NORFOLK, VA (WTKR)- If you plan to head out to Harbor Park to take in a Tides game, you'll see some of the best young up and coming baseball talent. Fans may want to act fast to see some of these prospects, though, as it would appear some of these Tides might be riding the wave to the Major Leagues sooner rather than later.
The 2022 edition of the Tides is one of the more talented versions of the team fans have seen. The Orioles' minor league system is ranked number one when it comes to Major League farm systems and young stars on the doorstep of The Show will be in display.
"Everyone pulls for each other and I think that's something you don't really hear a lot about regarding Minor League Baseball," outfielder Kyle Stowers noted.
"We have a really good group here, a lot of high profile guys," added manager Buck Britton.
"We've got a lot of pitchers and they all have something special about them," pitcher Grayson Rodriguez pointed out. "There's something elite about every guy here. In terms of hitters, there's a lot of power in the line-up. I think we're going to see a lot of balls fly out of the park."
While the Tides could send some baseballs fishing, the team's current top prospect looks to keep opponents from doing the same. Rodriguez is the sixth-ranked prospect in the game according to MLB.com and tops among pitchers.
"When he gets out there, the focus level turns up," Britton said of his ace. "It's a guy that switches into game mode when he's out there and it's exciting."
Keep your eye on Stowers when it comes to excelling at the plate and in the field. He's the Orioles' eighth-ranked prospect and is currently Norfolk's top position player, boasting an arm that can terrorize opposing baserunners and a bat that could power him to Baltimore. Of course, there's some pressure that comes with the high marks and big expectations, but at this level, channeling that is all part of the business.
"Try to get the most out of each day and whatever happens happens," Stowers said of his approach. "I'm kind of the belief that if I handle myself, let the cards fall as they may and I can live with that."
"I think there is a little bit of pressure with it, but to me I really don't pay attention to that kind of stuff," Rodriguez added. "Honestly, it's ultimately somebody's opinion. To me, it really doesn't mean much."
21 of the 26 current Tides have played in Norfolk before. Six of them are ranked among Baltimore's top 30 prospects and it could be just a matter of time before some of these Orioles fly north.
"While ultimately stats here don't matter, it's a road to the big leagues," noted Rodriguez. "Being able to come down here, face these older guys- just try to get the craft ready for the big leagues."
"I think the message is let's just continue to work so when that opportunity does come in Baltimore, we're ready to compete up there and hopefully stick, secure a job and be there for the long haul," Britton said.
One noticeable absence is catcher Adley Rutschman. The catcher is the number two-ranked prospect in all of baseball, but hasn't been assigned to a team just yet. He remains at the Orioles' spring training site as he continues to nurse a triceps strain back to health. Rutschman is expected to join the Tides at some point in the future.