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Orioles minor league recap 8/14: Mountcastle doubles and homers, Rutschman drives in two

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The Orioles’ top hitting prospects had very nice nights for themselves, while Norfolk and Bowie each threw a shutout.

MLB: Baltimore Orioles-Media Day
Will we see Ryan Mountcastle in Baltimore this year?
Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports

Norfolk Tides 2, Pawtucket Red Sox 0

Each team managed only four hits in this low-offense contest. Fortunately for the Tides, all four or their hits went for extra bases — including a Ryan Mountcastle home run, and back-to-back doubles by Mountcastle and Mason Williams — that provided the entirety of the scoring. Mountcastle, the Orioles’ No. 4 prospect, is now batting .317 with an .870 OPS, 21 homers, and 71 RBIs. I wouldn’t hate seeing him in the Orioles’ lineup sometime soon.

So what dominant Norfolk pitcher tossed this shutout? Well, funny story. It was actually five pitchers, none of whom pitched more than three innings. Originally scheduled starter Chandler Shepherd was called up to the Orioles to make his MLB debut, so Josh Lucas filled in and went two innings, Sean Gilmartin followed with three, earning the win; former Brave and Marlin Hunter Cervenka pitched a perfect inning in his O’s organizational debut; Hunter Harvey struck out the side in a scoreless seventh; and Tanner Scott worked the final two innings for his seventh save.

Richmond Flying Squirrels (Giants) 4, Bowie Baysox 2 — Game 1

For most Orioles pitchers, a six-inning, four-run outing would be cause for celebration, and perhaps a parade through downtown Baltimore. For Alex Wells, it was an off night. The four runs were the second most Wells has allowed in any of his 20 starts this year, which shows you how phenomenal the Aussie lefty has been for most of 2019.

Wells, who had allowed only four homers in his first 19 starts (and never more than one in a game), gave up a pair in this one, including a solo blast by Giants top prospect Joey Bart. Still, it’s not like Wells got cuffed around. He gave up five hits and walked two, and his ERA sits at 2.31.

The Baysox spread their seven hits between seven players, but none of them was Ryan McKenna, who went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts. He’s hitting .230 with a .687 OPS. Mason McCoy was 1-for-4 with a run scored. Random weird name alert: the Flying Squirrels have a player whose first name is “Johneshwy.” It’s pronounced just like it’s spelled.

Bowie 2, Richmond 0 — Game 2

In a makeup of a May 12 postponement, Bowie followed Norfolk’s lead by using a bullpen game to pitch a shutout. Steven Klimek, making just his second professional start in 134 appearances, worked three, one-hit innings, striking out five. Zack Muckenhirn (two innings), Luis Gonzalez (one), and Cristian Alvarado (one) followed him, with Alvarado striking out two in the ninth for his eighth save.

On the offensive end, a Cedric Mullins sac fly plated one run and Jesmuel Valentin RBI single brought in the other. McCoy was 0-for-2 with a walk; he’s hitting .280 with a .701 OPS. McKenna didn’t start, entering as a pinch-runner in the sixth and scoring a run.

Salem Red Sox 11, Frederick Keys 3

Pitching was a disaster for the Keys, who served up multiple runs in five different innings while falling to 47-71 on the season. Cameron Bishop’s forgettable 2019 campaign continued with an ugly six runs, seven hits, and four walks in 4.1 innings, dropping him to 1-9 this year. He coughed up two home runs to Salem first baseman Pedro Castellanos. Frederick relievers Reed Hayes and Tyler Joyner combined to give up five more runs. Joyner thus far is having a rude welcome to High-A after his promotion from Delmarva. In six games, the righty has allowed 11 earned runs in nine innings.

Four Keys batters had multi-hit games, but the club went 2-for-11 with runners in scoring position and stranded 11 men on base. Third baseman Patrick Dorrian had two hits but committed two throwing errors. Shortstop Cadyn Grenier, the Orioles’ 2018 competitive balance round pick, went 1-for-3 to pull above the Mendoza line. In the last six games, Grenier has improved his batting average from .128 to .203 and his OPS from .510 to .664.

Delmarva Shorebirds 10, West Virginia Power (Mariners) 9

The Shorebirds held off the Power in a wild game in which the score was 7-6 after just two innings. Delmarva’s offensive explosion was keyed by red-hot leadoff man JC Encarnacion, who reached base four times and scored three runs. Since July 31 — the one-year anniversary of his trade to the Orioles in the Kevin Gausman deal — Encarnacion is hitting .371 with an OPS around 1.000. He’s also had five steals in that span without being caught, including another one on this night.

Adam Hall reached base in all four plate appearances, three of them on walks, and has a cool .387 OBP. Other standout Shorebirds hitters included Ryne Ogren (the return in the Mike Wright trade), who reached base three times and drove in three runs, and Seamus Curran, who had two doubles and three RBIs. Recent seventh-round pick Johnny Rizer contributed a triple. The onslaught at the plate helped outweigh a rough outing by starter Dallas Litscher, who gave up six runs in five innings, including a grand slam by Mariners No. 2 prospect Julio Rodriguez. Litscher struck out nine, for what it’s worth.

Aberdeen Ironbirds 7, Vermont Lake Monsters (Athletics) 2

One night after no-hitting the Lake Monsters, the Ironbirds pitched another gem. 2019 draftees Houston Roth and Dan Hammer each allowed just one run on two hits, with Roth pitching five innings and Hammer four. So far, the two hurlers have been paired together in all seven outings, and both have done splendidly: a 0.84 ERA for Roth and 1.54 for Hammer. It’d be kind of awesome if these two just continued pitching as a tandem all the way up the Orioles’ minor league ladder. Coming soon to Camden Yards: ROTHHAMMER.

Of course, there’s one Ironbirds player on the forefront of everyone’s minds, and I’m happy to report that Adley Rutschman had another productive day at the plate, going 2-for-4 with two walks, a double, and a two-run single. The Orioles’ No. 1 prospect seems to be shaking off his slow start; in his last five games, he has seven hits and six RBIs. Fellow 2019 draftee Kyle Stowers hit his fourth home run, and Jean Carmona (acquired in the Jonathan Schoop trade) had his best game of the season, reaching base five times on three singles and two walks.

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

Wednesday’s scheduled games:

  • Norfolk at Pawtucket, 7:05. Starter: Bruce Zimmermann (0-2, 5.87)
  • Bowie vs. Richmond, 7:05. Starter: Mike Baumann (2-2, 2.23)
  • Frederick at Salem, 7:05. Starter: Blaine Knight (1-9, 5.63)
  • Delmarva vs. West Virginia, 7:05. Starter: Gray Fenter (6-2, 1.88)
  • Aberdeen at Tri-City, 7:00. Starter: Leonardo Rodriguez (2-2, 3.31)