Baltimore Orioles 2020 Top 50 Prospects

Adley Rutschman, Aberdeen Ironbirds vs. Connecticut Tigers, Dodd Stadium, Norwich, CT. August 6, 2019. Photo credit - Scott Greene, @Scotty_Ballgame on Twitter

The Orioles farm system has been the butt of many jokes over the last few years. While much of the slack is well deserved, the system has moved in the right direction over the last few years and has some real potential impact players at the top, as well as a fair amount of depth. A few years ago, the bottom of a list of 50 prospects in Baltimore, would have been a wasteland, however, I would have had no trouble extending this list to include players such as new Rule V pick, Michael Rucker, 2019 draftees Dan Hammer, Connor Gillispie, Jake Lyons, Mason Janvrin and Toby Welk, as well as a few very young names from the Dominican Summer League, Erison Placencia, Stiven Acevedo and Josue Cruz.

That said, it is the group at the top, to include 2019 first overall pick Adley Rutschman, that have the fans buzzing about the young up and comers in Baltimore. Knowing that Ryan Mountcastle, Austin Hays, Dean Kremer and Keegan Akin, all within the top 15, should find themselves in an Orioles uniform this season has become the light at the end of the tunnel after 3 consecutive last place finishes and back to back hundred loss seasons. Without digging too far into the Orioles, I do think the worst is over and as the previously mentioned prospects arrive, things will only continue to improve.


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
Age: 21 (DOB 02/06/1998)
2019 Highest Level: Full Season Single-A
The 2019 1st overall pick, Rutschman had a solid debut, making brief stops across the Gulf Coast League, Short Season Aberdeen and full season Single-A Delmarva. Rutschman checks all the boxes, with above average tools across the board, beyond his ability as a runner, which is still better than average for a catcher. I expect Rutschman to move quickly, likely starting the season back in Delmarva but seeing plenty of time in High-A Frederick in 2020. The Orioles have no reason to rush him, but also no reason to hold him back.
ETA: 2021

2. Grayson Rodriguez, RHP
Age: 20 (DOB 11/16/1999)
2019 Highest Level: Full Season Single-A
Rodriguez has been nothing short of fantastic since being drafted 11th overall in the 2018 draft. The Jump to full season Delmarva in his first full profession season proved to be no challenge, so expect the Orioles to continue to move him along at a good pace. He posted an amazing 5.5 H/9 and an eye popping 12.4 K/9 in 2019. Rodriguez’s heavy low to mid nineties fastball leads to a lot of weak ground balls and his potentially plus slider generates plenty of swing and miss. I fully expect to see Rodriguez and Rutschman form a formidable battery for years to come.
ETA: 2022


Tier 2

3. DL Hall, LHP
Age: 21 (DOB 09/19/1998)
2019 Highest Level: High-A
The swing and miss stuff is certainly there for Hall, as we saw his K/9 rise from 9.5 to 12.9 in 2019. He also dropped his H/9 to 5.9, however, we also saw his BB/9 rise to 6.0, making Hall a 3 true outcome pitcher at High-A Frederick. Everything about his stuff and delivery says the command should improve, but at this point it is holding Hall back a bit. I still see Hall as a potential 2/3 starter, ideally slotting in right behind Grayson Rodriguez, for years to come.
ETA: 2021

4. Ryan Mountcastle, 1B/OF
Age: 22 (DOB 02/18/1997)
2019 Highest Level: Triple-A
Over the last 3 seasons, Mountcastle has played 82 games at SS, 90 at 3B, 84 at 1B and 26 in the outfield. This is not because he profiles as a utility type, it’s because his bat has to be in the lineup somewhere. Mountcastle does not have a true home in the field, but after slashing .312/.344/.527 at Triple-A Norfolk last year, he has little left to prove in the minors. He has hit at every level and should find himself in Baltimore sooner rather than later, we’re just not sure where he will play yet.
ETA: 2020

