Archive for the 'Orioles' Category

Top First Base Prospects in Minor Leagues

Monday, August 12th, 2019

Not a stellar list. Many of your top first base prospects struggle in the outfield in the minor leagues but have a good bat and eventually move to first base, making it tougher for minor leaguer first baseman to make the major leagues. Right hand hitting first baseman are not liked by scouts. For one, their glove is on the wrong side of their hand for making a tag during pickoffs and two, if you are going to have a left handed bat in the lineup put him at first base. Christian Walker is one of those rare right handed bats who plays first base, but it took him until his 28th year to become a major league starter. He still platoons with the left hand hitting Jake Lamb. So on to the unimpressive list of first base prospects.

1. Andrew Vaughn (White Sox) - He is the right handed bat that many scouts fear putting at first. The third pick in the 2019 draft is said to have a productive bat that will force itself into the lineup. He was the Golden Spikes winner in 2018 in college while playing for California, finishing his college career with a .374 average and a .688 slugging percentage. His bat is expected to produce power that is slotted for the position and because he hits the ball to all fields he will be impossible to defend with shifts. At 6′0″ he does not have the tall frame that you want to see from a first baseman, but his defense will be steady. He pitched a bit in college so he has the arm for a move to third base. In his first minor league season he has already seen himself promoted to High A. His bat has been below average in the full season leagues, hitting just above .250 with a slugging average below .430. Major league teams will want to see more from their first baseman, but he is still learning, getting his first exposure to minor league pitching.

2. Ryan Mountcastle (Orioles) - The arm is his biggest down side. The Orioles tried him at short and third but the loopy throws to first would not cut it in the major leagues. Left field is another option but the arm could be a hindrance there. His bat is what will get him to the major leagues and while he does not have the power of Yordan Alvarez, a rotation between first base and DH will be in his future. This year has been a breakout season for him power wise. His 20 homeruns is a career high and he is slugging .516. The big cause of concern is his 17/107 walk to whiff ratio, which means his .314 average in AAA will not be sustainable if he keeps swinging at pitcher’s pitches. The Orioles roster is filled with first baseman/DH types (Chris Davis, Trey Mancini, Mark Trumbo) so finding room for him will mean the O’s will have to say bye to Chris Davis and Mark Trumbo and keep Mancini and his sub par defense in the outfield (Renato Nunez is another DH player on their roster). His bat should be ready for the major leagues next year and a September callup is a strong possibility this year.

3. Seth Beer (Diamondbacks) - The bat is what will get him into a major league lineup. The Astros drafted him with their first pick in 2018. He was included in a trade to the Diamondbacks for Zack Greinke. So he has gone from a DH league to a non-DH league, depriving him of an opportunity to play his best position, unless the major leagues adopts the DH for both leagues. He is the first left handed bat in this list, but he throws right handed, meaning his glove is on the wrong side for pickoffs. The Astros have used him in the outfield, but his lack of speed and weak arm make him a liability there. His best position is DH. Last year he hit himself into High A, slugging 12 homeruns. He struggled a bit when trying to hit High A pitching (.262 average, 4/22 walk to whiff ratio). This year he was better at High A (.314, .602 slugging) that the Astros promoted him to AA after only 35 games. He has 25 homeruns (none in his 8 games with the D-backs AA team) with 93 RBIs. If he was in AAA with the juiced baseballs his homer numbers could be video game like. Christian Walker and his inconsistent bat is his only impediment in the major leagues so there is no one stopping him from a promotion if his bat keeps producing.

4. Triston Casas (Red Sox) - The Red Sox first round pick in 2018. He only played in two games last year because a torn ligament in his thumb ended his season early. At 6′4″ he has the size teams are looking for in their first baseman. He also throws right handed so the Red Sox are looking at him for third. That size is normally a hindrance at that position if he lacks the quickness and flexibility to handle the hot shots. He has tremendous power, so his bat is what will get him in the lineup somewhere. He played for Team USA where he showed an ability to hit to all fields, making him tough to shift against. This year he has been a bit strikeout prone with 105 whiffs in 101 games. He has clobbered 17 homeruns, but his .247 average keeps his slugging average at .468. Those are Bobby Bradley like numbers. Next year the Red Sox will promote him to High A. If he does well there that could result in a quick promotion to AA but at 19 years of age there is no reason to rush his bat until it is ready for the next level. It will be a couple years before he sees the major leagues, especially with Bobby Dalbec, Michael Chavis and Rafael Devers ahead of him.

5. Evan White (Mariners) - Evan was a first round pick in 2017. He is noted for his defense, which is good. There is some question about his power, which is bad when you are playing first base. He also hits right handed, another tick against him. But he throws lefthanded so good for pickoff throws. Bottom line is if Evan can hit he will make the major leagues. Last year in High A he sprayed the gaps with 27 doubles, but hit only 11 homeruns, resulting in a .458 slugging. His batting average was an impressive .303 which led to a promotion to AAA, skipping AA. This year Evan finds himself in AA and his power has impressed with 16 homeruns and a .500 slugging. With his superior glove that could get him to the major leagues. It is not like the Mariners have anyone there that can stop his promotion in 2020 except for the DH entrenched Dan Vogelbach.

