Triple-A: Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp (Marlins) 5, Norfolk Tides 3
The minor league season came to a close for Orioles’ affiliates on Wednesday night. Norfolk concludes the year with a 74-76 record, falling just short of a .500 record despite a strong finish in September.
Connor Norby was impressive once again in this game, notching four hits, including his fourth home run at the level. The second baseman got stronger with every level he played at this season and could challenge for a big league role in the spring. Richie Martin had two hits, a triple, and a stolen base. Joey Ortiz added a double and a bag swipe of his own.
Chris Vallimont’s solid start was soiled by a wobbly sixth inning. All in, the righty allowed four runs on six hits, a walk, and four strikeouts over six frames. The 25-year-old will enter the offseason on the Orioles’ 40-man roster, but that feels like a precarious position following his uneven performances in Triple-A this year. Ryan Watson allowed one unearned run on two walks and a throwing error from Norby. Nick Vespi emerged from the season with his perfect ERA intact, tossing one scoreless frame here.
It will be interesting to see how the Orioles handle several of the big names on this Tides roster between now and Opening Day 2023. Norby, Ortiz, and Jordan Westburg are all on the big league door step. Do they get a promotion, or do they get wrapped up into a trade package? Colton Cowser probably needs a little more time at Triple-A, but not much. Is he close enough for the Orioles to deal away someone like Anthony Santander? And then there is Grayson Rodriguez. Could the top pitching prospect in baseball make his major league debut sometime this week?
Box scores for Wednesday’s games can be found here.