5. Austin Hays, OF
Age: 24 (DOB 07/05/1995)
2019 Highest Level: MLB
After ripping through the minors and making his MLB debut in just his first full professional season, Hays has battled injuries and inconsistency in his attempts to recreate that performance. Fans in Baltimore hope they caught a glimpse of what’s to come in his 68 at bat September call up last year. Hays slashed .309/.373/.574 and played a brilliant center field. While he has never stolen many bases, Hays is a true 5 tool player, earning above average grades across the board. I look for him to be manning center field on Opening Day.
ETA: 2020

6. Yusniel Diaz, OF
Age: 23 (DOB 10/07/1996)
2019 Highest Level: Double-A
Another 5-tool player, we have only seen flashes of what Diaz is truly capable of. While all of that potential has not translated to consistent results thus far, but he is a player I’m looking for a breakout from in 2020. Should he realize his potential, I could easily see him in Baltimore by the second half of the season.
ETA: 2020

7. Dean Kremer, RHP
Age: 23 (DOB 01/07/1996)
2019 Highest Level: Triple-A
Kremer has always had swing and miss stuff, posting a career 10.9 K/9 over his 350+ minor league innings. In the year and a half since coming to Baltimore in the Machado trade, Kremer has dominated Double-A Bowie, posting and FIP of 3.04 in 2018 and following that with a 3.56 in 2019. He earned a late season call up to Triple-A Norfolk where he struggled in 4 starts, but that shouldn’t be much of a concern. His plus curveball and quickly improving slider should continue to generate swings and misses in Baltimore at some point in 2020.
ETA: 2020

8. Zac Lowther, LHP
Age: 23 (DOB 04/30/1996)
2019 Highest Level: Double-A
While Lowther certainly doesn’t have an overpowering fastball, typically sitting 87-91, he does have a dominant one. Lowther uses the late life on his fastball, an above average curveball and a potentially above average changeup to continue to outperform the projections. Lowther has also shown the potential to be a workhorse, so he should fit in nicely in the middle of a future Orioles rotation.
ETA: 2020


Tier 3

9. Gunnar Henderson, SS
Age: 18 (DOB 06/29/2001)
2019 Highest Level: Gulf Coast League
Big shortstops are nothing new in Baltimore, both from recent memory as well as a fairly famous one that has found himself in Cooperstown now. The Orioles hope Henderson can follow down that same road after taking him with the first pick of the second round in 2019. At 6’3” the debate, of course, is whether he can stick at short, but the athleticism I have seen leads me to believe he can, even as he fills out. Hopefully making him the next great big shortstop in Baltimore.
ETA: 2023

10. Michael Baumann, RHP
Age: 24 (DOB 09/10/1995)
2019 Highest Level: Double-A
I was a bit surprised Baumann stayed at High-A Frederick for as long as he did in 2019, while he was by no means dominant in 2018, I thought he would see 3-5 starts and jump to Double-A Bowie. While it took him 11 starts to earn that promotion, he didn’t disappoint upon his arrival. Baumann used the combination of his plus fastball and plus slider to dominate the Eastern League, allowing only 5.8 H/9 and throwing 2 complete game shutouts in 11 starts. The 6’4” righty gives the Orioles 3 starters at Double-A or higher that should be ready in the very near future, for the much-maligned Major League rotation.
ETA: 2020

11. Adam Hall, SS
Age: 20 (DOB 05/22/1999)
2018 Highest Level: Full Season Single-A
Plus speed and above average defense give Hall a pretty high floor. Drafted in the second round in 2017, Hall has improved with each promotion, slashing .298/.385/.395 at full season Delmarva in 2019, while stealing 33 bases. I think at worst, Hall can be a solid utility infielder, with a shot to be a starting shortstop, should the bat continue to progress.
ETA: 2021

12. Ryan McKenna, OF
Age: 22 (DOB 02/14/1997)
2019 Highest Level: Double-A
While not flashy, McKenna has proven that he can consistently barrel up the ball. His plus speed a solid instincts also give him the ability to play all 3 outfield positions, giving him a fairly high floor. Although he has struggled through a season and a half in the Eastern League, he still has the ability to be a contributor at the highest level, which could come sooner rather than later.
ETA: 2020

