Meet the Orioles Core That Can Get Back To The Playoffs… Eventually By Ryan Kanne

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The Baltimore Orioles have had a terrible five year stretch of losing since losing the 2016 AL Wild Card game on an Edwin Encarnacion walk-off home run. Since then, the Orioles have finished last in the Al East three of the last four seasons and are in last place halfway through May. However, in a tough AL East the Orioles are still competitive thanks to emerging stars in the team’s new core.

The 2016 Orioles were led by a 23-year-old Manny Machado, an unstoppable Zach Britton in the bullpen, and solid starting pitching from Kevin Gausman and Chris Tillman. All these players, other than Tillman, would be traded near or at the 2018 trade deadline. The Orioles didn’t get much back for their star players with relief pitcher Dillon Tate being one of the only productive players from those deals.

Fortunately for the Orioles they didn’t need top prospects from those trades. An already aging roster now gutted with talent ensured top draft picks for the foreseeable future. That’s been a good thing for the Orioles who seem to have hit on top picks like Adley Rutschman, Grayson Rodriguez, and DL Hall. All three prospects rank top five in the Orioles farm system and within the top 10 prospects of their respective positions.

Rutschman is the centerpiece of the Orioles core still in the minors. As the number one overall pick in 2019, Rutschman has shown incredible on base ability and solid power from the catcher position in his limited minor league appearances. Rutschman’s defensive ability paired with his advanced offensive approach have him set to make a possible MLB debut in 2021.

His chance to join the major league club won’t happen soon considering this will be Rutschman’s first full minor league season. The Orioles will want to see how the 23-year-old catcher responds to a full season’s workload but could call him up sometime around September, especially if the Orioles current catching duo of Pedro Severino and Chance Sisco continue to underproduce.

Rodriguez and Hall are both top pitching prospects that could both become the ace the Orioles have been looking for. Rodriguez has created the most excitement due to his 2.39 ERA across 120.2 minor league innings. His 161 strikeouts and 47 walks over that same span is more than impressive for the 21-year-old. While he’s never played above A ball, Rodriguez has shown a lot of promise for the future of the Orioles rotation.

DL Hall brings just as much hope to become a front-line starter as Rodriguez but has had more trouble with walks than his fellow top prospect. Like Rodriguez, Hall is a strikeout machine posting 247 strikeouts over 194.2 minor league innings. So far, Hall is on a ridiculous start to 2021 with 19 strikeouts across 9.1 innings. For reference, Hall has gotten 19 of 28 possible outs through strikeouts.

While Hall is starting his season at AA, the Orioles will probably wait to see a little more control from Hall with his ETA in 2022. The same will go for Rodriguez when he eventually gets called up to AA. Regardless of when their MLB debuts are this pitching duo is one to keep a close eye on.

Whenever these three prospects get their chance at the major league level, the Orioles fortunes could turn in an instant. Despite being in a super competitive AL East division, the team has built a solid roster with players like Cedric Mullins, John Means, and Trey Mancini off to great 2021 seasons. 

If the Orioles core of prospects can translate their early success into MLB production, Baltimore could be thinking about the playoffs sooner rather than later.