Orioles Prospect Report - January/ February 2024

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Orioles Prospect Report - January/ February 2024

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From BA's Top 100 Prospects:

11. James Wood, OF (Was)
27. Robby Snelling, LHP (SD)
37. Carson Williams, SS (TB)
41. Heston Kjerstad, OF (Bal)
66. Shane Baz, RHP (TB)
93. DL Hall, LHP (Mil)
99. Leodalis De Vries, SS (SD)

Just missed: Daniel Espino, RHP (Cle), Joey Ortiz, SS (Mil)

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Re: Orioles Prospect Report - January 2024

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From BP's Top 101:

7. James Wood, OF (Was)
18. Carson Williams, SS (TB)
41. Heston Kjerstad, OF (Bal)
55. Robby Snelling, LHP (SD)
74. Yu-Min Lin, LHP (Ari)

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Re: Orioles Prospect Report - January 2024

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From MLB.com's Top 100:

14. James Wood, OF (Was)
20. Carson Williams, SS (TB)
32. Heston Kjerstad, OF (Bal)
36. Robby Snelling, LHP (SD)
63. Joey Ortiz, SS (Bal)
100. Daniel Espino, RHP (Cle)

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Re: Orioles Prospect Report - January 2024

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From the BP Washington Nationals Top 10 Prospects:

2. James Wood
Pos: OF
Born: 2002-09-17
B: Left
T: Right
H: 6′ 6″
W: 240 lbs.

History: Drafted 62nd overall by the San Diego Padres in the 2021 draft, IMG Academy (Brandenton, FL); signed for $2.6 million. Acquired from San Diego for Juan Soto.

Previous Rank: #1 (Org), #3 (Top 101)
Major League ETA: Late 2024

The Report: Wood “dropped” in the process of our Top 101 creation, moving from the third-ranked global prospect to seventh, because the young toolshed experienced a slight adjustment period in adapting to the more advanced pitchability found in Double-A baseball. His contact rates dipped from above-average to those more common for a 6-foot-7 slugger, with some noteworthy blips against non-fastballs. If that all sounds like a nitpicky observation for someone of Wood’s age, nearly posting a 30-20 season while playing in tough offensive environments, I’d like to formally welcome you to the world of evaluating top prospects. Wood’s 90th percentile outcome is a mold-breaking player without many direct comparables—his plus tools across the board include monstrous power and the foot speed to support a center field projection.

In 2023, Wood continued his endeavor to shorten his levers at the plate, further developing a wonderful new ability to drop his bat head directly onto any inside-third offering. Despite soft issues with pitch recognition in his initial Double-A stint, the young outfielder made significant strides in getting to all-fields power throughout the year, adjusting his contact point to pitch locations. With Wood’s raw juice, he often appears to simply flick the ball over the wall line-to-line behind a smooth and rotational bat path. When players hit the ball this hard, they can often make backside home runs work, and Wood manages to barrel up to the opposite field wall even while using a surprisingly slashy two-strike approach. Still only 21 years old for the 2024 season, Wood could find himself roaming the outfield in D.C this year with merely incremental improvements in handling offspeeds, or by tapping into some more power on the outer third.

OFP: 70 / All-Star outfielder.
Variance: High. The expected contact issues finally showed up, but not at a severe enough level to knock down the OFP. Wood’s superstar ceiling goes as far as his ability to refine his hit tool towards a 5, but if his development stalls he still possesses otherworldly power and palatable plate skills for a three-spot outfielder. —Ben Zeidman

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Re: Orioles Prospect Report - January 2024

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From the BP Toronto Blue Jays Top 10 Prospects:

4. Brandon Barriera
Pos: LHP
Born: 2004-03-04
B: Left
T: Left
H: 6′ 2″
W: 180 lbs.

History: Drafted 23rd overall in the 2022 draft, American Heritage HS (Plantation, FL); signed for $3,597,500.
Previous Rank: #3 (org)
Major League ETA: 2027

The Report: Another Jays arm with big stuff and multiple 2023 elbow injuries, Barriera dealt with an elbow sprain and then biceps soreness and tossed just 20 innings scattered about late spring and summer. There were durability concerns for Barriera going into the 2022 draft, as he’s a narrower 6-foot-2, but like with Tiedemann it’s tough to find a young southpaw with this loud an arsenal. Barriera touched 98 with his fastball in 2023 and liberally worked in a high-spin, potential plus slider as well. The stuff is not an issue here, but the short-term arm health and long-term pitching role are.

OFP: 55 / no. 3/4 starter or late-inning reliever
Variance: Extreme. “If he can hold up to the rigors of a pro workload” was our caveat on Barriera this time last year. It’s turned into a downright concern this year. —Jeffrey Paternostro

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Re: Orioles Prospect Report - January 2024

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From the BP Tampa Bay Rays Top 10 Prospects:

2. Carson Williams
Pos: SS
Born: 2003-06-25
B: Right
T: Right
H: 6′ 1″
W: 180 lbs.

History: Drafted 28th overall in the 2021 draft. Torrey Pines HS (San Diego, CA); signed for $2,347,500.
Previous Rank: #6 (org)
Major League ETA: 2024

The Report: Williams is an even more extreme version of Caminero’s skill set, with much more clearly defined strengths and weaknesses. He’s going to stick at shortstop and is potentially above-average there. He’s rangy, with good body control, and throws well on the run, getting to all his plus arm strength whether planted or on the move. Williams is not a spectacular defender, but he can make all the plays at the six. At the plate, like Caminero there is plus-plus raw power, but Williams is likely to top out there. His swing is more optimized for 20 degree launch to the pull side at present, but he has a torquey load and his bat doesn’t spend much time in the zone, leading to in-zone contact issues. On a positive note, he improved those contact rates this year after it was a significant red flag in Low-A. Given the shortstop glove and the 25+ home run potential at the plate, Williams can be an everyday player even if he’s struggling to hit .240, but he doesn’t have Caminero’s upside despite being capable of doing similar damage with the bat at present.

OFP: 60 / First-division shortstop, occasional all-star
Variance: Medium. The improvements at the plate from Low-A to High-A have assuaged some of our hit tool concerns coming into the season, and while Williams will never challenge for a batting title, he can play shortstop and hit for power. That prospect usually turns into at least an average major leaguer. —Jeffrey Paternostro

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Re: Orioles Prospect Report - January 2024

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From the BP Philadelphia Phillies Top 10 Prospects:

9. Griff McGarry
Pos: RHP
Born: 1999-06-08
B: Right
T: Right
H: 6′ 2″
W: 190 lbs.

History: Drafted in the fifth round of the 2021 draft, University of Virginia; signed for $322,500.
Previous Rank: #3 (org), #51 (Top 101)
Major League ETA: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ (sometime in 2024 maybe)

The Report: McGarry got a late start to his 2023 season due to an oblique injury and then faced an early exit as he was placed on the Developmental List at the end of August after a brutal stretch in Triple-A where he completely lost the strike zone. In between he was alternately dominant and erratic from outing to outing. At times McGarry can show three plus pitches in his fastball, sweeper, and curve, but even before his late-season mechanical issues, he’s never really had a starter’s command profile. With the stuff mostly intact from last season—when McGarry just missed being a Top 50 prospect—his 2024 ranking becomes a process issue. How much do we need/want to fade him? And look, it’s not ideal when your head of player dev comes out and says “We’re working on some things with Griff’s body and how he moves.” But in a relatively shallow system, and given the recent dominance—as recently as midseason last year in Double-A. We’ll stick it out with McGarry for another year, even if he’s far more likely to end up in the pen now.

OFP: 50 / eighth-inning arm
Variance: High. When talking about this ranking with another writer, they told me this is going to be a miss in one direction or the other. That probably suffices as a good definition of high variance.


