We all have heard the critics, and we have seen the record and standings. As fans, we are frustrated, impatient, and growing anxious in all ways. So with that in mind, the trade deadline is around the corner. And in a season with no playoffs in sight, let’s take a look at what our team will look like down the road! We will jump to 2023, just to have some fun!
First off, let’s look at what our lineup could look like. With draft picks from previous years and some veterans hanging around, we are shaping up to have a pretty good team in the not-so-distant future!
Potential 2023 Opening Day Orioles Starting Lineup:
- Cedric Mullins CF
- Adley Rutschman C
- Trey Mancini DH
- Ryan Mountcastle 1B
- Heston Kjerstad RF
- Austin Hays LF
- Jahmai Jones 2B
- Rylan Bannon 3B
- Gunnar Henderson SS
Cedric Mullins CF
No introduction needed here. After deciding to bat strictly from the left side, Cedric Mullins elevated his game to a new level. Carrying a .300+ batting average for most of the 2021 season, Mullins turned into a consistent and dependable leadoff hitter. With the speed to turn a single into a double and the ability to hit the ball to any part of the field, Mullins looks to be a staple for the future going forward. His defense has remained Gold Glove caliber, as Ceddy makes numerous highlight reel catches. Center field is locked down for years to come!
Adley Rutschman C
The 2019 No. 1 overall pick, Adley Rutschman has proven his worth during his climb through the minors. A force from both sides of the plate, his discipline makes him even more dangerous. He can hit for power from both sides and is a strong line drive hitter. To complete this guy’s extraordinary talent, he has a plus arm behind the plate and has been praised for his ability to prepare and call games. Pitchers throwing to him rave over his preparedness and how he includes them in game plans. The future, as well as the present, of this Orioles team, Adley looks to lock down the catcher position into the next wave of talent in Baltimore!
Trey Mancini DH
Mr. Oriole, “Boom-Boom” Trey Mancini, is still producing at a consistent pace for this team in 2023. After defying odds and returning from stage three colon cancer, Mancini keeps producing in the prime of his career. Relegated primarily to DH duties, Mancini still can play 1B when needed, but his value comes from his leadership and clubhouse presence. Fans adore Trey and his production, and his veteran presence helps guide the youngsters and provides them with leadership!
Ryan Mountcastle 1B
Lord Mountcastle needs no introduction. From the time he became a head turning young shortstop, to the time he made his debut as a left fielder for the Orioles, Mountcastle has worked hard and taken every assignment thrown his way. He comes to work daily with the knowledge and thought that he can make a difference, especially with his bat. In this projected lineup, he cleans it all up. Lord Mountcastle has become the heart beat of this young team, possessing an improving defense and ability to help lead the infield. As one of the so-called “veterans” on this young team, he will be around for years going forward!
Heston Kjerstad RF
After having a battle with myocarditis, Kjerstad was finally able to show why the Orioles picked him with the second overall pick in 2020. Possessing a strong left-handed power bat, Kjerstad recovered and moved through the organization quickly to prove his worth and finally return the favor the Orioles did by drafting him in a high slot. His aggressiveness might hurt him in the long run, but his ability to hit for both power and contact was one of the many draws when the Orioles drafted him. He has a strong arm for playing corner outfield, and what he lacks in speed, he makes up for with quickness in reading the ball. Heston will make his Major League debut on Opening Day 2023!
Austin Hays LF
Finally able to put those nagging hamstring issues behind him, “Action” Austin Hays has become the game-changer we always heard about. With his combination of speed and sneaky power, he has the ability to hit near the top of the order but sets up well in the lower half as a table setter. Always capable of placing one over the wall, his batting instincts and base running knowledge have made him a big part of the Orioles rebuild. He plays a strong defense, with an above average arm in left field. Capable of filling in at every outfield spot, he can change the game defensively and offensively on any given night. A young veteran, Hays is holding down left field for now, having names like Colton Cowser and Kyle Stowers waiting in the wings.
Jahmai Jones 2B
After the Los Angeles Angels gave up on the young prospect, the Orioles saw a diamond in the rough with Jahmai Jones. Displaying a hitter’s mentality, Jones is capable of extending singles, scoring from second, and is a great compliment near the bottom three of the order. Defensively, he is sound, with good range and average arm strength, having the ability to turn key double plays. Jones holds his own keys for his future, with names like Connor Norby, Terrin Vavra, and Anthony Servideo on the horizon, if he can’t produce at a consistent level.
