The last few months have been interesting for the Orioles on the field, and not just at the major league level.
The Orioles have lost valuable development time in the minor leagues for some of their top prospects due to the COVID-19 pandemic changing all aspects of the 2020 season. They've been forced to send a handful of their top prospects to the team’s alternate site at Double-A Bowie.
But who will debut this season, and when, are still up for debate.
The Orioles' top 10 prospects according to MLB Pipeline are: catcher Adley Rutschman, pitcher Grayson Rodriguez, outfielder Heston Kjerstad, pitcher DL Hall, first baseman/outfielder Ryan Mountcastle, shortstop Gunnar Henderson, shortstop Jordan Westburg, outfielder Yusniel Diaz, pitcher Micahel Baumann and pitcher Dean Kremer.
Rutschman, Rodriguez, Hall, Mountcastle, Henderson, Diaz, Baumann and Kremer are all at the team's alternate site, meaning only the 2020 draft choices (Kjerstad and Westburg) aren’t in Bowie right now.
That list doesn’t include mid-level prospects like Ryan McKenna, but for the franchise's top prospects, how likely is it that each debuts in 2020?
Adley Rutschman: Likely not
Rutschman is the team’s top prospect, but don’t expect him to play at the major league level this year. If it happens, it will be a surprise.
Earlier in the offseason, general manager Mike Elias said if the team is in a playoff chase at the end of the season, they would do whatever they could to increase their chances to make the playoffs. While that might include promoting Rutschman, it’s important to note he’s played just half a summer of professional baseball.
He hasn't had much development, and that has understandably set him back.
Ryan Mountcastle, Michael Baumann, Dean Kremer: Probably
These three deserve their own section together, since they’re the most pro-ready of the team’s top 10 prospects.
Fans have been clamoring for Mountcastle over the last few weeks, something that will only increase the longer he’s kept in Bowie. While Kremer and Baumann are certainly next in line, the organization won’t rush any of these players.
The organization is keeping a long-term mindset as it relates to current and future success of the franchise, so while that might include seeing major league hitting and pitching, the Orioles clearly value development time with their own coaches in Bowie.
For now, it’s safe to assume that at least two of these players reach the Orioles this season — but don’t be surprised if the Orioles play it a bit safer, meaning they could be down longer than some might think.
DL Hall, Grayson Rodriguez, Yusniel Diaz: Almost certainly not
Diaz is an interesting case, as he was the premier prospect from the Manny Machado trade and is still on the organization’s top prospects list. He’s also never played at Triple-A, nor has Hall or Rodriguez — both of whom haven’t even pitched at Double-A.
Again, it’s safe to assume that all are there strictly for development purposes, so while they’re more advanced than some prospects, they still have not even competed at the highest levels of minor league baseball.
Even with a full minor league season in 2020, it’s not likely any of these three would’ve been on the roster this year.
Gunnar Henderson: Absolutely not
This is the most cut and dry case on the Orioles this year. Henderson won’t be a major leaguer in 2020, nor for a handful of years.
He’s strictly there as a development player, which shouldn’t be a surprise. A second-round pick out of high school from a year ago, he’s still got to rise through the minor leagues.
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