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Holliday, Mayo highlight baseball's best-ranked system

Baltimore's top prospects look to keep the Orioles soaring
November 16, 2023

Each offseason, goes position by position across each organization and honors the players -- regardless of age or prospect status -- who had the best seasons in each farm system. Next up in our 2023 Organization All-Stars series are the Baltimore Orioles.

Each offseason, goes position by position across each organization and honors the players -- regardless of age or prospect status -- who had the best seasons in each farm system. Next up in our 2023 Organization All-Stars series are the Baltimore Orioles.

2023 organization summary:
Triple-A Norfolk: 90-59
Double-A Bowie: 67-70
High-A Aberdeen: 66-63
Single-A Delmarva: 56-74
FCL Orioles: 22-32
DSL Orioles Orange: 35-19
DSL Orioles Black: 20-35
Overall record: 356-352 (13th among MLB organizations)
Midseason Farm System Rankings: 1

"We are as well-equipped as any team to rattle off prospect packages for any player,” Baltimore GM Mike Elias said during the Winter Meetings at the beginning of the month. “That doesn’t mean that we want to do that just because we have the No. 1 farm system, and we could theoretically outbid any team. At some point it becomes a trade that you don’t want to do. ... A lot of our prospects are so close to the Majors if they are not there yet. These are guys that are going to help the 2024 O’s too. We have to keep all that in mind."

Orioles 2023 Organization All-Stars

C: Samuel Basallo (BAL No. 5/MLB No. 46)
A/A+/AA: .313/.402/.551, 114 G, 20 HR, 86 RBI, 75 R, 61 BB, 12 SB
Basallo was not the organization's headliner when he signed out of the Dominican Republic for $1.3 million in 2021 –- that was the year shortstop Maikol Hernandez signed for a then-record $1.7 million. But it’s Basallo who has grown into the best prospect of that class and Baltimore's best catching prospect since Adley Rutschman. After impressing for two years in complex ball, the 19-year-old broke out in his first year of affiliated ball, tearing up Class A and High-A before finishing the season at Double-A Bowie. In an organization with a plethora of hitting prospects, Basallo led the organization in wRC+ (162) and finished second in batting average (.313), OPS (.953) and slugging (.551) and third in OBP (.402).

1B: Lewin Díaz
AAA: .268/.362/.442, 118 G, 17 HR, 64 RBI, 64 R, 60 BB, 21 2B
The Orioles like to rotate several of their top prospects through first base for various reasons, so Díaz was one of the organization’s few full-time first basemen in 2023. Díaz, who last appeared in the Majors in '22 with the Marlins, did a fine job at Triple-A Norfolk, finishing second on the team in walks and third in hits (111) and total bases (183).

2B: Connor Norby (BAL No. 7)
AAA: .290/.359/.483, 138 G, 21 HR, 92 RBI, 104 R, 57 BB, 10 SB
The Orioles knew Norby would hit when they made him their second-round pick in the 2021 Draft, but he’s grown into some unexpected power as well over the past two years. In '23, he hit 21 homers in an excellent all-around season spent entirely at Triple-A Norfolk. Norby also finished the year tied for fourth in all the Minors in both hits (164) and doubles (40), and he ranked eighth in runs. The 23-year-old looks like he’ll be an impactful big leaguer very soon, and for years to come.

3B: Coby Mayo (BAL No. 4/MLB No. 27)
AA/AAA: .290/.410/.563, 140 G, 29 HR, 99 RBI, 84 R, 93 BB, 5 SB
If this were the back of Mayo’s baseball card, it would be covered in bold. The powerful third baseman led the Orioles organization in homers, doubles (45), RBIs, slugging percentage (.563), OPS (.973), extra-base hits (77) and total bases (284). He also led all Minor Leaguers in extra-base hits, finished tied for first in doubles and second in total bases. Mayo can mash.

