Baltimore Orioles 2019 Top 50 Prospects

Baltimore Orioles Top 50 Prospects for 2019

After a disappointing season the historically bad Orioles cleaned house and elected to start from scratch. The team lost an astounding 115 games, earning not only the number one draft pick in this June’s amateur draft, but also pink slips for nearly the entire front office and coaching staff.

Gone are Dan Duquette and Buck Showalter, replaced by the young, forward thinking duo of Mike Elias and Brandon Hyde. Elias has spent last few years as an Assistant General Manager with the Astros, playing an important role in player development and the minor leagues. On top of this, ownership has pledged to take a step back and allow their baseball executives to have the final say in how things are run. Notably the Orioles have been embarrassingly absent on the international free agent market. The explanation has always been that it has been an“Ownership Decision”. The new front office seemingly has the ability to spend money in this market and plan to do so.

So while the Orioles were excruciating to watch at times last year, there is hope for the future. There is a renewed optimism that comes with fresh starts. The farm system is in better shape than has been in recent years and should only improve under the oversight of Elias and his group of analytically inclined underlings. In fact, I would expect the farm to be dramatically better at this time next year.

Photos courtesy of Patrick Cavey (@PatrickCavey on Twitter) and Breaking Down The Future: Minor Leagues Top Prospects on Facebook

 

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:

None


Tier 2:
1. Ryan Mountcastle, 3B
Age: 21
2018 Highest Level: AA
Mountcastle’s uncertain future with glove drops him down many prospect list, and rightfully so. But on a list geared towards fantasy/dynasty baseball Mountcastle has the most impactful bat in the Orioles system, and fielding isn’t a category that most leagues have. He might end up in left field or first base, but his bat will make him a solid contributor in Fantasy.

2. Yusniel Diaz, OF
Age: 22
2018 Highest Level: AA
Diaz headlined the Manny Machado trade this past summer and is an exciting all around prospect. He should be a solid contributor in both average and power. He is still somewhat raw, but has more potential than anyone else in the system. He may be in line for a return to AA to start the season, but with the Orioles thin on talent it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him in the majors this summer.

3. Austin Hays, OF
Age: 23
2018 Highest Level: MLB
Hays ranked number one on this list year after his blazing 2017 season. Unfortunately, 2018 was a year that Hays would love to forget. The year began with a surprise return to AA Bowie when many believed he was in line to be the opening day right fielder for the Orioles. His season was marred by injury and he really never got settled in. He had off season ankle surgery and should be at full strength for spring training. Hays still has loads of potential and deserves a mulligan for last year.

4. DL Hall, LHP
Age: 20
2018 Highest Level: Low-A
The Orioles top draft pick in 2017, Hall spent the entire season in Low-A Delmarva. As a high school draftee, the Orioles were cautious with Hall in his first full season and limited his innings. However in his 94 innings he was a force in the Sally league. He struck out 100 batters with a mid 90’s fastball and pinpoint control. Hall should move up to High A Frederick this year and could be a quality fantasy starter if it all comes together.


Tier 3:
5. Grayson Rodriguez, RHP
Age: 19
2018 Highest Level: Rookie
The Orioles grabbed another high school arm with their first pick in this past season’s amateur draft. At the time some thought the O’s may have reached for the strong arm right hander when they selected him with the 11th overall pick. But the Orioles were enamored with his power arm and ability to spin a curveball. Rodriguez was impressive in his limited pro debut in the Gulf Coast League and should follow the DL Hall roadmap and move up to Delmarva and see a slightly increased workload.

6. Ryan McKenna, OF
Age: 21
2018 Highest Level: AA
The biggest riser on this list. Last year he was ranked at number 29. But much like Cedric Mullins the season before, McKenna impressed with his all out hustle and ability to change a game. He was tested in a late season promotion to AA Bowie, but posted  a .467 OBP in Single A Frederick before moving up.

7. Keegan Akin, LHP
Age: 23
2018 Highest Level: AA
This lefty spent the entire year in Bowie this past season. The second round pick in 2016 has impressed striking out more than a batter per inning. He compliments his mid 90’s fastball with a tight slider. With few options on the major league roster, Akin could get a chance to crack the major league rotation out of spring training.

8. Zac Lowther, LHP
Age: 22
2018 Highest Level: High-A
Lowther was the Orioles 2nd round pick in 2017 and put up dominant numbers in his full season debut, splitting time between Low A and High A. Unlike Keegan Akin, Lowther produces results with deception and less pure stuff. He will likely start at AA Bowie and have to continue putting up numbers.

