How Many Top Orioles Prospects Will Make Impact In 2023?

How Many Top Orioles Prospects Will Make Impact In 2023?
Fact Checked by Thomas Leary

The Baltimore Orioles long rebuild has finally started to come to fruition, even across Maryland sports betting. After five consecutive losing seasons, including three with at least 108 losses, the team finished 2022 at 83-79, spurred by an exciting young core.

Catcher and 2019 No. 1 overall pick Adley Rutschman burst onto the scene last year, leading Baltimore in WAR and placing second in the American League Rookie of the Year voting behind Seattle Mariners phenom Julio Rodriguez. Soon Rutschman and company will be joined by even more young talent, as the Orioles farm system comes in as the best in baseball for a second consecutive offseason according to rankings released yesterday by MLB.com.  

Eight Orioles, INF Gunnar Henderson (1st), RHP Grayson Rodriguez (7th), INF Jackson Holliday (12th), OF Colton Cowser (40th), INF Jordan Westburg (74th), OF Heston Kjerstad (80th), LHP DL Hall (97th) and INF Joey Ortiz (99th), sit among their top 100 prospects, the most of any organization. 

Accordingly, BetMaryland.com created hypothetical odds to project how many of these eight top prospects will reach the major leagues this season.  

This is what they determined. And worth noting: Sportsbooks so far are slow to believe in this Orioles team, reflected in their +2500 odds to win the AL East at BetMGM Maryland Sportsbook. Maybe not great for O's fans, but could be promising for these prospects below. 

Hypothetical Odds Of Orioles Prospects Called Up

Number of Prospects Called UpOddsImplied Probability
2+100001%
3+20004.8%
4+25028.6%
5+18035.7%
6+28026.3%
7+30003.2%
8+25000.4%

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Gunnar Henderson: Remember The Name

A couple of these players have already received their first call-up, but have yet to exhaust their rookie eligibility. Gunnar Henderson debuted at the end of August, slashing .259/.348/.440 in 34 games with Baltimore, while DL Hall made 11 appearances (one start) to the tune of a 5.93 ERA over the final two months of last season.

Henderson, the FanDuel Maryland Sportsbook AL Rookie of the Year favorite at +240, looks penciled in as the Orioles Opening Day third basemen, though he will likely see time at shortstop/second base throughout the year too as the team rotates their deep crop of infielders. He projects as a foundational piece for years to come with rare power for his position as well as an above average glove and good speed.

Back issues prevented Hall from pitching in spring training until Monday, but he remains blessed with the premium stuff that helped him strike out 19 batters in 13.2 big league innings.  

Now, his biggest issue will be whether he settles into the rotation or bullpen. Questions about his capacity to start have lingered and his shortened spring has hindered his ability to ramp up his throwing program in preparation for a more innings intensive role.  

Should Baltimore wish to continue developing Hall as a starter, he may head to Triple-A Norfolk to begin the year, but even if that is the case expect his live left arm to be back up soon enough.

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Rodriguez Faces Injury Concerns

Were it not for a strained lat, Grayson Rodriguez would have joined Henderson and Hall in debuting last season. 

Rodriguez features a frontline starter's toolkit and lit up the minors with a 2.62 ERA in 2022, but the injury has cast some uncertainty on his 2023 plans. His performance regressed following his September return and he presently sports a 5.56 spring training ERA.  

The Orioles have committed to giving Rodriguez an opportunity to make the initial 26-man roster, however between their glut of rotation options, his shaky spring stats and the team’s desire to manage his workload, he too may find himself at Triple-A at least initially, though betting markets are still bullish on him making an impact in the majors given his fourth place AL Rookie of the Year odds at DraftKings Maryland Sportsbook (+900).

Joey Ortiz produced perhaps the biggest breakout season in the entire Baltimore farm system last year. Known as a gifted shortstop defender, Ortiz’s offense erupted, with the 24-year-old hitting .284/.349/.477 with 19 homers and 35 doubles between Double and Triple-A.  

He appears doubtful to make the show out of camp thanks to the team’s depth at his position, but expect him to contribute at the big-league level before the season is over. He is likely the Orioles first promotion in case of position player injury and could easily take over for Jorge Mateo, Adam Frazier or Terrin Vavra if they are not playing up to standards.

Another infielder dealing with a crowded path to playing time, Jordan Westburg does not possess the glove that Ortiz does, but he may be an even better hitter. Westburg smacked 27 home runs and 39 doubles on a .265/.355/.496 line last season, also splitting time between Double and Triple-A.  

He is currently batting .310/.375/.500 as a non-roster invitee in spring training, but unless he simply forces Baltimore’s hand with his hot hitting, he too looks like he must wait out injury or ineffectiveness from those above him before reaching the majors.

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Last But Not Least

In the outfield, Colton Cowser gives the Orioles another potential plus bat to wait on. Picked fifth overall in 2021, Cowser quickly acclimated to pro ball, recording a .982 OPS in rookie and Single A ball in his draft year before posting an .874 OPS across three levels last season, culminating at Triple-A.  He will head back to Norfolk for more seasoning to start 2023 as he earned just 124 plate appearances at that level, but he should push for a big-league spot by the end of the year.  

While Baltimore has a solid starting outfield, they are not as deep there as they are in the infield, leaving room for Cowser to crack the team when he is ready, especially since he can passably handle all three spots on the grass.

The Orioles other former top 5 pick outfielder, Heston Kjerstad has fallen behind Cowser despite being selected a year earlier. Myocarditis and a hamstring injury combined to keep Kjerstad out for nearly two years following the 2020 draft before he finally returned to the field last June.  

While he slashed .309/.394/.457 last season and tore up spring training with a 1.219 OPS before being sent to minor league camp, he clearly needs more seasoning, having never played above High-A. Most observers across Maryland sports betting apps do not expect Kjerstad to make it to Baltimore until 2024, although he has the profile to move through the system quickly now that he is healthy.

The final player on the list, Jackson Holliday oozes talent, but has by far the longest journey left. 

The 2022 first overall pick reached Single-A Delmarva by the end of last season and has impressed in his spring training cameo, but at 19 years old he likely needs at least two full seasons of development in the minors, even if he is on an accelerated timeline. However, do not be surprised if he climbs further up the prospect rankings as he advances, in spite of the fact Charm City is not in his future this year.

BetMaryland.com is your best source for sports betting news and Orioles stories as well as Maryland sportsbook promos.

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Author

Josh Markowitz is a freelance writer for BetMaryland.com. He is a lifelong sports fan with an emphasis on college basketball, football, baseball and the scouting/evaluation process. A graduate of Elon University's School of Communications, Josh also has experience in television production.

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