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Orioles minor league week in review: Westburg and Cowser lead dominant Tides, Holliday debuts at High-A

Jackson Holliday’s bump up to a new level didn’t slow him down, while two big-name Norfolk prospects continued to make their case for promotion.

MLB: Spring Training-Baltimore Orioles at Detroit Tigers
Jordan Westburg could be in an Orioles uniform sooner rather than later.
Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to the fourth installment of Camden Chat’s minor league week in review series. This week, Norfolk and Delmarva continued to take their respective leagues by storm, and several near big-league ready prospects continued to dazzle while another, Joey Ortiz, made his MLB debut. Let’s recap all the action on the Orioles’ farm system, highlighting the performances from the prospects in Camden Chat’s composite rankings.

Triple-A Norfolk Tides

  • Last week: 4-2 at Charlotte Knights (White Sox)
  • Coming week: vs. Durham Bulls (16-10, Rays)
  • Season record: 19-7, first place (3.0 game lead) in International League East

It was another fantastic week for the Tides, who hold the best record in the International League. They have an incredible +90 run differential in 26 games, far and away the best in minor league baseball (the next-best team has +61). The Tides will play six games against the second-place Bulls this week, giving them a chance to put some early distance between themselves and the rest of the division.

A 20-run outburst on Saturday, in which Norfolk clubbed a team-record 24 hits, boosted that run differential quite a bit. It was already the third time this season that the Tides have scored 17 or more runs in a game. And with a prospect-stacked lineup like theirs, it’s no surprise. Even with Joey Ortiz (#7 prospect) playing just one game before his big league call-up and Connor Norby (#9) slumping to a 5-for-27 week, the rest of the lineup picked up the slack. This week’s top performer was Jordan Westburg (#6), who led the team with 11 hits and nine RBIs and swatted a pair of home runs. Westburg is now batting .325/.385/.542 with five dingers in 20 games, and if I were Adam Frazier, I’d be looking over my shoulder.

Don’t forget Colton Cowser (#5), who continues to get on base at an eye-popping clip. With six hits and seven walks, he got aboard in more than half his plate appearances this week (.536 OBP), and currently has a 21-game on-base streak. His season OPS is .932. If I were Anthony Santander, I’d be looking over my shoulder. Or maybe Santander and Frazier can look over each other’s shoulders? Whatever works best, logistically. Elsewhere, Kyle Stowers crushed three home runs in one day to earn a promotion back to the Orioles, while the guy who recently came the other direction, Terrin Vavra, had seven hits in three games.

On the pitching side, two offseason additions to the 40-man roster, Drew Rom and Noah Denoyer, struggled. Rom (#18 tied) was torched for 11 hits in 4.1 innings, and Denoyer (#25) didn’t get out of the first inning in his start, giving up four runs and five hits. Veteran lefties Cole Irvin and Bruce Zimmermann each worked six-inning outings of just one earned run, trying to stay in the picture in case Dean Kremer or Kyle Bradish lose their rotation spots with the Orioles.

Double-A Bowie Baysox

  • Last week: 1-4 vs. Richmond Flying Squirrels (Giants)
  • Coming week: vs. Erie SeaWolves (8-13, Tigers)
  • Season record: 6-13, sixth place (6.5 GB) in Eastern League Southwest

Offense was a problem for the last-place Baysox in their rain-shortened five-game series. They averaged just 2.4 runs per game, and even in their lone win, they scored only once. Bowie’s .308 team OBP and .637 OPS this season rank last of the 12 Eastern League teams.

The good news is that their two best hitting prospects, Coby Mayo (#8) and Heston Kjerstad (#10), were immune from the team-wide funk. Each posted an OPS over 1.000 for the week, with Mayo smacking four doubles and Kjerstad adding a triple and a homer. Less successful were John Rhodes and César Prieto, tied as the #23-ranked prospects, who each had four hits, all singles.

