The Orioles announced some organization season-long awards on Saturday morning. There aren’t any big surprises, starting with Gunnar Henderson being named the Most Valuable Oriole for the 2023 season after balloting that was concluded among local media and broadcasters. (Camden Chat has never been invited to participate.)
In addition, the Orioles handed out some other awards relating to player development. These are all simply named by the team. There is no balloting. The minor league player of the year is Jackson Holliday. The minor league pitcher of the year is Chayce McDermott. Triple-A Norfolk Tides manager Buck Britton is the recipient of the Cal Ripken Sr. Player Development Award. Additionally, scout Dave Jennings has been awarded the Jim Russo Scout of the Year.
Henderson was an easy choice at the top of the MVO balloting, although he wasn’t announced as a unanimous winner, so he wasn’t the only first place choice. Balloting is a 5-3-1 point system, so every voter had three slots to choose from. Other players receiving votes, according to the team’s release: Félix Bautista, Kyle Bradish, Ryan O’Hearn, Adley Rutschman, and Anthony Santander.
There was a lot more agreement this year. Last year’s voting, where Rutschman was the winner, had nine different Orioles receiving votes, including nonperformers Jordan Lyles and Rougned Odor. All of these choices other than O’Hearn can be defended by what actually happened this season.
This is the second straight year that a rookie won the MVO. It’s only the fourth time that this has ever happened. The first was Gregg Olson in 1989. Henderson is tied for the team lead in home runs at 28 and is its best-slugging every day player. Baseball Reference WAR has him as the team’s best player by far, at 6.1 WAR; in Fangraphs WAR, Henderson’s 4.7 is second to Rutschman.
Holliday’s season across four levels can hardly be praised enough. Starting with Low-A Delmarva and heading up to Norfolk in the same season, Holliday batted .323/.442/.499. The 2022 #1 overall pick obliterated all competition he faced after a short adjustment at each level and still even with a few games of struggle at Norfolk managed to OPS .796 in 18 games at Norfolk - including 16 walks in 91 plate appearances. He is still only 19 years old.
McDermott, 25, was acquired by the Orioles in last year’s Trey Mancini trade. His season was split between Double-A Bowie and Norfolk. McDermott combined for a 3.10 ERA and 1.151 WHIP over 119 innings between the two levels. That included a fantastic 11.5 K/9 for the season, though it also came with a 5.1 BB/9. When not walking batters, his stuff was nearly unhittable - he held batters to a .167 average this season.
Britton receives the award for player development after a Norfolk season that’s seen it win its league championship, with the best regular season record in the league and a franchise record for wins (90). The team’s release credits him with “helping guide six players to their MLB debuts this season” and notes that 31 different players appeared for both Norfolk and Baltimore this season.
Typically, these awards are presented on the field during one of the final home games. However, since the Tides are in Las Vegas to play in a one-game AAA Championship on Saturday night, they’ll have to get their awards later.
Jennings, the scout, is based in Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi for the team. His career with the Orioles stretches back to 2002, and in that time he’s been involved in drafting and signing past Orioles like Nick Markakis and Matt Wieters as well as current Orioles Henderson and Jordan Westburg.