Which Orioles prospects' swing data portends improvement in 2023 and beyond?
The ability to make contact in the strike zone and not chase are traits the Orioles value. These prospects showed it in 2022, and could take off because of it.
Let’s think about something less discouraging than the Orioles’ offseason for a second, shall we?
I imagine that even when the Orioles do make their move to add a pitcher, it still won’t be enough to lift spirits too much given where the expectations for the winter began, but that space isn’t going to be a fun one to live in until baseball returns.
This space, however, is nominally still about what will help the Orioles eventually contend again, and though upgrading the rotation counts for that, so too do many other facets of the world. Like breakout hitting prospects, and specifically, who could be one in 2023?
I’ve been sitting on a spreadsheet with some batted ball data for Orioles prospects for most of the offseason, and there’s some interesting names popping up when sorted by in-zone whiff rate and chase rate that indicate the types of players who at least have the batted ball and strike zone control skills to take a step forward in 2023.
First of all, why does this matter? At a base level, the Orioles’ hitting philosophy has centered around the pursuit of hard, elevated contact from its young hitters. To do that consistently, the preach swing decisions to ensure players are focused on pitches in areas where they’re most likely to drive the ball and laying off those outside those zones, even if they’re strikes.
So, the thinking goes that the more contact a player can make on pitches in the zone, the better chance they’ll have to impact the ball on those types of pitches. Joey Ortiz had this kind of batted ball skill before his swing adjustment unlocked his power this summer. Who else has the markers of success that could lead to a similar breakout?