball that he can run up to 95 mph as part of a four-pitch mix with improved control since joining the O’s organization. The stuff is there to be a backend starter and if things click in 2023, he could get that opportunity.
38) SS Maikol Hernandez- Signed for $1.2 million in 2021, Hernandez had aspects of his game and physical stature comped to Alex Rodriguez and Manny Machado, but it’s been a rough go the last two seasons. After a decent debut that saw Hernandez post good K/BB numbers, he struggled in the FCL last season, posting a 34% strikeout rate, a .155 average, and a wRC+ of 51. He will play all of 2023 as a 19-year-old and the organization said at the end of last year that he was working through adjustments made to his game. Like the next guy on this list, while Hernandez has dropped considerably on our list, his age and tools keep him in our Top 50, for now.
39) OF Mishael Deson- 2022 was a disappointing season for Deson, the PTBNL in the Mychal Givens trade with Colorado that also brought over Tyler Nevin and Terrin Vavra, but given his age, tools, and ceiling, he remains firmly in our top 50 with another chance to figure things out. A 30% strikeout rate and 67% groundball rate isn’t going to get him to Aberdeen, but peak Deson is corner outfielder with decent pop, good speed, and solid defense.
40) RHP Trace Bright- Drafted in the 5th round of last year’s draft out of Auburn, Bright is being heralded as a notable sleeper in the Orioles system as he enters his first full season of pro ball. He was touching 97 mph at Auburn and Baseball America graded his fastball and slider as the best pitches among the entire Orioles 2022 draft class. His FB had more than 19 inches of induced vertical break (IVB) as a pro, which is firmly in elite territory. Standing at 6’4” with four quality pitches, Bright could be a workhorse starter in this system, or a quick riser if the organization puts him on a reliever track (which seems unlikely this early on).
41) OF Donta’ Williams– Williams had a lot of fans after the Orioles drafted him in the 4th round back in 2021 out of Arizona, and not just because of his speed and flashy defense. Williams has flashed a bat that could make him a really intriguing prospect with his plus speed and defensive tools, but injuries hampered his first full season as a pro. Still, Williams was able to produce a 14.8% walk rate and filled in admirably with Double-A Bowie for the final series of the season, hitting a home run and walking four times in three games (just two strikeouts).
42) IF Anderson De Los Santos- Another name among an incredibly deep group of infielders in this systeam and someone who could honestly be one of the bigger breakout prospects in Birdland next season. The 18-year-old, who has predominantly played third base in his DSL and FCL stints, walked just as many times as he struck out (15%), puts up impressive exit velo numbers and even more impressive in-zone whiff numbers (10% per Jon Meoli’s “Maximizing Playoff Odds”). His maturity and baseball IQ have also been highly praised since he joined the organization. He will play all season as a 19-year-old in Delmarva with an opportunity to make an insane amount of noise.
43) C Maverick Handley- Noted for his strong defensive skillset coming out Stanford (Co-Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year with Adley in 2019), Handley put in extensive work with the bat at Driveline last offseason and the work showed in his first season at the Double-A level in 2022. While maintaining his 11% walk rate from 2021 in Aberdeen, Handley saw his strikeout rate plummet from 30% to 20% while putting up a .352 OBP, .769 OPS, and a 114 wRC+ across 78 games. If the bat continues to play well in Triple-A, Handley should find himself in the big leagues soon.
44) RHP Juan De Los Santos- Signed back in 2019 for $25,000 as one of the very first international signings of the Koby Perez era (first J2 class wasn’t signed for another three months), De Los Santos flashed his stuff as a 20-year-old in Delmarva with a fastball that he can run up to 98 mph and a slider that could emerge as a plus offering. He dominated Low-A competition while throwing strictly fastballs (for the most part) and went through an adjustment period has he started mixing in his full repertoire, but ended the year on a high note. De Los Santos likely begins 2023 as a 21-year-old in Aberdeen where a strong showing could propel him up prospect lists as more people finally get eyes on him.