6. Bobby Bradley (Indians) - The third round pick in 2014 has been hitting a lot of balls out of minor league parks. A troubled glove and an inability to hit for average has kept him pummeling minor league pitchers. Last year at AA he repeated that level and his average dropped 40 points. Despite the struggles (.214 average) he still got his promotion to AAA. This year he has hacked at AAA pitching for a .272 average and a career high 29 homeruns. It led to his first promotion to the major leagues, where he struggled (.178), hitting only one homerun in 45 at bats. Next year he may be given more of an opportunity. He’ll get to show his stuff in September. DH may still be his best position in the major leagues.

7. Nate Lowe (Rays) - Nate Lowe, like catcher Will Smith (Dodgers) may not be considered a prospect next year if he gets a few more at bats. He was a 13th round pick in 2016 out of college. His younger brother was a first round pick of the Rays in the 2016 draft out of high school. Nate is the one that has made an impact for the Rays, with a .294 average and 5 homeruns. At 6′4″ and 245 pounds he can mash a baseball when he gets ahold of it. His large frame hinders his speed for the outfield making first base his only viable position. His younger brother is the same 6′4″ and 205 pounds with the speed to one day join him with the Rays playing the outfield. Defensively Nate can handle first base, but he will not win any gold gloves. Expect Nate to be the Rays starting first baseman next year.

8. Nick Pratto (Royals) - Nick was a first round pick of the Royals in 2017, a couple picks ahead of White. Like White, Nick is noted for his glove at first base. There is some concern whether his bat will break out enough to be an offensive contributor at the position. To go along with that lack of power he also has a propensity to swing and miss with 150 whiffs last year and already 145 this year in less games. Last year he slugged .443 with just 14 homeruns, but had the ability to find the gaps with 33 doubles. This year he is really struggling with a .185 average and a .302 slugging. We’ll chalk it up to a bad season. One tool he is above average in for a first baseman is speed. Last year he stole 22 bases and this year he has 15. It is still not enough to make him an effective outfielder at any position but possibly left field.

9. Lewin Diaz (Marlins) - Diaz was signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2013 for $1.4 million by the Twins. They traded him to the Marlins for bullpen help (Sergio Romo). Myworld likes his 6′4″ height and his lefthanded bat. Diaz has had a breakout year with his power, slugging 24 homeruns between High A and AA. His ability to hit for average has improved, raising his High A average from .225 last year to .290, resulting in a promotion to AA. His lack of speed will restrict him to first base where his defense will be adequate. For a power hitter he does have a good ability to make contact. He could make a contribution to the Marlins next year.

10. Bobby Dalbec (Red Sox) - The 2016 fourth round pick will rely on his power. Bobby can also play third base, but Michael Chavis and Rafael Devers could hinder his major league progress there. He is one of those players whose at bats do not result in a lot of balls hit in play. He takes a lot of walks, whiffs a ton and sends many a ball over the fence. Last year he slugged 32. This year he has 22. The strikeouts will leave his batting average below .250 but his OBA should still be good with his walks. He has a solid arm and just below average speed so a move to left field could be an option, but the Red Sox outfield is a little crowded now for that to happen. He will probably see the Red Sox next year and if J.D. Martinez is not resigned he could see time as a DH.

Astros Blame it on Rio for Walkoff Loss

Sunday, August 11th, 2019

Mychal Givens and the Orioles had just given up three runs in the top of the ninth to lose a 5-4 lead. Roberto Osuna hit Chance Sisco to put the tying run on. Chris Davis came to the plate representing the go ahead run. In years past you could hope for a walk off homerun. With four K’s in four at bats you just hoped he did not hit into a double play to end the game. He hit a ball to shallow left and Jace Peterson was able to tag up and give him a sacrifice fly. It was kind of surprising Josh Reddick threw the ball home since that run did not really matter and Sisco could have advanced to second. Rio Ruiz, an unlikely hero came to the plate and with the count 2-2 he hit a no doubter that landed on Eutah Street for a 8-7 Orioles victory, their first walk off win of the year and the first for Ruiz in his career.

Asher Wojciechowski retired the Astros in order in the top of the first so it appeared to be a better start than their 23-2 loss of yesterday. The Orioles even got a run in the bottom of the first on two singles and a RBI double from Jace Peterson to give them a 1-0 lead.

In the top of the second the homer gods again frowned down on the Orioles. Carlos Correa smashed a 3-run homerun deep into the Astros end of the bullpen for a 3-1 lead. Visions of the nightmare of yesterday began dancing into the heads of the Oriole fans. The O’s bounced back in the bottom frame on an RBI single from Trey Mancini to cut the lead to 3-2.

