A new top 101 baseball prospects ranking again gives lots of love to the Orioles, with eight players included on the list.
Just not the exact same eight that made Baseball America’s top 100 this week.
Baseball Prospectus also puts infielder Gunnar Henderson at No. 1 while he retains his eligibility. The two publications are in agreement here.
Pitcher Grayson Rodriguez is No. 8, shortstop Jackson Holliday is No. 9, outfielder Colton Cowser is No. 38, third baseman Coby Mayo is No. 69, infielder Jordan Westburg is No. 74, infielder Connor Norby is No. 82, and left-hander DL Hall is No. 95.
Not all lists are created equal, and we have another example of the inexact science.
Mayo isn’t found in the Baseball America rankings, but he’s 69th with Baseball Prospectus. Infielder Joey Ortiz is 95th with Baseball America but absent from Baseball Prospectus.
MLBPipeline.com ranks Rodriguez as the No. 2 right-handed pitching prospect behind the Phillies’ Andrew Painter, and Hall is fourth among the lefties. Norby is sixth among second basemen.
Pipeline’s top 100 will be released on Jan. 26.
* Orioles chairman and CEO John Angelos, appearing yesterday on 105.7 The Fan, was asked about the possibility of more significant future increases in the team’s payroll. Whether there was the capacity to get back to the top half in the league.
Cot’s Baseball Contracts projects the current payroll as the second-lowest in the majors on opening day.
“I like to tell everyone, this job stinks with low payrolls, right?” Angelos said. “I’d love to be sitting in New York with $300 million payrolls. You’ve got to build it like any small, medium or large business. It’s cyclical, and then you hope that you can continue to feed that cycle, and I think we will be able to.
"I think the city has over $3 billion in multi-family residential investment. Unprecedented. You’ve got Harbor Place, you’ve got so many things that are happening. You have new leadership in Annapolis. I think it's an exciting next five or 10 years in Baltimore. And by the way, I think the best thing if you’re a Baltimorean, whether you believe that 100 percent or only 87 percent, tell everybody outside of Baltimore how great Baltimore is. Get your elevator speech down and promote the heck out of the city, because there’s a lot of great stuff here.”
Angelos suggested that raising the payroll would be easier if more people returned to the city. He said announcements are pending on numerous non-baseball events at Camden Yards.
“Obviously, baseball has the most unbalanced nature to it,” Angelos said. “You’ve got teams with $300 million payrolls and teams under 100. You don’t have that in the other sports, so it’s a different animal. They’re all a little bit different, but we’re trying to maneuver our way through it.”
Executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias, sitting with Angelos during the radio segment, said again that he’d like to add another veteran starting pitcher. He remains in contact with some free agents and is engaged in trade talks, though Miami’s Pablo López isn’t available after going to the Twins yesterday.
“I think now that the free agent market is relatively wound down, the trade discussions are picking up,” Elias said. “You saw there was a major trade today. We’ve been talking to everybody. There’s nothing imminent as of this afternoon, but that changes with sort of one text or one phone call sometimes. We really like our team. We see areas where we could get better and we’re trying to pursue those players, but there’s competition out there.
“There’s other smart teams, in terms of trades, and I think one thing that’s been a little bit challenging this offseason for teams that are going for it is, there aren’t a lot of teams out there that are waving a flag and saying, ‘Hey, we’re rebuilding, we’re selling.’ It’s just an unusual year in that regard. A lot of teams going for it. I think part of that is the extra playoff slots and just where things are right now. You see a trade like today where it was two teams kind of exchanging major league pieces. That’s been more of the nature of what’s out there in terms of dialogues this year because everyone’s kind of going for the playoffs.”
The playoffs remain the goal and Elias said he won’t rest in terms of improving the roster before heading to Sarasota and after arriving at the complex, but he isn’t going to become reckless in pursuit of a wild card or something grander.
“It isn’t going to be automatic, easy to do,” he said. “We’ve got five great teams in our division, a very competitive division, but we’re right in the fight in the American League East now. I think anyone you talk to in the division is looking at us and worrying about playing us and what we’re going to do, and I’m really proud of that given where we have come from, given the kind of best and the brightest we’re up against in this division. To be right in the mix with these guys is huge. I think we’re only going to continue to be so.
“We’re wanting to get into the dance here, so we’re oriented toward that with every move that we make. We’ve got to keep the health of the organization in mind and not sell out the future for 2023, which, we’re not going to do that, but we’re really enthused about this group for this year, for the next several years, for beyond, and the thought of getting to Sarasota really gets me going right now.”
* Infielder Ramón Urías is joining his brother Luis on Team Mexico’s preliminary roster for the World Baseball Classic.
Former Orioles pitcher Rodrigo López is the general manager.
Pitcher Dillon Tate and center fielder Cedric Mullins committed to Team USA. Dean Kremer will pitch for Team Israel, and Anthony Santander told The Baltimore Sun that he’s playing for Team Venezuela.
Major League Baseball and the Players Association have control over the rosters, which will be announced next month. The games begin on March 8.
* Former Orioles shortstop Richie Martin signed a minor league deal with the Reds this week and received an invitation to spring training.
Martin was the first overall pick in the 2018 Rule 5 draft from the Athletics organization and appeared in 170 games with the Orioles over three seasons, batting .212/.261/.311 in 447 plate appearances. He played in 120 games in 2019 as the primary shortstop, but only 50 between 2021-22 due to injuries and his struggles at the plate.
The Orioles designated Martin for assignment Sept. 1 to create room for first baseman Jesús Aguilar on the 40-man roster.
The rise of the Orioles’ infield prospects, including Henderson making his major league debut on Aug. 31, and Ortiz joining Westburg reaching Triple-A Norfolk, eventually pushed Martin off the roster. Jorge Mateo earned the shortstop job last season and Urías started at multiple positions and later won a Gold Glove at third base.