Baltimore Orioles Top 15 Prospects For 2024

Still the best farm system in baseball after several notable graduations, Baltimore isn't leaving their contention window any time soon.

SARASOTA, FLORIDA - MARCH 21, 2023: Jackson Holliday #87 of the Baltimore Orioles runs off the field during a minor league spring training game against the Atlanta Braves at the Buck ONeil Baseball Complex on March 21, 2023 in Sarasota, Florida. (Photo by Nick Cammett/Diamond Images via Getty Images)

Even with the graduations of infielders Gunnar Henderson and Jordan Westburg and former top pitching prospect Grayson Rodriguez from their farm system last season, the Baltimore Orioles have remained the class of the minor leagues through excellent amateur scouting under General Manager Mike Elias.

Their draft strategy has produced three top-three prospects in baseball in Henderson, Adley Rutschman, and Just Baseball’s 2023 top overall prospect in Jackson Holliday, while former top five picks Colton Cowser and Heston Kjerstad are still consensus top-100 prospects.

With just their second AL East crown since 1997 coming in the same year that their Triple-A affiliate in Norfolk took home the Triple-A Championship, it’s become abundantly clear that the Orioles’ contention window will be open for quite some time.

1. Jackson Holliday – SS – (Triple-A)

Height/Weight: 6’1″, 175 | Bat/Throw: L/R | 1st Round (1) – 2022 (BAL) | ETA: 2024

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The son of MLB All-Star Matt Holliday and the No. 1 selection in the 2022 Draft, Holliday has five-tool potential while boasting enough polish to reach Triple-A prior to his 20th birthday.

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Offense

Holliday is an advanced hitter for his age with a smooth swing from the left side and comfort driving the ball to all fields. Starting upright, Holliday utilizes a slow leg kick to get into his lower half, but repeats it well with an early move and slow build.

The athleticism of Holliday is more than evident in the batter’s box, as he shows off impressive lower-half adjustability, helping him still get off good swings even when he is a bit fooled or out in front. Much like his father, Holliday is a patient hitter who does not strike out much and will work plenty of free passes. Despite climbing three levels in 2023, Holliday ran a chase rate of just 20%.

The impact is not totally there yet for Holliday, but he has a big frame and room to add more muscle which could help him develop above average or even plus power.

He has the tendency to pull off of the ball a bit with his front side, which can minimize his ability to use the ground and his lower half to generate more power, especially on pitches on the outer half. The move does not impede his ability to consistently make contact thanks to his adjustability and feel for the barrel. Holliday projects as an easy plus hitter with more juice to tap into.

Defense/Speed

A plus runner with plenty of lateral quickness and range, Holliday has a great chance to stick at shortstop. He is already demonstrating smooth actions, good instincts and soft hands to go with a plus arm. Holliday has the goods to blossom into an above average defender or better at short as he continues to improve his footwork and ability to read hops. His plus speed should make him a consistent threat to steal bases.

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Outlook

It’s easy to see why Holliday was the No. 1 pick in the 2022 Draft. He has already shown an innate feel to hit, with tools and physical projection to dream on. He rarely gives away at-bats and already has the approach of a big leaguer.

The most advanced prep prospect in his class, Holliday has a chance to debut in 2024 despite only having less than 150 professional games under his belt heading into 2024. How much power he taps into will be a determinant in just how great of a player Holliday can become.

2. Samuel Basallo – C – (Double-A)

Height/Weight: 6’1″, 235 | Bat/Throw: L/R | IFA: $1.3M – 2021 (BAL) | ETA: 2025

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Ridiculous power potential for a teenager and production at the lower levels have Basallo rising quickly despite evaluators not being sure where he long-term defensive home may be. He is well on his way to becoming an offensive monster.

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Offense

Starting with his bat rested on his shoulder, Basallo features a smooth, rhythmic load to get his hands slotted and sink into his back hip. Already built like a freight train, Basallo produces plus exit velocities power to all fields. He reached exit velocities as high as 112 mph at just 18 years old and while there may not be a ton of projection in his frame, he will almost surely get stronger as he develops.

Basallo is an aggressive hitter with a fair amount of whiff, but he has kept his strikeout rate at a palatable rate. He shows some adjustability in the box with relatively simple moves, providing optimism that he can develop into an average hitter with better swing decisions. Basallo already does a good job of getting into his power in games, especially to his pull side.

