Baltimore Orioles 2018 Top 50 Prospects

Baltimore Orioles Top 50 Prospects for 2018

In recent years the Orioles minor league system has been viewed as one of the worst in baseball. It was routinely looked down upon by prospect enthusiasts, lacking exciting, top end, impact prospects.  They also had the habit of trading away emerging prospects at the trade deadline for major leaguers that often made little impact on the pennant chase.

However, the system is in better shape than it has been in recent memory. Austin Hays, Chance Sisco, and Ryan Mountcastle have legitimate Top 100 prospect potential. Hunter Harvey and DL Hall are the types of arms that could start at the top of a major league rotation. Though improvements are obvious, the Orioles still are lacking depth and high upside, lottery ticket type prospects.

One of the reasons that the Orioles system is significantly top heavy is their continued refusal to sign international amateur free agents. The Orioles have stated that they are philosophically opposed to spending large sums on 16-year-olds. Unfortunately the rest of major league baseball doesn’t agree with the Orioles “philosophy.” This puts them at a significant disadvantage.

With this self imposed handicap getting in the way of the Orioles procuring and developing Latin players, the Orioles have to be creative when finding young talent. They sign a lot of minor league free agents after they have been cut by other teams. International bonus slot money is traded for slightly older minor leaguers. They also take pride in their acumen in the Rule 5 draft. The Orioles might be the only team that has as many Rule 5 draft picks as amateur international free agents in their Top 50 prospects list.

With their top talent likely to graduate from prospect status this season, it is likely that next year’s list will once again be unimpressive.

Prospects1500 Tiers:
Tier 1: Players with high expectations of both making the majors and playing at an All-Star level for a number of years
Tier 2: Players with an above average expectation of making the majors and being a solid contributor
Tier 3: Players with an average expectation of making the majors and being a solid contributor
Tier 4: Players who have the potential of making the majors, or have high likelihood of making the majors but providing minimal impact (e.g. middle reliever, low-ceiling UT guys)
Tier 5: Players who are worth keeping an eye on, but likely to never make a team’s 40-man roster






Tier 1:

1. Austin Hays, OF
Age: 22
Highest Level: MLB
Hays has produced every step of the way since being drafted in 2016. He is the first player from that draft to reach the majors. In his first full season he went from Hi-A to the Majors. He is an intriguing bat who will have an opportunity to start for the Orioles this upcoming season. He profiles as a slightly above average power bat with a moderate average.

Tier 2:
2. Chance Sisco, C
Age: 22
Highest Level: MLB
Sisco has been a top of Oriole prospect list for years. This is the year that he may finally make an impact on the major league roster. This offseason the Orioles let Wellington Castillo leave via free agency and Sisco has an outside shot of claiming at least a share of the catching duties in Baltimore. Sisco is a line drive machine with minimal game power at this point. His glove has always been a question mark, but over time he has steadily improved.

3. Hunter Harvey, RHP
Age: 23
Highest Level: Low A
The 2013 1st round pick has been plagued by injuries for years now. This past season he only managed 18.2 innings in rehab appearances at the end of the year. But before the constant barrage of maladies Harvey was a consensus top 100 prospect. He looked sharp in his appearances and it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Orioles push him this year, similarly to how Dylan Bundy was handled once he proved healthy. The Major league team has a serious lack of pitching and Harvey could end up pitching some innings for the Orioles this year.

4. Ryan Mountcastle, SS/3B
Age: 20
Highest Level: AA
Mountcastle is a bat first prospect. His ultimate position on the defensive side of the ball is still in question. He started off as a shortstop but has already been shifted to third base. Many evaluators see him shifting to leftfield eventually. Where ever he ends up, his bat will play. He is still young and is facing more development time than Hays or Sisco, but his bat might have the highest ceiling of the group.

5. DL Hall, LHP
Age: 19
Highest Level: Rookie
21st overall selection in the 2017 MLB draft. Hall made limited game appearances and put up an unimpressive stat line. But the potential is still there. Hall will likely begin the year in Low-A Delmarva in the South Atlantic League. The Orioles have struggled to develop pitching in recent years, but Hall has a very high upside.

Tier 3:
6. Cedric Mullins, OF
Age: 23
Highest Level: AA
Undersized outfielder who was in the midst of a breakout season before hamstring issues slowed down his torrid pace. He ended the season only playing 76 games. Mullins is a slashing, speedy, on base type. He has a great work ethic and it wouldn’t surprise to see Mullins contributing at the major league level in the near future.

