Things have turned out to be pretty darn fun with the Orioles at the major league level this season, not that anyone other than the most wild optimists would have predicted or even hoped for this kind of outcome before the season began. The MLB team is chock full of performers, and the big wave of prospects hasn’t even fully arrived yet. It’s been something to watch.
This time a week ago, you had to wonder which prospects might be getting shipped out within hours, not to be mentioned in this feature again. The trade for starting pitcher Jack Flaherty cost the Orioles three prospects, none of whom came out of the top 15 players in the system. It still feels like some of these remaining guys will get dealt before they make an impact with the Orioles, but that’s going to be something to worry about in November, not before.
In the meantime, the success of the Orioles minors continues. Each week on Camden Chat, we look back at who’s done well and who hasn’t among the prospects over the previous week, with a particular focus on the team’s top ranked prospects.
This week’s update comes with a handful of prospect promotions. This year’s first round pick Enrique Bradfield is heading up to Low-A Delmarva after just a few games down in the Florida Complex League. So are Mac Horvath, Tavian Josenberger, Matthew Etzel, and Jalen Vasquez. This wave of promotions was first reported by MASN’s Steve Melewski.
Third baseman Max Wagner, shortstop Collin Burnes, and first baseman Max Costes are all headed from High-A Aberdeen to Double-A Bowie. Shortstop Carter Young makes the jump from Delmarva to Aberdeen. Good luck to these guys at their new levels.
Triple-A Norfolk Tides
- Last week: 5-2 vs. Charlotte (White Sox)
- Coming week: at Jacksonville (18-15 second half, Marlins)
- Second half record: 20-13, second place (0.5 GB) of ten teams in International League East. Norfolk won the division in the first half and has already qualified for the playoffs.
The Tides took care of business against the league-worst Charlotte Knights this past week. Good for them for doing so, but that does mean it’s probably worth pumping the brakes on any excitement for this week’s small samples, even more than it’s usually worth keeping that in mind.
The star of the week was once again righty pitcher Chayce McDermott, who took down the league’s Pitcher of the Week honors on the strength of a six inning start where he allowed just a hit and two walks while striking out seven batters. That makes 25 strikeouts in 19 innings across four games since getting promoted to this level. It’s a sub-1.000 WHIP, but he’s still got to work on the walk rate (5.2 BB/9 for Norfolk after 5.8 before being promoted from Bowie).
McDermott wasn’t even the only Norfolk starting pitcher to keep a 0.00 ERA for the duration of his start during the series. Garrett Stallings went eight innings and struck out nine Knights batters, though he allowed six hits and a pair of unearned runs. Stallings has a 3.93 ERA and 1.31 WHIP over seven starts at this level.
Rehabbing Oriole Mychal Givens pitched three scoreless innings across two outings. Givens’s only blemish in these outings was one hit batter. Austin Voth, also rehabbing, had a scoreless inning. Voth, though on this rehab assignment, was transferred to the 60-day injured list yesterday.
The best Tides hitter over the course of the series was no-longer-prospect Kyle Stowers, whose week included 6-15 hitting with four extra base hits. He also walked six times while striking out only once. Joey Ortiz doesn’t want you to forget about him either, 10-25 over seven games, though unlike Stowers, he didn’t hit any dingers. Ortiz has a .976 OPS across 285 PA at this level.
Does this look like a guy who should be back on the MLB team?
At the other side of the success continuum in this series was Coby Mayo, who had just one hit in 19 AB for the series. Mayo is OPSing .622 through 21 games here.
Other prospects of note
- OF Heston Kjerstad - Perfectly fine this week, batting 7-25 with a pair of walks. .982 OPS in 46 AAA games.
- IF Connor Norby - 5-25 at the plate, with three of his five hits going for extra bases.
- LHP Cade Povich - Six innings, one hit, one walk, one earned run is not too bad. He struck out four batters in his second Norfolk start, though he needs some more to balance his bad first one.
- LHP DL Hall - Returned to a full season affiliate after about six weeks in Florida, striking out five batters over two scoreless innings.
Double-A Bowie Baysox
- Last week: 4-2 vs. Portland (Red Sox)
- Coming week: at Richmond (19-14 second half, Giants)
- Second half record: 17-16, fourth place (2 GB) of six teams in Eastern League Southwest
The best-performing prospect who you might not be thinking about at all is outfielder Billy Cook. The 24-year-old was a tenth round pick two years ago and he’s been blazing away against AA pitching since a crummy April. Cook cracked four homers in six games in this Portland series, driving in a total of 12 runs. He’s done most of his damage at home (.879 OPS vs. .699 away).
Back in action in this series was baseball’s best prospect, Jackson Holliday, who missed about a week with an illness. Holliday only needed three games to hit two homers and pick up six hits. It seems that another league is simply incapable of containing this guy and now we’ll be wondering how long before he gets promoted to Norfolk. I am happy to share the dinger video:
Long-past-prospect Tyler Wells, down in the minors to try to reclaim some of his early season magic (or a different reason, if you don’t believe that one), allowed a run in a 3.1 inning outing. Commenters at the game suggested that Wells was allowing a lot of rockets off the bat and may have been fortunate to not have worse results.
