Baltimore Orioles 2021 Midseason Top 50 Prospects

Orioles Top 50 design by @designsbypack on Twitter

Despite the fact that the Orioles currently hover anywhere between 20 and 30 games under .500, I’m more excited about the Orioles than I was on October 3, 2014, when Delmon Young doubled home 3 runs to take the lead over Detroit in the ALDS. That day was the loudest I’ve ever heard the yard and I was there the night Cal Ripken Jr. played his 2130th consecutive game, and the day Ken Griffey Jr. hit the warehouse in the Home Run Derby.

Gone are the days where drafting at the top of the first round automatically meant the Orioles would be drafting the best prospect in the system. In fact, Colton Cowser may have struggled to break in to the top 5 if last year’s first round pick, Heston Kjerstad, wasn’t battling issues related to Myocarditis. This current Baltimore system has a ton to be excited about, top to bottom. From the soon-to-be top prospect in baseball to an emerging international presence, GM Mike Elias has a plan and continues to execute that plan each time he has the opportunity.

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. Adley Rutschman, C (January rank #1)
Age: 23
Current Level: Double-A
While we can’t call him the best prospect in baseball yet, his first half has only cemented his status as the future of the franchise.

2. Grayson Rodriguez, RHP (January rank #2)
Age: 21
Current Level: Double-A
Arguably the best pitching prospect in baseball. GrayRod has been nearly unhittable in 2021 regardless of what level he calls home.

3. D.L. Hall, LHP (January rank #4)
Age: 22
Current Level: Double-A
The growth from 2019 to 2021 has been immense for a pitcher who was already viewed as a potential front of the rotation arm.

Tier 2

4. Gunnar Henderson, SS (January rank #6)
Age: 20
Current Level: High-A
Seeing time at both shortstop and third base, Henderson has shown the offensive prowess that makes him a potential middle of the order bat for years to come, regardless of where he ends up on the field.

5. Colton Cowser, OF (January rank N/A)
Age: 21
Current Level: 2021 Draft Pick, 1st Round
Drafted 5th overall in the 2021 Draft, Cowser is a potential 5 tool player. He absolutely dominated the Southland Conference while at Sam Houston State hitting 16 home runs, stealing 17 bases, posting a 42/32 BB/K and an OPS of 1.170.

6. Heston Kjerstad, OF (January rank #3)
Age: 22
Current Level: Low-A
Kjerstad has done nothing to drop 3 spots on this list, but continued complications from Myocarditis have kept the 2020 2nd overall pick from making his Orioles debut and Henderson and Hall have been phenomenal.

7. Jordan Westburg, SS (January rank #11)
Age: 22
Current Level: High-A
Westburg just missed being a top 10 prospect prior to playing a game in an Orioles uniform and apparently, I was underrating him. Earning a promotion to High-A after just 20 games, Westburg should move quickly.

8. Terrin Vavra, 2B (January rank #8)
Age: 24
Current Level: Double-A
Vavra has continued to excel at getting on base in his first crack at Double-A. He’s worked to make himself as valuable as he can, playing second base, shortstop and centerfield thus far in 2021.

9. Mike Baumann, RHP (January rank #9)
Age: 25
Current Level: Double-A
Some uncharacteristic struggles with command to open 2021 have likely kept him from jumping to Triple-A Norfolk, but he will likely make his Baltimore debut at some point in 2021.

Tier 3

10. Yusniel Diaz, OF (January rank #7)
Age: 24
Current Level: Triple-A
With the strength of the Baltimore outfield and Diaz continuing to struggle, he may be seeing his window close in Baltimore sooner rather than later, but the talent is still there and he’s just an injury away at this point.

11. Hudson Haskin, OF (January rank #15)
Age: 22
Current Level: High-A
Haskin just about jumps into the top 10 at the midpoint, impressing with both the bat and legs thus far. While the O’s likely hope a bit more pop will come.

12. Kyle Bradish, RHP (January rank #27)
Age: 24
Current Level: Triple-A
One of, if not the fastest riser in the system, he absolutely dominated Double-A Bowie in 3 starts posting a 17.1 K/9, a 4.6 H/9, and a 0.00 ERA before being promoted to Triple-A Norfolk where he has held his own.

13. Jahmai Jones, 2B (Angels’ January rank #7)
Age: 23
Current Level: Triple-A
All Jones has done as an Oriole is hit, with the gaping hole at 2B in Baltimore, I don’t think it will be long before we see Jones get the call.

14. Kevin Smith, LHP (January rank #12)
Age: 24
Current Level: Triple-A
Smith only allowed 4 earned in his first 26 innings in Double-A before he was quickly promoted to Triple-A Norfolk. The lefty is part of the stable of arms waiting for a shot in Baltimore in 2021.

15. Kyle Stowers, OF (January rank #18)
Age: 23
Current Level: Double-A
Stowers made quick work of High-A Aberdeen, needing just 36 games to earn a promotion to Bowie, showing the combination of power and ability to get on base that made him a second round pick in 2019.

