Major League Baseball’s owners may have locked out the players, triggering the league’s first work stoppage since 1994-95 and bringing the offseason to a halt, but that doesn’t mean we’re letting it derail our typical offseason plans. Indeed, CBS Sports is in the process of highlighting the top three prospects for all 30 teams.
That journey finds us today focusing on the Baltimore Orioles‘ farm system.
Do note that these lists are formed after conversations with scouts, analysts, and player development folks from around the league. There is personal bias baked in, as one would expect from subjective exercises, so some disagreement is to be expected.
Now, onto the gasbaggery.
1. Adley Rutschman, C (No. 1 on MLB top 20 list)
Rutschman, the No. 1 pick in the 2019 draft, is on the precipice of stardom. Evaluators have maintained that he would someday feature four plus or better tools (everything but the speed), as well as an excellent feel for the strike zone and field-general qualities. Rutschman, a switch-hitter, has lived up to expectations. He batted .312/.405/.490 in 43 games at Triple-A, suggesting the only thing standing between him and the majors is the Orioles’ desire to suppress his wages. Even they won’t be able to hold down Rutschman for long; he’s the future of the catcher position.
2. Grayson Rodriguez, RHP (No. 5 on MLB top 20 list)
Rodriguez, the final first-round pick Baltimore under Dan Duquette’s watch, has proven to be a quality parting gift. He split last season between High- and Double-A, compiling a 2.36 ERA and a 5.96 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Rodriguez already looks like a big-league starter thanks to a physical frame and a broad, high-grade arsenal. He’s capable of dialing up his fastball into triple digits and elevating it above the batter’s hands late in counts. He complements the heater with several swing-and-miss secondary pitches, including a nasty slider that qualifies as his second-best pitch. Rodriguez has already achieved a high degree of success in Double-A, meaning he should open the year in Triple-A before making his big-league debut come summer.
3. Colton Cowser, OF
For the second consecutive summer, the Orioles used a top-five pick on a collegiate outfielder when they popped Cowser fifth overall from Sam Houston State University in 2021. (The Orioles had previously taken Arkansas’ Heston Kjerstad with the No. 2 pick; he’s yet to debut professionally because of myocarditis.) Cowser moved up boards thanks in part to a power surge that saw him homer 16 times in 55 games, more than doubling his collegiate career total. His newfound over-the-fence power didn’t carry over to a 25-game stint in A-ball, but it’s hard to complain when he batted .347/.476/.429 with more walks than strikeouts. Cowser has above-average speed and should at least begin his big-league career in center. He ought to move fast through the system, so expect an assignment to High-A.