The Orioles are in first place. They are more than 99% likely to make the playoffs, according to Baseball Reference and FanGraphs, and have at least a 60% chance to end up winning the AL East on account of their three game lead and needing only one more win against the Rays to get the tiebreaker there. 99% isn’t 100%, but that’s pretty darn good.
This is earlier than I think any of us really believed that times this great would have arrived. It’s fun! It’s also going to be important for the Orioles farm system to keep churning out solid players if they are going to be able to sustain this success in the long run. Each Tuesday on Camden Chat, we take a look at how things have gone through the minors over the last week, with a particular focus on the team’s ranked prospects.
Triple-A Norfolk Tides
- Past week: 3-3 vs. Memphis (Cardinals)
- Coming week: vs. Durham (28-17 second half, Rays)
- Second half record: 24-21 second half, t-6th (4.5 games back) of ten teams in International League East. Clinched playoff spot with first half division lead.
This was a week that was meant to cause heartburn for anyone who doesn’t care for the Jack Flaherty trade results so far. Facing his former organization, César Prieto collected seven hits in 17 at-bats, and Drew Rom tossed six shutout innings while striking out eight former teammates. Rom made his MLB debut on Monday, and I’m sorry to inform you that it went poorly. He allowed eight runs (six earned) in a 3.2 inning start that saw him give up five hits and issue four walks in a start against the Pirates.
Remember how awesome Colton Cowser was performing at the Triple-A level before he got promoted for his MLB debut? He’s back and he might still be better than the competition at this level. Cowser hit a pair of homers across five games played and got back to his walking ways by drawing five. Coby Mayo joined this hot hitting party as well, with 6-19 hitting with a home run, and five walks as well. Mayo’s raised his Norfolk OPS to .767. Another week or two of hitting like that and he can feel pretty good about how he’s settled in.
Here’s Mayo hitting a dinger:
21st blast of the year for Coby Mayo.— The Verge- An Orioles MiLB Podcast (@BSLOnTheVerge) August 19, 2023
62nd extra-base hit
Unfortunately for Norfolk, these were the only two guys who hit well in the series. Heston Kjerstad bottomed out the most, with just one hit in 20 at-bats. Connor Norby was not so much better at 3-19, though one of his three hits was a homer.
Among the pitchers, two of the pitchers acquired at last year’s deadline had opposite weeks. Things went well for Chayce McDermott over two starts for the week. He combined to allow four runs over 11 innings, with 14 strikeouts to 4 walks. Not good was Cade Povich, who got socked for nine runs in one start where he failed to even get through two innings. McDermott has a sub-1 WHIP through seven games here. Povich has allowed 16 runs in 15 innings.
Others of note:
- IF Joey Ortiz - 5-24 for the week, of which three were doubles. Overall, Ortiz has been killing it for the Tides, with a .928 OPS across his stints.
- LHP DL Hall - Do you think that he is pitching his way back into the Orioles mix? Hall pitched a pair of scoreless innings this week, striking out four batters and, crucially for him, walking none.
- RHP Austin Voth - Two appearances in relief and maybe on his way to the Mychal Givens “DFA after the rehab ends” treatment - two runs allowed across 1.2 innings.
Double-A Bowie Baysox
- Past week: 4-2 vs. Altoona (Pirates)
- Coming week: at Erie (26-19 second half, Tigers)
- Second half record: 25-20, third place (one game back) of six teams in Eastern League Southwest
We’re starting this one out with a Dylan Beavers update because he’s my wife’s random favorite Orioles prospect (Beavers!) and he did have himself a nice week. Eight hits in 21 at-bats? That’ll do! Two went for extra bases, and he drew three walks, upping his Bowie OPS to .840 in 15 games.
Other fairly recent additions to the Bowie roster also did well: Max Wagner collected eight hits in 25 AB, while catcher Silas Ardoin, maybe a competitor to back up Adley Rutschman in 2025, needed only 18 AB to get eight hits. Each of these guys hit one dinger.
Obligatory Jackson Holliday update: “Just” five hits in 21 AB for the week, but two of them were triples, and he also drew six walks, so he’s now got a .350/.431/.550 line in 25 games at this level. Pretty good for a 19-year-old. As Bowie’s announcer says in this clip, the most thrilling player in the best farm system in baseball:
Jackson turned on the jets pic.twitter.com/tFS9sPs6HD— Orioles Player Development (@OsPlayerDev) August 17, 2023
For Baysox pitchers this week, it was a couple of erstwhile Orioles who might be of interest - namely, whether they can get things together enough to help out the postseason roster or even rotation. John Means got two outings under his belt. The second was better than the first. He’s given up five runs in 5.1 innings while striking out eight batters, but it’s probably building up the pitch count and shaking off the rust that’s more important for him. Tyler Wells made a two-inning start - more like an opener kind of thing - allowing a run.
Note that this week’s series is an important one for the Baysox since they are playing one of the two teams that is ahead of them in the standings. A 4-2 week and they could have the first place spot for the second half.
Others of note:
- OF John Rhodes - Three homers this week! That’s good, although he only got four hits total, to the BA/OBP parts weren’t so good. Rhodes has a .750 OPS overall for 88 games.
- OF Jud Fabian - Just one hit in 18 AB. Moving on.
