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Baltimore Orioles Top Fantasy Baseball Prospects

Taking a look at the top prospects in the Orioles farm system.

The Orioles were ahead of schedule in 2023, making the postseason with a young group that still has bags of potential. The jewels of the Birds’ rebuild are finally bearing fruit, as Gunnar Henderson and Adley Rutschman have developed into two of the best players in the league at their positions. The biggest weakness continues to be their starting rotation and the middle innings from the bullpen. While there is a lack of truly elite talent on the pitching front, there are still some guys who can give the Big League club some solid innings.

While most of the elite talent at the top of the Baltimore system has graduated from prospect status, there is still a solid group of players waiting for their turn at Camden Yards. Anything short of the postseason will be a disappointment for the Orioles in 2024, so it wouldn’t shock me to see some of these names change organizations before the trade deadline.

Head over to the Pitcher List Dynasty page to check out the rankings of other farm systems!

 

Top Orioles Prospects

 

The Top Tier

 

1) Jackson Holliday – 20 Y/O SS

 

2023 MiLB Stats (A, A+, AA, AAA): .323/.442/.499/12 HR/24 SB/20.3 K%/17.3  BB%

Was there any doubt? Jackson Holliday is about as close to a sure-thing prospect that I have ever seen. The son of former All-Star Matt Holliday was the subject of a lot of questions when he was selected #1 overall in 2022, but has more than answered them since. Baseball’s consensus #1 prospect has raced through the minor leagues, and there is little doubt that he’ll make his Camden Yards debut in 2024.

Holliday has one of the best swings in the minors and it shows **. He’s been able to spray balls all over the park from the left side and has shown flashes of a power stroke that he can develop. He ranks in the top five in the O’s system in almost every offensive category (2nd in AVG, 3rd in OPS, 4th in BB/K to name a few) and put up an impressive 119+ wRC, which ranked 3rd in all of Minor League Baseball amongst qualified batters. His glove still has room for improvement, as his 11 errors in 2023 leave a bit to be desired, but the potential in his bat more than makes up for it.

Make no mistake about it, Jackson Holliday will be the Orioles’ shortstop, it is just a question of when he takes the reigns.

**Trevor Powers did a fantastic job breaking down his swing here.

 

 2) Coby Mayo 3B – 22 Y/O 3B

 

2023 Stats (AA,  AAA): .290/.410/.564/29 HR/5 SB/24.1 K%/15.1 BB% 

Were you wondering who finished with a higher wRC+ than Holliday in 2023? Well here’s your answer. Mayo posted a 124 wRC+, which was tied for the best in Minor League Baseball (alongside Tampa’s Austin Shenton).  Mayo’s swing is funky and unorthodox, he drops his elbows incredibly low during his load, but he can utilize this motion to unleash elite power.

The 29 long balls speak for themselves when it comes to his power potential, but he also showed improvement in his eye at the plate. Between ’22 and ’23, he improved his walk rate by 6% and it resulted in a near 200-point boost to his OPS. His numbers saw a slight dip upon his promotion to AAA Norfolk, but he will be afforded time to develop and mature due to the brilliance of Gunnar Henderson at the Major League level.

Before long, O’s fans will be treated to a lineup that includes Mayo, Holliday, Henderson, and Adley Rutschman. The rest of Major League Baseball should be terrified.

 

3) Samuel Basallo – 19 Y/O C

 

2023 Stats (A, A+, AA) : .313/.402/.551/20 HR/12 SB/19.5 K%/8.0 BB%

Basallo was one of the biggest risers on prospects lists around the industry in 2023, and it’s easy to see why. The teenage backstop boasts a remarkably polished offensive profile, showing an ability to get on base consistently, steal some bases, and hit the ball hard. Basallo has registered exit velocities over 110 miles an hour with a wood bat (per MLB.com) and ranked second in the O’s system in ISO with an impressive .239 (Mayo was #1 with .274)

The main question mark around Basallo is his glove behind the plate. At 6’4, his physical profile is far from that of a typical backstop, but he has a solid arm and has shown an ability to throw runners out. He gunned down just under 50% of attempted base stealers in ’23. Considering how vital Adley Rutschman has grown to be in Baltimore, Basallo will have time to round out his already impressive game and will no doubt be a contributor at the Major League level.

