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Orioles minor league recap 8/11: Adley Rutschman comes up big in Triple-A debut

The #1 prospect in baseball made a great first impression at Norfolk, collecting two hits and an RBI while calling a one-hit shutout behind the plate.

2021 SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game

Triple-A: Norfolk Tides 4, Memphis Redbirds (Cardinals) 0

Adley Rutschman is here! Adley Rutschman is here! It’s happening, y’all! With a crowd of 6,174 on hand at Harbor Park, the former No. 1 overall draft pick — and the best prospect in all of baseball — made his much-anticipated Triple-A debut after being promoted from Bowie on Sunday. And he did not disappoint.

Rutschman, starting behind the plate and batting in his familiar #2 lineup slot, delivered a strong all-around performance. After going hitless in his first two at-bats, Rutschman batted in the sixth inning with a man aboard and did this:

That knock came against a fellow promising youngster, lefty Matthew Liberatore, the Cardinals’ best prospect and #25 in baseball. Rutschman got one more at-bat in the eighth and smacked his second hit of the night, then scored on a Jahmai Jones single.

So, yeah, the guy can hit. But can he call a game? Well, let’s put it this way: the Tides, who hadn’t thrown a nine-inning shutout in nearly two months, not only accomplished that feat tonight but also came within four outs of a no-hitter. The pitchers had something to do with that, of course, but clearly it didn’t take them long to get in sync with Rutschman.

Rehabbing O’s lefty Bruce Zimmermann got it started with five superb innings, retiring 14 of the 16 batters he faced. Two walks were his only blemish, but the Redbirds didn’t attempt to steal against Rutschman. Kyle Bradish (#12 prospect) followed with three scoreless frames in long relief, striking out five, with an Alec Burleson two-out single in the eighth breaking up the no-no. Hard-throwing righty Felix Bautista, who was also making his Triple-A debut, struck out the side in the ninth, with a walk and hit batsman mixed in.

On the offensive side, Kelvin Gutierrez homered, Zach Jarrett went 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI, and Yusniel Diaz — back with the Tides after a rehab stint at Bowie — singled and struck out twice.

Double-A: Richmond Flying Squirrels (Giants) 6, Bowie Baysox 3

The Baysox came up short despite the best efforts of center fielder Zach Watson, who blasted a pair of home runs out of the #8 spot. The slugging effort helped him raise his Bowie OPS from .686 to .801 in 17 games. No other Bowie batter had more than one hit, and #22 prospect Kyle Stowers continued his recent slump with an 0-for-3 showing.

Starter Kyle Brnovich pitched well, holding Richmond to two runs and five hits in five innings, with an impressive seven strikeouts to one walk. He’s got 42 Ks and just six walks in 35 innings at Bowie. Reliever Tyler Joyner took the loss, allowing three runs in the sixth inning.

High-A: Asheville Tourists (Astros) at Aberdeen IronBirds — suspended

The game was washed out in the top of the third with Asheville leading, 1-0. It’ll be resumed tonight.

Low-A: Lynchburg Hillcats (Cleveland) 5, Delmarva Shorebirds 1

Delmarva’s offense was missing in action for this one, with the club managing just two hits in 28 at-bats. Leadoff man Lamar Sparks didn’t have one of those hits, but he did walk twice and steal a base, his sixth. Shortstop Darell Hernaiz, the Orioles’ #27 prospect, drove in the Shorebirds’ only run with a sixth-inning groundout. Exciting stuff.

On the mound, Jean Pinto — last week’s Low-A East League Pitcher of the Week — worked a solid start, holding the Hillcats to one run in 4.2 innings. He gave up five hits and two walks while striking out three. Reliever Jake Zebron was less fortunate, coughing up four runs, one of which scored on a strikeout-passed ball by catcher Ryne Ogren. It was that kind of game.

Florida Complex League: Orioles Orange 7, Pirates Gold 6

Let’s check in on the FCL, where the entire Orioles Orange lineup (except rehabbing Bowie second baseman Terrin Vavra) was made up of 2021 draftees. First-round pick Colton Cowser reached base four times, on two hits and two walks, with a run and an RBI, and he also picked up an outfield assist from center field. Cowser is now 11-for-16 with a 1.799 OPS in his brief professional career. Competitive balance round pick Reed Trimble also fared well, going 2-for-4 with a run, walk, and two RBIs. And #10 prospect Vavra, returning from a back strain, had a pair of hits in his first game action since June 13. The club’s starting pitcher was veteran lefty Ty Blach, who I honestly did not realize was still in the Orioles’ system. He tossed two scoreless as he works his way back from 2020 Tommy John surgery.

Complete full-season affiliate box scores from Tuesday’s games can be found here. Box score from the FCL game can be found here.

Wednesday’s scheduled games:

  • Norfolk: vs. Memphis, 7:05 PM. Starter: Dean Kremer (0-5, 6.88)
  • Bowie: vs. Richmond, 12:05 PM. Starter: Grayson Rodriguez (4-1, 2.63)
  • Aberdeen: vs. Asheville, completion of suspended game, followed by regularly scheduled game at 7:05 PM. Starter: Garrett Stallings (8-3, 4.56)
  • Delmarva: at Lynchburg, 5:00 PM (doubleheader). Gm 1 starter: TBD; Gm 2 starter: TBD.