The inability to put this year’s draft selections in the 60-man player pool motivated the Orioles to get them work in the fall instructional league.
At least five of the six, with outfielder Heston Kjerstad unavailable due to a non-sports medical issue.
Director of player development Matt Blood is down in Sarasota, Fla., to observe, among many things, the raw skills and the progress made by shortstops Jordan Westburg and Anthony Servideo, outfielder Hudson Haskin, third baseman Coby Mayo and pitcher Carter Baumler.
“Impressive,” Blood said, one word serving as an apt description of five players.
“Jordan Westburg has been really impressive. Just size, athleticism, skills, tools and makeup. Looks great. A real exciting guy.
“Hudson Haskin is a really good athlete, moves well. He’s pretty much what we heard about in terms of his scouting report. Just a really good all-around player. Servideo is a really, really nice defender and has got bat-to-ball skills and we’re going to keep working there. And the two high school kids are even better than I expected.
“Coby Mayo, just big, strong, big-time power. He and Adley (Rutschman) can compete every day with exit velocities and power numbers. And Carter Baumler is an advanced high school kid. Really good athlete, delivery, demeanor, and above-average stuff. I saw him the other day for the first time against hitters and it was really exciting.”
Just wait until they begin playing in games against the Rays and Pirates. The opener is Monday.
“There have been no disappointments with those guys,” Blood said. “They’ve all been as advertised or better and have really come in with a great attitude. You can already see them getting better.”
With no minor league season, the Orioles adjusted their plans for Rutschman by assigning him to the alternate camp site in Bowie and later the fall instructional league. The organization’s top prospect missed at-bats set aside for him at Single-A Frederick, but was introduced to a higher level of pitching.
The benefits also showed behind the plate. Setting a target for that pitching was just as important as trying to hit it.
More intrasquad games have been played in Sarasota since the beginning of the week, with outside competition arriving in a few days.
“He got good work in at home, he was able to find ways to get some live experience there, and then he went to Bowie and got exposed to really good pitching for two months. And then he comes here and continues that progression,” Blood said.
“Is it a full year of development? Probably not. But is it compared to most? I would say he got an above-average development experience. A well above-average development experience compared to most this year. So I’ve been pretty happy with the progress we’ve seen out of him.”
Left unresolved is whether the Orioles give him a bump to Double-A next summer, if there’s an actual minor league season, and treat 2020 as if he graduated from the Carolina League.
They’re also going to find out whether they still have an affiliate in Frederick. Contraction seems to be coming and the Keys are one of the rumored teams in jeopardy despite tremendous fan support.