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Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Orioles Minor League All-Stars: Top prospects in each place through the first half of the 2022 season

Orioles Minor League All-Stars: Top Prospects In Each Place Through The First Half Of The 2022 Season

The first half of the Minor League Baseball season ended last week with a four-day respite with the major league All-Star break. This makes it an opportune time for the Baltimore Sun to produce an all-star list for the Orioles’ farming system, which includes one starter in each position as well as eight pitchers.

They come from a variety of levels, although many of the biggest names on the list are playing for Triple-A Norfolk and making the case for major league debuts.

So instead of the usual story listing that week’s top performers, here’s a breakdown of which prospects put out their best so far.


Maverick Handley of Double-A Bowie: There is much more to Handley’s game than catching. His roommate, Andrew Dashback, is often the beneficiary of Handley’s cookie at Bowie. He is well rounded on and off the field, and it shows. Handley, a sixth-round draft pick in 2019, has .787 OPS, the highest of any catcher in the pipeline. And his WRC+ – which includes weighted runs scored along with other outliers – is 121 or 21 points above average.

Adley Ratschman may be the star of the show, but Handley’s first half shows there may be room for her with Ratschman in the future.

first base

High-A Aberdeen’s TT Bowens: Jacob Teeter and Bowens often platoon at first base for the Ironbirds and have similar offensive outputs, but Bowens has almost twice as many plate appearances. The 24-year-old was a draft free agent in 2020, when the draft was shortened to five rounds. In his 75 games this year, he has five home runs, 32 RBIs and a .775 OPS.

second base

Darrell Hernaz of Hi-A Aberdeen: Hernays earned a mid-season promotion from Low-A Delmarva to the Ironbirds, and he kept his offensive output high despite increased competition. Since his call-up, Harniz has been beating .304 with .855 OPS. The 20-year-old, who was selected in the fifth round of the 2019 draft, can play across the field and is ranked as the number 24 prospect in the Orioles organization according to Baseball America.

third base

Gunnar Henderson of Triple-A Norfolk: 2 prospect in Baltimore’s pipeline, Henderson has leapt through the system and been successful on all levels. Last year, he went from Low-A to Double-A. This year, he has moved from Bowie to Norfolk and his .963 OPS is the third highest in the system among batsmen with at least 100 plate appearances. His 159 WRC+ is also the third best. And at 21, the second-round pick in 2019 is pushing for a place in the majors, be it shortstop or third baseman.


Jordan Westberg of Triple-A Norfolk: Westberg, a former Mississippi State star, reached new heights this season after promotion to the Triple-A. Westberg hit .247 this season in Double-A. In his 35 games at the highest level in the minors, the average has gone up to .298 with .872 Ops. Vestberg could play across the field while hitting for power (16 homers), giving himself the kind of flexibility that could help the No. 4 prospect in the system reach Baltimore, perhaps later this year.

far field

Kyle Stowers of Triple-A Norfolk: Stowers has already got a taste of the big leagues, playing as a replacement for Baltimore for two games in Toronto last month and recording his first hit. But he soon returned to Triple-A, where he continued to perform at a high level. The 24-year-old Stanford product has hit more homers than any other Baltimore minor leaguer (17) and his .889 ops is fifth best. Stowers’ 54 RBI is only behind Henderson and Westberg.

Colton Kauser of Double-A Bowie: 6 prospect in the organization, Kauser is another fast riser. He joined the Orioles in 2021 as a first-round pick and found his way to Double-A Bowie a year later, where he posted 1.054 Ops in 19 games. He’s walked almost as much as he does (15 to 19) and his .851 OPS between both levels ranks as the 10th best in the system.

Shayne Fontana of Double-A Bowie: Fontana has suffered a few injuries this season, reducing his number of plate appearances slightly. But when he recovers, Fontana has suffered. A 23rd-round draft pick in 2019, Fontana’s .856 OPS is the eighth-best mark in the Baltimore pipeline, and his .280 average ranks No. 13. He is not as big as the other two outfield prospects, but he is performing at an equally high level.


Terrin Vavra of Triple-A Norfolk: Taken in the third round of the 2018 draft by the Rockies, Vavra moved to the Baltimore outfit as part of a trade that sent reliever Mychal Givens to Colorado. He is now close to the highest level, with a .312 batting average and .812 Ops in Norfolk – good for the fifth-best average and seventh-best Ops in the organization. He is doing this while playing across the field, with most of his presence coming at second base or center field.