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Strong out of zone contact rates help hedge his moderate overall contact rates. As the 2023 season progressed, Basallo cut his chase rate some while maintaining his high in zone swing rate. The result was a ridiculous finish to his 2023 campaign, hitting .351/.450/.685 with just a 16% strikeout rate and 14% walk rate in 31 High-A/Double-A games.

Defense/Speed

A plus throwing arm is the leading defensive tool for Basallo who may be a candidate to move from behind the dish. He moves well to continue to get looks at catcher, but his blocking and receiving has a ways to go. His catch and throw skills are strong, gunning down around 33% of attempted base stealers. There’s a chance Basallo can stick at the position and he has shown some improvements already.

Outlook

With the bat being the leading aspect of Basallo’s game, if he can stick at catcher, he could be a rare commodity as a left-handed power threat at a tough position. It’s still early in his development, but there’s already a ton to be excited about with Basallo. Average hit and plus power will play anywhere, but there’s more pressure on his fringy hit tool if he has to move to first.

3. Coby Mayo – 3B – (Triple-A)

Height/Weight: 6’5″, 190 | Bat/Throw: R/R | 4th Round (103), 2020 (BAL) | ETA: 2024

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A popular breakout candidate, Mayo did not quite have the year many had hoped he would in 2022, but he still put up above average numbers despite aggressive assignments and earned rave reviews during the Orioles’ spring.

Check out our interview with Coby Mayo!

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Offense

Boasting a huge frame and long levers, yet with a surprisingly controlled swing, Mayo impressed with his feel to hit the second he entered pro ball. Despite his 6-foot-5 frame, Mayo manages his length well, posting solid contact rates.

As a 20-year-old adjusting to the upper levels in 2022, Mayo struggled to recognize more advanced spin, causing his strikeout rate to jump from 21.5% in High-A to 34.5% in Double-A. He also battled some nagging injuries. However, his advanced swing, above average contact rates and impressive athleticism for his size hedges any major whiff concern long-term.

Mayo worked with the Orioles on some minor swing tweaks heading into the 2023 season to help him tap into more power, and the results have been evident. His 90th percentile exit velocity jumped to 107 MPH with a max exit velocity of 113 MPH. Pair the phenomenal exit velocities with a consistent ability to drive the ball in the air and it’s easy to envision plus game power or more for Mayo.

He absolutely pulverizes fastballs, mashing to an OPS over 1.000 and has improved his OPS by more than 200 points against breaking balls in 2023. Mayo has also cut his chase rate to around 22%, helping him walk at a well above average clip.

It’s easy to understand why the O’s were willing to go well over slot for the teenager, his simple hitting mechanics follow suit with what the organization looks for, but he also has big power potential with his huge frame and athleticism.

Defense/Speed

Mayo moves well for his size and has a plus arm at third base. He has worked hard at his defense, improving his footwork and actions. Once viewed as a candidate to move off of the position, Mayo looks like he can be an average defender there. Though he is not much of a base stealer, Mayo is at least an average runner.

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Outlook

A quick learner who is lauded for his makeup and work ethic, it is really impressive for Mayo to reach Triple-A within two seasons as a power hitting prep bat. While there will naturally be some whiff with a player of his profile, Mayo manages the swing and miss really well for a 6-foot-5 masher and walks plenty.

There’s big-time power to dream on with Mayo along with the approach and bat-to-ball skills that should allow him to get on base at a strong clip.

4. Heston Kjerstad – OF – (MLB)

Height/Weight: 6’3″, 205 | Bat/Throw: L/R | 1st Round (2), 2020 (BAL) | ETA: 2024

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The second overall pick in 2020, health issues delayed Kjerstad’s professional debut to 2022. He quickly made up for lost time by mashing across every level, including the Arizona Fall League. He has steadily minimized whiff while maximizing power.

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Offense

It appears as though Kjerstad has a lot of moving parts to his swing, but when you boil it down, his load and swing are repeatable for him. Kjerstad uses a loose, rotational bat waggle, similar to Houston’s Jeremy Peña, which helps him get slotted. His leg kick is sizable, but he starts it early and holds his back hip extremely well.

Kjerstad’s body control and hip mobility is impressive and allows him to not only generate power and lift, but also consistently repeat his swing. His 90th percentile exit velocity of 106 MPH and max of 114 MPH is in the plus territory and his ability to hit the ball in the air with consistency helps him get into his pop in games.