7. Tanner Scott, LHP
Age: 23
Highest Level: MLB
Scott is sometimes hindered by sporadic command, but when he is on he is dominant. His fastball reaches triple digits regularly and his slider can crippling. The Orioles used him in a tandem starting role last year letting him work multiple innings before being replaced. They continued to pack on innings and experience by sending him to the Arizona Fall League. Reports have him continuing as a starter next year in AAA, but ultimately he looks to have a dominant, multi-inning reliever ceiling.

8. Adam Hall, SS
Age: 18
Highest Level: Rookie
Canadian shortstop drafted in the 2nd round of the 2017 draft. Didn’t play much after being draft as a result of a minor injury, but should open the year in Delmarva. Has a high ceiling but is a long way off. Could be a big mover on this list next year.

9. Keegan Akin, LHP
Age: 22
Highest Level: High A
2nd round pick by the Orioles in 2016. Had an up and down year last season, but seemed to figure things out by the end of the season. There is still a lot to like with Akin and he could take a step forward in 2018.

10. Anthony Santander, OF
Age: 23
Highest Level: MLB
Rule 5 draft pick two off seasons ago. The Orioles took advantage of eligibility rules and allowed Santander time to rehab an injury. He put up crazy numbers in AA Bowie on a rehab assignment late in the summer and then spent the end of the year with the Orioles. He will need to open the season in the majors and spend about a month with the club in order for the Orioles to maintain his rights. The Orioles will find a way to make it happen as they are intrigued by his bat.

11. Zac Lowther, LHP
Age: 21
Highest Level: Short Season A
Drafted in the 2nd round this past summer. Pitched well in his debut, striking out 75 in 54 innings at short season Aberdeen in the New York-Penn League. As a college lefty he may be moved quickly.  Has a solid fastball, breaking ball mix.

12. D.J. Stewart, OF
Age: 24
Highest Level: AA
Former first round pick who finally had a productive season after many attempts. He put up an impressive 20 HR/ 20 SB season. He also managed to draw walks and get on base often. Stewart doesn’t profile to put up huge fantasy numbers, but he won’t hurt in any category either. Look for him to start the year at AAA Norfolk.





Tier 4:
13. Alex Wells, LHP
Age: 20
Highest Level: Low A
Australian pitcher who is the first international signing to show up on this list.  Wells has posted dominant control numbers so far in his career. Last season he walked just 10 batters in a 140 innings in Low-A Delmarva. He doesn’t have overpowering stuff, but he gets batters out. It will be interesting to see how his stuff plays at higher levels.

14. Michael Baumann, RHP
Age: 22
Highest Level: Short Season A
2017 college draftee who put up sparkling numbers in his debut this past summer. Pitching for Aberdeen, Baumann posted a 1.31 ERA while striking out a batter per inning. Has a lot of potential but is just starting his professional career. Has break out potential this season.

15. Cody Sedlock, RHP
Age: 22
Highest Level: High A
2016 1st round pick struggled in his first full season in professional baseball. Pitching in High-A Frederick Sedlock struggled with injuries and poor results. Reports suggest he is working on retooling his delivery in order to return to the form that made him a high draft pick. 2017 will be an important year in his development.

16. Cameron Bishop, LHP
Age: 21
Highest Level: Short Season A
Bishop was an overslot bonus signing this past season. He was projected to go higher but fell to the 26th round as a result of injury. He struck out 39 in 37 innings last year, yielding a modest .72 ERA along the way. He’s another high upside arm, who is a long way from contributing in the majors.

17. Chris Lee, LHP
Age: 25
Highest Level: AAA
Lee struggled last season in AAA, but the organization is still very high on him. He’s left handed and has shown the ability to get batters out. At this point there is a very real chance he ends up in the bullpen, but with the Major League team lacking starting pitching options, there is a very real chance that he starts games in Baltimore this summer.

18. Nestor Cortes, LHP
Age: 23
Highest Level: AAA
Cortes was nabbed from the Yankees in the Rule 5 draft this past December. He produced stellar numbers at three levels this past year. In a lot of ways he is a more proven version of Alex Wells. He’ll need to stick in the majors all year in order for the Orioles to maintain his rights, and with the Orioles in need of starters, there is a good chance he will stick all year.