13. Keegan Akin, LHP
Age: 24 (DOB 04/01/1995)
2019 Highest Level: Triple-A
Along with the next pitcher on this list, Akin is the pitcher most likely to have a shot to open the season in Baltimore. Akin broke out in 2018, and while he didn’t have the same level of success in 2019, he certainly held his own in his first shot at Triple-A, with his FIP actually indicating he was a bit unlucky (4.73 ERA, 4.13 FIP). I look for Akin to open the year in the back half of Baltimore’s rotation.
ETA: 2020

14. Hunter Harvey, RHP
Age: 25 (DOB 12/09/1994)
2019 Highest Level: MLB
Talent has never been a question for Harvey, a fastball that reaches 97 and a plus curveball, combine with an average changeup gave him 3 quality pitches. Health however, has been a different story. With only 252 innings over 6 seasons, Harvey has had very little luck staying on the field and at least at this point, that has necessitated a move to the pen. That move agreed with Harvey as he punched out 11 over 6.1 innings in his debut last September. If he can stay healthy he should be a fixture at the back end of the bullpen for years to come.
ETA: 2020

15. Kyle Stowers, OF
Age: 21 (DOB 01/02/1998)
2019 Highest Level: Short Season A
Stowers raw power is legitimate. Hitting 19 HR in his 2 seasons as a starter at Stanford and another 6 in his debut last year. As is typical, that power comes with swing and miss concerns. A 24% strikeout rate is not awful for a power first bat though, so being a solid athlete, Stowers gives plenty of reason to believe he can improve on that number and find his way to Baltimore.
ETA: 2022

16. Drew Rom, LHP
Age: 20 (DOB 12/15/1999)
2019 Highest Level: Full Season A
Rom, similarly to Lowther does his damage without a high velocity fastball. Only sitting 88-91, Rom uses an above average slider and a split-fingered fastball that has kept hitters off balance thus far. With some room left for projection, Rom could easily find himself in the middle of the rotation in Baltimore.
ETA: 2022

17. Alex Wells, LHP
Age: 22 (DOB 02/27/1997)
2019 Highest Level: Double-A
I’m beginning to notice a trend amongst many of the left-handed starters in the Baltimore system and Wells certainly fits it to a T. With a fastball that rarely reaches the 90’s, the Australian starter has continually outpitched the projections. Most recently during his 15.2 inning Arizona Fall League stint, where Wells allowed only 1 earned run and 2 walks to some of the most promising hitting prospects in baseball. His plus changeup combined with plus control, gives Wells a solid shot at finding the back end of the rotation.
ETA: 2021

18. Cody Sedlock, RHP
Age: 24 (DOB 06/19/1995)
2019 Highest Level: Double-A
Thoracic Outlet Syndrome has knocked some of the luster from Sedlock’s prospect profile, but it hasn’t knocked him from the game. While the potentially dominant stuff that made him a 1st round pick in 2016 has faded a bit, his solid 4 pitch mix, led by an above average slider that still gives him a shot to find the back of the rotation or a long relief role in Baltimore.
ETA: 2021

19. Blaine Knight, RHP
Age: 23 (DOB 06/28/1996)
2019 Highest Level: High-A
On the surface High-A Frederick was not friendly to Knight, however when you dig in a bit deeper you’ll see an xFIP almost a run and a half better than his ERA and a LOB% of 56.6%, for reference anything lower than about 70% would be below average. As he fills out, Knight could see his fastball tick up to plus, so don’t take the bad result in his first shot at High-A as a sign of what’s to come for Knight.
ETA: 2021

20. Brandon Bailey, RHP
Age: 25 (DOB 10/19/1994)
2019 Highest Level: Double-A
The second overall pick in the 2019 Rule V draft could get a chance to start in Baltimore this year. With 3 above average pitches and a 4 pitch mix, despite his size, Bailey has the profile to be a starter, but being thrust into the majors straight from Double-A, means a role in the pen may be in his more immediate future.
ETA: 2020

