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21 Orioles prospects to watch in 2021 and beyond | PHOTOS

Any season that doesn’t include Rutschman spending more time in the high minors than the low minors will be a disappointment for Orioles fans who want the team’s top prospect in the majors sooner rather than later. That won’t likely happen this year, but the more Rutschman can accomplish this summer, the closer he’ll be to the big leagues for 2022.
(Lloyd Fox/Baltimore Sun)
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These 21 prospects are ones who, even if they don’t debut in 2021, are going to be strong indicators of the direction the Orioles are heading.
(Jon Meoli)
Catcher Adley Rutschman
Any season that doesn’t include Rutschman spending more time in the high minors than the low minors will be a disappointment for Orioles fans who want the team’s top prospect in the majors sooner rather than later. That won’t likely happen this year, but the more Rutschman can accomplish this summer, the closer he’ll be to the big leagues for 2022.
Any season that doesn’t include Rutschman spending more time in the high minors than the low minors will be a disappointment for Orioles fans who want the team’s top prospect in the majors sooner rather than later. That won’t likely happen this year, but the more Rutschman can accomplish this summer, the closer he’ll be to the big leagues for 2022. (Lloyd Fox/Baltimore Sun)
Left-hander DL Hall
Hall has electric stuff from the left side, with a high-90s fastball topping his four-pitch mix. But when he finally gets back on a mound in real games, the Orioles will have a better idea of whether the last two years of work to settle him down and clean up his delivery to improve his command has delivered the front line starting pitcher his premium stuff teases that he could be.
Hall has electric stuff from the left side, with a high-90s fastball topping his four-pitch mix. But when he finally gets back on a mound in real games, the Orioles will have a better idea of whether the last two years of work to settle him down and clean up his delivery to improve his command has delivered the front line starting pitcher his premium stuff teases that he could be. (Jason Miller / Getty Images)
Right-hander Grayson Rodriguez
Prospects are as defined by their upside as they are by their floors, and one look at the big Texan on the mound is enough to see a long-term big league starter there. His big fastball and much-improved changeup show he’s the type of pitcher who can continue to grow, too.
Prospects are as defined by their upside as they are by their floors, and one look at the big Texan on the mound is enough to see a long-term big league starter there. His big fastball and much-improved changeup show he’s the type of pitcher who can continue to grow, too. (Joey Gardner / FotoJoe)
Infielder Gunnar Henderson
It’s no coincidence that the best young hitter on the Orioles is Ryan Mountcastle: premium high school bats taken high in the draft are often good bets to develop into big leaguers. Henderson, who still hasn’t played an affiliated game, has the Orioles excited that he can be an All-Star caliber player.
It’s no coincidence that the best young hitter on the Orioles is Ryan Mountcastle: premium high school bats taken high in the draft are often good bets to develop into big leaguers. Henderson, who still hasn’t played an affiliated game, has the Orioles excited that he can be an All-Star caliber player. (Mary DeCicco/AP)
Outfielder Heston Kjerstad
The second overall pick in the 2020 draft, Kjerstad dealt with myocarditis in the fall and didn’t get a chance to be part of the fall instructional camp because of that heart issue. The team said he’s recovering and will be part of spring training, but their whole draft strategy hinged on his power bat being worth that surprise top pick. His health comes first. They’ll want him to on the field to prove it was a good pick thereafter.
The second overall pick in the 2020 draft, Kjerstad dealt with myocarditis in the fall and didn’t get a chance to be part of the fall instructional camp because of that heart issue. The team said he’s recovering and will be part of spring training, but their whole draft strategy hinged on his power bat being worth that surprise top pick. His health comes first. They’ll want him to on the field to prove it was a good pick thereafter. (Matt Patterson/AP)
Infielder Jordan Westburg
The Orioles believed that Westburg, a true middle infielder with developing power, cut down his strikeouts enough in a shortened 2020 college season to be worth the 30th overall pick in the draft. His performance in the fall instructional camp backed that up, and Westburg could be a fast mover at a position the Orioles desperately need homegrown talent.
The Orioles believed that Westburg, a true middle infielder with developing power, cut down his strikeouts enough in a shortened 2020 college season to be worth the 30th overall pick in the draft. His performance in the fall instructional camp backed that up, and Westburg could be a fast mover at a position the Orioles desperately need homegrown talent. (Mary DeCicco/AP)
Right-hander Kyle Bradish
Perhaps because they watched Dylan Bundy take a big step forward with the Los Angeles Angels and wanted to put some shine on the trade, or perhaps because Bradish added velocity and really was one of their best pitchers at the Bowie camp, the Orioles really touted the 24-year-old right-hander’s development over the past year. He’ll be challenged in the high minors this summer to prove that progress is for real.
