Adley Rutschman’s delayed debut has provided the Orioles at least one benefit.

MLB Pipeline updated its prospect rankings this week, with several players near the top of the list falling off after spending enough time in the majors to no longer qualify. That group includes top-five prospects in Kansas City’s Bobby Witt Jr., Detroit’s Spencer Torkelson and Seattle’s Julio Rodríguez.

But it doesn’t include Rutschman, who — as those players did for their clubs — might have started the year on Baltimore’s season-opening roster if not for a right tricep strain suffered early in spring training. He’s still prospect eligible for the time being, meaning the Orioles have two of the game’s top three prospects with right-hander Grayson Rodriguez moving up to No. 3.

Rodriguez was one of several players in the upper levels of the Orioles’ system who stood out last week. Each week, The Baltimore Sun will break down five of the top performers in the Orioles’ prospect ranks and hand out some superlatives for those who didn’t make that cut.

1. Triple-A Norfolk outfielder Kyle Stowers

Entering the finale of the Tides’ most recent homestand, Stowers had hit .136/.222/.210 over the previous month, with one home run and a 28.6% strikeout rate. He homered in the final game of that series with Memphis, though, and he carried that momentum into last week against Charlotte. In six games, Stowers homered five times — including thrice Sunday — and slugged 1.200 to earn International League Player of the Week honors. With six home runs in an eight-day span, he’s tied High-A Aberdeen’s Coby Mayo for the system lead with nine.

2. Double-A Bowie infielder Jordan Westburg

Over the past two weeks, Westburg has raised his batting average almost 50 points and his OPS more than 100. Hitting .298 with a 1.004 OPS over two series will do plenty to improve a .187/.308/.396 batting line, though he’s struck out in 36.5% of plate appearances in that time. Still, Westburg’s done well when putting the ball in play. This past week, he recorded four two-hit games, with five of those eight knocks going for extra bases.

3. Triple-A Norfolk right-hander Grayson Rodriguez

With Rutschman up to the majors, Rodriguez is presumably next to watch. In two starts last week, the 22-year-old struck out 20 batters against four walks in 11 1/3 innings, allowing two runs. He struck out 11 in 5 1/3 scoreless frames last Tuesday. Statcast tracked the last of his 86 pitches Sunday at 98.6 mph, his hardest-thrown offering of the day to secure his ninth strikeout. The Orioles have a couple of openings in their rotation this weekend, but given how executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias spoke about managing Rodriguez’s workload over the weekend, it seems unlikely he’ll be called upon to fill them.

4. Double-A Bowie infielder Gunnar Henderson

Henderson has 160 plate appearances this year for the Baysox, and none have come against a pitcher younger than him. The 20-year-old continues to tear through a level at which he is three years younger than the average player. Last week, his success came in the form of a 1.268 OPS with as many home runs (three) as strikeouts. Henderson is bound to be promoted at some point this season, but there’s no need to rush a player so young this early in the season.

5. Triple-A Norfolk outfielder Robert Neustrom

The upper minors dominate this week’s recap. Like Stowers, Neustrom is a Tides outfielder who’s not on the 40-man roster, meaning his path to playing time in Baltimore is a difficult one — for the moment — given the presence of Cedric Mullins, Austin Hays and Anthony Santander. But should an opportunity present itself, Neustrom is doing just as much as Stowers to grab it. He hit .308/.333/.741 last week, with his three homers bringing him to eight for the season to go with a .497 slugging percentage.

The top prospect not featured so far

No. 3 prospect DL Hall threw 69 pitches in his lone start last week for Norfolk, his most as he works to build up after a stress fracture in his left elbow ended his 2021 season after seven starts. But all those pitches led to only nine outs, as Hall allowed five hits, three walks and four runs in three innings. His stuff was excellent — almost half his pitches were 97 mph or harder, with a couple of 99s mixed in — but as has long been the case for Hall, he needs to hone it to eventually reach the majors.

International acquisition of the week

There wasn’t a standout player in this category this week, so we’ll give the nod to César Prieto, who earned a promotion to Bowie not necessary by what he did last week — slashing .278/.278/.333 — but what he’s done for High-A Aberdeen so far this year, hitting .340 with an OPS of 1.000. He was not the lone promotion this week, with Darell Hernaiz and Alex Pham joining Aberdeen and Carter Baumler and Elio Prado going from extended spring training to Low-A Delmarva.

The best former top-30 prospect of the week

With a former Oregon State teammate in Rutschman reaching the majors this week, Cadyn Grenier claims the title this week. Drafted 37th overall in 2018, Grenier has been known for his glove over his bat. That’s been the case this season, as well; he leads the Tides in games played on the middle infield, but he came into last week hitting .185. Perhaps his .296/.367/.370 showing in Charlotte can carry forward.

Time to give some shine to …

A collection of Aberdeen pitchers had solid outings, with Ignacio Feliz, Connor Gillispie and Peter Van Loon among them. Carlos Tavera registered the most strikeouts of the group, recording nine in 4 2/3 innings while allowing one run on two hits. Tied with Baumler for being the highest-drafted pitcher of Elias’ tenure as a fifth-round pick, Tavera, 23, has a 3.21 ERA through seven starts, striking out a third of the batters he’s faced with a 1.000 WHIP.


Tuesday, 7:05 p.m.


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