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BA Grade: 70. Risk: High Tool Grades: Hit: 70. Power: 60. Run: 40. Fielding: 60. Arm: 70. Track Record: A celebrated recruit who won Oregon high school state player of the year in 2016, Rutschman accomplished everything there was to do in college at Oregon State. He led the Beavers to the College World Series title and won CWS Most Outstanding Player in 2018, led USA Baseball’s Collegiate National Team in nearly every offensive category the following summer and entered 2019 as the consensus top draft prospect in the class. He lived up to it by hitting .411 with a nation-leading .575 on-base percentage and won both the Golden Spikes Award and the BA College Player of the Year Award. The Orioles drafted him No. 1 overall and signed him for a draft-record $8.1 million. A case of mononucleosis after he signed delayed Rutschman’s pro debut nearly a month, but he still climbed three levels after signing and wowed teammates and coaches at each stop, finishing with low Class A Delmarva for its playoff run. He earned the distinction as the top prospect in the short-season New York-Penn League along the way. Scouting Report: Despite a reputation as a tireless worker whose main goal is to continue to improve himself and his teammates, there are no apparent holes in Rutschman’s game for him to address. Defensively, he’s a pitcher’s dream in terms of his advanced framing and above-average pop times on throws to second base, and just four of the 11 basestealers against him in pro ball were successful. He called some of his own games as an amateur and took well to game calling once he signed. At the plate, the switch-hitting Rutschman shows a swing tooled for both average and power, with a consistent path from both sides geared towards line drives and hard contact. His future outlook as a plus hitter with plus in-game power will be aided by his standout approach, one honed as opposing teams pitched around him his last year in college. Rutschman showed a similarly sharp eye in his pro debut, to the point his coaches began using his at-bats as an example to his new teammates. That’s not to say Rutschman often singles himself out. Instead, he’s touted as a tremendous teammate who will put his own goals behind the team’s, and he has spoken about how the turnaround in the Orioles’ minors suits him in terms of his pursuit of winning. The Future: A potential perennial all-star catcher with a middle-of-the-order impact bat landed on the Orioles’ doorstep thanks to their dreadful 115-loss season in 2018. Already, Rutschman has become the face of the club’s rebuild. It’s unclear how quickly the Orioles will move him considering the team’s bleak short-term outlook and their otherwise conservative player development decisions, but starting him at high Class A Frederick with an eye toward Double-A Bowie at midseason could put him on track for a 2021 debut in Baltimore.
BA Grade: 60. Risk: High Tool Grades: Fastball: 70. Curveball: 60. Slider: 55. Changeup: 55. Control: 60. Track Record: A pop-up prospect who signed for $4.3 million after remaking his body and delivery before his senior spring, Rodriguez became the latest Orioles pitching prospect to dominate his full-season debut at low Class A Delmarva. Just nine minor league pitchers with at least 90 innings struck out more batters per nine innings than Rodriguez’s 12.4, and people took notice. Rodriguez was a South Atlantic League all-star, pitched in the Futures Game and shared Orioles minor league pitcher of the year honors. Scouting Report: The specialized training of his high school days allowed Rodriguez to grow significantly in 2019. His fastball sat 93-96 mph and got up to 98 late in the season. It projects as a potential plus-plus pitch with downhill plane and armside life. His curveball and slider alternate as his better breaking pitch depending on the day, but at their best his mid-70s curveball flashes plus and his low-to-mid-80s slider shows above-average. His changeup made great progress throughout the year and began flashing plus, giving him four pitches that miss bats to go with plus command. The Future: Rodriguez’s first full season made him the clear top pitching prospect in the organization and one of the best in baseball. He will begin 2019 at high Class A Frederick.
BA Grade: 60. Risk: High Tool Grades: Fastball: 70. Curveball: 60. Slider: 50. Changeup: 60. Control: 50. Track Record: Hall’s brief slide in the 2017 draft ended when the Orioles selected him 21st overall and signed him to a $3 million bonus. A dominant first full season in 2018 backed up the assessment that he was the top prep lefthander in his class. Hall spent too much time out of the strike zone in the first half of 2019 before a trip to the Futures Game set him straight. He logged a 2.67 ERA over his final five starts at high Class A Frederick before an oblique injury ended his season three weeks early. Scouting Report: Hall’s electric arsenal is highlighted by a fastball that comfortably sits 93-96 mph deep into outings and touches 97. The easy life on his fastball gives it plus-plus potential. Hall’s upper-70s curveball has lived up to its pre-draft reputation as a future plus pitch he can drop in for strikes, and he’s had additional success with an average short slider he’s developed as a pro. His low-80s changeup has also flashed plus potential with late fade. Hall struggled to throw strikes in 2019, but his athletic delivery is repeatable. He should develop average control as he more consistently attacks hitters. The Future: Hall has the raw stuff and pitch mix to be a mid-rotation starter or better. He’ll open 2020 at Double-A.
