With about a week left to do the major business in the first phase of their rebuild — namely, the trading of former All-Stars and pending free agents Zach Britton, Adam Jones and Brad Brach — the Orioles might have already tipped their hand a bit with their trade demands for shortstop Manny Machado.
Their main ask will be a top prospect, as centerpiece center fielder Yusniel Díaz was in their deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers last week. But it wasn't just his rankings and pedigree that were attractive to the Orioles. As a Cuban prospect, Díaz represented the type of high-impact international prospect they don't normally sign.
In both Díaz and infielder Rylan Bannon, plus pitchers Dean Kremer and Zach Pop, the Orioles got young players enjoying breakout seasons who were either in or about to reach the high minors.
Considering the Orioles' need to add quality depth and potential major league pieces to pretty much every level of their farm system, that's a good area to target, considering the level of competition such players have faced and what their success at that level could mean for their futures.
With that in mind, as the Orioles make their trade requests through next Tuesday’s nonwaiver trade deadline, here's a sampling of the types of players who fit the archetypes they might covet from Britton’s reported suitors.
International standout: center fielder Gilberto Celestino
Celestino, a $2.5 million signing in the Astros' 2015 international class from the Dominican Republic, is currently batting .322/.386/.492 with 14 steals in 14 attempts and a dozen extra-base hits in the New York-Penn League for Short-A Tri-City. The 19-year-old was Houston’s 20th-ranked prospect this offseason, according to Baseball America, and was up to No. 22 in the MLBPipeline.com rankings.
Breakout bat: infielder-outfielder Osvaldo Duarte
Having started at least 20 games at second base, shortstop and left field this year for High-A Buies Creek, Duarte has the defensive versatility the Orioles will need going forward, and is finally hitting, too. He's never batted above .275 in any full season, but is hitting .284/.336/.443 with 35 extra-base hits in 2018. Duarte, 22, also has tied a career high with 19 steals.
Breakout pitcher: right-hander Brandon Bailey
Acquired from the Oakland Athletics for outfielder Ramón Laureano last offseason, Bailey, a sixth-round draft pick in 2012, has struck out 97 batters in 83 2/3 innings, with a 2.90 ERA for Buies Creek this year. At 5 feet 10, the 23-year-old Bailey still runs his fastball up in the low 90s and misses plenty of bats.
International standout: catcher William Contreras
The brother of Chicago Cubs catcher Willson Contreras, the 20-year-old Contreras is seeing a power spike this year. He's batting .284/.351/.429 with 10 homers and 11 doubles in 75 games for Low-A Rome. Baseball America and MLBPipeline.com had him ranked No. 18 in their preseason rankings.
Breakout bat: center fielder Drew Waters
A hometown pick for the Braves, who took him in the second round last season, the 19-year-old Waters has always played impressively in center field but is opening eyes hitting .303/.351/.522 with 30 doubles, six triples and nine home runs for Rome this summer. He might be too promising to give up for a rental, but is enjoying quite a season.
Breakout pitcher: left-hander Bruce Zimmermann
A Maryland native who went to Loyola Blakefield, pitched two years at Towson and finished his career at Division II Mount Olive, Zimmermann isn't overpowering but skipped High-A this year and has a 2.88 ERA in 19 starts between Rome and Double-A Mississippi. He has 123 strikeouts to 36 walks in 106 1/3 innings, though a high walk rate at Double-A has skewed some of his stats.
International standout: right-hander Javier Assad
Assad, 20, signed out of Mexico in 2015 and has gone level to level in three seasons since. This year, he has a 3.40 ERA in 17 games for Low-A South Bend, with a track record of throwing strikes with a four-pitch mix. He was in the back end of several top-30 rankings last offseason, projected as a back-of-the-rotation starter.
Breakout bat: catcher Miguel Amaya
A 19-year-old out of Panama, Amaya has broken out at the plate in his first full season, batting .272/.344/.459 with 12 home runs and 19 doubles in 85 games for South Bend. He rose to No. 1 on the Cubs' Baseball America midseason Top 10, a sign that he might be too valuable to give up for a rental in an increasingly thinning Cubs system.
Breakout pitcher: right-hander Tyson Miller
After posting unspectacular numbers in his full-season debut last year, the Cubs' 2016 fourth-round pick is holding opponents to a .221 batting average with a 1.10 WHIP and a 3.62 ERA, along with 91 strikeouts and 23 walks at High-A Myrtle Beach. He has all of the Orioles' target traits: Cape Cod League success, a sinker that lives in the strike zone and a record of keeping the ball in the park.
International standout: center fielder Shael Mendoza
A late bloomer in the Dominican Republic who didn't sign until he was 19, Mendoza would be an athletic addition to the Orioles' outfield prospects. He's batting .258 without much power at Low-A Asheville, but runs well and can handle center field.