SS: Jackson Holliday (BAL No. 1/MLB No. 1)
A/A+/AA/AAA: .323/.442/.499, 125 G, 12 HR, 75 RBI, 113 R, 101 BB, 24 SB
Mayo accomplished all that, and he wasn't even the best offensive player in the system. That was Holliday, the No. 1 pick in the 2022 Draft, the game’s No. 1 overall prospect and MLB Pipeline’s Hitting Prospect of the Year. What didn’t Holliday accomplish this year? At age 19, he played his way from Single-A to Triple-A in his first full season, led the Minors in runs and paced the Orioles organization in average (.323), OBP (.442), triples (nine) and walks.

OF: Colton Cowser (BAL No. 2/MLB No. 14)
AAA: .300/.417/.520, 87 G, 17 HR, 62 RBI, 72 R, 64 BB, 9 SB
Cowser didn’t have much success during a 26-game cameo with Baltimore, but the No. 5 overall pick from the 2021 Draft got there with an excellent all-around performance in the Minors. He was one of two Orioles farmhands to play the entire year in affiliated ball and post a slash line of at least .300/.400/.500.

OF: Heston Kjerstad (BAL No. 3/MLB No. 24)
AA/AAA: .303/.376/.528, 122 G, 87 R, 145 H, 29 2B, 8 3B, 21 HR, 55 RBI, 42 BB
After more than two years sidelined with health issues, Kjerstad spent 2022 putting those concerns in the rearview mirror. At the top two levels of the Minors this past season, he played even better and reasserted himself as one of the best hitting prospects in the game. Kjerstad was radically consistent, hitting, reaching base, homering and walking at roughly the same rates at both Double-A and Triple-A. The Orioles, who took heat for picking him second overall in 2020, feel vindicated by and enthusiastic about this year's success.

OF: Dylan Beavers (BAL No. 9)
A+/AA: .288/.383/.467, 119 G, 11 HR, 60 RBI, 75 R, 70 BB, 27 SB
With an impressive combination of power and speed, the 33rd overall pick in the 2022 Draft stood out in his first full pro season in an Orioles system lousy with talented hitters. Of the eight Baltimore farmhands to steal at least 25 bases, only one also collected at least 10 homers and at least 30 doubles –- Beavers.

RHP: Alex Pham (BAL No. 29)
A+/AA: 3-5, 2.57 ERA, 112 IP, 130 SO, 42 BB, .182 BAA, 1.02 WHIP
While most of the players on this list were high Draft picks and highly touted prospects coming into the system, Pham has been a development success story. The 2021 19th-round pick has blossomed since getting the chance to start. This year, he pitched his way from High-A to Double-A. He led all pitchers in the organization with at least 100 innings in ERA, xFIP (3.68), WHIP and K/BB (19.9 percent).

LHP: Cade Povich (BAL No. 11)
AA/AAA: 8-10, 5.04 ERA, 126 2/3 IP, 171 SO, 66 BB, .224 BAA, 1.36 WHIP
The Orioles love Povich’s ability to miss bats and the talented left-hander did that to great effect in 2023 despite an uneven year overall. The 2021 third-round pick, who Baltimore acquired from the Twins as part of the Jorge López deal at the 2022 Trade Deadline, led the organization in starts (28) and strikeouts, finished second in innings and tied for second in wins in his first full season in the system.

RP: Keagan Gillies
A/A+: 5-1, 4 SV, 2.43 ERA, 40 2/3 IP, 61 SO, 14 BB, .137 BAA 0.81 WHIP
A few more success stories and the Orioles might soon have a reputation for developing not just top-tier hitters, but also for diamond-in-the-rough relievers. Gillies could become such an example. The 2021 15th-round pick was nearly unhittable at High-A over his first 15 appearances, then performed well after a midseason promotion to Double-A. Injuries limited Gillies to 10 appearances in his first two years of pro ball. In his first full season, the 6-foot-8 righty led organization relievers (minimum: 30 appearances) in K/BB rate (4.36), strikeout percentage, K/BB (4.36), average-against and WHIP.

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