It’s doubtful that one of the Orioles’ top five prospects will return from an injury this season, while the organization is hoping to get good news in the near future on another.
Orioles executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias said Friday he is “pessimistic” left-hander DL Hall will rejoin an affiliate this year after suffering a stress reaction in the bone in his left elbow. Hall, who entered the season as Baltimore’s No. 3 prospect according to Baseball America, was ramping up toward a return from the bout of elbow tendinitis he suffered in June when testing revealed the injury.
Before landing on the injured list, Hall, 22, was dominating at Double-A Bowie. Baltimore’s 2017 first-round pick was striking out 15.9 batters per nine innings with a 3.13 ERA through seven starts.
“This is going to require more rest,” Elias said. “Now with the time of where we’re at, I’m very pessimistic that he’s going to be able to return this season. That’s something that we’re gonna have to look at when we get to the end of the fall about what we want him to do in the offseason, whether there’s official competition involved in that, but it’s probably going to be a situation where we’re looking to rest him and platform him as best as possible for 2022.”
Meanwhile, Elias did not have a specific update on the status of outfielder Heston Kjerstad, who has not played for an Orioles affiliate since the team drafted with the second overall pick in 2020 because of myocarditis (heart inflammation). Kjerstad, fourth in Baseball America’s preseason organizational rankings, had a recurrence of the issue while training at the Orioles’ Sarasota, Florida, complex last month.
“We’re continuing to hope for some good news here soon, and we’ve got our fingers crossed for that, and we may get some soon,” Elias said. “That’s really all I can say right now. It’s been, to say the least, a very trying and unfortunate circumstance for him and the organization, but we’re helping him and supporting him, and we’ve still got a lot of time left, and this still is something that we think will pass.”
Yusniel Diaz, Baltimore’s preseason No. 7 prospect and the top minor leaguer they acquired from the Los Angeles Dodgers in the July 2018 trade for Manny Machado, has missed several games with Triple-A Norfolk while dealing with a turf toe injury in his right foot. He’s been able to do some running work and is “moving in the right direction,” Elias said.
No. 16 prospect Adam Hall, an infielder with High-A Aberdeen, is expected to be back from a quadricep strain in mid-August. That’s also when the Orioles are hopeful Bowie infielder Terrin Vavra, their 22nd-ranked prospect, will return from a back strain.
Shortstop Anthony Servideo, the Orioles’ third-round pick in their 2020 class and their No. 29 prospect, underwent surgery this week in Philadelphia to repair a sports hernia, Elias said. He’s expected to be out four to six weeks, which will keep him out for the rest of the season.
On a brighter note, Elias said promoting top prospect Adley Rutschman to Triple-A Norfolk has “become increasingly a conversation.”
“He’s certainly had a very successful season thus far in Double-A on both sides of ball,” Elias said. “It’s been great to see. I don’t think he would tell you that he is, but he’s not a fully finished product or polished player. All these kids missed a whole year last year. His control of the strike zone has been outstanding, but he’s doing a lot of work with Ryan Fuller, our hitting coach, and Jeff Kunkel, our catching coach there, and just every day, getting better and perfecting things about his swing and his consistency, his mechanics and his approach. He’s also working with the pitching staff there, and they’ve got a really good thing going on, so we do not feel like he’s wasting his time or not getting anything out of Bowie despite the success that he’s had thus far.
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“It’s certainly something that we’re talking about organizationally and something we want to get right.”