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Three Orioles prospects ranked in Baseball America's Top 50 prospects

Three Orioles prospects ranked in Baseball America's Top 50 prospects

Three Baltimore Orioles prospects placed in the Top-50 of Baseball America's 2020 Top 100 Prospects list: Adley Rutschman, Grayson Rodriguez and D.L. Hall. 

The first overall pick in the 2019 MLB Draft, catcher Adley Rutschman placed the highest at the No. 5 ranking. All four players who ranked above Rutschman, including the Ray's Wanter Franco and the White sox's Luis Robert, are estimated at being called up sometime during the 2020 season, while Rutschman likely won't be ready until 2022.

Rutschman was hit with a bout of mononucleosis shortly after the draft, delaying his first professional appearance. Once recovered, Rutschman worked his way to low-Single-A to finish the season with the Delmarva Shorebirds. In 37 combined games Rutschman batted .254 with four home runs and a .423 slugging percentage.

Ranked No. 35 is right-hander Grayson Rodriguez,  who has command on his 93 mph fastball, but his secondary pitches have room to improve. After he was drafted in the first round of the 2018 MLB Draft, Rodriguez moved up to low-Single-A Delmarva at the start of the 2019 season. There, he tossed a 2.68 ERA and held batters to a .171 average in 20 starts (94 innings pitched). He also recorded 129 strikeouts.

Finally, the third Orioles prospect to make the top-50 is left-hander D.L. Hall, coming in at No. 47. Hall's control is lacking, but his fastball averages 95 mph and his curveball has developed over the past year. Drafted in the first round in 2017, Hall has thrown a combined 2.96 ERA in three seasons with the Baltimore organization, including last season with the high-Single-A Frederick Keys.

With the Keys, Hall posted a 3.46 ERA in 19 appearances (17 starts), striking out 116 and holding opponents to a .189 average. He also, however, averaged six walks-per-nine innings with Frederick, proof his control has room to grow. 

The Orioles announced Tuesday that Rutschman is formally invited to Spring Training. Catchers and pitchers report to Baltimore's major-league spring training on Feb. 11.

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Rob Manfred is optimistic about future of the Orioles

Rob Manfred is optimistic about future of the Orioles

Amidst a myriad of questions about the Houston Astros and their cheating scandal, Rob Manfred also answered a question about the future of the Orioles on, and off, the field. 

The Orioles have won just 101 combined games over the last two seasons and aren’t expected to compete in 2020 either. But with new executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias in the second year of a rebuild, optimism is slowly growing in Baltimore. 

That includes, as it turns out, from the commissioner of baseball.

“I have spent a considerable amount of time with the Angelos family during this offseason," Manfred said. “I think the family is committed to making baseball as good as it can possibly be in Baltimore. I think they’re excited about (executive vice president/general manager) Mike Elias and his team and their ability to make the franchise as competitive as possible, so I’m not quite as pessimistic as far as attendance in Baltimore. I think there is a good future for baseball in Baltimore."

Last season, the Orioles averaged 16,347 fans per home game, 28th out of 30 teams, ahead of only Tampa Bay and Miami. As a whole, the Orioles had 1,307,807 fans come to Camden Yards in 2019. 

In 2018, the numbers weren’t much better. The Orioles drew an average of 20,053 fans per home game — 26th in the MLB — and a total of 1,564,192 fans. 

Manfred also addressed the MASN situation, an issue he hopes both the Orioles and Nationals will be able to resolve eventually. 

“There’s a sum of money that is due and owing," he said. "There’s some legal issues surrounding those payments that need to be resolved and I’m hopeful that once those back payments get made, we’ll get into a regular process for setting rights fees for both clubs and moving forward in a more business-like way.”

For now, things in Baltimore look bleak. But there’s growing hope that greener pastures are right around the corner.

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Former Oriole Nick Markakis has rough words for Astros after cheating scandal

Former Oriole Nick Markakis has rough words for Astros after cheating scandal

Since the start of spring training, players all over Major League Baseball have given their thoughts on the Astros' cheating scandal and how commissioner Rob Manfred handled the situation. The consensus has been predominantly negative. 

Former Orioles outfielder Nick Markakis joined in Tuesday morning with some very strongly-worded comments regarding the commissioner's ruling and his feelings toward current Astros players. 

"I feel like every single guy over there needs a beating," Markakis said in a video posted by 680 The Fan. "It's wrong, they're messing with people's careers."

Markakis didn't specify what a "beating" would include, though multiple pitchers, including the Dodgers' Ross Stripling, have said publicly that they would consider throwing at Astros hitters during the season. 

"I know how hard this game is, I know how hard preparing for this game is," Markakis said. "To see something like that, it's damaging to baseball."

After the investigation concluded, the Astros were fined $5 million and were stripped of their first and second-round picks in the 2020 and 2021 draft. General manager Jeff Luhnow and manager AJ Hinch were both suspended from baseball for a year and subsequentially fired for their involvement in the scheme. No Astros player was punished. 

"I think [Astros players] got off pretty easy," he said. "They're going to be able to go out there and compete with no ramifications at all, which is wrong. I think the commissioner handled it the wrong way, but that's the way he did it and that's the way we got to live with it. But I know a lot of people disagree with him and the way he handled the situation, he should be embarrassed of himself."

Houston's new manager, Dusty Baker was informed of Markakis' comments later that day and didn't appear too concerned with what the outfielder had to say. 

However, Baker has taken the threat of pitchers throwing at his players seriously. Last week he told the Houston Chronicle he hopes "the league puts a stop to this before somebody gets hurt."

The Astros will begin their spring training slate of games with a World Series rematch with the Nationals on Saturday. 

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