The 2021 Orioles top 30 prospect list is complete, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t more interesting players to know for the 2022 season and beyond.
These are in alphabetical order (first name) and not in rank order.
Alex Wells (LHP, 25, AAA/MAJ) – Made his major league debut with the Orioles making 8 starts in 11 appearances, but major league hitters weren’t fooled too often by his stuff as he put up just a 16.4% WHIF rate and batters slashed .299/.365/.520/.885. His fastball sat between 86-90 MPH (avg 88.5) but had slightly above average movement. He had the most success with his slider despite it’s well below average movement and both his curve and change did not work well against major league pitching, with change’s biggest problem being its only around 5 MPH difference from his fastball. After a slow start, Wells pitched well at AAA and when he can command the baseball, he could end up helping a team as a 5th starter swingman type.
Anderson De Los Santos (3B/SS, 17 DSL) – Part of the record Orioles J2 signing class in 2021, Del Los Santos was signed for $350K but out performed more heralded Maikol Hernandez at the plate in their first year in the Dominican Summer League. Signed as a shortstop, De Los Santos is built like Adrian Beltre (5-11, 185) and while he has some tools, he’s probably better suited for third base or perhaps second base one day. The 17-year old slashed an impressive .324/.409/.495/.905 with a 1 5-19 BB-K ratio in 127 PAs while collecting 11 extra base hits including three home runs. He was an error machine in his first try at 3B, but he’s expected to improve with experience. He’ll start next year in the Florida Complex Leagues and as one scout said, “He’s right up there with (Hernandez and Basallo) as a prospect).
Cadyn Grenier (SS/2B, 24, AA/AAA) – The former first round pick continues to be the best and most consistent defensive shortstop in the system and even played some time at second base where he showed to be a plus defender there as well. The problem is once again, he struggles to hit offspeed pitches and after a decent start in AA, slashed just .194/.322/.315/.637 in his last 268 AA games as he saw a steady diet of offspeed. If a team is looking for steady defense up the middle and can live with no offense, Grenier could have a career as a utility infielder.
Cameron Bishop (LHP, 25, AA (others in rehab) – Consistency of command is what limits Bishop’s future because when he’s on, he’s a four-pitch lefty who can miss bats. His slider is his best offspeed pitch and probably his bread and butter if he ends up in a relief role, where he could end up a decent two inning middle reliever. The change can have good movement at times, but he doesn’t have a great feel and curveball is a get me over offering. Bishop missed time last season as well and it might be time for the Orioles to give him a look next on AAA as a reliever and see if he can find more consistency by focusing on the fastball, slider combination with and occasional change to a righty.
Carlos Tavera (RHP, 22, A-) – The Orioles 5th round pick in the 2021 draft and the only pitcher drafted in the first ten rounds, Tavera is a fastball (91-93, t95), slider and changeup pitcher who threw a no-hitter this spring for the University of Texas at Arlington. Used lightly in his pro debut, Tavera Jahmshould get an opportunity to start next spring in Delmarva or possibly even in Aberdeen since he will be 23 years old.
Cody Sedlock (RHP, 26, AA/AAA) – The former #1 pick, Sedlock has remade himself into a fastball-changeup pitch with one of the best changeups in the system. The Orioles for some reason kept running him out as a starter despite his breaking balls both being well below average and his velocity that starts off in the 94-96 range, but trails off to the 91-92 range by the 4th or 5th inning. He still struggles with consistency of command but could end up a multi-inning reliever at the big league level.
Darrell Hernaiz (SS/INF,19 , A-) – One of the youngest players on the team for most of the season, Hernaniz held his own against more mature players but didn’t show more than average tools at best which limits his upside. He slashed .277/.333/.358/.690 in 410 PAs and made 16 errors in 61 gams at SS, but his lack of power combined with a less than spectacular 28 to 70 BB to K ratio didn’t turn a lot of heads. He did slash .354/.386/.430/.816 over his last 83 PAs covering 18 games but only walked three times and hit just one home run. He’s still young though and worth watching.
Jamai Jones (2B/OF,23, AAA/MAJ) – A disappointing year overall for Jones even though he made his major league debut in late August. Struggled to hit major league fastballs putting up just a .199 XWOBA against them and then whiffing at a high rate against anything offspeed. Did put up a .340 wOBA and 106 wRC+ in AAA so maybe it not all lost. The problem is, he has no real position of value since he’s stiff at second base and error prone. He doesn’t turn the double play very well where his below average arm becomes a deterrence. The Orioles did play him in LF for 11 games in AAA to give him some versatility, but a 2B/LF with a below average hit tool is a hard sell. He’s a hard worker so maybe there’s more in there, but its hard to project him as anything more than a utility guy and how may 2B/OF utility guys are there?
JD Mundy (1B, 23, A-/A+) – Undrafted 2020 free agent really had a nice season when he was able to stay in the field. Short squatty 1st baseman that has a short to the ball stroke, but can generate decent power. Looks like he has plan at the plate and does not panic when behind in the count. Defensively he’s steady and can make the throw to second, but needs to work on scooping and his range is not great. He’s a very slow runner so he’s anchored to 1st base or DH. Struggled to stay on the field with Aberdeen where he missed time on two different occasion before being shut down for the season with a fractured thumb on August 15th. Slashed .278/.361/.521/.881 in 219 PAs in High-A but his K rate jumped to 26.9% and he hit too many ground balls but he did keep his ISO high at .242 in a tough hitters park. He almost made the back end of the top 30, but his prospect status will be either be much higher of lower after next year in AA.