Rylan Bannon 3B
The compact, but agile Rylan Bannon turned heads in 2021 spring training, waiting until the Orioles signed Maikel Franco to earn a little more consistent playing time in the minors. Strong plate discipline with raw power, Bannon has made his way to the Orioles starting lineup, after impressing in the minor league system just a year or so before. With the ability to control the strike zone and gather walks, he has maintained a high on base percentage, which should profile into solid production at the plate. He has a strong arm, one that he learned to control over the past couple years, making his ability to play the hot corner even more impressive. He has a great first step reaction, and his versatility should keep him around for sometime. As a bat first player, his offense will dictate where his career takes him. But for now, he is your starting third baseman on Opening Day 2023!
Gunnar Henderson SS
The former Alabama Baseball and Basketball Player of the Year, Henderson has pushed his way up the ladder to become the Orioles’ Opening Day starting shortstop in 2023. A physical left-handed hitter, with above-average hitting and power, Henderson has the athleticism to excel at any infield position, as well as a pinch in the outfield. He has speed on the bases for a tall young man, and his strong work ethic makes him an improving talent. His strong arm gives him the ability to make the deep throw, and his foot work allows for quick reactions and reads. At age 21, Henderson’s talent reminds fans of a former young shortstop, Manny Machado.
Now that we have established our potential starting lineup, we need some guys to make sure we are in games and to shut down the other team. After all, without pitching, we won’t go anywhere. So, let’s take a look at what our potential starting rotation might look like on Opening Day 2023!
Potential 2023 Orioles Starting Rotation:
- John Means LHP
- Grayson Rodriguez RHP
- D.L. Hall LHP
- Michael Baumann RHP
- Bruce Zimmermann LHP
The Orioles are pitching deep. With a strong development in the minors, the Orioles have the luxury of spot starters and bullpen depth for the future. Of course, Kyle Bradish, Alexander Wells, Kevin Smith, and Kyle Brnovich all are capable of filling the forth and fifth spots, but we’re rolling with these five arms for now.
John Means LHP
“The Businessman” hardly needs an introduction. From a non-draftee to a 2019 All-Star, John Means has held his own and then some on his way to being the leader of the pitching staff. From his improbable no-hitter in 2021, Means takes every game with the approach that he has go seven innings. Since his surprise rookie year, it was a matter of time before he became a long-term starter for the Orioles, and he will hold that throne for the next few years!
Grayson Rodriguez RHP
“The Gas Man” has been one of the most exciting pitching prospects to come through our system in years. With a plus fastball capable of reaching triple digits, a dangerous slider, and strikeout changeup, Rodriguez fills all the boxes with his 6’5″ frame. Capable of being a frontline starter, his ability to excel at each level has made him one of the most dangerous pitchers to toe the mound for the Orioles.
D.L. Hall LHP
Another flamethrower, and another lefty for the starting rotation. With his teammate “G-Rodzilla” joining him in the rotation, Hall helps form a solid 1-2-3 punch that should keep the Orioles competitive every game. Hall has four pitches that he commands very well, but like Rodriguez, his fastball is what has excited the fans. Separating his curve and slider to develope a good arsenal, Hall’s most dangerous out pitch could be his low 80’s changeup that’s set up to baffle the opposition. Another young member of the pitching staff, he has the ability to be a key figure in the rotation going forward.
Michael Baumann RHP
At 6’4″, the big righty, Michael Baumann, cracks into the four slot, where he might be a number two or three starter on most teams. He has a plus fastball that pushes to 96-98 mph and a slider that grades out just about as dangerous. As he developed his change and improved his curve, Baumann became one of the stronger prospects over the last couple years, pushing his way into a starting role that groups out with four starters approaching their mid 20’s. Baumann could easily be a closer with his arsenal, but because of how he progressed, he pushed his way into the rotation and will now be one of the stabilizers in the rotation.
Bruce Zimmermann LHP
After working through an injury plagued 2021, Bruce Zimmermann has turned the corner and pushed his way back into the rotation mix once again. With the five spot open to as many as five others, it was Zimmermann who made the most of his opportunity and experience to be the anchor. More of a finesse pitcher than a power pitcher, like other members of the rotation, Zimmermann uses an average fastball but above average secondary pitches to stake his claim as a back end starter. He still garners swings and misses, but he pitches to contact, keeping the defense involved in his starts. Someone who could also be a long relief option, Zimm gives the O’s depth, which is vital for any team.
This is just a fun opinion piece to give an idea of what our team might look like in 2023. Some of these players might still be in the minors or even traded away, but based on values, current rankings, and probable debuts, this grades out to be a strong team.
Don’t miss part two of this piece coming later this week, as we go over the bullpen and the bench for our 2023 Birds!
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