In the midst of a slide that includes six losses in their last seven games, the Orioles are calling up outfield prospect Colton Cowser, three sources with direct knowledge of the situation told The Baltimore Banner.

Cowser ranks as the Orioles’ second-best prospect, according to MLB Pipeline, and he’s the 14th-best prospect in all of baseball.

The 23-year-old’s rise through the minor leagues has been swift. Baltimore selected Cowser out of Sam Houston State with the fifth overall pick in the 2021 MLB Draft. After less than two years, Cowser is set to join the big league squad during a series against the New York Yankees.

To add Cowser to the active roster, space will need to be made both on the 26- and 40-man rosters. The Orioles are carrying three catchers at the moment and have four outfielders: Cedric Mullins, Austin Hays, Aaron Hicks and Ryan McKenna. Hays is currently day-to-day with a left hip contusion that is not considered serious.

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Cowser has taken Triple-A Norfolk by storm. He was a late scratch Tuesday, but in the previous 56 games he played this season, Cowser hit .330 with a .996 on-base-plus-slugging percentage.

He might’ve received a call to Baltimore earlier this year, when Mullins, the everyday center fielder, suffered a groin strain. But at the time, Cowser was dealing with his own quad injury.

Still, executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias said during a MASN broadcast that “Colton’s ready for a phone call. I think it depends on the circumstances at the major league level.”

The circumstances at the major league level feature the longest losing skid of the season as the All-Star Break approaches. With it has come a lack of offensive support — the Orioles have scored no more than three runs in eight of their last 11 games — but the bullpen has stumbled late in each of Baltimore’s first two losses in New York.

By promoting Cowser now — a move first reported by MASN — Elias displays an urgency not seen in the previous years of his regime. Elias was deliberate with the development schedule of his top prospects during the early stages of the rebuild. But now, Baltimore is competing for a wild card spot. And many of the prospects acquired along the way are MLB-ready.

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Cowser is the latest one. Last week, the Orioles promoted infielder Jordan Westburg. Catcher Adley Rutschman and infielder Gunnar Henderson began the trend last year.

andy.kostka@thebaltimorebanner.com

Andy Kostka is an Orioles beat writer for The Baltimore Banner. He previously covered the Orioles for The Baltimore Sun. Kostka graduated from the University of Maryland and grew up in Rockville.

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