Thursday, September 21, 2023

Farm to Table


What's been so astounding about this Orioles team is how few of its big pieces came from other farm systems. It's really just Anthony Santander, Adam Frazier, Kyle Gibson, Kyle Bradish, Jorge Mateo, Yennier Cano and Ryan O'Hearn. That's basically it. And a handful of those guys, mostly the first three, will probably be gone after this year, and their departures won't exactly sink the team.

And on the inverse of that, all of Cedric Mullins, Adley Rutschman, Gunnar Henderson, Grayson Rodriguez, John Means, Ramon Urias, Heston Kjerstad, Ryan Mountcastle, Austin Hays, and DL Hall are homegrown. Several of them, including Rutschman, Kjerstad, Mountcastle and Jordan Westburg are all first round picks, without even including the other 1st round pick that may be up next year at this rate. This is a homegrown, farm-developed core that is only rivaled by recent dynasties like the Cubs and Astros. And with this incredible 2023 season, the Orioles have launched themselves into the conversation and offered themselves up as one of the next great super teams. Rutschman, Mullins, Henderson and Hays, among others, all delivered this year, and it's a thrilling start to what could be a dynasty. The Orioles just need to make the right decisions, knowing that contracts are gonna start expiring and they won't be able to keep everybody. 

The trick will be employing a similar strategy to this year involving supplemental contracts. This strategy premiered last year, and the Orioles got a decent year out of veteran infielder Rougned Odor, as well as a pillar veteran starter year from Jordan Lyles. 2023 brought better versions of those types of contracts, as this is a better team. Adam Frazier has been an excellent utility infield option, being one of eight Orioles with 60 RBIs or more, and has been the primary second baseman despite several developing infield options. Kyle Gibson has been a sturdier version of Lyles, with a 14-9 record and 149 Ks, despite a 5 ERA. Gibson is not the best pitcher in this rotation, but he hasn't missed a start and has been a loyal innings eater despite not being as strong as his peak Minnesota/Texas years.

And on top of those guys you've had lower-key pieces like Ryan O'Hearn and Aaron Hicks, who've both been surprisingly excellent lineup additions despite failing in previous markets. O'Hearn's another one of the 60 RBI guys, and is hitting .310, which is wild from a perennial one-dimensional power guy. Hicks is hitting .288 with 29 RBIs and 7 homers in 57 games, which isn't bad at all. It'll be better off for the Orioles to keep adding contracts like these rather than overhauling the team and putting a fork into the slow crawl of rookies. The hope is that the excellent pieces are gonna keep coming, even after Holliday, and that the development will continue to be well-run. I really hope this doesn't burn out after only a couple years, these guys deserve more than that.

But, of course, let's see how they do this postseason. I'd absolutely love them to go far, even if this is just what I assume is the beginning of their run.

Coming Tomorrow- The Braves were already really damn good. Then he came off the IL. 

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