There was one standout pitching performance, and it belonged to Cade Povich (#12), who was practically unhittable in leading Bowie to its only win. Povich racked up an incredible 10 strikeouts in five scoreless innings, at one point recording 10 straight outs on Ks. He gave up just one hit and walked two. He’s carrying a 3.71 ERA with 27 strikeouts in 17 innings this season, though he’s walking about one batter every two innings. Acquiring Povich and new O’s bullpen sensation Yennier Cano, plus two other prospects, in last year’s Jorge López trade is a feather in Mike Elias’s cap.

High-A Aberdeen IronBirds

  • Last week: 2-3 at Wilmington Blue Rocks (Nationals)
  • Coming week: at Brooklyn Cyclones (6-11, Mets)
  • Season record: 7-12, fifth place (6.0 GB) in South Atlantic League North

All eyes were on Jackson Holliday’s first week with Aberdeen, and it went quite well, thank you. The Orioles’ top prospect and last year’s #1 overall pick reached base eight times, with four hits and four walks, and also swatted his first homer at High-A. Holliday is 3.5 years younger than the average player at this level, by the way. Two other 2022 draftees, competitive balance picks Dylan Beavers (#11) and Jud Fabian (#13), also homered this week, and each had six or more hits. The week wasn’t so great for Max Wagner (#16), last year’s second rounder, who was 3-for-18. He’s off to a slow start in his first full pro season, batting .154/.260/.506 in 18 games.

The IronBirds certainly spread out the work among their pitchers. No hurler pitched more than one game or worked more than four innings this week. Jean Pinto, formerly acquired in the José Iglesias trade, made the most of his lone outing, striking out six and giving up two hits in four frames. Right-hander Cooper Chandler, signed as an undrafted free agent last year, worked three no-hit innings with six strikeouts this week, though he still has a 5.87 ERA overall.

Low-A Delmarva Shorebirds

  • Last week: 4-1 vs. Salem Red Sox
  • Coming week: vs. Carolina Mudcats (11-8, Brewers)
  • Season record: 12-7, first place (1.0 game lead) in Carolina League North

Winners of six of their last seven games, the Shorebirds jumped into sole possession of first place in their division. Like the Tides, they will play head-to-head against the second-place team this week. The now Holliday-less offense didn’t show much pop, with catcher Creed Willems hitting the team’s only homer this week, but produced some timely hits. The Shorebirds’ top remaining prospect, Dominican backstop Samuel Basallo (#14), turned his five hits into five RBIs. Willems (1.209 season OPS) and Basallo (.858 OPS) have formed quite the two-headed monster behind the plate for Delmarva.

The Shorebirds’ turn through the rotation this week was a stellar one. Starters Juan Nunez, Moises Chace, Jared Beck, Bradley Brehmer, and Juan De Los Santos combined for a 1.71 ERA (four earned runs in 21 innings). Nunez — yes, another piece of that Jorge López trade — worked five scoreless, one-hit frames. Neither Chace nor De Los Santos allowed a hit, though they combined for seven walks. Free passes have been a major problem for Shorebirds pitchers, whose 129 walks are the most in the Carolina League.


Last week was the closest player of the week poll we’ve had yet, with Holliday (52%) edging out Cowser (44%) by 25 votes. Previous winners were Norby and Kjerstad. This time we’ll have our fourth different winner in as many weeks. Who ya got?


Who was the Orioles minor league player of the week for 4/25-4/30?

This poll is closed

  • 17%
    Colton Cowser, Norfolk: .536 OBP, extended on-base streak to 21 games
    (74 votes)
  • 64%
    Jordan Westburg, Norfolk: 11 H, 2 HR, 9 RBIs, .423/.444/.692 line
    (279 votes)
  • 18%
    Cade Povich, Bowie: 5 IP, 0 ER, 1 H, 10 straight outs recorded on strikeouts
    (78 votes)
431 votes total Vote Now