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Orioles minor league recap 8/28: Rutschman hits first Delmarva homer, Bowie moves into first place

Rutschman and Gray Fenter led the Shorebirds to victory, while the Baysox and Ironbirds had different outcomes in their fight for the playoffs. Oh, and Ryan Mountcastle won MVP.

MLB: San Diego Padres at Baltimore Orioles Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Gwinnett Stripers (Braves) 8, Norfolk Tides 2

First off, congratulations to Ryan Mountcastle! The Orioles’ No. 4 prospect (per MLB Pipeline) was named the Most Valuable Player of the International League for his stellar 2019 campaign, in which he’s batted .308 with an .868 OPS, 25 home runs, and 80 RBIs. All this while being young for the level at age 22. I can’t wait to watch this guy in the majors, but I’m not convinced it’ll happen this year.

This game, meanwhile, was forgettable. Poor Dean Kremer was cruising right along, facing the minimum nine batters through three innings, until he self-destructed in the fourth and fifth, coughing up seven runs on eight hits. In the fourth, he was tagged for three doubles and two walks; in the fifth, he allowed another double, three singles, and a two-run homer by former major league All-Star Adam Duvall. The wheels certainly fell off in a hurry for the right-hander, the Orioles’ No. 8 prospect.

Did you know Mark Trumbo is back on a rehab assignment? This is his third attempt; he had to halt the previous two because of lingering discomfort in his surgically repaired knee. Trumbo bashed a solo home run in the sixth inning as part of a 1-for-4 night. Mountcastle and Rylan Bannon (No. 24) each went 1-for-4 with a double.

Bowie Baysox 3, Reading Fightin Phils (Phillies) 1

Delmarva might not be the only O’s affiliate headed to the playoffs. Friends, the Bowie Baysox are now in first place in the Eastern League Western division, which is awesome, aside from that being a ridiculous name for a division. Bowie entered the night tied with the Erie SeaWolves for the second-half lead, but Erie was rained out Tuesday, putting the Baysox in front by half a game. They have six games remaining; Erie has seven.

Zac Lowther, the Eastern League wins leader, was the key to victory again, although he didn’t pick up a decision. The Orioles’ No. 10 prospect worked six strong innings, allowing just one run while striking out eight. His ERA for the season is 2.66. Steven Klimek earned the win with a scoreless seventh, and Cristian Alvarado threw two hitless innings for his 12th save.

Brett Cumberland, the Birds’ 30th-ranked prospect, broke a one-all tie in the seventh with his fourth home run. Among more notable prospects, Yusniel Diaz (No. 5) and Ryan McKenna (No. 13) each went 0-for-4, while Mason McCoy (No. 25) was 1-for-3 with an RBI. Cedric Mullins collected two hits and a ribbie.

Down East Wood Ducks (Rangers) 7, Frederick Keys 3

The Keys were out of this game from the very beginning, coughing up six runs in the first three frames. It was yet another woeful outing from right-hander Blaine Knight, who is rated the Orioles’ No. 16 prospect but is pitching like a guy who should be unranked. Since being promoted to Frederick in May, Knight is 1-11 with a 6.29 ERA.

In this game, Knight gave up six runs (five earned) and nine hits, and didn’t strike out a single batter. He gave up two home runs to Bubba Thompson, who entered the game with a .546 OPS and only one dinger all season. The Keys tallied all three of their runs on solo homers, with J.C. Escarra hitting his 12th, Robert Neustrom his second, and Robbie Thorburn his first.

Delmarva Shorebirds 7, Lakewood BlueClaws (Phillies) 0

Adley Rutschman milestone alert! The Orioles’ No. 1 prospect hit his first home run as a member of the Shorebirds, blasting a two-run homer in the fifth inning. It’s a thing of beauty.

Rutschman added a sacrifice fly, a walk, and two runs scored. Four Shorebirds had multi-hit games, including Shayne Fontana, No. 14 prospect Adam Hall, and 2019 draftees Johnny Rizer and Toby Welk.

The most impressive performance, though, came on the mound, where Gray Fenter was completely unhittable. In his five-inning start, the righty retired all 15 batters he faced, and struck out 11 of them. He threw 50 of his 66 pitches for strikes. Wowza! Are you kidding me?? Fenter has faced plenty of struggles since being drafted in the seventh round in 2015, including Tommy John surgery, but this outing has to be considered a career highlight. Absolutely amazing. This year, he’s 8-2 with a 1.81 ERA and has 123 strikeouts in 94.1 innings.

Lowell Spinners (Red Sox) 2, Aberdeen Ironbirds 0

Aberdeen, like Bowie, entered the night in a tie for first place. In fact, they were in a three-way tie with Brooklyn and Hudson Valley, with Staten Island only 1.5 games behind. The New York-Penn League standings, by the way, are ridiculous. The four best teams in the league are all in the same division, and it’s the one Aberdeen belongs to.

Sadly, the Ironbirds couldn’t maintain their perch. They managed just three hits, all singles, in being shut out by four Spinners pitchers, including a guy named Zeferjahn. The offensive blackout spoiled a solid pitching performance by Kevin Magee, who worked five innings and allowed just an unearned run. Both Lowell runs were unearned, thanks to errors by second baseman Clay Fisher and catcher Maverick Handley.

With the defeat, Aberdeen fell a game behind the victorious Hudson Valley, but remained tied with Brooklyn, which also lost. The Ironbirds have six games remaining — three apiece against, you guessed it, Hudson Valley and Brooklyn. They’ll have every opportunity to determine their postseason fate, one way or the other.

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

Wednesday’s scheduled games:

  • Norfolk at Gwinnett, 7:05 PM. Starter: Ty Blach (0-0, 7.71)
  • Bowie at Reading, 6:45 PM. Starter: Alex Wells (8-4, 2.81)
  • Frederick at Down East, 7:00 PM. Starter: TBD
  • Delmarva at Lakewood, 7:05 PM. Starter: Drew Rom (6-3, 3.09)
  • Aberdeen vs. Brooklyn, 7:05 PM. Starter: TBD