For the entire minor league season, The Baltimore Sun has compiled a list of outstanding Orioles prospects from each week. The most popular names often coincided with the top 30 American baseball rankings for the Baltimore ranch system, including Gunnar Henderson and – for a brief period – Adley Rochman.
Both of these top prospects are now playing pivotal roles for the Orioles, with Henderson joining the ranks of the major league on August 31.
But there are a slew of players who have amassed equally impressive minor seasons, and they deserve a hat in The Sun’s end-of-season honors list. Triple-A Norfolk still has just over a week into its season, and High-A Aberdeen is in the midst of its first South Atlantic Championship Series.
With some minor league campaigns coming to a close, here’s a look at what impressed the Orioles’ prospects most over the course of the 2022 season.
Before Rochman arrived in Baltimore and changed the Orioles season, he had received only 84 minor league games this season. And Rutschman had a .924 OPS, sample size not large enough to be offered as an All-Star minor league.
Meanwhile, Handley put on a solid season for Double-A Bowie in which he showed a flash of power potential. Handley was selected in the sixth round of the 2019 draft, beating 11 homers and earning a 0.769 OPS. Created 114 wRC+, or additionally weighted runs, a statistic that takes into account factors such as court conditions and the bowler’s ERA, with 100 being the league average, the highest among junior league players in a league with at least 300 board appearances, And 11.7 percent of walking was the highest among the group as well.
Moderator: Cody Roberts He didn’t go as deep as Handley, but the catcher held an average of 0.271 and hit 18 with a 42 RBI. Roberts split time between Bowie and Norfolk, ending his season with nine strokes in seven games for the Tides.
Boyns spent the season with Aberdeen, making 29% of the time but running a 15.2% career average, which is good for a 0.768 OPS. Bowens joined the organization as an undrafted free agent due to shortening the 2020 draft to five rounds.
Bowens hit seven of his teammates as part of his 88-stroke career, and he ranks eighth in the Orioles farm system at wRC+ (117) among players to have appeared on at least 400 plates.
With the ability to play in a short position and third base, Westburg is a valuable useful glove with a racket that broke out in 2022, putting him in a position to press for a league debut. Westburg was selected out of Mississippi in the first round of the 2020 draft.
The 23-year-old tops the Orioles League system with 26 players, and his .862 OPS ranks fifth among the players in the Baltimore organization with at least 400 board appearances. Westburg’s 129 wRC+ ranks fifth as well, and its average has gone from .247 with Baysox to .277 with the tide.
Honorable Mention: only 19 Frederic Benchosme He rose three levels this season, from junior ball to Aberdeen by the end of the year. Across these three levels, Bencosme holds an average of 0.311 with a .793 OPS.
At the start of the season, when Westburg, Ortiz and Henderson pitched in, Westberg said Ortiz had the best glove of any of the potential three. But Ortiz has also proven himself at the plate, arriving in Norfolk by the end of the season and immediately moving up the line, with 1,075 OPS in 17 games for the Tides.
Across the Double-A and Triple-A tiers this season, Ortiz has a .829 OPS—sixth best among players to have featured at least 400 boards—with 18 home players.
Honorable Mention: Daryl Hernes, who was selected in the fifth round of the 2019 draft – one round after Ortiz – from Delmarva to Bowie this year. It holds a .779 OPS, and the 112 wRC+ ranks ninth among speculators with 400 plate appearances.
Henderson split the time between third base (48 games) and shortstop (50 games), and the Orioles even tried it out briefly at first base and second base. But his home is on the left side of the field, and he immediately established himself as a key player.
The 21-year-old’s rapid ascent from Bowie to Norfolk lifted him to number one after Rochman graduated from the rankings. Henderson hit the .297 with a 0.946 OPS between Bowie and Norfolk, with 50 extra base strokes and 22 base loot. And since his arrival with the Orioles, he’s made an instant hit.
Honorable Mention: Kobe Mayo The strength was particularly on display in Aberdeen, where he hit 14 home runs before adding five long balls in 34 games at Bowie. Mayo .782 OPS contract with 69 RBI.
Behind Westberg, their 25 Norby teammates are ranked second in the farm system. Norby plays mostly second base but has also emerged as a left-back this season. A second-round pick in 2019, Norby’s OPS rose to 0.960 during his time with Bowie.
Haskin spent the season with Baysox, scoring 0.821 OPS – seventh best farm system player among full-season affiliated players. Producer Tulane has learned to accept what some have described as a swing “strange”, and allowed Haskin to be himself on the plate. The results followed that he had 15 homers and 23 doubles.
Few players have seen a rapid rise through the juniors like Cowser this season. As a first-round pick in 2021, Kauser started in Aberdeen and ended up with Norfolk, his 141 wRC+ spot second only to Henderson. His .868 OPS is third among Minor Orioles with at least 400 plate appearances, and Cowser’s 15.5% walk rate is fifth best.
The only player with a better OPS than Cowser is Stowers, who has since risen through the ranks of MLB. In Stowers’ time with Norfolk, the 24-year-old’s 2019 second-round pick had hosted a 0.84 OPS with 19 homers and 29 doubles.
Honorable mentions: Shane Fontana He scored 898 OPS with Bowie before climbing to Norfolk at the end of this season. Heston Kjerstad, who made his professional debut this season after missing the entire 2021 season due to carditis, scored 851 OPS across the A-lows and A-highs. He will play in the Arizona Fall League.
Rodriguez’s season crashed when he struggled with a muscle strain on his right-hand side in June, delaying his expected promotion to the majors. He’s back in Norfolk after starting rehab and making two appearances with Bowie, and his last outing showed how dominant he can be: five rounds, two hits, no runs.
Among shooters with at least 50 rounds, no one in the Orioles system has a better ERA than the 2.42 for Rodriguez, and the 0.90 WHIP is also leading the way. Rodriguez is the best baseball player.
Signed as a non-certified free agent in 2019, Denoyer has established himself as a rookie and loyal Bowie this season, posting 2.61 ERAs. Rodriguez’s 0.93 WHIP trails only among shooters who have taken at least 30 rounds this season, and he’s walked only 6.1% of the hits he’s faced.
Moore joined Baltimore as part of a 2019 Trade with Minnesota Twins, the 2017 16th round pick has evolved into a steady dump for Aberdeen. Recording 10 saves as second in the farm system, he did so with a 1.36 ERA and 31.9% stroke-to-walk ratio—the best among the junior Orioles with at least 30 runs.
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Armbruester was selected in 2021 by the 12th round of New Mexico State, throwing the second most innings (117) of any junior Orioles player. He rose from Aberdeen to Bowie, holding a 3.85 ERA with a 1.07 WHIP – the latter being the fifth lowest among qualifying Oriole pitchers.
Rohm, a 2018 fourth-round pick, started 23 games this season and moved from Bowie to Norfolk, but his performance has not changed. Between both levels, he holds 4.24 ERA, 1.46 WHIP and averages 10.9 hitters per nine innings in 108 1/3 innings.
Honor mentions: right hand Ryan Watson Working at Bowie earned him a promotion to Norfolk, and he has posted a 3.55 ERA between those levels. He appeared as a Tides assistant but started 18 games for Baysox… Right-hander Peter Van Loon Hit 97 hits in 88 2/3 runs for Aberdeen…right hand Ryan Long Contains 3.10 ERA for Delmarva … Right-hander Ignatius Said He hit 135 hits for the IronBirds in 92 2/3 runs…Conor Gillespie And the Jean Pinto They each threw over 90 innings with an ERA of less than 4.00 for Aberdeen.
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