16. Gabriel Rincones Jr., OF (High-A Jersey Shore)

Last year in this space we noted that Rincones “hits the ball extremely hard,” but “[is] a big kid with a long swing and some chase. In sum, there’s a lot of perceived risk in his hit tool, similar to De La Cruz, but we have no pro data to go on yet.” Well we have that pro data now and Rincones still hits the ball very hard, his long swing led to a bit more in-zone whiff in the low minors than you’d prefer, and his chase was…well, mostly fine as far as it goes. The hit tool concerns remain—Rincones has a bit of an exaggerated hand path and an upper body heavy swing that can sacrifice balance and barrel control—but his hands can be explosive through the zone and his high end exits suggest easy plus raw power. The first year Low-A/High-A track is a conservative one for a college masher—admittedly at a smaller college—so Rincones first taste of Double-A should start to delineate between potential major league power hitter from Quad-A slugger. Just remember to check that home/road split. It is Reading after all.

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Re: Orioles Prospect Report - January 2024

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From the BP St. Louis Cardinals Top 10 Prospects:

15. Sem Robberse, RHP (Triple-A Memphis)

Robberse lands firmly in this rather homogenous group of back-end rotation projections; a young strike-thrower with below-average stuff overall. The other half of the Jordan Hicks return, Robberse is newly 22 years old and retains more projection than most 40-man-roster prospects are afforded. He is a physical mound presence, playing larger than his listed 6-foot-1 frame, and continues to fill out with muscle in recent years. Robberse has a rhythmic, uptempo motion with a long arm action, mixing in four distinct pitches with feel to land three of them. The arsenal itself is somewhat unexciting; Robberse’s fastball has some tailing action in the low-90s but otherwise hovers in the dead zone, grading out below average despite adequate command. The cutter and changeup grade out as plus for different reasons, and he mixes in a two-plane breaker with tremendous sweep in the low 80s as well. Robberse is likely to live off his high-80s cutter, which he zones consistently, and misses bats. He relies on out-of-zone chase with the changeup, and shows significantly less consistency in placing the cambio. It’s a high-spin offering in the wrong velo band (only five ticks off of the fastball) but fades tremendously to separate itself. The athletic right-hander profiles as an up-an-down innings eater for now, and has room in the tank to push velocity still. Any extra juice could alter his outlook into a rotation piece. —Ben Zeidman

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Re: Orioles Prospect Report - January 2024

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From the BP San Diego Padres Top 10 Prospects:

5. Robby Snelling
Pos: LHP
Born: 2003-12-19
B: Right
T: Left
H: 6′ 3″
W: 210 lbs.

History: Drafted 39th overall in the 2022 draft, Robert McQueen HS (Reno, NV); signed for $3 million.
Previous Rank: #6 (org)
Major League ETA: 2025

The Report: A two-sport star in Reno who passed up an LSU commitment to sign with the Friars, Snelling quickly made huge strides once his sole focus was pitching. He spent all of the 2023 season at age 19 and made it up to the Texas League, crushing both A-ball levels along the way. Snelling consolidated the velocity bump he showed his senior year of high school, regularly touching 95 in the pros, with good deception and carry that generates late, uncomfortable swings from opposing hitters. His low-80s slider looks the part, a spinny, 1-7 breaker with enough depth to leave hitters flailing at it. It fares better by visual evaluation, though, as once you get under the hood it doesn’t induce quite enough chase for a present plus projection and when it’s not starting down in the zone, it can just run along barrels. But like the fastball, it should get to at least above-average with more refinement/consistency.

Snelling’s change has been a developmental focus—especially given that he currently prefers throwing his slider left-on-left—but he struggles to land it. He’ll guide the pitch rather than just trust it out of the hand, and that results in it floating harmlessly up and away or occasionally spiking the offering. Even the better ones seem to be really carefully placed at the bottom of the zone, and you don’t see the true string pull that marks a projectable change. Despite a funky lefty delivery with a very short arm action, Snelling didn’t really have issues with strike-throwing last year until his brief stint in San Antonio. However, the control outstrips the command at present and his fastball may get punished more in the upper minors without a couple more ticks of velocity or better location.

OFP: 55 / no. 3/4 starter
Variance: High. This report probably reads a bit uninspiring for the fifth-best prospect in a pretty good system, but consider that this was Snelling’s first season as just a baseball player, and he dominated the low minors with advanced stuff. It’s not unreasonable to think there is more in the tank here and most of this variance runs to the positive side, given the already present fastball/slider combo providing some sort of realistic major-league value.


14. Victor Lizarraga, RHP (High-A Fort Wayne)

A precocious four-pitch righty, the 19-year-old Lizarraga hit a few bumps in the Midwest League as his arsenal lacked a headline swing-and-miss offering. He’ll touch 95, but generally sits in a more average velocity band, showing a bit of ride and run up in the zone. Lizarraga’s slider is his best secondary. It can flash razor-blade depth when he’s on top of it, but sometimes he shapes it a bit too much and it just lazily bores gloveside. He also offers a slower 12-6 curve that flashes average, but only flashes, as well as a potential average mid-80s change. With a bit more velocity or a bit more consistent slider, Lizarraga would project as a backend starter, but neither of those were in evidence enough in 2023.

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Re: Orioles Prospect Report - January 2024

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From the BP San Francisco Giants Top 10 Prospects:

8. Grant McCray
Pos: OF
Born: 2000-12-07
B: Left
T: Right
H: 6′ 2″
W: 190 lbs.

History: Drafted in the third round of the 2019 draft, Lakewood Ranch HS (Bradenton, FL); signed for $697,500.
Previous Rank: #8 (org)
Major League ETA: 2025

The Report: Depending on which month you saw him play, McCray could look like a five-tool center fielder or organizational filler who’ll struggle to escape the upper minors. Some warning signs from McCray’s initial breakout season in 2022 carried over into 2023, with the now-23-year-old still struggling to make consistent contact in the zone or keep his strikeout rate comfortably below 30%. And yet McCray wasn’t always completely overmatched, and his patient approach led to a walk rate around 12% and a healthy on-base percentage when the season was over.

In some ways you can copy/paste McCray’s report from this time last year into this space. He’s still an excellent center fielder, rangy and speedy with good instincts that could carry him to a bench outfielder job even if the bat never comes around. He’s got more power than you’d expect from his frame, but his success is going to come more from slashing line drives into gaps and piling up doubles than from hitting home runs. He’s not quite an elite base stealer in terms of efficiency, but his 84% stolen base percentage would’ve put him comfortably above both the major-league average and notable thieves like Bobby Witt Jr. and Julio Rodríguez. There’s still a lot to like here and it’s not as if McCray’s performance fell off a cliff, but you’d prefer to see him have a more consistent season in 2024.

OFP: 50 / Toolsy but frustrating center fielder
Variance: Very High. The offensive environment in Eugene is somewhat strange, and we’ve already seen multiple Giants hitting prospects leave Oregon and find more success in Double-A and Triple-A. It’s also telling that no other team decided to stash McCray as a fifth outfielder when he was eligible in the Rule 5 draft. That could very easily look like a missed opportunity if McCray rebounds closer to his Low-A performance, or a prescient decision if he trends more toward an offensive profile akin to that of Michael A. Taylor.

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Re: Orioles Prospect Report - January 2024

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From Kiley McDaniel's Top 100 MLB Prospects for 2024 on ESPN.com:

11. James Wood, OF (Was)
13. Carson Williams, SS (TB)
48. Heston Kjerstad, OF (Bal)
59. Robby Snelling, LHP (SD)
71, Sal Stewart, 3B (Cin)
91. Joey Ortiz, SS (Bal)
92. Daniel Espino, RHP (Cle)

______________________________

11. James Wood, RF, Washington Nationals
Age: 21 | Bats: Left | Throws: Right

Hit: 30/45, Game Power: 45/65, Raw Power: 65/70, Speed: 60/50, Fielding: 50/55, Throwing: 50/50

Reminds me of: A combination of Elly De La Cruz, Cody Bellinger, Kyle Tucker and Fernando Tatis Jr.

