Baltimore Orioles 2019 Midseason Top 50 Prospects

Adley Rutschman, Aberdeen Ironbirds, July 27, 2019 in Aberdeen, MD - Photo credit @PatrickCavey, Breaking Down the Future on Facebook.

The Baltimore Orioles have long been the butt of the jokes when it comes to failed prospects and horrendous player development. Well, the times are changing in 2019, although not at the speed that many faithful may have hoped. It’s better, no doubt, than 4 years ago and there are finally some Top 50 guys to really dream on. But the international department is still barely used and the front office seemed stuck on getting a certain type of player in the 2019 draft; a college, defense-first shortstop with some intangibles.


With all of that being said, the players that will be arriving in the big leagues soon will be interesting and the system finally has some pitching to take note on. Grayson Rodriguez looks like an ace and there are several others that look like rotation guys with high floors. There are a few hitters to get excited on thanks to some trades last summer and there will probably be some more trades before the deadline this year. All-in-all, we are looking at a system on the rise and definitely not in the bottom five. I’d label it middle of the pack, maybe even higher if Adley Rutschman is truly as good as I think he is.

Also, please take note. I was not part of the preseason top 50 list, so there is probably a lot of movement here compared to the other teams. I’m valuing positional scarcity, fantasy potential and proximity to the big leagues. I am a sucker for athletic builds, high velocity and high power and/or speed combos.

Some Interesting Risers:

Grayson Rodriguez jumped a tier for me into tier 1. I just see him as a top of the rotation starter and not much will change my mind.

Adam Hall went from 17 to 10. His rise is mainly from the fact that he has a really big chance of making it to the big leagues thanks to the glove and he will play a premium position.

Michael Baumann went from 25 to 12. His body screams innings eater and we are in an era where three to four inning starts are common.

Cody Sedlock went from 44 to 28 and although he is still fairly low I feel that pedigree might be something to bet on when it comes to these lower ranked guys. The team wants them to make it and I feel like he will at some point.

Big Fallers:

JC Encarnacion is just not my guy. I followed him a lot as a Brave and I never understood the hype. He dropped 17 spots from 9 to 26. Sorry, but prove me wrong big guy.

Brett Cumberland dropped to 35 from 18. This is what happens when the organization adds a better version (Switch-hitting catcher) of you to the system

Without further ado, here are your updates to the Orioles Top 50 prospects for Prospects1500!

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:

Adley Rutschman, Aberdeen Ironbirds, July 28, 2019 in Aberdeen, MD – Photo credit @PatrickCavey, Breaking Down the Future on Facebook.

1. Adley Rutschman, C (Pre-Season: NR) 
Age: 21 
2019 Highest Level: Rookie

I never like rating catching prospects this high, but I don’t think we’ve seen one this can’t-miss since another Orioles catcher Matt Wieters. Like Wieters, we are talking about a switch-hitting catcher with power, plus defense and immense leadership characteristics. If there is one thing I will always chase it is the switch-hitting catcher with a high ceiling. Rutschman has a line drive swing with power already showing and gets major lift from his swing. He just made his pro debut on July 20th and promptly hit a home run. He is polished and will move quickly through the system and I would strongly consider him the best player in the 2019 draft. The catching position in fantasy is so barren right now that his value is going to huge. 

2. Grayson Rodriguez, RHP (Pre-Season: 5)
Age: 19
2019 Highest Level: Low-A
Rodriguez is really moving up in my rankings, not only for Baltimore but for overall prospects as well. Sure, he has a way to go but the Texas fireballer has had a true breakout 2019 campaign. 87 strikeouts in 67.1 innings and an insane 1.04 WHIP have really brought G-Rod to many top 100 lists. He has a simple and downhill delivery and boasts a great curve. Big, Texan, throws gas and has a major curve; those are the traits that will get scouts every time. He is a top of the rotation talent and is making wonderful progress. Still might be underrated by some. 

