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Orioles minor league week in review: Now the #2 farm system in baseball

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Baseball America’s midseason update of farm systems puts the Orioles in second. Maybe better times will arrive in Baltimore eventually,

2021 Sirius XM Futures Game Photo by Mary DeCicco/MLB Photos via Getty Images

At the big league level for the Orioles, the losing rolls on. The Orioles are 1-13 in the month of August and losers of their last twelve games in a row. There is not much hope of things improving significantly for the MLB team for the remainder of the season. They are what they are. Help is not coming to the roster.

The good news is that there are more reminders to be found down on the farm that better times are coming soon. One significant marker of that is that Baseball America unveiled its updated midseason farm system rankings and the Orioles system is now at #2. Different evaluators have different opinions of the system but they pretty much all agree on improvement over the past couple of years. O’s fans just have to wait for that improvement to show up in Baltimore. As we know, it isn’t happening this year.

The promotions

This is a big week for player movement in the system, as a large chunk of the Orioles college-heavy 2021 draft class is getting promoted to Delmarva, the lowest full-season O’s affiliate. They’ve been getting their feet wet in the Florida Complex League up to this point.

  • Bowie to Norfolk: RHP Blaine Knight, RHP Cody Sedlock
  • Aberdeen to Bowie: RHP Tyler Burch, INF Andrew Daschbach, RHP Morgan McSweeney, INF J.D. Mundy, RHP Garrett Stallings, INF Jordan Westburg
  • Delmarva to Aberdeen: INF TT Bowens, INF Jean Carmona, OF Cristopher Céspedes, RHP Noah Denoyer, RHP Griffin McLarty, INF Ryne Ogren, OF Lamar Sparks, RHP Adam Stauffer
  • FCL to Delmarva: INF Collin Burns, OF Billy Cook, OF Colton Cowser, RHP Daniel Federman, RHP Conor Grady, INF Coby Mayo, INF Connor Norby, C Connor Pavalony, RHP Preston Price, OF John Rhodes, RHP Carlos Tavera, INF Jacob Teter, OF Reed Trimble, RHP Peter Van Loon, OF Donta’ Williams

That’s 12 players from the 2021 draft class, plus two undrafted free agents, in that group headed from Florida to Delmarva. This will also mark the full-season affiliate debut for 2019 fourth round pick Coby Mayo. The Delmarva roster just got a lot more interesting. Good luck to every one of these prospects as they head up to new challenges.

Expected later this week is an updated prospect ranking from MLB Pipeline, which will reflect new additions to the system from the draft and trades as well as movement up or down depending on whether players have showed better coming out of the lost pandemic season, or showed worse. That ranking has provided the focus for these weekly review posts, so once that’s updated, we’ll keep tabs on the newly-ranked players with less attention to those who’ve dropped off.

Triple-A Norfolk Tides

  • This week: 5-1 vs. Memphis Redbirds (Cardinals)
  • Season record: 37-51, sixth place (19.5 GB) of seven teams in Southeast division of Triple-A East

There are a few prospects in the system who, between injuries and poor play, have seen their stock sink. Rylan Bannon (current MLB Pipeline #20) has been on the way down this year. Bannon tried his best to turn that around this week, with five home runs in a three game stretch and a 1.643 slugging percentage for the week. This earned him Triple-A East Player of the Week honors. It’s going to take more weeks like this to dig him out of the hole his season stats are in.

Bannon kind of stole the show from mega-prospect Adley Rutschman (#1), who made his Norfolk debut this week. It wasn’t a bad one at all, as Rutschman picked up eight hits in 21 at-bats. I am looking forward to seeing more of how he does for the Tides, and I’m sure I’m not the only one.

On the pitching side, Kyle Bradish (#12) tossed eight scoreless innings across two outings, holding batters to just three hits and two walks as he struck out 12. Bradish, too, needs some more good games after a bit of a tough first several weeks at Triple-A. A 12/2 K/BB ratio doesn’t hurt. Walks have been a problem for Bradish here; he’s got 31 in 58 innings pitched even with this week’s performance.

Other notable prospects:

  • RHP Mike Baumann (#7) - Speaking of guys who walk too many batters... Baumann issued six walks in a four-inning start this week. He only gave up one run on one hit, but sheesh. Still, through three Norfolk games it’s a sub-1.00 WHIP for Baumann. That’s something.
  • OF Yusniel Diaz (#8) - Much like Bannon in that he’s been sinking this year. Unlike Bannon, no movement to change that trajectory this week. Diaz had three hits in 13 at-bats and a .641 OPS for the week. That’s still better than his season OPS of .521. Yowza.
  • LHP Kevin Smith (#15) - One inning of relief, four runs allowed on four hits. Next!

Double-A Bowie Baysox

  • This week: 4-2 vs. Richmond Flying Squirrels (Giants)
  • Season record: 53-35, second place (2.5 GB) of six teams in Southwest division of Double-A Northeast

The first question I ask about Bowie every week: How did Grayson Rodriguez (#2) do? There’s a good answer to the question this week: Five innings, three hits, no runs, no walks, eight strikeouts. It would be nice if the Orioles would let him rip up to six innings or 100 pitches by season’s end. I don’t know if they will. Rodriguez’s Bowie line is a 2.38 ERA and 0.849 WHIP over 12 starts. I like that just fine.

With Rutschman going up to Norfolk, there weren’t many headliner names in the Baysox lineup this week. Several players stepped up for big weeks anyway, including 2019 third rounder Zach Watson (unranked) lighting up for four home runs in five games. Watson gets lost in the prospect shuffle a bit since he’s 24 and only at Double-A, but after this week’s performance he’s hitting .286/.300/.597 at the level. Keep slugging like that and I’ll pay attention. Fellow unranked prospects Cadyn Grenier and Johnny Rizer also OPSed over 1.000 for the week.