Type: A 6-foot-6 plus runner with 30-plus homer upside

Wood fits right into a recent trend of super-tall sluggers along with Aaron Judge, Oneil Cruz, Elly De La Cruz, Spencer Jones and Bryce Eldridge. Wood posts plus run times and is surprisingly decent in center field, but because he'll likely lose a step and Crews is a bit better in center, Wood will slide over to right field where his enormous raw power will easily profile.

Wood's long limbs immediately make any scout wonder how he'll fare against high-level professional pitching. He had his fair share of strikeouts (mixed in with homers) on the summer showcase circuit, then had a confounding 2021 spring where he was borderline passive and opposite-field oriented for IMG Academy while facing a lot of Division I-caliber arms. That caused enough teams to hesitate for him to last until late into the second round (for an overslot $2.6 million bonus) on draft day, allowing the Padres to put together one of the best 1-2 picks in draft history with Wood going after first-round pick Jackson Merrill (who follows on this list).

Both were on the short list of players the Nationals asked about as return for Juan Soto in 2022, which also happened to be Wood's breakout season. Prospect lists largely hadn't been updated at that point and well-known names like C.J. Abrams, Robert Hassell III and MacKenzie Gore seemed like the headliners -- but sources were telling me that a year after going 64th overall, Wood was the prize and I should rank him accordingly.

Wood's combination of power and patience is among the best in the minors, though he could still juice his homer totals by adding more loft to his swing. There's always going to be swing and miss to his game, which is why he's outside of the top tier of this list -- but if he can give real baserunning and defensive value with a solid OBP and 30-plus homers, he'll be a star.


13. Carson Williams, SS, Tampa Bay Rays
Age: 20 | Bats: Right | Throws: Right

Hit: 30/40, Game Power: 50/65, Raw Power: 65/65, Speed: 55/55, Fielding: 55/65, Throwing: 70/70

Reminds me of: A mix of Dansby Swanson and Jeremy Pena

Type: Lower-average hitter with a solid approach, 30-homer upside and plus defense at shortstop

Williams was a notable 2021 draft prospect out of Southern California as a late-first-round hit-over-power shortstop with a strong glove (think Dansby Swanson) and also as a second-round prospect on the mound with a mid-90s fastball, but he didn't want to pitch in pro ball. The Rays took him No. 28 overall and the buzz the fall after he signed was immediately indicative of where things were headed: he was bigger with more power and looked like a steal.

I took high-speed video of Williams this season and cut it together with high school swings so you can see the differences. He's now a power-over-hit type to where his in-zone contact rate is his biggest weakness, but on the upside he's still a plus defender at short and now has 30-homer upside. His power has developed to the point that he is shockingly close to James Wood in terms of in-game exit velos while Williams' ability to hit the ball hard at ideal launch angles is notably better. This uphill path has a trade-off with contact rate, but the margin for error is in Williams' above-average speed that plays on the basepaths (48 stolen bases over the last two seasons) and as an easily plus defender with a plus-plus arm.

Even in a bad outcome where Williams is a .230 hitter with strikeout rates over 30%, he'll still hit 20 homers, steal 20 bases and be in the running for a Gold Glove, something like the 3.4 WAR-producing Willy Adames was in 2023, or when Adames posted 4.6 WAR in 2022. Sometimes it's instructive to focus on what a player can do rather than what he can't and I think this is one of those cases.


48. Heston Kjerstad, RF, Baltimore Orioles
Age: 24 | Bats: Left | Throws: Right

Type: Classic power-over-hit everyday right fielder

Kjerstad was a surprise below-slot No. 2 overall pick in 2020 out of Arkansas, but didn't play a pro game until 2022 due to myocarditis in 2021. A hamstring strain delayed his late start to the 2022 season as well, but he went to the Arizona Fall League to get in reps. Then he broke out in 2023, going from Double-A to the big leagues and hitting .303 with 23 homers over three levels.

Kjerstad still chases a bit more than you'd like to see and is limited to a corner with around 25-homer power potential, so his upside knocks him out of the top tier of prospect. He is very likely to be a good everyday player, with a chance at being a 3-to-4 win type MLB outfielder.


59. Robby Snelling, LHP, San Diego Padres
Age: 20 | Bats: Right | Throws: Left

Type: Physical, aggressive lefty with three average-or-better pitches for strikes

Snelling was a four-star football recruit as a linebacker and that both explains what he looks like physically in addition to how he approaches pitching. Listed a 6-foot-3, 210 pounds, he comes at hitters early and often with a 92-94 mph heater that plays above it's velocity -- particularly at the top of the zone -- and he also projects for above-average command of the pitch. His two-plane breaking ball is solid average and his changeup projects to become average, so his raw stuff isn't gaudy, but he got to Double-A last season as a teenager because of his polish on the mound.


71. Sal Stewart, 3B, Cincinnati Reds
Age: 20 | Bats: Right | Throws: Right

Type: Improved defensive third baseman who has always had plus raw power and above-average feel to hit

Stewart was a well-known high school underclassmen in South Florida who committed early to Vanderbilt. As scouts started bearing down, the main concern was whether he could stay at third base long term, because he'd likely slide over to first base if he couldn't and teams typically don't pay right-handed-hitting first baseman out of high school. The Reds were one of the teams who believed he could stay at third and took him 32nd overall in the 2022 draft.

Stewart got to High-A as a teeanger last season, hitting .275 with 12 home runs and a .396 OBP while drawing more walks than strikeouts. He could use a little more loft in his swing, but I wouldn't want him to get so steep in the zone that it affects how good of a hitter he is now.


91. Joey Ortiz, SS, Baltimore Orioles
Age: 25 | Bats: Right | Throws: Right

Type: Big league-ready steady glove at shortstop with sneaky power and feel for contact

Ortiz (a 2019 fourth-round pick) now looks like the better of the two notable New Mexico State middle infielders on the 2019 club; the other was the 2020 seventh-overall pick Nick Gonzales, who is not even close to being on this list. Their college's home ballpark is such a bandbox that scouts and analysts have trouble knowing what will translate to pro baseball. In the fourth round with a clear shortstop fit and some feel for contact, it didn't really matter if Ortiz could really hit for close to average in-game power -- but it turns out he can, hitting 28 homers over the past two seasons (though it might be undercut at the big league level by a worse-than-average chase rate). Projections have him as a .260s hitter with 10-12 homers, a few stolen bases and real defensive value, which is also about what I have, but it could be a tick better if he was a little more selective. That isn't an All-Star, but he's a good everyday player; he'll be looking for a big league role in 2024 given that Jackson Holliday, Gunnar Henderson, Jordan Westburg, Jorge Mateo and Ramon Urias are on the team.


92. Daniel Espino, RHP, Cleveland Guardians

Age: 23 | Bats: Right | Throws: Right

Type: One of the best pitching prospects in recent memory with top-of-the-scale raw stuff -- who has thrown 18⅓ innings in two seasons because of multiple injuries

Injured elite pitching prospects who are famous primarily because they throw hard -- Nate Pearson, Forrest Whitley and Sixto Sanchez come to mind -- have had a tough time in recent years. Espino was arguably the top pitching prospect in baseball as the 2022 season was beginning but made only four starts that year because of knee and shoulder issues. He was expected to bounce back fully healthy in 2023 before a shoulder issue in spring training delayed his start to the season -- he never pitched in a pro game in 2023 due to surgery in May. It's hoped that he will be back on a mound sometime this summer. While clubs aren't really scared of elbow surgeries, the path to coming back where a pitcher left off after shoulder surgery is much more checkered, with recent examples like Sanchez and Brendan McKay, though they both had other injuries, as well.

