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Orioles minor league recap 6/3: Kjerstad, Beavers, Basallo all homer

Three affiliates mounted comeback wins on Friday. Norfolk got blown out bad.

Pittsburgh Pirates v Baltimore Orioles
Heston Kjerstad hit his 11th home run of the season last night. (The picture is from spring training.)
Photo by George Kubas/Diamond Images via Getty Images

Triple-A: Gwinnett (Atlanta) 16, Norfolk Tides 0

This is about as joyless of an outcome of a game as you can get this year, with the only silver lining being that at least none of the pitching prospects that we’re really invested in gave up the runs.

No one pitched well, with once-40-man pitcher Chris Vallimont getting bombed for six runs, four earned, in just 3.1 innings. Following him was current 40-man pitcher Noah Denoyer, who’s struggled with walks this year and did so in this game also - three walks allowed in 2.2 innings, with three hits on top of that, adding up to two runs allowed. An eight-run eighth inning featuring less notable pitchers is what really made it a laugher.

Tides batters combined for just five hits. It’s a suddenly thin lineup down there with all the injuries that have piled up, plus the current illness keeping Joey Ortiz out of the lineup. The only two prospects playing in the game were Connor Norby and Jordan Westburg. Norby had a single in four at-bats. Westburg took an 0-4.

Norfolk box score.

Double-A: Bowie Baysox 3, Harrisburg (Nationals) 2 - 10 innings

Despite issuing a leadoff walk in the tenth inning with the Manfred Man already in scoring position, and Harrisburg successfully sacrifice bunting the go-ahead run to third, the Baysox kept the Senators from scoring in the top of the inning and then went on to walk it off in the bottom of the inning.

Bowie put down its own bunt, leading César Prieto, entering as a pinch hitter, to be intentionally walked. Second baseman Noelberth Romero, once acquired for Andrew Cashner, delivered the walkoff single to send everybody home.

Earlier in the game, the starting pitcher was Justin Armbruester, who I spoke about in yesterday’s podcast. Armbruester kept his 2023 season rolling with a five-inning, 80-pitch outing where he gave up three hits and a walk. Bad luck on the sequencing led to two runs scoring, but he’s still rocking a 1.62 ERA and 1.06 WHIP after ten starts. Pretty good! Following him in relief, Connor Gillispie struck out seven batters in four scoreless innings, allowing the Baysox to come back to tie it and eventually win.

It was Heston Kjerstad who hit a solo homer in the eighth inning to tie the game. That’s the 11th of the year for Kjerstad. Get the man to Norfolk! This was Kjerstad’s second hit of the day. Coby Mayo had a double in two at-bats and walked twice, extending an on-base streak to 18 games. Both of these guys are OPSing over .900.

Bowie box score.

High-A: Aberdeen IronBirds 2, Hudson Valley (Yankees) 1 - 12 innings

The two teams combined for seven hits in this twelve-inning affair, and 32 strikeouts. Every at-bat was a meaningful one, so it was thrilling in that sense, but there wasn’t much thrill, you know?

It seems that Hudson Valley was determined to test freshly-promoted catcher Creed Willems. They stole two bases off of him, with Willems cutting down a third runner. A fourth guy was picked off by Aberdeen starter Daniel Lloyd. Can’t get too excited. At the plate, Willems drew a walk, but was 0-4. He had a throwing error that led to the lone Hudson Valley run scoring - unearned against Lloyd’s tally.

In regulation, the only run scored by the IronBirds was an inside-the-park homer race won by outfield prospect Dylan Beavers. You might wonder what that looked like:

I’d have to take issue with the O’s player dev Twitter calling that “a little league home run” - a classification that, I feel, requires at least one error involved in the batter scoring on a play that’s not technically a home run. This was just a straight up inside-the-park home run for Beavers! Yeah, the right fielder totally blew it, but still, a homer’s a homer.

Aberdeen had two steals themselves, with Jackson Holliday and Jud Fabian pulling off a double steal. This was Fabian’s 14th steal and Holliday’s 10th. Fabian was on base three times in the game, and delivered what turned out to be the winning run with his 12th inning sacrifice fly. Holliday’s double was his lone hit in five at-bats. At the top of the lineup, third baseman Max Wagner went 1-4 and drew a walk as well.

Aberdeen box score.

Low-A: Delmarva Shorebirds 7, Fredericksburg Nationals 3

The Shorebirds fell behind early, as seven-footer Jared Beck surrendered three runs in 1.2 innings. Three walks plagued him. They went on to score seven unanswered runs to come out on top.

In the fifth inning of this game, rehabbing Washington big leaguer Sean Doolittle was brought in with men already on second and third and the young catcher Samuel Basallo coming up to the plate. Basallo responded to this challenge by dropping a line drive into right field, scoring the two runs that tied the game. Good work! He advanced on a wild pitch and eventually scored the go-ahead run.

For good measure, Basallo clubbed his fifth home run of the season in the seventh inning for a little insurance. His two hits lifted his season OPS to .816.

Delmarva box score.


Saturday’s Scheduled Games

  • Norfolk: vs. Gwinnett, 6:35. Starter: Grayson Rodriguez
  • Bowie: vs. Harrisburg, 6:35. Starter: Cade Povich
  • Aberdeen: at Hudson Valley, 6:05. Starter: Trace Bright
  • Delmarva: at Fredericksburg, 6:05. Starter: Anderson De Los Santos