Are the Prospects Doing Any Better at Least?

We knew this would happen eventually, though we probably hoped it wouldn’t be quite so early on in the season – the big league club is downright impossible to watch, at least without constantly grimacing. The Birds are now 1-10 at Oriole Park at Camden Yards, and they’ve had to use a position player on the mound (Hanser Alberto, Chris Davis, and Jesus Sucre) three times in eleven home contests.

They can’t hit the ball out of the park (they’re 21st in MLB in dingers), and the pitchers can’t keep it IN the park (they’re on pace to obliterate the MLB record for home runs allowed in a season) – that’s a pretty awful combination in a hitter’s haven like The Yard. The results have reflected that discrepancy: not only are they 1-10, but they’ve been outscored by a ridiculous 102-50 margin.

As such, we O’s fans have already begun to turn our eyes toward the minors, where the future stars of the franchise are, hopefully, showing flashes of being just that. Let’s take a look at how some of the key Baby Birds are performing.

We’ll start with Norfolk today, and look elsewhere as the week goes on.

One key prospect who would be playing in Nofolk, Austin Hays, remains at extended Spring Training. Here’s the latest:

To the guys who are playing!

 

Ryan Mountcastle

Ryan Mountcastle prepares to field.

GulfBird Sports/Craig Landefeld

.288/.319/.545 4 HR 3 2B 1 3B 17 RBI 4 BB 17 K 66 AB 2 E

Let’s start with the good, shall we? The O’s second pick in 2015 (36th overall) has been raking in AAA to begin the season.

Mountcastle’s bat remains as advertised. His problem is still finding somewhere to play. The organization seems to have mostly given up on him as a shortstop or third baseman, as he’s spending the majority of his time at first base at the moment (though he did make a start at the hot corner on April 18, with Stevie Wilkerson starting at first). The Birds obviously have quite the logjam of 1B/DH types, and Ryan looks to be adding his name to the mix.

At least he’s hitting. I doubt Mike Elias will be in any hurry to rush Mountcastle to the bigs in 2019, regardless of how well he hits in Norfolk, however. Here’s to his continuing to mash AAA pitching for the remainder of his time at that level.

 

Chance Sisco

GulfBird Sports/Craig Landefeld

.200/.259/.260 3 2B 4 RBI 3 BB 17 K 50 AB

And now, some bad news. Once thought to be another sure bat who maybe didn’t have a position and who would also add to that aforementioned 1B/DH backlog, Sisco has seemingly lost his best tool. After hitting a combined .317/.403/.430 across AA and AAA in 2016, Sisco looked ready to make the move to the bigs. Though he only hit .267/.340/.395 in 97 games for Norfolk in 2017, he was called up for a cup of coffee in September, and had six hits – including two doubles and two home runs – in 18 AB. He started the 2018 season in Baltimore, but hit just .181/.288/.269 in 63 games, looking overmatched and ultimately being optioned back to AAA. Back on the farm, he didn’t do much better, slashing .242/.344/.352 with just eight extra-base hits in 151 plate appearances.

He seemed to be back to himself with the bat in Sarasota this year, hitting .382/.533/.765 with four homers and a double in 45 PA. However, Elias & Co. wanted him to go back to Norfolk and hit like that against AAA pitching, and he has…not done that, as you can see from the numbers listed above. Other than the small sample size against Spring Training competition, Sisco hasn’t really hit anywhere in almost three years, which has to be growing more and more alarming for the folks in the Warehouse.

 

DJ Stewart

GulfBird Sports/Craig Landefeld

.237/.366/.424 2 2B 3 HR 6 RBI 11 BB 11 K 59 AB 2 E

Taken 11 picks before Mountcastle in the 2015 draft out of Florida State, Stewart has had an up-and-down minor league career. He posted OPS numbers of just .633 and .776 between low- and high-A ball in 2015 and 2016, respectively, but saw that number climb to .859 in 540 PA for Bowie in 2017. The always-tough-on-hitters Harbor Park may have contributed to a falling off to .235/.329/.387 in AAA in 2018, but Stewart, like Sisco, showed some promise when given a limited chance at the MLB level, as he hit .340/.550/.890 with three doubles and three dingers in 47 PA last September.

Right now, all of his numbers are better than they were during his last stint at AAA (with OBP and SLG each 37 points higher), so Stewart is certainly showing some positive signs.

 

Anthony Santander

GulfBird Sports/Craig Landefeld

.250/.286/.350 3 2B 1 HR 8 RBI 2 BB 12 K 60 AB

A 2017 Rule V pick, I put Santander on this list based on his bat. With OPS numbers of .866 and .862 in his final two years in the Cleveland organization, and then an 1.199 in 16 games in high-A and AA in 2017 for the Birds, he certainly flashed some promise with the stick.

However, that didn’t translate during his Rule V time at the MLB level in 2018, as he hit just .198/.250/.297 in 33 games.

 

Keegan Akin

Keegan Akin pitches.

Norfolk Tides

3 GS 13.2 IP 3.95 ERA 11 H 6 ER 1 HR 18 K 6 BB

The 2016 second-round pick out of Western Michigan was the co-winner (with Zac Lowther) of the Birds’ Jim Palmer minor-league pitcher of the year award after tossing a 3.27 ERA over 25 starts for Bowie. The southpaw has been pretty darn good to start his AAA career as well, and that 11.9 K/9 figure (along with a 3:1 K:BB ratio) has eyes popping for sure.

 

Luis Ortiz

GulfBird Sports/Craig Landefeld

3 GS 11.1 IP 4.76 ERA 15 H 6 ER 2 HR 7 BB 7 K

Acquired in the Jonathan Schoop deal last July, the former Texas Rangers first-round pick reportedly lost 25 pounds this offseason. Unfortunately, a slimmed-down Ortiz doesn’t seem to be a much better Ortiz thus far. There isn’t much promising about a 1:1 K:BB rate or giving up nearly as many earned runs (six) as you have strikeouts (seven) through three starts.

Hopefully Ortiz can get things turned around here shortly.

 

Josh Rogers

GulfBird Sports/Craig Landefeld

3 GS 15.0 IP 6.00 ERA 10 ER 18 H 3 HR 10 K 3 BB

The only guy on this list who we’ve already seen here in Baltimore this season, Rogers came over in the Zach Britton trade and made three starts for the O’s last year. They were less than inspiring efforts, totaling 11.2 IP during which he gave up 11 ER on 17 hits. He also pitched 3.2 in relief with the big club this month, allowing five more earned runs, and getting in on the dinger party by giving up three.

During his time with the Tides, he’s been just slightly better. Work your magic, Sig.

 

Yefry Ramirez

GulfBird Sports/Craig Landefeld

3 GS 14.0 IP 0.00 ERA 6 H 15 K 6 BB

A “prospect?” Eh, maybe not. But Yefry – acquired from the Yankees for International slot pool money last July – has yet to allow a run in 14.0 IP over three starts, and that merits a mention here. With the pitching staff in Baltimore an absolute dumpster fire at the moment, perhaps Yefry will get the chance to improve upon his 5.92 career MLB ERA (all during 65.1 IP for the Birds last year) here shortly.

 

That about does it for our Norfolk update. Tomorrow, we’ll turn our eyes toward Bowie.

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