Building a formidable farm system to develop prospects is becoming just as important as signing superstar free agents to multi-year, multi-million-dollar contracts. And long-term control over young, talented players has proven to be more beneficial than signing a 31-year-old to a 10-year, $240 million deal — yes, I am looking at you Angels.
The Baltimore Orioles are still committed to 1B Chris Davis for three seasons, paying him $69 million over that span, but the team is proactively looking toward the future by strengthening their farm system. Mainly draft picks, but also trades, have helped rebuild a desolate minor league system that now controls four of MLB’s 2020 Top 100 Prospects and is ranked No. 13 overall.
C Adley Rutschman (No. 4)
Adley Rutschman, MLB’s No. 4 prospect and the Orioles No. 1 prospect, is a switch-hitting catcher taken first overall in the 2019 draft. He has a 2021 MLB estimated arrival date, however, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, that timeline may change.
The 22-year-old from Oregon State University is currently on the Delmarva Shorebirds (A) roster. Rutschman’s first 37 minor league games with the Gulf Coast League Orioles, Aberdeen IronBirds (A-), and Delmarva Shorebirds (A) proved why he was a highly coveted prospect in the draft. He slashed a respectable .254/.351/.423 with four home runs, eight doubles, one triple, and 26 RBIs.
According to Rutschman’s scouting report, graded on a 20-80 scale, he is 65 overall player, with his best attributes being Hit, Power, Arm, and Field at 60. His speed, which is graded at 40, is his lowest rated attribute.
While catchers Pedro Severino, Chance Sisco, and Austin Wynns are on the 40-man roster, Rutschman has a clear shot at earning the everyday role behind the dish in the near future.
RHP Grayson Rodriguez (No. 36)
Grayson Rodriguez, MLB’s No. 36 and the Orioles No. 2 prospect, is a 20-year-old, 6-foot-5 right-handed pitcher. He was drafted 11th overall in the 2018 draft out of Central Heights High School in Nacogdoches, Texas. In Rodriguez’s junior year of high school, he went 14-1 with a 0.38 ERA, which earned him a first-round draft selection.
According to Rodriguez’s scoring report, he is currently working with a fastball, slider, curveball, and change up. His fastball topped at 97 mph and averaged 95 mph in 2019. His best secondary pitches are his low-80s slider and mid-70s curveball, while his changeup has improved dramatically during his first year in pro ball. Rodriguez’s scouting report, graded on a 20-80 scale, has his fastball rated 65, his slider rated 65, his changeup rated 55, his curveball rated 50, and his control rated 50. Overall, he has a 55/80 scouting grade.
Since being drafted, Rodriguez has not disappointed his club. Rodriguez is 10-6 with a 2.46 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, 148 strikeouts, and 43 walks over 113.1 innings. He has allowed 74 hits over 29 games, 28 of which he started. Already showing signs of dominance in 2018, Rodriguez emphasized his talents in his first full season in 2019. Over 94 innings, Rodriguez went 10-4 with a 2.68 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, and 129 strikeouts over 20 games started.
With time to mature, Rodriguez can develop himself into a front of the rotation starter, using his big build and heavy fastball to dominate batters left and right. Rodriguez is currently on the Delmarva Shorebirds (A) roster.
LHP DL Hall (No. 69)
DL Hall, MLB’s No. 69 and the Orioles No. 3 prospect, is a 21-year-old, 6-foot-2 left-handed pitcher drafted 21st overall in the 2017 draft, the same draft class as the Padres prized LHP prospect MacKenzie Gore. Hall was drafted out of Valdosta High School in Valdosta, Georgia, and as a junior, he went 6-1 with a 1.81 ERA and 89 strikeouts. The left-hander also has an MLB estimated arrival date in 2021, however, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, that timeline may change.
Based on Hall’s scouting report, graded on a 20-80 scale, he is rated 55/80 overall. He has a 60 grade on his fastball, a 55 grade on his curveball, and a 55 grade on his changeup. His lowest rated aspect is his control, which earned a 45 grade. Over three seasons, Hall has appeared with the Gulf Coast League Orioles, the Delmarva Shorebirds (A), and most recently, the Frederick Keys (A Adv). Hall’s fastball velocity averages between 95-97 mph and, according to his scouting report, his changeup has been his greatest improvement.
Over his career, Hall is 6-12 with a 2.96 ERA and a 1.28 WHIP over 46 games, 42 as a starter. He has pitched 185.1 innings allowing 131 hits, 10 home runs, walking 106, and striking out 228 while holding opponents to a .201 batting average.
1B/3B/SS/OF Ryan Mountcastle (No. 94)
To round out the list is Ryan Mountcastle, MLB’s No. 94 and the Orioles No. 4 prospect. Mountcastle is a 23-year-old right-handed batter and thrower who was drafted in the first round, 36th overall, by the Orioles in the 2015 draft. Mountcastle showed some promise in 10 spring training games this year but not enough to earn him an MLB roster spot, as he currently resides with the Norfolk Tides (AAA). But his Triple-A production in 2019 proves he may be ready to join the MLB roster.
Over 127 games, 553 plate appearances, Mountcastle slashed .312/.344/.527 with 25 home runs, 81 runs scored, and 83 RBIs. His biggest area of concern was his 130 strikeouts to only 24 walks, meaning better disciple at the plate is necessary. However, when he does connect with the ball, he makes nice, solid contact, and his scouting report backs that up.
Mountcastle’s scouting report, graded on a 20-80 scale, has him rated 55/80 overall. His Hit and Power grades are both at 55, his Field and Arm are graded at 40, and his Run is graded at 45. His scouting report suggests his defense is questionable. He was drafted as a shortstop, then moved to third base in 2017. His lack of arm strength forced a shift to first base in 2019 while receiving some reps in the outfield. But his experience at multiple positions should make him a more valuable asset if he can improve his defensive abilities.
My name is Sebastian and I am a senior at Northern Arizona University. I am a double major in journalism and communication, along with a minor in German. I have been in various editorial positions and have contributed articles to The Lumberjack, NAU's student-run newspaper.