16. Zac Lowther, LHP (January rank #13)
Age: 25
Current Level: Triple-A
Made his MLB debut in April and made his first MLB start in May. The results have not been there yet, but the swing and miss still has been. Plenty of room to grow into the MLB rotation.

17. Alexander Wells, LHP (January rank #17)
Age: 24
Current Level: Triple-A
Wells has been up and down thus far in his first crack at Triple-A. However, much like Lowther, the growing pains aren’t unexpected, and it doesn’t change the likelihood that he makes at least 1 start in Baltimore this season.

18. Adam Hall, 2B/SS (January rank #19)
Age: 22
Current Level: High-A
Seeing his first action in centerfield, Hall has played all 3 positions up the middle as his wheels and solid glove allow him to contribute in plenty of ways outside of at the plate.

19. Maikol Hernandez, SS (January – unranked)
Age: 17
Current Level: Rookie (Dominican Summer League)
For the first time in franchise history, the Orioles handed out 7 figure bonuses to Hernandez and Samuel Basallo, who you’ll hear about soon. When you hear comparisons to Alex Rodriguez and Carlos Correa the ceiling should be immediately evident for the potentially 5 tool prospect.

20. Drew Rom, LHP (January rank #21)
Age: 21
Current Level: High-A
Another level, more dominance from Rom, as he continues to progress toward a rotation spot in Baltimore.

21. Carter Baumler, RHP (January rank #20)
Age: 19
Current Level: Low-A
The 2020 5th round pick has yet to make his professional debut due to Tommy John surgery in October. With a big projectable frame and plenty of time, Baumler should add to his mid 90’s fastball and potentially plus curve.

22. Coby Mayo, 3B (January rank #25)
Age: 19
Current Level: Rookie (Florida Complex League)
The big 3B kicked off his professional career with a bang, with 7 hits in his first 15 professional at bats. With plus raw power the ceiling is high for Mayo whether he sticks at 3B or shifts to 1B as he progresses.

23. Samuel Basallo, C (January rank N/A)
Age: 16
Highest Level: Rookie (Dominican Summer League)
The other 7 figure bonus went to the big backstop with plus power potential, the youth and bat should leave Basallo with plenty of room to grow.

24. Connor Norby, 2B (January rank N/A)
Age: 21
Current Level: 2021 Draft Pick, 2nd Round
If you were building a stereotypical second baseman, Norby would be it. He led the nation with 102 hits in 2021, slashing .415/.484/.659 chipping in 15 home runs and 18 stolen bases, he should move quickly.

25. Darell Hernaiz, 2B/SS (January rank #34)
Age: 19
Current Level: Low-A
Hernaiz doesn’t have any one tool that jumps off the page, but the raw talent leaves plenty of room to grow giving him the upside of a full time regular with the athleticism to be a utility man as a floor.

26. Luis Gonzalez, OF (January rank #46)
Age: 18
Current Level: Rookie (Florida Complex League)
Part of the first international class in Mike Elias’s reign, Gonzalez is a big lefty with plenty of raw power, but as usual, that comes with a lot of swing and miss.

27. Luis Ortiz, LHP (January rank #31)
Age: 18
Current Level: Rookie (Florida Complex League)
Coupled with Gonzalez, Ortiz signed in the 19/20 international period with one of the biggest bonuses of all time for Baltimore, the tall lefty has room to grow and a fastball that already hits 95.

Tier 4

28. Tyler Nevin, 1B/3B/OF (January rank #14)
Age: 24
Current Level: Triple-A
Another Oriole prospect to debut in the first half, Nevin has played all four corner infield and corner outfield positions giving himself the best chance to get his bat to Baltimore.

29. Ryan McKenna, OF (January rank #22)
Age: 24
Current Level: MLB
Getting the call to the big club very early in the season, McKenna struggled a bit with very irregular playing time, but I still like the upside.

30. Anthony Servideo, 2B/SS (January rank #24)
Age: 22
Current Level: Low-A
Servideo has been called glove first, but prior to his hip injury, he was getting on base at a .489 clip a number that I don’t think will get many complaints.

31. Garrett Stallings, RHP (January rank #23)
Age: 23
Current Level: High-A
Stallings has shown the elite command of his 4 pitch mix thus far in 2021 that gives him the likely floor of a backend MLB starter

32. Elio Prado, OF (January rank #28)
Age: 19
Current Level: Low-A (on IL)
Showing a knack for getting on base and making solid contact, he’s someone I’d expect to move up this list quickly once he makes his 2021 debut.

33. Joey Ortiz, 2B/SS (January rank #41)
Age: 23
Current Level: Double-A
Ortiz got off to a great start at High-A Aberdeen, quickly earning a promotion after just 89 plate appearances.

34. Zach Watson, OF (January rank #33)
Age: 24
Current Level: Double-A
Contact concerns aside, Watson can fly and covers a ton of ground in centerfield and has shown more extra base ability than I’d have anticipated.

