Welcome to the final edition of the season for Camden Chat’s minor league week in review. This week, the Bowie Baysox wrapped up their regular season, falling just short of a return trip to the playoffs on a disappointing final-day defeat, while the Aberdeen IronBirds continued their raucous romp through the postseason to advance to the South Atlantic League Championship Series. The Norfolk Tides, meanwhile, continued their blisteringly hot play as they approach the final nine games of the Triple-A season.
It’s been a blast to recap the exciting minor league action all season long, especially as we’ve started to see the Orioles’ pipeline of talented prospects make their way to the majors. When we began this series in April, the likes of Adley Rutschman, Gunnar Henderson, Kyle Bradish, Kyle Stowers, DL Hall, and Terrin Vavra all were minor leaguers awaiting their first big league opportunity. Now all are contributing to the surprisingly successful 2022 Orioles. And there are plenty more on the way.
For one last time, let’s take a look at the week’s happenings on the Orioles’ farm, with particular focus on the prospects among Camden Chat’s top 30 composite rankings.
Triple-A Norfolk Tides
- Last week: 5-1 vs. Charlotte Knights (White Sox)
- Coming week: six games at Durham Bulls (79-62, Rays)
- Season record: 71-70, seventh place (8.0 GB) in International League East
The red-hot Tides, who at one point this season were 10 games under .500, have climbed above the even-water mark with a blistering stretch of 19 wins in their last 27 games, including 12-4 in September. They’ve won three consecutive series and haven’t dropped one since Aug. 16-21 against the first-place Bulls, the team they face again this upcoming week.
This week was the Tides’ most impressive of all, as they tallied an eye-popping 61 runs in six games, 12 more than anyone else in the International League. Their offense led the league in nearly every statistical category, from home runs (12) to all three triple slash marks (.332/.443/.606). Norfolk began the series with 12, 13, and 14 runs in the first three games.
Every hitting prospect of note put up an impressive showing this week, none moreso than Jordan Westburg (#6 tied), who smacked a team-high 12 hits in 26 at-bats (.429 average), crushed three home runs and three doubles, and scored nine runs. While he probably won’t be getting a September call-up, Westburg is making an early bid for the starting second base job for the 2023 Orioles. Veteran Brett Phillips joined Westburg in the three-dinger club while reaching base 11 times.
Two fairly recent arrivals to the Tides, Colton Cowser (#5) and Joey Ortiz (#24 tied), each had good weeks, which for Ortiz was nothing new. He homered as part of a 5-for-15 week and is batting .379/.453/.621 in 17 games at Triple-A. Cowser, who’d been off to a slow start at Norfolk, joined in on the fun at last, ripping four doubles and a home run. And Yusniel Diaz begs you not to forget that he exists. The one-time top prospect, who has since fallen out of the Orioles’ top 30, ripped 10 hits in 22 at-bats and a club-leading nine RBIs. The effort may be too little, too late to hold on to his 40-man roster spot this offseason.
Meanwhile, baseball’s top pitching prospect Grayson Rodriguez (#2 O’s prospect) finally arrived back in Norfolk for the first time since suffering his fateful lat strain June 1. It went quite well. He twirled five shutout innings — his longest outing since starting his rehab — and struck out four while allowing just three baserunners. The way he’s being built back up, it sure seems like the O’s intend on giving him a cup of coffee in the majors in the season’s final weeks, though there’s been no announcement as yet.
Other notable prospects:
- LHP Drew Rom (#15): Rom, who’d begun his Triple-A career with four outings of two or fewer runs, suffered his first real stinker this week. The Knights torched him for seven runs in 4.1 innings in Norfolk’s only loss of the series.
- OF Robert Neustrom (unranked): This time last year, the former fifth round pick looked like he might have a major league future, but he’s posted a mediocre .725 OPS in 96 games this year. He did pop two homers this week, giving him 15 for the season.
Double-A Bowie Baysox
- Last week: 3-3 at Akron RubberDucks
- Coming week: The season is over
- Season record: 27-42 first half, 41-28 second half
The Baysox suffered a heartbreaking end to the season after entering their final week tied for first place. A back-and-forth series saw Bowie arrive at the season finale needing a win and an Erie loss to clinch a division title. They got the latter, as Erie dropped an afternoon game in Richmond...but the Baysox couldn’t do their part in the evening, taking a hard-to-swallow 8-5 defeat that left them out in the cold.
