Sign Up! Join our newsletters, get a FREE e-Edition
Major advancements to his pitch recognition and plate discipline have allowed Diaz to blossom even further after a breakout 2017. Diaz has posted more walks than strikeouts for the first time in his U.S. career, and is on pace to set career highs in all three slash line categories. Diaz’s outfield defense has leapt forward as well. He took over as the primary center fielder at Double-A Tulsa and showed the explosiveness and athleticism to stay there, while improving his communication and feel for the position. Combined with a slight uptick in his raw power as he's gotten more physical, Diaz blossomed into a Top 50 prospect and was the centerpiece of the Orioles trade return for Manny Machado.
Hays’ breakout 2017 season ended with an eye-opening major league call-up, but injuries haven’t given him much of a chance to build on any of that. Hays deal with a shoulder injury in spring training and struggled to regain his swing and confidence before being sidelined in late May with an ankle injury. While his struggles this year have dimmed his outlook some, Hays showed in 2017 that he can impact the game in a lot of ways with solid-average tools across the board. The Orioles hope to see that when he returns after the All-Star break.
Mountcastle missed the first the first month of the season after a non-displaced wrist fracture, but has done nothing but hit since returning to the Bowie lineup. He struggled some there last summer at an age-advanced level while moving from shortstop to third base, though his advanced feel for hitting has shown in 2018. Mountcastle continues to work at his new position, but it’s unclear where he can capably defend at the major league level thanks to his well below-average arm.
The youngster in the Orioles’ stacked rotation that started the season in the South Atlantic League, their 2017 first-round pick is showing he’s worth that billing. He’s been reaching 97 mph with his fastball from a consistent delivery and featured one of the best breaking balls in last year’s draft, and the Orioles are using his time in Delmarva to help him build a professional routine while not extending him too much in his first full season.
The Orioles had looks from every level of the organization on the Texas prep pitcher who rose up team’s draft boards this year, and passed on several highly-rated arms to take him. Rodriguez rebuilt his body and his delivery to maximize his 6-foot-5 frame and dominated with a mid-90s fastball and a four-pitch mix in high school. He’ll get his professional career started in the Gulf Coast League although he’s unlikely to throw many innings this year.
Harvey flirted with a major league roster spot in spring training, but the focus this year has been building innings and staying healthy for the first time since 2014. He was doing just that when his arm popped out of its socket when his shirtsleeve got caught on the dugout railing trying to avoid a foul ball. It’s another unfortunate injury, and he now has some challengers, but Harvey remains the best arm in the system.
Scott has seen his opportunities rise in a depleted Orioles bullpen that began without closer Zach Britton and lost Richard Bleier and Darren O’Day in June. The hard-throwing Scott has shown flashes of dominance, with his slider a legitimate swing-and-miss pitch when it’s on, but hasn’t done so with nearly enough consistency--that’s something that has plagued him throughout his career as his 4.8 walks per nine innings in the majors is actually the best walk rate of his career.. Scott has the stuff to be the Orioles closer of the future and could even begin to get that experience this summer.
Akin learned how important maintaining his body and his mechanics were in his first full professional season, and now that he’s doing that, he’s seen his stock in the organization increase dramatically. Akin’s sneaky fastball and command of three pitches have helped him strike out over a batter per inning in the Eastern League through the beginning of July and put him firmly on the radar for a major league rotation spot.
Much like Hays last season, McKenna broke out this season at Frederick to the tune of a .392/.482/.582 line with 26 extra-base hits in 61 games. He also impressed with his speed both on the bases and in center field, and showed the ability to impact the game in every way. That earned him a move up to Bowie, where a repeat performance would solidify him as one of the organization’s top prospects.
Injuries kept Mullins from putting together the type of standout season he seemed on pace for in 2017, but a return to Double-A to finish off the level showed a switch-hitting outfielder who can influence the game with more than just his bat. Mullins should be up with the Orioles by the end of the summer, possibly injecting some speed and range into an outfield that desperately lacks it.
In order to access this exclusive content you must have a Baseball America Account.
Login or sign up