The Baltimore Orioles have spent the last three years putting together an organization from bottom to top. Though rebuilds like this take time, it’s hard to turn your eyes away from the minor league system the Orioles have built, currently the best in baseball.
With the top overall prospect and top pitching prospect, the Orioles have put together a crop of young talent that fans are anxiously awaiting to see make their presence on the diamond.
Recently, the minor league season has come end, and the Orioles have announced their season awards for the minor league system. Let’s take a look and see who received the honors in 2021!
Jim Russo Scout of the Year: Brandon Verley
Verley has been working with the Orioles for over a decade now. From 2010 to 2019, he was a scout in the Pacific Northwest, covering Washington, Idaho, Montana and Oregon.
As of 2020, Verley covered the South Florida and Puerto Rico region, becoming an integral part of scouting young talent, as well as returning the Orioles back into the international market.
There is no doubt that Brandon deserves this honor. Congratulations to him on a job well done.
Cal Ripken Sr. Player Development Award: Buck Britton
Buck Britton is the manager of the Orioles’ Double-A affiliate, the Bowie Baysox, and has spent four seasons there. A major accomplishment for Britton has been leading Bowie to back-to-back Eastern League Championship Series. This past year, he lead Bowie to a 73-47 record.
The biggest accomplishment of the year was how Britton handled the growth of players such as Adley Rutschman, Grayson Rodriguez, Kyle Stowers and a plethora of other young prospects. Helping develop these players to top prospects and even helping them get promotions to Triple-A Norfolk were just a few examples of just how impactful Buck is. With players constantly shuffled and moved, Britton was able to still get his team to compete daily and be one of the top minor league teams in all of baseball.
Congratulations, Buck. Cal Sr. would be proud.
Jim Palmer Minor League Pitcher of the Year: Grayson Rodriguez
The No. 8 overall prospect in baseball and the top minor league pitcher in 2021, Grayson Rodriguez has turned out to be one of the most exciting arms to watch when it comes time to take the mound.
Gray-Rod was promoted to Bowie at the beginning of June after a 3-0 start with a 1.54 ERA in Aberdeen. Coming off being Pitcher of the Month not only for the Orioles, but for High-A in general, Rodriguez was given his chance to shine in Bowie.
In Bowie, Grayson would go 6-1 with a 2.60 ERA across 79.2 innings. Even more impressive was that he struck out 121, while walking only 22. His 121 strikeouts led all Double-A baseball, while finishing fourth overall for strikeouts in the minors on the season.
Overall, Gray-Rod would go 9-1 with a 2.07 ERA across the two levels. In 103 innings, he would strike out 161, while walking an impressive 27 on the season.
Fantastic season, Grayson. That’s our ace.
Brooks Robinson Player of Year: Adley Rutschman and Kyle Stowers
Kyle Stowers was an under-the-radar prospect mainly due to being outside the top-10 of Orioles prospects. What many don’t know about Stowers is he moved across three levels this season and made a lot of noise.
Drafted 71st in the same draft as Adley Rutschman, the power-hitting outfielder proved he was a name to be reckoned with, showing off his power.
Across 119 games, Stowers hit 27 home runs, while batting .282 and knocking in 83. He also hit 23 doubles and had 69 walks, while having 122 total hits on the season. Another gem of the 2019 draft, Stowers proved he was just as big a find for the Orioles.
Sharing the award was another top prospect, the number one overall prospect in baseball, Adley Rutschman.
Rutschman has been hyped all season, as he has shown why he is the top prospect in baseball. Not hitting as many home runs as Stowers, Rutschman still managed to hit 23 and quite a few moon shots as well. Hitting .282 across 117 games, Rutschman started his season in Double-A, playing 80 games before finishing the season in Triple-A Norfolk.
Moving up to Norfolk, Rutschman hit .321 with a .945 OPS across 37 games. Making a difference at each level, whether it be managing a pitching staff or at the plate, the hype around Adley is one of the loudest in baseball. The center of the Orioles’ rebuild, he has proven his status as the top prospect and most anxiously awaited to appear in the majors.
Congrats boys. Can’t wait to see where 2022 takes you both.
The Baltimore Battery would like to congratulate these top prospects and also the entire minor league system for making it the tops in baseball. After a stellar 2021 season, the future looks as bright as stars shinning already.
What do you think of these winners? Let us know in the comments, and be sure to follow The Baltimore Battery on Facebook and Twitter and our podcast “The Walk-Off” on YouTube and Spotify! And, make sure to use the hashtag #baltimorebattery when sharing our content to show your Birdland swag!
Like Stephen’s content? Follow him on Twitter, @SrHeckman!