21. Cadyn Grenier, SS
Age: 23 (DOB 10/31/1996)
2019 Highest Level: High-A
A glove first middle infielder who won’t ever be a fantasy stud. He did show a bit more pop with 36 extra base hits in 385 at bats in 2019. Couple that with an almost 13% BB rate and Grenier may have enough bat to get his glove in the lineup. Altogether, that likely gives him a floor of a utility infielder though, which isn’t a horrible place to be.
ETA: 2021

22. Elio Prado, OF
Age: 18 (DOB 11/29/2001)
2019 Highest Level: Dominican Summer League
Prado came to Baltimore in the Andrew Cashner trade in mid-July.The now 18 year old had a great showing in his debut, slashing .300/.403/.396 with 15 extra base hits, a 13.7 K rate and and 11.4% BB rate. With room to grow as he matures the center fielder should have room to add some pop and while a complete lottery ticket right now, the upside is there, he’s one to watch.
ETA: 2024

23. Zach Watson, OF
Age: 22 (DOB 06/25/1997)
2019 Highest Level: Full Season A
Watson can fly, 70 grade speed on the 20-80 scale, you can’t teach that. He showed fairly solid ability with the bat, never slashing less than the .308/.366/.479 he slashed as a Sophomore at LSU. The bat wasn’t at that level in his brief 2019 debut, but he still has time on his side.
ETA: 2022

24. Rylan Bannon, 3B
Age: 23 (DOB 04/22/1996)
2018 Highest Level: Triple-A
Despite his size, Bannon has showed a fair amount of pop in his 2 year minor league career. Some of that appears to be inflated a bit by a stint in the California league, but he still profiles as a bat first infielder. Having already seen time at second base and third base, Bannon can likely find his way to the majors as a utility player with a solid bat, at worst.
ETA: 2020

25. Brenan Hanifee, RHP
Age: 21 (DOB 05/29/1998)
2019 Highest Level: High-A
A crafty righty, if you will, Hanifee has excellent command and a great feel for pitching. With a heavy fastball that sits in the low 90’s and a rapidly improving slider that could be an above average pitch, along with some projectability at 6’5”, Hanifee has back of the rotation potential.
ETA: 2021

26. Kyle Bradish, RHP
Age: 23 (DOB 09/12/1996)
2019 Highest Level: High-A
Just acquired from Los Angeles in the Dylan Bundy deal, Bradish showed plenty of upside in his first full professional season, jumping directly to High-A Inland Empire, where he posted a 10.9 K/9. Command issues and a bit of effort in his delivery may eventually push him to the bullpen, but starter upside is there.
ETA: 2022


Tier 4

27. Darell Hernaiz, SS
Age: 18 (DOB 08/03/2001)
2019 Highest Level: Gulf Coast League
The O’s 5th round pick in 2019 is all projection. I can say he runs well, played a solid shortstop and posted a 15% BB rate in his debut. He did all of this while not turning 18 until early August. Another one to watch.
ETA: 2024

28. Zach Pop, RHP
Age: 23 (DOB 09/20/1996)
2019 Highest Level: Double-A
Pop underwent Tommy John surgery in May, delaying the big, hard throwing righties ascent to the majors. I imagine Baltimore will be cautious with Pop, likely meaning he will rehab at least until the All-Star Break next year.
ETA: 2020

29. Dillon Tate, RHP
Age: 25 (DOB 05/01/1994)
2019 Highest Level: MLB
Still not ready to call it a permanent move, Tate threw almost exclusively out of the bullpen last year, making his debut in August. The numbers say he wasn’t as bad as it appeared posting a 4.82 xFIP with a 6.43 ERA and again a low LOB% of 61%. I expect to see Tate in Baltimore’s pen sooner rather than later.
ETA: 2020

