Five Players You Must See for the Shorbirds this Year.
During the recent “Glory Years” (yes 2012-2016 qualifies as “Glory Years”) many of the players that we Oriole fans considered household names made pit stops in Delmarva to play for the Shorebirds. Before making their way to beautiful Camden Yards, Trey Mancini, Dylan Bundy, Jonathan Schoop, Manny Machado, Zach Britton, and Nick Markakis, among many others displayed their skills at Arthur W. Perdue Stadium in Salisbury, MD on the Eastern Shore. The young kids that could be seen playing in small Salisbury, MD eventually became part of the best five year stretch for the O’s since the mid-nineties.
With the Orioles in the midst of a deep, organization-wide rebuild the team is sure to focus great efforts on player development and a retooling of the farm system. Players that are sure to be part of the next Orioles glory period will be making the stop in Delmarva this year while Mike Elias, Brandon Hyde and crew build the team, Astros style, for a run in three to five years.
The Delmarva Shorebirds may field a team this year that, at some point, boasts five of the Orioles top fifteen prospects (according to Prospects 1500) in their lineup. Prospects 1500 considered four of these prospects to be Tier 3 prospects, “Players with an average expectation of making the majors and being a solid contributor”. Of course, with an added tool here or there, any of these players could end up being All-stars for our O’s in the future.
Adam Hall, SS, Age 19. Ranked #17 by Prospect 1500 / Ranked #28 by MLB Pipeline, ETA 2021
Adam Hall is a 2nd round pick that signed with the club for 1.3 million dollars. At the age of 12, Adam asked his parents to move to Canada from Bermuda to Canada to pursue his baseball dreams. The request paid off. Hall spent last year with the Iron Birds and flashed speed with 22 stolen bases in 62 games. He also displayed a good eye at the plate with a .368 OBP. Hall also showed some prowess in the field and the O’s hope that he is one of few SS prospects that actually stays at short. If the Orioles’ August minor-league player of the month develops some power to go with his speed, he could make fans forget about JJ Hardy in a few years.
Blaine Knight, RHP, Age 22. Ranked #15 by Prospect 1500 / Ranked #10 by MLB Pipeline, ETA 2021
Blaine Knight comes out of Arkansas as one of the best pitchers in the Southeastern Conference, leading the Razorbacks to an appearance in the National Championship Game. The Orioles thought so much of him that they paid him 1.1 million, well over the slot signing number for his 3rd round slot. Knight can touch 97 on the radar gun to go with a plus slider. Knight only pitched 10 innings last year in Aberdeen as the O’s were a bit worried about his high college pitch count. Knight is considered quite polished and that, along with his age of 22 could find him in Frederick to start the year, but we will hope we get to see at least a bit of him in Delmarva.
Jean Carlos Encarnacion, 3rd Base, Age 20. Ranked #9 by Prospect 1500 / Ranked #15 by MLB Pipeline, ETA 2021
Considering the million plus that the O’s gave the previous 2 prospects, the $10,000 that the Braves gave Encarnacion out of the Dominican Republic is an absolute bargain. Of course, the O’s were able to acquire the young slugger in the Kevin Gausman trade last summer. Encarnacion hits the ball hard and his power is bound to increase as he adds to his 6’3, 195 pound frame. If Encarnacion can improve on his plate discipline and cut down on strikeouts, he can be a multi-tool, long term building block for the O’s,
Grayson Rodriguez, RHP, Age 19. Ranked #5 by Prospect 1500 / Ranked #5 by MLB Pipeline, ETA 2022
Rodriguez was drafted out of High School number 11 overall by the owes last year and signed for 4.3 million dollars. Rodriguez’s fastball tops at 94 and shows great movement. In high school he was able to get to 97. In his brief 19 innings last year, he struck out 20 and had an ERA of 1.40. If Rodriguez develops his changeup to go with an above average slider and curveball, the O’s hope for him to be a top of the rotation starter in the future.
Adley Rutschman, Catcher, Age 21. Not Yet Drafted
Consider this my prediction as to who the Orioles will take with the first pick in this year’s draft. Rutschman can hit for power and average, and his polish and age could place him in Delmarva this year. Rutschman was the College World Series MVP last year, breaking a College World Series record with 17 hits. He made 6 different All-American teams and Baseball America has him listed as their top prospect. The question will be, will the O’s keep him at catcher?
This summer promises to be a fun one at Purdue Stadium with a lineup that will include some exciting young stars. Make sure to come out and see the future of the Orioles as the new regime works to build the team through the farm system.