The Aberdeen IronBirds concluded their 2015 season on Sunday evening with a 7-1 loss to the Hudson Valley Renegades. The defeat left them with a record of 40-36, putting the baby birds at second place in the division; 1.5 games back of the Staten Island Yankees, and 2.0 games back of the West Virginia Black Bears in the wild card race.
But really, you don't care about how the "team" fared in 2015. You want to know about individual players and who can help in Baltimore sooner rather than later. I can't blame you. This summer I had the chance to see quite a few IronBirds games and feel as though I am in a decent position to discuss such things.
I'm not going to talk about every single player, just the ones that stood out for either good or bad reasons. Give me your feedback in the comments about your take on any Aberdeen prospects.
First a couple of quick reference pages to check out:
Ok. Let's get into it:
-25th round pick out of Marist College (2015)
-6-foot-3, 230 pounds
The 22-year-old Laurino played more games in an IronBirds uniform than anyone else in 2015. He has the rare combination of throwing left-handed but hitting right-handed. At the start of the season, Laurino was Aberdeen's best hitter, but he badly faded as the summer went on (.174 the final 19 games) and displayed little power. He doesn't have the athleticism to play elsewhere on the diamond.
-14th round pick out of Dallas Baptist (2015)
-6-foot, 200 pounds
Turbin caught fire in August, hitting .294 over the final 19 games with 11 RBI. His glove is solid if unspectacular. However, I witnessed one game where he couldn't seem to keep the ball in his mitt, making a pair of errors and dropping a possible double play turn. He is another 22-year-old who spent the entire summer in short-season single-A. The best word I can think of to describe him: scrappy. He is going to give you all of his effort. His future is definitely at second base.
The lanky middle infielder was named the IronBirds team MVP for 2015. His .270 batting average was second-best on the team. He has good foot speed and does a nice job in the field. But there is not much pop in his bat. He played in 61 games and had just seven doubles, two triples and two home runs; good for a .340 slugging percentage. Andujar just turned 23 years old and has already bounced from the Red Sox organization to Baltimore. I'm sure he will receive a bump up to Delmarva to start next summer.
-27th round pick out of Arkansas-Little Rock (2014)
-6-foot-4, 225 pounds
Pfeiffer has great size but looks over-matched in the New York-Penn League all around. He had a .958 fielding percentage and hit just .207 over 48 games with three home runs this year. At times, he is way behind low-90s fastballs. The right-handed hitting Pfieffer is 24 years old and is naturally a shortstop. He will have to fight extremely hard for playing time with Ryan Mountcastle likely to begin 2016 in Aberdeen.
-1st round pick out of Hagerty HS (Florida) (2015)
-6-foot-3, 185 pounds
Speaking of Mountcastle, he has already made a brief cameo in Aberdeen. It's pretty obvious right away that he is a first-round pick. He just looks a bit quicker than everyone else with everything. The bat speed is the real deal. This is going to sound incredibly stupid, but his pop flies go much higher than other players. He needs to straighten it out a bit. And he also has to show some better discipline and pitch recognition. Then again, he is 18 years old. In the field, he looked smooth and had a good arm from the hole between short and third. Of course, he's not as good as Manny so if Machado is going to be the long-term shortstop then a move to third or the outfield for Mountcastle might not be a bad idea.
-1st round pick out of Florida State (2015)
-6-foot, 230 pounds
His walk up song is "Go DJ" by Lil Wayne. Not that you care, but there ya go. If you have followed Stewart at all, you know he struggled in Aberdeen in 2015, slashing .218/.288/.345. He did lead the team in home runs with six and he tied for the team lead with 23 walks. His problem was when he hit the ball, it wasn't usually hit hard, suffering from the Ryan Flaherty disease of repeated ground-outs to the second baseman. The crouch that was so pronounced to begin the summer has subsided some. He had even totally eliminated it for a little while. Obviously, it's something that he will have to play with over the winter. In the field, he has a decent arm with good accuracy. He can definitely make the cut in left field if he hits up to his potential.
-13th round pick out of Louisburg College (2015)
-5-foot-8, 175 pounds
There is a lot to like about Mullins. He is by far the most athletically gifted member of the IronBirds and may have been the fastest runner on the team as well.He exudes a quiet confidence about himself. He hit .357 in the final 17 games of the season. In the field, he is advanced beyond short-season-A ball. On top of that he walked 22 times and struck out just 33 times. With a bit more seasoning, the O's could have a nice Major League bench player on their hands. One of the pleasant surprises this summer
-16th round pick out of Riverwood International Charter (Georgia) (2013)
-6-foot-4, 210 pounds
No joke, he looks like his is 30 years old, but he is only 20 and won't be 21 until May. Anyway, he has been a bit of a mystery all season. Many nights, he can't catch up to the fastball and is often swinging at pitches all over the place, but then you look and he is leading the team with a .273 batting average. Go figure. Gassaway was used as the designated hitter many times. For such a big guy, he has showed almost no power as a professional. He is still young but a DH with no home runs in 60 games is a bit of a problem.
-6th round pick out Howard Junior College (2014)
-6-foot-2, 220 pounds
He is a southpaw that has touched triple digits. Immediately, that makes him a noteworthy prospect. He has a fastball and a slider and that's really it. Not that that is a bad thing. He has the stuff to play in the late innings of a big league bullpen. You already know what I'm gonna say: He walks too many people and needs to get more consistent with throwing strikes. Lefties that throw this hard don't grow on trees. The O's pitching coaches need to work with him.
-11th round pick out of Radford (2015)
-6-foot-4, 240 pounds
Meisinger is a local guy from Dunkirk, Maryland. So far, he has been very impressive, earning eight saves in nine attempts and pitching to a 1.90 ERA over 17 appearances for the IronBirds. He is a big guy that has good control (33 strikeouts and five walks) and an easy delivery. He was a closer in college. Middle relief would appear to be his destiny to make it to the MLB.
-3rd round pick out of Oregon (2015)
-6-foot-1, 220 pounds
The southpaw has a low 3/4s delivery and has been in the mid-90s at times. Opponents hit just .165 against him over 19 appearances and 25.0 innings. Lefties batted just .133 against him. Cleavinger needs to find more control. He walked 18 batters and struck out 32. Possible middle reliever/LOOGY in the bigs.
-Amateur free agent (2014)
-6-foot-2, 190 pounds
This is the guy who grew more than any other pitcher on the team in 2015. Leyva has the ability to blow it by hitters in the upper-90s, but that's when he loses control a bit. Hitters batted just .212 against him with lefties mustering a paltry .155. It seems as though the Orioles want to lengthen him out and make him a starter. He tossed no more than four innings at a time but showed that he was learning, walking fewer hitters while staying more in mid-90s rather than 97 or 98 as the season wore on. I like him as a future middle of the rotation type of arm. He just turned 21 in August.
Did any of you make your way to Aberdeen over the summer? Who did you see that impressed or disappointed? I would love to know in the comment section or on Twitter @_TyYoung. Thanks for reading!