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As he has gotten back into the swing of things, the contact rates have steadily improved to above average despite climbing levels relatively quickly to compensate for his two lost seasons.

In his first 50 games at Triple-A, Kjerstad ran a zone contact rate of 88% while punching out just 19% of the time.

One area where he could improve is his swing decisions and aggressiveness. A 35% chase rate is well above league-average and results in more weak contact than Kjerstad may like as he will at times expand the zone in advantage counts when he should be shrinking it.

Again, he missed a huge portion of his development, and has simply seen less professional pitches than just about anyone in Triple-A. The fact that Kjerstad is still running relatively high contact rates and low chase rates despite his aggressiveness is another indication of his feel for the barrel.

As his approach improves, he can become a comfortably above average hitter with a chance for plus game power.

Defense/Speed

Though he is a below average runner, Kjerstad moves well enough in the outfield to make the plays he needs to make and has a plus arm to supplement things. He has a true right fielder’s profile and should be an average defender there. 

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Outlook

Few prospects have improved their outlook more than Heston Kjerstad over the last calendar year. He has leaped from a high strikeout rate in High-A (after a two-year layoff) and later getting more reps in the Arizona Fall League to demolishing the upper levels with an overall strikeout rate of just 17% in his first taste.

The fact that the power-hitting outfielder reached Triple-A in just over 100 professional games is remarkable, and he has continued to mature at the plate as he compiles more at-bats just one step away from the big leagues. Kjerstad is a high probability big league regular with the potential to be a middle-of-the-order threat.

5. Colton Cowser – OF – (MLB)

Height/Weight: 6’3″, 195 | Bat/Throw: L/R | 1st Round (5), 2021 (BAL) | ETA: 2024

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Solid tools across the board and the ability to play all three outfield spots make Cowser a higher floor prospect despite an uptick in whiff in 2023.

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Offense

With an upright stance from the left side and a simple swing geared for line drive contact, Cowser’s limited movement allows him to be on time and repeat his swing. A great athlete, Cowser’s lower half adjustability and impressive feel for the barrel help him put good swings on tough pitches and use the whole field.

One of the most polished hitters in the 2021 draft, some scouts wondered how much power would be in the tank for Cowser with a swing that is more geared for line drives. Cowser has tapped into a reasonable amount of power as a pro launching 38 homes in 258 Minor League games heading into 2024.

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With a 90th percentile EV of 105 MPH, Cowser’s raw power is comfortably above average, but his path may ultimately keep him limited to just average game power.

The added power has come with a bit more whiff than expected, but Cowser hedges that with a great approach. Just a 17% chase rate has helped Cowser walk at a 17% clip as a pro, and his natural feel to hit still shines through. Cowser has had to adjust to aggressive assignments and should settle into a strikeout rate closer to 20% than 30%.

A key area where Cowser improved drastically from 2022 to 2023 is left-on-left match ups. After producing an OPS of .616 against lefties in his first full pro season, he upped it to .754 including his MLB debut.

There appeared to be an effort to lift the ball more consistently in the second half of his 2023 campaign, which may have contributed to Cowser’s uptick in whiff. If he can find a middle ground, there’s a decent blend of hit and power to look forward to with the ability to draw free passes.

Defense/Speed

An above-average runner, Cowser covers plenty of ground in center field with long strides and solid closing speed. He has seen action in all three outfield spots, but the majority of Cowser’s starts came in center in 2023. Solid reads and instincts along with an above average arm give him a good chance to stick in center, but if he moves to a corner he could profile as a fringe plus defender.

Cowser stole plenty of bases in the lower levels, but struggled to find the same success in Double and Triple-A. He adds value on the bases, though will probably never be more than the occasional base stealer.

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Outlook

A frustrating MLB debut and tweaks to try to get back there likely bled into Cowser’s final two months of the season at Triple-A where he went through what was the worst stretch of his pro career. Through much longer Minor League stretches, he has looked like an above average hitter with at least average impact.

Good speed and the ability to play all three outfield spots helps Cowser’s profile plenty. Even if the hit tool trends closer to average as he tries to unlock more game power, Cowser’s consistently strong walk rates should help bolster the OBP. He still projects as an above average everyday outfielder capable of playing a solid center field.

6. Connor Norby – 2B – (Triple-A)

Height/Weight: 5’10″, 190 | Bat/Throw: R/R | 2nd Round (41), 2020 (BAL) | ETA: 2024

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A track record of hitting at ECU topped off with a power breakout in his junior season shot Norby into early round consideration. He has kept the power trend going in his first full pro season, launching 28 homers in 118 games across High-A, Double-A and Triple-A.