Perhaps because they watched Dylan Bundy take a big step forward with the Los Angeles Angels and wanted to put some shine on the trade, or perhaps because Bradish added velocity and really was one of their best pitchers at the Bowie camp, the Orioles really touted the 24-year-old right-hander’s development over the past year. He’ll be challenged in the high minors this summer to prove that progress is for real. (Brynn Anderson/AP)
Left-hander Kevin Smith
Smith, acquired from the New York Mets for reliever Miguel Castro last summer, barely had any Double-A time in 2019 but somehow was projected as the Orioles’ best pitcher in 2021 on FanGraphs’ ZIPS projections. He joins rostered lefties Alexander Wells and Zac Lowther as finesse pitchers without premium velocity that need to get results at every level to show they belong.
Smith, acquired from the New York Mets for reliever Miguel Castro last summer, barely had any Double-A time in 2019 but somehow was projected as the Orioles’ best pitcher in 2021 on FanGraphs’ ZIPS projections. He joins rostered lefties Alexander Wells and Zac Lowther as finesse pitchers without premium velocity that need to get results at every level to show they belong. (Jeff Roberson/AP)
Right-hander Brenan Hanifee
Hanifee took a step back in 2019 as the Orioles’ new pitching program tried to have him add to his big-league sinker and use his other pitches more often. He lost some of who he was in the process, but a year of promising remote work has the young right-hander back in the mix as someone who could impress in the high minors this year.
Hanifee took a step back in 2019 as the Orioles’ new pitching program tried to have him add to his big-league sinker and use his other pitches more often. He lost some of who he was in the process, but a year of promising remote work has the young right-hander back in the mix as someone who could impress in the high minors this year. (Patrick Cavey/Frederick Keys)
Infielder Adam Hall
Hall had breakout potential after a strong year as a 20-year-old at Low-A Delmarva in 2019, but might prove to be one of the players hurt most by the shutdown in 2020. He was home in Canada where things were far stricter in terms of training, so the Orioles hope he can make up for lost time quickly.
Hall had breakout potential after a strong year as a 20-year-old at Low-A Delmarva in 2019, but might prove to be one of the players hurt most by the shutdown in 2020. He was home in Canada where things were far stricter in terms of training, so the Orioles hope he can make up for lost time quickly. (Mary DeCicco/AP)
Infielder Darell Hernaiz
The Orioles haven’t hit on a project high school infielder in years, and Hernaiz is a talented young player who would be a developmental success story if he climbs to the big leagues. He, too, is one of the types of players they’re worried about having missed so much in 2020. They could take it slowly with him as a result.
The Orioles haven’t hit on a project high school infielder in years, and Hernaiz is a talented young player who would be a developmental success story if he climbs to the big leagues. He, too, is one of the types of players they’re worried about having missed so much in 2020. They could take it slowly with him as a result. (Dan Kubus/Dan Kubus/Baltimore Orioles)
Right-hander Garrett Stallings
Another Angels trade acquisition — this time for shortstop José Iglesias — the Orioles liked what they saw in terms of improvement and added velocity for Stallings at the alternate training site and in the fall before the trade. He joins a group of high-minors pitchers who will be part of the Orioles’ push to develop their own inexpensive, high-quality big league starters to jump-start their rebuild.
Another Angels trade acquisition — this time for shortstop José Iglesias — the Orioles liked what they saw in terms of improvement and added velocity for Stallings at the alternate training site and in the fall before the trade. He joins a group of high-minors pitchers who will be part of the Orioles’ push to develop their own inexpensive, high-quality big league starters to jump-start their rebuild. (Shawn Millsaps/AP)
Infielder/outfielder Terrin Vavra
A product of a deep baseball family, Vavra was added to the Orioles’ stock of high-minors middle infielders in the Mychal Givens trade with the Colorado Rockies. The Orioles are moving him all around the infield and outfield so there are plenty of places to play him if his advanced plate discipline and all-fields approach carry over when he gets into the high minors this summer.
A product of a deep baseball family, Vavra was added to the Orioles’ stock of high-minors middle infielders in the Mychal Givens trade with the Colorado Rockies. The Orioles are moving him all around the infield and outfield so there are plenty of places to play him if his advanced plate discipline and all-fields approach carry over when he gets into the high minors this summer. (Mary DeCicco/AP)
Right-hander Cody Sedlock
The former first-round draft pick has been left behind by some of his contemporaries, but few Orioles pitchers benefited more from the new pitching instruction in 2019 than Sedlock. He still has major league stuff, and the Orioles could still get value from their top pick from 2016.