- RHP Alex Pham - A recent addition to MLB Pipeline’s top 30 Orioles prospects. Pham, a 19th rounder two years ago, pitched in relief during the Wells start. He walked three batters in a 2.2 inning start, allowing two runs, one earned.
High-A Aberdeen IronBirds
- Past week: 4-2 vs. Wilmington (Nationals)
- Coming week: at Hudson Valley (24-24 second half, Yankees)
- Second half record: 23-24, fifth place (4.5 games back) of six teams in South Atlantic League North
If you haven’t scrolled down this far to find out what happened with Samuel Basallo this week, I’m not saying you’re wrong, but I am saying I don’t understand you. And it was great news for the just-turned-19-year-old catching prospect: He hit 8-19 across the week, including four extra-base hits, drew four walks, and even stole two bases. Basallo is up to an .856 OPS in 17 games for Aberdeen, and he’s still throwing out 33% of runners at this level as well.
According to MASN’s Steve Melewski, there’s one pitching promotion going from Aberdeen to Bowie this week. That’s Trace Bright, who the O’s selected in the fifth round last year. Bright (who, if his MILB player page is any indication, is formally Bob Ike Wright) struck out 11 batters across 8.1 innings in two starts. Bright has struck out 127 batters in 82.2 innings this year. Pretty good! Walk problems: 48 in the same stretch of time. Good luck finishing up at Bowie.
Others of note:
- C Creed Willems - 4-17 for the week with a homer. He also drew four walks. That is acceptable.
- IF Frederick Bencosme - 5-23 hitting, all singles. That’s the Bencosme way. He also stole three bases.
Low-A Delmarva Shorebirds
- Past week: 3-3 vs. Salem Red Sox
- Coming week: at Lynchburg (27-21 second half, Guardians)
- Second half record: 20-27, last place (8.5 games back) of six teams in Carolina League North
There wasn’t a whole lot to say about this team as its best players were steadily promoted, but that’s changed now that the 2023 picks are filtering in. First rounder Enrique Bradfield Jr. is looking like he may not be here long, as the SEC product is just better than this low-minors pitching. He went 8-18 at the plate, drawing four walks, and he stole five bases as well. I’m assured by CC commenter Bad Pseudonym that Bradfield would have had a sixth steal if not for one of the worst umpiring calls of all time.
Bradfield has played nine games and already has 13 stolen bases for Delmarva. He’s also drawn 13 walks! But he also only has one extra-base hit, a double. That’s going to be the thing to watch for him the most as he climbs the ladder. If any power comes, he’s on track to stardom. If no power ever comes, we’ll be finding out how much the rest of his profile can carry him.
Oh yeah, and he also draws high marks for his defense:
One pitcher is heading up to Bright’s spot at Aberdeen. That’s 20-year-old Edgar Portes. This 6’2” righty was part of Mike Elias’s inaugural 2019 international signing class. It’s his second year at Low-A and the strikeouts are way up (106 in 80.2 IP, including 15 over 7 IP this past week) while the walks are way down (5.8 BB/9 to 3.9). As with all the promoted players, good luck at the next level.
Bonus Florida Complex League
Today marks the end of the FCL season. The Orioles squad enters the final day with a 22-31 record. Players who spent a lot of time on this team are generally recent Mike Elias international signees who are 18 or 19 years old. Here are my interesting standouts from the bunch over the full season. All of these guys were playing their age 18 seasons:
- IF Leandro Arias - .263/.353/.409 over 42 games
- OF Thomas Sosa - .295/.386/.500 in 37 games
- OF Braylin Tavera - .257/.389/.419 through 33 games
It seems like we’ll see all of these guys at Delmarva to start next season. Tavera received a seven-figure bonus from the Orioles last year. Arias got a $600,000 bonus. Sosa, who reportedly got $400,000 from the team, was highlighted by the team on the signing day - last January 15 - along with Tavera and Sosa. If they keep playing that well at the full season level, that will make them worth following.
Also in the FCL this week, Seth Johnson started his rehab after Tommy John surgery. He tossed a scoreless inning and will presumably be headed for Delmarva to continue as the season winds down there. Johnson had reached the High-A level in the Rays system before the surgery.
Double Bonus Dominican Summer League
Today marks the end for this league’s play as well. The two Orioles affiliates played one another yesterday, with the good one (Orange, 35-19) beating the one that hasn’t been as good (Black, 20-35) by a 17-3 score.
This year’s lone Orioles seven-figure international signing, Luis Almeyda, batted .190/.290/.310 in 19 games before requiring season-ending shoulder surgery.
Last week, Holliday joined the three-time winner club, which also counts since-promoted Jordan Westburg as a member. Two-time winners include Mayo and Ortiz, with the following winning a week apiece: Norby, Kjerstad, Fabian, Cowser, Rodriguez, McDermott, and Lewin Díaz. Holliday was the plurality choice with 45% of the vote in a three-way poll.
This is an all-pitching edition of the poll, because there’s no one who can stop me. McDermott has the potential to become a two-time winner.
Who is your Orioles minor league player of the week from August 15-20?
This poll is closed
Chayce McDermott, Triple-A Norfolk (11 IP, 4 ER, 14 K)
Trace Bright, High-A Aberdeen (8.1 IP, 1 ER, 11 K)
Edgar Portes, Low-A Delmarva (7 IP, 4 ER, 15 K)