Baltimore Orioles: No Longer Gloom and Doom for the Farm System

BALTIMORE, MD - SEPTEMBER 02: Chance Sisco /

The promising Baltimore Orioles prospects have exceeded expectations this season and earned a boost in Bleacher Report’s re-ranking of all 30 MLB farm systems with the conclusion of the MiLB season.

Over the past several years, many have considered the Baltimore Orioles farm system to be weak, and with little talent.

Over the past few months, that perception has begun to change.

The Baltimore Orioles had six players make Baseball America’s All-Star teams by classification.

Austin Hays and D.J. Stewart both made the Double-A Bowie roster as outfielders. Hays was also on the All-Star team across all classifications and a finalist for Minor League Player of the Year by Baseball America.

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Ryan Mountcastle and Ben Breazeale made the team as designated hitters, with Mountcastle at high-A Frederick and Breazeale at Single-A Aberdeen.

Zac Lowther and Alex Wells also made the team, with Lowther on the short season team for his work at short low Single-A Aberdeen and Wells for Single-A Delmarva.

But, those aren’t the only accolades for the Orioles’ farm system.

On Wednesday, Bleacher Report came out with their farm system rankings.

Before the 2017 season started, the Orioles were in 25th. That’s not very good.

With the completion of the Minor League Baseball season, the Orioles farm system moved up ten spots to No. 15. That’s not bad at all.

According to B-R, their rankings look at potential and talent of players, team depth, and the amount of high-end talent in a team’s farm system.

Players are broken down into tiers. Tier 1 are prospects with All-Star potential, Tier 2 are potential MLB contributors, and Tier 3 are prospects who are either fringe contributors, or are too raw to project any higher.

Bleacher Report says that Chance Sisco and Austin Hays, the Orioles two prized call-ups, are both prospects with All-Star potential. They also list Ryan Mountcastle and young left hander D.L. Hall as potential All-Stars.

Mountcastle’s inclusion isn’t a surprise, although it is still unknown where he may play defensively. Hall is a bit of a surprise, considering he was drafted in the 2017 and may be regarded as too raw to know his potential.

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The other six top prospects all list as potential MLB contributors, or second tier players. They are left-handed pitchers Tanner Scott, Keegan Akin, Zac Lowther and Alex Wells, outfielder Cedric Mullins and right-handed pitcher Hunter Harvey.

Now, the tough part here for a team in need of starters in a bad way is that Akin, Lowther and Wells are all in high-A or below. However, they all project as starters.

Scott probably does not project as a starter at this point. But, with his strong 2017, it will be interesting to see how he is used next season.

Harvey, of course, is a big wild card here. The Orioles need him to stay healthy, but he was excellent down the stretch and could force some tough decisions in the spring.

An interesting omission from the Bleacher Report list is DJ Stewart.

The positive here is evident. The Orioles are a team that appears to have pitching coming, although Orioles fans remember the ‘Cavalry’ and shudders.

The team also is well-prepared for the future at the catcher position. Not necessarily a good thing, but first base is held down by Chris Davis for several years.

The outfield appears to be in place for the 2018 season and beyond, adding the names mentioned above and Trey Mancini and Joey Rickard. Plus, the team could always re-sign Adam Jones when his contract is up.

The obvious question marks here are the left side of the infield and second base. Sure, Jonathan Schoop and Tim Beckham still have a few more years in Baltimore. But, Manny Machado only has one, and most signs point to the Orioles not having enough money to bring him back, although the organization needs to try.

For those who still believe the cupboard is bare in the minor leagues, it might be time to reassess your view of the system.