As the 2021 minor league season nears its end, the Orioles minor league system has become a force. When your system possesses arguably the best overall prospect and the best pitching prospect in baseball, you can’t help but be excited for the future. While a full wrap-up of the system is on the horizon, I wanted to first dive a bit deeper and look at some of the teenage prospects for those of you, who like me, are always looking for dynasty sleepers to grab before anyone else is in on them.
While we’re looking at teenagers here, I’m only going to give a short mention to players like Coby Mayo, Maikol Hernandez, Samuel Basallo, Luis Gonzalez and Carter Baumler. While Mayo is absolutely mashing (.323/.426/.565, 22 XBH) in 161 at bats split between the complex league in Sarasota and Delmarva, he’s a known entity at this point. Luis Gonzalez and Maikol Hernandez have struggled a bit in 2021, but they represent the biggest investments in the past two international signing periods and are likely owned in deep dynasty leagues. Basallo just turned 17 last month and has had an incredibly successful debut, while one of the youngest players in the Dominican Summer League, but again, he’s likely owned in deep leagues. While Carter Baumler has yet to make his debut after undergoing Tommy John surgery, you’re probably not finding him as a sleeper, so we’re diving deeper than that.
Basallo and Hernandez play on DSL 1 in the Dominican Summer League, so while the team’s record isn’t fantastic, it is where the larger profile prospects are. The best hitter on that roster this season hasn’t been Basallo or Hernandez though, it’s been Anderson De Los Santos. Playing the entire season at 17 years old, all but 3 of his at bats have come against pitchers that are older than he is. He has shown great command of the strike zone, striking out only 14% of the time, while walking 12% and showing some pop as well with 10 extra base hits in 123 plate appearances. While he appears to be advanced at the plate, he is very raw on the left side of the infield. He has split time between SS and 3B but has committed 10 errors in just 86 chances this season, so he may find himself in the outfield eventually, but if this small sample is any indication, the bat should play regardless of where he ends up.
🇩🇴 DSL Age 17 OPS Leaders (70+ PA)
1029 Anderson De Los Santos BAL
947 Leonardo Balcazar CIN
942 Gabriel Gonzalez SEA
942 Daniel Montesino SD
931 Victor Acosta SD
924 Romtres Cabrera STL
905 Cristian Santana DET
903 Hendry Mendez MIL
903 Hector Rodriguez NYM
897 Carlos Jorge CIN
— Michael Richards (@MPRichards1981) August 22, 2021
Another DSL 1 name to watch is Venezuelan righty Cesar Alvarez. Just making his professional debut, despite being signed at the beginning of the 2019 international period, Alvarez has looked solid this summer. Despite some struggles with control, he’s walked 4 hitters per 9, Alvarez has dominated across his 43 innings. He’s used a 12.6 K/9 and a 6.7 H/9 to work around those walks and limit the damage that can come from them. Alvarez should make his stateside debut next year with some ability to move quickly should he be able to improve his command.
Moving stateside, the Florida Complex League Orioles have seen quite a few successful seasons in 2021. If you’re so inclined, check out Isaac Bellony, Stiven Acevedo and Isaac De Leon, all teenagers doing great things in Sarasota. However, the biggest bat this season at Ed Smith Stadium has been Moises Ramirez. I snuck him in at #43 in my Orioles midseason top 50 and he hasn’t disappointed in 2021. I’ve mentioned extra base hits a few times already, but Ramirez has 15 in 126 plate appearances this season, which is an extra base hit 12% of the time. For reference, the only players in Major League Baseball with a better percentage in 2021 are Tatis Jr., Ohtani, Harper and Castellanos. Not bad company. Ramirez will need to learn to take a walk as he only walked 4 times in 126 plate appearances, but a .341 OBP with 4 walks, tells you he hit the ball well and often in 2021.
In the midseason Top 50 I mentioned that Ramirez was signed in 2019, the last season Dan Duquette was in charge. Another of Duquette’s signings in 2019, Raul Rangel, is showing great promise as well. At 6’3” 150 pounds (yes you read that right, 150 pounds) the righty sits in the mid 90’s with a curveball and changeup already showing as potentially above average. This says to me you can likely expect an MPH bump on his fastball as he fills out a bit. Rangel won’t turn 19 until after the 2021 season, meaning he is was very young for the FCL, with only 10 of his 130 batters faced being younger than he is. He showed good command in his 36 innings, only walking 9 batters, while striking out 45. Hopefully all of this means we see Rangel in Delmarva in 2022, after hitting a buffet or two this winter.
#orioles pitching prospect Raul Rangel drops an absolute dime to 1B Josue Cruz picking off IF Leonel Sanchez in slo-mo. Rangel is showing some promise so far w/.224 avg against, 18k in 15IP& 1.80 ERA #defense #niceplay #birdland pic.twitter.com/e0Lya17mMt
— Eric_Birdland (@Eric_Birdland) July 24, 2021
The final teenage prospect to keep an eye on, Mishael Deson, can give Rangel some pointers, when it comes to filling out. Deson was listed at 6’3” 155 pounds when he signed with Colorado in 2019. Acquired in the Mychal Givens deal, Deson is now listed at 6’4” 195, putting on 40 pounds in 2 years without losing the athleticism that Baltimore saw when dealing for him is an impressive feat. All Deson has done in 2021 is slash .369/.416/.515 while in Sarasota, earning him a promotion to Delmarva to wrap up the season. He was red hot in August with 6 extra base hits in 63 plate appearances, 8 stolen bases in 10 attempts and an OPS of 1.124.
While these guys are a few years away, the potential upside is certainly there, so add them to your watchlist or pick them up now, before they’re household names.
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.