The Orioles don’t have the minor-league talent that grabs the attention of the national media, but there’s plenty to track on a nightly basis for Buck Showalter and the major-league staff. And while the organization might be a bit more rich in the hitting department, promising pitching is available at every affiliate in 2017.
Here’s a look at each minor-league squad, focusing on the pitching performances that’ve been put on down on the farm.
First, how about a little love for Jimmy Yacabonis? After succeeding nicely out of the bullpen in Bowie last year, the 25-year-old right-hander is performing well yet again for the Tides. He’s started the year with 8.1 innings of scoreless baseball, allowing just three hits and a walk. After totaling a 1.10 WHIP between Frederick and Bowie last season, Yacabonis is one to watch.
I started with Yacabonis because I didn’t exactly want to have to run through the recap of Norfolk’s starting pitching. To keep things as simple and painless, I’ll merely post lines for the Tides’ “top three” and react below:
Mike Wright: 4 starts, 17.2 IP, 21 H, 7 BB, 12 K, 6.62 ERA
Gabriel Ynoa: 4 starts, 15.1 IP, 29 H, 5 BB, 10 K, 8.22 ERA
Chris Lee: 3 starts, 10.2 IP, 19 H, 8 BB, 9 K, 9.28 ERA
I’m not certain what to say here that could bring any bit of optimism to the table, so I’ll note that these, of course, are simply numbers. We don’t know what is going on behind the scenes nor do we understand the dynamics of the outings. I do understand one thing, however — those numbers are not good.
2015 11th round pick Ryan Meisinger has led the way out of the bullpen. Following an eye-opening 2016, the right-hander has struck out 16 batters in 11 innings of work, allowing just six hits. He’s a strikeout machine (94 in 74.1 innings in ’16) — at 6’4”, 235, Meisinger is one to keep an eye on as the year moves along.
Far and away the most impressive starter in Bowie has been 24-year-old lefty John Means. Through four starts, he’s posted a 1.06 WHIP and 1.31 ERA, striking out 19 in 20.2 innings. Last night against Richmond, he tossed six scoreless frames with just three hits allowed and five strikeouts.
A favorite pastime here at Camden Chat is the “Tanner Scott walk watch”, a tradition that has continued in disappointing fashion yet against in 2017. While the big-armed Scott has fanned 13 batters in nine innings, he’s also walked seven to continue the disappointing trend. He can miss bats as much as he’d like, but there’s no projecting his future without the sight of improved control.
How about a round of applause for Cody Sedlock? Last year’s first-round pick has a 1.64 ERA and 0.82 WHIP through his first four starts, striking out 16 in 22 innings. By all accounts, Sedlock has looked as advertised out of college and seemingly prepared to make a jump up the system soon enough. This is good news for everyone involved … except, you know, the AL East.
Keegan Akin, 2016’s second-round selection, hasn’t fared as well. He’s struggled through four starts, allowing 20 hits and 11 earned runs over 15 frames. The good news lies within his 24 strikeouts in those innings, so the hope remains that the damage against might be due to a bit of luck that’ll settle down as the season rolls along.
Ofelky Peralta, the 20-year-old who mowed down hitters at Delmarva last year, has had a unique start to his season. In three outings he’s tossed 12.1 innings that have been marred by 11 walks and three hit batsmen. Peralta has fanned 18 and held the opposing batters to a .222 average, but the control has been the roadblock just as it was in 2016 (60 BBs in 103.1 IP). Keep an eye on that storyline as the year rolls on.
Last year’s 11th round pick Zack Muckenhirn has moved to a starting role this year with some impressive success. In four outings, he’s tossed 21 innings, walking five, striking out 19 and posting a 2.14 ERA. He and Lucas Humpal (2016 9th round pick) are the top arms to watch in Delmarva for the time being; Humpal, in 22.1 innings thrown, has allowed a .193 average against.
Again, saving the bad news for last here — 2016’s other second-round pick Matthias Dietz hasn’t been good through four outings.
In 14.2 innings, the right-hander has allowed 17 hits and 15 earned runs, walking eight in the process. Unlike Akin and Sedlock, Dietz didn’t stand out in Aberdeen last season in his organization debut (1.71 WHIP in seven games). There’s a season ahead to work and cut down the numbers, so panic mode obviously isn’t warranted quite yet. Merely, it’s something to watch in the coming weeks.