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Orioles minor league recap 6/29: Gunnar Henderson hits for the cycle at Norfolk

The Tides, Baysox and IronBirds all win as Colton Cowser also impresses in his Double-A debut.

MLB: Baltimore Orioles-Media Day
At this rate, it shouldn’t be long before Gunnar wears the Orioles’ uniform for real.

Triple-A: Norfolk Tides 8, Gwinnett Stripers (Braves) 2

At the rate that he is producing noteworthy performances, we may have to change the name of this article to the GUNNAR HENDERSON Minor League Update. Henderson (Orioles’ #3 prospect) produced his best showing since moving up to Norfolk, hitting for the cycle in going 4-4 with 3 RBIs. After singling in the first inning, the rising star tripled in the third to spark a four-run inning and stretch the TIdes’ lead to 5-0. The very next inning, the face of the Orioles’ minor league system one-upped himself with a solo shot to center field. He later doubled—and then scored—to complete the cycle in the sixth. After Austin Hays hit for the cycle at the major league level earlier this month, perhaps the cycle bug is moving through the organization.

Not to be completely outdone by young GUNNAR, Kyle Stowers (#8 prospect) also turned in a remarkable performance Tuesday night. Stowers opened the scoring by driving in HENDERSON with a double in the first. He then drove in the shortstop again with a two-run shot to right in the sixth. Clearly not satisfied with his brief stint in the majors in the middle of June, Stowers might be back in Baltimore before long if he keeps delivering these types of performances.

Another player who made be angling for his return to the Orioles was Tuesday’s starting pitcher Bruce Zimmermann. The lefty dominated the Stripers over six innings, giving up only two hits, allowing one earned run and striking out seven. Given the Orioles’ difficulties filling their starting rotation this season, another performance like this could very well see Zimmermann heading back to the bigs.

Box Score

Double-A: Bowie Baysox 9, Richmond Flying Squirrels (Giants) 3

Tuesday’s lineup for Bowie featured plenty of new faces after three call-ups from Aberdeen. However. it was new Baysock Colton Cowser (#4 prospect) that stole the show, going 3-3 against Richmond. The former No. 5 overall pick homered for his first Double-A hit in the third, sending a 1-1 pitch to left-center for a two-run shot—increasing the Baysox lead to 5-2. Cowser added singles in the fifth and eighth to complete the perfect debut. Fellow debutants Coby Mayo and Connor Norby combined to go 1-9, with the lone hit coming via a third-inning Norby single.

Matt Harvey may also be gunning for another shot in the big leagues after an encouraging rehab start for Bowie. The former MLB All-Star struck out nine Flying Squirrels over five innings, showing the type of dominance one would expect from a seasoned big leaguer pitching at the Double-A level. Harvey did allow two home runs, so he will definitely look to limit the long balls going forward, but it was an encouraging start on his path back to Baltimore.

The Baysox also got impressive showings at the bottom of their lineup, with Andrew Daschbach and Maverick Handley both driving in three runs. The first baseman and catcher hit back-to-back home runs in the second to turn a 2-0 deficit into a three-run lead. The duo would do it again in the sixth, as a Handley single and Daschbach double back-to-back plated three runs for Bowie.

Box Score

High-A: Aberdeen IronBirds 7, Winston-Salem Dash (White Sox) 2

Despite the graduations of Cowser, Mayo and Norby, the IronBirds did not miss a beat in their win over the Dash. Darell Hernaiz (#28 prospect) led the way offensively for Aberdeen, going 3-4 out of the two spot in the lineup. Not quite able to follow Hays and Henderson’s lead, Hernaiz finished the game a home run short of the cycle. The Puerto Rican middle infielder doubled as part of a four-run first inning, and then followed it up with a single in the second. Hernaiz got his only RBI of the day when he drove in Collin Burns on a triple in the eighth inning. While he didn’t complete the cycle, he did add a stolen base for good measure, so surely that counts as some other type of cycle. If hockey can have the Gordie Howe hat trick, baseball can have the stolen base cycle.

Starter Dan Hammer turned in one of his best starts of the season in his five innings against Winston-Salem. The righty worked around seven hits to limit the Dash to their two runs, while also striking out five. It was only the third time that Hammer was able to go five innings in a start this year, and all of those starts have come in the month of June.

Box Score

Low-A: Fredericksburg Nationals (Nationals) 8, Delmarva Shorebirds 0

The only member of the Orioles’ minor league organization to lose Tuesday night, the Shorebirds were let down by their bullpen in the late innings against Fredericksburg. After keeping things to a 1-0 deficit through five innings, relievers Dylan Heid and Eduardo Monroy allowed seven runs over the sixth, seventh and eighth innings—including four Nationals’ home runs.

However, we all know that you make it all the way to the bottom of the minor league update for your daily Heston Kjerstad report, and the outfielder still delivered despite the loss. Kjerstad was the only Shorebird who delivered a multi-hit effort on Tuesday, singling in both the first and ninth innings. The 2-4 effort leaves the former No.2 overall pick with a .429 average to begin his professional career—to go along with a 1.074 OPS. With the recent graduations from Aberdeen, it may not be too long before Kjerstad gets the call-up and goes from a Shorebird to an IronBird.

Box Score

Wednesday’s Scheduled Games

  • Norfolk: vs. Gwinnett, 6:35. Starter: Cody Sedlock
  • Bowie: vs. Richmond, 6:35. Starter: Ryan Watson
  • Aberdeen: vs. Winston-Salem, 7:05. Starter: Connor Gillispie
  • Delmarva: at Fredericksburg, 7:05. Starter: Conor Grady