Baltimore Orioles’ Top 5 Prospects Post-Trade Deadlineby Carter LaCorte August 12, 2021 3 comments
The Orioles were not buyers at this year’s trade deadline, something that should not be a surprise to anyone. Instead of dealing away top players John Means, Trey Mancini, or Paul Fry, Baltimore decided to stand pat. Their main move was trading shortstop Freddy Galvis to Philadelphia.
Things have been really, really bleak for the Orioles for a few years now. Luckily, they have been able to develop one of the league’s top farm systems, headlined by arguably the best prospect on the planet. Being as bad as they have in recent seasons has allowed them to use highly valuable draft selections on promising prospects that will keep Orioles fans looking forward for even longer.
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1. Adley Rutschman, Catcher
Scouting Grades (20-80 scale)
After Wander Franco graduated, Rutschman has become the league’s top prospect for many different prospect ranking sites. Drafted first overall in 2019, Rutschman has quickly moved up through the minor league ranks and was just promoted to AAA. He played his first 80 games of the season for AA Bowie, hitting 18 home runs with a .901 OPS.
The Oregon State alum has shown to be as all-around as a catcher can be, equally good at hitting and fielding. If he can continue to rake at AAA, Rutschman may soon be at the big league level. Do not be surprised if the switch-hitter debuts early in 2022, perhaps following some service time manipulation.
2. Grayson Rodriguez, Right-Handed Pitcher
Any team would be lucky to have Rodriguez as their top prospect. Having Rutschman AND Rodriguez? The Orioles are set up for success. The eleventh overall pick in 2018, Rodriguez has been outright dominant this season. He started in High-A before joining Rutschman at AA. At age 21, Rodriguez has posted a 2.27 ERA with 114 strikeouts to just 19 walks in 71.1 innings.
He has just 11 starts at Double-A, so he probably will not see AAA until 2022. Maybe in September could Rodriguez become a major leaguer, assuming everything goes to plan.
3. D.L. Hall, Left-Handed Pitcher
The freshest thing about Hall to Orioles fans is that the team selected him 21st overall back in 2017. The mere fact that one of their top prospects was picked with a late first-rounder is reminiscent of a time when the team was good enough to have the 21st overall pick. Injuries and control issues have stunted Hall’s growth. Still, he has a 1.011 WHIP with a 3.13 ERA and 56 strikeouts over seven starts at AA this season.
We will likely not see Hall pitch again this season. 2021 will go down for him as a year mostly lost due to elbow tendinitis. He will have to work on limiting walks next season. In his minor league career, Hall has a 5.1 BB/9. That takes the spotlight from an elite 6.1 H/9 and an 11.8 K/9.
4. Gunnar Henderson, Shortstop
A second-round pick in 2019 out of John T. Morgan Academy in Alabama, Henderson can flash all five tools. He raked in Single-A this year with a .944 OPS but has hit a wall since being promoted to Single-A. The left-handed hitter has a combined home run and stolen base total in the double-digits.
A big left-handed hitter, Henderson is still very far away from the majors at age 20. Still, the Orioles view him as their shortstop of the future. No one has held the title of Orioles shortstop for an extended period of time since J.J. Hardy retired after 2017.
5. Heston Kjerstad, Outfielder
The second overall pick in 2020 is still yet to play professionally. He falls on this list thanks to a bout with myocarditis, a heart condition that will keep him out for this entire season. If you remember, Red Sox pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez missed all of last year with the condition.
Still, Kjerstad should have a bright future. Over three seasons at Arkansas, he hit 37 homers with a .421 OBP, and a 1.011 OPS. That long-term concern with myocarditis is still a massive issue.
What Does the Future Hold?
The Orioles do have a good amount of talent that they have acquired via trade that is close to the major league level. This is headlined by Yusniel Diaz, acquired in the Manny Machado trade. Other trade acquisitions Terrin Vavra (Mychal Givens trade), Kevin Smith (Miguel Castro), and Jahmai Jones (Alex Cobb) provide prominent organization depth.
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