They will be playing in a game that doesn’t count, and it won’t even be a nine-inning game. But in mid-March at spring training in one game, we will be able to see many, maybe even just about all, of the Orioles' top young prospects on the field at one time.
It is a cool concept called “Spring Breakout,” a four-day event from March 14-17 in which each big league club’s top prospects will play another team's top group as part of a spring training doubleheader. Major League Baseball announced the event on Wednesday afternoon.
The Orioles' prospects will play the Pittsburgh Pirates' prospects on March 14 at Lecom Park in Bradenton, Fla. The schedule lists the clubs playing the major league spring game at 3:05 p.m., with the second part of a doubleheader being the prospects match starting their seven-inning game at 7:05 p.m.
No broadcasts for spring have been announced yet, but MLB Network was promoting a broadcast of the O’s and Pirates on the airwaves on Wednesday when this event was announced.
One of the neat things every year in spring training is seeing the prospects play in major league spring games. Whether they are there for just a short time or for longer, it has to be thrilling for the young players and also cool for the fans to see this young talent taking the field wearing the orange and black and representing the Orioles.
What we don’t know is how this will work with the big league spring roster. Would a player like Jackson Holliday play in the major league game that day or with the prospects? Here is a hope he plays in the prospect game on that day.
This is part of MLB’s attempt to feature future major league players that are current minor league stars.
The press release announcing this event also outlined in-park fan-engagement opportunities centered around up-and-coming players.
Commissioner Rob Manfred said: “Spring Breakout will provide a new opportunity to showcase the future stars of the game as they continue on their journey to the Major Leagues. Our fans will get unique opportunities to meet our best prospects, get autographs, and see the next generation of Major Leaguers up close. We are thrilled that Major League Baseball, Minor League Baseball and all of our clubs are working closer than ever to grow the game and to shine a brighter light on our future All-Stars.”
Each team will comprise an organization’s top 20-25 prospects from all levels of Minor League Baseball, with these players now performing in Major League Spring Training at an earlier point in their careers.
If you just take the current O’s top 10 prospects, as MLBPipeline.com reckons, the Orioles could start this lineup, for instance:
SS – Jackson Holliday
CF – Enrique Bradfield Jr.
DH – Heston Kjerstad
3B - Coby Mayo
C – Samuel Basallo
2B – Joey Ortiz
LF – Colton Cowser
1B – Connor Norby
RF – Dylan Beavers
Yes, a few of these players (Kjerstad, Ortiz and Cowser) have already played in the majors and one is out of position, with Norby at first base. It was done that way to make this work with the top 10 prospects. Right-hander Chayce McDermott, O’s No. 10 prospect, could start on the mound.
That would leave this list of prospects (Nos. 11-25, according to MLB Pipeline) for the Orioles bench: Cade Povich, Mac Horvath, Jud Fabian, Max Wagner, Seth Johnson, Braylin Tavera, Hudson Haskin, Leandro Arias, Justin Armbruester, John Rhodes, Creed Willems, Carter Baumler, Frederick Bencosme, Jackson Baumeister and Luis Almeyda.
The Pirates team could be headed up by their top two prospects, pitcher Paul Skenes and infielder Termarr Johnson. Skenes, a right-hander who is MLB Pipeline’s No. 3 top 100 prospect currently, was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 MLB Draft. Johnson was the No. 4 overall pick in the 2022 draft and is currently MLB Pipeline’s No. 22 prospect.
Spring Breakout is a great concept, in my humble opinion, and it will be something to see all that talent on the field at one time.