Lefty and #16 prospect Cade Povich picked a bad time for a rough outing, giving up four runs without getting out of the second inning in that fateful finale. Earlier in the series, though, he tossed a solid five-inning start. The best pitching effort came from unranked right-hander Garrett Stallings, a seven-inning quality start that included nine strikeouts and no walks. It was a tale of two seasons for Stallings, who had a 10.08 ERA in his first 13 starts and 3.52 in his next 13.
Offensively, Connor Norby (#12) was the club’s star yet again, reaching base 15 times this week on eight walks and seven hits. He also swatted a pair of homers. If Jordan Westburg is the Orioles’ second baseman of the near future, Norby isn’t far behind. In fact he’s about to join Westburg as a teammate, as the Orioles reportedly are promoting Norby to Norfolk for the final week and a half of the season. He deserves it.
Other notable prospects:
- IF Coby Mayo (#6 tied): The slugger matched Norby’s seven hits for the week and homered, though he also whiffed 10 times. Mayo struck out 114 times in 104 games this year. Seems like a lot!
- IF César Prieto (#14): The AFL-bound Prieto played just three games this week, tallying three hits. He never really got into a groove for Bowie, finishing with a .255/.296/.348 line and just four homers in 90 games. May he have better luck in Arizona.
- RHP Chayce McDermott (#19): The Trey Mancini trade acquisition continued to flash his strikeout stuff — six Ks in four innings this week — but also his issues with control, walking three. McDermott had 36 strikeouts and 20 walks in 26.2 innings at Double-A.
- OF Hudson Haskin (#22): Haskin didn’t play after Wednesday, ending his season with a .264 average and .822 OPS and 15 homers in 109 games for Bowie. The 23-year-old could be Norfolk-bound next season.
- OF John Rhodes (#23): Another guy who picked the wrong time for a bad week, Rhodes was just 3-for-24 in the series. His 25-game engagement at Double-A didn’t go particularly well.
- IF Darell Hernaiz (#24 tied): Hernaiz, like Haskin, played just two games this week, going 0-for-7. He hit only .113 in 13 games for Bowie, but it was still an overall impressive season for the 21-year-old, who jumped two minor league levels in one year.
High-A Aberdeen IronBirds
- Last week: Won Division Series, 2-1, over Brooklyn Cyclones (Mets); lost Game 1 of Championship Series to Bowling Green Hot Rods (Rays)
- Coming week: Game 2 and Game 3 (if necessary) of best-of-three Championship Series
- Season record: 43-23 first half, 35-31 second half
The IronBirds are playing for a championship! Aberdeen, even with a roster that has changed dramatically during the season, just keeps winning games. Their first-half division title propelled them to the Division Series against the second-half champion Cyclones, who grabbed the first game of the best-of-three series in Brooklyn before the IronBirds won both games in Aberdeen.
First baseman TT Bowens came up big, collecting two hits and two RBIs in each of the two victories, including a first-inning homer in Game 2. Heston Kjerstad (#9 prospect) reached base six times in the Division Series. And 2022 draftees Dylan Beavers (#10) and Jud Fabian (#17 tied) each had one hit in each of the four games, including a Fabian homer in the loss to Bowling Green.
The IronBirds’ best-pitched game of the week was Game 2 against Brooklyn, in which right-handers Peter Van Loon and Connor Gillispie combined for nine innings of one-run ball, the former working five innings and the latter four. Their worst-pitched game was Game 1, with starter Jean Pinto (#28 tied) giving up three runs in four innings and Antonio Velez a five-spot in relief. The Championship Series resumes in Aberdeen tonight, in which the IronBirds will try to force a winner-take-all Game 3 tomorrow.
Low-A Delmarva Shorebirds
Season ended Sept. 11. Final record: 21-44 first half, 28-37 second half
Last week, Joey Ortiz became the first player this season to win two consecutive player of the week polls. He garnered 48 percent of the vote. It was Ortiz’s third win of the year, tying him with Kjerstad for the most of any O’s prospect. Other multi-week winners include Cowser, Henderson, Norby, and Stowers, each of whom won twice. One-time winners include Haskin, Bradish, Pinto, Mayo, Juan De Los Santos, Rodriguez, Westburg, Povich, and Fabian.
As we wrap up the series for the year, who will be the final Orioles minor league player of the week? The choice is yours.
Who was the Orioles minor league player of the week for 9/13-9/18?
This poll is closed
Grayson Rodriguez, Norfolk (5 IP, 0 ER, 2 H, win in return to Norfolk)
Jordan Westburg, Norfolk (reached base 15 times, 3 HR, 7 RBI, 1.341 OPS)
Connor Norby, Bowie (reached base 15 times, 2 HR, 7 RBI, 1.302 OPS, promoted to Norfolk)