As the Orioles continue to add new players to the already highly ranked form system through the MLB Draft, prospects currently between the ranks continue to perform. Baltimore has been in this position before, with its second first overall pick in four drafts under executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias.
In 2019, the Orioles picked catcher Adley Reutsman, and he is now rising to the major league level. On Sunday, Baltimore drafted Jackson Holiday, the son of seven-time MLB All-Star Matt Holiday, from Stillwater High School in Oklahoma. It starts another cycle for the Orioles, rejuvenating a potential core in which many recent top draft majors close.
“The combination of all the data available to us, communication, effective logistics and resource planning has allowed us to finally reach this point,” said Brad Siolek, Orioles director of draft operations. “Obviously, our player development coaches do a tremendous job on that side of the organization.”
Entering the All-Star break, it was another strong week for the Baltimore Minor Leaguers. Fresh Harvest – with 12 selections between the first two days of the draft – will report to the Florida Complex League for rookie balls after signing their contracts.
Each week, The Baltimore Sun will break down five of the top performers in the Orioles’ potential ranks and hand out some superlatives for those who haven’t made the cut.
1. Triple-A Norfolk left-hander DL Hall
As a Baltimore first-round pick in 2017, Hall is kicking off his progress with Triple-A Norfolk, and a promotion to the Orioles is coming sooner rather than later. The 23-year-old southpaw dealt with pitch tipping in two starts in June, scoring nine runs in 7 2/3 innings against him. But behind him, Hall has gone on a tear.
In his final four starts, Hall dismissed 40 batsmen, scored eight runs, allowed eight hits and conceded only one run. Four hits, five walks and 18 strikes were no runs in his two appearances last week. His ability to cultivate swing and miss cannot be denied. Perhaps there is still a pause regarding walk numbers, but they allowed just one free pass in five shifts on Sunday.
2. Triple-A Norfolk infielder Gunnar Henderson
On top of playing in an MLB Futures game in Los Angeles, Henderson had a strong week for Norfolk. In the futures game, he batted leadoff and scored two runs. According to the statcast, he showed his speed when he ran from home for the first time in 4.19 seconds. Henderson, ranked as the Orioles’ second-best prospect according to Baseball America, also made two triple knocks as part of his three hits in three games for the Tides, his season since being promoted to Triple-A. brought it to .889.
3. Double-A Bowie Infielder Joy Ortizo
Since promotion from Jordan Westberg and Henderson to Norfolk, Ortiz found himself more regular playing time at shortstop for Bowie. And beyond what he has done in the field, Ortiz’s output to the plate has been particularly impressive. The former fourth-round pick in 2019 from New Mexico State posted seven hits last week to post 1.283 OPS, which included two home runs.
4. Double-A Bowie Outfielder Colton Kauser
For the second week in a row, Kauser finds himself in a minor league report, building on a strong July since his call-up from High-A Aberdeen to Bowie in late June. In five matches last week, Kauser scored three home runs as part of five hits, and while his strike rate has been a concern, he got out just twice in 19 batting runs. Kauser was Baltimore’s first-round pick in 2021, and he ranks as the sixth-best prospect in the organization. He is starting to climb closer to the summit.
5. Hi-A Aberdeen right-hander Ignacio Feliz
Feliz started the year as a reliever for Aberdeen, but the 22-year-old from the Dominican Republic has been used more regularly as a starter since late May. He produced the best outing of his season last week, completing six innings for the first time, while allowing just one hit with two walks and seven strikes. The Feliz bounced around, from the Cleveland Guardian to the San Diego Padres, before the Orioles grabbed him from remission. His growth has been slow, but he looked strong last week.
Top prospect not displayed yet
With Rutsman graduating from the probable rankings and right-hander Grayson Rodriguez rehabilitating his right lat muscle injury in Florida, the prospect of a top-order not yet discussed is Westberg, a Mississippi State fielder. He plays for Triple-A Norfolk. By his standards, the No. 4 prospect had a quiet week: Vestberg hit .211, a walk with four singles and five strikes. But his overall performance has been better – he has 0.903 Ops in 32 games with Norfolk.
International Acquisition of the Week
With the ability to play around the field, Roberto Martínez has found more home for Lo-A Delmarva at first base, and that is where the 20-year-old from the Dominican Republic did most of his loss this week. He recorded eight hits with five doubles while driving in three runs. Martinez strikes five times in five matches, which is a knock on his game – in his 25 games for the Shorebirds, he has 27 strikeouts and six walks.
Best ex top-30 prospect of the week
After Baseball America updated its midseason prospect rankings, outfielders Yusniel Diaz and Robert Newstrom were removed from the top-30 list. But both batsmen struggled with Norfolk this week, leaving outfielder Zach Watson as the top-30 prospect from the week before. In nine at-bats with Double-A Bowie, he hit a home run and a single, scoring two runs in the process. Overall, Watson’s work at the plate has been lackluster, despite an average of .190 six homers showing some pop from the former third-round pick out of LSU in 2019.
Time to give some shine…
Primarily a starter for Low-A Delmarva, right-hander Ryan Long had the best start of his season on Friday. He completed six innings for the first time, with three hits and one run without conceding a run. He also fanned five batsmen. A 17th-round pick in 2021, Long is playing his first season with an ally.
There will be a new crop of players in the short-season ball following the draft later this summer, but some of the standouts this week include 18-year-old outfielder Wilmer Feliciano in the Dominican Summer League. In four matches, he had a homer and a double as part of four hits. Angel Tejada, a shortstop in the Florida Complex League, added four hits in three games. And third baseman Toby Welk, on a rehab assignment in the FCL, recorded two hits in two games.
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