Tier: 2 

3. DL Hall, LHP (Pre-Season: 4)
Age: 20
2019 Highest Level: High-A
Hall has struggled with his control this year, walking 45 batters in 63 innings. I don’t know if it’s a command issue or if he is working on something as in time the command was supposed to pretty good. He does have 100 strikeouts during those frames, so the stuff is clearly there. Mid 90’s heat along with two potential plus pitches in his changeup and curveball make Hall still very intriguing. He’s one of the best left-handed starters in all of the minors. If the lefty can harness in his control he will make a big jump.

4. Ryan Mountcastle, 1B (Pre-Season: 1)
Age: 22
2019 Highest Level: Triple-A
The bat is ready and it’s ready now. Very nice looking swing, that produces a lot of barreled balls. 19 home runs and a .314 batting average certainly back up a major league caliber bat.  The defense is another issue. He is most likely a DH/1b type, although he did make his professional debut in the outfield in June. As long as he is on the field the bat will be great for fantasy purposes. The strikeouts will be need to be fixed but we are looking at a potential 30 homer bat here, albeit with a poor OBP. 

5. Austin Hays, OF (Pre-Season: 3)
Age: 24
2019 Highest Level: AAA
It’s hard to believe that Hays made his MLB debut three years ago and is still high up on a prospects list. Injuries have really delayed the return for the outfielder and he hasn’t really impressed during his time on the field this year. .279/.326/.535 isn’t too shabby, however, and there is a real David Dahl like progression happening here where Hays may get overlooked due to the injuries and then explode on the scene when does get healthy. Post-hype sleeper alert. 

6. Yusniel Diaz, OF (Pre-Season: 2)
Age: 22
2019 Highest Level: Double-A
The shine has really started to come off on the toolsy outfielder. I used to be excited for a potential 5-tool player, but now I see a guy that will just be average to above average without a standout a tool. Think Nick Markakis, which certainly isn’t bad, but just not a guy that gets you crazy excited. His 2019 campaign has been unfulfilling, with a .258 average and 10 home runs. Still loads of time, and he will make the big leagues at some point. .275 hitter with 15-20 home runs and 10 stolen bases is what I envision. 

7. Ryan McKenna, OF (Pre-Season: 6) 
Age: 22
2019 Highest Level: Double-A
McKenna has been around a while now, but he is progressing nicely as a speedy CF with a little bit of pop. Nine home runs and 18 stolen bases in 2019. High floor, low ceiling type and he most definitely will make the majors in some capacity. Future leadoff hitter and will stick in centerfield. Solid overall player. 

8. Adam Hall, SS (Pre-Season: 17)
Age: 20
Highest 2019 Level: Low-A
Canadian born player that profiles as a glove/speed shortstop. There is a decent chance he adds some power in which case he becomes very interesting. .387 OBP and 22 steals in 2019. He is sticking at short and these guys become valuable quickly. Makes solid contact to all fields.


Tier 3:

9. Keegan Akin, LHP (Pre-Season: 7)
Age: 24
2019 Highest Level: Triple-A
Probably the closest pitcher to the big leagues right now, Akin is a well rounded pitcher would will probably stick in the rotation for a while. A lefty, he has struck out 95 batters in 80 innings. Decent velocity with a plus slider and seems to be able to get RHH out (.249 BA against). Strikeout potential makes him worth a look.

10. Dean Kremer, RHP (Pre-Season: 11)
Age: 23
2019 Highest Level: Double-A
Kremer came over in the Machado deal and has progressed at a steady pace. His control has been great with only 17 walks in 62 innings to go along with 60 strikeouts. Started out late as a pitcher in junior college so it has taken some time, but he continues to improve and should be a usable starter within a year or two. Big fastball and big curve guys always getting me a little excited. 

11. Kyle Stowers, OF (Pre-Season: NR)
Age: 21
2019 Highest Level: Rookie
No. 71 pick in 2019 draft. Power guy from Stanford. Quiet swing, shows a little potential here and should move quickly. Power is above average. Needs to develop a hit tool, which makes him risky, but if he does would be a nice fantasy player. 

