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Orioles minor league week in review: Ortiz and Norby pace Norfolk offense, Basallo earns promotion

The Tides continued to hit the ball hard, while it was a rough week for the three other O’s affiliates.

MLB: JUN 15 Blue Jays at Orioles
Joey Ortiz may soon get another shot with the Orioles, or another major league team.
Photo by Mark Goldman/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

It’s MLB trade deadline day. Which means that this week’s minor league roundup might be the last time we mention some of these Orioles prospects, who could well be included in deals today to help the O’s acquire major league help for the pennant chase.

If it happens, it’ll be tough to part ways with some of these players that O’s fans have become so familiar with, especially those who rank among the Orioles’ top 10 prospects. But when you have the top minor league system in baseball, as the O’s do, it’s inevitable that there won’t be room in Baltimore for every one of these guys. If trading them for established big leaguers can help the Orioles win in 2023 and beyond, it’s the price you have to pay, and we’ll be rooting for them to succeed in their new organizations. Unless it’s, like, the Yankees.

The Orioles announced a notable promotion yesterday. Catcher Samuel Basallo, the Orioles’ #8 prospect according to MLB Pipeline, has been promoted to High-A Aberdeen after putting up huge numbers at Low-A Delmarva. In 83 games, he slashed .299/.384/.503 with 12 homers and 60 RBIs, emerging as a bona fide slugger and the first success story of the Mike Elias regime’s international efforts. Basallo was part of the Orioles’ 2021 international signing class, agreeing to a seven-figure bonus as a 16-year-old from the Dominican Republic. He’s more than ready for a new challenge at High-A.

Let’s check in on what else happened in the O’s minors this past week.

Triple-A Norfolk Tides

  • Last week: 3-3 vs. Nashville Sounds (Brewers)
  • Coming week: seven games vs. Charlotte Knights (4-22, White Sox)
  • Second-half record: 15-11, tied for third place (2.0 GB) in International League East

The Tides aren’t quite annihilating the competition like they once were, but have been a .500 club of late. Their last three series of the six-game variety all resulted in splits. They have a good chance to win this week’s series against a dreadful Charlotte team that had only four wins in the entire month of July. No wonder the White Sox have been having a fire sale to infuse some young talent into their system.

The prospect-studded Tides lineup scored 34 runs in six games this week, led by their terrific double-play duo of Joey Ortiz (#5) and Connor Norby (#6). Ortiz smacked 12 hits and had a .444 OBP while Norby collected 11 hits and two walks for a .448 OBP, and each collected a homer. Ortiz is slashing .349/.399/.573 with eight homers in 58 games, while Norby, after a slow start, is up to .291/.349/.476 with 14 dingers in 95 games. Norby has reached base in 21 straight games. It’ll be fascinating to see if one or both gets a real chance with the Orioles soon — or if they’ll get traded to a new organization this afternoon.

Don’t forget about Heston Kjerstad (#4) and Coby Mayo (#7), who both had strong weeks as well. Kjerstad continues to rake, hitting a team-leading two homers to give him 18 on the year, while Mayo is starting to heat up, with four of his five hits this week going for extra bases, including his second homer at Triple-A (and 19th of the season overall).

On the mound, right-hander Chayce McDermott (#17) made only one appearance, but it was such a good one — five shutout innings, two hits, seven strikeouts in bulk relief — that he was named International League Pitcher of the Week. In three outings for Norfolk since his promotion, McDermott has a 2.77 ERA and 18 strikeouts in 13 innings, but he has walked nine. Fellow 2022 trade deadline acquisition Cade Povich (#11) made his Triple-A debut, and it didn’t go well. He was chased from the game in the third inning after walking four and coughing up a grand slam.

Norfolk season stats

Double-A Bowie Baysox

  • Last week: 1-5 at Somerset Patriots (Yankees)
  • Coming week: vs. Portland Sea Dogs (16-11, Red Sox)
  • Second-half record: 13-14, fourth place (4.0 GB in Eastern League Southwest)

Without #1 prospect Jackson Holliday, who played just one game before an undisclosed illness sent him to the injured list, the Bowie offense struggled badly. The Baysox had by far the worst batting average (.169), OBP (.275), and SLG (.295) in the 12-team Eastern League this week and were shut out twice. Nearly all of their regulars struggled, including Jud Fabian (#15), the highest-ranked prospect in the Holliday-less lineup. Fabian was 3-for-19 with 11 strikeouts, and is batting .171 with a .675 OPS in 29 games since coming up to Double-A. Fellow outfield prospect John Rhodes (#19) was 2-for-22 with nine whiffs.

There wasn’t much going on on the pitching side, either, though unranked right-hander Alex Pham continued his impressive season with five innings of one-run ball. The 23-year-old, a 19th-round pick in 2021, has posted a 2.12 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, and 11.08 K/9 in 18 games across two levels. Elsewhere, right-hander Kyle Brnovich, a one-time top 30 O’s prospect who underwent Tommy John surgery last year, brought his rehab tour to Bowie. He was tagged for four runs in four innings in his lone start.