35. Cadyn Grenier, SS (January rank #32)
Age: 24
Current Level: Double-A
Called glove first when he was drafted in the first round in 2018, Grenier has shown more pop and made more contact than I’d have foreseen, double-digit home runs aren’t out of the question.

36. Blaine Knight, RHP (January rank #36)
Age: 25
Current Level: Double-A
Starting back at High-A after a disaster of a 2019 season, Knight has quickly re-established himself as an arm to watch with a heavy fastball and above-average control he’s has a back of the rotation candidate/innings eater floor.

37. Kyle Brnovich, RHP (January rank #42)
Age: 23
Current Level: Double-A
A 12.6 K/9 and a 4.7 H/9 in 8 High-A starts, Brnovich was quickly promoted to Bowie to join one of the best groups of pitchers in all of minor league baseball.

38. Marcos Diplan, RHP (January – unranked)
Age: 24
Highest Level: Triple-A
Once a highly ranked prospect in Milwaukee, Diplan stalled out in Double-A as a starter but has reinvented himself in the Baltimore bullpen, earning a trip to the Futures Game and a shot at some high leverage situations with the big club before the 2021 season concludes.

39. Rylan Bannon, 3B (January rank #29)
Age: 25
Current Level: Triple-A
Bannon has struggled mightily in the first half, but it’s a small sample and the large sample has been much more indicative of the potential he has shown. Will still need to turn it around and quickly to see Baltimore this year.

40. Isaac Mattson, RHP (January rank #38)
Age: 26
Current Level: Triple-A
Much like Bannon, Mattson has struggled to get back into the swing of things in 2021, struggling at Triple-A Norfolk.

Tier 5

41. Cameron Bishop, LHP (January – unranked)
Age: 25
Highest Level: Double-A
After some 2019 struggles, Bishop has bounced back in a big way in 2021, re-establishing himself as a potential starter for Baltimore.

42. Josue Cruz, 1B (January – unranked)
Age: 20
Highest Level: Rookie (Florida Complex League)
A big tall lefty that is yet to fill out but has shown plenty of raw power and an ability to draw a walk, hitting 11 home runs in 237 at bats while walking 14% of the time in 2019.

43. Moises Ramirez, 3B (January – unranked)
Age: 19
Highest Level: Rookie (Florida Complex League)
Ramirez signed in 2018, the first, last and really only international signing period that Dan Duquette took part in. Don’t let this cloud your judgment on Ramirez though, as the third basemen has plenty of upside, highlighted by a 16 for 37 start with 5 extra base hits and 3 walks in his first 10 games stateside.

44. Mason McCoy, SS (January rank #43)
Age: 26
Current Level: Triple-A
He has struggled a bit thus far in his first shot at Triple-A, but he’s moved around the diamond as a potential utility player, logging starts at 2B, 3B, CF, LF and SS thus far.

45. Zach Peek, RHP (January rank #44)
Age: 23
Current Level: High-A
Baltimore’s pitching depth shows here with the placement of Peek, who, because of COVID, is just making his professional debut in 2021 in Single A, he’s dominating against younger competition, but a 12.6 K/9 is impressive no matter who you’re facing.

46. Jean Carmona, 2B/3B/SS (January rank #45)
Age: 21
Current Level: Low-A
Carmona appears to have found his stroke in 2021 and is still only 21 years old, giving him time to develop a bit more pop while he’s on his way to Baltimore.

47. Johnny Rizer, OF (January rank #48)
Age: 24
Highest Level: Double-A
While the 7th round pick in 2019 has some swing and miss to work through, Rizer is averaging an extra base hit almost 40% of the time in 2021 while being promoted to Double-A after just 59 at bats.

48. Robert Neustrom, OF (January – unranked)
Age: 24
Highest Level: Triple-A
Neustrom has shown a more advanced approach at the plate than Rizer, but possesses a similar power/speed combo that could lead to double-digit home runs and stolen bases.

49. J.D. Mundy, 1B (January – unranked)
Age: 23
Highest Level: High-A
An undrafted free agent from the 2020 draft, Mundy has raked through his first 200 professional at bats. He has shown a solid eye and good power, walking 17 times, and hitting 4 home runs in 89 plate appearances in Low-A before being promoted.

50. Maverick Handley, C (January – unranked)
Age: 23
Highest Level: High-A
Called by many a glove first catcher, Handley has shown some extra base ability thus far in Aberdeen, as well as the athleticism that makes him so valuable behind the plate, swiping 11 bases in 12 attempts, while throwing out 45% of would be base stealers.




About Ryan James 21 Articles
An absolute sports fanatic. Be it at the office, a family gathering or my wife’s restaurant you can usually find me talking sports, especially baseball. When I am not at the office working for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania at a small bureau in the Dept. of Human Services, I love to golf, go to Baltimore to catch the O’s or Ravens and spend time with my amazing wife of 5 years. Follow me on Twitter @RyanJames5.

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