Rutschman, four other O's reach Baseball America top 100

A new Baseball America top 100 prospects list (subscription may be required) was released yesterday and it was a good day for the Orioles. Baseball America has published 32 lists since its first in 1990. And just twice - first in 2008 and now in 2021 - has the club put five players in the top 100. They have never had more than five.

I should point out that this is tracking the initial release of each list each year since Baseball America's first top 100, which was released in 1990. For many years that list went unchanged until a year later when a new list was released, usually about this time and/or sometime in January or February each year.

Now outlets like Baseball America and update their lists. Sometimes it happens when a player loses rookie eligibility and gets taken off the list. They just add someone else. There are mid-season releases of the lists now and tweaking of the lists. It can be hard to even keep up with. As the business of covering and writing about prospects just keeps getting bigger and bigger, the top 100 lists get updated often.

But in records I have kept on the initial release of the Baseball America list early each year, this is indeed just the second time the O's had five players. The first was in early 2008. Then the O's had Matt Wieters (No. 12), Chris Tillman (No. 67), Radhames Liz (No. 69), Troy Patton (No. 78) and Nolan Reimold (No. 91).

Here is that 2008 list, and it is interesting to look back and see some of the names that were rated ahead of Wieters, such as Clayton Kershaw and David Price. But there were also former Orioles that were then top prospects in Colby Rasmus (No. 5) and Travis Snider (No. 11). Wieters was ranked one spot ahead of Jacoby Ellsbury and two ahead of Andrew McCutchen.

At No. 67, Tillman was two spots behind Chris Davis and one back of Max Scherzer. Reimold was two spots behind former Oriole Steve Pearce, who was at No. 89.

So back to present day. Yesterday the O's got five players ranked: Adley Rutschman (No. 2), Grayson Rodriguez (No. 22), DL Hall (No. 59), Heston Kjerstad (No. 62) and Ryan Mountcastle (No. 63). With Mountcastle still rookie-eligible, that also keeps him prospect-list-eligible as well. Some feel that when he can no longer be ranked on such lists he could be replaced by Gunnar Henderson to keep the O's with five strong on these lists.

Rutschman-Swing-White-ST-jpgRutschman getting the No. 2 ranking behind Tampa Bay's Wander Franco makes this the fourth time the O's had a player ranked this high in the initial Baseball America list of the year.

2 - Ben McDonald in 1990
1 - Matt Wieters in 2009
2 - Dylan Bundy in 2013

This is also the first time since the 2014 list was released and just the sixth time ever that the O's have placed two players in the top 22.

1991 - Arthur Rhodes (6), Mike Mussina (19)
1993 - Brad Pennington (18), Jeffrey Hammonds (19)
2009 - Matt Wieters (1), Chris Tillman (22)
2012 - Dylan Bundy (10), Manny Machado (11)
2014 - Dylan Bundy (15), Kevin Gausman (20)

As I mentioned earlier, this all refers to just the initial Baseball America list put out each year. For instance, last November when I wrote about some of these lists, the O's had five players on both the Baseball America and lists. Baseball America had Rutschman (2), Rodriguez (31), Hall (42), Kjerstad (86) and Mountcastle (94).

Since just one of the five players in 2008 was rated in the top 66 and none in the top 10, a case could be made that this might be the best showing ever by the Orioles on these lists.

This is Rutschman's second Baseball America top 100, as he was No. 5 last year. Rodriguez was No. 35 last year. This is Hall's third list, as previously he was No. 54 in 2019 and No. 47 in 2020. This is Mountcastle's third time on the Baseball America initial list. He earlier was No. 71 in 2018, No. 90 in 2019 and unranked last year.

The O's are among the eight teams in the majors that had five or more on this list. Just three teams had more: San Diego had seven while Toronto and Miami had six players each. The Washington Nationals did not get a single player on the Baseball America list.

The O's went o-fer twice - in 2003 and 2016. They had just one player three times and had two players six times. They had three in the top 100 nine times and four players 10 times. And now this is twice with five.

Baseball America noted that the 35 pitchers ranked are the fewest ever to make a Top 100. The previous low was 38 pitchers in 2009. This marks the continuation of a recent decline in the number of arms that make the list each year.

So what could the 2021 season hold for this top 100 group of five O's?

Rutschman is expected to start at Double-A Bowie. Yes, he could make his major league debut but this season, but there is likely no rush. Here's a question: If Triple-A teams start a month or more before Double-A, as we could potentially see, would the O's start him with Norfolk?

Rodriguez goes to high Single-A, which is now Aberdeen, to continue to show us what size, smarts, drive and talent can get you. He could advance to Double-A before the year is out. Hall begins at Double-A looking to improve his command and sharpen some rough edges. I give him a great shot to do both. Kjerstad likely debuts at Single-A Delmarva with a chance to move up. Mountcastle, after a strong big league debut, is back with the Orioles. He'll try to show his stuff over 162 games, or as many as they schedule for the coming season.

The player development news has been solid recently in Birdland. ranked the organization at No. 8. The club just signed 17 international amateurs, including a pair to seven-figure bonuses. That was an O's first.

Now, as prospect ranking season arrives, the club gets to show off some of its finest.

Thurman runs down Nats young outfield prospects
"Orioles Classics" #TBT: Pushing toward playoffs

By accepting you will be accessing a service provided by a third-party external to