Orioles minor league report: Mac Horvath, Baltimore’s 2nd-round pick, ‘super excited’ to join baseball’s top farm system

18 July 2023

Mac Horvath acknowledged that he doesn’t know much about the Orioles.

In the week since being selected by them in the second round of the 2023 MLB draft, he’s had more pressing matters than learning the ins and outs of Baltimore baseball history.

There is one thing about the Orioles he does know, though.

“They’re pulling up a lot of young guys,” Horvath said during his introductory news conference at Camden Yards on Monday. “I think that kind of speaks to how good they are at developing talent.”

The Orioles selected Horvath, an outfielder out of North Carolina, with the 53rd pick after drafting Vanderbilt outfielder Enrique Bradfield Jr. in the first round. Baltimore signed both players Monday. Horvath, who will turn 22 on Saturday, said his first stop as an Oriole will be at the club’s facility in Sarasota, Florida.

Orioles director of draft operations Brad Ciolek said Horvath’s overall athletic profile stood out most. After hitting below .270 in his first two years with the Tar Heels, the 6-foot-1, 200-pound junior hit .305 with a whopping .711 slugging percentage.

“As far as the production this year offensively with North Carolina, over 20 doubles, 20 home runs, 20 stolen bases,” Ciolek said last week. “That just kind of goes to show you the kind of athlete we’re getting here.”

Horvath, who Baseball America ranked as the 67th-best prospect in the draft pool, said he expected to be selected on Day 1, not knowing whether he’d be taken in the second round or in the Competitive Balance Round B.

“It was just a huge relief for my family and a lot of excitement when my name got called,” he said.

In his first two seasons at UNC, Horvath exclusively played third base, but this spring he started 32 games at third, 20 in right field and eight in center. He mostly played outfield in the highly competitive wood-bat Cape Cod Baseball League in the summer, and Ciolek said Horvath will play both center field and third base to “capitalize on his athleticism.”

“Honestly, I feel like I’m an outfielder,” Horvath said. “I feel comfortable out there and confident, but obviously playing third base for the last three years now, I also feel very comfortable there as well.”

Horvath said he’s “super excited” to get started with his professional career, especially joining a farm system that Baseball America ranks as the best in the sport with eight players inside its top 100.

“Looking at what they’ve done, just bringing up all these young guys,” he said. “And they have even more guys knocking on the door getting up here.”

Each week, The Baltimore Sun breaks down five of the top performers in Baltimore’s prospect ranks and hands out some superlatives for those who didn’t make that cut.

1. Double-A Bowie outfielder John Rhodes

Similar to the major leagues, the minors took a slight break last week, not playing until Friday. It’s hard to have a better weekend than the one Rhodes had. The 22-year-old outfielder hit three home runs Friday and had game-tying and walk-off singles Sunday. The 2021 third-round pick was struggling in July after posting a .985 OPS in June. Rhodes hit .189 with a .555 OPS in 25 games with Bowie to end last season, but he’s posted a .784 OPS through 64 games this year.

2. Double-A Bowie shortstop Jackson Holliday

He was no Rhodes, but in his first Double-A action, Holliday more than held his own. The 19-year-old went 6-for-12 with a double and two walks, improving his overall numbers between Low-A, High-A and Double-A to a .338 batting average with a .996 OPS. The 2022 No. 1 overall pick has zoomed through the minors and up prospect rankings, now ranking atop MLB Pipeline’s list and No. 2 on Baseball America’s.

3. Triple-A Norfolk infielder Connor Norby

Norby opened the season as one of eight Orioles players on Baseball America’s top 100 list, but after struggling to begin the year, he’s fallen off the rankings and is now outside Baltimore’s top 10 prospects. Through April, the 23-year-old infielder had a .306 on-base percentage with just two home runs in 24 games. In 60 games since, the 2021 second-round pick has hit .297 with 19 doubles and 11 doubles to boost his overall slash line to .287/.344/.473 — good for an .817 OPS. This past weekend, Norby went 5-for-12 with two home runs.

4. Double-A Bowie right-hander Alex Pham

Pham, a 19th-round pick in 2021, posted a 2.45 ERA with a 36.7% strikeout rate in High-A to earn his promotion to Bowie a month ago. He’s maintained that success in his four outings since, allowing just two runs in 17 innings. He pitched four no-hit scoreless innings Saturday, walking two and striking out one.

5. High-A Aberdeen catcher-first baseman Creed Willems

A year ago, Willems was hitting .145 with a .460 OPS in Low-A. But he ended the year strong and carried that over into 2023, posting a 1.056 OPS with Delmarva to earn a promotion to High-A. With Aberdeen, the 20-year-old has hit seven home runs in 33 games, including a two-run blast Friday in a game he had five RBIs.

The top prospect not featured so far

It’s rare for Joey Ortiz to be in this spot in the minor league report. The infielder has either been in the major leagues, mostly on Baltimore’s bench, or dominating in Triple-A to earn a spot as one of the five highlighted players above. Ortiz had an average weekend — for his standards as someone with a career .952 OPS in Triple-A — going 4-for-12 with a double, a triple and two RBIs. Ortiz, the Orioles’ No. 5 prospect still in the minors, is slashing .333/.389/.554 in 208 plate appearances with the Tides this year.

International acquisition of the week

Deivy Cruz, a pitcher the Orioles signed out of the Dominican Republic in January 2021, pitched four scoreless innings for Low-A Delmarva on Sunday. The 5-foot-11, 154-pound lefty hasn’t allowed a run in his past three outings, spanning 13 innings. For the season, Cruz, 19, is 7-1 with a 3.82 ERA in 61 1/3 innings.

Time to give a shoutout to …

In his first 41 games this season, Low-A Delmarva shortstop Carter Young was hitting .185 with a .580 OPS. Young, drafted by the Orioles last summer out of Vanderbilt, has since hit .299 with a .775 OPS with 10 multi-hit games in 28 contests. Last week, the 22-year-old went 4-for-12 with a double, two walks and two RBIs.

Short-season snippets

Thomas Sosa, an outfielder the Orioles signed out of the Dominican Republic in January 2022, had the best week of any player on Baltimore’s Florida Complex League team over the past week. He went 5-for-16 with a home run, a triple and four RBIs. … Right-hander Raúl Rangel, a 20-year-old Venezuelan who was part of Mike Elias’ first international signing class in 2019, pitched four scoreless innings in the FCL with three strikeouts Thursday. … In the Dominican Summer League, left-hander Noelin Cuevas, who signed with the Orioles out of the Dominican Republic in December 2021, struck out nine in five scoreless innings Friday.


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