19. Lamar Sparks, OF
Age: 19
Highest Level: Rookie
Athletic high school outfielder drafted this past summer. Has the tools and skill set to stick in center. Will need his raw ability to translate into baseball skills. A definite sleeper in the system.





Tier 5
20. David Hess, RHP
Age: 24
Highest Level: AA
Another name to keep tabs on. Hess has seen his prospect stock rise and fall over the years. Currently it is on an upswing based on a strong second half of the year and the Orioles lack of pitching depth. Not the highest upside on the list, but likely to be considered for big league action this upcoming season.

21. Brenan Hanifee, RHP
Age: 19
Highest Level: Short Season A
4th rounder in 2016 made his pitching debut in Aberdeen in 2017. One of many interesting arms in their rotation. Pitched to positive results and should move up to a full season team this year.

22. Jesus Liranzo, RHP
Age: 22
Highest Level: AA
Liranzo has a similar profile as Tanner Scott. He throws really hard, triple digits, but doesn’t always know where the ball is going. Like Scott, the Orioles used Liranzo as a starter in an effort to build up innings and experience. He needs to learn how to be a pitcher and not simply a hard thrower.

23. Jomar Reyes, 3B
Age: 20
Highest Level: High A
A rare international amateur signing by the Orioles. Reyes has massive power, but struggles to get to it in games. He spent significant time on the DL in 2017 after punching a wall and breaking his hand. Needs to prove it on the field.

24. Austin Wynns, C
Age: 27
Highest Level: AAA
Wynns is a glove first catcher who is receiving some press locally as a possible platoon option this season. If Sisco’s glove is deemed not ready for the majors when camp breaks, look for Wynns to start the year with the big club. In fantasy leagues that value backup catchers, keep Wynns on your radar.

25. Gabriel Ynoa, RHP
Age: 24
Highest Level: MLB
Another starter with minimal stuff who has value in fantasy based on the fact that he may have a rotation spot in April. The Orioles only have two established starters on the roster. So a guy like Ynoa could find himself pitching every 5th day. He had 4.15 ERA in 35 major league innings last year, but is unlikely to be anything more than serviceable.

26. Gray Fenter, RHP
Age: 21
Highest Level: Rookie
Drafted in the 7th round of the 2015 draft, Fenter has been hampered by injuries, missing the entire 2016 campaign, and making only a few rehab starts this past summer. The Orioles bought him out of his college commitment in 2015 and still have high hopes for Fenter. Reports suggest that his pre-injury stuff has come back. He Could rise up this list with a healthy 2018.

27. Lucas Long, RHP
Age: 25
Highest Level: AA
Long had a solid year in AA, posting a sub 3.00 ERA. This is the first year he produced this quality of a stat line. Nothing spectacular, but worth following.

28. Matthias Dietz, RHP
Age: 22
Highest Level: Low A
Dietz had some buzz after being drafted in the 3rd round in 2016. He had a rocky full season debut in Low-A, but will be given a chance to regain some prospect status this year.

29. Ryan McKenna, OF
Age: 20
Highest Level: Low A
Speedy Low A outfielder with decent on base skills. Should move up to High A Frederick.

30. Yefry Ramirez, RHP
Age: 24
Highest Level: AA
Starting pitching depth acquired from the Yankees during the 2017 season for international slot money. The Orioles refuse to spend this money on amateur prospects an prefer to trade it for unexciting older prospects. Ramirez pitched in AA last year showing that he can get hitters out at that level.

31. Ofelky Peralta, RHP
Age: 20
Highest Level: High A
Signed as an international free agent back when that was a thing the Orioles believed in doing. He’s moved slowly thru the system and has always been more hype than results. Might be given a shot to start in AA this year.

32. Milton Ramos, SS
Age: 22
Highest Level: Low A
Glove first shortstop the O’s picked up from the Mets last summer. They gained his rights in exchange for international signing bonus money. Ramos is 22 and spent all of last year in the low minors. He didn’t hit much and doesn’t profile to be an offensive asset.

33. Ben Breazeale, C
Age: 23
Highest Level: Short Season A
College catcher with impressive offensive performance in his debut in the New York Penn League. He was slightly old for the league and is unlikely to stick behind the plate long term. If he moves to another position he’ll have to continue to hit as he moves up the affiliate ladder.

34. Jose Mesa, Jr., RHP
Age: 24
Highest Level: AA
Another Rule 5 draft pick this past December. Put up strong strike out numbers and is an interesting future bullpen piece. Will have to stick on the roster all season or be offered back to the Yankees.

