When Baseball America released its latest organizational rankings in early August, the Orioles fell three spots. Ranked No. 17 at the start of the 2018 season, they were now ranked No. 20 among all the farm systems in baseball.
That seemed strange since it followed the July trades in which the Orioles added 15 players to their organization, including one top-100 prospect in outfielder Yusniel Díaz. Baseball America ranks him at No. 44.
So after adding that talent, the Orioles fell in the rankings? When I interviewed Baseball America executive editor J.J. Cooper recently, I asked him about this.
“I think, really, part of it is other organizations moving up, and they also had graduations in Chance Sisco (who lost rookie eligibility). Austin Hays is not as highly ranked as a prospect as he was coming into the year.
“They did make trades and added one top-100 prospect. And they got other interesting guys, like Dean Kremer, Rylan Bannon, guys like that. But the depth that they added at the deadline, some of those guys may not move the needle much in organization rankings.
“The biggest answer is that there were other organizations that had guys leap forward this year. And that probably affected it more than anything,” Cooper said.
The top five in the rankings released Aug. 8 were San Diego, Tampa Bay, Toronto, the Chicago White Sox and Atlanta. The Yankees are now No. 17. Boston is No. 29.
As the Orioles’ rebuilding begins, they face an American League East that features two teams that won 100 games this year and two others that are among the best farm systems in the sport.
I interviewed Cooper to get his thoughts after Baseball Ameica ranked Single-A Delmarva lefty DL Hall as the No. 1 prospect in the South Atlantic League.
The Orioles’ first-round pick in 2017 (No. 21 overall), the 19-year-old Hall went 2-7 with a 2.10 ERA in 22 games for Delmarva. He walked 42, fanned 100 and held opponents to a .203 batting average over 94 1/3 innings. He allowed no more than one earned run in each of his last 13 starts after June 10, pitching to an 0.89 ERA.
Hall is a prospect with helium right now. He’s expected to move into almost every top 100 list this winter, and maybe even to the top half of those lists. He could even bypass a few other big names on the Orioles’ list to emerge as the new No. 1 O’s prospect.
“He’s definitely a candidate for that,” Cooper said. “You look at it and Austin Hays had a setback of a season and you would have, coming into the year, seen him as the likely clear No. 1. So you look at DL Hall and absolutely he could be a candidate to be the Orioles’ No. 1. And he’s absolutely a guy when we’re talking about our offseason top 100, he is very much in the mix. He could become a guy throwing 160, 180, 200 innings, and do that as a guy you would want starting games on a playoff staff. Which is kind of the standard that we look at. He is a long ways from that, and a lot can happen between now and his debut, but he’s done everything you want to see a young pitcher do so far.”
I asked Cooper to project where Hall might land when the new top 100 lists come out.
“Considering where he played this year, it’s probably more on the back of the list than the front. Overall, we are more hesitant to move up pitchers, especially in the lower minors, than we are with hitters. Because we’ve just seen so many of them get hurt. So, one of the things you do is say that the closer they are to the majors, the more comfortable you are ranking them.
“I would expect he goes to the Carolina League to start next year, and there are, potentially, still two steps ahead of him. If everything goes right, he could still be two years away. That is a lot of innings and a lot of time to stay healthy. If he makes it to Double-A next year, he does have the stuff to be a top-50 prospect down the road,” Cooper said.
The World Series odds: And then there were four: Milwaukee and the Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League Championship Series and Boston versus Houston in the American League Championship Series. According to the online sportsbook Bovada.com, Houston and the Dodgers are the favorites to get to the World Series. These odds were listed before the first game of the NLCS last night, when the Brewers beat the Dodgers 6-5.
2018 World Series - Odds to Win
Houston Astros - 21/10
Boston Red Sox - 11/5
Los Angeles Dodgers - 10/3
Milwaukee Brewers - 15/4
When the NLCS began Friday night, former O’s Manny Machado and Jonathan Schoop were once again on the same field, but on competing teams.
From O’s to foes. pic.twitter.com/DT6gzXiaN4-- MLB (@MLB) October 12, 2018