 

4) Colton Cowser – OF, 23 Y/O

 

2023 Stats (AAA): .300/.417/.520/17 HR/9 SB/26.8 K%/16.0 BB%

2023 MLB Stats: .115/.286/.148/0 HR/1 SB/28.6 K%/16.9 BB%

The former fifth overall pick finished the year as the #14 prospect in Major League Baseball, and if not for the super high ceilings of the players listed above him, would be higher on this list. Cowser didn’t see a whole lot of success during his abbreviated stint with the Big League club but has a track record of hitting for average and hitting for power in the Minor Leagues. (200+ ISO in AA and AAA in ’22 and ’23)

Cowser has the potential to be a five-tool threat at the Major League level. He has shown plenty of pop in his bat and can hold his own anywhere in the outfield. The jury is still out on his ability to steal bases, but he has shown the capability to be a threat on the dirt. The Orioles outfield is crowded as things stand, but I expect Cowser to see significant time at Camden Yards in 2023.

 

5) Heston Kjerstad – OF, 24 Y/O

 

2023 MiLB Stats (AA, AAA) : .303/.376/.528/21 HR/5 SB/18.4 K%/7.7 BB%

2023 MLB Stats: .233/.281/.467/2 HR/0 SB/30.3 K%/6.1 BB%

The former #2 overall pick has had a rough ride to the Major Leagues. Kjerstad has battled through injury and slumps throughout his four years in Minor League Baseball but persevered to make his MLB debut in 2023. The strikeout rate spiked by over 10% after arriving in Baltimore, but his 104 wRC+ is a sign that he will be just fine with more time in the big leagues.

Kjerstad, like Cowser, has limited fantasy value in 2024 because of the crowded state of the Oriole’s outfield. That said, Kjerstad arguably has the highest power upside in the organization. With 21 home runs in ’23, the 6’3 lefty has shown plenty of pop in the minors, but the sub 10% walk rate is not ideal for an everyday slugger. Kjerstad’s tools will warrant some MLB service time in 2024, but a crowded outfield and patience concerns may limit his fantasy impact.

 

6) Chayce McDermott -25 Y/O SP

 

2023 Stats (AA/AAA): 119.0 IP/ 3.10 ERA/ 1.15 WHIP/ 152 SO

The Orioles’ fatal flaw in 2023 was their lack of overpowering pitching in the starting rotation. McDermott has the potential to be an in-house remedy to this problem. The former Ball State standout showed incredible improvement between 2022 and 2023, cutting his ERA almost in half, and allowing half as many home runs. He also got a taste of making history, throwing five innings in a combined no-hitter with the Bowie Baysox on May 19th.

McDermott’s arsenal is Major League-ready. The right-hander boasts three plus pitches and could have a fourth in development. He boasts a mid-90s fastball and a wipeout slider that has shown great swing-and-miss potential. He also has a sharp 12-6 curveball that plays especially well against right-handed hitters. The changeup is the weakest offering of the four, but could still be a decent pitch with some work.

McDermott should be able to show what he can do in Spring Training and may force his way into the Opening Day rotation with a stellar performance.

 

7) Enrique Bradfield Jr. OF, 22 Y/O

 

2023 Stats (A, A+) : .291/.473/.329/0 HR/25 SB/14.5 SO%/23.6 BB%

Before the 2023 College Baseball season, some scouts had Bradfield in their top 5 in mock drafts due to his elite speed and ability to get on base. His season that followed at Vanderbilt was far from bad (.839 OPS, 25 SB’s), but wasn’t incredible like some of the other college hitters were that season. Bradfield ended up as the ninth hitter taken in the draft, but he has the tools to be one of the best.