I could have placed Espino much lower than this to hedge for the uncertainty. What that ignores is that Espino is a tireless worker who continually improved even with big expectations. He hit 100 mph as a junior in high school, he's exceptionally strong even among big league pitchers, and he has some of the best stuff anyone has ever seen. There's plenty of margin for error for him to carve out a solid career as a reliever and with the aforementioned lack of quality depth on the back-end of the Top 100, a small chance of a potential ace is worth a gamble at this point in the list.

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Re: Orioles Prospect Report - January 2024

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From Keith Law's Top 100 Prospects 2024 on TheAthletic.com:

19. James Wood, OF (Was)
38. Carson Williams, SS (TB)
50. Cam Collier, 3B (Cin)
58. Joey Ortiz, SS (Mil)
62. Heston Kjerstad, OF (Bal)
72. Robby Snelling, LHP (SD)
83. Yu-Min Lin, LHP (Ari)
93. Sal Stewart, 3B (Cin)

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Re: Orioles Prospect Report - January 2024

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From Keith Law's Top 100 Prospects 2024 on theAthletic.com:

19. James Wood
OF - WASHINGTON NATIONALS
Age: 21
Ht: 6-6
Wt: 240
Bats: L
Throws: R

2023 Ranking: 16

Wood has turned out to be the jewel in the trade that sent Juan Soto to San Diego. Wood has shown several elite tools already and reached Double A last year at age 20, but also carries some real risks related primarily to the strike zone. Wood is an outstanding athlete with 70 speed and 80 raw power, and if anything he’s improved his conditioning in pro ball to get even more out of his physical gifts. He can play plus defense in center and I’ve gotten occasional run times from him that grade out at 80. He started last year in High-A Wilmington, generally a tough place for power, and hit .293/.392/.580; his eight homers in 42 games ended up second on the team for the season. When the Nats bumped him to Double-A Harrisburg, which is a better home run park, the power stayed but the sheer size of his strike zone and some of his pitch recognition both led to a big jump in his strikeout rate, from 27 percent to 34 percent, with fastballs up and sliders in the lower third both becoming issues for him. He’s every bit of 6-6, maybe even 6-7 at this point, and between his height and how hard he swings, he’s going to have some whiff; the challenge for him and the Nats will be cutting it down to a manageable level so he hits enough to get to that 40-homer power and isn’t an OBP liability. My guess is there isn’t much middle ground here; the ceiling is that middle-of-the-order offense in a plus right fielder or 50/55 centerfielder, while the floor is another guy who can’t cut his K rate below 30 percent and bounces around for years as teams hope to catch lightning in a tall bottle.


38. Carson Williams
SS - TAMPA BAY RAYS
Age: 21
Ht: 6-1
Wt: 180
Bats: R
Throws: R

2023 Ranking: Just missed

Williams was Tampa’s first-round pick in 2021, but at the time there were questions about multiple aspects of his game, including his power and even his running. He’s improved in just about every way since then, changing his gait to become a plus runner, building strength to hit 42 homers over the last two years, and developing into an easy plus defender at shortstop. What he does not do, however, is make enough contact, with a 31.4 percent strikeout rate during the regular season in 2023 and then a 36.5 percent rate in the hitter-friendly (and pitching-starved) Arizona Fall League. It’s a pitch recognition issue, as he really struggles against offspeed stuff even in the zone, yet doesn’t chase pitches all that often. When he makes contact, it’s generally high quality, so he doesn’t have to make a huge adjustment to become a star, just better distinguish non-fastballs and perhaps to stop swinging so hard at them. If he played on the other end of the defensive spectrum, he wouldn’t be on the top 100. As it is, though, he’s got four tools that are 6s or better, and if the hit tool just gets to 45, he’s going to be a very good big leaguer.


50. Cam Collier
3B - CINCINNATI REDS
Age: 19
Ht: 6-2
Wt: 210
Bats: L
Throws: R

2023 Ranking: 17

Collier was the 18th pick in the 2022 draft out of Chipola College, where he’d played as a 17-year-old after graduating early from high school and moving to the junior college to enter the draft a year sooner. The son of former big leaguer Lou Collier, Cam is already pushing 6-3 and past his listed 210 pounds, enough that he’ll probably have to work on conditioning now rather than gaining strength so he can stay at third base. He’s a bat-first guy and projects to hit for average and power, showing good feel for the strike zone despite his youth and very rarely missing on pitches in the zone last year (with the caveat that the Florida State League has the ABS in place). After a slow start as one of the youngest players anywhere in full-season ball, Collier picked it up in the second half, hitting .290/.389/.395 with plenty of hard contact, topping out over 110 mph. He’s younger than five of the 11 high school position players taken in the first 30 picks of the 2023 draft, yet already has a full year of pro ball experience. He can still cut through the ball too often, hitting it on the ground way more than he should last year (53 percent in Low A) as he made contact on some pitches he should have let go by, and he has to avoid getting any bigger so he doesn’t end up moving to the outfield. He makes more than enough hard contact to project 25+ homers and strong batting averages as long as he continues to make adjustments as he faces better pitching up the ladder.


58. Joey Ortiz
SS - MILWAUKEE BREWERS
Age: 25
Ht: 5-9
Wt: 190
Bats: R
Throws: R

2023 Ranking: 94

Before he was traded to the Brewers in the Corbin Burnes deal last week, I wrote that Ortiz should be someone’s starting shortstop now, but he has the misfortune to play in an organization that has shortstops coming out of its ears — which should make him a very valuable player for hot stove purposes, as he can step into a big-league role right away. He’s a plus defender at short with a strong and accurate arm and he remade his swing and his body during the pandemic, returning much stronger and with a swing that drives the ball effectively to the gaps and gives him a chance for 15-20 homers a year. His exit velocity peaked around 115 mph in Triple A last year, and he makes contact at consistently high rates, under 20 percent strikeout rates everywhere he’s played except for his 34 scattered PA in the majors. A .280/.340/.450-ish hitter who adds 5 or so runs of value on defense is a pretty valuable player, I think, and while there’s no further ceiling or projection here, that ought to be enough to get him a starting job.


62. Heston Kjerstad
OF - BALTIMORE ORIOLES
Age: 25
Ht: 6-3
Wt: 205
Bats: L
Throws: R

2023 Ranking: Unranked

Kjerstad reached the majors last year in just his second pro season, and I don’t think enough attention has been paid to how tough a road he had from draft day to the big leagues. Kjerstad developed myocarditis after a bout with COVID-19 in 2020, missing all of 2021 while recovering from the condition, and when he returned in 2022 he looked rusty and had trouble catching up to good velocity — nothing like the player he was at Arkansas in 2019-20. Last year, he was all the way back and then some, making consistent hard contact and more of it than before; when the O’s picked him second in 2020, his high strikeout rates against SEC pitching stood out as a red flag, but last year he showed the best two-strike approach of his career and kept his season strikeout rate under 20 percent until he reached the majors. There’s still more chase than you’d like to see in a corner outfielder whose value is mostly in the bat, and lefties are going to attack him with spin until he shows he can lay off it. Because he hits the ball so hard, so often, I think he can be an above-average hitter even if his strikeout rate drifts north of 25 percent, probably getting to 20-25 homers a year and a high BABIP as well. And maybe then I’ll stop joking about how his name sounds like the lead singer of a melodic death metal band or a storage unit you’d buy at IKEA.


72. Robby Snelling
LHP - SAN DIEGO PADRES
Age: 20
Ht: 6-3
Wt: 210
Bats: R
Throws: L

2023 Ranking: Unranked

Snelling was the 39th pick in the 2022 draft, a pitcher-quarterback-linebacker who enticed scouts with his size, athleticism, and arm strength. He made his full-season debut last year and showed superb control at Low A and High A before a late promotion to Double A, where he walked more guys but remained hard to hit. He’s a very strong, physical kid, not overly muscled up although he’ll have to work to remain that way, working 92-96 mph most of the time with a 55 slider and 55 changeup, but nothing clearly plus right now. There’s some effort to his delivery and head-jerk at release, while he can slow his arm down when he's not throwing his fastball, something hitters will pick up sooner rather than later. He’s also barely 20 and split his time in high school between two sports, so he should have more room to grow than the typical second-year pitcher would. There’s reliever risk, but a No. 2 or 3 starter ceiling, with the median outcome probably more around a fourth starter who’s got some above-average years and some below-average ones.


