Baltimore Orioles top prospects 2023: Gunnar Henderson, Grayson Rodriguez lead promising O’s system

Major League Baseball’s offseason is in full swing, and that means everyone is thinking about the future. In most cities, that means next season; for some, however, it means the bigger picture, the next three to five years. Either you sell wins or you sell hope, says the old saying. We here at CBS Sports like to provide as much hope as we can around this time of winter by evaluating each team’s farm system.

Of course, that doesn’t mean all teams have an equally good farm system – some, as you’ll find out throughout this process, are lacking in that regard. It still means that CBS Sports will spend the next few weeks examining the top three prospects in each organization. We define “prospect” as retaining their rookie eligibility for the 2023 season, so if a young player is missing, that’s probably why.

These lists and evaluations are formed after conversations with scouts, analysts and player development types. There is also first-hand evaluation and bias thrown into the mix. Remember that player evaluation is a difficult task, and it’s okay if you disagree with the ratings. These are opinions, and they have no real bearing on the future. You can check out our winter top 20 list by clicking here.

With that in mind, let’s get to it by dissecting the Baltimore Orioles.

1. Gunnar Henderson, 3B, No. 1 in Top 20 (2023 Season Age: 22)

Henderson, the 42nd pick in the 2019 draft, began last season in Double-A and finished it in the majors, hitting at every stop along the way. That included 34 big league games, in which he hit .259/.348/.440 (123 OPS+) with four home runs and one steal. Henderson primarily played third base, though he also saw action at second and short in a nod to his above-average athleticism and footwork. Offensively, he has a strong foundation to build on thanks to his well-above-average raw power and his disciplined eye. If there’s a flaw in Henderson’s game, it’s that he’s had his share of problems with left-handed pitchers. Maybe he can improve that over time, but for now it’s reasonable to expect most of his damage to come with the platoon advantage. Otherwise, he’s big-league ready as is, with upside that could see him make the All-Star Games.

2. Grayson Rodriguez, RHP, #2 in Top 20 (2023 season age: 23)

Rodriguez would have debuted at some point last season if he hadn’t been sidelined in June by a straight lat strain, eventually returning in September for a series of minor league appearances. He has a power pitcher’s frame and an impressive arsenal that includes three well-above-average-or-better pitches: an upper-90s fastball, a slider and a changeup. That trio powered him to strike out 37 percent of the batters he faced last season while compiling a 2.62 ERA in 75 innings. The Orioles will likely look to limit his workload, as he’s never thrown more than 103 innings in a season, but he should debut early in the year with an eye toward becoming a front-line starter.

3. Jackson Holliday, SS, No. 10 in Top 20 (2023 Season Age: 19)

Holliday, the son of new Cardinals bench coach Matt, was the No. 1 pick in the draft last July. He looked the part in his first exposure to pro ball, hitting .297/.489/.422 with more than twice as many walks as strikeouts in 20 games. Holliday boosted his stock last spring by getting in better shape and learning to use the entire field instead of taking off pitches. He is an explosive athlete who can also run and throw, giving him a chance to become a quality shortstop. He won’t be able to legally drink until December 2024, giving him plenty of time to continue refining his game.

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