This year more than most, the future of the Orioles can be found in the minor leagues. The team’s annual presentation of awards to their minor league players takes on even more significance when the team has lost 103 games and counting. The O’s announced the 2019 winners on Thursday afternoon. The players and coaches will be honored before Saturday’s game against the Mariners.
The winners are as follows:
- Brooks Robinson Player of the Year: Ryan Mountcastle
- Jim Palmer Pitcher of the Year: Grayson Rodriguez and Michael Baumann
- Elrod Hendricks Minor League Community Service Award: Cameron Bishop
- Cal Ripken Sr. Player Development Award: Justin Ramsey (Delmarva pitching coach)
- Jim Russo Scout of the Year: Thom Dreier (signed Rodriguez)
In addition, the Orioles will recognize their three minor league managers who were named Manager of the Year of their respective leagues. They are Buck Britton of Bowie, Kyle Moore of Delmarva, and Alan Mills of the GCL Orioles.
All else being equal, Mountcastle would probably have had a September callup than a minor league award. Even with the Triple-A baseballs being what they are, his .312/.344/.527 batting line for Norfolk, with 25 home runs in 127 games, is something exciting to see from a 22-year-old. Hopefully the Orioles can find him a position and then get him to Baltimore. Also hopefully his fate next year is better than what happened with the last two winners of this award, Cedric Mullins and Austin Hays.
The Pitcher of the Year award is split between two players for a second consecutive year. Last year’s winners were Zac Lowther and Keegan Akin.
Both of this year’s winners are deserving of the award. Rodriguez kept a WHIP under 1.00 and a 2.68 ERA over 20 starts this season, with an impressive 129 strikeouts in 94 innings for the season. Delmarva might be a long way from MLB, but it’s great to see that kind of success in his first full professional season.
Baumann, who split 2019 between Frederick and Bowie, is that much closer to Baltimore. The 24-year-old righty, a third round pick by the O’s in 2017, posted a 2.98 ERA in 24 games between both levels this year, with 142 strikeouts in 124 innings. Baumann allowed just four home runs all season. There’s something interesting there, especially if he can keep his walk rate closer to what he had for Bowie (2.7 BB/9) than what he had for Frederick (4.0).
The Orioles release announcing Ramsey’s win of the development award highlights that Shorebirds pitchers led the South Atlantic League in each of these categories: ERA (3.00), WHIP (1.18), strikeouts (1,389), with the fewest home runs allowed (67). The team set a new league record for strikeouts, with five pitchers, including Rodriguez, reaching over 100 strikeouts while throwing fewer than 100 innings. This was his first season as a pro coach.
Britton was the Eastern League Manager of the Year after his team began the year 7-23 and ended up in the league’s championship series by season’s end. Despite that start, the team still led the league in ERA (3.17) and WHIP (1.18), with their hitters leading the league in runs scored and also recording the fewest strikeouts of any team in the league. That’s a winning combination.
Moore, the South Atlantic League Manager of the Year winner, presided over a Shorebirds team that went 90-48. This was the only 90-win team in the entire minor leagues this season.
Mills, the former Oriole, was in charge of a Gulf Coast League Orioles team that went 38-15 and won its division. There were no GCL playoffs due to Hurricane Dorian. He will not be at Saturday’s ceremony.