Offense

Swings don’t come much simpler than Connor Norby’s. His coach at East Carolina Cliff Godwin preaches quiet pre-swing moves with the no stride approach in two strike counts. The philosophy does not work for everyone, but for talented hitters like Alec Burleson and Norby (as well as various MLB examples), it has been a big reason why they reach Triple-A in their first full season.

A knack for driving the ball in the air with backspin consistently has helped Norby tap into much more game power than his average exit velocities would suggest. He does a great job of hunting pitches he can do damage with early in counts before relying on his natural feel to hit and ability to spray the ball all over when down to two strikes.

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After launching 29 homers in 2022, he added 20 more at Triple-A in 2023. After a bit of a slow start to his 2023 season, he closed out the year by hitting .305/.381/.532 with a strikeout rate below 20% and walk rate above 10%. It may be difficult for him to tap into the same amount of power at Camden Yards, but in a vacuum, he easily projects for above average game power at the highest level with a good feel to hit.

Defense/Speed

Another good athlete, but not a burner, Norby brings above average speed to the table and excellent footwork/actions at second base. He has good hands and an average arm. He should be an above average defender at the position. Norby has seen some action in left field as the Orioles sort through their defensive logjam in the infield. He could be an average defender out there as he gains reps and did not look out of sorts.

I don’t expect Norby to be a huge base stealer, but he moves well enough on the base paths to provide some value in that regard. He stole 16 bases on 22 tries in 2023.

Outlook

Norby is a well-rounded player who gets the most out of his above average tools. Climbing three levels in one season is impressive enough, but Norby saw his production improve at each stop in 2022 while his strikeout rate dwindled.

His strong finish to 2023 gives him plenty of momentum heading into 2024 as he tries to force his way into the Orioles plans (or another team’s). With little left to prove in Triple-A, the last test for Norby is if his ability to maximize each of his tools translates at the highest level.

7. Enrique Bradfield Jr. – OF – (High-A)

Height/Weight: 6’1″, 170 | Bat/Throw: L/L | 1st Round (17), 2023 (BAL) | ETA: 2025

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Elite wheels and defense with minimal slug, Bradfield is throwback center fielder with the tools turned up.

Offense

Starting upright with his hands right by his ear and his bat pointed upwards like a lightening rod, Bradfield sinks into his lower half with a small leg kick and small pull backwards with his hands. The moves are simple with Bradfield choked up some on the bat and a flat swing geared for contact. Though simple, his load can look a bit rushed sometimes with the tendency to start it late.

A projected top 10 pick by many going into 2023, Bradfield’s great contact ability and elite speed made his .279 batting average in his draft year at Vanderbilt a disappointment, but that did not deter the Orioles from selecting him 17th overall. Extremely patient, Bradfield ran a chase rate of just 12% during his college season with that number dipping further in his 25 pro games.

With low-end exit velocities and a swing path that results in a higher ground ball rate, Bradfield is unlikely to slug his way out of the .300’s. His high contact rates and ability to draw plenty of walks should help him post a high on base percentage.

Even with speed that should help him steal plenty of infield hits, a key component to Bradfield’s ability to hit for a higher average will be if he can keep the ground ball rate within reason as well as his quality of contact.

He has a bit bigger of a frame than most hitters of his profile and could likely add some strength without impeding his quickness. Even a marginal gain in impact could bode well for his BABIP.

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Defense/Speed

80 grade wheels and the instincts of a veteran center fielder, Bradfield is one of the best defensive center fielders in baseball at any level. He seems to always know where he is on the field, finding the wall consistently with comfort even at full speed. He will take his eyes off of the ball to sprint to a spot and pick the ball back up in stride when it’s hit straight over his head or if he has to make an adjustment. His arm is fringy, but accurate.

Stealing 130 bags in less than 200 collegiate games, it was more of the same for Bradfield in his pro debut, going 25 for 27 on attempts in just 25 games.

Outlook

The ceiling is relatively capped for Bradfield compared to most first round picks, but he would provide value for a big league team with his glove and legs right now. Though it will be an uphill battle for Bradfield to provide above average offensive production, his minuscule chase rate and ability to put bat on ball elevate his offensive floor some.