9. Jean Carlos Encarnacion, 3B
Age: 20
2018 Highest Level: Low-A
One of my favorite players in the Oriole system. Encarnacion is an uber raw young power bat that came over from the Braves in the Kevin Gausman trade this past summer. He’s got a lot of potential, but is a long way off.

10. Richie Martin, SS
Age: 24
2018 Highest Level: AA
Taken with the first overall pick in the Rule 5 Draft in December, Martin has a strong chance to be the Orioles starting shortstop this season. A former first round pick of the A’s, Martin is known for his glove, but finally produced promising offensive numbers this season in AA. He may struggle at the major league level at first, but the Orioles will give him a long leash.

11. Dean Kremer, RHP
Age: 22
2018 Highest Level: AA
Another former Dodger prospect who came over in the Machado deal. Kremer led the minors in strikeouts last year. He has a four pitch mix and a low 90’s fastball. The Orioles hope that Kremer continues to dominate as he moves up the developmental ladder.

12. Hunter Harvey, RHP
Age: 24
2018 Highest Level: AA
Loads of talent does you no good if you are always injured. Harvey has a chance to be special but hasn’t been able to stay on the mound. The Orioles, under old management, always took a wait and see approach when came to treatment. This course of treatment only dragged out inevitable surgeries. If he proves finally healthy, he could shoot up this list. But that is an unlikely if.

13. DJ Stewart, OF
Age: 25
2018 Highest Level: MLB
Stewart reached the majors last season and was completely serviceable. It is likely that he starts the year in the majors and figures into some sort of outfield rotation. He’s a well rounded player, but doesn’t excel in any one area.

14. Bruce Zimmermann, LHP
Age: 23
2018 Highest Level: AA
Another product of the Orioles trade deadline purge. Zimmerman was acquired by the Orioles in the Gausman deal. He is another pitchability lefty, who has gotten batters out in the lower minors. If he is able to sustain this success he may be able to start at the major league level, but that is to be determined.

15. Blaine Knight, RHP
Age: 22
2018 Highest Level: Short Season-A
Knight was the Orioles 3rd round pick out of Arkansas this past season. He pitched a lot of innings in college so the Orioles limited him to just 10 innings in Aberdeen. Despite his limited pro innings, Knight is quite polished and should start the season in either Delmarva or Frederick.

16. Branden Kline, RHP
Age: 27
2018 Highest Level: AA
Kline didn’t pitch at all in 2016 or 2017 due to injury. He came back in 2018 and pitched well out of the pen. Kline is purely a bullpen arm, but he can be dominant in that role. Watch for him to debut in Baltimore this summer and factor in the back of the bullpen eventually.

17. Adam Hall, SS
2018 Age: 19
2018 Highest Level: Short Season-A
Canadian shortstop drafted in the 2nd round of the 2017 draft. Hall wasn’t quite ready for full season ball and stayed in extended spring training until the short season leagues began. The extra work paid off as Hall showed tremendous on base ability and an above average glove. Hall should move up to Delmarva and taste full season ball for the first time in 2018.


Tier 4:
18. Dillon Tate, RHP
Age: 24
2018 Highest Level: AA
Tate, a former 4th overall draft pick, was picked up from the Yankees in the Zach Britton trade this past July. Tate has had ups and downs as a pro and the Orioles hope that he can recapture some of his top prospect shine in 2019.

19. Brett Cumberland, C
Age: 23
2018 Highest Level: AA
Came over this past summer in the Gausman trade. At the major league level catcher is still a bit of a unsettled position for the Orioles. In a year or two he could factor into solving that problem.

20. Alex Wells, LHP
Age: 21
2018 Highest Level: High-A
Wells is a supreme control artist who has limited walks over his career. His stuff is not overpowering and he has had to prove his worth every step of the way. AA Bowie will be a challenge in 2019.

21. Rylan Bannon, 2B/3B
Age: 22
2018 Highest Level: AA
Another former Dodger farmhand who the Orioles acquired for Manny Machado. He blasted 20 home runs in the Cal league before the O’s dealt for him. They sent him to AA Bowie where he struggled to adjust to a new system and a new level. He will likely begin in AA and be given every chance to develop into a regular in the infield.

22. Drew Jackson, SS
Age: 25
2018 Highest Level: AA
Jackson has a keen eye and has consistently put up strong on base numbers. He added a bit of power this season as well. Jackson was selected in the rule 5 draft in December and has a real chance to grab at bats as a backup infielder this year.

