Over the last couple of weeks, the minor league seasons have been gradually winding down. Delmarva and Aberdeen’s seasons wrapped earlier in the month and now as of Sunday, Bowie’s season is over as well. Only Norfolk is continuing to play beyond this, with one more week of regular season games ahead of a postseason berth that it has already clinched.
As far as the prospects are concerned, the guys who are going to get called up have already done so, at least for this year. Tides results are still going to be worth watching because there are a number of pitchers on the 40-man roster down there who are going to be the guys the team calls up if there’s a fresh arm needed, or if someone more in the team’s current plans gets hurt.
This has been a great minor league season for development of top prospects even as the big league team has already clinched a playoff spot and has a multi-game lead to take the division. It’s been fun to write about these things weekly. We’ll be back with one more next week that closes out the regular season for Norfolk.
Triple-A Norfolk Tides
- Last week: 3-3 vs. Memphis (Cardinals)
- Coming week: at Buffalo (39-28 second half, Blue Jays)
- Second half record: 39-30, fourth place (five games back) of ten teams in International League East. Norfolk won the first half division title and will be in the league postseason on 9/26.
The Norfolk lineup has been periodically raided with big league callups through the year. This past week saw that happen again as Heston Kjerstad was called up to make his big league debut. Others remain who are waiting for the time where they can get a chance, or, for some, a second chance. At this point it seems like there might not be any more changes to be made at the big league level unless somebody gets hurt.
Among the prospects who are still there, Coby Mayo was the one who had the best week, hitting his 11th homer since joining Norfolk and 28th of the minor league season overall with a 7-20 week. Mayo recorded as many walks as strikeouts, with five apiece. Jackson Holliday picked up five hits and walks each as well, knocking his first Triple-A homer as part of a 6-24 week at the plate. Holliday was just 1-13 in his first three games at Norfolk but has done fine since, and he’s got more walks than strikeouts through 59 plate appearances.
Holliday connecting for the first time in Triple-A:
This was not a very good week for pitchers who are on the Orioles 40-man roster but still with the Tides. Bruce Zimmermann and Cole Irvin each had a bad start - Zimmermann’s much worse than Irvin’s, with 15 hits allowed in 4.2 innings. Tyler Wells and Joey Krehbiel also scuffled. That’s how you end up with two games with 10+ runs allowed and three at 7+. There are not many, or perhaps any, good choices left in the reliever merry-go-round.
Not every pitcher was bad! Lefty prospect Cade Povich tossed six shutout innings, picking up eight strikeouts with just three hits and two walks allowed. Walks have been a problem for him all year, so it’ll be nice if he can finish strong. Righty Garrett Stallings went seven innings with one run allowed. Stallings, acquired by the Orioles in the José Iglesias trade, has a 5.53 ERA and 1.51 WHIP in 14 starts with the Tides.
Other prospects of note
- OF Colton Cowser - Hit two home runs in six games, but he collected only three hits total and struck out 12 times.
- IF Connor Norby - 5-20 without an extra base hit puts him much above Cowser in batting average, if not OPS, over the series. Norby is OPSing .823 in 132 games for the Tides.
- IF Joey Ortiz - Has not played since September 2 due to an oblique injury.
- RHP Chayce McDermott - Landed on the IL this week with a back injury.
Double-A Bowie Baysox
- Last week: 2-3 at Harrisburg (Nationals)
- Coming week: Bowie’s season is over
- Second half record: 36-22, third place (4.5 games back) of six teams in Eastern League Southwest.
Bowie entered its final week with some hope still alive for a playoff spot, but they pretty much needed to win out and then get help, and that’s not how it worked out. The final game on Sunday was canceled due to rain since the season was over and it was meaningless.
This last week of the season was the first week at Double-A for catching prospect Samuel Basallo, who’s even younger than Holliday as Basallo only turned 19 last month. He can feel good about what he’s done heading into his offseason because he greeted Harrisburg’s pitchers with seven hits in his 15 at-bats, including a double and a triple. Basallo will next be headed to Dominican Winter League (LIDOM), in which he was drafted to play for Los Tigres del Licey.
I don’t understand anything about LIDOM other than that it exists and they play baseball, but maybe this will be my excuse to get into it. Licey will also have Orioles pitching prospects Juan Nuñez and Edgar Portes. Four other low-level pitchers are spread across other teams in the league.
Basallo connecting on an RBI double:
First Double-A extra-base hit for Basallo! pic.twitter.com/7TGYc0Dntx— Bowie Baysox (@BowieBaysox) September 16, 2023
Basallo wasn’t even the best overall hitter for the Baysox in the season’s final week, as third baseman Max Wagner went 8-16 with two doubles and a triple. He wrapped his 28 games at Bowie with a .717 OPS. Dylan Beavers homered in one of the three games he played in, giving him two homers in 34 Bowie games as part of an .894 OPS at this level. Beavers went 4-12 overall and stole a couple of bases. Between Aberdeen and Bowie, he stole 27 in 37 attempts.
Jud Fabian was also able to add some hits to his season tally at the end, picking up six, including a homer, in 21 at-bats. The negative for Fabian was strikeouts, the same as it has been for much of the year. He added ten more this week which kicks him up to 108 strikeouts in 288 Bowie plate appearances. That’s a 37.5% strikeout rate, which is, you know... a lot. For comparison, at the MLB level this season, batters struck out in 22.7% of their plate appearances.
Three pitchers among MLB Pipeline’s top 30 Orioles prospects closed out their seasons with the Baysox, one of whom, like Basallo, arrived for the final week. The recently-promoted one is Seth Johnson, the pitching prospect from the Rays in last year’s Trey Mancini trade who made his way back towards the end of the season from Tommy John surgery. Johnson struck out four batters in three innings, with two runs allowed (one earned).
Alex Pham and Trace Bright are two pitchers who’ve been at this level a bit longer. Pham tossed five innings with one run allowed in his final game of the season, so he closes out his 2023 with Bowie with a 2.67 ERA and 0.989 WHIP in 60.2 innings. For a guy in his age 23 season, it’s interesting, even if he’s not on a “definitely making it into the Orioles rotation some time next year” trajectory.
Bright, a year younger than Pham, allowed two runs, one earned, in a four inning start. His four-game Bowie stint this year finished with a 2.12 ERA but 1.235 WHIP. Bright was a big strikeout guy overall this season (147 in 99.2 IP across two levels) but that’s also come with a 5.1 combined BB/9.
In last week’s minor league player of the week poll, Billy Cook won a head-to-head matchup against Basallo with 62% of the vote. He is the 13th different winner of one of the weekly polls. Mayo, Holliday, and Jordan Westburg are three-time winners this year, with Ortiz winning twice. Norby, Kjerstad, Fabian, Lewin Díaz, Grayson Rodriguez, Bright, and Connor Gillispie have also won single weeks.
Who was the Orioles minor league player of the week for September 12-17?
This poll is closed
Coby Mayo, Triple-A Norfolk (1.000 OPS in six games played)
Cade Povich, Norfolk (6 IP, 3 H, 2 BB, 0 R, 8 SO)
Samuel Basallo, Double-A Bowie (shredded pitchers in his first week at level)