If Bradfield’s offensive numbers are within a reasonable distance of league-average, he will offer enough in other areas to be an everyday center fielder for a winning team.

8. Chayce McDermott – RHP – (Triple-A)

Height/Weight: 6’3″, 200 | Bat/Throw: R/R | 4th Round (132), 2021 (HOU) | ETA: 2024

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Electric stuff and below average command have made McDermott an exciting but frustrating prospect at points. In 50 2/3 innings at Triple-A, he posted the lowest walk rate of his career in 2023, and unsurprisingly, the lowest ERA of his career followed (2.49).

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Arsenal

A four-pitch mix that is led by his lively fastball and wipeout slider, McDermott overpowers hitters when he is around the zone. The fastball sits 93-95 mph, touching 97 mph with a lot of life. Not only does McDermott’s fastball feature above average carry, but his vertical approach angle (VAA) is flatter than most pitchers from his release height, helping the pitch play up further.

Working off of his fastball is sweeper that he will manipulate to more of a harder cutterish slider as well. The sweeper sits in the low 80s while his shorter, harder variation of the pitch is about two ticks harder. Both pitches are predominantly thrown to righties who hit just .130.

His preferred secondary pitch to left-handed hitters is an upper 70s curveball with good depth. The inconsistency of his splitter resulted in higher curveball usage against lefties, going to the pitch around 25% of the time while holding hitters to a batting average around .150.

Averaging more than 15 inches of vertical movement and 12 inches of horizontal, McDermott was challenged to consistently land it for a strike with just a 52% strike rate in 2023. When he’s commanding it, it’s a well above average pitch.

Rounding out his arsenal is a newer splitter that he unveiled in 2023 with mixed results. It was almost immediately more effective than his previous changeup with good whiff numbers when he gave it a chance, his strike rate was a coin flip.

Outlook

McDermott has the stuff to be a middle-rotation arm, but below average command likely pushes him closer to No. 4 territory with some reliever risk. His improvements command wise in the second half of 2023 was particularly encouraging considering the tighter strike zones, ABS system and more patient hitters at Triple-A. McDermott throws enough strikes to be a big league arm in some capacity, with the floor of a high leverage arm or nasty swing man.

9. Dylan Beavers – OF – (Double-A)

Height/Weight: 6’4″, 205 | Bat/Throw: L/R | 1st Round (33), 2021 (BAL) | ETA: 2025

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Mechanical issues with his swing caused Beavers to slip some in the 2022 draft, but the Orioles nabbed him 33rd overall, excited by his upside. He made progress with his swing in 2023 and the results followed.

Offense

Previously more crouched in his stance, Beavers now starts upright and open with his hands a bit higher. With a good feel for the barrel, Beavers’ improvements with his swing path have resulted in strong contact rates even as he has reached more challenging levels.

His decent-sized large leg kick builds slowly and sometimes results in his foot getting down late and his contact point being too deep. The rushed nature of his swing can result in more weak contact than desired with the tendency to lose his base.

As a result, Beavers hit just .220 against fastballs 93 mph and above.

When he is in rhythm, it’s easy to see what can be an above average hit tool. He is extremely athletic, especially for a player of his stature, boasting adjustability on secondary stuff that paired with his feel for the barrel, helps him spoil tough pitches and make plenty of contact.

Beavers has a great feel for the strike zone, running a chase rate hardly above 20%, helping him walk at a 13% clip in 2023. While the exit velocities are right around average at this point, there’s plus impact to dream on between his slender 6-foot-4 frame and swing inefficiencies that sap some power. It helps that he consistently drives the ball in the air.

Defense/Speed

A fringe-plus runner, Beavers takes long quick strides and covers plenty of ground in the outfield. His reads are shaky, not always looking the most comfortable as he closes in on balls which in turn affects his routes as well. His speed helps, but he will need to make a leap in his ability to track the baseball to stick in center.

With a plus arm, he may be best suited for a corner where his defense could be above average. Beavers is a factor on the base paths, but could be more efficient with his base stealing, going 27 for 37 in 2023.

Outlook

Beavers finished 2023 as well as almost any hitter in the Minor Leagues, hitting .349/.451/.516 over his final 50 games, two thirds of which were at Double-A. With still much more power to potentially be unlocked, strong contact rates and good speed, Beavers boasts exciting upside. Even with the success down the stretch at Double-A, Beavers will still likely need to make some adjustments and add some strength to reach his exciting ceiling.