23. Cadyn Grenier, SS
Age: 22
2018 Highest Level: Low-A
Supplemental first round pick this past season out of Oregon State. Was assigned directly to Low-A ball. His bat was challenged after a long college season. Has glove to stick at sort, but the bat is wait and see.

24. Matthias Dietz, RHP
Age: 23
2018 Highest Level: High-A
Dietz flashes talent but struggles to maintain consistency. The bullpen may be in his future, but that may help him reach the majors quicker. If he can harness his arm, he could make an impact.

25. Michael Baumann, RHP
Age: 23
2018 Highest Level: High-A
Baumann started the year in Delmarva and was lights out, earning himself a promotion to Frederick after 7 starts. He found that level to be more of a challenge. He has a four pitch mix and well likely remain a starter. Pitched better towards the end of the season and could move up to Bowie to start the year.

26. Luis Ortiz, RHP
Age: 23
2018 Highest Level: MLB
Ortiz was brought over from the Brewers in the Jonathan Schoop trade. He’s a former first round pick who clearly has potential. However he was shellacked in his two major league appearances for the Orioles. He needs to get into better shape in order to rediscover his top stuff.

27. Jean Carmona, SS
Age: 19
2018 Highest Level: Short Season-A
Lottery ticket type young international prospect included in the Schoop deal. Has break out potential and likely starts the year in Delmarva sharing shortstop responsibilities with Adam Hall.

28. Robert Neustrom, OF
Age: 22
2018 Highest Level: Short Season-A
Orioles 5th round pick this past season. Showed moderate pop in Aberdeen. Could improve his stock once he enters full season ball next year.

29. Brenan Hanifee, RHP
Age: 20
2018 Highest Level: Low-A
Hanifee pitched the entire season in Delmarva.  He sported a 2.86 ERA and only walked 22 batters in 132 innings. 4th round pick in 2016 will move up to Frederick and try to build upon his early success

30. Cody Carroll, RHP
Age: 26
2018 Highest Level: MLB
Part of the midseason overhaul. Carroll came from the Yankees system in exchange for Zach Britton. The Orioles promoted him to the majors where he was completely ineffective. In AAA for the Yankees he struck out more than a batter per inning. Despite his difficult major league debut, Carroll has a chance to start the season in the Orioles pen.

31. Evan Phillips, RHP
Age: 24
2018 Highest Level: MLB
Like Carroll, Philips is a relief prospect who was acquired at the deadline who also struggled in his MLB debut. He pitched well in the minors for the Braves, and will be given a chance to make the thin Orioles major league roster.

32. Zach Pop, RHP
Age: 22
2018 Highest Level: AA
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before; Pop is a relief prospect acquired at the trade deadline. He was in the Dodgers organization before coming to the Orioles. He has a funky delivery that is hard for batters to pick up. He pitched at three levels last year and could move fast.

33. Cameron Bishop, LHP
Age: 22
2018 Highest Level: Low-A
Bishop was a power pitcher in college who is still working his way back from injury. He received an over slot bonus as a 26th round pick and pitched well in his full season debut in Delmarva. Will continue to work his way back in Frederick next year.

34. J.C. Escarra, 1B
Age: 23
Highest Level: High-A
Escarra played most of the year at Short Season Aberdeen and anchored the line up, putting up an impressive stat line. A late season promotion to High-A Frederick, skipping Low A Delmarva all together, was a massive challenge. It will be interesting to see where the Orioles start him next season, but as a 1B he will need to continue to hit no matter where he plays.

35. Luis Gonzalez, LHP
Age: 26
2018 Highest Level: AAA
Left handed power reliever. Has a chance of earning some major league service time this season.

36. Taylor Grover, RHP
Age: 27
2018 Highest Level: Independent Ball
One of the advantages of having the worst record in baseball is having the first overall pick in the June amateur draft, the Rule 5 draft, and the minor league Rule 5 draft. Grover was the first pick in the minor league phase of the Rule 5 draft, snatched away from the Reds who had signed him out of Indy ball a few weeks earlier. Grover is a late bloomer who can touch 102 mph with his fastball. He is a project, but an interesting one.


Tier 5:
37. Gray Fenter, RHP
Age: 22
2018 Highest Level: Low-A
Fenter continues to work his way back from injury and has yet to pitch a full workload. He will likely start the season in Delmarva and the Orioles may finally opt to take the training wheels off. An interesting breakout candidate.

