As the major league sqaud continues to be an embarrassment, losing ten straight and 17 of 19 since John Means‘ no-hitter back on May 5, Birdland is forced to look to the minors for some optimism. Fortunately, for the first time in a very, very long time, there is plenty of that to go around down on the farm.
The AA Bowie Baysox are 15-5. The high-A Aberdeen Ironbirds are 14-7. The low-A Delmarva Shorebirds are 15-6. The O’s have the fifth-ranked farm system in baseball, per MLB.com, and are right around there in every publication you will find. Things are indeed looking up, if you know where to focus your attention.
While the COVID-19 pandemic screwed up life all over the planet for pretty much everybody, here on a baseball blog we will focus on how it affected well, baseball players. These young prospects lost a year of development, and guys like Adley Rutschman and others are finding themselves starting the 2021 campaign at a lower level than perhaps they would have expected to be this season back when they were drafted.
As a result, Orioles GM Mike Elias has maybe been a bit more lenient with his promotions than in the past. We’ve already seen Kyle Bradish, acquired from the Angels in the Dylan Bundy trade, promoted to AAA Norfolk after three scoreless starts (13.2 IP, 26 K) in Bowie. At 24, Bradish would have absolutely started this season in Norfolk during normal times.
Now it seems that it’s Grayson Rodriguez‘s turn to get an early promotion. G-Rod, the Birds’ first-round pick in 2018, turned 21 in November, and has been making batters look silly for years. He has a career 2.30 ERA over 136.2 minor-league innings, and has looked as good as ever in 2021. In five starts for Aberdeen, he’s 3-0 with a 1.54 ERA and 40 strikeouts to five walks over 23.1 innings.
This morning on 105.7 the Fan, Elias said that Grayson will make his next start for the Bowie Baysox.
The big righty is taking his talents to PG County, and we’re all excited to see how he does against better competition. With stuff like this, we should all be quite confident.
As for other prospects, there is plenty to watch. Gunnar Henderson, 2019 second-round shortstop , is hitting .320 with six homers and a 1.028 OPS for the Shorebirds. DL Hall has 31 strikeouts in 16 innings for Bowie. Second baseman Terrin Vavra, a third-rounder of the Rockies in 2018 who was acquired in the Mychal Givens trade, has a .954 OPS for the Baysox. Of course there is Adley, who has a .905 OPS and four homers, one of which went off his own face.
So head on out to one of the O’s minor league affiliates and take in a game or two. You’ll feel a lot better about the Baltimore baseball organization as a whole.
And congratulations to Grayson Rodriguez on a well-deserved promotion. Here’s to the next one!