Selling Trey Mancini to Houston during the club’s one competitive season in years might have karmically doomed the franchise, but if Baltimore can avoid the hex, they should be in for a steady run of good rosters. This list will only scratch the surface on how much talent this team has accrued through aggressively tanking then gaming the draft-pool system and slow-playing every prospect so they’d all be on the cusp at the same time. 

 

1. 3B Gunnar Henderson | 21 | MLB | 2022

I’ve got him listed at third base because Jorge Mateo was so good on defense last season, that’s likely where he’ll stay in 2023. Henderson might wind up the shortstop sometime between now and Jackson Holliday’s debut. It’s nothing to worry about, of course. I’m just interested to find out how this group of infielders fits on the field together. Henderson is a 6’2” 210 lb left-handed hitter with plus power, speed and plate skills. The total package. I have some concerns about the top-end impact of the speed, so I feel like any kind of buy window is well behind us at this point in dynasty or keeper leagues. 

 

2. RHP Grayson Rodriguez | 24 | AAA | 2023

Here’s what Grey said about his progeny in his Grayson Rodriguez, 2023 Fantasy Outlook

“Gray-Rod, which sounds like but is different than A-Rod kissing the mirror, has a Sistine ceiling. The sky’s the limit, really. For 2023, I’ll give Grayson Rodriguez projections of 8-3/3.37/1.07/127 in 106 IP, with a chance for more depending on the Orioles, but I think that’s honestly optimistic for MLB playing time because he also doesn’t have many innings on his arm, after his partial past year.”

Feels like Rodriguez has been around a long time. Some of that is pandemic time warp. Some of that is Baltimore time-bending. Some of that is injuries slowing his progression. He’s easy to love as a prospect, especially with the cavernous left field.

 

3. SS Jackson Holliday | 19 | A | 2026

The number one overall pick in 2022’s amateur draft, Holliday is a 6’1” 175 lb left-handed hitter who appears to have inherited his father’s all-out approach to baseball. He’s probably in a batting cage or a weight room right now. Everyone works hard at this level, but Holliday’s had access to baseball resources for a long time, and you can see the results in his game and his build. He dominated on the complex for just eight games before the team had seen enough and sent him to Low-A for the final two weeks of the season, where he posted a .439 on base percentage. He’ll likely head back there to open the year but should be able to force a promotion at some point. I suspect we’ll see more aggressive timelines with this next cohort of young Orioles in general. Holliday could be a nice bellwether for that. 

 

4. 2B Connor Norby | 22 | AAA | 2023

I almost put Norby ahead of Holliday on the strength of his 29 home run season spread across the top three levels of minor league baseball. He finished up with four homers in just nine games at Triple-A, where he drew three walks and struck out five times. At 5’10” 187 lbs with just enough defense to handle second base, Norby has had to hit his way into the baseball world, and the smart money suggests he’ll keep doing so. 

 

5. OF Colton Cowser | 23 | AAA | 2023

Cowser didn’t thrive in 27 games at Triple-A last season, but that was his third level of the year. It’s an approach-fueled, high-floor profile that’s great when building an organization from scratch but perhaps not ideal for our five-category purposes. He’s 6’3” 195 lbs from the left side, which he’d have to be in the part for the power to play. He’s played centerfield through the minors and might be able to hack it out there in Camden Yards, but I think they’ll need easy plus defenders in center and left to maximize their home field advantage. Like a lot of spots on this team, right field will be hotly contested. Solid chance Cowser looks ready early this year but has to wait a little longer than we’d like. 

 

6. SS Joey Ortiz | 24 | AAA | 2023

Probably my favorite player in this system at the moment in terms of value to our game versus perceived value across the lists I’ve seen, Ortiz is a plus defender at 5’11” 175 lbs and could come so quickly in spring training that the club has to make for him early in the season. He finished 2022 with an excellent 26-game stretch in Triple-A (.346/.400.567) and doesn’t have much more to learn in the minors. 

 

7. 2B Jordan Westburg | 24 | AAA | 2023

Westburg made a run for the majors last season but didn’t get the big call, playing 91 games in Triple-A with 18 home runs, nine stolen bases and a .273/.361/.508 triple slash. He might not be an impact fantasy player given the left field wall in Camden, but at 6’3” 203 lbs with good rotational strength, he might be just powerful enough to carve out a role in a competitive infield. 

 

8. LHP DL Hall | 24 | MLB | 2022

Hall broke into the majors as a reliever down the stretch but did draw one start in his 11 eleven appearances. I’m a little concerned he’s been treated as a valuable fantasy starter for so long that people might be slow to adjust to the real relief risk in his low-command profile. The stuff is incredible: upper nineties from a 6’2” frame, but the total package doesn’t really come together for Hall. His 1.39 WHIP in 76.2 Triple-A innings was no fluke. Nor was his 4.70 ERA. He’s simply behind in the count too often. Walked 49 batters in those 76.2 innings. If Baltimore gets good in a hurry, they might not have time to let Hall work through his command issues in the rotation. 

