Orioles Minor League Rundown: August 17th, 2013

I call him GAMBLOR! - Bill Vaughan

Dariel Alverez makes his presence known, Eddie Gamboa's Knuckler stymies, while a couple of squads Walk-Off victorious on the night.

Norfolk 8, Columbus (Indians) 1

(RHP) Eddie 'Gamblor' Gamboa seems to have had his knuckleball dancing the night away. Though he walked 4 over his 6 innings of work he restricted the Clippers to just 3 hits and 1 unearned run while striking out 7 (5 of which were via swings-and-miss). It's a good sign of the knuckleball's effectiveness on a particular night when the catcher has multiple passed balls, as Chris Snyder did this game. The first of his 2 PBs occurred in the 1st inning and eventually led to the lone run the Tides would allow. Beyond that, Gamblor tossed 99 pitches, 60 of them for strikes, and induced 5 groundouts to 1 flyout. This guy will be in the rotation at some point next year. Bank on it. (LHP) Mike Belfiore came on to pitch the final 3 frames. He allowed 1 hit and 1 walk while K'ing 3. As he is already on the 40-man roster, it seems certain that he will be called up to shore up the 'pen when rosters expand September 1st.

On offense, the Tides hitters took one-time hotshot prospect Trevor Bauer to the proverbial woodshed, tagging him for 6 ER over 2 IP via 6 H (1 HR) and 4 BBs. (CF) Jason Pridie was responsible for the homer, an Earl Weaver Special. He's had quite a respectable season (.278/.344/.456), and though the O's organization is stacked with 4th/5th OFers at the moment, it would be nice to see him get a shot in bigs come September. But it seems unlikely, as he is not on the 40 man roster, and (somewhat amazingly) there isn't much of any obvious 'dead weight' on the roster. Long gone are the days of the '3 Pedros' just hanging on the 40-man for no discernable reason. But I digress...one player who does have a shot of getting called up is (2B) Jonathan Schoop. He had a 1-4 night by hitting a double and drawing a walk. Did K twice as well, though. (LF) Xavier Avery had a 4 hit night (all singles), his first with the Tides since July 23rd of last season. He is on the 40-man, and will likely be up come September.

Richmond (Giants) 2, Bowie 3

(RHP) Daniel McCutchen did what a 30-year-old minor league journeyman ought do when making a AA spot start: 7 IP, 2 H, 0 BB, 1 ER, 6 Ks. Man...the lack of offensive prospects on this squad is kinda disconcerting. The pitching is loaded, with Eduardo Rodriguez and Mike Wright and Tyler Wilson and Devin Jones. But the position player talent pool is lacking, to put it nicely. A rehabbing Wilson Betemit went 1-2, w/ 2 BBs. Catcher Brian Ward went 1-2, w/ a solo HR. (2B) Buck Britton walked the Baysox off by hitting a 2 run HR. Yay.

Winston-Salem 7, Frederick 8

Myself and j.q. higgins were in attendance for this spectacle. And, man...there was much to be impressed with. Leaving aside the antics of Cowboy Monkey Rodeo, this game was about (CF) Dariel Alverez. This young achiever (and proud we are of all of them) has made quite a splash with the O's org quite quickly. He blasted an impressive 3-run HR in the 1st inning into a steady breeze coming in from LF. And then followed that up with a single, reached via error, and 2 doubles, the second of which kicked off a 9th inning winning rally. He showed decent instincts in the OF, but is probably not a CFer long-term. Which is fine, since he did get to show off a nice arm at one point. With the bases loaded and none out, he caught a ball in mid-depth CF and fired a strong and (what looked to be accurate) throw in to try and get the tagging runner from 3rd. However, the ball was (wisely) cut-off by the 1Bman, who initiated a run down on the runner who had been on 2nd. They nearly turned into a triple play as the runner from 1st tried to sneak into 2B during the run down play. Then, in the 9th with the Keys up by 1, Alvarez moved to RF while Glynn Davis took over in CF.