DL Hall of Triple-A Norfolk: Hall’s last five starts display the swing and miss skill set he commands. In those 21 2/3 innings, he dismissed 42 of the 85 batsmen he faced – 49.4%. His season has been just as strong, pitching in one game at Aberdeen and Bowie before settling in Norfolk, where he has a 3.60 ERA after missing the second half of last year with a stress fracture in his elbow. Hall’s 113 strikeouts are the most of any Oriole minor leaguer, and he has allowed 26 earned runs in his 67 1/3 innings. 3 prospect in the organization, his promotion to Baltimore should come soon.

Grayson Rodriguez of Triple-A Norfolk: Rodriguez replaced Reutsman as a top-order prospect for Baltimore, but shortly before his expected rise to the major leagues, Rodriguez suffered a Grade 2 right-sided muscle strain. While his progress in Sarasota, Florida has been steady, including a clean MRI earlier this month, there is no precise timeline for his return.

Still, what he did for the Tides before his injury was impressive. Even without pitching for more than a month, his 56 innings equaled the 14th-most in the Orioles’ minor league system. Some were more effective than Rodriguez, either, with a 0.84 WHIP, 2.09 ERA, and 80 strikeouts.

Noah Denauer of Double-A Bowie: Beyond Hall and Rodriguez, few pitchers are regarded as absolute starters in Baltimore’s agricultural system. The same goes for Denauer, who often piggybacks off another pitcher and averages 3 1/2 innings this season. With 2.25 ERAs and 0.95 WHIPs in his 56 innings, whether he came in as a starter or reliever, his appearances have been strong. The 24-year-old joined the organization in 2020 as a non-draft free agent.

Ryan Watson of Double-A Bowie: A 39th-round pick in 2016 by the Los Angeles Dodgers, Watson is starting to find himself with Bayox as a starter. His 76 1/3 innings are the second most in the organization and his 84 strikes are the fourth most. He adds with an eighth-best WHIP (1.07) and seventh-lowest walk per nine innings (1.89).

Nick Vespi of Triple-A Norfolk: Wespi made his major league debut this season and returned to Baltimore on Monday, facing four of the five batsmen. His work for the Tides has been even better. He has yet to allow earned runs in his 21/1/3 innings, with six saves to go with his 0.56 WHIP. The left-handed slider is his best pitch, and he uses it frequently as part of his 28 strikeouts.

Ignacio Feliz of Hi-A Aberdeen: The Feliz has averaged 13.2 strikes per nine innings this season with the Ironbirds, as his 96 strikeouts are only behind Hall in the organization. He joined Baltimore as a discount pickup after stints as a minor leaguer with the Cleveland Guardians and San Diego Padres. The 22-year-old allowed eight runs in his second appearance of the year, extending his ERA. But since then, Feliz has a 2.90 ERA in 59 innings.

High-A Aberdeen’s Xavier Moore: A 16th-round pick by the Texas Rangers in 2017, Moore joined the Orioles in 2019 as part of a trade. And this year, Moore is tied for the most saves of any Orioles minor leaguer and his 1.10 WHIP is the ninth lowest. Moore’s 1.52 ERA in 23 2/3 innings comes as the third-best points in the system.

Double-A Bowie’s Justin Crossbow: Armbruster has risen rapidly this season, taking the No. 26 ranking in Baltimore’s potential pipeline as he posts garish strikeout numbers as a starting pitcher. In 78 1/3 innings, a 12th-round pick in the 2021 draft stunned opponents on 16 of 18 on three earned runs or less.

honorable mention

There was considerable competition in the outfield, with Hudson Haskins and John Rhodes deserving of recognition. Haskins has produced 10 homers and a .804 ops for Double-A Bowie, and Rhodes has hit 11 doubles with .789 ops for High-A Aberdeen.

With 1.000 Ops in 25 games, infielder Cesar Prieto did well for Aberdeen. This has dropped to .684 since his promotion to Bowie, although he is still hitting .276 at that level. Right-hander Connor Gillespie is also performing for Aberdeen, throwing 71 2/3 innings with 83 strikeouts and 3.27 ERA.


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