The Orioles rebuild has begun but, so far, the prospect returns have been fairly underwhelming. The system still needs a lot of work but there are at least a few interesting prospects.
1. Grayson Rodriguez | RHP | R —> Rodriguez was a huge pop-up guy in the 2018 draft and ended up being selected 11th overall. He’s a monster on the mound with the ability to hit the upper 90s but he should eventually grow into more consistent upper 90s. His slider also has the makings of a plus offering and he should be average ratings out of his curve and/or changeup. Rodriguez, 18, has the body to be an innings-eater and the stuff to be a front-line guy. On the downside, he doesn’t have the most athletic delivery and I don’t love the arm action, which could limit his overall command.
2. Ryan Mountcastle | 3B | AA —> It’s been a slow climb for Mountcastle, as a former prep pick, but showed well in double-A in 2018 and could be ready for the Majors at some point in 2019. He’s shown the ability to hit for average and has 15-20 homer potential (more if he added additional muscle to his frame) but he needs to be less aggressive at the plate. He walked just 26 times in 102 games and waiting for better pitches to hit could really help him continue to improve and let him tap into his raw power. He also struggles against the bender.
3. Yusniel Diaz | OF | AA —> Diaz is an athletic, toolsy player with the potential to impact the game with his defence and strong arm. He has good speed but is not much of a base stealer and his power is just modest. He shows a very mature eye at the plate and had a great BB-K of 59-67 in double-A. I see him being a spark-plug in the lineup who might score a lot of runs but not someone who is going to be a run producer.
4. Dillon Tate | RHP | AA —> Tate, 24, is a bit of an enigma. His stuff hasn’t been as good in pro ball after leaving college but he has a nice, athletic delivery with long arms and legs that deliver a little deception. Unfortunately, he lacks command of his offerings and doesn’t get the big strikeout numbers that he should given the mid-90s heat and above-average potential for his two secondary offerings. He does induce a lot of ground-ball outs so that should help him in the AL East. If he can miss more bats, Tate has No. 3 starter potential.
5. D.L. Hall | LHP | A —> Baltimore has a relatively poor track record of developing young pitchers (and keeping them healthy) but Hall had an encouraging first full year in pro ball. He struggled with his control but showed swing-and-miss stuff while striking out 100 batters in 94.1 innings. He breaks off some really nice curveballs at times and shows enough velocity (up to 95 mp) to keep hitters honest. I don’t know that he has a ton of projection so I see mid-rotation starter potential.
6. Luis Ortiz | RHP | RHP | AAA —> Ortiz produced some good numbers in 2018 at the minor league level but got lit up in The Show due to poor command. His control is rather good but he throws too many meatballs at times. I’m not a huge Ortiz fan and see No. 4 starter here but, if he stays on top of his weight, he might squeak out more No. 3 starter production. He has a good fastball that can work in the mid-90s and his second-best offering is his slider. He needs a reliable third offering and uses both a curveball and a changeup to round out his repertoire.
7. Dean Kremer | RHP | AA —> The O’s didn’t really get a great package of players for Manny Machado but Kremer could be a real sleeper in that deal. He has a fastball that can work into the 95-97 mph range and a potentially-plus breaking ball. In total, he offerings four pitches but might be better off focusing on three. I’ve also noticed that he changes his motion a bit when he throws the curveball. I see mid-rotation potential but doesn’t have the cleanest arm action so he could end up in the bullpen.
8. Keegan Akin | LHP | AA —> A former second round pick, Akin has moved steadily through the O’s system and could be ready to reach The Show in 2019. He’s not a tall guy but does have some girth to him so he’ll have to watch his conditioning as he ages. He’s racked up some Ks in the minors but will likely be more of a pitch-to-contact guy in the Majors unless he gets a little more from his slider and a lot more from the change. He’s also an extreme-fly-ball guy, which limits his ceiling as an AL East hurler. I see back-end innings-eater here.
9. Cody Carroll | RHP | AAA —> Carroll is all power. The reliever made his MLB debut in 2018 and showed that there is still work to be done. He has a triple-digit fastball and slider that flashes plus potential but both his command and control need a lot of work before he can be trusted with regular high-leverage innings.
10. Austin Hays | OF | AA —> Hays came out of nowhere in 2017 to have a great season and reach the Majors but he crashed back to earth in 2018 and spent the year in double-A with disappointing results. Hays has the defensive skills to be a fourth outfielder but he needs to make some adjustments at the plate to be an everyday guy. He’s far too aggressive for his own good (although he doesn’t strike out an obscene amount). He makes contact with too many pitcher’s pitches and needs to wait back for something to drive.
Zac Lowther | LHP | A+ —> Strong-bodied and left-handed, Lowther has a chance to be a back-end innings eater for the Orioles. My bet, though, is that he uses his average heater and potentially-plus curve to succeed as a middle reliever or LOOGY. I’d like to see him work down in the zone more and generate more ground-ball outs.
Adam Hall | SS | SS —> Hall doesn’t possess a huge ceiling despite going 60th overall in the 2017 draft. The 19-year-old Canadian (from my hometown) has a lot of baseball development to catch up on after growing up in a hockey-crazed, cold-weather region. He has some useful skills and could be an above-average defensive infielder with good speed. The development of his bat will determine if he has a shot at being a big league regular or just a back-up.
Jean Carlos Encarnacion | 3B | A —> While his approach at the plate is down right scary at times (BB-K of 16-134), Encarnacion oozes (extremely) raw potential that is hard to find in the O’s system. If he can learn to wait for better pitches to hit and start tapping more consistently into his raw power potential the club might have something here.
Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospects and fantasy. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.