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Orioles minor league recap 8/29: Grayson keeps mowing down hitters

Only one out four Orioles affiliates won on Saturday, but all of the starters pitched well. 

MILB: JUL 17 Gulf Coast League - GCL Twins at GCL Orioles Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Triple-A: Norfolk Tides 0, Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp 1

Norfolk lost its second-shortest game of the season, a two hour, 15-minute contest that was scoreless through six innings before reliever Nick Vespi gave up a solo home run to the Marlins’ No. 11 prospect Lewin Díaz. In 10.1 IP with Norfolk, Vespi has an 8.71 ERA. Could be better. Alexander Wells started, going just 2 IP but allowing no runs. His ERA in Triple-A is a solid 3.29 now. Ryan Hartman, a July 30th Houston waiver claim, pitched four scoreless himself.

It’s not easy to win, though, when your team has literally two baserunners all game. Jacksonville’s (Marlins) Daniel Castano, one of the arms thrown into a big prospect package for Marcell Ozuna in 2017, shut down the Tides for seven innings, allowing just one hit. It belonged to Richie Martin, who then got caught stealing. Adley Rutschman was 1-for-1 tonight as a pinch hitter to give him a .362 average and .922 OPS in Triple-A.

Double-A: Bowie Baysox 5, Erie SeaWolves 6

Johnny Rizer hit a grand slam for his team in the early innings, but it was erased when the bullpen allowed a solo run in four straight innings to end the game. The responsibility for those runs fell on Claudio Custodio (10.80 ERA in 1.2 IP since being demoted from Norfolk), Tim Naughton (5.89 ERA, responsible for the blown save) and Diogenes Almengo (3.65 ERA).

All of that is more or less forgivable because Bowie still holds onto the Northeast’s No. 2 playoff spot. And because Grayson Rodriguez had another dominant start. He walked the first hitter and allowed a home run to the second, but then he struck out nine hitters in five innings and sustained no more damage. MLB’s No. 1 pitching prospect now has 144 K’s in 90 IP. That’s sick.

High-A: Aberdeen IronBirds 1, Brooklyn Cyclones 4

Conner Loeprich, a 2020 pickup from Pittsburgh, threw five innings of two-run, two-hit baseball. Control was an issue for Loeprich (0-4, 8.38 ERA), though, as he let in a run on a wild pitch and also walked four. Noah Denoyer threw the sixth and seventh innings and gave up up two more runs.

The IronBirds’ single run came thanks to a Doran Turchin double that scored Willy Yahn. Yahn had doubled to set up the rally, and Gunnar Henderson also walked, his second of the day. Lamar Sparks went 1-for-4. Turchin went 1-for-3 with a walk. Catcher Ramon Rodriguez, TT Bowens, and Yahn were each 1-for-4, too.

Low-A: Delmarva Shorebirds 7, Salem Red Sox 3 (F/10)

Delmarva was the only Orioles team to win on Saturday, and they did it with a convincing extra-innings pile-on that should help to buoy their playoff chances (they’re three games out of a playoff spot currently). Darrell Hernaiz tied the game with an RBI single in the ninth inning before Ryne Ogren doubled in the Manfred Man, and Hernaiz, Billy Cook, and Colton Cowser all drove in a run in extras. Shorebirds hitters put together 15 hits and six walks. A few of the standouts: Darrell Hernaiz (3-for-6, 2 RBI), Billy Cook (3-for-6, 2 RBI, HR), Ryne Ogren (3-for-5, 2 RBI, 2 2B), and Mason Janvrin (2-for-5, 2B).

Jean Pinto threw five good innings, striking out six, allowing one hit, and walking three. Justin Armbruester, a Round 12 draftee in 2021, allowed a home run in the sixth. Thomas Girard threw two scoreless, and Rickey Ramirez, a 2020 waivers pickup, got the win with a scoreless ninth and tenth.

Complete box scores from Saturday’s games can be found here.

Sunday’s scheduled games:

Norfolk vs. Jacksonville, 4:05 PM. Starter: Kyle Bradish (3-4, 5.06 ERA)

Bowie vs. Erie, 1:35 PM. Starter: Drew Rom (2-1, 5.73 ERA)

Aberdeen at Brooklyn, 4:00 PM. Starter: Jake Prizina (2-2, 3.67 ERA)

Delmarva at Salem, 4:05 PM. Starter: Houston Roth (8-2, 3.44 ERA)