83. Yu-Min Lin
LHP - ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS
Age: 20
Ht: 5-11
Wt: 160
Bats: L
Throws: L

2023 Ranking: Unranked

Lin barely cracked my top-20 Diamondbacks prospects last year, as he wasn’t throwing that hard (around 89-90 mph) and got inexperienced hitters out because he had such good offspeed stuff. He topped out in 2023 at 94, and the secondaries are still there, while he keeps adding and tinkering with his arsenal, throwing a true screwball (which already makes me a fan), a plus changeup, a curve, a slider, and now a cutter as well. He’s very athletic and fiercely competitive, fielding his position extremely well, and now that he’s got a big-league fastball it’s a lot easier to see him staying in the rotation. He doesn’t walk guys because he’s aggressive when he gets to 3-ball counts, but it’s 45 control right now as he gets a lot of chases on the secondaries. He dominated High A and moved up to Double-A Amarillo — an extreme hitter’s park — midseason, becoming homer-prone at home (6 HRA in 34 2/3 innings) but not on the road (1 HRA in 26 1/3 innings). Lin is going to face a lot of bias because he’s small (listed at 5-11, 160, but height don’t measure heart … or changeups) and because he’s from Taiwan, which so far has produced only two successful MLB starters, Chien-Ming Wang and Wei-Yin Chen. Neither of those is a real issue here — he’s got the weapons, the poise, the competitiveness, and the athleticism to start, and if he holds this stuff while improving his command and control, he has mid-rotation potential.


93. Sal Stewart
3B - CINCINNATI REDS
Age: 20
Ht: 6-3
Wt: 215
Bats: R
Throws: R

2023 Ranking: Unranked

Stewart was one of only two teenagers to walk more than he struck out in full-season ball last year — the other, Pittsburgh’s Jesus Castillo, slugged .251 on the season. Stewart was the Reds’ second pick, 32nd in the 2022 draft, a polished high school first baseman who needed to get stronger for more in-game power. The Reds moved him to third base, where the results have been passable, enough to think he can be a 45 defender there, although his value is still going to reside in his bat. He’s got real plate discipline, picking up balls/strikes as well as recognizing pitch types, and he’s hitting the ball harder already, topping 106 mph in the Florida State League with five of his 12 homers on the season going to the opposite field. He’s very selective, even when ahead in the count, hunting specifically for stuff middle-up he can drive, and he can get away with that because he so rarely whiffs with two strikes. If Stewart keeps getting stronger, and perhaps tries to pull a few more pitches, he’ll be an easy 20-homer guy with high OBPs, which makes him a solid regular at first and a borderline star if he can just stay at third base.

2023 GM Totals: 1780 W - 1460 L | 0.549 wpct | 89-73 (avg 162 G record)
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Re: Orioles Prospect Report - January/ February 2024

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From the FanGraphs 2024 Top 100 Prospects:

6. James Wood, OF (Was)
21. Carson Williams, SS (TB)
24. Heston Kjerstad, OF (Bal)
38. Leodalis De Vries, SS (SD)
45. Joey Ortiz, SS (Mil)
101. Daniel Espino, SP (Cle)

2023 GM Totals: 1780 W - 1460 L | 0.549 wpct | 89-73 (avg 162 G record)
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Re: Orioles Prospect Report - January/ February 2024

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From Keith Law's Top 20 Prospects by Team on The Athletic:

9. David McCabe, 3B/1B
Bats: B | Throws: R | Height: 6-3 | Weight: 230 | Seasonal age in 2024: 24

The Big Maple can hit, and really should have been challenged with tougher assignments, as he was 23 last year in A-ball and managed a .386 OBP on the season, followed by a .448 OBP showing in the AFL. He’s playing third base now but it would be a miracle if he can play anywhere but first. It’s hard contact from both sides but not exactly over-the-fence power, and I don’t think he barrels the ball up quite enough to project to get to 25+ homers. His path to becoming a regular is to keep the average/OBP up against better pitching, although it’s most likely given his defensive limitations that he’ll be a bench bat.


4. Heston Kjerstad, OF (2024 top 100 ranking: 62)
Bats: L | Throws: R | Height: 6-3 | Weight: 205 | Seasonal age in 2024: 25

Kjerstad reached the majors last year in just his second pro season, and I don’t think enough attention has been paid to how tough a road he had from draft day to the big leagues. Kjerstad developed myocarditis after a bout with COVID-19 in 2020, missing all of 2021 while recovering from the condition, and when he returned in 2022 he looked rusty and had trouble catching up to good velocity — nothing like the player he was at Arkansas in 2019-20. Last year, he was all the way back and then some, making consistent hard contact and more of it than before; when the O’s picked him second overall in 2020, his high strikeout rates against SEC pitching stood out as a red flag, but last year he showed the best two-strike approach of his career and kept his season strikeout rate under 20 percent until he reached the majors.

There’s still more chase than you’d like to see in a corner outfielder whose value is mostly in the bat, and lefties are going to attack him with spin until he shows he can lay off it. Because he hits the ball so hard, so often, I think he can be an above-average hitter even if his strikeout rate drifts north of 25 percent, probably getting to 20-25 homers a year and a high BABIP as well. And maybe then I’ll stop joking about how his name sounds like the lead singer of a melodic death metal band or a storage unit you’d buy at IKEA.


19. Luis Almeyda, SS/3B
Bats: R | Throws: R | Height: 6-2 | Weight: 180 | Seasonal age in 2024: 18

Signed in January 2023 for a franchise-record (for an international free agent) $2.3 million bonus, Almeyda had a brief debut in the Dominican Summer League last summer but was banged up and had just 69 unproductive PA before he underwent season-ending left shoulder surgery in August. He was born in New Jersey but moved to the Dominican Republic at age 15, giving him more game experience than is typical for international free agents, and he projects to plus power, with a very strong swing already that’s got the right finish for big power to the pull side. He’s a shortstop now but likely to move to third base as he fills out, with plenty of arm strength for the hot corner.


17. Peyton Pallette, RHP
Bats: R | Throws: R | Height: 6-1 | Weight: 180 | Seasonal age in 2024: 23

The Sox took a chance on Pallette in the second round in 2022 after the Arkansas righty had missed the spring following Tommy John surgery, but the first year back was a mixed bag. His velocity mostly returned, but his breaking ball wasn’t as sharp, and scouts came back saying his changeup was ahead of the curve. As with McDougal, the second year back should tell us more, although Pallette is older and I was hoping for either a little more stuff or just better results, as he walked 13 percent of batters he faced in Low A and struck out just 24 percent, even while averaging under four innings a start.


2. Cam Collier, 3B (2024 top 100 ranking: 50)
Bats: L | Throws: R | Height: 6-2 | Weight: 210 | Seasonal age in 2024: 19

Collier was the 18th overall pick in the 2022 draft out of Chipola College, where he’d played as a 17-year-old after graduating early from high school and moving to the junior college to enter the draft a year sooner. The son of former big leaguer Lou Collier, Cam is already pushing 6-3 and past his listed 210 pounds, enough that he’ll probably have to work on conditioning now rather than gaining strength so he can stay at third base. He’s a bat-first guy and projects to hit for average and power, showing good feel for the strike zone despite his youth and very rarely missing on pitches in the zone last year (with the caveat that the Florida State League has the ABS in place). After a slow start as one of the youngest players anywhere in full-season ball, Collier picked it up in the second half, hitting .290/.389/.395 with plenty of hard contact, topping out over 110 mph.

