Standout seasons for two of the unquestioned top prospects in the Orioles’ system and a third whose breakout has made him among the most productive hitters on their farm were honored Sunday with the Orioles’ season-end minor league awards.
Top prospect and catcher Adley Rutschman and outfielder Kyle Stowers, who was selected shortly after him in the 2019 draft, shared the Brooks Robinson Minor League Player of the Year Award for seasons that have them hitting well at Triple-A Norfolk and thus on the cusp of the big leagues. This year’s Jim Palmer Minor League Pitcher of the Year Award winner, top pitching prospect Grayson Rodriguez, became just the second repeat winner since the award was founded in 1988.
“We’re starting to see more talent one, get into the organization, but two, getting promoted,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “Guys having good years, getting promoted, talented guys, prospects, and when you start having prospects at premier positions at every single level, that’s when you start to feel good things are on the way. If you look at our offensive numbers up and down our minor league teams, there’s guys really producing at every single level, pushing guys. That’s what you want — you want guys to be pushed. It’s good to see a lot of our guys have success this year.”
The production of Rutschman, baseball’s top prospect, and Stowers’ power surge have been bright spots on the Orioles’ farm in several ways. Rutschman spent most of the season at Double-A Bowie before being promoted to Norfolk last month. He’s batting .287 with 23 home runs and a .914 OPS over the two levels.
Stowers, who was the 71st overall pick in 2019, began at High-A Aberdeen before better tapping into his prolific power at Bowie and vaulting into the organization’s home run lead while finishing at Norfolk. He entered Sunday batting .282 with a .913 OPS and 27 home runs.
While those two have matched production, Rodriguez has been peerless on the pitching side since fellow top prospect DL Hall went down for the season with an elbow injury. Rodriguez dominated at Aberdeen and has been just as good at Bowie, striking out 161 in 103 innings with a 2.36 ERA and a 0.83 WHIP as he’s been named the top pitching prospect by several organizations.
Buck Britton, in his second season as manager at Bowie, will join them in receiving season-end honors as the Cal Ripken Sr. Player Development Award winner. Britton, a former Orioles farmhand and brother of former Oriole Zack Britton, has led Bowie to playoff appearances in his two seasons in charge there.
Additionally, the Jim Russo Scout of the Year Award was given to Brandon Verley, who was the northwest area scout when Rutschman was the top overall pick in 2019 and, upon moving to south Florida the following year, signed slugging high school infielder Coby Mayo in 2020 and first baseman Jacob Teter this summer.
The award winners will be honored before Tuesday’s Orioles game against the Boston Red Sox at Camden Yards.