12. Michael Baumann, RHP (Pre-Season: 25)
Age: 23
2019 Highest Level: Double-A
Recently promoted to Double-A and has been electric with 1.10 ERA. 103 strikeouts in 86.2 innings. Big body, four-pitch mix. A little risk that he moves to the pen, but his stock is on the rise this year for sure. Looking like a future innings eater.


Tier 4:
 

13. Elio Prado, OF (Pre-Season: NR)
Age: 17
2019 Highest Level: DSL
I always love the guys coming back in deals for mediocre MLB talent like what happened in the Andrew Cashner deal. He is a 17-year-old that is walking more than he is striking out and has some speed. Loads of potential to dream on here and not a lot in the system have that. He is obviously far away, but these guys are worth monitoring and striking early on just in case they continue to rise. 

14. Zac Lowther, LHP (Pre-Season: 8)
Age: 23
2019 Highest Level: Double-A
Having a really nice season, with a 2.64 ERA and 94 strikeouts in 99 innings. Big bodied left-hander that gets by on good command and deception despite a fringy fastball. He’s closer than some of the other starters in the system, so he brings a nice floor. Three quarters slot with a weird release cause his fastball to play up a tick.

15. Drew Rom, LHP (Pre-Season: 40)
Age: 19
2019 Highest Level: Low-A
A lower velocity lefty, but not your typical soft tossing southpaw. Nice splitter and slider to go along with a well commanded fastball. 94 K’s in 73.2 innings is no joke. Body looks like he could fill out and extremely young. If he develops a little more velocity, he will skyrocket. 

16. Gunnar Henderson, SS (Pre-Season: NR)
Age: 18
2019 Highest Level: Rookie
The No. 42 overall pick in the 2019 draft, Henderson has average tools across the board. He needs to add more muscle to his frame or become better at shortstop to be fantasy relevant. Struggling in his debut with a .118 average and no extra base hits.

17. Hunter Harvey, RHP (Pre-Season: 12)
Age: 24
2019 Highest Level: Triple-A
Harvey’s days a potential TOR arm are probably over at this point. Injuries have really limited the former top prospect, but the idea of him as a late inning closer are intriguing. His plus fastball and plus curveball are still there. 

18. Rylan Bannon, 3B (Pre-Season: 21)
Age: 23
2019 Highest Level: Double-A
Another solid, all-around player without any standout skills. A solid defender, he should provide value as a utility player with multi-positional eligibility. He might be a 15/15 guy if things break right. Reminds me of a Dustin Pedroia type; someone that always finds a way to beat you and you can’t take out of the lineup.

19. Bruce Zimmermann, LHP (Pre-Season: 14)
Age: 24
2019 Highest Level: Double-A
Big lefty, holding his own this year in Double-A with a 2.58 ERA and 101 strikeouts in 101 innings. He’s changed my mind this year as I thought he was a lefty bullpen guy but he might stick in the rotation. Wish he was a bit younger, but he is continuing to progress. 

20. Blaine Knight, RHP (Pre-Season: 15)
Age: 23
2019 Highest Level: High-A
Slight build and I mean slight (6’ 3’’, 165 pounds). Nice fastball, was having a phenomenal season in Low-A, but has struggled since his promotion. Polished, but needs to add weight/muscle to quell durability concerns. 

21. Mason McCoy, SS (Pre-Season: NR)
Age: 24
2019 Highest Level: Double-A
Maybe a better real-life player than in fantasy, McCoy is a plus defender at SS with a nice hit tool. Right there, you have someone worth monitoring. Hitting .295 at AA, if he would steal some bases (he has above average speed) he would be a real asset. 

22. Zach Watson, OF (Pre-Season: NR)
Age: 22
2019 Highest Level: Rookie
No. 79 overall pick out of LSU. Speedy outfielder, needs to add a bit more punch to really be intriguing for the future. Reminds me of a right handed Brett Gardner. Hopefully the power comes.

23. Dillon Tate, RHP (Pre-Season: 18)
Age: 25
2019 Highest Level: Double-A
The former No. 4 overall pick and former Gaucho, Tate has really fallen since being drafted. He is almost certainly not a starter and he still struggles against young competition despite the good arsenal. I think he eventually makes it as a decent bullpen arm down the line. 

