Heading into the 2021 season, the Orioles were rated No. 7 in the Baseball America organizational rankings in January. It was their highest rating in the 37 years Baseball America has published such information. Well, the club just made another nice move up and today, in the newest rankings, the Orioles are No. 2.
In March, they were ranked No. 5 by MLBPipeline.com, so the club is movin’ on up.
The Baseball America organization rankings include players that are prospect-eligible as of Aug. 15. O’s catching prospect Adley Rutschman, for instance, is now the No. 1 player in the their top 100 as Tampa Bay’s Wander Franco has graduated and is no longer prospect-eligible.
The O’s have two players now ranked in the Baseball America top 100 top 10 with Rutschman No. 1 and pitcher Grayson Rodriguez No. 9 (he is also the top-rated pitching prospect). Lefty DL Hall is rated No. 43 and infielder Gunnar Henderson is No. 85.
“It’s nice,” O’s director of player development Matt Blood said of the No. 2 ranking. “It’s nice to be recognized for the improvement of talent throughout our system. From the player development side, we’re not going to be complacent because we are ranked No. 2 now. I think we have a lot of work to do and it’s our job to get these players to actualize that talent and value.”
In the Baseball America rankings, the Orioles ended last year 12, moved to No. 7 in preseason and now to No. 2. In the MLBPipeline.com ratings, they ended last year No. 13, moved to No. 8 preseason and to No. 5 in March.
Seattle is ranked No. 1 now by Baseball America and after the Orioles, Kansas City is third, followed by Pittsburgh and San Francisco. Among American League East clubs, Tampa Bay is No. 7, Boston No. 9, Toronto No. 10 and New York No. 19.
Today’s news comes on a day the club made a host of promotions throughout its minor league system.
Moving from low Single-A Delmarva to Aberdeen: Infielders TT Bowens, Jean Carmona and Ryne Ogren, outfielders Lamar Sparks and Cristopher Céspedes, and right-handers Noah Denoyer, Griffin McLarty and Adam Stauffer.
The Orioles are moving 12 draft picks from the class of 2021 and one from last year from the Rookie-level Florida Complex League to Delmarva. Also moving up are two non-drafted free agents signed after the latest draft from 2021.
The list includes:
* Outfielder Colton Cowser (round 1)
* Infielder Connor Norby (round 2)
* Outfielder Reed Trimble (Competitive Balance Round B)
* Outfielder John Rhodes (round 3)
* Outfielder Donta’ Williams (round 4)
* Right-hander Carlos Tavera (round 5)
* Shortstop Collin Burns (round 6)
* Catcher Connor Pavalony (round 7)
* Outfielder Billy Cook (round 10)
* Infielder Jacob Teter (round 13)
* Right-hander Peter Van Loon (round 16)
* Right-hander Conor Grady (round 18)
* Infielder Coby Mayo (round 4, 2020)
* Right-hander Preston Price (2021 non-drafted free agent)
* Right-hander Daniel Federman (2021 non-drafted free agent)
So the club’s top eight draft picks and 12 from this draft will be with Delmarva when they host Fredericksburg tomorrow.
“I think it’s really exciting to see these newly drafted players move up together to Delmarva,” said Blood. “And you know, they’re going to have essentially a full month to get acclimated to professional baseball and to compete with each other with a very competitive team there in Delmarva. And from that, just to see the talent level increase across the organization as other guys push up the system, it’s just an overall, all-encompassing improvement of the level of talent in our system. And that’s really exciting for everyone involved.”
All 21 drafted O’s players are now with clubs, including the FCL teams, or will be with a team soon. For instance, the eighth-round pick, catcher Creed Willems, their only player drafted from the high school ranks this year, joined the FCL Orange O’s team today. Some pitchers haven’t thrown yet in games, but they will.
“The pitchers will come on line when they are ready to pitch in a game. But they are all heading in that trajectory,” said Blood.
The Orioles are excited that Westburg is moving to his third team this year after beginning with Delmarva and then moving to Aberdeen. Now he will become the everyday shortstop at Bowie. He is having a Player of the Year type of season, batting .306/.414/.500/.914 with 59 runs, 21 doubles, three triples, 11 homers, 14 steals and 65 RBIs.
“He’s been fantastic this year,” said Blood. “He’s shown a maturity to his work ethic and approach to the game that has led to his success and also to him being a leader by example in our organization. Nice to promote him and continue to challenge him. That’s just a testament to his hard work, skills and maturity as a person and a player. Him getting to Double-A in his first professional season is exciting for everyone involved.
“Jordan has proven he has real ability at shortstop and is a very solid defender. I think we’re going to continue to give him as many reps as we can at the position.”
The moves leave Norfolk with at least eight pitchers that will be expected to get starter innings. Some may have to do that at times in relief and/or in piggyback situations. Now they have added Knight and Sedlock to a group that already included Mike Baumann, Alexander Wells, Dean Kremer, Kevin Smith, Kyle Bradish and Ofelky Peralta. Zac Lowther is going through an injury rehab assignment in the FCL.