Yesterday, in an attempt to try to divert our eyes from the trainwreck taking place at Oriole Park at Camden Yards every night, we looked at a few of the prospects in Norfolk. I introduced that piece by talking about how the Orioles can’t hit any home runs, and can’t keep the ball in the Yard, and thus get drubbed at home all the time.
Well, last night, the Birds bashed four home runs and didn’t allow a single one in a 9-1 bashing of the Chicago White Sox. So…you’re welcome!
For my next trick, I will say this: the Orioles certainly will NOT win the World Series in 2019. Nope, no way, no how.
But if they’re going to win one in, say, four-seven years as most of us hope (a fair timeframe for the Elias/Mejdal-led rebuild), then hopefully some of the stars of that team are establishing themselves in the lower levels of the minor leagues right now.
Let’s see if that’s happening down Route 97 in Bowie.
Note: Dean Kremer (MLB Pipeline #9) is still at extended Spring Training, as best I can tell.
GulfBird Sports/Craig Landefeld
.231/.315/.354 3 2B 1 3B 1 HR 7 RBI 8 BB 12 K 65 AB
The centerpiece of the deal that sent Manny Machado out of Birdland and to the Los Angeles Dodgers last July, the 22-year-old Cuban-born Diaz is considered the Birds’ top prospect by most publications. He impressed in Spring Training action, hitting .306/.316/.472 in 36 AB, but has gotten off to a slow start for the Baysox. He did the same upon coming east last season, going just 5-for-35 in his first ten games for Bowie, before hitting .273/.357/.465 with four homers over his final 28 games. There’s some anecdotal evidence that suggests Latin players don’t do well in the colder weather we see in parts of the states to start baseball seasons, so here’s hoping that’s all we’re seeing with Diaz here, and that his bat heats up along with the temperatures here shortly.
.186/.290/.305 2 2B 1 3B 1 HR 5 RBI 9 BB 20 K 60 PA
Baseball Prospectus has McKenna listed as their #5 prospect in the O’s system, behind just Diaz, Ryan Mountcastle, DL Hall, and Grayson Rodriguez. MLB Pipeline has him at number seven. This is all on the heels of his breakout 2018, during which, as a 21-year-old, he posted an OPS of 1.023 for Frederick, earned a call-up to Bowie, and hit .239/.341/.338 against AA competition a few years his senior. In 17 games in the Arizona Fall League, McKenna hit .377/.467/.556 with ten extra-base hits.
That hasn’t translated so far this year, as the 2015 fourth-rounder is off to another slow start for the Baysox.
That’s the guy.
.277/.365/.477 7 2B 2 HR 12 RBI 8 BB 18 K 65 AB
Bannon, also acquired for Machado along with Diaz, just turned 23 this week, and isn’t considered among the Birds’ top 10 prospects. Still, all he’s done since leaving Xavier is hit: he posted an OPS of 1.016 in rookie ball in 2017, and an .895 between Rancho Cucamonga and Bowie last year. He’s got that number at .842 this year (it was .671 in 32 games for the Baysox after last year’s trade). Worth keeping an eye on just for that stick.
3 GS 14.0 IP 1.93 ERA 3 ER 9 H 9 BB 10 K
Lowther (MLB Pipeline #8, BP #13) is off to a fine start as he approaches his 23rd birthday later this month. The nine walks in 14.0 IP is a bit higher than you’d like to see (he walked the same number in 31.0 IP for Delmarva to start 2018 before getting the call-up to Frederick), but we can chalk that up to being a little more careful with AA hitters…we hope. Birdland will have an eye on this kid all season.
GulfBird Sports/Craig Landefeld
3 GS 12.2 IP 7.82 ERA 21 H 11 ER 4 BB 19 K
The oft-injured 2013 first-round pick has continued an inauspicious career to start 2019. The 19 strikeouts in 12.2 IP gives some reason for optimism, however, regardless of the 7.82 ERA.
The stuff is obviously there, but at 24 years old, the clock keeps ticking on Hunter. Let’s hope for no more injury setbacks, and go from there.
9.2 IP 7.45 ERA 12 H 8 ER 5 BB 8 K
BP’s #6 O’s prospect, Tate was acquired as part of the deal for Zach Britton. He was the fourth overall pick in 2015 by Texas, but hasn’t come close to living up to that billing. BP considers him nothing more than a potential mid-rotation starter or middle reliever – not ideal for a #6 prospect! He’s certainly not inspiring any confidence for the Baysox at the moment.
GulfBird Sports/Craig Landefel
9.1 0.96 ERA 1 ER 6 H 4 BB 9 K
Pop, also acquired for Machado, is generally seen as nothing more than a potential solid bullpen arm, but he’s proving to be just that so far in Bowie. We may see him on the big club sooner rather than later, though it’s unlikely he’ll be around during that mythical “contending window” we are all hoping for in some distant future.
3 GS 17.0 IP 1.59 ERA 3 ER 10 H 2 BB 12 K
Zimmermann (BP #11) has been the Baysox’s best starter so far, but BP’s David Lee doesn’t view him as much more than a potential long guy/innings eater at the MLB level:
Players like this tend to produce in the minors before big-league hitters expose the limitations of a pitchability arm without a dominant secondary.
So that’s what’s going on down in Bowie. We’ll check out Frederick & Delmarva here shortly.