24. Jean Carmona, 2B/3B (Pre-Season: 27)
Age: 19
2019 Highest Level: Rookie
The lottery ticket piece in the Schoop deal last year, there is a lot to like with Carmona. Haven’t seen a lot from him for this year, but the skillset is there. Keep watching to see how he progress and jump early on him if he shows improvement.  

25. Zach Pop, RHP (Pre-Season: 32)
Age: 22
2019 Highest Level: Double-A
One of my favorite relief prospects on any team, Pop was off to a wonderful start before Tommy John surgery cost him the year. When he is right, he was an elite ground ball pitcher with an elite fastball from a low arm slot. Hoping he can come back for 2020. 

26. JC Encarnacion, 3B (Pre-Season: 9)
Age: 21
2019 Highest Level: Low-A
I’ve never been to high on JCE, even in his Braves days. He is supposed to have this great power, but it hasn’t shown up in-game. 8 home runs in 364 at-bats this year isn’t convincing me otherwise. Still oozes tools and potential, but I am not getting too excited here.  

27. Alex Wells, LHP (Preseason: 20)
Age: 22
2019 Highest Level: Double-A
1.93 ERA in Double-A is no joke. Fastball barely reaches 90 MPH, but he has plus command and control and a change up. And he’s left handed. These guys have a knack of making it to the big leagues and staying in a rotation for a decade. 

28. Cody Sedlock, RHP (Preseason Rank: 44)
Age: 24
2019 Highest Level: 2019
Great pedigree as a former first rounder, but he has taken forever to progress. Finally reached Double-A in 2019 and has yet to allow a run in 8 innings of work. If the injuries are past him and his stuff comes back, watch out. He knows how to pitch. 


Tier 5: 

29. Brenan Hanifee, RHP (Pre-Season: 29)
Age: 21
2019 Highest Level: High-A
Was supposed to have control as a plus, but currently sporting 57:44 K:BB. Still has the smooth delivery and polish that made him interesting, but seems to be stalling out a little bit now. Still No. 4 starter if things improve, if only a little.

30. Cadyn Grenier, SS (Pre-Season: 23)
Age: 22
2019 Highest Level: High-A
Surprised me a bit by hitting 8 home runs already. Was supposed to be a glove first shortstop, but the improvement in power means he might be Orlando Arcia if it continues. He’s a great defender so keep an eye on his offensive progress. 

31. Lamar Sparks, OF (Preseason Rank: 38)
Age: 20
2019 Highest Level: Rookie
Perhaps some of the best tools in the system but has been a little disappointing after missing all of 2018 with a shoulder injury. I wanted him to take a giant leap, but he is worth waiting on for a little bit more. Not too many guys down here on the list match his potential.

32. Cameron Bishop, LHP (Preseason Rank: 33)
Age: 23
2019 Highest Level: High-A
Lefty with some better stuff than some of the other lefties in the system. Having a decent year and the strikeouts show some upside. Good size as well, probably worth betting on if you want a lefty in the system not named D.L. Hall 

33. Mason Janvrin, OF (Preseason Rank: NR)
Age: 21
2019 Highest Level: Rookie
9 stolen bases in the GCL, he can fly. 14th round pick. Speed guys always need to be on radars when it comes to fantasy. 

34. Luis Ortiz, RHP (Pre-Season: 26)
Age: 23
2019 Highest Level: MLB
Former first-round pick who got out of shape and then has gotten back into shape. Sporting a 6.48 ERA but did make his MLB debut. The huge upside is long gone but I can’t write him off a potential back-end starter just yet. 

35. Brett Cumberland, C (Preseason: 18)
Age: 24
2019 Highest Level: Double-A
Another switch-hitting catcher, but not nearly on the level of Rutschman. He walks a ton and provides good(ish) defense. Might be cool to have two switch-hitting catchers on the big league roster down the line.

36. Robert Neustrom, OF (Preseason Rank: 28)
Age: 22
2019 Highest Level: High-A
Flashes some power potential, but hasn’t really shown up yet. Shows a good approach and is decently athletic. Needs to hit for power to make it to the next level.

