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Orioles minor league recap 5/15: Hays starts rehab in Frederick, Lowther dominates in Bowie

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Every O’s affiliate picked up a win on Tuesday, with strong pitching leading the way for most.

MLB: Spring Training-Baltimore Orioles at New York Yankees
We’ve missed you, Austin Hays.
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Norfolk Tides 6, Toledo Mud Hens (Tigers) 4

The Tides rallied back from a 4-1 deficit, plating two runs in the fifth and three in the seventh to roar back to victory. DJ Stewart played the hero with a go-ahead two-run homer in that seventh inning, his seventh of the year. He’s carrying a .918 OPS for the season. It’s about time to give this guy another shot in the major leagues, don’t you think?

Light-hitting infielders Christopher Bostick and Zach Vincej also got in on the home run action. Ryan Mountcastle and Cedric Mullins each went 1-for-5. Chance Sisco was 0-for-3, but threw out a runner trying to steal.

Emergency starter Luis Ysla, filling in for late scratch Josh Rogers (who is expected to be promoted as the Orioles’ 26th man for today’s doubleheader), gave up four runs in four innings. But a major shout-out is due to Chris Lee. Working in long relief, the lefty ate up the final five innings of the game and didn’t allow a run, making the Tides’ comeback possible. Lee gave up just one hit in that span. Well done, sir.

Bowie Baysox 2, Akron RubberDucks (Indians) 0

It was the Zac Lowther show in Akron on this afternoon. The 23-year-old lefty, who was named Orioles’ Minor League Co-Pitcher of the Year in 2018 alongside Keegan Akin, showed why he’s so highly regarded. Lowther blanked the RubberDucks over 7.2 innings, the longest outing of his professional career, while holding them to six hits — all singles — and striking out seven. He threw 66 of his 90 pitches for strikes.

Lowther, ranked by MLB Pipeline as the Orioles’ eighth-best prospect, now has a 2.17 ERA in seven starts for Bowie. Brian Gonzalez retired all four batters he faced to notch the save.

The Baysox bats gave Lowther just enough support, scoring two runs in the fifth inning on RBI singles by Preston Palmeiro and Ryan McKenna. McKenna has four hits and four RBIs in his last three games. Recent arrival Mason McCoy continued his blistering pace at the plate, reaching base on a single and two walks. McCoy is 12-for-26 (.462) in seven games at Bowie after batting .379 with a .925 OPS in 27 games at Frederick. The 2017 sixth-round pick is putting himself firmly on the prospect radar.

Frederick Keys 4, Wilmington Blue Rocks (Royals) 1 — Game 1

Welcome back, Austin Hays! The Orioles’ No. 5 prospect, who sprained his left thumb at minor league camp in March after a red-hot spring training, made his long-awaited 2019 debut. Starting his rehab assignment with the Keys, Hays went 1-for-4 with an RBI out of the leadoff spot. Shake off the rust, Austin! The O’s have a center field vacancy with your name on it.

Speaking of rehab assignments, Richard Bleier continued his, tossing a scoreless sixth inning with three pop flies and a double. He followed No. 25 prospect and my birthday buddy Michael Baumann, who worked five solid innings — one run, two hits, three walks, and six strikeouts — to notch his first win of 2019. Travis Seabrooke struck out two in a scoreless ninth for his first save.

Wilmington 2, Frederick 0 — Game 2

Although the Keys came out on the losing end of the nightcap, there was good news to be found — namely, another impressive performance by Cody Sedlock. The former first round draft choice, whose prospect status dimmed after a miserable 2017 and 2018, has returned with a vengeance this year. Sedlock tossed four scoreless innings in this one while racking up six strikeouts, allowing just one hit and walking two. His ERA is down to 1.71 in six starts.

Brenan Hanifee, pitching in relief for the first time this year, coughed up a walkoff two-run homer to MJ Melendez. The Keys couldn’t get anything going offensively, putting only three runners on base all game, all on singles. Hays started again, this time as the DH, and went 0-for-3 with a strikeout.

Delmarva Shorebirds 5, Greensboro Grasshoppers (Pirates) 2

The Shorebirds lately have been — gasp! — merely ordinary, having lost three of five games entering this one. But they pulled off a come-from-behind victory here by plating five runs in the sixth inning to erase a 2-0 deficit, improving their league-best record to 27-7.

Delmarva saw offensive contributions from up and down the lineup, starting at the top with leadoff man Robbie Thornburn, who had two hits and two RBIs. No. 16 prospect Cadyn Grenier bashed a game-tying two-run homer, his third of the year, while No. 13 prospect JC Encarnacion had two hits and No. 14 prospect Adam Hall went 1-for-5.

Starter Ofelky Peralta whiffed eight Greensboro hitters, giving him 43 strikeouts in 29.2 innings this year. Not too shabby! He was pulled after 4.1 innings, though, with a pitch count of 79. Hector Guance did a great job in relief, tossing four shutout frames and striking out five to earn the win.

Complete box scores from Tuesday’s games can be found here.

Wednesday’s scheduled games:

  • Norfolk at Toledo, 10:35 AM. Starter: Tyler Herb (2-0, 3.60)
  • Bowie at Akron, 10:35 AM. Starter: Alex Wells (2-1, 3.05)
  • Frederick at Wilmington, 10:35 AM. Starter: Dean Kremer (0-0, 0.00)
  • Delmarva at Greensboro (doubleheader), 11:00 AM. Starters: Grayson Rodriguez (4-0, 1.04), TBD