Stocks Up, Stocks Down For Baltimore Orioles Prospects
Over the course of this season, several notable Baltimore Orioles prospects have seen their stocks fluctuate. While a few have struggled and prompted questions about their statuses, others are raising their profiles and looking more like long-term options for the organization.
To consider those on both ends of the spectrum, here is a look at the players whose stocks have notably risen or diminished this season. This starts with the players whose stocks have been lowered thus far, before discussing those that have boosted their prospects.
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Jomar Reyes, Third baseman (Frederick Keys)
Now in his third season at the High-A level, Reyes has had his fair share of ups and downs. He appeared to be bouncing back from a sluggish 2016 last year, but had his season cut short by an injury he suffered after reportedly punched a wall. In his 2018 season, Reyes has struggled to regain his power stroke, batting .236/.270/.319 with three homers through 68 games.
The one thing to remember is that Reyes, still just 21, has time to bounce back and regain his place among the better power hitters in the system. Perhaps a strong finish to the year can reverse some bad trends, but for now Reyes is seeing his stock slip.
Cody Sedlock, Right-handed pitcher (Frederick)
Sedlock struggled last year in his first full season, and his results over a short time before hitting the disabled list (13.50 ERA with nine walks in nine 1/3 innings across three starts) this year were discouraging. He has been on the DL since April with a strained right shoulder.
Health has been an issue for Sedlock during his professional career, as he was placed on the DL a couple of times during the 2017 season. Still, his numbers over 32 career starts have not been promising and the Orioles have to hope that better health eventually allows the former first-round pick to get back on track.
Austin Hays, Outfielder (Bowie Baysox)
Consider this designation to be relative. The expectations for Hays prior to spring training were extremely high, as he was a consensus Top-100 prospect in the sport and commonly ranked at the top of the Orioles system. His 2018, however, has been marred by injuries—first with shoulder issues in spring training, later an ankle injury at Bowie—and his production prior to hitting the DL at Bowie was unusually low (.224/.259/.374 across 185 plate appearances).
In effect, the injuries have probably stalled Hays’ timeline for reaching the majors, as he needs to rebound and show more consistency at Bowie. The lost time has certainly hurt his development, but it stands reason that he will get back on track with more time. He is still among the most intriguing prospects in the system, and still profiles as a potential everyday player, but has some struggles to overcome before reaching the majors permanently.
Zac Lowther, Left-handed pitcher (Frederick Keys)
Starting with Low-A Delmarva, Lowther has been dominant this year—showing solid command, and an advanced feel for his three-pitch repertoire. His 0.96 ERA over 11 starts reflects his abilities, as does his 2.7 BB/9 rate.
The consensus on Lowther seems to suggest that his ceiling is likely mid-to-back of the rotation starter, with his ability to command his three pitches (fastball, curveball, changeup) key to his success. His numbers so far are boosting his profile considerably and could help accelerate his time to the majors.
Michael Baumann, Right-handed pitcher (Frederick)
Much like Lowther, Baumann leveraged a hot start in Delmarva to a promotion to Frederick. While he has not generated strike outs at as high of a rate since moving up, his overall performance this year has boosted his stock.
With a 6’4” 225 lb. frame, Baumann looks to have the durability to remain a starter, though his command of his four-pitch repertoire will be key to whether he can stick in a major league rotation. Nonetheless, he has built on his solid professional debut last summer and excelled at two levels thus far in 2018, leaving hope of what he can do at higher levels.
Ryan McKenna, outfielder (Bowie)
McKenna was originally drafted out of St. Thomas Aquinas high school (New Hampshire) in 2015. The Orioles have exercised patience in moving him through the system, meaning that he did not make his full-season debut until last season and reached Frederick for the first time this year. After batting .377/.467/.556 in 67 games at Frederick, McKenna was promoted to Bowie earlier this month.
Whether he maintains his consistency at the plate remains to be seen, but McKenna’s calling card has long been his speed. That, combined with his defensive instincts and arm strength, could allow him to remain in centerfield—giving the Orioles another intriguing centerfield prospect to go with Triple-A Norfolk’s Cedric Mullins. McKenna’s skillset has always been interesting and, if his development at the plate continues to trend upward, he could ascend up the organization’s prospect rankings.