Format = Position Player | Age on 4/1/2024 | Highest Level Played | Estimated Time of Arrival 

1. SS Jackson Holliday | 20 | AAA | 2024

While building out this list, I found myself wondering if Baltimore’s tanktastic strategy would work these days. The draft lottery changes the math a lot. If you take Adley Rutschman and Jackson Holiday away from the Orioles, not to mention some of the high-upside, overslot chances they took with their draft budget surplus over the years, they’re probably nowhere close to the ALDS, where their season ended in 2023. Yay for the draft lottery, is what I realized. I already felt that way, of course, and the Orioles would still be on the uptick with this front office even with a penny pinching nepo baby in the ownership suite, but it’s nice to think the wins-are-bad loophole that helped build the Astros, Cubs and Orioles title contenders has been closed even a little bit. Baltimore’s final big prize for super-quitting, Holliday traversed four levels in 2023, climbing all the way to Triple-A for a few weeks and posting a 109 wRC+ there with 16 walks and 17 strikeouts in 18 games. He’ll begin 2024 with a chance to claim the opening day shortstop job.


2. C Samuel Basallo | 19 | AA | 2025 

Ranking O’s prospects is extra tricky right now because their big league lineup is filled with road blocks. Basallo is not a great defender and has virtually zero chance of unseating Adley Rutschman while Adley is in town. Not the end of the world. He could mix in at first base and behind the plate and cover DH on some off days, but it’s not like those spots are wide open either. On his own merits, Basallo’s a fantastic prospect who obliterated a High-A league that was 4.2 years his senior, on average, slashing .333/.444/.688 with eight home runs, 19 walks and 20 strikeouts in 27 games, earning a trip to Double-A to close out the season. He’s probably too good for the team to trade, given Baltimore’s recent history of hugging every prospect with a pulse. So we wait. Even so, he’s tough to overrate, given the age-to-level outcomes and hulk-smash strength. 


3. 3B Coby Mayo | 22 | AAA | 2024 

The first time I saw Coby Mayo, he reminded me of Ryan Braun. I was watching him grab some gummies out of his gummy fridge . . . wait, no that’s not what happened. It was the hip snap, which is immediate and drool-inducing for a baseball junkie. The left field fence is a long way away in Baltimore, but the 6’5” 230 lb officer and a gentleman will be able to clear it on the regular. Across two levels last year, Mayo hit 29 home runs and stole five bases with wRC+ outcomes of 178 in 78 games at Double-A and 127 in 62 games at Triple-A. He’s ready to compete at the major league level and should get that chance in spring training. With Holliday and Gunnar Henderson handling the infield’s left side, Mayo may have to scoop up his glove and walk away from third base early in Triple-A to find his path to playing time. 


4. OF Heston Kjerstad | 25 | MLB | 2023

Heart complications are not an ideal way to begin a professional baseball career, but Kjerstad seems to have overcome the issues that cost him almost two years on the field after the Orioles selected him 2nd overall in 2020. He hit pretty well upon his return, dominating in Low-A and then scuffling in High-A in 2022 and then thriving in both Double and Triple-A in 2023. He wasn’t great in the majors but managed a 104 wRC+ and two homers in 13 games and found himself in the lineup a lot during the playoffs. Stands to reason the big lefty power bat will have something close to an everyday gig in 2024 between left field and designated hitter. 


5. OF Colton Cowser | 24 | MLB | 2024

Cowser saw 77 plate appearances in 26 major league games in 2023 and looked thoroughly overmatched, slashing .115/.286/.148 with a 28.6 percent strikeout rate. I’ve never been on board with Cowser for our game relative to the field, so I’ve never come anywhere near having him on a fantasy team, but he simply can’t be that bad if given some real runway. He struggled to adjust to Triple-A the first time through (.219 batting average in 27 games) but slashed .300/.417/.520 with 17 home runs and nine stolen bases in 87 games there in 2023. A lefty swinger at 6-3 195 lbs, Cowser should be a nice fit for that ballpark and feels like a decent buy low for redraft leagues. I still won’t have him anywhere, for what it’s Weurtz. Little bit of a confirmation bias thing. Little bit of a front-foot swinger thing. Baltimore doesn’t seem to mind that type, but I tend to look past those guys because I think hip-snap efficacy and repeatability are among the biggest deciders of major league success. They’ve been working on his base, and maybe he’ll find something that works for him. I just don’t like how it looked last year. 


6. OF Enrique Bradfield Jr. | 22 | A+ | 2025

Started all three years as Vanderbilt. Features 80-grade speed and a solid hit tool in a great organization, particularly for developing left-handed hitters with untapped gap power. Stole 20 bases and posted a .494 OBP in 17 games at Low-A. Could move quickly through the minors given his plate skills and defensive value in centerfield. 


7. RHP Chayce McDermott | 25 | AAA | 2024

Cole Irvin is penciled in at the fifth starter spot, and I suppose he’s making some real money now in his first season of arbitration eligibility, and I suppose Baltimore has every reason to stick with a control and command lefty in their ballpark, but Chayce is on the case, and I think the club should open that door early in 2024. Then again, I thought they’d give him a chance in 2023, when he allowed a 1.01 WHIP and 2.49 ERA with 64 strikeouts in 50.2 Triple-A innings. The command has come and gone as he’s struggled to repeat his delivery, but his walk rate was on the way down throughout last season, and his outcomes ticked way up along with his balance. Stuff-wise, his fastball plays well atop the zone, and his slider and curveball can both be out pitches. A functional changeup started to take shape this season. He allowed just nine home runs in 119 innings, a clear sign of his improving command after he’d struggled with that in previous seasons. 


8. OF Dylan Beavers | 22 | AA | 2024 

A 6’4” 206 lb left-handed hitter with above average athleticism and plate skills, Beavers fits the O’s plan perfectly. He got caught stealing four times in nine attempts at Double-A, and there’s some concern that he won’t help us much there if he can’t maintain the green light, but everything else here looks dam good. Beavers carved out a 125 wRC+ in High-A then slashed .321/.417/.478 in 34 games at Double-A, good for a 150 wRC+. Like almost everyone else on this list, he’s pretty much ready for the major league challenge. 


9. 3B Mac Horvath | 22 | A+ | 2025 

A 2nd round pick this summer, Horvath was a two-year starter at the University of North Carolina who slugged 18 homers as a sophomore and 24 as a junior. With Baltimore, Horvath played at three levels and slashed .321/.455/.603 in 22 games. Played just five games in High-A but hit two homers and stole five bases there, so there’s a small chance he opens 2024 in Double-A, and even if he’s back in High-A, he looks like a fast-mover all the way thanks to solid plate skills and impressive infield actions and outcomes at the four and the five. He even played some center field and could become an option at any outfield spot.  


10. SS Joey Ortiz | 25 | MLB | 2023 

Have to mention 2B Connor Norby here because he and Ortiz occupy a similar bucket. Both are talented enough for a try at The Show, and neither has anything much to prove in the minors. In a different organization, I would expect one or both to be traded before the deadline. With this organization, the smart money suggests they’ll be living on the option bus over the next few seasons unless they can break through and take a share of the second base job away from Jordan Westburg. Trouble there is all three bat right handed, and Westburg played well enough as a rookie (97 wRC+) to earn himself a head start in spring training. Unlike the other two, Ortiz can play shortstop and would have a chance to start in most settings after hitting .321 with nine homers, 11 steals and a 17.7 percent strikeout rate in 88 Triple-A games. 

Thanks for reading!