 

9. 3B Coby Mayo | 21 | AA | 2024

Mayo had a monster season in 2021 and rushed up the rankings. Trouble is, 2021 included just 53 games spread across three levels, so the dynasty realm soured slightly on a darling of the previous winter as he hit .251 across 68 games in High-A and then .250 across 34 games in Double-A. He’d slugged .494 in High-A then .398 in Double-A. I still like Mayo, even though I can’t stand Mayonnaise, but he’s a good reason to be wary of the hype levels surrounding and low-speed player without much of a track record. I heard Keith Law dismissing Matt Mervis with a lazy hand-wave, and I just can’t stand that. Guy smashed every level then smashed the Fall league. To disregard it is to disregard the developmental process entirely. Law even dinged him for being undrafted, but the draft was 2020: five rounds with no college season. Hard to keep everything in context when someone with as much public-facing voice as Law lobs confident but baseless claims without context, but it’s guys like him who create buying opportunities for us. He even mentioned some secret data he’d received but didn’t share any of the data with his listeners. Just have to take his word for it. Word-of-mouth guys like Law can run the Mayos of the world way up their lists while I’m zeroing in on the Jose Mirandas, Connor Norbys, Pete Alonsos, Matt Olson, Paul Goldschmidt and Matt Mervis types. Doesn’t matter to him if Mayo doesn’t make the majors for a few years. Does matter to me. Maybe this should’ve been its own post. Very important to remember that corner bats, especially first basemen, don’t tend to come from the scouting-value tree. 

 

10. OF Dylan Beavers | 21 | A+ | 2025

Your porn star name is your first pet plus the first street you lived on. Unless your name is . . .  

Dylan Beavers, 6’4” 206 lb left-handed hitter and 33rd overall pick in this year’s draft. Could be a nice value in First-Year-Player-Drafts despite a five-tool profile and loud, if brief, debut season. It was just 23 games, but Beavers slashed .322/.438/.460 with six stolen bases across three levels. Dam. 

Thanks for reading! 

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bigbear
bigbear
1 month ago

O’s fan here.
I’m surprised to see Norby this high. A guy I know has mutual friends with Norby and apparently Norby thinks he’s getting traded.

Glad to see you’re on Ortiz. I listen to a good bit of player interviews and nearly every teammate drops Ortiz’s name as an under the radar guy. Everything from work ethic, defense, offense, hustle….

Mayo may not stick at 3B. But his swing and size reminds me of a young Thome. If you were to ask me one guy who could jump up the charts offensively, it’s Mayo.

Richard
Richard
1 month ago

Hey Itch. Love the prospect content. With FYPD coming up, will you be doing an updated Mock? I have pick 1.02 and am torn between Termarr and Holliday(Druw is going 1.01). It’s a points league, if that matters, and I have 2 great SS in Bichette and Witt, and no real 2B for the future(Choenworth now) so I’m thinking Termarr, but most things I see rank Holliday ahead and in a different Tier. Should I even worry about the fielding position? Just take Holliday and trade one of my SS later? Thanks

RoarOf84
RoarOf84
1 month ago

Itch! Would love some early-ish keeper advice.

League context: 10 teams with 12 keepers each (no stipulations around keeping them). Scoring is h2h categories (6×6 with holds and OPS as the last categories).

My locked in keepers (9 of 12) are as follows:
Ohtani (SP/U eligible)
Acuna
Julio
Soto
J-Ram
Olson
Wander
deGrom
Manoah

Which 3 are you keeping from this list?
Varsho
Jordan Walker
Gilbert
Freddy P
Grayson
Buehler
Hader

I’m leaning towards Gilbert and Grayson which would put me at 11. For the last spot, I’d get a pick in the “supplemental draft” which, at worst, I could just select another player from this list or, at best, I could possibly upgrade via another non-kept castaway. In your eyes, is there a 3rd that is a must?

FunnyGeorgeLopez
FunnyGeorgeLopez
1 month ago

Itch,

I agree about Law! He can be quite dismissive of his readers. Perhaps his better than thou attitude helps with the clicks.

I think that reading law and Eric at fangraphs provides a lot of value to people on the outside. Those guys generally describe what scouts are thinking, along with a lot of the biases (including against no defense sluggers and small pitchers – see strider still) that scouts have. Eric provides a lot of in depth info on end of the MLB roster machinations and front office processes as well but that doesn’t really matter much for us. People should use their reports along with a knowledge of their biases and combined that with stats and the patterns they have picked up to outvalue leaguemates.

Also, Mayo just turned 21 yesterday. I think his year is a lot better when he is viewed as a 20 year old that Baltimore decided to really challenge when they slow played practically everyone else.

