Baltimore Orioles Top 30 Prospects

February 18, 2024

The 2024 Preseason Top 30 lists are built around the idea of certainty and future Role. Similar to industry projection systems such as Future Value (FV), Overall Future Potential (OFP), and Grade, Role is a way to describe to what degree a player will add value to his organization at peak.

Our scale is a bit more conservative than other grading systems. We take into account recent seasonal performance, proximity to impact, metric/data analysis, and industry conversations to build a case for the most likely outcome for any given player.

It is important to note these Role labels are fluid and can change as a player moves up the developmental ladder. It is not uncommon for a player to change his role projection over even one month. Players jump from a Role 35 to a Role 40 quite quickly.

Things like mechanical adjustments and physical maturation can alter a player’s projection seemingly overnight. Players change. Keep that in mind.

Below is our Role chart used to place future projection on players.

20No organizational value. Non-prospect.
30Organizational value, filler. Likely peaks at Triple-A or below.
35Potential up-and-down, Quad-A prospect. Has some tools. Development necessary to secure prolonged MLB role.
40Back-up at MLB level. No. 5 starter on non-competitive team. Depth.
45Potential starter on contender. Bench player for championship-level team.
50Starter on a championship-level team. Lacks star ceiling. Steady. Potential No. 4 starting pitcher.
55Potential all-star. Some impact. Above average big-league regular. Mid-rotation starter on a contender.
60All-star level player. Impact. Middle-of-the-order bat. No. 2 starter on good team.
70Perennial all-star. Will contend for seasonal awards. Potential MVP/Cy Young upside. No. 1 starting pitcher. Ace.
80Hall of Fame upside. Generational. MVP/Cy Young Favorite some years. Organizational pillar who can carry an entire franchise at times.

You will not find players with a sub-50 Role on our Top 100 Prospect List. You are also unlikely to find any sub-35 Role players on a Top 30 board. Generally, organizations will have at least 30 players with big-league projection.

All rankings and roles by Joe Doyle
Player notes by Jason A. Churchill

Despite the graduations of Adley Rutschman, Gunnar Henderson, Grayson Rodriguez, Jordan Westburg, among others, in the past few years, the Orioles have the league’s best farm system, and it doesn’t appear to be all that close.

There’s all-star upside, and up-the-middle impact, and despite being a tad shallow in near-ready pitching, Baltimore is set for the next 2-4 years with back-end and bullpen options with what they have right now down on the farm.

Oh, and they also have the game’s best prospect in Jackson Holliday, a future star with influential tools who will play a premium position and impact the game in all facets — sooner than

1Jackson HollidaySS70
2Samuel BasalloC/1B60
3Colton CowserOF55
4Heston KjerstadOF55
5Coby Mayo3B55
6Enrique Bradfield Jr.OF55
7Chayce McDermottRHP50
8Connor Norby2B45
9Justin ArmbruesterRHP45
10Jud FabianOF40

Holliday‘s worst tool is probably his above-average speed. Everything else is plus. His left-handed swing is short and powerful, and his bat-to-ball helps him stay alive in pitcher’s counts and ultimately put the ball in play.

He’s easily at least average at shortstop and one scout told FSS PLUS “the instincts he plays with out there” allow Holliday to get to everything and make every throw, and we could look up in five years and see closer to plus defense. But his athleticism suggests he can play anywhere on the field, which may come into play if the O’s don’t want to move Henderson off shortstop — though they should once Holliday is ready.

Holliday is a potential MVP candidate in his best years.

Basallo has the physical tools to hit .250 with 20-plus homers, and he’ll draw walks to round out a quality offensive profile. Most scouts seem to think he’ll be fine behind the plate led by know-how and arm strength, but with Rutschman around we may be looking at the club’s next long-term first baseman or a bat with incredible positional versatility.

He reached Double-A last year at age 19, suggesting 2025 is a real possibility for the club’s top 2021 international signee.

Cowser has power, speed, and a chance to post league-standard averages and plus on-base percentages. He’s more of a corner defender, but profiles well with the glove and can steal a base, too.

At 24 in March, Cowser has been exposed a bit to soft stuff, but some clean-up there and there’s a chance at a regular role in a loaded lineup.

Mayo makes a lot of hard contact and has improved his contact rates, now projecting as an everyday hitter no matter where he lands on the field.

Defensively it’s a stretch at third, but playable in the short-term, suggesting right field and first base could be in his future.

Mayo’s big 2023 has him on the brink of the majors.

McDermott is the club’s top arm and projects to the bullpen or the back end of the rotation. He does have mid-rotation stuff led by two above-average breaking balls, but his command is well below average and at 25 he’s running out of runway.

11Cade PovichLHP40
12Mac Horvath3B/OF40
13Seth JohnsonRHP40
14Jackson BaumeisterRHP40
15Max Wagner3B40
16Dylan BeaversOF40
17Tavian JosenbergerOF40
18Kiefer LordRHP40
19Silas ArdoinC40
20Luis De LeonLHP40
21Jake CunninghamOF40
22Hudson HaskinOF35
23Noah DenoyerRHP35
24Braylin TaveraOF35
25Trace BrightRHP35
26Frederick BencosmeSS35
27Levi WellsRHP35
28Luis AlmeydaSS35
29Creed WilliamsC35
30Jean PintoRHP35

Povich has a full arsenal, highlighted by a potential plus curveball and above-average changeup, and at times has featured five pitches in an attempt to combat an ordinary fastball.

Since he reached Double-A in 2022 he’s struggled to throw strikes, presenting more reliever risk than he had prior to that, but he’s missing enough bats and has enough weapons to battle right-handed batters, so he still carries rotation upside entering 2024.

Horvath is a great athlete with a chance to handle center long-term, but his arm fits at third or right field well where his chance at 20-plus homers also matches up well.

There’s some swing-and-miss risk with his swing, but he understands the zone and made solid swing choices last summer.

Beavers had a very good 2023, suggesting a potential everyday player if he can hang onto some centerfield value to better match his offensive upside.

Despite his size, the bat speed is average, but he’s plenty short through the zone, seemingly sacrificing some potential power production for more contact.

Ardoin can catch and has some power upside, perhaps to the 14-16 range in the homer department, and he’s always posted high OBPs to balance out some of the swing-and-miss results.

It’s a backup profile, but certainly a big-league one.

Joe Doyle
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