Breaking Down the Orioles’ 40-Man Roster Additions
This season, MLB Pipeline ranked the Orioles as having the No. 1 farm system in all of baseball, while Baseball America ranked the organization as the No. 2 farm system in the game. These accolades are evidence of the tremendous strides made by the organization over the last three years, as the club has rejuvenated its player development apparatus, built a robust analytics department, and invested heavily in the international market.
While such recognitions are significant, the real marker of organizational success is players making an impact at the Major League level. The first step towards that is being added to the 40-man roster, a milestone that six prospects achieved on Friday when they had their contracts selected, protecting them from the Rule 5 Draft.
It marks the second year in a row that the organization has chosen to protect six players from potentially being selected in the Rule 5 draft. The additions of five pitchers and one infielder bring the Orioles’ youthful 40-man roster to a total of 39 players heading into the heart of the offseason.
LHP DL Hall
Hall, a first-round pick out of Valdosta (GA) High School in 2017, is the highest-ranked prospect to be added to Baltimore’s 40-man roster this offseason. He is currently ranked as the No. 72 overall prospect in baseball and the No. 3 prospect in the Orioles’ system by MLB Pipeline.
The 23-year-old left-hander made his Double-A debut with the Bowie Baysox this season, pitching to a 2-0 record with a 3.13 ERA (11 ER/31.2 IP), 56 strikeouts, and a 1.01 WHIP in seven starts while holding opponents to a .145 (16-for-110) average before being placed on the 7-day Injured List with left elbow tendinitis on June 16. A stress reaction in that same elbow led to him being transferred to the 60-day Injured List on July 28, causing him to miss the remainder of the season.
Hall was a participant in the club’s fall instructional league camp at Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota, Fla., where he resumed throwing activities as part of his rehab.
A hard thrower with a high strikeout rate, Hall’s addition to the 40-man brings him one step closer to making his much-anticipated Major League debut.
RHP Kyle Bradish
Acquired by the Orioles along with right-handers Kyle Brnovich, Isaac Mattson, and Zach Peek from the Los Angeles Angels in exchange for Dylan Bundy in December of 2019, Bradish is currently ranked as the No. 8 prospect in the Orioles’ system by MLB Pipeline.
Bradish pitched 13.2 scoreless innings across three starts for the Baysox prior to his promotion to Triple-A Norfolk on May 22. He appeared in 21 games (19 starts) for the Tides, pitching to a 4.26 ERA (41 ER/86.2 IP) with 105 strikeouts. His 131 punchouts across 24 games between Bowie and Norfolk were the second-most among Orioles minor league hurlers, trailing only the top pitching prospect in baseball, right-hander Grayson Rodriguez, with 161.
Bradish, who pitched to a 0.90 ERA (2 ER/20.0 IP) with 24 strikeouts in his final four starts with the Tides, will look to carry that momentum into a 2022 season which could eventually see him make his big-league debut.
INF Terrin Vavra
The lone position player on this list, Vavra is currently ranked as the 13th-best Orioles prospect by MLB Pipeline. He was acquired by the Orioles along with infielder Tyler Nevin and outfielder Mishael Deson from the Colorado Rockies in exchange for Mychal Givens last August.
Despite several stints on the Injured List, the switch-hitting Vavra displayed impressive plate discipline in a 48-game sample, slashing .275/.406/.449 (49-for-178) with five home runs, 12 doubles, two triples, 34 runs scored, 21 runs batted in, and seven stolen bases across four levels of the minor leagues, including a .388 OBP in 40 games with the Baysox. He walked nearly as many times as he struck out, drawing 34 free passes compared to 48 strikeouts.
Defensively, Vavra appeared mostly at second base, making 30 starts there, but also spent time at center field and shortstop. His versatility and athleticism coupled with his hit tool and plate discipline make him a valuable addition to the 40-man roster.
LHP Kevin Smith
Acquired by the Orioles from the New York Mets in exchange for Miguel Castro last season, Smith is ranked one spot behind Vavra as the No. 14 prospect in the Orioles’ system.
The six-foot-five left-hander pitched to a 4.59 ERA (42 ER/82.1 IP) with 105 strikeouts across 22 games (20 starts) between Bowie and Norfolk. His 105 strikeouts were eighth-most among Orioles minor leaguers.
Smith dominated with the Baysox, posting a 1.04 ERA (3 ER/26.0 IP) with 37 strikeouts to 10 walks in six games (5 starts), including striking out seven straight batters on May 20 at Richmond.
RHP Félix Bautista
Despite not appearing on any top prospect lists, Félix Bautista, who the Orioles signed as a minor league free agent in 2016, was perhaps the most dominant of any of the players added to the 40-man roster. He pitched to a 1.54 ERA (8 ER/46.2 IP) with 77 strikeouts and a 1.07 WHIP while holding opponents to a .126 (20-for-159) average in 40 games between High-A Aberdeen, Bowie, and Norfolk.
The right-hander from the Dominican Republic is regarded as one of the hardest throwers in the Orioles’ system and owned the highest strikeout rate on the farm in 2021.
Bautista participated in the fall instructional league camp at Ed Smith Stadium. His elite velocity, high strikeout rate, and six-foot-five frame make him an intriguing candidate to appear in the bullpen for the O’s in 2022.
RHP Logan Gillaspie
Gillaspie was the only player protected who was not a member of the organization to start the season. The right-hander signed as a minor league free agent on June 9. He pitched to a 3.77 ERA (6 ER/14.1 IP) with 16 strikeouts to three walks and a 1.05 WHIP in 11 games with the IronBirds before being promoted to Bowie on July 31. He also participated in the Arizona Fall League as a member of the Mesa Solar Sox.
Gillaspie was originally signed by the Milwaukee Brewers from the United Shore Professional Baseball League in 2018 before he was release by Milwaukee after the 2019 season.
With the addition of six players to the 40-man roster, including four Top 30 prospects, the Orioles’ talent pipeline is beginning to bear fruit, with more and more players advancing through the farm system and knocking on the door of the Major Leagues.