Bowie season stats

High-A Aberdeen IronBirds

  • Last week: 1-5 at Jersey Shore BlueClaws (Phillies)
  • Coming week: vs. Hickory Crawdads (19-10, Rangers)
  • Second-half record: 17-12, second place (2.5 GB) in South Atlantic League North

The IronBirds’ strong second half hit a speed bump this week when they lost five straight games to the BlueClaws, three of them by just one run. Like Bowie, they were dead last in their 12-team league this week in nearly every offensive category, including batting average (.212), SLG (.291), OPS (.597), and home runs (two). The hitting woes spoiled a great effort by the Aberdeen pitching staff, which posted a 3.35 ERA this week, second-best in the league. The bullpen was especially impressive, allowing only three earned runs in 26 innings (1.04 ERA). Kyle Virbitsky and Antonio Velez each had a scoreless, hitless outing of three innings or longer. Righty Daniel Lloyd saw his streak of 22 straight innings without an earned run come to an end this week.

The best of the struggling crop of IronBirds hitters was Dylan Beavers (#10), who had seven hits and five walks this week for a .571 OBP. Aberdeen’s only two homers were both hit by guys named Max (#12 prospect Max Wagner and unranked first baseman Maxwell Costes). Catcher Silas Ardoin (#29) went 2-for-13 with a double in what turned out to be his High-A swan song. The O’s promoted him to Double-A Bowie yesterday, making room for Basallo. Ardoin batted .215/.369/.336 with five homers in 68 games for Aberdeen.

Aberdeen season stats

Low-A Delmarva Shorebirds

  • Last week: 1-5 at Kannapolis Cannon Ballers (White Sox)
  • Coming week: vs. Lynchburg Hillcats (15-15, Guardians)
  • Second-half record: 12-17, tied for fifth place (6.0 GB) in Carolina League North

The Shorebirds, like the IronBirds, won the first game of their series and then lost the next five. That makes three of four O’s affiliates who went 1-5 this week. Ouch. The Delmarva offense particularly struggled, scoring just one run apiece in their last three games. And now with Basallo’s promotion to Aberdeen, the Shorebirds’ roster doesn’t include a single top-20 O’s prospect. At some point in August, though, we should see an influx of 2023 O’s draftees arriving in Delmarva, including first round pick Enrique Bradfield Jr.

Basallo’s final week in Low-A was as productive as ever; he reached base 11 times and tallied three extra-base hits on his way out the door. Basallo was the only one of the 12 Delmarva hitters this week to have more walks (six) than strikeouts (three).

One pitcher who stood out this week was Luis De León, a 20-year-old lefty who was signed from the Dominican in December 2021. He made two appearances this week and worked six scoreless innings, striking out eight and giving up only one hit. De León, who started this season in the FCL before arriving in Delmarva, has a 1.21 ERA and 1.15 WHIP in nine games, with a ton of strikeouts (11.33 K/9) but also a lot of walks (4.61 BB/9).

Delmarva season stats

Florida Complex League and Dominican Summer League

The FCL Orioles will soon welcome many of the 2023 draftees, but for now they’re the home to rehabbing pitchers. DL Hall (#9 prospect) has been down in Sarasota for weeks, building up strength, and he finally made his first two appearances this week, throwing three scoreless innings. Eight of the nine outs he recorded were on strikeouts. There’s no timetable on when he’ll be able to return to Norfolk — or Baltimore.

And right-hander Carter Baumler (#21) made his 2023 debut, tossing a perfect inning on Saturday. Baumler, the Orioles’ fifth rounder in 2020, has been wracked with injuries in his young career, starting with 2021 Tommy John surgery. He made only four appearances in 2022 before suffering shoulder inflammation that ultimately required surgery. Fingers crossed he can stay healthy this time.

In the DSL, three members of the O’s organization participated in the All-Star Game: shortstop Fernando Peguero (signed out of the Dominican in the 2021-22 international class), righty Jesús Palacios (Venezuela, 2021-22 class), and catcher Luis Vicioso (Dominican, 2022-23 class). Vicioso, the brother of O’s shortstop Jorge Mateo, was named All-Star Game MVP after driving in two runs.


Last week’s Player of the Week poll was one of our most tightly contested yet, with each of the four candidates bringing in at least 18% of the vote. It was Ortiz whose stellar nine-game showing brought him his first victory at 38%. He joins Norby, Kjerstad, Fabian, Colton Cowser, Lewin Díaz, and Grayson Rodriguez as one-week winners, along with multi-week winners Jordan Westburg (three times), Mayo (twice), and Holliday (twice).

With all due respect to Bowie, Aberdeen, and Delmarva, those teams were a combined 3-15 this week, so this will be an all-Norfolk poll. Who gets your vote?


Who was the Orioles’ minor league player of the week from July 25-30?

This poll is closed

  • 15%
    Chayce McDermott, Norfolk (5 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 7 K, International League Pitcher of the Week)
    (49 votes)
  • 41%
    Connor Norby, Norfolk (.407/.448/.704, 21-game on-base streak)
    (132 votes)
  • 43%
    Joey Ortiz, Norfolk (.462/.444/.577, 8 RBIs)
    (137 votes)
318 votes total Vote Now