10. Cade Povich – LHP – (Triple-A)

Height/Weight: 6’3″, 190 | Bat/Throw: L/L | 3rd Round (98), 2021 (MIN) | ETA: 2024

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Utilizing an effective five-pitch mix with plenty of confidence in each of his offerings, Povich keeps hitters off balance, missing plenty of bats despite not featuring the loudest of stuff. He was acquired alongside Yennier Cano from the Twins in exchange for Jorge Lopez in 2022.

Check out our interview with Cade Povich!

Arsenal

His fastball sits just 92-94 mph, but he hides the ball well with late run, generating more in zone whiff than the velocity and shape may suggest.

Povich will mix in his cutter, curveball and slider all more than 10% of the time with his upper 80s cutter leading the way (20% usage). From an overall strike and swinging strike perspective, the cutter was his most effective offering in 2023, useful against hitters from both sides of the plate. His low 80s sweeper is only really useful against left-handed hitters, holding them to a .150 batting average, though with inconsistent command.

He will mix in his mid 70s curveball and mid 80s changeup more frequently to righties. The curveball flashes above average with plenty of depth. His changeup is fringy, but is a fine third offering against opposite handed hitters.

Striking out more than 30% of batters as a pro, Povich’s ability to mix his looks and deception has resulted in plenty of whiff at every level. His command backed up some at the upper levels, with the highest walk rate of his career (12%) in 2023.

Outlook

With a decent feel for a handful of offerings and a track record of throwing strikes at least at the lower levels, there’s hope that Povich can get his walk rate back to pre-2023 levels (the ABS system in Triple-A affected all pitchers differently). He’ll likely need to get that walk rate back below 10% to stick as a back-end starter though his ability to miss bats helps.

11. Braylin Tavera – OF – (Low-A)

Height/Weight: 6’2″, 190 | Bat/Throw: R/R | IFA: $1.7M, 2022 (BAL) | ETA: 2026

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Signed for $1.7 million in 2022, the Orioles had never shelled out a larger sum for an international free agent at the time. It was both the polish and projection that made Tavera such a popular target in his class and the early results have only reinforced that.

Offense

Starting with his feet a bit more than shoulder width apart and his hands relaxed just behind his ear, Tavera gets into a decent sized leg kick that works in tandem with a rhythmic hand load. He starts the move early and and maintains rhythm well, repeating his pre-swing moves consistently and putting himself in a good position.

Tavera’s mechanical improvements resulted in a cleaner swing path and far more contact at the Complex in 2023 than the DSL in 2022. His bat now lives in the zone for a long time, helping him drive the ball to all fields and create more loft.

Some added strength resulted in higher exit velocities and more power output in 2023 with flashes of what could become above average power to his pull side. Like many young hitters, Tavera has the tendency to drift–especially on off-speed pitches–but as he irons that out, he should tap into more impact.

A patient hitter, Taveras already has a great feel for the strike zone, walking nearly as much as he struck out as a pro. He is a well-rounded hitter who could provide above average hit and at least average power with the ability to draw plenty of walks.

Defense/Speed

An above average runner, Tavera moves well in center field and has a shot to stick there. He could slow down some as he matures which could lead to a move to a corner where his defense would be solid. He gets decent jumps though his routes can be inefficient. If his reads improve with more reps, he could be an average center fielder. Tavera is not necessarily a major stolen base threat at this point, but he has enough speed to be a factor on the base paths.

Outlook

Entering his age 19 season in 2024, Tavera will likely be assigned to Low-A Delmarva with some exciting momentum built from a torrid finish to his 2023 campaign. Improved swing mechanics, added strength and an advanced approach make Tavera a candidate to be the latest Orioles prospect to fly up the Minor League ranks. It’s early, but there’s above average hit and power to dream on with a chance to stick in center field.

12. Mac Horvath – 3B/OF – (High-A)

Height/Weight: 6’2″, 195 | Bat/Throw: R/R | 2nd Round (53), 2023 (BAL) | ETA: 2026

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Loud tools and defensive versatility make Horvath a fun prospect with plenty of upside. A plus runner with above average power, Horvath hit 24 home runs while stealing 25 bases in his junior season at UNC. He added five more home runs and 14 stolen bases in his 22-game pro cameo following the draft.

His swing is geared for pull side lift, driving the ball in the air consistently and sharing some mechanical similarities to Chas McCormick. Though a small sample, Horvath maintained his sub 20% chase rate in his pro debut, drawing plenty of walks and taking pressure off of his likely fringy hit tool.

