The Major League Baseball offseason is in full swing, which means everyone’s thinking about the future. In most cities, this means next season; in some, though, it means the bigger picture, the next three to five years. You either sell wins or you sell hope, the old saying goes. We here at CBS Sports wanted to give as much hope as possible this time of winter by evaluating each team’s farm system.
Of course, this does not mean that every team has an equally good farming system – some, as you will find out during this process, lack in this regard. However, this means that CBS Sports will spend the next few weeks looking at the top three prospects in each organization. We define “outlook” as retaining your rookie eligibility for the 2023 season, so if a young player is out, that’s probably the reason.
These lists and ratings are formed after conversations with scouts, analysts and types of player development. There is also immediate evaluation and bias thrown into the mix. Keep in mind that rating players is a difficult task and if you disagree with the rating, that’s fine. These are opinions and have no real bearing on the future..
With that in mind, let’s move on to the analysis of the Baltimore Orioles.
1. Gunnar Henderson, 3B, #1 Top 20 (2023 season age: 22)
Selected 42nd overall in the 2019 draft, Henderson started last season in Double-A and ended it in the Majors, scoring at every stop. That included 34 major league games in which he batted .259/.348/.440 (123 OPS+) with four home runs and an interception. Henderson primarily played third base, although he also saw action on second and short base as a nod to his athleticism and above-average footwork. Offensively, he has a solid foundation to build on thanks to his well above average brute strength and his disciplined eye. If there’s a flaw in Henderson’s game, it’s that he’s had trouble with left-handed pitchers. He may be able to improve on this over time, but right now it’s fair to expect most of his damage to come from a platoon advantage. Other than that, he’s ready for the big leagues already, with the advantage of being able to play in the All-Star Games.
2. Grayson Rodriguez, RHP, #2 Top 20 (2023 season age: 23)
Rodriguez would have made his debut at some point last season had he not been sidelined in June with a right lat deformity, eventually returning in September for a series of minor league appearances. He has the powerful physique of a pitcher and an impressive arsenal that includes three pitches well above average or better: an above-90s fastball, a slider and a substitution. The trio allowed him to hit 37 percent of the batters he faced last season while racking up a 2.62 ERA in 75 innings. The Orioles will likely try to limit his workload, as he has never thrown more than 103 innings in a season, but he should make his debut early in the year with an eye on becoming a first-line player.
3. Jackson Holliday, SS, #10 Top 20 (2023 season age: 19)
Holliday, the son of new Cardinals reserve coach Matt, was selected first overall in the draft last July. He looked decent in his first exposure to the pro ball, hitting .297/.489/.422 with more than twice as many walkers as strikeouts in 20 games. Holliday increased his reserves last spring, getting into better shape and learning to use the entire field instead of shooting fields. He is an explosive athlete who can also run and throw, giving him the chance to become a full-fledged shortstop. He won’t be able to legally drink until December 2024, giving him plenty of time to continue improving his game.