BA Grade: 55. Risk: High Tool Grades: Hit: 50. Power: 55. Run: 50. Fielding: 55. Arm: 60 Track Record: Hays put together one of the more impressive full-season debuts of any player in 2017. He hit .332 with 32 home runs between high Class A Frederick and Double-A Bowie and made his big league debut in September, becoming the first player from the 2016 draft to reach the majors. But Hays struggled through an ankle injury in 2018, missed the beginning of 2019 with a thumb injury and also dealt with a midseason hamstring injury before finally making his way back to the majors in September. Scouting Report: A highly aggressive hitter, Hays regained some of his opposite-field approach in 2019 after becoming too pull-heavy. His bat speed allows him to stay back on spin without sacrificing the ability to catch up to fastballs. He has above-average power and the raw tools to be an average hitter, though plate discipline has been a problem in the past. The Orioles looked at Hays’ strikeout-to-walk ratio in September in the majors and deemed his year a success. He continues to show a plus arm with average range with good instincts in the outfield, earning him his first significant look in center field. The Future: Hays will compete for an Opening Day roster spot for the third straight year in 2020. He showed enough in September to be considered an immediate center field solution.
BA Grade: 55. Risk: High Tool Grades: Hit: 60. Power: 55. Run: 45. Fielding: 40. Arm: 30. Track Record: A pure hitter who grew into power with a career-high 25 home runs in 2019, Mountcastle’s bat has played at every level. He’s been an all-star in each of the last three seasons, and his standout 2019 earned him the Triple-A International League’s MVP award. But seemingly every promotion has come with a position change. Originally a shortstop and then moved to third base, Mountcastle played first base and left field in 2019 to find his bat a home. Scouting Report: Mountcastle’s swing has always been his premier asset. His loose but quick hands allow him to adjust to whatever he’s seeing and make him a potentially plus hitter. Offseason work to improve his swing path and add strength only boosted that outlook. While he’s more of an above-average power threat than an on-base threat, Mountcastle showed an improved approach situationally in 2019 to show he’s not just a masher. The Orioles believe Mountcastle’s well-below average arm will play better with the different arm swing required from left field, but the farther he moves down the defensive spectrum—being average anywhere is a stretch—the more pressure is put on his bat. The Future: Mountcastle is on the cusp of his major league debut in 2020. His bat is that of a first-division regular, but he has to find somewhere to play.
BA Grade: 55. Risk: Very High Tool Grades: Hit: 55. Power: 50. Run: 50. Fielding: 50. Arm: 60. Track Record: Signed out of Cuba by the Dodgers for $15.5 million after the 2015 season, Diaz has spent three seasons in the U.S. trying to translate his considerable tools into consistent production. After being acquired in the Manny Machado trade in July 2018, Diaz impressed in his first big league camp with the Orioles, but a hamstring injury early and a quadriceps injury late limited him to 76 games in a stop-and-start year at Double-A Bowie. Scouting Report: Diaz has been trying to find a swing path that best utilizes his plus bat speed since turning pro. He’s found success closing his stance and standing closer to home plate to cover more of the plate, but he’s still prone to selling out for pull power. He produces with runners in scoring position and will take a walk. Overall he projects an above-average hitter with 20-home run power. Diaz is capable of filling in at center field but is best in right field, where his average speed and plus arm profile. His in-game habits and overall instincts are inconsistent, but his pregame work draws praise from coaches. The Future: Diaz has the tools to be an above-average everyday player, but hasn’t consistently shown the production for it. He’ll start 2020 at Triple-A Norfolk and will be in position to make his big league debut.
