ANAHEIM, Calif. - When Baseball America released its mid-season organization rankings of talent in the various farm systems in Major League Baseball on Thursday, there was a surprise entrant into the top 10.
It was the Orioles at No. 8. They made a huge leap forward from their No. 22 winter ranking.
This marks the first time that the Orioles have ranked in the publication’s Top 10 since entering the 2010 season, when they also ranked No. 8. The O’s also ranked No. 8 when entering the 1994 and 1989 seasons. Baseball America began publishing organization talent rankings in 1984.
At the same time, the Orioles now have five players listed in the mid-season updated top 100 list, that includes 2019 draft picks. They are catcher Adley Rutschman at No. 5, pitcher DL Hall No. 41, pitcher Grayson Rodriguez No. 53, outfielder Yusniel Diaz No. 86 and infielder Ryan Mountcastle No. 100.
Baseball America has been releasing a top 100 ahead of every season since 1990, and in just one of those rankings did the Orioles have five players. In 2008 they had Matt Wieters (No. 12), Chris Tillman (No. 67), Radhames Liz (No. 69), Troy Patton (No. 78) and Nolan Reimold (No. 91).
The Orioles had just two players ranked in the top 100 prior to 2013, and then three before 2014, two in 2015, zero in 2016, one in 2017 and three before the start of the past two seasons. Last winter they had Diaz (No. 37), Hall (No. 54) and Mountcastle (No. 90).
“When I was coming up in the minors it seemed we were always regarded as one of the bottom teams,” Trey Mancini said yesterday in Anaheim. “But it’s great to see us on the upswing and making that climb. Obviously, this draft helped a lot. They drafted some really athletic-looking kids, it sounds like, and I saw some of them already made Delmarva. That’s promising.
“I think it’s important to have a lot of talent in your organization - the lower or upper levels. Always good to have guys on their way up, and this shows some guys might be knocking on the door pretty soon.”
Said manager Brandon Hyde of the No. 8 organizational ranking: “To get recognized as a top 10 organization talent-wise in the system is fantastic. We are where we are up here right now, but we’re excited about the guys that have been mentioned. Obviously, when you get ranked like that a lot of players are doing some good things. Especially our pitchers down in Double-A, High-A, A ball. What they have done, and obviously adding Rutschman helps. So yeah, there are some good things going on.”
This ranking comes at a time when four Orioles farm teams will begin play tonight in first place. Double-A Bowie is 26-8 in the second half in the Eastern League. Single-A Delmarva is 23-11, short-season Single-A Aberdeen is 24-16 and the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League Orioles are 17-7.
Mancini said there is credit to be passed around to the previous O’s regime that included scouting director Gary Rajsich and director of player development Brian Graham, as well as the new group led by executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias and vice president and assistant general manager, analytics Sig Mejdal.
“I think a huge tip of the cap goes to the previous regime and all the talent that was in the organization before this year,” Mancini said. “And on other side, obviously the new regime is drafting guys they really like - athletic guys that can play multiple positions. It seems like on the pitching front Chris Holt (coordinator, minor league pitching), from what I have heard in talking to a few guys, he is the real deal and getting the best out of a lot of guys. Seems likes we’re very lucky to have him in our organization.”