He’s younger than five of the 11 high school position players taken in the first 30 picks of the 2023 draft, yet already has a full year of pro ball experience. He can still cut through the ball too often, hitting it on the ground way more than he should last year (53 percent in Low A) as he’d make contact on some pitches he should let go by, and has to avoid getting any bigger so he doesn’t end up moving to the outfield. He makes more than enough hard contact to project 25+ homers and strong batting averages as long as he continues to make adjustments as he faces better pitching up the ladder.


5. Sal Stewart, 3B (2024 top 100 ranking: 93)
Bats: R | Throws: R | Height: 6-3 | Weight: 215 | Seasonal age in 2024: 20

Stewart was one of only two teenagers to walk more than he struck out in full-season ball last year — and the other, Pittsburgh’s Jesus Castillo, slugged .251 on the season. Stewart was the Reds’ second pick, 32nd overall, in the 2022 draft, a polished high school first baseman who needed to get stronger for more in-game power. The Reds moved him to third base, where the results have been passable, enough to think he can be a 45 defender there, although his value is still going to reside in his bat. He’s got real plate discipline, picking up balls/strikes as well as recognizing pitch types, and he’s hitting the ball harder already, topping 106 mph in the Florida State League with five of his 12 homers on the season going to the opposite field. He’s very selective, even when ahead in the count, hunting specifically for stuff middle-up he can drive, and he can get away with that because he so rarely whiffs with two strikes. If Stewart keeps getting stronger, and perhaps tries to pull a few more pitches, he’ll be an easy 20-homer guy with high OBPs, which makes him a solid regular at first and a borderline star if he can just stay at third base.


19. Alfredo Duno, C
Bats: R | Throws: R | Height: 6-2 | Weight: 210 | Seasonal age in 2024: 18

The Reds signed Duno for $3.1 million in January 2023, and the Venezuelan catcher hit .303/.451/.493 in the DSL, with a 19.4 percent walk rate and 21 percent strikeout rate, a very solid debut for a backstop. He’s very strong with a mature body for 17, swinging very hard with inconsistent mechanics that often include a leak over his front side, with the potential for a lot more swing and miss when he faces better pitching in the US. He’s a promising catcher with soft hands and a great build for the position and plenty of arm.


5. José Tena, SS
Height: 5-11 | Weight: 195 | Bats: L | Throws: R | Seasonal age in 2024: 23

I’m not sure why some teams or coaches are teaching guys this heel-up swing, but Tena tried it early in the year and it killed him; when he brought the heel partway back down and kept his front leg more upright while also getting his hands in lower and better position to hit, he took off, hitting .344/.415/.550 from July 1 until he was called up to the majors in September. He’s a no-doubt shortstop and has shown a good enough approach over the course of his career to believe he’ll get pitches to drive. I hope the plan for him this year is to leave him alone and let him have some extended success in Triple A.


9. Daniel Espino, RHP
Height: 6-2 | Weight: 225 | Bats: R | Throws: R | Seasonal age in 2024: 23

Espino hasn’t pitched since April 2022 due to first a knee issue and then, much more concerning, a shoulder issue that required surgery after that season and took him out for all of 2023. For a month in 2022, he was the best pitching prospect in baseball, but I have no idea if that guy is coming back — or when, really. Maybe he’ll be up to 100 mph again with command and out pitches, but the odds of that seem very low, and I’d bet if he comes back it’ll be in relief.


4. Victor Mesa, Jr., OF
Bats: L | Throws: L | Height: 6-0 | Weight: 195 | Seasonal age in 2024: 22

Mesa is a plus defender in center and a plus runner with 55 power, with the latter increasing in both raw and game power — he went from five homers in 2022 to 18 in 2023, even with a promotion to Double A. His approach needs work, as he chases too often and doesn’t pick up spin as well as he needs to. His swing works well for contact and power if he can make even modest improvements to his plate discipline and pitch recognition, and he has the foundation of centerfield defense to carry him to the majors. He has everyday ceiling, with fourth-outfielder floor, and is still just 22 this year with time to make those adjustments.


13. Yiddi Cappe, 2B
Bats: R | Throws: R | Height: 6-3 | Weight: 185 | Seasonal age in 2024: 21

Cappe can hit a fastball, even a good one, but he chases way too often and doesn’t pick up spin yet, which is how he ended up with a .250 OBP in Low A, walking just 18 times in 536 PA. He’s a solid defender at second who can back up at shortstop and should be able to handle third. He was just 20 in High A and even with all of his chase and whiff he put the ball in play more than 80 percent of the time, so he could end up hitting for some average even with a near-fatal walk rate. It’s probably a utility ceiling in the end.


16. Fabian Lopez, SS
Bats: B | Throws: R | Height: 6-0 | Weight: 165 | Seasonal age in 2024: 18

Lopez can really play shortstop, maybe the best in the organization on defense, and he’s a true switch-hitter with a pretty left-handed swing, but the bat right now is light and he’ll have to both get stronger and boost his pitch recognition as he comes to the US this year.


4. Joey Ortiz, SS (2024 top 100 ranking: 58)
Bats: R | Throws: R | Height: 5-9 | Weight: 190 | Seasonal age in 2024: 25

Before he was traded to the Brewers in the Corbin Burnes deal, I wrote that Ortiz should be someone’s starting shortstop now, but he has the misfortune to play in an organization that has shortstops coming out of its ears — which should make him a very valuable player for hot stove purposes, as he can step into a big-league role right away. He’s a plus defender at short with a strong and accurate arm, while he remade his swing and his body during the pandemic, returning much stronger and with a swing that drives the ball effectively to the gaps and gives him a chance for 15-20 homers a year. His exit velocity peaked around 115 mph in Triple A last year, and he makes contact at consistently high rates, under 20 percent strikeout rates everywhere he’s played except for his 34 scattered PA in the majors. A .280/.340/.450-ish hitter who adds 5 or so runs of value on defense is a pretty valuable player, I think, and while there’s no further ceiling or projection here, that ought to be enough to get him a starting job.


9. Jack Perkins, RHP
Height: 6-1 | Weight: 220 | Bats: R | Throws: R | Seasonal age in 2024: 24

Perkins was a mess in his one year at Indiana, walking 47 in 83 innings, hitting 21 more and throwing 12 wild pitches, but the A’s bet on his stuff and their ability to work with his delivery, taking him in the fifth round in 2022. He reached Double A last year, hitting 95-96 mph with a 55 slurve that has some power to it. He’s always had a short arm action but the A’s have shortened it up even a little more, giving him much better command and control in pro ball than he had in college. His changeup might end up a 55 as well but he barely uses it, and he has a short but sharp cutter as well that might end up something if he works on it. He holds his velo deep into starts and through the season, although in Double A, hitters hit him a good bit harder than they did in High A. His second run in Double A will tell us a lot; it’s a starter package, though, if he can miss more barrels.


6. Gabriel Rincones Jr., OF
Height: 6-3 | Weight: 225 | Bats: L | Throws: R | Seasonal age in 2024: 23

Rincones started the year in Low-A Clearwater after experiencing some shoulder discomfort late in 2022, but the Phillies’ 2022 third-round pick did what he was supposed to do there and moved up to High A in June, where his performance was underwhelming. He does make very hard contact, peaking in the 110 mphs last year, and can hit a fastball, but breaking stuff gave him some trouble at High A and he hit just .238/.326/.416 at the higher level. He’s better than that, I think, and so do some scouts — it’s plus raw power, he’s a 70 baserunner despite just fringy speed, he has good instincts on defense, and he doesn’t chase that much out of the zone. He does have to make an adjustment at the plate, but I don’t think it’s a massive one. If he goes to homer-friendly Double-A Reading this year, he should hit 25-30 homers, although his strikeouts (and pitch data) will tell us whether he’s really taken that step forward.


