According to Roch Kubatko of MASN, the Orioles are expected to select the contract of outfield prospect Colton Cowser ahead of tomorrow’s game against the Yankees. Baltimore has a full 40-man roster, meaning the club will need to clear space for the youngster before he can join the team. The impending move will put Cowser in line to make his major league debut.
Cowser, 23, was selected by the Orioles with the fifth overall pick in the 2021 draft. After a sensational professional debut late in the 2021 campaign that saw him slash .375/.490/.492 with more walks than strikeouts between rookie ball and Single-A, Cowser entered the 2022 campaign as a consensus top 100 prospect in the sport. He delivered on that promise and then some, advancing from High-A all the way to Triple-A by the end of 2022 while slashing a solid .278/.406/.469 across three levels of the minor leagues.
While Cowser’s 2022 vaulted him up prospect rankings to the point where he entered 2023 as a consensus top 40 prospect in all of baseball, the Orioles opted to take things slowly with the lefty slugger during his age-23 campaign after he slashed just .219/.339/.429 in 124 Triple-A plate appearances last year. In his return to the club’s Norfolk affiliate, Cowser has proven that he’s mastered the Triple-A level: he’s slashed a whopping .330/.459/.537 with a phenomenal 18.7% walk rate in 257 plate appearances at the level this year.
In making his MLB debut, Cowser joins Baltimore’s youth movement that began with the promotion of Adley Rutschman last summer. Since then, the club has seen top prospects Gunnar Henderson, Grayson Rodriguez, Joey Ortiz, and Jordan Westburg all debut in the big leagues. The surge of young talent has helped buoy the Orioles throughout a fantastic first half. The club is currently 49-35, second in a highly competitive AL East division and in the driver’s seat of the AL wild card race.
Going forward, Cowser figures to slot into the club’s outfield mix. With Cedric Mullins entrenched in center field and both Austin Hays (132 wRC+) and Anthony Santander (122 wRC+) having excellent seasons, it seems likely that Cowser’s arrival leaves Aaron Hicks ticketed for a smaller role. The 33-year-old veteran has had a resurgence since joining the Orioles after being designated for assignment by the Yankees earlier this season, slashing .262/.374/.464 in 99 plate appearances with Baltimore. Going forward, Hicks seems likely to fill the reserve outfielder role currently occupied by Ryan McKenna.