For much of the summer, the Orioles minor league team that has grabbed the most headlines were the record-setting Delmarva Shorebirds. Unfortunately, the Salisbury outfit’s season ended last week as they were swept away in the opening round of the South Atlantic League playoffs. At the same time, the O’s affiliate down in the Gulf Coast League had their season cut short, despite owning the best record in the league, due to impending hurricanes. That left just one farm team in action: the Double-A Bowie Baysox.
It was not the easiest path to the playoffs for the Baysox. They struggled to a 30-38 record in the first half of the season, but bounced back in the second half with a 46-26 record to win the Western division and earn a spot in the postseason. Next up were the Harrisburg Senators, who the Baysox put away in four games. And now they move to the Eastern League Championship, where the Trenton Thunder await.
It would be really cool if Bowie could take home the championship. It would be even cooler if a few of the players currently on their roster eventually made it to Baltimore and then contributed in a meaningful way at the big league level. There are certainly some candidates to do just that: Zac Lowther, Cody Sedlock, Alex Wells, Yusniel Diaz and Ryan McKenna to name a few.
If only there was a recent example of an Orioles affiliate winning a league championship to reference in order to see how many of those players went on to achieve big league success.
These very same Baysox were Eastern League champions not so long ago. So, let’s hop in the wayback machine and travel to the distant past of 2015 and see if any of the contributors on that club are now doing big things in the big leagues. For the this exercise, let’s stick to players that were around for the playoff run. No need to include major leaguers that were rehabbing or any other players that may have only spent a few days with Bowie.
The longtime Orioles farmhand slashed .246/.316/.372 during his second season with the Baysox. He would go on to play in the O’s minors through the 2018 season before being dealt to the Giants this past March. With San Fran, the 29-year-old has made quite the debut, smacking 19 home runs and slugging .531 in 90 games.
Sisco was once the Orioles top prospect. In 20 games at the Double-A level, the then-20-year-old struggled a bit (.257/.337/.392) and continued to hit the skids in the playoffs (.125 batting average). The backstop, whose carrying tool is meant to be his bat, has continued with those issues in the bigs.
Caleb’s brother has shown an ability to hit at just about every professional level, except for the one that matters. He hit .280/.315/.419 in 63 games for Bowie in 2015. Joseph had a few stays in the O’s system, but has spent the 2019 season in the Bay Area, playing 15 games for the Athletics and Giants.
The 2015 season was split between Frederick and Bowie for Mancini, an eighth round pick in 2013. Simply put, he dominated the Eastern League by putting up a 180 wRC+ in 84 games for the Baysox that season. I think you know the rest. He is one of the Orioles most established players at the moment, although he could be a trade candidate this winter.
This is an arm that the Orioles probably would have been wise to hold onto. Triggs was dominant out of the Bowie bullpen in 2015 (43 games, 61.1 innings, 1.03 ERA, 70 strikeouts) but was then released the following off-season. He eventually made it to the majors with the A’s, where he put together three solid seasons (4.53 ERA, 4.05 xFIP). But he has had hip issues this season and is currently a free agent.
Here is a guy that seems to have gotten tantalizing close to the big leagues. The 2015 season would be Dosch’s first in Bowie. He would go on to play all of 2016 and part of 2017 with the Baysox. The infielder reached Triple-A in 2018, but when it appeared there was no path forward, he retired prior to this season.
Snyder was the Orioles first round pick back in 2005 and had already reached the big leagues by the time the 2015 season rolled around. That didn’t stop the veteran from putting up impressive numbers (.278/.356/.467) in the Eastern League. He made it back to the majors for two games with the Rays last season, and is currently in the minors with the Nationals.
Remember Tolliver? Probably not. The lefty appeared in just five games for 2016 Orioles after pitching in 39 games for the 2015 Baysox. He was claimed by the Angels in 2016, then by the Astros later that year. He is currently out of affiliated ball.
The O’s first call up of the 2017 season has had a tough big league career (5.82 ERA in 34 innings). He played all of the 2015 season with High-A Frederick before making the move to Bowie for the playoffs. He is currently on the Diamondbacks 40-man roster and pitching in the big leagues this month.
The most successful southpaw on this list, Hart was fantastic during his first big league stint. In 2016 he made the jump right from Bowie to Baltimore and posted a 0.49 ERA in 22 brief appearances, but did enough to make the postseason roster. Things have not gone as well since, but he remains employed. The 2019 season has seen him pitch for the Brewers and Mets.
This one hurts. There were high expectations of Lee when he came to the Orioles in a 2015 trade. In seven starts for the Baysox that season, the lefty cobbled together a 3.08 ERA in 38 innings of work. Then injuries and poor performance derailed his career. There was an outside chance of him making the Orioles back in the spring, but that fell apart so much that the team released him in July. He remains out of affiliated ball.
The Baltimore native spent a long time in the O’s system. He was added to the organization in 2011 and stuck around through the 2017 season. In 2015, he put together a .268/.333/.348 slash line with the Baysox. But that is as far as he would get. His career stalled and he bounced between levels. The now-27-year-old is currently a free agent.
Ah, David Hess. There is still enough talent there that makes you think he can have a role on a big league team. But he has been a bit of a mess so far, compiling a 5.94 ERA in 180.1 big league innings. He pitched in only two games for the Baysox in 2015, but has thrown nearly 300 innings for them in his career. As you are likely aware, the righty is currently on the O’s roster but could be on the fringes this off-season.
This is probably not the most encouraging recap of a championship team you have ever read. Mancini is the only one that has fully worked out for the Orioles while Yaz has had a nice start to his big league career elsewhere. Just about everyone else has either become organizational filler or underwhelming big leaguers.
It could be much of the same for the 2019 Baysox, although there is is reason to be excited. Many of the Bowie standouts are fairly young, and there is no rush to get them to Baltimore anytime soon. The Orioles can allow them to fully develop and go from there. Only time will tell.