12. Griff McGarry, RHP
Height: 6-2 | Weight: 190 | Bats: R | Throws: R | Seasonal age in 2024: 25

McGarry completely lost the strike zone last year, struggling through Double A and ending the year with 11 walks in 1 2/3 innings in two Triple-A outings. His arm action started to get longer and he had more and more trouble repeating it, so while he’d flash the 2023 version — he had a seven-inning, no-walk, 10-strikeout outing in July — he never got right before the season ended. He had control issues at Virginia and worked out of the Cavs’ bullpen in his draft year, so a move to relief has always been likely, but this was a surprising step back. He’s still 94-97 mph with a plus slider and four-pitch mix; out of the bullpen he will probably hit 100 and he could lean on the slider more for chases.


9. Sem Robberse, RHP
Bats: R | Throws: R | Height: 6-1 | Weight: 185 | Seasonal age in 2024: 22

Robberse was born and raised in the Netherlands, signing with the Blue Jays at age 16. Toronto traded him to St. Louis last July for Jordan Hicks, and he reached Triple A at age 22. He’s very athletic with an excellent delivery and showed average or better control until he got to the Cardinals and moved up to Triple-A Memphis. He’s got weapons, with a hard slider from 84-90 mph that’s probably his best pitch, a two-plane curveball, and a changeup that’s almost like a two-seamer up to 90. Unfortunately, his four-seamer is really light, 90-94 without much life, and the pitch gets hit hard — 13 of the 20 homers he allowed were on the fastball, and hitters slugged about .600 off it. He’s still got some projection left, and adding velocity is one of the easier things to do with pitchers at this point; that may be the one thing between him and a rotation spot in the majors.


2. Carson Williams, SS (2024 top 100 ranking: 38)
Bats: R | Throws: R | Height: 6-1 | Weight: 180 | Seasonal age in 2024: 21

Williams was Tampa’s first-round pick in 2021, but at the time there were questions about multiple aspects of his game, including his power and even his running. He’s improved in just about every way since then, changing his gait to become a plus runner, building strength to hit 42 homers over the last two years, and developing into an easy plus defender at shortstop. What he does not do, however, is make enough contact, with a 31.4 percent strikeout rate during the regular season in 2023 and then a 36.5 percent rate in the hitter-friendly (and pitching-starved) Arizona Fall League.

It’s a pitch recognition issue, as he really struggles against offspeed stuff even in the zone, yet doesn’t chase pitches all that often. When he makes contact, it’s generally high quality, so he doesn’t have to make a huge adjustment here to become a star, just to better distinguish non-fastballs — and perhaps to stop swinging so hard at them. If he played on the other end of the defensive spectrum, he wouldn’t be on the top 100. As it is, though, he’s got four tools that are 6s or better, and if the hit tool just gets to 45, he’s going to be a very good big leaguer.


17. Yeison Morrobel, OF
Height: 6-2 | Weight: 170 | Bats: L | Throws: L | Seasonal age in 2024: 20

Morrobel’s advanced approach was evident in his month in Low A, as he walked 22 times against 34 strikeouts in 151 plate appearances and posted a .384 OBP, but he injured his shoulder and underwent surgery on his labrum, so that’s all he played. From what he’s shown so far, he’s a good hitter with that approach and good feel for the barrel, probably not projecting to much more than average power and with some concern that his swing gets grooved when he tries too hard to pull the ball. He has some projection left to get to maybe 15-ish homers, so his chance to be a regular in an outfield corner is to hit for average with a high OBP. He should be healthy for spring training.


8. Brandon Barriera, LHP
Bats: L | Throws: L | Height: 6-2 | Weight: 180 | Seasonal age in 2024: 20

Barriera showed up to spring training very out of shape last year — I had one scout guess he’d put on 50 pounds or more between the 2022 draft and March 2023 — and then had soreness in his shoulder and elbow, so the Jays’ 2022 first-round pick had about as bad a first full season as you can have. He threw just 20 innings and his velocity was down when he did get on the mound. He’s lost a lot of weight this offseason and seems to be regaining some of the arm strength, so there’s some cause for hope heading into spring training. He can really spin two breaking balls and showed a plus changeup in high school. I wrote last year that “if (Barriera) stays healthy this year, he’ll almost certainly be on the top 100 a year from now.” Yeah, well, high school pitchers, man.


2. James Wood, OF (2024 top 100 ranking: 19)
Bats: L | Throws: R | Height: 6-6 | Weight: 240 | Seasonal age in 2024: 21

Wood has turned out to be the jewel in the trade that sent Juan Soto to San Diego. Wood has shown several elite tools already and reached Double A last year at age 20, but also carries some real risks related primarily to the strike zone. Wood is an outstanding athlete with 70 speed and 80 raw power, and if anything he’s improved his conditioning in pro ball to get even more out of his physical gifts. He can play plus defense in center and I’ve gotten occasional run times from him that grade out at 80. He started last year in High-A Wilmington, generally a tough place for power, and hit .293/.392/.580; his eight homers in 42 games ended up second on the team for the season. When the Nats bumped him to Double-A Harrisburg, which is a better home run park, the power stayed but the sheer size of his strike zone and some of his pitch recognition led to a big jump in his strikeout rate, from 27 percent to 34 percent, with fastballs up and sliders in the lower third both becoming issues for him.

He’s every bit of 6-6, maybe even 6-7 at this point, and between his height and how hard he swings, he’s going to have some whiff; the challenge for him and the Nats will be cutting it down to a manageable level so he hits enough to get to that 40-homer power and isn’t an OBP liability. My guess is there isn’t much middle ground here; the ceiling is that middle-of-the-order offense in a plus right fielder or 50/55 center fielder, while the floor is another guy who can’t cut his K rate below 30 percent and bounces around for years as teams hope to catch lightning in a tall bottle.

2023 GM Totals: 1780 W - 1460 L | 0.549 wpct | 89-73 (avg 162 G record)
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Re: Orioles Prospect Report - January/ February 2024

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From Keith Law's Top 20 Prospects by Team on The Athletic:


5. Yu-Min Lin, LHP (2024 top 100 ranking: 83)
Bats: L | Throws: L | Height: 5-11 | Weight: 160 | Seasonal age in 2024: 20

Lin barely cracked my top 20 Diamondbacks prospects last year, as he wasn’t throwing that hard (around 89-90 mph) and got inexperienced hitters out because he had such good offspeed stuff. He topped out in 2023 at 94, and the secondaries are still there, while he keeps adding and tinkering with his arsenal, throwing a true screwball (which already makes me a fan), a plus changeup, a curve, a slider, and now a cutter as well. He’s very athletic and fiercely competitive, fielding his position extremely well, and now that he’s got a big-league fastball it’s a lot easier to see him staying in the rotation. He doesn’t walk guys because he’s aggressive when he gets to 3-ball counts, but it’s 45 control right now as he gets a lot of chases on the secondaries. He dominated High A and moved up to Double-A Amarillo — an extreme hitter’s park — midseason, becoming homer-prone at home (6 HRA in 34 2/3 innings) but not on the road (1 HRA in 26 1/3 innings). Lin is going to face a lot of bias because he’s small (listed at 5-11, 160, but height don’t measure heart … or changeups) and because he’s from Taiwan, which so far has produced only two successful MLB starters, Chien-Ming Wang and Wei-Yin Chen. Neither of those is a real issue here — he’s got the weapons, the poise, the competitiveness and the athleticism to start, and if he holds this stuff while improving his command and control, he has mid-rotation potential.