Other notable prospects:

  • OF Kyle Stowers (#22) - 5-22 hitting for the week, though with three extra-base hits and two walks he still had a respectable .746 OPS and is still slugging over .500 through 48 Bowie games.
  • LHP Drew Rom (#25) - Four runs allowed in a five inning start with five hits and three walks allowed. This was only Rom’s third start at the level. Better luck next week.

High-A Aberdeen IronBirds

  • This week: 4-2 vs. Asheville Tourists (Astros)
  • Season record: 47-41, second place (8 GB) of five teams in North division of High-A East

Jordan Westburg (#6) bids farewell to the IronBirds after hitting .289/.392/.473 in 61 games. With just a .668 OPS over the last week, he’s not going up to Bowie on his highest note, but it’s not worth sweating one week.

Gunnar Henderson (#5) continues his learning experience as one of the youngest players in this entire level. He had only three hits in six games, though all three hits went for extra bases, including a homer.

Garrett Stallings (#26) heads up to Bowie after a good final Aberdeen outing. In this week’s start, Stallings gave up just one run on a solo home run over five innings, with no walks allowed and six strikeouts. His 4.39 ERA in 17 games isn’t impressive, but the 6.17 K/BB ratio is also interesting.

Other notable prospects:

  • OF Hudson Haskin (#13) - Just two hits in 13 at-bats over four games this week. He has OPSed .699 in 19 games since joining Aberdeen.

Low-A Delmarva Shorebirds

  • This week: 3-4 vs. Lynchburg Hillcats (Cleveland)
  • Season record: 48-42, second place (4 GB) of four teams in North division of Low-A East

One reason it’s exciting that the 2021 draft picks are heading up to this team in large numbers is that there have barely been any ranked prospects on the Eastern Shore for several weeks. In fact, until the updated rankings come out and this week’s promotions officially arrive, they’ve got just one: Darell Hernaiz (#27), who is in his age 19 season, making him one of the youngest players still at this level.

Hernaiz, the 2019 fifth round pick, continues to post numbers that can be called “holding his own” considering his age. He went 4-16 this week and drew four walks and is now batting .263/.322/.349 as a Shorebird this year. This is “holding his own” because the hit/walk numbers are decent enough to wait and see if some power develops.

Jean Carmona (unranked) got a bump after a week in which he went 7-20 with four walks and two stolen bases. The 21-year-old somewhat forgotten throw-in from 2018’s Jonathan Schoop trade is now heading up a level after posting a .772 OPS in his first taste at a full season affiliate. He’s going to have to equal or better that at his next level to really be interesting, but if you are looking to dive deep into the farm system, here’s another name to at least keep an eye on in the box scores.

Other notable prospects:

  • RHP Jean Pinto (unranked) - The 20-year-old from the Jose Iglesias trade has raised some eyebrows in his first few weeks here, including this week’s two starts, where he gave up just a run in 10.2 innings, striking out nine and walking two. This doesn’t rocket him to the top of prospect lists, but like Carmona, it means he’s a guy worth keeping an eye on.

Bonus Florida Complex League

Towards the bottom of the current O’s top 30 - which, again, is expected to change within a week - are two early Mike Elias-era international signings: Luis Gonzalez (#28) and Luis Ortiz (#30). Gonzalez has OPSed .589 through 24 games. I don’t expect to see him on the updated ranking. Ortiz, who is not the same Luis Ortiz from the Schoop trade, has struck out 16 in his first 13.2 innings.

Currently unranked guys I’m watching at this level are Orioles Black’s Stiven Acevedo (just turned 19 year-old OF, .319/.392/.449 in 24 games) and Mishael Deson (19 year old OF from Givens trade, .320/.393/.420 in 17 games).

Orioles Black is 13-15. Orioles Orange is 8-21.

Double Bonus Dominican Summer League

Orioles 1 is 7-13. Orioles 2 is 8-13. Not much excitement here yet. The two bigger-dollar international signings from January are playing at this level. Maikol Hernandez (#19) is hitting .163/.300/.245 through 16 games.

Samuel Basallo (#24) is doing better, with a .255/.345/.353 batting line through 16 games. Basallo’s numbers are actually better than league average. The DSL overall hits .224/.345/.319. So that’s not bad for a guy who only turned 17 last week and is nearly two years younger than the average player in the league, according to Baseball Reference.

**

The plurality winner of last week’s player of the week poll was Baumann, a first-time winner with 37% of the vote. The past winners: Rodriguez, Rutschman, and Westburg twice each; Henderson, Rizer, Grenier, Mundy, and Stowers. To date, every one of these guys except for Grenier has gotten an in-season promotion. There will be a new winner this week, as none of these guys are on this edition of the poll.

Poll

Who is your Orioles minor league Player of the Week?

This poll is closed

  • 67%
    Rylan Bannon, Norfolk (5 HR in 3 G, Triple-A East Player of the Week)
    (280 votes)
  • 21%
    Kyle Bradish, Norfolk (8 IP, 0 runs allowed, 12 SO)
    (91 votes)
  • 4%
    Zach Watson, Bowie (4 HR in 5 G)
    (19 votes)
  • 1%
    Jean Carmona, Delmarva (earned promotion after .958 OPS week)
    (5 votes)
  • 5%
    Jean Pinto, Delmarva (10.2 IP with 1 ER)
    (21 votes)
416 votes total Vote Now