With the tying run at 2nd and 1 out, Alvarez came up firing on a single hit to RF and fired a throw into home which sailed to the backstop. The throw was strong though, and the runner held at 3rd. Alvarez was charged with an error as the batter advanced to 2nd on the overthrow. Now, with the go-ahead run at 2nd and 1 out, another ball was hit sharply into RF. Alvarez again came up firing and it appeared would have gunned down the then go-ahead run at the plate if Michael Ohlman had held onto the ball. Anyway, the original point is that Alvarez demonstrated an arm capable of handling RF duties in the future.

There are some concerns with his all around game, however. In the 9th, with the Keys down 1 and none out, he failed to score from 2nd on a single into LF by Michael Ohlman. I suppose an argument can be made for discretion being the better part of valor in that situation, as having runners at 1st and 3rd with none out is preferable to getting the tying run possibly thrown out at the plate. But it did seem to me that Alvarez got a poor jump and break on the hit. It's nitpicking, I realize. My other concern with Alvarez, going forward, is how he will fare with actual quality off-speed and breaking stuff. He was getting mostly fastballs (and fringey/average ones primarily), and he looked pretty bad flailing at some of the off-speed stuff that managed to find the zone. Though he demonstrated a strong and disciplined grasp of the strike zone, when he jumps to AA he will start to see actual major league quality off-speed stuff. Time will tell how well he is capable of handling it. Anyway, enough editorializing. I'm no Michael Olesker...

The aforementioned Michael Ohlman also had himself a dandy of a game. 3-5, w/ a double and an RBI; he scored on the walk-off walk, drawn by a pinch-hitting Glynn Davis, to end the game. He also made a rather fine throw, from his knees no less, to gun down the only runner who attempted to steal on the night. He had a 2.20 pop time (time from when the ball hits his glove to when the ball hits the glove of the defender covering 2nd), which isn't great (typically want to see a time of 2.0 or less for a major league arm), but considering he did it from his knees it's a bit more impressive. He also demonstrates solid baserunning skills. He managed to advance from 1st to 3rd on two consecutive infield ground ball outs at one point. This isn't Matt Wieters on the basepaths.

Last note from this game: (LHP) Trent Howard got the start. After making quick work of Dash hitters in the 1st, he allowed back-to-back singles to start the 2nd before regaining control and getting 2 outs. Howard then walked the next batter to load the bases. It looked like he may have gotten squeezed by the ump on the call, but my vantage point was rather poor. Anyway, Howard then gave up a bases clearing triple into the RCF gap. As I was furiously keeping score, I didn't see what happened next, but Howard was off the field and Miguel Chalas was jogging onto the mound. Evidently Howard had been ejected. There was no theatrical argument by him or the manager or anything. He was just gone in the span of the 30 seconds or so in which I was tidying up my scorebook. My guess is he said a naughty word directed at the ump for the ball call which loaded the bases. But that is just speculation. Final line for Howard: 1.2 IP, 3 H, 1 BB, 3 ER, 1 K.

Lakewood (Phillies) 3, Delmarva 0

(CF) Gregory Lorenzo continues to try and recover from his horrid start to the year. 1-4, w/ a double and a K. He still isn't drawing Walks, but he is using his speed to get on-base and his SLG is slowing recovering as he is using his speed to get extra bases when he does manage to make solid contact. (LHP) Bennett Parry brought the goods: 6 IP, 5 H, 2 BB, 0 R, 6 Ks. Yet another interesting southpaw in the O's low-level ranks.

Rookie Leagues Lightning Round

(1B) Trey Mancini (Aberdeen): 0-3, w/ 1 BB

(3B) Hector Veloz (Aberdeen): 1-3, w/ a double and a walk and 2 Ks

(RHP) Jose Figuereo (Aberdeen): 2 IP, 1 H, 0 BB, 1 HBP, 0 R, 3 Ks

(CF) Josh Hart (GCL): 1-4, w/ a double and a K

( C ) Chance Sisco (GCL): 0-2, w/ 2 BBs. I wonder if both him and Mr. Hart will just skip Aberdeen and be Delmarva bound next spring?

(CF) Daniel Franco (DSL2): 0-2, w/ 2 BBs, 2/3 in SB attempts.

(RHP) Christian Alvarado (DSL2): 6 IP, 3 H, 0 BB, 1 R, 5 Ks

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