45) LHP Juan Rojas- One of the four pitchers acquired for Jorge Lopez at the 2021 trade deadline, Rojas is a 6-foot lefty with a four-pitch mix who has put up very impressive rookie-ball numbers in his first two seasons and should be a big contributor for Delmarva as a 19-year-old (turns 19 on January 31). He struck out 50 hitters while walking just nine in 38.2 IP last season with the Twins and O’s complex league teams. At the time of the trade, Rojas was throwing 88-91 mph per multiple reports, but already has good feel for his slider, curve, and changeup, and throws a ton of strikes. He’s a pitcher to watch closely as he grows and begins facing more advanced competition.
46) RHP Brandon Young- Oh what could have been in 2022. Young made just three starts with Bowie before his season ended with an undisclosed injury, but he’s a prospect of real intrigue that we tabbed as soon as he was signed as a UDFA after the 2020 MLB Draft out of UL-Lafayette (where he worked with former O’s pitcher BJ Ryan). Armed with a four-pitch mix, including a curve and change that seperate him from much of the pitching pack, the 6’6” righty struck out a third of all hitters he faced in his 2021 debut with Delmarva and Aberdeen and has all the makings of a potential big league starter. With his exact injury and the severity unknown, it’s difficult to predict what or how much we see out of Young in 2023, but a healthy Young who pitches well in Bowie could see him end the year as a potential Top 30 guy again.
47) 2B Aron Estrada- The 5’8” switch-hitting second baseman out of Venezuela exploded onto the scene in his organizational debut with the DSL Orioles, earning an All-Star nod after hitting .368 with a .483 OBP and more walks (29) than strikeouts (23). Estrada likely won’t steal a lot of bases or develop much power, but his advanced bat-to-ball skills and dominance in the DSL could lead him down a similar path to what Frederick Bencosme took last year.
48) SS Edwin Amparo- Given the fourth-highest signing bonus in franchise history at the time ($650,000), Amparo finished his first season on an impressive note, slashing .373/.424/.593 with a 1.017 OPS in August. Clearly things started clicking for Amparo which is exactly what you want to see from a 17-year-old making his pro debut. He’s listed at 6’0” and 165 pounds, with plenty of physical projection remaining. The switch-hitting shortstop has the tools to stick at the position based on all reports and we’ll have a better idea of what the future holds for his bat as he makes his FCL debut this season. With all the middle infield depth in the system and bigger hype from Leandro Arias in the same signing class, Amparo will likely remain overlooked until a big breakout happens. Will that be in 2023?
49) IF Isaac De Leon- Signed by Miami out of the Dominian Republic for $275K in 2018, De Leon became the PTBNL in the 2020 Richard Bleier trade and has since worked his way up to High-A after two successful seasons in the Orioles organization. For a month stretch that spanned parts of July/August, De Leon was arguably the hottest hitter in the O’s system with an OPS just at tick under 1.000 and showing home run exit velo’s ~110 mph while maintaining a 17% walk rate in Delmarva. Strikeouts were an issue and he’s profiling more as a corner IF now who will have to show more at the plate, but his improvements as the season progressed were notable and he will be just 21 in Aberdeen next season.
50) C Silas Ardoin- Heralded as the best defensive catcher in the 2022 draft, Ardoin had a memorable pro debut, drawing nine walks in his first 10 plate appearances. His dad, Danny Ardoin, was a big league catcher himself (played for the Orioles in 2006). If the bat develops as Ardoin moves up the ladder, many we talk to believe he can be a future starting backstop in the big leagues. Expect him to move up this list significantly this season.
A former high school teacher and coach in the mountains of Virginia, Nick Stevens has been writing about the Baltimore Orioles and their minor league system for five years. When he isn’t at a minor league stadium, he’s enjoying a Wizards game or supporting his alma mater, James Madison University. Co-Host of The Verge.