12. Warming Bernabel, 3B
Bats: R | Throws: R | Height: 6-1 | Weight: 180 | Seasonal age in 2024: 22

Bernabel was my No. 100 prospect going into 2023 but his year was a disaster. He moved up to Double A, hit .225/.270/.338, and missed a month with a scapula injury. He suffered a concussion in August 2022 when a pitcher on the opposing team ran out of the dugout while Bernabel was standing there to try to catch a foul pop-up; the two collided and Bernabel really hasn’t been the same player since. Before that, he’d shown excellent hand-eye coordination with 55 power and the ability to catch up to good fastballs, needing work on pitch recognition and chasing a little more than you’d like. He’s in this spot because I’m hoping that he just needs more time to recover from the concussion to get back to where he was before the collision, a potential above-average regular at third who hit for average with a bunch of doubles and played solid-average defense.


4. Robby Snelling, LHP (2024 top 100 ranking: 72)
Bats: R | Throws: L | Height: 6-3 | Weight: 210 | Seasonal age in 2024: 20

Snelling was the 39th-overall pick in the 2022 draft, a pitcher-quarterback-linebacker who enticed scouts with his size, athleticism, and arm strength. He made his full-season debut last year and showed superb control at Low A and High A before a late promotion to Double A, where he walked more guys but remained hard to hit. He’s a very strong, physical kid, not overly muscled up although he’ll have to work to remain that way, working 92-96 mph most of the time with a 55 slider and 55 changeup, but nothing clearly plus right now. There’s some effort to his delivery and head-jerk at release, while he can slow his arm down when he’s not throwing his fastball, something hitters will pick up sooner rather than later. He’s also barely 20 and split his time in high school between two sports, so he should have more room to grow as a pitcher than the typical second-year pitcher would. There’s reliever risk, but a No. 2 or 3 starter ceiling, with the median outcome probably more around a fourth starter who’s got some above-average years and some below-average ones.


16. Victor Lizarraga, RHP
Bats: R | Throws: R | Height: 6-3 | Weight: 180 | Seasonal age in 2024: 20

Lizarraga signed for $1 million in 2021, and the Mexican right-hander has posted two similar, solid, unspectacular years in A-ball in the last two seasons. His stuff hasn’t progressed since he signed. He’s still pitching at 90-92 mph, touching 94, with a 50 or 55 changeup and 45 breaking ball, while his fastball doesn’t have much life on it. He throws strikes with a good delivery he repeats well, and he’s still just 20, so perhaps there’s still some projection remaining. The lack of improvement in his stuff since he signed is concerning, though, and he needs something — more velocity, a new pitch — to be a back-end starter.


9. Grant McCray, OF
Bats: L | Throws: R | Height: 6-2 | Weight: 190 | Seasonal age in 2024: 23

McCray had a brutal start to 2023, hitting .149 in April with a 35 percent strikeout rate, and while he was better the rest of the way, it was a clear step back from his big 2022 season, especially in terms of contact. He’s still got huge upside on both sides of the ball, as he’s an excellent athlete who can play center field and has 25-homer potential if he hits enough for it. The Giants took a calculated risk by choosing to leave him unprotected in the Rule 5 draft, but no one selected him so he’s still in the organization.

2023 GM Totals: 1780 W - 1460 L | 0.549 wpct | 89-73 (avg 162 G record)
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Re: Orioles Prospect Report - January/ February 2024

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From MLB.com's Top power-hitting prospects -- one from each team:

Braves: David McCabe, 3B/1B

Even though he has an open stance and a leg kick, McCabe tends to be on time at the plate, helping to limit his strikeouts. He also draws walks and sees a ton of pitches, helping him to get into counts where his raw power will play from both sides of the plate. He is better left-handed, with 16 of his 17 homers coming from that side in 2023, resulting in a SLG more than 120 points higher than his right-handed line.

Nationals: James Wood, OF (MLB No. 14)

Wood has yet to slug below .500 in any Minor League season, and in some ways, he’s just getting to his easy plus-plus power. The left-handed slugger’s 26 homers more than doubled his previous career high of 12, and those 26 ranked second-most among Minor Leaguers aged 20 or younger even though he played part of the year in pitcher-friendly Wilmington. Wood’s size at 6-foot-6 creates room for all that pop, and while his strikeouts were concerning in 2023, he still has superstar potential because of his loudest tool.

2023 GM Totals: 1780 W - 1460 L | 0.549 wpct | 89-73 (avg 162 G record)
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Re: Orioles Prospect Report - January/ February 2024

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From BA's San Diego Padres Top 30 Prospects:


6. Leodalis De Vries SS

Ht: 6'2" | Wt: 183 | B-T: S-R

Age: null

BA Grade: 60/Extreme

Track Record: De Vries was the most talented prospect in the 2024 international class. When the signing period opened on Jan. 15, 2024, the Padres signed him for $4.2 million, the highest bonus for a Dominican prospect that year and second in the class behind only Braves shortstop Jose Perdomo ($5 million).

Scouting Report: De Vries is a polished hitter for 17, with significant game experience and a knack for consistently getting on base. He uses his hands well at the plate with a compact, adjustable swing that has good path through the hitting zone and enables him to cover the plate well with a low swing-and-miss rate. It’s a mature offensive approach for his age, with the ability to slow the game down at the plate, comfort using the opposite field with backspin or turning on pitches on the inner third. It’s a good mix of high contact and impact, with De Vries showing the bat speed and loft to drive the ball out of the park in games with potential above-average power. De Vries generates plenty of attention for his offensive game, but his hand-eye coordination and heady, instinctive play are evident at shortstop as well. He’s a tick above-average runner who has the hands and actions for shortstop, along with an average arm that has a chance to tick up. Some scouts think De Vries could end up at second or third base, with the offensive upside to develop into an impact player at those spots as well, but he should continue to develop at shortstop and has the athleticism that could allow him to stick there long term.

The Future: De Vries is advanced enough that he could come to Arizona for spring training with a chance to debut in the Rookie-level Arizona Complex League. If he’s hitting well during extended spring training, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Padres be even more aggressive with him after the way they pushed catcher Ethan Salas a year ago.

Scouting Grades Hit: 60 | Power: 50 | Run: 55 | Field: 50 | Arm: 50


From BA's Cleveland Guardians Top 30 Prospects:


10. Alexander Clemmey LHP

Ht: 6'6" | Wt: 205 | B-T: L-L

Age: 18

BA Grade: 55/Extreme

Track Record: Clemmey had a sensational high school career at Bishop Hendricken--the alma mater of Rocco Baldelli--and in 2023 was named Gatorade Rhode Island Player of the Year. The Guardians drafted him in the second round--58th overall--and Clemmey became the highest selected player from the Rhode Island prep ranks since 2004, when the Twins drafted righthander Jay Rainville at No. 39 overall. It was also the earliest the Guardians have drafted a high school pitcher since taking Daniel Espino 24th overall in 2019. Cleveland went well above slot to sign Clemmey for $2.3 million to buy him out of a Vanderbilt commitment. He did not pitch after signing.

Scouting Report: Listed at 6-foot-6, 205 pounds, Clemmey has a big, projectable build and high-octane stuff from the left side. His fastball gets up to 98 mph with riding life and typically sits in the mid 90s. Clemmey throws a sharp curveball that at its best is a plus offering and generates swings and misses. He mostly attacks hitters with his fastball and curveball, but he also can mix in a changeup with sinking action. Like most tall, hard-throwing teenagers, Clemmey is still working on his control. His delivery is aggressive and effortful, and he’ll need to learn how to more consistently repeat it to allow him to throw more strikes, because he has a history of higher walk rates. That gives him a high-risk, high-reward profile, but it’s easy to dream on his upside.

The Future: Clemmey will make his professional debut in 2024 with Low-A Lynchburg. He was one of the younger players in the draft class and won’t turn 19 until July, so the Guardians are likely to take a conservative approach with Clemmey, at least initially.

Scouting Grades Fastball: 70 | Curveball: 60 | Changeup: 40 | Control: 40

2023 GM Totals: 1780 W - 1460 L | 0.549 wpct | 89-73 (avg 162 G record)
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