Bradfield’s #1 strength is his speed, as evidenced by his 120 steals in three years at Vandy. He continued to show his wheels in his first foray into professional baseball, registering 25 steals and getting caught only twice. He doesn’t have the pop that other outfielders on this list have, but his ability to get on base and be a nuisance on the basepaths will make him a talent to watch in ’24.

 

Prospects Dynasty Managers Should Know

 

8) Connor Norby – 2B, 23 Y/O

 

2023 AAA Stats: .290/.359/.483/21 HR/10 SB/21.6 K%/9.0 BB%

Norby’s incredible 2023 puts the Orioles in a tough position going into next season. The former Eastern Carolina star has shown elite power (50 HRs in two seasons) in a position that has traditionally not been seen as one with huge power output. Norby’s walk rate has improved since arriving at AAA, jumping 2% since his promotion, but will probably need to be a little more patient at the plate to force his way to Camden Yards. Jordan Westburg is projected to open 2024 at second base for the O’s, but Norby will be waiting in the wings should the team need an offensive boost.

 

9) Cade Povich – SP, 23 Y/O

 

2023 Stats (AA, AAA): 126.2 IP, 5.04 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, 171 SO

Povich really struggled after his promotion to AAA, as his strikeout rate decreased and his walk rate took a jump. That said, a deeper dive into the 6’3 lefty’s outings show he was the victim of some unfortunate starts which hide the good outings. In his last four outings for Norfolk, he struck out 29 batters in 21.2 IP and had a 2.91 ERA with a 1.08 WHIP. Povich boasts a filthy slider/curveball combination that hitters have fits with. The sweepy slider stays much higher than the looping curveball, forcing hitters to guess which one is coming. The fastball and changeup are okay, but the breaking pitches will be his bread and butter at the next level.

 

10) Joey Ortiz – INF, 25 Y/O

2023 Stats (AAA): .321/.378/.507/9 HR/11 SB/17.7 K%/8.2 BB%

2023 MLB Stats: .212/.206/.242/0 HR/0 SB/26.5%/0.0 BB%

Ortiz will likely start the year in AAA, with Ramon Urias and Jorge Mateo still holding down two spots on Baltimore’s bench, but Ortiz is not far behind. The 25-year-old utility man has shown a great ability to hit his way on and avoid striking out. His glove is good enough to be a backup at any position in the infield. His tools may not be enough to warrant playing over Henderson, Westburg, or Holliday (should he make the ’24 roster) but he should spend significant time as a Major Leaguer. Despite an underwhelming stint on the big league roster in 2023, Ortiz has the tools to be a useful bench/platoon bat immediately.

 

11) Mac Horvath – UTIL, 22 Y/O

 

2023 Stats (CPX, A, A+): .321/.422/.603/5 HR/14 SB/26.2 K%/19.2 BB%

Horvath often went under the radar during his collegiate season with the North Carolina Tar Heels, as his teammate Vance Honeycutt was the focus of many scouts ahead of next summer’s draft. Despite his star teammate, Horvath was the best all-around bat on that squad that went to the NCAA regionals. A second-round pick in 2023, Horvath has continued to impress, showing a balanced offensive game with solid power and speed. Horvath could start the year as high as AA and may be on the fringes of the Major Leagues in 2025.

 

12) Seth Johnson – SP, 24 Y/O

 

2023 MiLB Stats (CPX, A, A+, AA): 10.1 IP, 4.35 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 14 SO

Don’t read too much into Johnson’s 2023 stats, as he only made five appearances after recovering from Tommy John surgery. Before his injury, Johnson posted a 2.88 ERA in 16 starts in Single-A and a 3.00 ERA in seven starts at AA. One of the prospects involved in the trade that sent Trey Mancini to Houston, Johnson has an MLB-ready arsenal that could be special. His mid-90s fastball plays well high in the zone, and his slider gives right-handed hitting fits. There will be obvious question marks about his durability post-injury, but Johnson has the potential to be a breakout player in 2024.

