O's fans to see future at prospect-laden camp
BALTIMORE -- Adley Rutschman won’t be the only top Orioles prospect joining the club in Spring Training, though his formal invitation was announced Tuesday by the team. The rest of camp is going to be defined by its prospect feel as well.
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The club announced Tuesday that blue-chippers Yusniel Diaz, Zac Lowther, Alex Wells, Rylan Bannon and Mason McCoy will join Rutschman among 23 non-roster invitees the Orioles will welcome to Sarasota, Fla., next month, a group that also includes rising southpaw Bruce Zimmerman. They’ll compete alongside No. 4 prospect Ryan Mountcastle, No. 8 Dean Kremer, No. 11 Keegan Akin and No. 13 Ryan McKenna, who were added to the 40-man roster in November.
All told, the Orioles will have 14 of their current Top 30 prospects per MLB Pipeline with them when they open camp next month. Zimmerman will be included in Pipeline’s updated rankings -- due in a few weeks -- giving them 15 total.
Rutschman’s invitation, the first of his career, was first reported by MLB.com last week. Rutschman, 21, was recently named MLB’s No. 4 overall prospect in MLB Pipeline’s preseason Top 100 Prospects ranking. He is expected to begin the season at Class A Short-Season Aberdeen or Class A Delmarva.
Ranked as Baltimore’s No. 5 prospect in MLB Pipeline’s current Orioles rankings, Diaz didn’t have to be added to the 40-man due to service time particulars, but his invitation isn’t a surprise. It’ll be his second invite to MLB camp; this is the first invite to big league camp for the other non-roster players. The main return in the 2018 trade for Manny Machado, Diaz was hampered by leg injuries in 2018, hitting .262 with an .807 OPS for Double-A Bowie. He, Mountcastle, Kremer, Lowther, Wells, McKenna and Bannon are all expected to open 2020 at Triple-A Norfolk, with a chance to reach the Majors at some point this summer.
Akin may very well start the year in Triple-A, too, but he’ll get a chance to compete for a rotation job spot in camp alongside Rule 5 Draft picks Brandon Bailey and Michael Rucker, David Hess and others. Left-handed starters Lowther, Wells and Zimmerman were part of the vaunted rotation at Double-A Bowie last season headed by 24-year-old righty Michael Baumann, who was not invited to camp.
The Orioles’ 23 non-roster invitees also includes Minor League veteran righty Brady Rodgers, lefty Rob Zastryzny, catchers Bryan Holaday and Taylor Davis, infielder Dilson Herrera and outfielder Mason Williams. All signed or re-signed Minor League deals with Baltimore this offseason.
Here's the full list of non-roster invitees to Orioles' Spring Training:
RHP Cristian Alvarado
LHP Ty Blach
LHP Hunter Cervenka
RHP Marcos Diplán
RHP Tom Eshelman
RHP Eric Hanhold
LHP Zac Lowther
RHP Brady Rodgers
RHP Chandler Shepherd
LHP Alex Wells
LHP Rob Zastryzny
LHP Bruce Zimmermann