Horvath has seen action all over the diamond with his plus speed and arm making his defensive future fascinating. His actions can be inconsistent at third base and he particularly struggled with throwing errors in his final season at UNC, but with his speed and arm strength, he could develop into a strong defender in a corner outfield spot as he gains reps.

The Orioles found some dynamic upside in the second round with Horvath, it will just come down to whether he can hit enough and how his defensive tools translate.

13. Seth Johnson – RHP – (Triple-A)

Height/Weight: 6’1″, 205 | Bat/Throw: R/R | 1st Round (40), 2021 (TB) | ETA: 2024

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Acquired in a three team swap that sent Trey Mancini to Houston and Jose Siri to Tampa Bay in 2022, Johnson had not made his Orioles organization debut until August of 2023 as he recovered from Tommy John surgery.

Johnson generates impressive carry on his mid 90s fastball, averaging 20 inches of induced vertical break in his seven High-A starts in 2022 before going down with a torn UCL. Some mechanical changes heading into 2022 seemed to help the fastball play up, upping his release height by 0.2 feet, but gaining a half foot of extension, two inches of ride and cutting three inches of horizontal movement. As a result, Johnson saw his swinging strike on the pitch jump from 13% to 17% in his 27 High-A innings.

Working off of his fastball is a plus slider that can flirt with 3,000 RPM at 82-85 mph. He commands the pitch well, with a strike rate comfortably above 60% as a pro. The tight spin and late break make it effective to hitters from both sides of the plate. He will also mix in a curveball in the mid 70s to steal strikes.

The combination of a plus slider and fastball make Johnson a high-probability MLB relief piece, but his relatively smooth delivery and ability to fill up the strike zone give him a chance to stick as a late-rotation starter or strong swing man option.

14. Jud Fabian – OF – (Double-A)

Height/Weight: 6’2″, 195 | Bat/Throw: R/R | CB-B (67), 2022 (BAL) | ETA: 2025

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A strong defender in center field with good power, Fabian comes with plenty of intrigue as well as risk. His below average hit tool is a concern, but he posts above average exit velocities with a lofty swing that resulted in 24 home runs in 2023 despite just 96 total hits.

The whiff rates really became an issue at Double-A, where Fabian struck out 37.5% of the time. He is extremely selective and maintained his 15% walk rate at Double-A, but it is unlikely that Fabian is anything more than a three true outcome hitter.

The high strikeout, high walk profile is much more palatable when a player can provide ample value elsewhere, which is exactly what Fabian does with his great defense in center field and speed on the base paths; he stole 31 bags on 39 tries in 2023. That said, Fabian will need to make more contact to be an everyday big leaguer.

15. Jackson Baumeister – RHP – (High-A)

Height/Weight: 6’4″, 225 | Bat/Throw: R/R | 2nd Round (63), 2023 (BAL) | ETA: 2026

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The 6’4″, 224-pound right-hander was an over-slot 63rd overall pick by Baltimore in the 2023 MLB Draft after a disappointing draft year at Florida State. His 93-95 mph fastball is his best pitch, with good ride at the top of the zone and a deceptively low release point for a pitcher of his stature.

The life on his fastball sets up his downer curveball well, picking up plenty of in-zone whiff and chase. He has battled fringy command and has a nascent feel for a third pitch at this point, with his slider and changeup lagging far behind. His downhill mechanics and athletic background give Baltimore reason to be patient and see if he can develop into a reliable starter, but his fastball and curveball should play well out of the bullpen worst case scenario.

Other Names to Watch

Leandro Arias – SS – (Complex): A member of the Orioles’ 2022 IFA class, Arias put pen to paper for $600,000 and immediately got going in the DSL.

The 18-year-old has yet to get off the Complex stateside, but did drastically improve offensively from the DSL (.217/.344/.306) to 44 games in the Complex League (.271/.370/.414) in 2023. While he may not be considered elite defensively, the switch-hitting shortstop should grow into more pop and lean more into his abilities on the base paths.

Justin Armbruester – RHP – (Triple-A): The 25-year-old Armbruester is a big body at 6’4″ and 235 pounds and uses his size to rip off a riding four-seamer that sits in the low-to-mid 90s with a cutter and looser slider as complementary pieces.