30. Mason McCoy, SS/2B
Age: 24 (DOB 03/31/1995)
2019 Highest Level: Double-A
Another glove first middle infielder, McCoy has progressed through the system a level ahead of the previously mentioned Cadyn Grenier. McCoy shows less pop than Grenier, but has had better success at the plate overall, telling me McCoy has less offensive upside and almost certainly carries a utility infielder upside.
ETA: 2020

31. JC Encarnacion, 3B
Age: 21 (DOB 01/17/1998)
2019 Highest Level: Full Season Single-A
Encarnacion has been tantalizing everyone with his massive upside since he signed in 2016. Above average raw power, a plus arm and very athletic, Encarnacion was very impressive in his debut. However, his K rate remained at 30% in 2019 and he’s still struggling to find that power. Still not time to give up on the soon to be 22 year old though.
ETA: 2022

32. Zach Peek, RHP
Age: 21 (DOB 05/06/1998)
2019 Highest Level: N/A
The 6th round pick comes to Baltimore from the Angels in the Bundy trade after not throwing at all last year. The Winthrop product sits in the low 90’s with a fighters chance to stay in the rotation.
ETA: 2023

33. Gray Fenter, RHP
Age: 23 (DOB 01/25/1996)
2019 Highest Level: Full Season Single-A
A 7th round selection in 2015 that the Orioles paid a million-dollar bonus to, Fenter has only thrown 230 professional innings due to various injuries. Despite the fantastic numbers he was old for his level, I see Fenter as a middle reliever at best at this point.
ETA: 2022

34. Isaac Mattson, RHP
Age: 24 (DOB 07/14/1995)
2019 Highest Level: Triple-A
Mattison jumped across 3 levels for Los Angeles in 2019 before being sent to Baltimore in the Bundy deal. Not a hard thrower, but he generated very solid strikeout numbers (13.3, 12.6 and 18.3), across High-A, Double-A and Triple-A.
ETA: 2020

35. Brett Cumberland, C
Age: 24 (DOB 06/25/1995)
2019 Highest Level: Double-A
Cumberland has always drawn walks, 13.4% BB rate in 2019. However, he, like Fenter, was old for his level and offers limited upside outside of the high OBP. A backup catcher ceiling.
ETA: 2021

36. Kyle Brnovich, RHP
Age: 22 (DOB 10/20/1997)
2019 Highest Level: N/A
A 2019 8th round pick, Brnovich also came to Baltimore in the Dylan Bundy deal and also like Peek, did not pitch professionally in 2019. Brnovich sits low 90’s with an above average curveball, that led him to a very solid career at Elon.
ETA: 2023

37. Marcos Diplan, RHP
Age: 23 (DOB 09/18/1996)
2019 Highest Level: Double-A
Diplan was just claimed off waivers in early December, making Baltimore his fourth home in 2019. Once highly sought-after prospect in the Milwaukee system, Diplan has continued to struggle with command, allowing 5.8 BB per 9 innings even after he moved to the bullpen last year. Still just 23 though, Diplan is a solid post hype prospect to take a chance on. *Currently sitting in DFA limbo, but I am hopeful that he resigns with Baltimore, so he remains on the list.
ETA: 2020

38. Joey Ortiz, SS
Age: 21 (DOB 07/14/1998)
2019 Highest Level: Short Season A
Ortiz, a 4th round pick in 2019, has all the makings of a player more valuable to the Orioles than to fantasy owners. Ortiz did walk at a 14% rate in his 228 plate appearance debut, but with only 3 extra base hits, he’s likely just another glove first middle infielder.
ETA: 2022

39. Luis Ortiz, RHP
Age: 24 (DOB 09/22/1995)
2019 Highest Level: MLB
Ortiz arrived in Baltimore at the trade deadline in 2018 and was immediately promoted to Triple-A Norfolk and held his own. From that point forward things have not gone well for Ortiz. The former top prospect is still young enough, 24 for all of next season to turn it around, but next year is make it or break it for him.
ETA: 2020