Kevin Smith (LHP, 24, AA/AAA) – Acquired for Miguel Castro, Smith struggled to command once he got to AAA and basically lost the ability throw the changeup. Basically turned into a fastball (91-93), slider (81-84) guy. By the end of the year, lost his control completely. Can get some swings and misses on the slider and the fastball up but he has little room for error. His comp might be Paul Fry and that would be a disappointing return for Castro.
Kyle Brnovich (RHP, 23, A+/AA) – When you look at the numbers, Brnovich should be in the top 30 and maybe he will prove he will be one day, but when you look at the stuff you wonder how he’s getting guys out. He’s a pitchability guy who uses a funky delivery to add to the deception of his mediocre stuff but who can throw all three pitches for strikes. His fastball sits FB 90-92 with some arm side run. It’s a pitch has to command to have success because it’s a pretty hittable pitch in the zone. His slider (82-83) doesn’t have a ton of break typically but he will occasionally throw a good one for whiff. His change has some drop and fade and gives his something to use against lefties. He should get the opportunity to see if he can get AAA out next year and that should be a good test. This is the one pitcher I cant really figure out why he’s having so much success, but hitters will ultimately tell you. May have enough mix to end up a 5th starter or swingman.
Nick Vespi (LHP, 25, AA/AAA) – The Orioles sent him to AA after not pitching about Low A in a sink of swim situation and he ended up swimming in AA before sinking a bit in AAA. Works mostly off his two breaking balls that can miss bat with a 81-83 MPH slider and a hard deep diving 77-79 MPH curveball. His fastball is only 89-91 and can hit hard if he makes mistakes with the pitch. Does a good job of burying both breaking balls to the back foot of righties but it remains to be seen whether his stuff will work at the major league level.
Ofelky Peralta (RHP, 24, AA/AAA) – Been in the system so long the Orioles had to resign him a six-year minor league free agent as soon as the season was over. Peralta is a guy who has been used as a starter mainly in order to give him as much experience as possible. With a fastball that sits 95-97 and can touch 98-99 MPH, he’s always had a great arm but he’s never had a consistent offspeed pitch and of course his control was never very good. Peralta’s control is still not great, but he’s able to throw not only has fastball, but also a curveball and decent changeup for strikes as well. He’s never going to have great command, but he’s never been easy to hit either. It’s about time to convert him to the bullpen and see if he stuff plays up in and inning or two stints.
Patrick Dorrian (3B/1B, 25, AA/AAA) – Started off red hot but the league caught up to him a bit over the second half of the season. Showed good power (22HR, .229 ISO) and the ability to get on base (69 walks, .362 OBP) to post a .365 wOBA and 125 wRC+ at AA despite a low average. Unfortunately he slashed just .190/.333./.286./.619 against lefties and .204/.315/.381/.696 over his last 305 PAs in AA after a hot start. Defensively he has a good arm and improved as the season went on at 3B, but he’s not going to win any gold gloves over there.
Robert Neustrom – (OF, 24, AA/AAA) – The Orioles challenged him by starting him off in AA and he responded by slashing .284/.364/.467/.831 in 261 PAs before getting promoted to AAA. After starting off well, slashed just .198/.276/.378/.655 over his last 31 games and 124 PAs. Doesn’t hit lefties particularly well and although he has plus raw power, he doesn’t have great game power. Defensively is below average overall though he should kill you in the corners. Can make some bad errors and doesn’t get great jumps, but he typically catches everything he can get to. DJ Stewart is a pretty good comp for him.
Yusniel Diaz – (OF, 24, AAA (rehab other levels) – Pretty much a lost year saw Diaz miss more time with injury and never get it going offensively. Was absolutely dreadful in AAA slashing .157/.225/.251/.476 in 209 PAs. Just never had much of a plan at the plate and now you wonder if the tools have started to erode due to the injuries. Just looked like a guy going through the motions and may need a change of scenery.
Zach Watson – (OF, 24, A+/AA) – Pretty much the 2021 equivalent of Pedro Cerano. Can turn a round a fastball and pull it out of the park, but struggles mightily on the breaking pitches and offspeed. Defensively he’s solid in CF and would be good enough to play there in a 4th outfielder role. He can run a little but doesn’t have blazing speed and steals more on intelligence. An aggressive hitter that a pitcher has to work to walk, his 22 BB to 122 K ratio suggests he’s a got a lot of work to do on his swing decisions. Did hit lefties a little better than righties so could possibly end up a platoon 4th outfielder if he can improve hitting offspeed pitches.
Zack Peek – (RHP, 23, A-/A+) – 23-year old righthander that works off his 3000 RPM curveball that he can vary the speed of from 71-77 MPH. His fastball sits around 92 MPH and he was working on a change that flashed average at times and gives him a solid third offering. The fastball though gets barreled up pretty good and he gets a lot of swings and misses out of the zone. He reminds me of Dean Kremer with a little better changeup and little less velocity. He’ll need to prove it at each level to get a shot.