As we are now under 100 days until the 2023 MLB and MILB seasons, it’s time we start to look at the underrated prospects in the Baltimore Orioles organization.
These five prospects are players that are not currently in the Orioles’ top-30 list. They are a group who has gone under the radar to begin their professional careers.
Without further ado, let’s get started.
Creed Willems – Catcher
Creed Willems was selected in the eighth round of the 2021 draft out of Aledo High School in Aledo, Texas.
The young catcher spent the entire 2022 season in Delmarva, and while his stats don’t show his potential, there is more to him than what shows on paper.
In 2022, Willems played in 68 games with the Shorebirds. He slashed .190/.264/.321 with a .585 OPS and had 42 hits, nine doubles, four triples and four home runs. He also had 23 RBIs and walked 14 times.
At 19 years old, Creed shows great athleticism behind the plate, shows great hustle with his four triples and his plate discipline is something he’s improving on as he makes his way through the farm.
While he is in a position that seems to be locked up, Willems makes perfect sense for a possible future DH within the coming years for the Orioles.
Zach Peek – Right-Handed Pitcher
Let’s take a “Peek” at the future of our rotation.
Zach Peek was selected by the Angels in the sixth round of the 2019 draft out of Winthrop University. He became an Oriole on December 4, 2019, in the trade that sent Dylan Bundy to Los Angeles, and ever since, has been a fan favorite.
Peek spent his entire 2022 season in Double-A with the Bowie Baysox, but his season was very streaky because of different injuries. His season would unfortunately end early when he had to get Tommy John Surgery.
During the year, Peek pitched and started in 11 games. He had a 0-3 record with a 3.57 ERA in 45.1 innings pitched and gave up 41 total hits and 18 earned runs while walking just 13 batters to 40 strikeouts.
Last year, in the 11 games pitched, the 24-year-old had a K/9 of 7.9 and held a WHIP of 1.191. And what may be most impressive is that out of his 18 earned runs given up, he only gave up three home runs.
Peek is a guy that has potential through the roof and has a chance to make the MLB roster as soon as 2024. We saw in 2021 that Peek had over 120 total strikeouts and had a 3.80 ERA in almost doubled the amount of innings.
Keep a “Peek” on the man, Zach Peek. Get well soon.
Peter Van Loon – Right-Handed Pitcher
Another future rotational piece in the making is not being talked about at all, and we’re here to change that.
Peter Van Loon was a 16th-round pick in the 2021 draft by the Orioles out of UC Irvine. The now 23-year-old took no time in 2022 to show off his impressive skill set.
Van Loon spent the entire season with High-A Aberdeen, where he pitched in 24 games, starting 14 of them. He went 11-4 with a 3.25 ERA in 88.2 innings pitched and gave up 80 total hits and 32 earned runs while walking 32 batters and striking out 97.
Van Loon is our minor league and right-handed version of Keegan Akin in the sense that he could start or could be a long reliever out of the bullpen. PVL could be seen in September of 2023 but is more likely going to be a 2024 option for the Orioles.
Luis Valdez – Second Baseman/Outfielder
He has a baseball need. It’s his need for speed.
Luis Valdez was signed on May 20, 2019, as an international free agent out of the Dominican Republic. Valdez had a record-breaking 2022 minor league season, as he showed off his spectacular speed.
Valdez, 22, spent time between Low-A Delmarva and High-A Aberdeen, where he slashed a combined .265/.339/.339 with a .678 OPS. He had 116 total hits, 13 doubles, five triples and three home runs.
He also tallied 25 RBIs and walked 44 times. Oh, and he also stole 71 bases (yes, you read that correctly).
Valdez is someone that I highly compare to Jorge Mateo. His defense is also something that is stellar, having just one error on the year, and he showed in 2022 just how high his potential can get.
Shelton Perkins – Right-Handed Pitcher
Shelton Perkins is possibly the most not talked about prospect that is deemed as underrated.
The 25-year-old was drafted in the 16th round of the 2019 draft by the Orioles out of James Madison University. Perkins is a powerful righty that is dominant out of the pen.
Perkins spent the entire 2022 season in Double-A with the Bowie Baysox, where he went 1-4 in 28 games pitched. He had a 3.28 ERA in 35.2 innings pitched, gave up 22 hits, 13 earned runs, walked 25 batters and struck out 37.
Although his walks were high, his K/9 was at 9.3, and he only gave up two home runs on the season. It will be interesting to see where he starts the 2023 season.
Perkins is currently out with injury, as he had surgery on September 8. We all wish Shelton a quick recovery and are ready to see him pitch in 2023.
What Orioles prospect do you think is underrated? Let us know in the comments below! And make sure to follow The Baltimore Battery on Facebook and Twitter, and use the hashtag #baltimorebattery when sharing our content!
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