When the 2022 season began, the farm system was the most interesting thing going on with the Orioles organization. After some surprisingly fun summer months at the big league level, the offense’s September swoon has the O’s season wrapping up not unlike the way it began, with most of the excitement about the future being fueled by minor leaguers still on the way up the ladder.
There is not a lot of minor league action left for the season. As of this week, the regular seasons have wrapped up for the O’s two A-ball affiliates, Delmarva and Aberdeen. The IronBirds are headed to the South Atlantic League playoffs thanks to winning the first half division title. Of course, many of the players who were responsible for that title have been promoted.
Double-A Bowie has this last week of its regular season, while Triple-A Norfolk will be playing until the 28th. The final week will be a crucial one for Bowie’s own playoff hopes, as they enter the last week tied for the second half division lead with Erie, the Tigers affiliate at this level. Win more than those guys and they’re in.
As a reminder, this list is generally focused on the players from the most recent Camden Chat composite top Orioles prospects list.
Triple-A Norfolk Tides
- Last week: 4-2 at Memphis Redbirds (Cardinals)
- Coming week: vs. Charlotte Knights (54-81, White Sox)
- Season record: 66-69, seventh place (9 GB) of ten teams in International League East
The Tides, with an 8-2 record over their last ten games, are making a strong push to finish above .500 for the season. This is the week to make some hay on that front, as their final nine games are against the top two teams in their division.
Norfolk’s season has been marked by prospects playing well enough to where you want to see them in MLB instead, they get promoted after a delay long enough to be annoying, then you start looking at the next guy in line. We’ve gone through it now with Adley Rutschman, Kyle Stowers, Terrin Vavra, and Gunnar Henderson.
The next in line, it would seem, is Joey Ortiz. The shortstop, drafted in the fourth round in 2019, has only been with the Tides for 13 games, but it’s sure an amazing start. Over the past series, he batted 10-26 with three extra-base hits, leaving him with an OPS of 1.074 with the Tides to date.
Ortiz is not the only infielder excelling here. 2020 second rounder Jordan Westburg is also taking care of business, 9-26 with four XBH this week to raise his Tides OPS to .844 in 76 games. At the MLB level, it does seem like Rougned Odor is an obvious one-year-only Oriole, so one of the big questions of the offseason will be which minor leaguer, if any, they zero in on as 2023 infield options, and whether ones they deem surplus are traded to fill other holes.
Not faring as well as Ortiz in his small sample since being promoted to Norfolk is 2021 first rounder Colton Cowser. The outfielder struck out ten times in 26 at-bats this week, collecting only three hits. Every level is harder and he will need to adjust. It’s a plus that he can start to make this adjustment in 2022, hopefully allowing him to hit the ground running in 2023.
Since DL Hall is now in Baltimore too, the pitching prospect most worth keeping an eye on with the Tides is Drew Rom, a 2018 fourth round pick who becomes Rule 5 draft-eligible this offseason. Rom joined the Tides four weeks ago and just posted his best start yet, pitching a seven-inning complete game shutout against the Redbirds here. Rom scattered three hits and two walks while striking out seven batters. Through four Tides starts, he has a 1.66 ERA.
Other notable prospects:
That’s really it, unless you’re still holding out hope for Yusniel Díaz. If you are, I have no good news to report. He went 3-13 for the week and is OPSing .665 for the season. Hard to see how he stays on the 40-man roster through the offseason.
Double-A Bowie Baysox
- Last week: 2-4 vs. Richmond Flying Squirrels (Giants)
- Coming week: at Akron RubberDucks (36-27 second half, Guardians)
- Season record: 38-25 second half, tied for first place of six teams in Eastern League Southwest
Richmond came into this week just 19-37 in the second half of the Double-A season, but that didn’t do much to help Bowie secure its postseason standing. The Baysox allowed five or more runs in five of the six games played in the series, and their offense only topped three runs in three of six games.
Wherever Grayson Rodriguez goes, he’s the guy where I’m most wanting to see how he performed. In two outings this week, Rodriguez pitched a combined 4.2 innings, with an impressive 11 strikeouts and only two hits allowed, but an unimpressive five walks and five earned runs allowed. He threw 56 pitches in his second of two outings. Is that built up enough for a big league cameo before the end of the season? I guess we’ll find out in a couple more weeks. The Orioles announced on Monday that Rodriguez is returning to Triple-A Norfolk for his next outing.
Among the Bowie hitters with prospect stock, the best performer of the bunch for the week was Hudson Haskin, who only batted 3-17! He drew five walks and had a double and a homer, so his OBP and SLG weren’t bad. Recent power-hitting machine Connor Norby was 6-20 at the plate, though with only one XBH. He also stole two bases.
