Selling Trey Mancini to Houston during the club’s one competitive season in years might have karmically doomed the franchise, but if Baltimore can avoid the hex, they should be in for a steady run of good rosters. This list will only scratch the surface on how much talent this team has accrued through aggressively tanking then gaming the draft-pool system and slow-playing every prospect so they’d all be on the cusp at the same time.
1. 3B Gunnar Henderson | 21 | MLB | 2022
I’ve got him listed at third base because Jorge Mateo was so good on defense last season, that’s likely where he’ll stay in 2023. Henderson might wind up the shortstop sometime between now and Jackson Holliday’s debut. It’s nothing to worry about, of course. I’m just interested to find out how this group of infielders fits on the field together. Henderson is a 6’2” 210 lb left-handed hitter with plus power, speed and plate skills. The total package. I have some concerns about the top-end impact of the speed, so I feel like any kind of buy window is well behind us at this point in dynasty or keeper leagues.
2. RHP Grayson Rodriguez | 24 | AAA | 2023
Here’s what Grey said about his progeny in his Grayson Rodriguez, 2023 Fantasy Outlook:
“Gray-Rod, which sounds like but is different than A-Rod kissing the mirror, has a Sistine ceiling. The sky’s the limit, really. For 2023, I’ll give Grayson Rodriguez projections of 8-3/3.37/1.07/127 in 106 IP, with a chance for more depending on the Orioles, but I think that’s honestly optimistic for MLB playing time because he also doesn’t have many innings on his arm, after his partial past year.”
Feels like Rodriguez has been around a long time. Some of that is pandemic time warp. Some of that is Baltimore time-bending. Some of that is injuries slowing his progression. He’s easy to love as a prospect, especially with the cavernous left field.
3. SS Jackson Holliday | 19 | A | 2026
The number one overall pick in 2022’s amateur draft, Holliday is a 6’1” 175 lb left-handed hitter who appears to have inherited his father’s all-out approach to baseball. He’s probably in a batting cage or a weight room right now. Everyone works hard at this level, but Holliday’s had access to baseball resources for a long time, and you can see the results in his game and his build. He dominated on the complex for just eight games before the team had seen enough and sent him to Low-A for the final two weeks of the season, where he posted a .439 on base percentage. He’ll likely head back there to open the year but should be able to force a promotion at some point. I suspect we’ll see more aggressive timelines with this next cohort of young Orioles in general. Holliday could be a nice bellwether for that.
4. 2B Connor Norby | 22 | AAA | 2023
I almost put Norby ahead of Holliday on the strength of his 29 home run season spread across the top three levels of minor league baseball. He finished up with four homers in just nine games at Triple-A, where he drew three walks and struck out five times. At 5’10” 187 lbs with just enough defense to handle second base, Norby has had to hit his way into the baseball world, and the smart money suggests he’ll keep doing so.
5. OF Colton Cowser | 23 | AAA | 2023
Cowser didn’t thrive in 27 games at Triple-A last season, but that was his third level of the year. It’s an approach-fueled, high-floor profile that’s great when building an organization from scratch but perhaps not ideal for our five-category purposes. He’s 6’3” 195 lbs from the left side, which he’d have to be in the part for the power to play. He’s played centerfield through the minors and might be able to hack it out there in Camden Yards, but I think they’ll need easy plus defenders in center and left to maximize their home field advantage. Like a lot of spots on this team, right field will be hotly contested. Solid chance Cowser looks ready early this year but has to wait a little longer than we’d like.
6. SS Joey Ortiz | 24 | AAA | 2023
Probably my favorite player in this system at the moment in terms of value to our game versus perceived value across the lists I’ve seen, Ortiz is a plus defender at 5’11” 175 lbs and could come so quickly in spring training that the club has to make for him early in the season. He finished 2022 with an excellent 26-game stretch in Triple-A (.346/.400.567) and doesn’t have much more to learn in the minors.
7. 2B Jordan Westburg | 24 | AAA | 2023
Westburg made a run for the majors last season but didn’t get the big call, playing 91 games in Triple-A with 18 home runs, nine stolen bases and a .273/.361/.508 triple slash. He might not be an impact fantasy player given the left field wall in Camden, but at 6’3” 203 lbs with good rotational strength, he might be just powerful enough to carve out a role in a competitive infield.
8. LHP DL Hall | 24 | MLB | 2022
Hall broke into the majors as a reliever down the stretch but did draw one start in his 11 eleven appearances. I’m a little concerned he’s been treated as a valuable fantasy starter for so long that people might be slow to adjust to the real relief risk in his low-command profile. The stuff is incredible: upper nineties from a 6’2” frame, but the total package doesn’t really come together for Hall. His 1.39 WHIP in 76.2 Triple-A innings was no fluke. Nor was his 4.70 ERA. He’s simply behind in the count too often. Walked 49 batters in those 76.2 innings. If Baltimore gets good in a hurry, they might not have time to let Hall work through his command issues in the rotation.
9. 3B Coby Mayo | 21 | AA | 2024
Mayo had a monster season in 2021 and rushed up the rankings. Trouble is, 2021 included just 53 games spread across three levels, so the dynasty realm soured slightly on a darling of the previous winter as he hit .251 across 68 games in High-A and then .250 across 34 games in Double-A. He’d slugged .494 in High-A then .398 in Double-A. I still like Mayo, even though I can’t stand Mayonnaise, but he’s a good reason to be wary of the hype levels surrounding and low-speed player without much of a track record. I heard Keith Law dismissing Matt Mervis with a lazy hand-wave, and I just can’t stand that. Guy smashed every level then smashed the Fall league. To disregard it is to disregard the developmental process entirely. Law even dinged him for being undrafted, but the draft was 2020: five rounds with no college season. Hard to keep everything in context when someone with as much public-facing voice as Law lobs confident but baseless claims without context, but it’s guys like him who create buying opportunities for us. He even mentioned some secret data he’d received but didn’t share any of the data with his listeners. Just have to take his word for it. Word-of-mouth guys like Law can run the Mayos of the world way up their lists while I’m zeroing in on the Jose Mirandas, Connor Norbys, Pete Alonsos, Matt Olson, Paul Goldschmidt and Matt Mervis types. Doesn’t matter to him if Mayo doesn’t make the majors for a few years. Does matter to me. Maybe this should’ve been its own post. Very important to remember that corner bats, especially first basemen, don’t tend to come from the scouting-value tree.
10. OF Dylan Beavers | 21 | A+ | 2025
Your porn star name is your first pet plus the first street you lived on. Unless your name is . . .
Dylan Beavers, 6’4” 206 lb left-handed hitter and 33rd overall pick in this year’s draft. Could be a nice value in First-Year-Player-Drafts despite a five-tool profile and loud, if brief, debut season. It was just 23 games, but Beavers slashed .322/.438/.460 with six stolen bases across three levels. Dam.
Thanks for reading!