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Orioles minor league week in review: Kjerstad, Mayo, more start second half strong

Everyone’s been winning since we spoke last, except for Double-A Bowie

Los Angeles Angels v Baltimore Orioles
Grayson Rodriguez is pitching for Norfolk like he wants to be back in an Orioles uniform again soon.
Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

In ordinary weeks for the last couple of seasons, minor league teams have been playing six-game series from Tuesday to Sunday in one city, with Mondays off, before heading elsewhere. An extended Fourth of July weekend was too good for the minors to pass up, though, so last Monday, teams didn’t have the day off and they zipped from one place to the next for Independence Day and beyond.

What this means for our typical weekly minor league roundup on Camden Chat is that it’s actually been two weeks since we’ve checked in on the teams in a more big picture way than just what happened in the previous day’s games. It’s going to be another two weeks before we get such a weekly recap. Minor league teams are also getting the All-Star break off even though they don’t have All-Star games any more, and they’ll only have played three games between now and next Tuesday. Whew.

Below is a roundup of how things have been going in the farm over these past couple of weeks, with a focus on the composite top Orioles prospects from before this season.

Triple-A Norfolk Tides

  • Since last time: 4-1 vs. Charlotte (White Sox), 3-3 at Durham (Rays)
  • Until next time: 3 games vs. Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (Yankees), 6 games at Gwinnett (Atlanta)
  • Season record: 7-4 second half record. The Tides are guaranteed a postseason berth for clinching the first half title.

The last time we dropped in on the Tides, Jordan Westburg and Colton Cowser were both still down there. Things have changed! This did not stop Norfolk from having a nice beginning to its second half even with the first half title in the bag.

Even with those guys having been promoted, this is still a team to keep an eye on. The position player who might be next in line to get fans interested in his promotion is Heston Kjerstad, and his last 15 days saw him bat 12-30 in eight games, with seven walks to five strikeouts in this time. He’s now played 25 games at Triple-A with five homers and a 1.017 OPS. Kjerstad also participated in the All-Star Futures Game, where he got a hit in two at-bats. Thumbs up.

None of the infielders slouched either. Joey Ortiz went 16-46 over 11 games and stole six bases. Is he destined to be traded? Is César Prieto? The Cuban infielder batted 15-42 in 10 games, raising his season batting line with the Tides to .344/.379/.525. Connor Norby - also potentially trade bait - is on the upswing as well, with three home runs in his last 11 games to give him 11 for the year. The second baseman is not quite on the pace of hitting 29 like last season.

We’ve even got good news about Grayson Rodriguez to talk about! He’s made three starts in the last couple of weeks, giving up just one run in that time, and perhaps more importantly, walking four batters combined. The strikeouts remain impressive, with 23 over 15 innings. If you want to see him back in the Orioles rotation coming out of the All-Star break, you’re not the only one.

Other prospects of note:

  • LHP Drew Rom - The former fourth round pick’s high-level struggles continued as he gave up nine runs in ten innings across two starts - walking ten batters and hitting two more.
  • RHP Justin Armbruester - A decent start and a pretty bad one combined to give him a 6.10 ERA across two games, and a 4.11 since joining the Tides. 13 strikeouts in 10.1 IP isn’t bad.
  • RHP Wandisson Charles - The “maybe this guy could be the next Bautista/Cano success story” reliever was blitzed for five runs in three relief appearances.

Double-A Bowie Baysox

  • Since last time: 2-4 vs. Somerset (Yankees), 3-3 at Richmond (Giants)
  • Until next time: 3 games vs. Akron (Guardians), 6 games vs. Harrisburg (Nationals)
  • Season record: 5-7 second half record, fifth place of six teams (3 games back) in Eastern League Southwest

Coby Mayo getting promoted to Norfolk would have put a damper on the excitement level here, except Jackson Holliday is on the way, so that more than evens it out. Mayo’s farewell to the level saw him hit three homers in his last 11 games and tally three stolen bases. His final line at the level was .307/.424/.603 in 78 games, with a strikeout rate of about 25%.

Holliday will be rejoining fellow 2022 Orioles pick and recent Aberdeen teammate Jud Fabian. The twice-drafted outfielder has had what I like to think of as an “if only his batting average wasn’t horrible, this would be okay” batting line with the Baysox: .186/.288/.429. Add 60 points to all of those numbers and we’re getting somewhere, right? But in 17 games, that’s what it is.

Heading up to Norfolk along with Mayo is righty pitching prospect Chayce McDermott, whose upward journey was not halted even though he walked seven men in 9.1 innings in two starts. He finished with a 5.8 BB/9 with Bowie. Much better was the lefty pitching prospect also acquired at last year’s trade deadline, Cade Povich. Povich also walked seven batters lately, but that was over three starts and 14.2 innings. Though he allowed seven runs, he struck out 22 batters, and the Orioles are probably more interested in that.

Other prospect of note:

  • RHP Jean Pinto - Nine innings across a start and a relief outing and things went pretty great: Nine strikeouts, no walks, two earned runs. Nice work for the 22-year-old. Pinto is the youngest player to throw a pitch for Bowie this year.