Below this point it only gets even less pretty, with struggles for all of John Rhodes (3-11), Coby Mayo (2-18 including 10 Ks), Darell Hernaiz (2-19), and César Prieto (3-21, no XBH). Bowie is going to need some of these guys to finish strong to get itself a postseason berth.
Other notable prospects:
- RHP Chayce McDermott - The prospect acquired in the Trey Mancini trade struck out nine batters in a 4.2 inning start this week, though that came along with three walks. This is in line with his Bowie totals to date: 30 strikeouts, 17 walks in five starts.
- RHP Cade Povich - Used in relief of Rodriguez on Thursday, Povich didn’t have it, allowing four runs on three hits and two walks in only 0.2 innings.
- RHP Justin Armbruester - This unranked 23-year-old allowed a run in one five inning start and now has a 3.64 ERA in 13 Double-A games. Four walks this week to only three strikeouts, and home runs have been a bit of a problem (11 in 59.1 IP).
High-A Aberdeen IronBirds
- Last week: 2-4 at Jersey Shore BlueClaws
- Coming week: Best of 3 vs. second half division winner Brooklyn Cyclones (Mets); Game 2 home Thursday, game 3 (if necessary) Friday
- Season record: 43-23 first half, 35-31 second half
Every week since Heston Kjerstad arrived at this level, I’ve been waiting for him to have a good week that will hopefully be the start of something good. It took to the last week of the regular season to get it: Kjerstad just batted 7-19 in the final week, with a double and a home run mixed in. That leaves him with a .674 OPS in 43 games. He seems like a strong candidate to head to the Arizona Fall League.
Much like with Bowie, the numbers were more grim once you get below that one best-performing guy. Several 2022 picks made their High-A debuts here this week and it could have gone better. Dylan Beavers was 4-14 with no XBH. Max Wagner, 3-18 and also no XBH. Jud Fabian has been here a week longer than these other guys. He went 3-17, though he at least managed a double for his trouble.
Occasionally interesting pitching prospect Jean Pinto closed out his season allowing a run in four innings. Pinto walked five and only struck out three. For his High-A season, he finishes with a 3.83 ERA in 24 games, including a 10.1 K/9 and 4.5 BB/9.
Other notable prospects:
- IF Frederick Bencosme - The 19-year-old was a hitting machine for Delmarva, but he only hit 3-15 this week and finished with a .154 average through 12 games with Aberdeen.
Low-A Delmarva Shorebirds
- Last week: 4-1 vs. Down East Wood Ducks
- Coming week: The season is over
- Season record: 21-44 first half, 28-37 second half
Down East pitchers were either very scared of #1 overall pick Jackson Holliday or else they just couldn’t throw him strikes for some other reason, because they handed out eight free passes to the 18-year-old shortstop. When they weren’t walking him, Holliday went 4-11 with three doubles. His 12-game Delmarva batting line: .238/.439/.333. Pretty good.
Holliday’s 1.268 OPS for the week was not actually the top one for the week for the Shorebirds. Outfielder Isaac Bellony topped him by .001 thanks to picking up 12 hits in 20 at-bats. Bellony ends the Shorebirds season with an .854 OPS in 50 games; he spent 51 at Aberdeen in the middle, OPSing only .559, which is the kind of thing that will get you moving the wrong direction.
Other notable prospects:
- RHP Juan Nunez - This arrival from the Jorge López trade closed out his season with four scoreless innings. The 21-year-old managed to walk 13 batters while striking out only seven across four Delmarva starts.
The winner of the player of the week poll for last week by a commanding margin was Ortiz, who becomes the sixth multiple winner of the season as it winds down. Other multiple winners: Kjerstad (three times), Cowser, GUNNAR HENDERSON, Connor Norby, and Kyle Stowers. Single week winners: Haskin, Kyle Bradish, Pinto, Mayo, Juan De Los Santos, Rodriguez, Westburg, Povich, and Fabian.
Is Ortiz going to win for the second week in a row? Could Kjerstad’s first good week at Aberdeen make him the first and only four-time winner? That’s up to you to decide.
Who was the Orioles minor league player of the week for 9/6-9/11
This poll is closed
Joey Ortiz, Norfolk (10-26 hitting, still over 1.000 OPS)
Drew Rom, Norfolk (7-inning CGSO, 3 H, 2 BB, 7 K)
Heston Kjerstad, Aberdeen (first strong High-A week to close out reg. season)
Jackson Holliday, Delmarva (walked eight times, 4-11 when they didn’t walk him)