The Baltimore Orioles have earned the recognition of having one of the best collections of position-player prospects in baseball, thanks to some impressive drafts and deals facilitated by General Manager Mike Elias. Unusually for them, they’re also showing promise in international free-agent talent, a development that many have been eagerly awaiting for some time.
With this in mind, Let’s take a look at the top 5 prospects in Baltimore’s farm system and see how they can help shape the future of the Orioles in MLB.
Prospect Rank #1: Gunnar Henderson (SS/3B)
First up, Gunnar Henderson, a shortstop and third baseman. Henderson has certainly made remarkable advancements as a player in the last two years. His swing adjustments and physical development have transformed him from a raw athlete to an elite third baseman with the capacity to also play shortstop.
As the Orioles’ second-round pick in 2019, he was signed on with a first-round bonus, and his performance in High A graded higher than it had in Low A. In 2021, he was promoted to Double A where he demonstrated improved statistics compared to High A.
The 21-year-old prospect hit .288/.390/.504 after making it to Triple A last year at the remarkable age of 21. There is no doubt that Henderson’s achievements are extraordinary and suggest that he could become an even greater asset for his team going forward.
Henderson possesses enough defensive ability to make it work at short, and potential that could be impressive should he transfer over to third. Henderson has had a strong performance against right-handed pitching to this point in his career but has been inconsistent against lefties. Though that sits as a minor concern for now, there’s no reason that he couldn’t develop into a Scott Rolen-like upside with the necessary experience.
Prospect Rank #2: Grayson Rodriguez (RHP)
Next is the 23-year-old pitcher – Grayson Rodriguez. Although it was certainly unfortunate, it is perhaps understandable that the Baltimore Orioles kept Rodriquez from entering the majors last year: after straining his lat muscle in June, three months of downtime was prescribed for him in order to ensure a full recovery. He did return to pitch in September, but the Orioles chose to wait in order to be cautious and give Rodriquez ample time to get back into game shape.
All signs point towards him finally being called up this April, which would make for an exciting moment and an impressive debut that fans have been eagerly awaiting. While on the mound, Rodriguez consistently pitched in the 95-96 mph range and touched 99 mph, showcasing his above-average repertoire. His changeup was especially impressive; it is strong enough to be his best pitch when facing right-handed batters.
Although the slider showed average spin and break, it had minimal velocity separation from the curveball. Nevertheless, Rodriguez’s powerful arm strength could help him improve this offering—but he may not have such a need as his current arsenal of pitches proves to be an effective combination without it.
Prospect Rank #3: Jackson Holliday (SS)
Jackson Holliday had a remarkable 2020-2021 offseason of hard work and commitment to the game. He was initially seen as someone who would go in the back of the first round before his school’s spring break trip to Arizona, but all that changed with a standout performance that helped him vault up into the top echelon of prospects.
Holliday proved himself worthy of being taken first overall in the draft by the Baltimore Orioles, showing just how much potential he has on the diamond as does his father, longtime outfielder Matt Holliday. It looks like he is set for success in this new chapter of his career.
Holliday has a promising ability at the plate, demonstrated by his left-handed swing that produces accurate contact along with an unusual aptitude for the strike zone at a young age. During his professional debut, he displayed this trait in addition to some impressive patience at the plate, walking more than he struck out in both the complex league and Low A. As he matures, it’s likely that his powerful gap power will turn into potential home run numbers of up to 25 during his peak career performance.
Prospect Rank #4: Jordan Westburg (3B/SS)
Jordan Westburg had an unassuming season, yet quietly managed to impress while playing all across the infield. Slated as one of the team’s 2023 prospects, Westburg looks well on track to be an X-factor for Baltimore. Through double and triple-A, Westburg accumulated 69 extra-base hits, 70 walks, and a strong batting average of .265/.355/.496 which stands as a testament to his reliability and skill.
He may not possess any single outstanding trait in particular, but his overall mix of talents including hard contact hitting, and superior defense at the second or third base give him the potential to become an above-average regular player for the Orioles.
The 6″3 shortstop possesses an immense amount of power at the plate, highlighted by his ability to hit the ball out to right-center and to his pull side. While this is one of his strongest tools as a hitter, it can sometimes lead him to over-rotate and contribute to inconsistencies over a long season.
Westburg could end up boasting a high home run count but with a lower batting average, but may be more valuable as a .280-plus hitter with 20-25 homers, robust on-base percentages, and either above-average defensive ability at third base or average capability at shortstop.
Prospect Rank #5: DL Hall (LHP)
Another prospect that could be the future for Baltimore is DL Hall. He is likely at a make-or-break point in his career as he enters his fifth season with the top 100. Blessed with exceptional athleticism and an impressive arsenal of pitches, Hall’s stuff is too great to overlook. This year in the majors, he reached speeds of 98.6 mph on his fastball, while also commanding a power curveball, hard slider with a horizontal break, and an effective straight change that subtly mimics his fastball out of the hand.
Despite all this talent and ability, it remains to be seen if Hall will make enough progress in terms of command and control to eventually move up from Triple A or if this could be his last season on the top 100 list.
Baltimore Orioles Odds 2023
Despite the high-quality prospects, the Orioles have yet to gain respect from oddsmakers for this season. Less than two months before the start of the campaign, Baltimore’s odds of winning the World Series stand at +7000 on DraftKings Sportsbook, and one of the lowest ranked teams in the American League at +3000 to be the league winner.
Meanwhile, FanDuel Maryland sportsbook listed them as +10000 to be the 2023 champs and +3000 to emerge victorious in the American League.
The emergence of Holliday and Westburg could very well be the turning point for this team in 2023, but until then it may be best to wait and see how these players perform before investing a large sum of money in them.