While he kept runs off the board in Double-A for the first 60 innings of his 2023 season, the home run bug bit him in Norfolk, allowing nine long balls in 59.1 IP; this came on the heels of a 2022 season where he allowed 21 homers in 117.0 IP between Aberdeen and Bowie.

If Armbruester wants to capitalize on his back-of-the-rotation ability, he’ll need to work on keeping the ball in the ballpark.

Carter Baumler – RHP – (Low-A): Baumler was Baltimore’s last pick of the COVID-shortened 2020 draft, but immediately underwent Tommy John surgery after tearing his UCL during instructs that fall. The 21-year-old has just 28.2 professional innings under his belt between the Complex and Low-A Delmarva, but Baumler has punched out 41 in those 28.2 IP and held opposing hitters to a .167 BAA. He has exceptional mechanics, making his pitch mix something to dream on with little to worry about delivery-wise.

Trace Bright – RHP – (Double-A): Bright struggled mightily as a starter at Auburn, but he has been a different animal since being taken by the Orioles in the fifth round of the 2022 draft. The 23-year-old has seen his strikeout numbers skyrocket, totaling 156 in 109.1 MiLB innings (12.8 K/9) compared to a 9.6 K/9 clip in the SEC. Despite so-so command thus far, Bright’s fastball has played exceptionally well up in the zone, and he attacks hitters with a harder curveball. With a brief stint in Double-A capping off his 2023 season, he could be an under-the-radar debut candidate by the end of 2024.

Billy Cook – OF – (Double-A): Although Cook just turned 25 years old in early January, he could be considered a breakout from the 2023 season. Cook blasted six homers and stole seven bases in 22 games with Delmarva after he was taken in the 10th round out of Pepperdine in 2021, and followed that up with 15 blasts and 25 bags with High-A Aberdeen in 2022. However, 2023 was his strongest year, OPS’ing just under .780 in 120 games with Double-A Bowie while slugging 24 homers and stealing 30 bases. If Cook can keep the strikeout figure palatable, he could be an option virtually anywhere at the big league level, having logged at least eight starts in all three outfield spots, second base, and first base in 2023.

Luis De León – LHP – (Low-A): The 20-year-old southpaw was signed for just $30,000 at the end of the 2021 IFA period, but the slender 6’3″ De León has dealt his way to Delmarva for 26.1 IP after his first 27.1 IP of 2023 came at the Complex. He succeeded at both stops last year, logging a 2.01 ERA and holding opponents to a .204 BAA in 53.2 IP combined. His mid 90s fastball leads the way with a hard slider following suit, giving De León reliever capabilities with the chance to blossom into something even more exciting.

Juan Nuñez – RHP – (High-A): Acquired from Minnesota in the Jorge Lopez deal in 2022, the former $25,000 IFA signing has taken off since he made the move to Baltimore as a 21-year-old. Nuñez has always had the ability to miss bats, punching out over 11 hitters-per-nine and holding opponents to a .215 BAA in his minor league career. His step forward in 2023 came in his sheer output, doubling his previous best in innings pitched in a single season. At 5’11” with a mid 90s fastball and a solid slider, Nuñez could be a power arm out of the back of a bullpen, much like the arm he was traded for two years ago.

Alex Pham – RHP – (Double-A): Pham made just seven starts in 73 overall appearances across four years at the University of San Francisco. In his first two seasons of professional baseball after Baltimore took him in the 19th round in 2021, Pham was effectively a long-man option. Things changed entirely this past season, starting 19 games and totaling 112 innings between High-A Aberdeen and Double-A Bowie. Pham dominated at each stop, logging a 2.57 cumulative ERA with 130 strikeouts and just 42 walks issued. While he may just sit in the low-to-mid 90s at 5’11”, Pham has a true five-pitch mix that could make him a Javier Assad-esque option for the Orioles sometime soon.

Max Wagner – INF – (Double-A): Wagner was Baltimore’s second round pick in 2022 after he was named ACC Player of the Year and a consensus All-American in his draft-eligible Sophomore year at Clemson. Wagner had an eye-popping 27 homers and a 1.348 OPS in 58 games with the Tigers, but he struggled in his first taste of pro ball after being selected. In his first full season in the minor leagues, Wagner slashed .239/.342/.405 in 107 games across High-A and Double-A in 2023, hitting just 13 homers but swiping a surprising 27 bases in 33 attempts. While he saw time at both third base and second base this past season, Wagner’s bat will ultimately be what determines who he is as a finished product.