BA Grade: 55. Risk: Extreme Tool Grades: Hit: 55. Power: 55. Run: 50. Fielding: 50. Arm: 60. Track Record: Alabama’s reigning Mr. Baseball also averaged a double-double on the basketball court as a senior. The Orioles made him the first pick of the second round and signed him away from an Auburn commitment for $2.3 million. Henderson debuted slowly in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League while adjusting to professional velocity on a daily basis, but he settled in to the Orioles’ liking in August. Scouting Report: The Orioles have taken three prep shortstops on the first day of the draft in the last five years— Ryan Mountcastle, Adam Hall and Henderson — and it’s the prolific offensive profile of Mountcastle that Henderson most closely resembles, albeit from the left side of the plate. Henderson has the bat speed and swing control to be an above-average hitter, and the Orioles saw plus raw power his senior spring they believe he can eventually tap into. Henderson has a plus arm and the defensive actions to stay on the left side of the infield. If he outgrows shortstop with his projectable frame, he has the range, quickness and hands for third base. The Future: Henderson’s offensive abilities alone give him a chance to become an above-average everyday player. He is set to begin 2020 at low Class A Delmarva.
BA Grade: 50. Risk: High Tool Grades: Fastball: 70. Curveball: 55. Splitter: 55. Control: 50. Track Record: When the Orioles drafted Dylan Bundy, Kevin Gausman, and Hunter Harvey in the first round in three consecutive years, the trio was meant to be the foundation of their rotation. Harvey was spectacular in 2014, but he had Tommy John surgery in 2016 after two years of elbow soreness and made just nine starts in 2018 due to a shoulder injury. Fully healthy in 2019, he started in the Double-A rotation before moving to the pen and shooting to Baltimore. Scouting Report: Armed with a fastball that sat 97-99 mph and bumped 100 in his new relief role, Harvey increasingly looks the part of a closer, like his all-star father Bryan. Harvey backs up his four-seamer with an above-average splitter like his father used, and he also has an above-average power curveball at 84-85 mph with good shape. Harvey’s cross-body delivery still gives some observers pause and limits his control to average, at best. He has significantly filled out his frame, but his injury history affects his durability and likelihood of him ever starting. He has yet to show he can work back-to-back days regularly (he only did it once last year). The Future: Harvey’s MLB cameo made it clear he can be a late-inning reliever and possible closer for the Orioles. He’ll be back in 2021 pitching in late relief as long as his health allows.
BA Grade: 45. Risk: Medium Tool Grades: Fastball: 55. Slider: 55. Changeup: 50. Control: 50. Track Record: Rare are the instances when one shares his organization’s minor league pitcher of the year award, as Akin did in 2018, and follows it up with a purely developmental year in Triple-A. But that’s what Akin did in 2019, when he was named an International League all-star and worked on the Orioles’ mandate to get away from his fastball and feature his slider and changeup more heavily. He ended up with a career high strikeout rate (10.5), but also set a career high with 4.9 walks per nine innings. Scouting Report: The owner of an “invisi-ball” 90-94 mph fastball that jumps on hitters to draw late swings, Akin spent most of the season working on his low-80s slider and changeup. Both have the potential to be average to slightly above pitches will play off his deceptive fastball. Akin works quickly with a simple, low-effort delivery, giving the impression his pitches may play up in the bullpen. His control regressed in 2019 as he worked on his secondaries, but he has shown average control in the past. Of greater concern is Akin’s husky body, which he will have to watch carefully to maintain balance and durability. The Future: Akin will be in major league camp for the first time in 2020. He figures to be a rotation piece for the Orioles through their rebuild as a back-of-the-rotation starter.
BA Grade: 50. Risk: High Tool Grades: Fastball: 60. Curveball: 55. Slider: 50. Changeup: 50. Control: 50. Track Record: Each of Baumann’s first two full seasons have included swift promotions, but the difference in 2019 was how things improved for him at his new level. Baumann pitched well at high Class A Frederick upon his promotion in 2018 and to start 2019, but he found another gear at Double-A Bowie in the second half. He threw a no-hitter on July 16 and anchored Bowie’s playoff rotation on its playoff run, sharing the Orioles’ minor league pitcher of the year award with Grayson Rodriguez. Scouting Report: While consistency has at times eluded Baumann, he is a good strike-thrower who was one of the primary beneficiaries of the team’s new pitching development program and saw strides with all four pitches. His four-seam fastball has good spin and explodes on hitters, sitting 93-96 mph and reaching 99. His above-average slider at 88-89 mph has cutter action and sharp bite, while his high-spin curveball and split-changeup each flash average potential. Baumann goes deep in his delivery, which impacts the consistent shape of his pitches and limits his control to average. The Future: Baumann might have the biggest arm of any potential starter in the organization, but has to improve his control and find a consistent third pitch to reach his mid-rotation ceiling. He should see Triple-A Norfolk at some point in 2020.
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