The Orioles’ 2022 playoff hopes might be on their last legs after yesterday’s dismal doubleheader sweep by the Blue Jays. But there’s still plenty to be excited about in Birdland, and much of it stems from a fruitful Orioles farm system that has churned out plenty of young talent throughout the year.
We’ve already seen the impactful debuts of Adley Rutschman, Kyle Bradish, Gunnar Henderson, and DL Hall — okay, that last one is still a work in progress — which have contributed greatly to the Orioles’ surprise success this year. And there’s no shortage of prospects continuing to make their way up the ladder.
As we do every week here at Camden Chat, let’s recap the week of minor league action, with a particular focus on CC’s composite list of the Orioles’ top 30 prospects.
Triple-A Norfolk Tides
- Last week: 5-1 vs. Lehigh Valley IronPigs (Phillies)
- Coming week: seven games at Memphis Redbirds (64-64, Cardinals)
- Season record: 61-67, seventh place (11.5 GB) in International League East
Even though #1 prospect Gunnar Henderson played just one game in this series — going 3-for-5 — before getting the call to the bigs, Norfolk’s offense didn’t miss a beat, pounding 37 runs in the Tides’ decisive series win. The arrival of Joey Ortiz (#24 tied) had a lot to do with that. Fresh up from Bowie, Ortiz continued to pound the ball in his first week at Triple-A, collecting a team-leading 10 hits — four for extra bases — and going a perfect 3-for-3 in stolen base attempts for good measure.
Colton Cowser (#5), who was promoted along with Ortiz last week, had a much slower start at his new level. The 2021 first-round pick had just three hits in 23 at-bats — one was a homer — and also struck out 13 times. Something tells me he’ll adapt. Meanwhile, Jordan Westburg (#6 tied) batted just .182 for the week, but two of his four hits were long balls, his 22nd and 23rd dingers this year. He also walked six times.
The Tides’ starting pitching was pretty stellar, as well. Mike Baumann (#20 tied) tossed a sensational outing — six innings, 13 strikeouts, and no earned runs — that prompted the O’s to promote him to the majors for yesterday’s doubleheader. Turns out the Toronto Blue Jays were a tougher opponent than the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, though Baumann held his own in the Orioles loss. Could he work his way back into the Birds’ September plans? A couple of other erstwhile Orioles, Bruce Zimmermann and Matt Harvey, combined for 13.2 shutout innings in their two starts, with Zimmermann too earning a return engagement with the Orioles yesterday.
Other notable prospects:
- LHP Drew Rom (#15): The 2018 fourth-round pick is off to a strong start at Norfolk, posting a 2.45 ERA and 20 strikeouts in three starts since being promoted from Double-A, though he’s averaging more than a hit per inning. This week, Rom held the IronPigs to two runs in five frames, with 7 Ks and no walks.
Double-A Bowie Baysox
- Last week: 3-3 at Erie SeaWolves (Tigers)
- Coming week: six games vs. Richmond Flying Squirrels (19-37 second half, Giants)
- Second-half record: 36-21, tied for first place in Eastern League Southwest
- Overall season record: 63-63
What an emotionally charged week this was for the Baysox, who went head-to-head against Erie, the team they’re tied for first place with...and ended the series still tied, thanks to a 3-3 split. The Sunday finale was Bowie’s league-worst 12th walkoff loss of the year, and featured a confrontation between the Baysox and the umpires after Bowie complained about a pitch near Andrew Daschbach’s head. Coby Mayo (#6 tied) had some choice words for the Erie dugout after bashing a game-tying homer in the ninth.
It's been a heated one today for Bowie and Coby Mayo ties it up with a big home run.— The Verge- An Orioles MiLB Podcast (@BSLOnTheVerge) September 4, 2022
Not great at reading lips but I'm pretty sure that was a "our f***ing game" from Mayo as he crossed home plate.
Inject it directly into my veins pic.twitter.com/aO7n0uqZNW
Bowie and Erie don’t play each other again this year, so they’ll each look to break the deadlock in their final two weeks of games against other opponents. Each team has one remaining series against Richmond, while Bowie’s other series comes against Akron (currently 31-26) and Erie’s is against Altoona (30-26). This race could come down to the wire. Whoever wins the second-half title will face Richmond, the first-half champions, in the division series.
The offensive star for the Baysox, once again, was 2021 second-rounder Connor Norby (#12), who’s making a case that he should have been promoted to Norfolk along with Cowser and Ortiz. Norby blasted three home runs in the series, but was hit by a pitch on Saturday and missed Sunday’s game. Let’s hope it’s not a serious injury. Mayo, meanwhile, led the team with nine hits, though all were singles until that game-tying Sunday homer.
On the pitching side, lefty Cade Povich (#16) continued to impress since coming over in the Jorge Lopez trade. In his third start for Bowie, Povich held the SeaWolves to one run in six innings, striking out six and walking just one. He’s got a sub-1.00 WHIP and batters are hitting .169 against him in an admittedly small sample size of 16 innings. Fellow trade deadline acquisition Chayce McDermott (#19), part of the Trey Mancini deal, had six strikeouts and one run allowed in a five-inning start. He’s tossed two straight solid outings following two miserable ones to begin his Double-A career.
Other notable prospects:
- IF César Prieto (#14): Early in the season, there was some hope that the 23-year-old signee from Cuba could move quickly through the O’s system, especially after dominating High-A, but he’s hit a wall at Bowie. After a 5-for-26 week, he’s hitting .263/.300/.361 with four homers in 82 games at Double-A.