40. Jean Carmona, SS
Age: 20 (DOB 10/31/1999)
2019 Highest Level: Short Season A
Carmona still holds a tantalizing amount of upside, but he has to find a way to stay on the field. 2019 was basically a lost year for Carmona, totaling only 85 at bats at Short Season A Aberdeen, where he struck out 33% of the time.
ETA: 2023

41. Bruce Zimmermann, RHP
Age: 24 (DOB 02/09/1995)
2019 Highest Level: Triple-A
Zimmermann threw very well in his second Double-A go around in 2019. Triple-A was not as kind after earning a July promotion, but he held his own. The lefty could find a way to sneak into the back end of the rotation in pitching starved Baltimore, as early as next year.
ETA: 2020


Tier 5

42. Leonardo Rodriguez, RHP
Age: 22 (DOB 11/25/1997)
2019 Highest Level: Short Season A
The 6’7” righty took a very nice step forward in 2019 at Short Season Aberdeen. For now he will continue to develop as a starter, but with an average at best changeup, the likely best case for him is to add some velocity as a late inning reliever.
ETA: 2023

43. Luis Ortiz, LHP
Age: 17 (DOB 09/17/2002)
2019 Highest Level: N/A
Not to be confused with the RHP Luis Ortiz, the LHP Luis Ortiz was one of the biggest J2 signings for Baltimore in 2019. Of course we all know this is more significant because of the Orioles prior lack of interest in the J2 classes than the actual players in 2019, but Ortiz, Gonzalez and Sanchez are all worth watching. Ortiz is a big lefty that already sits mid 90’s and will be 17 all of 2020.
ETA: 2025

44. Luis Gonzalez, OF
Age: 17 (DOB 11/02/2002)
2019 Highest Level: N/A
Another J2 signing in 2019, Gonzalez could be a potential impact bat in the OF. He is athletic enough to play centerfield and should continue to develop power as he matures.
ETA: 2025

45. Leonel Sanchez, SS
Age: 17 (DOB 12/04/2002)
2019 Highest Level: N/A
The third of the 3 big J2 signings from Mike Elias’s initial class, the O’s have high hopes that the bat will continue to develop and he is athletic enough to stay at shortstop.
ETA: 2025

46. Johnny Rizer, OF
Age: 23 (DOB 11/07/1996)
2019 Highest Level: Full Season A
Rizer, selected in the 7th round out of TCU put together a solid debut. While it was against largely younger competition slashing .308/.365/.456 with 23 extra base hits in 237 at bats is something worth keeping an eye on.
ETA: 2023

47. Adam Stauffer, RHP
Age: 20 (DOB 01/13/1999)
2019 Highest Level: Full Season A
Another big bodied pitcher at 6’7”, Stauffer earned a few starts for the first time in 2019. He’s been and will continue to be a bit of a project, walking 11 in 18.2 innings at Delmarva last year, but also allowing only 8 hits and striking out 31 in those same 18.2 innings. The size and youth make him a very intriguing pitcher.
ETA: 2022

48. Griffin McLarty, RHP
Age: 21 (DOB 08/10/1998)
2019 Highest Level: Short Season A
The 8th round pick pitched exclusively out of the bullpen in 2019, but could find a chance to start after showing a decent 3 pitch mix and solid command in his debut.
ETA: 2023

49. Jomar Reyes, 3B
Age: 22 (DOB 02/20/1997)
2019 Highest Level: Double-A
Reyes was once viewed as the future 3B in Baltimore, however much of that hype has cooled as he has struggled to advance at the plate. After making it to High-A for all of 2016 at 19 and struggling, Reyes has spent all of the next three seasons in Frederick without much improvement.
ETA: 2021

50. Cody Carroll, RHP
Age: 27 (DOB 10/15/1992)
2019 Highest Level: Gulf Coast League
When Carroll arrived in 2018 and spent most of September in Baltimore, it was widely assumed he would spend 2019 establishing himself at the back end of the Baltimore pen. However, a back injury limited Carroll to 2 innings in 2019, so he hopes to bounce back in 2020 and bring his high 90’s fastball and above average slider to the MLB pen.
ETA: 2020




About Ryan James 14 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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