35. Ademar Rifaela, OF
Age: 23
Highest Level: High A
Late blooming outfielder signed out of Curacao has moved slowly up the minor league food chain. He blasted 24 home runs for Frederick last year to earn the Carolina League MVP award. Is going to have to repeat these positive results to convert the skeptics.

36. Pedro Araujo, RHP
Age: 24
Highest Level: AA
Rule 5 draft pick from the Cubs. Power reliever, see Jose Mesa, Jr. write up. Everything written there applies here.

37. John Means, LHP
Age: 24
Highest Level: AA
Means started off hot in Frederick last season and was quickly promoted to AA Bowie where he faced more of a challenge. One of many so-so starting pitching prospects.

38. Zach Muckenhirn, LHP
Age: 22
Highest Level: Low A
Muckenhirn had an impressive debut after being drafted in the 11th round in 2016. His full season debut this past season was less promising. He compiled an ERA above 5 between two teams.  He has decent control and limits walks, but was hit around pretty well. Will look to rebound in 2017.

39. Steve Wilkerson, 2B
Age: 26
Highest Level: AA
Wilkerson is a bat first utility player who can play multiple positions. He had an outside chance of making the big club as a utility infielder this season, but was slapped with a 50 game suspension for drug use. He’s 25 and reached AA last year, but time may be ticking on his chance at getting a shot.

40. Jhon Peluffo, RHP
Age: 20
Highest Level: Low A
Peluffo started the season in the bullpen for Delmarva and was eventually transitioned to the rotation. Young Colombian starter is one of the few prospects the Orioles signed as a amateur free agent. Will be given the opportunity to continue his success in Frederick this season.

41. Mason McCoy, SS
Age: 22
Highest Level: Short Season
McCoy was the starting shortstop for the University of Iowa. He was drafted in the 6th round this past year and produced above average on base numbers in Aberdeen. At this point he looks like a solid organizational player, but keep an eye on him in case he over performs.

42. Luis Gonzalez, LHP
Age: 26
Highest Level: High A
Hard throwing relief prospect. Gonzalez was originally signed by the Phillies as an amateur, but was released after two lackluster seasons. The Orioles gave him a second chance and he rewarded their faith by putting up big strike out numbers in High A Frederick. As a lefty, Gonzalez has an outside chance of making an impact at a higher level.

43. Jimmy Yacabonis, RHP
Age: 25
Highest Level: MLB
Relief prospect made his major league debut last year pitching 20 innings for Baltimore this past summer. He pitched okay, but not spectacularly. Before his promotion he picked up 11 saves while putting up a 1.32 ERA. Doesn’t have overpowering strike out stuff, but may stick in the pen.

44. Trevor Craport, 3B
Age: 21
Highest Level: Short Season
Craport is young for a college draft pick. At only 20 he put up above average numbers for Aberdeen. His glove at the hot corner is a question mark, and he is going to need to continue to hit in order to move up the food chain.

45. Randolph Gassaway, OF
Age: 22
Highest Level: AA
Athletic outfielder who has progressed slowly through the Orioles system. Had a difficult year statistically in 2017, but showed more in the past.

46. Irving Ortega, SS
Age: 21
Highest Level: Low A
Slick fielding shortstops are cool. But not necessarily for fantasy baseball purposes.

47. Stefan Crichton, RHP
Age: 25
Highest Level: MLB
Had a rough debut pitching a few innings in Baltimore last summer. Seems destined to start the year back in AAA as the Orioles have much better relief options at this point.

48. Drew Dosch, 3B
Age: 25
Highest Level: AAA
Slow moving organizational type minor leaguer who reached AAA last year. If Orioles move Manny Machado in the near future and commit to a rebuild, Dosch might be a stop gap option at third, but lacks greater upside.

49. Josh Hart, OF
Age: 23
Highest Level: High A
Once highly thought of prospect who hasn’t put it all together. Will be challenged if the Orioles move him up to AA to start the 2018 season.

50. Brandon Bonilla, LHP
Age: 24
Highest Level: Short Season A
Son of Bobby Bonilla, Brandon debuted this year in the New York Penn League, striking out 33 in 18.2 innings.

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  1. Wednesday January 24, 2018 - Fantasy Baseball Links - FantasyRundown.com
  2. Diving Deep: Prospects not included in our Top 50s | Prospects1500

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