Breakout bat: center fielder Yonathan Daza
Though he hit .341 with 48 extra-base hits last year at High-A Lancaster in the California League, his .309/.335/.464 slash line and 23 extra-base hits at Double-A Hartford this season confirm his potential. He, too, can play a good center field and run well, with his bat determining just what kind of an impact he can have in the big leagues. He's hitting well enough to make it worth finding out, though.
Breakout pitcher: right-hander Rico Garcia
The 24-year-old Garcia hasn’t exactly struggled at any level, but this year, he’s gone to another level with success in the launching pad that is High-A Lancaster, and then at Hartford. He has a 3.27 ERA with 122 strikeouts in 124 innings over two levels by commanding a four-pitch mix with a low- to mid-90s fastball.
International standout: right-hander Marcos Diplan
A $1.3 million signing by the Texas Rangers in 2013, Diplan had a 5.23 ERA last year at High-A Carolina. But he’s started to put it together, with a 3.40 ERA over two levels this year, including Double-A Biloxi. The 21-year-old is still struggling with his command, but is limiting damage and realizing some of his promise this year.
Breakout bat: shortstop Mauricio Dubon
This one is cheating a bit, considering Dubon has long been on the prospect radar and is out with a season-ending ACL injury. He was batting a career-best .343/.348/.574 when he went down, and while he’s an obvious part of the Brewers’ future, Dubon could be a buy-low candidate for the Orioles.
Breakout pitcher: right-hander Zack Brown
The Brewers’ fifth-round pick from 2016 has shot all the way to Biloxi, where he’s 9-0 with a 2.34 ERA and a 1.02 WHIP, averaging 8.7 strikeouts per nine innings over 19 games. The 23-year-old right-hander has a career 2.98 minor league ERA and would fit tidily into the Orioles’ plans to add fast-moving pitching. He went on the disabled list with an apparent leg injury Monday.
Boston Red Sox
International standout: right-hander Bryan Mata
Boston’s representative in this summer’s All-Star Futures Game signed for only $25,000 in 2013 but has a 3.42 ERA at High-A Salem at age 19. Mata is a projectable pitcher with a three-pitch mix and room to grow, though Boston has previously declined to include him in trade talks.
Breakout bat: shortstop C.J. Chatham
A second-round pick in the first draft the Red Sox’s current regime put together, in 2016, Chatham can easily handle the demands at shortstop and has hit for average in each of the past two seasons. Now healthy, he has a career-high 18 extra-base hits while batting .305 this summer, mostly at Salem.
Breakout pitcher: left-hander Jalen Beeks
His tough major league outings aside, the 25-year-old Beeks is a bit of an outlier in a list like this. But he’d also fit a need for the Orioles as a high-minors starting pitcher who could bridge the gap to the future. He has a 2.89 ERA in 16 Triple-A starts, lowering his career minor league ERA to 3.63.
New York Yankees
International standout: right-hander Deivi García
The 19-year-old García, signed for $200,000 in July 2015, is already at Low-A Charleston, where he has a 3.77 ERA, 44 strikeouts and eight walks in 28 2/3 innings. He was the Yankees' No. 24 prospect this offseason, according to Baseball America, and he's up to No. 14 on MLBPipeline.com’s list. The slight García (5-10, 163 pounds) still has a low-90s fastball and a plus curveball.
Breakout bat: infielder Abiatal Avelino
Avelino, 23, has split time between Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, batting .303 with an .823 OPS, albeit with much better results at the lower level. He's never hit consistently, but this would represent his best offensive season to date. He's played primarily shortstop and second base, and he’s also been a stolen-base threat. The Orioles need all of that.
Breakout pitcher: right-hander Garrett Whitlock
The Yankees' 18th-round pick last year, Whitlock was a draft-eligible sophomore coming off a down season last summer. The 22-year-old rebounded with a mid-90s fastball and a good slider coming from a 6-5 frame. He has a 1.46 ERA, 98 strikeouts and 25 walks with a 0.99 WHIP in 92 1/3 innings at three levels this year.
International standout: Shortstop Jazz Chisholm
A 20-year-old from the Bahamas, Chisholm’s power and ability to play defense have him rated as one of the Diamondbacks’ top prospects. He’s earned a promotion to High-A Visalia last week by virtue of his 15 home runs at Low-A Kane County, even as he’s still growing into his power.
Breakout bat: Catcher Daulton Varsho
Varsho is on the disabled list with a fractured hand, but before that, the 2017 first-day pick was hitting for power and average while stealing 15 bases in 18 chances—a rarity for a catcher. He’ll likely be ready for Double-A shortly after he’s healthy, and could push for the Orioles’ catcher of the future tag.
Breakout pitcher: Right-hander Emilio Vargas