 

13) Justin Armbruester – SP, 25 Y/O

 

2023 Stats (AA, AAA) : 121.1 IP, 3.56 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 109 SO

Armbruester is a power pitcher with an imposing, 6’4″ frame and a solid arsenal. Boasting a fastball that can reach the mid to high 90s and a cutter/slider pairing that plays well against right-handers. The former 12th-rounder shot up prospect rankings over the past two years after two solid spells in AA. Since his promotion to AAA, his walk rate skyrocketed (2.76 BB/9 to 4.85 BB/9) but so did his strikeout rate, almost doubling since arriving in Norfolk. The sub 30% ground ball rate and 1.37 HR/9 rates in AAA are concerning, but if his AA numbers appear in AAA then the Orioles will have a hard time keeping him in the Minor Leagues.

 

14) Jud Fabian – OF, 23 Y/O

 

2023 Stats (A+, AA): .223/.349/.440/24 HR/31 SB/32.1 K%/15.4 BB%

Fabian burst onto the scene after an incredible summer season with Bourne in the Cape Cod League in 2019. At just 18 years old, Fabian posted a .850 OPS with six home runs. Ever since then, he has continued to hit, mashing 44 home runs in his final two seasons with the Florida Gators before being drafted in the 2nd round in 2022. Since joining the Orioles’ organization, Fabian has added base stealing to his profile, stealing 31 bases in 2023 after registering just one in 2022. Fabian is a polished hitter with a power stroke with a sneaky presence on the basepaths. He will likely start the year in AA before making the jump to Triple-A and could be a late-season call-up in 2024.

 

15) Dylan Beavers – OF, 22 Y/O

 

2023 Stats (A+, AA): .288/.383/.467/11 HR/27 SB/22.0 K%/13.3 BB%

Beavers has the size and stature similar to that of Kyle Tucker (6’4″, 206) and has shown an emerging hit tool. The former Cal Berkeley standout was one of the few players who saw his numbers improve following a promotion. Since his promotion to AA, his batting average shot up 60 points and his strikeout rate improved by 2%. His 150 wRC+ in Bowie would have ranked 4th in the Orioles organization had he been there for the full season. Beavers has a sweet swing from the left side that produces plenty of power (60-grade raw power on Fangraphs) and has hit for solid averages at every stop in the Minors so far. Beavers has a ways to go before reaching Camden Yards, but once he’s there, he could be special.

 

The Next Five

Although these prospects do not crack the top 15, dynasty managers should keep their eye on these five players.

Leandro Arias – SS, 18 Y/O-  Tall, switch-hitting shortstop. Only has 90 games of professional baseball under his belt but has already showcased a really good walk rate and ability to avoid strikeouts. 22 SBs in that time as well.

Alex Pham  SP/RP, 24 Y/O – Former relief pitcher being transitioned into a starting role. Pham had 130 strikeouts in 112 innings in 2023 to go along with a WHIP under 1 in AA. Could be fast-tracked into an MLB relief role in ’24.

Joshua Liranzo  3B, 17 Y/O – .793 OPS in age-16 season in the Dominican. 13 extra-base hits in 160 AB’s with a 48/31 K/BB ratio. Watch for his stateside debut this year.

Luis Guevara SS, 17 Y/O – .444 OBP, 16 steals in 44 games in Dominican League. Guevara is another guy to keep an eye on as he makes his transition to stateside ball.

Fernando Peguero  INF, 19 Y/O – .900 OPS with 20 steals and 18 extra-base hits in his second season in the Dominican. O’s have loads of talent waiting for their call-ups.

 

 

Jack Mueller

Jack Mueller is a senior undergraduate student at Miami University studying Journalism and Sport Management. Before joining PitcherList, Jack worked for the Orleans Firebirds (Cape Cod Baseball League) and the Chicago Dogs (American Association) as an advance scout and data analyst.

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