February 2, 2023

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These are the Orioles' best homegrown stars

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BALTIMORE — With Adley Rutschman now in the Majors, the Orioles hope they are getting their first big league look at their next homegrown star. They are a franchise well-versed with that type of player, able to sport five Hall of Famers and many other club legends who spent the entirety of their formative years developing in Baltimore’s farm system.

It’s a decorated group, one Rutschman could join one day in the distant future. Here is a look at the best homegrown stars in Orioles history:

1. Cal Ripken Jr., SS
Drafted in second round (No. 48 overall) in 1978

The competition for the top spot in this category is between two inner-circle Hall of Famers, two all-time legends. It’s a coin flip, and it goes to Ripken because of just how deep his Baltimore-area roots run. A product of nearby Aberdeen, Ripken was a hometown kid when the Orioles drafted him in ’78. He was in the big leagues three years later, a two-time MVP and World Series champion after that, and by the time he retired in 2001, had grown into one of baseball’s most iconic figures.

2. Brooks Robinson, 3B
Signed as amateur free agent before 1955 season

There was no Draft as we know it now when Robinson was growing up in Little Rock, Ark. There also weren’t any Orioles in Baltimore. But the franchise made one of the most rewarding moves in its history when it signed Robinson in ’55, one year after moving from St. Louis. Robinson reached the Majors that season as an 18-year-old, and spent the rest of his Hall of Fame 23-year career in Charm City. He remains a Baltimore-area resident to this day, and arguably the best third baseman to ever play the game.

3. Jim Palmer, RHP
Signed as amateur free agent before 1963 season

It was the summer of 1963 when Palmer, fresh out of high school, caught the attention of then-Orioles farm director Harry Dalton in a collegiate league in Winner, S.D. The future Hall of Famer spent just one season in the Minors, grew into an All-Star by 1970, and spent the next decade plus performing as one of the premier starting pitchers of his generation. A three-time Cy Young winner, Palmer holds the O’s franchise record in many major pitching categories. He still works for the team as a respected broadcaster, now in his mid-70s.

4. Eddie Murray, 1B
Drafted in third round (No. 63 overall) in 1973

One of just seven players with 500 homers and 3,000 hits, Murray ranks as the Orioles’ second-best all-time Draft pick behind Ripken. He signed out of the Los Angeles high school scene and reached the Majors as a 21-year-old in ’77, earning AL Rookie of the Year honors. The switch-hitting, slugging first baseman went on to become an eight-time All-Star, three-time Gold Glove winner and World Series champion across 21 big league seasons, 13 in Baltimore.

5. Mike Mussina, RHP
Drafted in first round (No. 20 overall) in 1990

A Hall of Fame inductee in 2019, Mussina remains the best starting pitcher drafted and developed by the Orioles in their history. Baltimore actually drafted him twice — first in the 11th round in ’87, and in the back of the first round three years later out of Stanford. He was in the big leagues 14 months later and emerged as a model of consistency across the next 18 seasons. A full decade of that career was spent in Baltimore, where Mussina went 147-81 with a 3.53 ERA, made all five of his career All-Star appearances, won four of seven Gold Gloves and finished at least fifth in Cy Young voting five times.

6. Manny Machado, 3B
Drafted in first round (No. 3 overall) in 2010

The Orioles were in an enviable position at the top of the 2010 Draft; they were too low for Bryce Harper or Jameson Taillon but still able to draft Machado from the South Florida high school ranks. The precocious shortstop became precociously skilled at the hot corner, emerging as one of baseball’s top defenders there by the time he debuted in 2012, at age 19. All told, he spent parts of seven seasons in Baltimore as one of the best players in baseball, making four All-Star appearances, winning two Gold Gloves and hitting 162 homers. Teams look for impact when picking at the top of the Draft, and Machado is arguably the most accomplished first-round position player in Orioles history.

7. Boog Powell, 1B
Signed as an amateur free agent in 1959

More than 60 years after the Orioles signed the burly left-handed hitter from the Florida Keys, Powell can still be found at Oriole Park most nights, manning his famous BBQ stand beyond the right-field seats. That’s the kind of long-term connection only possible with homegrown stars; Powell remains a draw all by himself four decades after his playing career ended. He spent most of it as the lineup linchpin of the O’s dynasty that won four AL pennants and two championships between 1966 and ’71, making four consecutive All-Star appearances and winning AL MVP honors in ’70. His 303 homers still rank third in franchise history, behind only Murray and Ripken.

8. Dave McNally, LHP
Signed as an amateur free agent in 1960

A stalwart of Baltimore’s vaunted rotations of the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, McNally signed with the Orioles out of Billings, Mont., as a 17 year old. He debuted in September 1962 and was a valuable contributor by ’66, when he recorded the final out of Baltimore’s first World Series victory. But McNally really took off in ’68, winning 22 games with a 1.95 ERA — he’d earn at least 20 wins in four straight seasons from ’68-’71, garnering top four Cy Young finishes three times. To this day, McNally remains the O’s all-time leader in wins, starts, shutouts and strikeouts among left-handers.

9. Mike Flanagan, LHP
Drafted in seventh round in ’73

If Draft success is rated on value, taking Flanagan out of the University of Massachusetts in the seventh round in ’73 ranks as one of the best picks in franchise history. Flanagan went 141-116 with a 3.89 ERA over parts of 15 seasons in Baltimore, then he remained in the organization as a coach, broadcaster and executive for more than a decade before his death in 2011. He still ranks in the top five in Orioles history in wins, starts, innings and strikeouts.

10. Mark Belanger, SS
Signed as an amateur free agent in 1962

A beloved figure of the great Orioles teams of the late 1960s and ‘70s, Belanger served as the sure-handed glue of some of the franchise’s best infields. Belanger was a light hitter but one of the elite defenders of his era, winning eight career Gold Gloves (including six consecutive from ’73-’78). He won a World Series ring in ’70, played in the postseason six times and appeared in more games than any Oriole besides Ripken and Robinson.

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