37. Leonardo Rodriguez, RHP (Preseason Rank: 47)
Age: 21
2019 Highest Level: Short Season
1.67 ERA with some decent strikeout numbers. Intimidating 6’ 7’’ pitcher. Low 90’s, I imagine could tick up in time.

38. JJ Mongomery, RHP (Preseason Rank: NR)
Age: 22
2019 Highest level: Rookie
A little old for the GCL, but throws hard and has a decent changeup. Need to get another pitch to be interesting, but big body and live arm. 

39. Gray Fenter, RHP (Preseason Rank: 37)
Age: 23
2019 Highest Level: High-A
99 strikeouts in 76.1 innings and a great 2.01 ERA. Great to see after coming back from injury. Ball jumps out of his hand again. 

40. Matthias Dietz, RHP (Preseason Rank: 24)
Age: 23
2019 Highest Level: High-A
The arm still brings hope, but he has been stuck in Single-A purgatory for 3 years and this year he is walking everyone (36:49 K:BB). Oh, and a 10.91 ERA. 

41. Ademar Rifaela, OF (Preseason Rank: NR)
Age: 24
2019 Highest Level : Triple-A
Has some power and is close to the bigs. Maybe with a juiced ball he can pop a few out for you. 

42. Joseph Ortiz, SS (Preseason Rank: NR)
Age: 21
2019 Highest Level: Rookie
Glove first shortstop, with some intangibles that may have him overshoot any projections. He will stick at shortstop and has potential to have some pop. 

43. Darell Hernaiz, SS (Preseaon Rank: NR)
Age: 18
2019 Highest Level: Short Season
Has the basics in place and is young. If you trust the development team, he has some potential but of course he is far away from the bigs. 

44. Jake Zebron, RHP (Preseason Rank: 38)
Age: 19
2019 Highest Level: Rookie
Nice delivery, good arm. 1.80 ERA for 2019. Projection keeps me intrigued with him. 

45. Johnny Rizer, OF (Preseason Rank: NR)
Age: 22
2019 Highest Level: Low-A
2019 draftee that probably got selected solely on this catch:

46. Griffin McLarty, RHP (Preseason Rank: NR)
Age: 20
2019 Highest Level: Short Season
Control stud, also pitched in the LLWS. Needs a little more velocity to have a chance. 

47. Connor Gillispie, RHP (Preseaon Rank: NR)
Age: 21
2019 Highest Level: Short Season
Nice strikeout totals at VCU. 118 Strikeouts in only 86.1 innings. Reliever only at this point, but still worth noting. 

48. Maverick Handley, C (Preseaon Rank: NR)
Age: 21
2019 Highest Level: N/A
Name alone gets him in the top 50. Teammate of Stowers from Stanford. Killer mustache as well.

49. Trevor Craport, OF (Preseason Rank: 41)
Age: 22
2019 Highest Level: High-A
Recently released, but was playing all year. Not sure what happened, but hopefully he is back with the club soon.

50. Ryan Ripken, 1B (Preseason Rank: NR)
Age: 26
2019 Highest Level: Double-A
Yes, Cal’s kid. Hitting .375 in Double-A right now, so pretty much going to be better than his dad (so what if it is only 5 games)

Adley RutschmanPhoto Credit Keith Allison, @keithallison




About Alex Sanchez 5 Articles
My goal is to provide an unique perspective when it comes to baseball so that readers can have the information and insight, as well as a bold and progressive analysis. I trust the analytics, but I also trust my eyes when I see the player perform on the field. I don’t want to regurgitate the same, old information but rather I want to give my opinion that is based on research and well-developed thought. Baseball is a game on intricacies and delicate balances and I want to explore every facet that I can. Here on Prospects1500 I will give you the inside scoop on the prospects so that you get to know who they are before everyone else. I won’t always be right, but I can promise my logic and dedication will be sound. Feel free to reach out to discuss and debate and let’s get to prospecting!

2 Trackbacks / Pingbacks

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