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Orioles minor league recap 6/18: Bowie wins thrilling walkoff; Henderson shines in AAA

Norfolk was blitzed on Friday, but that didn’t stop Jordan Westburg and Gunnar Henderson from still doing exciting things.

Altoona Curve v Bowie Baysox
GUNNAR HENDERSON wears a Norfolk uniform now and his hype train keeps gaining steam.
Photo by 2021 Rodger Wood/Diamond Images via Getty Images

Triple-A: Syracuse Mets 14,

Never mind the final score, which resulted from pitchers who are on the Orioles 40-man roster right now giving up nine runs. That’s not exactly encouraging. Let’s talk about GUNNAR HENDERSON. He continues to do good things since being promoted to the Triple-A level before reaching his 21st birthday.

In Friday’s game, GUNNAR added another three hits. They just can’t get this guy out! His OPS since being promoted to Norfolk is 1.117. He also stole a base! Above even Henderson’s pace is fellow infielder Jordan Westburg, who added two hits of his own - including a triple - to hold an OPS of 1.311. (Westburg committed a fielding error in this game.)

Even Rylan Bannon got in on the action, drawing a walk along with 2-3 hitting; he drove in his 41st run of the season, which would lead all Orioles batters if only he had so many MLB RBI. Bumped out to center field with all the other infielders around, Terrin Vavra went 0-5 as the leadoff man.

Double-A: Bowie Baysox 9, Binghamton (Mets) 8 - 10 innings

Bowie fell in a 4-0 hole early and trailed 5-1 heading into the late innings when they plated three runs in the eighth and one in the ninth - the game-tying home run coming when Joey Ortiz hit his fourth home run of the season. That sent the game into extras, where anything goes with the Manfred Man.

With two of MLB Pipeline’s top 25 prospects and three of its top 68 in the Binghamton lineup, that was a tough ask - and sure enough, #7 prospect Francisco Alvarez, #23 prospect Brett Baty, and #68 prospect Ronny Mauricio all had hits in the 10th to help put Bowie in an 8-5 hole. That didn’t end up mattering, with the Baysox turning around and scoring four in the bottom of the ninth to win it. Catcher Cody Roberts delivered the walkoff hit, one of three on the night - he also hit a three-run dinger in the eighth to get Bowie back in the game.

Among prospects of note, Ortiz’s game-tying homer was one of two hits across six at-bats. Adam Hall also had two hits, including his first homer of the year in 35 games, along with three walks. That’ll help the OBP. César Prieto took an 0-6 out of the leadoff spot.

The four-run deficit resulted from a rough outing by Drew Rom. The O’s lefty, who will become Rule 5 draft eligible after this season, labored through a four inning start with 87 pitches. He allowed six hits and three walks, resulting in four runs scoring. Not great. After this outing, Rom has a 4.26 ERA in 10 starts and he is averaging fewer than four innings pitched per game started.

Better for Bowie’s pitching staff was Noah “The Destroyer” Denoyer, who did the dang thing he’s done a lot this year - long relief - and did it well once again. Denoyer covered the 6th-9th innings, allowed just two hits and did not walk a batter. He gave up just one run while striking out seven batters.

I don’t know what to make of this 24-year-old righty, but between Aberdeen and Bowie this year, Denoyer now has a 2.13 ERA and 0.92 WHIP in 42.1 innings - with 56 strikeouts and only 11 walks. If this party gets to Norfolk and continues, that will be interesting.

Baysox box score.

High-A: Aberdeen IronBirds 9, Jersey Shore (Phillies) 5

Nothing can stop the Aberdeen IronBirds, not even one of the top 100 prospects in baseball. The O’s affiliate drew a game against Jersey Shore’s Mick Abel, the Phillies first round pick from 2020 who rates on most/all prospect lists right now. Abel did not enjoy the experience, allowing nine hits over a six inning outing, with all of the damage coming from a pair of three-run home runs.

For prospect list searchers, this one wasn’t the most exciting of wins, as Colton Cowser and Coby Mayo were not in this game’s starting lineup. However, the game did mark the return to action of outfielder John Rhodes, the O’s third round pick last year. Rhodes had a .912 OPS after 29 games, then missed almost a full month. He was back on Friday night with two hits, including one of the three-run dingers - his fourth of the year. Eight of Aberdeen’s starting nine had hits in the game.

The IronBirds starting pitcher was Connor Gillispie, a 24-year-old righty who’s been putting together a nice season at this level. He added a six inning start with three hits and no walks, and only one unearned run. Gillispie - not to be confused with MLBer Logan Gillaspie - struck out seven batters and has now struck out 63 in 51 innings this season. Bowie may be in his near future at this rate.

Pitchers after Gillispie made the game much more interesting. We don’t need to talk about them. Bringing it back to Rhodes, though, the right fielder helped defuse some ninth inning tension by throwing out a runner who tried to tag from first to second on an RBI sacrifice fly.

IronBirds box score.

Low-A: Salem Red Sox 3, Delmarva Shorebirds 1

There aren’t many prospects to write home about on this team and their 20-40 record reflects that. They lost this Friday game despite out-hitting the opposition 8-5, because all of their hits were singles and they went 0-7 with runners in scoring position. It’s a tough way to win! Props to 22-year-old infielder Luis Valdez for a 4-4 night. Valdez also stole his 31st (really!) base of the season.

Heston Kjerstad did not play. I’m assuming it was a scheduled day off.

Shorebirds box score.

Bonus Dominican Summer League note

Recent seven-figure international amateur signing Braylin Tavera - still just 17 years old - took the field for Orioles Black. The team lost 7-2 in a seven-inning game, but that was still long enough for Tavera to hit his second home run in nine games and steal his first base (and get picked off once and caught stealing once, but hey). Tavera’s pro career has started with a neat .300/.400/.500 batting line. It’s still strange to have an Orioles prospect worth following at this level after so many years of neglect in this market.

Saturday’s Scheduled Games

  • Norfolk: vs. Syracuse, 6:35. Starter: Cody Sedlock
  • Bowie: vs Binghamton, 6:35. Starter: Zach Peek
  • Aberdeen: at Jersey Shore, 7:05. Starter: Peter Van Loon
  • Delmarva: at Salem, 6:05. Starter: Edgar Portes