Here are the O's fastest-rising prospects

September 15th, 2021

BALTIMORE -- In yet another signal of what was a year of rapid development on the farm, the Orioles this week promoted fast-rising infield prospect to Double-A Bowie for the Baysox’s stretch run. It’s the third level achieved this season for Henderson, 20, who began 2021 at Low-A Delmarva.

The Orioles’ second-round pick in the 2019 Draft, Henderson entered the organization with the expectation that he could rise quickly. He has spent his first full season of pro ball turning heads, hitting .260/.352/.484 with 17 home runs and 16 steals in 100 games across two levels. Henderson hit .312 with a .944 OPS in 35 games at Delmarva and then posted a .343 on-base percentage, a .775 OPS, nine homers and 11 steals at High-A Aberdeen, where he was one of the league’s younger players.

Henderson's promotion restocks what is again one of Minor League baseball’s most talented rosters at Bowie, despite the recent graduation of top overall prospect Adley Rutschman and D.L. Hall’s season-ending elbow injury. The Baysox now embark on their week with right-hander Grayson Rodriguez (No. 2) and left-hander Drew Rom (No. 26) anchoring their rotation and a lineup featuring impact prospects Henderson, Jordan Westburg and Zach Watson. Watson might have raised his stock more than any unranked prospect in the system this season, compiling 20 homers and 23 steals across two levels, despite low on-base numbers.

All told, six Orioles prospects jumped at least three levels in 2021. Here is a look at the other five fast-risers:

Prospect ranking: No. 6
Levels in 2021: 3
The club’s supplemental first-round pick (30th overall) in 2020, Westburg impressed as much as any player at the Orioles’ alternate training site and instructional camp last season. He then excelled at Delmarva, hitting .366 with a 1.075 OPS in 20 games before earning a promotion to Aberdeen. Westburg didn’t slow down at Aberdeen, showing strong on-base skills (.389 OBP) with power (eight homers) and speed (nine swipes) across 62 games. He’s been at Bowie since mid-August, with a chance to begin 2022 at Triple-A Norfolk.

Prospect ranking: No. 11
Levels in 2021: 3
Who leads the Orioles’ system in homers? It’s not Rutschman. It’s Stowers, their second-round pick out of Stanford in 2019. The O's believed Stowers would grow into power with age, and he has, clocking 26 homers in 109 games across three levels this season. Stowers homered 17 times in 66 games at Bowie, and has done so twice in his first seven contests at Norfolk.

Prospect ranking: Unranked
Levels in 2021: 3
Few pitchers in the Orioles' system had more to prove after the pandemic than Knight, who underwent a dismal season at Class A Advanced Frederick in 2019. The right-hander then began '21 at the equivalent level -- High-A -- as a 25-year-old, pitching well enough to earn a quick promotion to Bowie. He’s provided valuable depth as the Orioles mined Triple-A for pitching help down the stretch, making four appearances for Norfolk over the past several weeks. All told, Knight owns a 4.64 ERA across 77 2/3 innings between Aberdeen, Bowie and Norfolk this season.

RHP Felix Bautista
Prospect ranking: Unranked
Levels in 2021: 3
A relative unknown entering the year, Bautista pitched himself onto many people’s radar with a dominant run at Bowie, where he pitched to a 0.68 ERA with 24 strikeouts in 13 1/3 innings. The 6-foot-5, 26-year-old reliever is big and throws hard, with a fastball that flirts with triple-digits. Command has been an issue, though. Bautista has walked 28 in 40 2/3 innings, including seven in 12 appearances at Norfolk so far.

UTL Willy Yahn
Prospect ranking: Unranked
Levels in 2021: 4
The Orioles’ 25th-round pick in 2017, Yahn is a do-it-all type and the organization’s only prospect to appear at four levels in 2021. He hasn’t hit much (.226 average, three homers), but he brings defensive versatility in spades, playing every position except catcher and shortstop. Yahn began the year at Delmarva, reached Norfolk and is currently at Bowie.