The former first-round draft pick has been left behind by some of his contemporaries, but few Orioles pitchers benefited more from the new pitching instruction in 2019 than Sedlock. He still has major league stuff, and the Orioles could still get value from their top pick from 2016. (Patrick Cavey/HANDOUT)
Right-hander Blaine Knight
Knight was a spin-rate darling who beat all of the country’s top pitchers before the Orioles drafted him in the third round in the 2018 draft. But his progressed was derailed at High-A Frederick in 2019 when he struggled with command and was hit hard. The Orioles are confident he can get back on track.
Knight was a spin-rate darling who beat all of the country’s top pitchers before the Orioles drafted him in the third round in the 2018 draft. But his progressed was derailed at High-A Frederick in 2019 when he struggled with command and was hit hard. The Orioles are confident he can get back on track. (Steve Ruark / For Baltimore Sun Media Group)
Outfielder Luis González
One of the Orioles’ top Latin American signings in the 2019 signing period, González came stateside for the fall instructional camp last year at age 18 and hit home runs where the big leaguers do at Ed Smith Stadium. He’s a long way from the big leagues, but the Orioles hope they have a premium left-handed corner outfield bat in the pipeline in him.
One of the Orioles’ top Latin American signings in the 2019 signing period, González came stateside for the fall instructional camp last year at age 18 and hit home runs where the big leaguers do at Ed Smith Stadium. He’s a long way from the big leagues, but the Orioles hope they have a premium left-handed corner outfield bat in the pipeline in him. (Brynn Anderson/AP)
Infielder Toby Welk
Welk was one of the system’s most productive hitters after being drafted late in 2019 out of Penn State-Berks and developed almost a cult following because of his nontraditional path to professional baseball. A year of lost development will further stack the deck against him, but Welk can play third base and flat-out hit. It’s a good combination.
Welk was one of the system’s most productive hitters after being drafted late in 2019 out of Penn State-Berks and developed almost a cult following because of his nontraditional path to professional baseball. A year of lost development will further stack the deck against him, but Welk can play third base and flat-out hit. It’s a good combination. (Kenneth K. Lam/Baltimore Sun)
Outfielder Kyle Stowers
A prototypical corner outfield bat, the tall, blonde-haired Stowers has to overcome the swing-and-miss issues that befall those types of players to reach his full potential. The Orioles believed enough in his ability to make contact to make him their third draft pick in 2019. He’ll finally get a full-season chance in 2021.
A prototypical corner outfield bat, the tall, blonde-haired Stowers has to overcome the swing-and-miss issues that befall those types of players to reach his full potential. The Orioles believed enough in his ability to make contact to make him their third draft pick in 2019. He’ll finally get a full-season chance in 2021. (Matt Button / The Aegis / Baltimore Sun Media Group)
Infielder Maikol Hernández
The Orioles gave the 16-year-old Venezuelan shortstop their largest ever international bonus in January, and he’ll be worth watching not just for how he performs, but where. Hernández and catcher Samuel Basallo will be good indicators of how the Orioles plan to move their top international signees through the minors. The best guess, at this point, is slowly.
The Orioles gave the 16-year-old Venezuelan shortstop their largest ever international bonus in January, and he’ll be worth watching not just for how he performs, but where. Hernández and catcher Samuel Basallo will be good indicators of how the Orioles plan to move their top international signees through the minors. The best guess, at this point, is slowly. (Brynn Anderson/AP)
Infielder Coby Mayo
A slugging third baseman out of Marjory Stoneman Douglas who signed for an above-slot $1.75 million, Mayo still needs plenty of refinement and might spend 2021 in the complex leagues in Florida. Him doing so will put him on a more deliberate developmental track than most prospects. The talent he’s starting with means there could be a big reward at the end of the process.
A slugging third baseman out of Marjory Stoneman Douglas who signed for an above-slot $1.75 million, Mayo still needs plenty of refinement and might spend 2021 in the complex leagues in Florida. Him doing so will put him on a more deliberate developmental track than most prospects. The talent he’s starting with means there could be a big reward at the end of the process. (John McCall / Sun Sentinel)
Right-hander Dan Hammer
Between their own 2019 draft pitchers who got limited time in short-season ball that year and some trade acquisitions who have no professional experience, the Orioles have a lot of potential that the 2020 shutdown might make it difficult to meet. Hammer was just one standout in this group from 2019 who could move quickly onto the prospect radar should he get back into action and pitch well.
Between their own 2019 draft pitchers who got limited time in short-season ball that year and some trade acquisitions who have no professional experience, the Orioles have a lot of potential that the 2020 shutdown might make it difficult to meet. Hammer was just one standout in this group from 2019 who could move quickly onto the prospect radar should he get back into action and pitch well. (Matt Button / The Aegis/Baltimore Sun)
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