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Wednesday Bird Droppings: The Orioles may lose a farm team today

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There are some common off-season rumblings around Birdland, and there is also the elephant in the room regarding one of the club’s minor league affiliates.

2020 World Series Game 6: Los Angeles Dodgers v. Tampa Bay Rays Photo by Alex Trautwig/MLB Photos via Getty Images

Good morning Birdland,

Today could be the day that many in professional baseball have been dreading for months (or well over a year). A tweet from the Frederick Keys last night says it all.

For a while now, it has been the worst kept secret in the world that MLB plans to greatly reduce the size of Minor League Baseball. In fact, some organizations have already informed affiliates that they will no longer have a partnership. That will mean the end of business for many, and then a few that latch on with other clubs or leagues. As an example, the Staten Island Yankees are suing the New York Yankees over the entire situation.

Nothing officially has been announced for the Orioles or their affiliates. But the expected result is that the Frederick Keys, the team’s current High-A affiliate, will no longer be part of the organization. That will allow the Aberdeen IronBirds to assume full-season status. Again, that isn’t official. Both the Bowie Baysox and Delmarva Shorebirds are considered at risk as well, but may be significantly less vulnerable for a number of factors including location and stadium quality.

Should the Keys lose affiliate status with the O’s, there is some hope they could find a new partner elsewhere. The Washington Nationals are in need of a single-A affiliate, and that could be ideal proximity.

This whole thing stinks. Minor league baseball brings high-quality, affordable entertainment to markets that don’t always have access to that. This move makes that even harder. It’s a shame, and I hope that something (Cape Cod-like league?) fills the void.

Links & Notes

Here’s what Orioles are eyeing at Meetings | Orioles.com
Trading away Jose Iglesias has created the most obvious hole on the roster. The team could try to plug it internally, but the way Mike Elias is speaking so publicly about finding a replacement suggests that they are more comfortable with finding someone new. That makes sense. Pat Valaika was shaky throughout 2020 and Richie Martin has not shown himself to be ready for a full-time role.

2021 Competitive Balance Draft Pick Order | MLB Trade Rumors
The O’s will have the 66th pick in this summer’s draft. By my quick math that means the club should have four of the first 77 picks, which should allow for another intriguing class of youngsters.

Garrett Stallings on his southeast Virginia roots and joining the O’s | Steve Melewski
I know there hasn’t been a ton of action so far this off-season, but boy is Garrett Stallings getting a ton of attention. He is yet to make his professional debut, so it’s always possible the Orioles have a more interesting prospect on their hands than the publications expect.

Baltimore Orioles hire Cleveland Indians infield instructor Tony Mansolino as third base coach | Cleveland.com
With the promotion of Chris Holt to pitching coach earlier this off-season, this would seem to complete Brandon Hyde’s dugout staff. Tony Mansolino will fill the exact void left by Jose Flores, who handled both third base coach and infield coordinator responsibilities.

Orioles birthday

Is it your birthday? Happy birthday!

Hunter Harvey turns 26 today. The 2013 first-round pick has battled injuries to appear in 17 games for the Orioles over the last two seasons. He is expected to compete for high-leverage opportunities next year.

Happy 47th birthday to former infielder Tony Batista. The man with the iconic batting stance spent three seasons with the O’s from 2001 through 2003. His stay was highlighted by an all-star appearance in 2002, a season in which he hit .244/.309/.457 with 31 home runs and a 105 OPS+.

It’s Tony Tarasco’s 50th birthday. The outfielder had two seasons in Baltimore, but is best remembered as the guy who had a fly ball snatched away from him by 12-year-old Yankees fan Jeffrey Maier in Game 1 of the 1996 ALDS.

Darold Knowles turns 79 today. The left-handed pitcher began his 16-year MLB career with five games on the 1965 Orioles. The O’s dealt him to the Phillies the following off-season.

Finally, it’s the birthday of the late Billy Klaus (b. 1928, d. 2006). The infielder was an Oriole in 1959 and 1960. He posted a .245/.350/.313 batting line across 150 games.

Orioles history

1965 - The Orioles make what would prove to be one of the most important trades in franchise history when they acquire outfielder Frank Robinson from the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for Milt Pappas, Jack Baldshun and Dick Simpson.

1994 - Free agent catcher Matt Nokes signs with the Orioles.

1999 - Designated hitter Harold Baines signs with the O’s.

2008 - The Orioles trade catcher Ramon Hernandez to the Reds for Ryan Freel, Justin Turner and Brandon Waring. The move opens up the starting spot behind the plate for top prospect Matt Wieters.

2009 - Veteran starting pitcher Kevin Millwood joins the Orioles from the Texas Rangers via a trade that sends reliever Chris Ray in the other direction.

2010 - In a salary-cutting move, the Twins deal shortstop J.J. Hardy to the Orioles in exchange for pitchers Brett Jacobson and Jim Hoey. That one would work out pretty well for Baltimore.