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Who’s Hot/Who’s Not in the Birds’ Minors

John Rhodes Sarasota
John Rhodes (Craig Landefeld/GulfBird Sports)
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The Orioles’ minor leagues are continuing to trek through the early weeks of May, and they have already given fans great excitement. With how good this system is and how well some of these prospects are performing, it can be hard to keep up with who is doing well and who isn’t.

This is why I am starting this series of Who’s Hot and Who’s Not, from Low-A to triple-A, to keep you up to date on who is doing well and who isn’t at every level right now. These numbers have been acquired throughout the last weeks (through Wednesday May 4 for the hitters, and for the pitchers, they need at least ten innings.

So let us start at the bottom and go to the top.

Delmarva Shorebirds

Who’s Hot: Luis Valdez, .444/.545/.611, 1.156 Ops, One Home run, Seven Stolen Bases

Valdez gets the nod here over Darnell Hernaiz, due to Valdez’s higher OBP and OPS. Despite his single home run, Valdez is hitting for a very high average with a high slugging. The seven stolen bases is the stat that stand out to me; averaging a stolen base a game is impressive.  He has also been a big run producer for the Shorebirds this week, scoring six runs. Valdez is another young infielder that the Orioles have at their disposal.

Who’s Not: Ryan Higgins, .105/.227/.263, .490 Ops, One Double, Six Strike Outs

This year, Higgins is not off to a good start for the Shorebirds, and the last week epitomized his struggles. The former Fresno State Bulldog is just not hitting the ball, and when he does make contact, he isn’t hitting the ball hard at all. He also isn’t getting on base and is striking out way more than he should be. He did have a double and triple this week, so maybe he is showing some signs of life? Overall not what you want to see from a guy who never hit below .300 in college.

Aberdeen Ironbirds

Who’s Hot: Ignacio Feliz, 0.75 ERA, 12 innings, One hit allowed, One run allowed 23/3 K/BB ratio.

Anytime you strike out 23 batters and only walk three in a span of twelve innings, you deserve to make the Who’s Hot list. Feliz is used in a weird role, as he is the pitcher that always follows Jean Pinto after he pitches. Despite his cleanup role to Pinto, Feliz has been electric these last couple of times out. His role does allow Feliz to always be fresh, and it can be tough to face the nastiness of Feliz after having to see Pinto for the first half of the game. Feliz is just straight-up unfair when he is on, and I hope he gets the opportunity to start some games this year.

Who’s Not: John Rhodes, .143/.188/.357, .545 Ops, One Home Run, Three Strikeouts

Rhodes isn’t making enough contact right now. This is surprising as Rhodes is known to have great bat control, but he might be pressing after a good start. Rhodes is hitting the ball decently hard, though; he just needs to be more selective and use his contact ability more. Rhodes is still playing good defense, and I believe he will break out of this.

Bowie Baysox

Who’s Hot: Gunnar Henderson, .444/.577/.667, One Home Run, One Double, Six Walks, only 5 Strikeouts with four Stolen Bases

Wow, just wow. Look at those numbers for Gunnar. I don’t want to sit here and break down these numbers because you can see how good they are. Gunnar has been playing great defense at third and short. Gunnar has also walked more than struck out this year while annihilating baseballs and playing great defense. He also has been doing this at AA at only 20 years old. Gunnar is playing out of his mind and should be a top 30 prospect right now.

Who’s Not: Jordan Westburg, .045/.045/.045, One Hit, Five Strikeouts, One Stolen Base

What a stark difference in numbers compared to Gunnar. Westburg had such a bad week that he desperately needs to throw it out and move on. Westburg’s numbers this week speak for themselves, so I don’t want to dwell on them; they are bad. Westburg is too good for these numbers, and he needs to bounce back. I have faith he will, but it is sad to watch him struggle like this after he was hot to start.

Norfolk Tides

Who’s Hot: Robert Neustrom, .375/.360/.625, .985 Ops, One Home Run, Three Doubles.

Neustrom is getting to the point where Triple-A is getting too easy. He is crushing the baseball right now, and I feel bad for him. He deserves a spot in the big leagues with how well he is hitting, but there isn’t a place for him right now with Austin Hays and Anthony Santander in the corners. Neustrom’s just stuck in Triple-A right now, and I do wish there was a way to make space in the big league outfield for him.

Who’s Not: Rylan Bannon, .091/.167/.091, .258 Ops, Four Strikeouts to Two walks.

With the infield flux on the Major League level, one of the infielders in Norfolk could have pushed their way to the Major Leagues with their play; this didn’t happen. None of the infielders outside of Tyler Nevin did anything positive to their stock over these past couple of weeks, and Bannon is the poster boy for that. He has struggled in Triple-A for these last two years, outside of a couple of weeks where he got hot. Bannon needs to start to pick up because as you can see, this system has a ton of good young infielders that deserve to be called up. I am not saying that Bannon will be the odd man out, but he needs to pick it up if he wants to stay around long-term in this organization because Mike Elias will want to elevate the overall talent level and spots are going to be needed.

Thank you for reading and come back next week.

Mike Elias on his laptop.
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