- OF Hudson Haskin (#22): Haskin had just four hits, though, like Prieto, he knocked one of the eight Baysox home runs in the series. He’s slashing .269/.365/.462 with 14 home runs and is apparently a baseball magnet; he’s been hit by a pitch 22 times in 101 games.
- OF John Rhodes (#23): Landed on the IL with an undisclosed injury.
- IF Darell Hernaiz (#24 tied): In his first week at Double-A, Hernaiz had a pair of two-hit games, including his first homer, but went 0-for-16 in his other four. He struck out seven times without drawing a walk.
High-A Aberdeen IronBirds
- Last week: 3-3 vs. Hickory Crawdads (Rangers)
- Coming week: six games at Jersey Shore BlueClaws (22-38 second half, Phillies)
- Second-half record: 33-27, third place (3.0 GB) in South Atlantic League North
- Overall season record: 76-50
The IronBirds will wrap up their regular season schedule this coming week, but they’re already postseason-bound thanks to their first-half division title. The best-of-three division series begins Sept. 13, pitting Aberdeen against the second-half champ, likely either Brooklyn or Hudson Valley.
The player who attracted the most attention in Aberdeen this week was a ringer. Grayson Rodriguez, the Orioles’ #2 prospect and the top pitching prospect in baseball, made his long-awaited return to the mound as he began a rehab assignment Thursday. Rodriguez faced six batters, giving up a leadoff single, retiring the next three, and then walking two in a row to end his night. It came exactly three months after he suffered a lat strain for Norfolk when was on the precipice of a big league call-up. Perhaps it can still happen in September. Rodriguez is slated to continue his rehab in Bowie this coming week. The Orioles’ Tyler Wells also made a rehab appearance for the IronBirds, giving up one hit and one run in 2.1 innings, fanning three.
Offensively, this week the IronBirds flashed their speed (11 steals in 13 attempts) but not so much their power (just two homers). A number of hitters who excelled at Low-A have faced rougher waters since moving up to Aberdeen, most notably Heston Kjerstad (#9), whose 4-for-18 week has him hitting .215 with a .634 OPS and two homers in 38 games. He did have two doubles and a triple this week, at least. Also struggling: unranked infielder Frederick Bencosme, who is hitting .125 after a 1-for-15 week. It’s only been seven games, though. He’d been a hitting machine in Delmarva, batting .336 before his promotion.
Other notable prospects:
- OF Jud Fabian (#17 tied): The 2022 draft pick made his High-A debut this week after sailing through Delmarva. He went 1-for-7 but did not play the last three games of the series. I haven’t found an explanation as to why, but no injury has been reported.
- RHP Jean Pinto (#28 tied): The 21-year-old reached the 100-strikeout mark for the season with three whiffs in a five-inning outing this week. His 10.3 K/9 rate is nice, his 4.2 BB/9 not so much.
Low-A Delmarva Shorebirds
- Last week: 1-5 at Fredericksburg Nationals
- Coming week: six games vs. Down East Wood Ducks (31-29 second half, Rangers)
- Second-half record: 24-36, sixth place (12.5 GB) in Carolina League North
- Overall season record: 45-80
The Shorebirds have just six games remaining before this forgettable campaign comes to a close. Delmarva finished in last place in both the first and second halves of the season, and for much of the year was saddled with non-prospects. Lately, at least, the arrival of the 2022 draft picks has made this club more interesting to watch, if not any more successful on the field.
Jackson Holliday (#3), this year’s first overall draft pick, is holding his own at age 18, nearly three years younger than the average Low-A player. He had only four hits this week but showed a discerning batting eye with five walks. His .342 OBP in eight games at Delmarva outpaces his .194 AVG and .226 SLG. It’s Dylan Beavers (#10), the 33rd overall pick, who’s making the bigger impact so far. Beavers ripped nine hits — four more than any other Shorebird this week — which included four doubles. He’s been an extra-base hit machine in 16 games at Delmarva, collecting seven two-baggers and a pair of triples, though he’s still looking for his first professional home run.
No Delmarva pitcher worked more than five innings this week, so nobody particularly stood out. Except perhaps seven-foot lefty Jared Beck, who always stands out. This year’s 13th-round draft pick worked two not-particularly-sharp innings of relief. In seven pro innings so far, Beck has five walks and six strikeouts. The odds are stacked against him, but we’ll be pulling for him to someday arrive in the majors as the tallest pitcher in history.
Other notable prospects:
- IF Max Wagner (#20 tied): The Birds’ second-round pick hit his first dinger as a pro. He’s got a .403 OBP in 13 games, thanks to nine walks.
Norby was the runaway winner of last week’s poll, bringing in 66 percent of the vote, making him our fifth multi-time winner. He’s back on the ballot this week after his power surge for Bowie. Other multiple winners are Kjerstad (three times), Cowser (twice), Henderson (twice), and Kyle Stowers (twice). One-time winners include Haskin, Kyle Bradish, Pinto, Mayo, Juan De Los Santos, Rodriguez, Westburg, Ortiz, Povich, and Fabian.
Who is your Orioles minor league player of the week for 8/30-9/4?
This poll is closed
Mike Baumann, Norfolk: 6 IP, 0 ER, 0 BB, 13 K
Joey Ortiz, Norfolk: 10 H, 4 XBH, 6 RBI, 3 SB in first week at Triple-A
Bruce Zimmermann, Norfolk: 7.2 IP, 0 ER, 0 BB, 8 K
Connor Norby, Bowie: 6 H, 3 HR, 5 RBI, 5 R