38. Lamar Sparks, OF
Age: 20
2018 Highest Level: DNP due to injury
Sparks missed the entire 2018 season due to a shoulder injury. He was a 5th round pick in 2017 out of high school. If healthy Sparks may be held back in extended spring training and then go to Aberdeen. Despite the slow start to his pro career, Sparks is an intriguing prospect who brings a lot of tools and athletic ability to a system that doesn’t have a lot of these types of players.

39. Jake Zebron, RHP
Age: 18
2018 Highest Level: Rookie Ball
A local kid who was picked in the 18th round this past year. He pitched well in rookie ball, touching the mid 90’s. He was used primarily out of the pen, but may have a chance to start. A raw, but exciting arm to follow this year.

40. Drew Rom, LHP
Age: 19
2018 Highest Level: Rookie Ball
4th round pick this past season was lights out in the Gulf Coast League, striking out nearly a batter per inning. He doesn’t blow batters away, but does have a feel for a good breaking ball. Another interesting follow for next season.

41. Trevor Craport, 3B
Age: 22
2018 Highest Level: Low-A
In his full season debut Craport put up respectable numbers for the Shorebirds. He shows the ability to get on base and hit for a little pop. With just a little more development he could rise up this list next year.

42. Hector Guance, RHP
Age: 23
2018 Highest Level: Short Season-A
An older Dominican prospect signed after he was released by the Nationals. Pitched well in Aberdeen. Despite being slightly old for the league he did generate some buzz. Will move up to full season ball and needs to continue to develop. A wait and see at this point.

43. Chris Lee, LHP
Age: 26
2018 Highest Level: AAA
Lee is a prospect that keeps falling down these lists. He has had a difficult time staying healthy in recent seasons. The chances of him starting are likely over. The Orioles hope Lee can harness his potential in short stints out of the bullpen.

44. Cody Sedlock, RHP
Age: 23
2018 Highest Level: High-A
Former first round pick who is also trending in the wrong direction. He simply can’t stay healthy and hasn’t produced results on the mound. Needs to turn it around quickly. If not for his first round pedigree, Sedlock  would not be on this list.

45. Zach Muckenhirn, LHP
Age: 23
2018 Highest Level: AA
Muckenhirn was moved to the bullpen this season and the change helped him dominate the lower minors. He started the season in Delmarva and finished the year in AA Bowie. He faced more of a challenge at that level and will likely begin the year there in 2019.

46. John Means, LHP
Age: 25
2018 Highest Level: MLB
Means got into one game for the big club this past season and did not fair well. He had a solid season in the minors and earned the shot. Means isn’t the most exciting prospect, but he has a chance to get playing time in Baltimore this year so he’s worth keeping an eye on.

47. Leonardo Rodriguez, RHP
Age: 21
2018 Highest Level: Short Season-A
A rare signing from Latin America for the old front office, Rodriguez started the season in the Gulf Coast League and earned a promotion to Aberdeen at the end of the season. He is an intriguing prospect in a system full of players that lack stand out tools.

48. Josh Rogers, LHP
Age: 24
2018 Highest Level: MLB
One of the plethora of pitching prospects the Orioles acquired at the midseason fire sale. Rogers earned a few starts for the Orioles later in the year after he pitched to a 2.08 ERA in 5 starts for AAA Norfolk. His starts for the O’s didn’t go anywhere near as well, but he will likely be in the mix for big league starts this season.

49. Jomar Reyes, 3B
Age: 21
2018 Highest Level: A
Still just 21 Reyes saw the majority of his time in Frederick for the 3rd year in a row. Injuries and a lack of adjustments have stalled Reyes’ potential. Hopefully the new front office will help him tap into his raw ability.

50. Preston Palmeiro, 2B
Age: 23
2018 Highest Level: A
Last year I ended this list with the son of Bobby Bonilla. This year the honor goes to the son of former Oriole Rafael Palmeiro. To his credit, the younger Palmeiro learned to play 2nd base this season while continuing to put up solid offensive numbers. If he can prove capable of playing 2nd base he changes from a player with an interesting story to a legit prospect.

 

Photos of Ryan Mountcastle, Yusniel Diaz and Ryan McKenna – courtesy of @PatrickCavey and Breaking Down The Future on Facebook

4 Comments

  1. DL Hall has never posted a walk rate below 4/9 – that doesn’t sound like pinpoint control. I imagine those Ks start to dry up as he starts throwing more strikes.

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