Rehabbing Oriole Cedric Mullins played in a couple of games while starting to work his way back. He collected one hit in ten at-bats.
Other prospects of note
- OF Dylan Beavers - Made his Bowie debut this week with an 8-20 effort at the plate, including three doubles, with four walks on top of that. It’s a .400 average and .500 OBP to get the party started here.
- OF Jud Fabian - Just one hit in 18 AB this week. At least it was a dinger. He struck out nine times.
- RHP Jean Pinto - One start and one relief outing this week, totaling seven innings with two earned runs. (There were four unearned runs.)
High-A Aberdeen IronBirds
- Last week: 0-6 vs. Hickory (Rangers)
- Coming week: at Brooklyn (22-14 second half, Mets)
- Second half record: 17-18, fourth place (4.5 GB) of six teams in South Atlantic League North
The IronBirds are losers of eleven straight games now. They last triumphed in the first game of a July 26 doubleheader.
As you might guess for a team that’s mired in a two-week downturn, things aren’t going well for pretty much anybody. The one guy who performed well across the whole week was the just-promoted Collin Burns, who heads up to Bowie after batting 8-22 this past week, with three swiped bags. Burns, 23, was an O’s sixth round pick in 2021. He OPSed .731 across 22 Aberdeen games.
Catching prospect Samuel Basallo made his Aberdeen debut with this series. Pretty good for an 18-year-old to already be up to this level, but as far as his results, he went 2-22. That did include four walks, so good job with the batting eye, if not the results when making contact.
A couple of guys who are starting games for the IronBirds right now can also hold their heads high. Trace Bright, a fifth rounder last year, struck out ten batters in a four inning start with just one run allowed. This has been something of a specialty of Bright’s this year, picking up big strikeouts in short-for-a-start outings.
Other prospects of note
- C Creed Willems - The other young catcher didn’t do so great this week either, with two hits in 15 AB. Willems, like Basallo, walked four times. It’s now been 200 PA with Aberdeen for Willems - his OPS is .651.
- IF Max Wagner - Three doubles in 20 AB was all he got, not that this kept the Orioles from promoting him.
Low-A Delmarva Shorebirds
- Last week: 3-3 vs. Lynchburg (Guardians)
- Coming week: at Carolina (23-13 second half, Brewers)
- Second half record: 15-20, last place (7.5 GB) of six teams in Carolina League North
After Basallo got promoted out of here, the number of guys on this team with big prospect stock was zero. Now even Carter Young is on the way up to Aberdeen. He finished 7-24 at the plate in his last week at this level, with a pair of steals and only one extra-base hit.
Outfielder Stiven Acevedo, a 20-year-old who’s repeating Delmarva this year, was the standout for this week, with a pair of home runs, six walks, and five stolen bases across the six games played. Acevedo in action:
Young strikeout machine Deivy Cruz continued to do that thing in his start this week. He struck out seven batters in four innings, though it went well when they didn’t strike out. Cruz also gave up two runs on seven hits.
Bonus Florida Complex League
The FCL Orioles are 19-25 and winners of their last six games. Bradfield, as well as Mac Horvath, have teed off on the opposition in their early games. A currently unheralded standout is 19-year-old catcher Aneudis Mordán, who’s slashing .293/.404/.573 in 28 games. Maybe it’s time for a taste of Delmarva for him soon too.
Bradfield is fast:
Here’s the video of his single — advanced to third pic.twitter.com/33dzqWtY82— Josh Jaeger (@JoshJ3212) August 4, 2023
Double Bonus Dominican Summer League
Orioles Orange is 26-15, while Orioles Black is 17-25. Over the weekend, it was reported by Orioles Twitter prospect-watcher Eric that this year’s top O’s international signing, Luis Almeyda, is done for the season due to need for preventative surgery to repair a non-baseball injury. He has played in 19 games since signing.
An Orange player whose performance stands out to me relatively early on is catcher Adriander Mejia, still just 16 years old. The Venezuelan is batting .280/.359/.344 through 36 games as a young player in the DSL. It’s a good BA/OBP to start and you can imagine more power could arrive with time in the pro ranks. He’s 0-9 over the last week, though, so hopefully that’s not a slump that will continue.
It was a close choice last week, with Ortiz getting the edge over Norby by just five votes. In doing so, Ortiz became the winner for the second straight week. He joins the list of multiple winners: Jordan Westburg (three times), Mayo (twice), and Holliday (twice). Single week winners have been: Norby, Kjerstad, Fabian, Colton Cowser, Lewin Díaz, and Grayson Rodriguez.
I’m calling it a head-to-head matchup this week, with all apologies to those left off who had a decent argument for inclusion. Which of these guys will become a first-time winner this season? The choice is yours.
Who was the Orioles minor league player of the week from August 1-6?
This poll is closed
Chayce McDermott, Triple-A Norfolk (league’s pitcher of the week for second straight time)
Billy Cook, Double-A Bowie (four home runs)