Last edited 1 month ago by FunnyGeorgeLopez
junior56
junior56
1 month ago

Evening Itch
Nice List, Kudos to you! Do the Birds have any decent arms coming besides Grayson? I agree with your assessment about Hall.

  1. I dealt Kjerstad for Canario any chance Canario gets a look this year?

2. Yoshida, Senga, K. Suzuki all available Where would you slot these guys in the Draft?

i

bigbear
bigbear
Reply to  junior56
1 month ago

I like Povich. Baumler and Seth Johnson are other names.

Ross
Ross
1 month ago

What kind of upside do you see in Ortiz? Is his appeal mainly the proximity and PT volume (he might be an everyday SS)? Or is there legit power/speed/obp upside?

Harley Earl
Harley Earl
1 month ago

Itch,

I’m a little surprised you didn’t re-introduce us to Heston Kejerstad in these rankings. I’m also a little not surprised. After all his health issues, I finally cut him from my minor league roster last year to make room for others. However, that might have been a mistake on my part as he’s been raking lately. His domination at the AFL raised enough eyebrows to make people think he’s back to normal.

Did you consider him for your rankings or is he still no longer worthy? I know this happened with Trevor Story when he struggled at High A. Many evaluators got prospect fatigue, moved on and basically forgot about him. The next year, he dominated at AA and AAA and nobody noticed except me. I grabbed him everywhere I could. The rest is history.

So I’m wondering, is Kjerstad flying under the radar due to prospect fatigue or is there something else about him that’s keeping him out of the rankings?

Philip
Philip
1 month ago

Man, the Orioles have done good, haven’t they, Itch? Thanks for the list!

In dynasty leagues, do you prefer Henderson or De La Cruz?

I’m giving Colas a longer look as a potential fypd pick. I’ve been turned off by his plate discipline, lack of speed, and good-not-great power output in his first year. Is there a reasonable chance he’s yet to show us what he’s capable of doing, and he’s a monster-in-waiting? Or is he just another 28 homer, low run no BB RF?

Thanks, Itch!

Dave
Dave
1 month ago

Itch,
I am in an 11 team points league. Because we keep ten, your preseason articles are always so valuable. Two UT players and three outfielders (LF, CF, and RF).

Anyway, it’s a very competitive league – the core has been together since ‘95 so I am always looking for a leg up. Here is who I am thinking about keeping this year:

Kyle Tucker – RF
Yordan Alvarez – LF
Bo Bichette – SS
Wander Franco – SS/3B
Cedric Mullins – CF
Gunnar Henderson – 3B

Sandy Alcantara – SP
Corbin Burnes – SP
Tyler Glasnow – SP
Logan Webb – SP

However, I also have Grayson Rodriguez, Luis Severino and Corbin Carroll. I feel I am in ‘win now’ mode – would you swap any of those three for the above?

Thanks pal!

galica1234
galica1234
1 month ago

The Itch!!!!

Awesome!!!

a. Love the list and great insights. Totally agree on Gunnar, he’s already the captain of that infield. Stoked about the entire list.

b. Mervis for president!

c. George Carlin quote of the day for December 11, 2022

‘Now I’d like to begin tonight with an opening announcement. Because of the FCC, I’m never sure what it is I’m allowed to say, So. So I now have my own official policy. This is the language you will not be hearing tonight. You will not hear me say, bottom line, game plan, role model, scenario, or hopefully. I will not kick back, mellow out, or be on a roll. I will not go for it, and I will not check it out. I don’t even know what it is. And when I leave here, I definitely will not boogie. I promise not to refer to anyone as a class act, a beautiful person, or a happy camper. I will also not be saying, what a guy. And you will not hear me refer to anyone’s lifestyle. If you want to know what a moronic word “lifestyle” is, all you have to do is realize that in a technical sense, Attila the Hun had an active, outdoor lifestyle. I will also not be saying any cute things, like moi, and I will not use the French adverb très to modify any English adjectives, such as très awesome, très narly, très fabut, très intense, or très out of sight. I will not say concept when I mean idea. I will not say impacted when I mean effected. There will be no hands on state of the art networking. We will not maximize, prioritize or finalize, and we definitely will not interface. There will also… There will also be no new age lingo spoken here tonight, no support group jargon from the human potential movement. For instance, I will not share anything with you. I will not relate to you, and you will not identify with me. I will give you no input, and I will expect no feedback. This will not be a learning experience, nor will it be a growth period. There’ll be no sharing, no caring, no birthing, no bonding, no parenting, no nurturing. We will not establish a relationship, we will not have any meaningful dialogue, and we definitely will not spend any quality time. We will not be supportive of one another so that we can get in touch with our feelings in order to feel good about ourselves. And if you’re one of those people who needs a little space, please, go the fuck outside!’

DOIN’ IT AGAIN (1990)

Cheers,
Ante