While some organizations in baseball are fortunate to have a healthy group of prospects in the high minors waiting to get their chance in the major leagues, the Orioles are most definitely not in that situation and haven’t been for a while. It actually feels as though it’s difficult to remember the last time Norfolk has had a surplus of talent just waiting for a big-league opening to present itself.
The Orioles system isn’t terribly thin at the moment, but most of the talent is still several years away from being ready for The Show. And perhaps nothing showcases that more than the shaky Tides rotation.
Before the season, there was hope that an arm would emerge from Norfolk and become a viable mid-season option for the O’s every five days. Now, it’s become clear that saying there’s a candidate to make the leap would most definitely be grasping at straws.
Mike Wright and Tyler Wilson
These two feel like they deserve a combined section simply because of how they’ve almost always been linked together as potential difference-makers for the Orioles. Despite pre-season hope that one of the two would create an opportunity, it’s entirely possible that we’ve seen both Wright and Wilson’s best capabilities at the highest level.
Wright has been on the disabled list since June 16th and did recently toss in a handful of outings with the Birds, however combining him with the Norfolk talent seems most fitting. He had a 4.19 ERA and 1.42 WHIP through 10 starts with the Tides and posted a 5.56 ERA in 11 innings with the Orioles.
There just isn’t any sign that Wright is progressing and able to throw consistently even out of the bullpen, which is particularly disappointing when you look at the fact that Wilson is in the same boat.
Wilson, who will turn 28 before the season’s end, has allowed 52 hits in 47.2 innings for Norfolk, striking out just 31 over his nine starts. He’s been on the cusp for quite some time but just doesn’t appear to have the stuff to be a reliable arm in the rotation. Both he and Wright are worth watching as the season moves along — it’s ultimately just a tough projection for two guys who seem to have been “close” for a good bit of time.
There was a lot of excitement heading into camp for Lee, which makes his performance in 2017 that much more disappointing.
Coming back from a left shoulder injury, the results haven’t been pretty for the 24-year-old southpaw. He’s allowed a whopping 94 hits in 68 innings thus far, walking 32 more batters for a rather concerning 1.85 WHIP. In his 15 starts, left-handed hitters have hit .333 while those batting from the right side have earned a .329 mark. It’s simply difficult to find many encouraging signs when combing through the numbers.
Of course one could make the argument that Lee wasn’t quite ready for the Triple-A level and it’d be completely fair. He worked just 89 innings at AA between 2015 and 2016 and might be in the midst of a tough learning curve. He certainly has time at just 24 years old.
Still, it’s safe to say he’s some significant time away from seeing work in the big-league rotation.
The best of the rest
24-year-old starter Jordan Kipper was brought on in May via a trade with the Angels and appeared primed to become perhaps the best option in the Tides rotation until the month of June hit. After allowing just six earned runs over his first four starts with Norfolk, he’s had almost everything go wrong in June. In five outings this month, he’s allowed 49 hits in 27.1 innings, posting a 7.24 ERA and an incredible .412 average against. Those aren’t ideal numbers.
Gabriel Ynoa was a hot name in March, but his struggles with both the Orioles and the Tides have been well-documented. Following his most recent demotion on June 23rd, the right-hander allowed five earned runs over 3.2 innings to Louisville. His 7.40 ERA at Norfolk this season says it all. There’s potential in his game, but it’s not ready to contribute down the stretch in the rotation.
The name to watch might be a player we’ve already seen with the Orioles this year, Jayson Aquino. Though he struggled in his limited looks in Baltimore, his 1.34 WHIP at Norfolk looks decent. He won’t walk many and offers at least the prospect of a competitive start — is that enough to be called upon at any point moving forward?
We could continue on into Bowie and note that Tanner Scott could be the most worthwhile call-up, but that’s unnecessary at this point in the year (and extremely unlikely).
What remains is simple: there looks to be no help emerging from Norfolk any time soon. And with that reality, one has to wonder what Dan Duquette might be willing to do in order to acquire help as July’s trade deadline approaches.