LOD’s 2019 Offseason Top Prospects: Baltimore Orioles #10-#6
Here at Legends on Deck our passion is prospects and the offseason presents an outstanding opportunity for us to showcase some of baseball’s top up and comers. Throughout the offseason, we will be bringing you the top ten prospects from all 30 organizations. We will start with the Arizona Diamondbacks and work our way alphabetically all the way through the Washington Nationals. This series is the opinion of Jake Berry, Senior Editor at Legends on Deck and does not reflect any official MLB rankings.
#10 – 3B Jean Carlos Encarnacion
2019 Opening Day Age: 21 Height: 6’3 Weight: 195 B/T: R/R
Acquired: Trade w/ ATL College: N/A ETA: 2021 Top Future Tool: Glove
2018 Stats (Single-A): .273/.298/.439, 12 HR, 64 RBI, 134 SO, 16 BB
I can only assume that my Orioles top prospect list will vary from many others out there. I believe it starts with JCE. The kid is an exceptional athlete who has shown flashes of plus tools across the board. His arm is already exceptional and he can handle the hot corner well. He very rarely makes weak contact, but there is a bunch of swing and miss to his game as it stands today. Given the age and athleticism, I wouldn’t be surprised if he worked out the kinks a couple of seasons down the line.
#9 – INF Rylan Bannon
2019 Opening Day Age: 22 Height: 5’10 Weight: 180 B/T: R/R
Acquired: Trade w/ LAD College: Xavier ETA: 2020 Top Future Tool: Glove
2018 Stats (High-A/Double-A): .275/.389/.507, 22 HR, 72 RBI, 127 SO, 81 BB
Just like JCE, I am probably the high guy on Bannon (trust me there is plenty more of me being the high guy on some of these players in the Orioles system.) It is well-documented that I love a good K/BB ratio and with just 156 professional strikeouts to 100 walks, he fits that mold. Beyond the stats, Bannon is about as sure handed as they come in the infield and has a lot of future power in his bat.
#8 – LHP Zac Lowther
2019 Opening Day Age: 22 Height: 6’3 Weight: 230 B/T: L/L
Acquired: CBB.74 2017 College: Xavier ETA: 2021 Top Future Pitch: CB
2018 Stats (Single-A/High-A): 8-4, 2.18 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 151 SO, 35 BB
Lowther was a very hard pitcher for me to rank. I watched his last Single-A start before a promotion where he tossed six shutout innings, allowed one hit, and struck out 10 against Hickory. I wasn’t too familiar with him at the time and when I looked up his numbers it turned out he was just dominating Single-A, as college pitchers tend to do. He carried that success over to High-A as well, but I have a hard time determining what gives hitters such fits against him. I would like to see him get a taste of Double-A to find out how a higher level of competition does against him.
#7 – OF Austin Hays
2019 Opening Day Age: 23 Height: 6’1 Weight: 195 B/T: R/R
Acquired: 3.91 2016 College: Jacksonville ETA: 2019 Top Future Tool: Arm
2018 Stats (Double-A): .242/.271/.432, 12 HR, 43 RBI, 59 SO, 12 BB
Well, when you’re higher on certain guys that means you have to be lower than most on others. This is by no means a slight at Hays, I think if he stays healthy he will be a mainstay in the Orioles outfield for a few years. For me personally, there are a couple of OF’s in the system I would rank ahead of him. The aggressive style of play is what Hays is best known for. He has a vicious swing (that I have criticized in the past but seems to work for him at the moment) and he isn’t afraid to lay out for a ball in the outfield. I’m comfortable putting a serviceable starter tag as his ceiling.
#6 – RHP Dean Kremer
2019 Opening Day Age: 23 Height: 6’3 Weight: 180 B/T: R/R
Acquired: Trade w/ LAD College: UNLV ETA: 2020 Top Future Pitch: FB
2018 Stats (High-A/Double-A): 10-5, 2.88 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 178 SO, 46 BB
A high 90’s running heater highlights this righty’s repertoire. That pitch accompanied by a pretty good curveball have established Kremer as a big time strikeout pitcher. He is improving his command and once he gets it down pat he will almost certainly be a consistent mid to back end starter or at the very least a great bullpen option.
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