NEW YORK — Colton Cowser didn’t have any first day of school jitters when he walked into the Yankees’ visitor clubhouse on Wednesday for his MLB debut.

He didn’t have to worry about who he would stretch with — Jordan Westburg was the obvious answer. And Cowser didn’t even have to think about what to wear, Gunnar Henderson made sure he had the right attire.

“It puts your mind at ease a little bit,” Cowser said prior to Wednesday’s game. “It’s like OK, it’s the same game. I’ve been playing with these guys already.”

This was the plan all along for the Orioles. First it was Adley Rutschman, followed later last season by Henderson. Then Grayson Rodriguez made his debut in 2023, with Westburg and now Cowser taking on the big stage together. They bonded in the minor leagues, providing instant chemistry to the team now that they are all in the majors together.

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“It’s really cool to have a bunch of close friends come up and be able to play at this stage together,” Henderson said.

Cowser, the 14th ranked prospect according to MLB Pipeline, will make his debut on Wednesday night against the Yankees, playing left field and batting seventh. Rutschman, Westburg and Henderson are also in the lineup.

“This guys are really talented,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “These guys have a ton of confidence, these young guys that are here. They played well together in the minor leagues, they are all really mature. ... I think your organization is in a really good spot when you have a bunch of homegrown guys who have played their way to the big leagues.”

Cowser’s call-up comes at a time when the Orioles need any spark they can get. The team has lost six of their last seven games and is currently playing with All-Star Austin Hays on the bench as he recovers from a bruised left hip. The Orioles are now only two games ahead of the Yankees in the American League wild card race.

The team optioned clubhouse-favorite Ryan McKenna to make room on the active roster. It’s a predicament for Hyde, but also a sign the rebuild is working as intended: They have too many qualified players to choose from.

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“It’s a great problem to have when you have 13 guys you want to play,” Hyde said. “It’s a night-to-night [problem]. Last night, I was going over it a million times who to play today. It’s going to be like that going forward.”

And there’s still more. The Orioles have the top prospect in baseball in shortstop Jackson Holliday. He’s currently in High-A. Third baseman Coby Mayo and outfielder Heston Kjerstad, among many others, are also on their way.

Cowser was selected by the Orioles fifth overall in the 2021 draft. He rose quickly through the minor leagues, and is now set to make his debut less than two years into his professional career. He hit .330 with 10 home runs in 56 games with Triple-A Norfolk this season.

He likely would have gotten the call earlier this season if not for a quad injury that sidelined him for a week. The Orioles wanted to give him enough time to regain full strength, and confidence, before they gave him the big news.

That time came on Tuesday. Cowser was a late scratch from Norfolk’s game, but he didn’t know why he was being told to sit yet. He was forced to watch nervously from the bench during the Tides game as he pondered what if.

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He got the news after the game that he had a plane ticket waiting for him. He’ll have 20 family members at Yankee Stadium to watch him take the big league field for the first time.

“I don’t think it’s really truly hit me yet,” Cowser said. “I’m just going to do whatever I can to help this team win.”

Danielle Allentuck covers the Orioles for The Baltimore Banner. She previously reported on the Rockies for the Denver Gazette and general sports assignments for The New York Times as part of its fellowship program. A Maryland native, Danielle grew up in Montgomery County and graduated from Ithaca College.

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