High-A Aberdeen IronBirds

  • Since last time: 4-2 vs. Winston-Salem (White Sox), 3-2 at Greensboro (Pirates)
  • Until next time: 3 games vs. Wilmington (Nationals), 6 games vs. Bowling Green (Rays)
  • Season record: 9-5 second half record, second place of six teams (1.5 games back) in South Atlantic League North

Holliday made his way up to Double-A after going 12-32 in eight games. He was in the Futures Game too, though he didn’t collect a hit in that exhibition. Even after tailing off a little bit, the former #1 pick closed out his High-A tenure with a .940 OPS in 57 games.

Hanging out in Aberdeen for at least a little bit longer is another 2022 pick, Dylan Beavers. Beavers! This was a good couple of series for the California product, as he cranked three dingers in nine games and added four doubles to that in an 11-37 stretch. He could use some more weeks like this to improve on his .774 season OPS.

A lot of Aberdeen batters ate well this week as the team had a 16-14 slobberknocker against Greensboro, as well as an 11-7 slugfest and a 16-1 beatdown. One guy who got left out of that was catcher Creed Willems, who was only 8-40 in nine games.

Other prospects of note:

  • 3B Max Wagner - Less gaudy offensive numbers than some of his teammates but 11-39 with six walks sure isn’t bad. .770 OPS for the season - .864 since the start of May.
  • IF Frederick Bencosme - Collected his first homer as an IronBird (67 games) over the two weeks, with nine walks. Bencosme’s BA/OBP at Aberdeen (.240/.351) are OK. Slugging (.318) needs some work.
  • C Silas Ardoin - Three home runs with a 13-31 week for the possible future backup catcher. The .371 OBP is nice, and so is his having thrown out 30% of runners.

Low-A Delmarva Shorebirds

  • Since last time: 5-1 at Lynchburg (Guardians), 2-3 vs. Fredericksburg Nationals
  • Until next time: 3 games at Salem Red Sox, 6 games vs. Charleston (Rays)
  • Season record: 8-6 second half record, second place of six teams (0.5 games back) in Carolina League North

Samuel Basallo! The freshly-named MLB Pipeline top 100 prospect is still doing it, with an eight-game stretch here that saw him hit three homers and draw seven walks. He has an .869 OPS in 69 games for the Shorebirds. It’s not too late to get in one of the front rows of this bandwagon and still be able to tell people you’ve been on board almost from the beginning.

Also playing well this week are a couple of guys from the long-faded Andrew Cashner trade - Elio Prado and Noelberth Romero. These guys are still just in their age 21 seasons, as old as this year’s college juniors. Prado was 14-32 across nine games, with a pair of homers, to raise his season OPS to .743. Romero, an infielder, went 13-39, also with a pair of homers. He’s OPSing .788 now.

A relatively recent addition to the pitching staff is last year’s 11th rounder from the high school ranks, Zack Showalter. The 19-year-old made a pair of starts and struck out ten batters over 7.2 innings, with just one walk and one unearned run allowed. It’s plenty early and he’s not being pushed to a full game workload yet, but still: Nice work!

Bonus Florida Complex League

The FCL Orioles affiliate has a 9-15 record this season, last place (8.5 games back) of six teams in its South division.

An early good story with this roster is last year’s seven-figure international signing, outfielder Braylin Tavera, who through 18 games is hitting .259/.414/.407. He’s walked more than struck out (14-11) so I wonder how long before he makes it to Delmarva. That might also be impacted by the Orioles drafting five college outfielders in the first ten rounds.

Double Bonus Dominican Summer League

Two Orioles affiliates play in the “Baseball City” division - eight teams - of the DSL. Orioles Orange leads this division with a 17-9 record. Orioles Black is five games back at 12-14.

This year’s seven-figure signing, Luis Almeyda, missed a bit of time with an ankle injury. He’s played in just ten of the team’s games, with two homers so far but only a .200 batting average.


The winner of our last minor league player of the week poll was Mayo, who took 84% of the vote in a three-way ballot to win for the second straight week. He becomes the third different repeat winner in our poll series, joining Westburg (three times) and Holliday (two times). Single week winners: Norby, Kjerstad, Cowser, Fabian, and Lewin Díaz.

No pitcher has won the poll yet because it’s been tough to compile numbers over just one week compared to position players. With a longer stretch of time to work with, here are a couple of pitchers on this double-length poll. The choice is in your hands.


Who is your Orioles minor league player of the week for the last two weeks?

This poll is closed

  • 86%
    Grayson Rodriguez, Triple-A Norfolk (3 GS, 15 IP, 23 K, 0.60 ERA)
    (362 votes)
  • 5%
    Jean Pinto, Double-A Bowie (2 G, 9 IP, 9 K, 0 BB)
    (21 votes)
  • 1%
    Silas Ardoin, High-A Aberdeen (3 HR, 9 BB over 9 games)
    (8 votes)
  • 6%
    Samuel Basallo, Low-A Delmarva (3 HR, 7 BB over 8 games)
    (26 votes)
417 votes total Vote Now