Asher settled down after the second inning. The Astros got baserunners in every inning he pitched, but Asher was able to prevent any Astro from crossing the plate until the seventh, his last inning when a single by Josh Reddick and double by George Springer put Astros on second and third. A ground out scored a run, brought in the bullpen, but the Orioles still had a one run lead.

They were able to take the lead in the fifth off Justin Verlander. He struck out 11 hitters in his five innings of work, but in the fifth he gave up two runs to allow the Orioles to go ahead. Pedro Severino got the inning started with a ground ball double just inside the third base bag. Jace Peterson roped a pitch over the head of center fielder George Springer for a triple to tie the game. Hanser Alberto hit a foul ball into left field but it was caught by Michael Brantley. His throw was not strong enough to get Peterson racing home with the go ahead run.

The Orioles scored an insurance run in the sixth after Chris Devinski had whiffed the first two hitters he faced. Jonathan Villar singled, stole second and scored on a Trey Mancini single. Mancini had also contributed an RBI single in the second. Santander doubled down the right field line to put runners on third and second but Devinski whiffed Pedro Severino to end the inning.

The Orioles had a chance to put the game away in the eighth when they loaded the bases with one out. Santander hit a fly ball to shallow center, not deep enough to score Rio Ruiz from third. Severino then hit one over the left field fence, but it was just a couple feet foul from being a grand slam homerun. On the next pitch he grounded out to third.

The top of the ninth was another nightmare for Mychal Givens, who came into the game with five blown saves. He got out of a jam in the eighth by striking out Josh Reddick with the tying run at second. He could not get anyone out in the ninth. Springer singled to left, Peterson falling short of making a shoe string catch. Altuve laid down a bunt single down the third base line. Michael Brantley hit a ball down the right field line. Santander chased it. Brantley headed to third and as Santander picked the ball up to throw it the ball slipped out of his hand and fell behind him. By the time Santander picked the ball up Brantley had scored. Givens hit Alex Bregman on a 1-2 pitch and he was replaced by Richard Bleier.

Bleier got out of the inning with a whiff and double play. That gave the Orioles the opportunity for the walk off in the ninth.

Game notes: Santander got a bloop single off Verlander in the first. Verlander struck out Santander on six pitches in his next two at bats. Santander looked overmatched in the two at bats and saw a total of nine pitches in his three at bats against Verlander…Verlander was hitting 95-96 with his fastball. The 11 K’s shows he still has his swing and miss stuff. It also gave him double digit strikeouts for five consecutive games, the first time he has established that in his career…The Orioles can not keep Chris Davis with the at bats he has been having this year. There are just too many swings and misses in his game and not enough balls deposited over the fence. Four whiffs today upped his strikeout total to 118 in 87 games. There are at least 60 other first baseman that are better than him (other teams starters and backups and Mancini and Mountcastle). Keeping him on the roster is an effort in futility, just because they are paying him $25 million per year. Even the fans have turned against him, booing him after each whiff…Trey Mancini made a nice sliding catch with runners on first and second and two out in the fifth, saving at least one run from scoring…For Rio Ruiz it was his first walk off homerun in his career and his second consecutive day with a homerun after his recent callup…The win by the Orioles erased the Astros eight game winning streak…Rio Ruiz was named player of the game but Jace Peterson deserves some accolades with his two doubles and a triple, all contributing to runs.

O’s Earn Split with Blue Jays

Sunday, August 4th, 2019

Playing in front of 4,000 plus Brits, who accounted for almost 25 percent of the crowd, the Orioles were able to beat the Blue Jays 6-5 to split their four game series. The Orioles used a career high 9 walks and took advantage of a Bo Bichette error to snatch the victory away from the Blue Jays.

The Blue Jays had an excellent opportunity to score crooked numbers in the first inning off the opener Jimmy Yacobonis. A Bo Bichette leadoff double and two walks loaded the bases with no outs. Vlad Guerrero Jr. hit a hard bouncer to Chris Davis, who went home with his throw and was able to retire Bichette. Justin Smoak hit a fairly deep fly ball to left field. Cavan Biggio tagged to go home and Lourdes Gurriel tagged to advance to third. Anthony Santander sent his throw to third and Jace Peterson was able to put the tag on him to get the out at third - before Biggio had crossed the plate. Myworld did not notice to see if Biggio was trotting home certain he would score on the fly ball. Either way there was a baserunning blunder by the Blue Jays - 1) for Gurriel trying to needlessly advance to third and 2) if Biggio was not sprinting home.

Sean Reid-Foley had trouble finding the plate for the Blue Jays. Mid-way through the second inning he had thrown 24 balls and just 18 strikes. In the first inning he walked Jonathan Villar but he was erased when Trey Mancini grounded into a double play. Sean walked Anthony Santander and Renato Nunez to put two runners on. Jace Peterson lifted what appeared to be a routine popup, but Bichette could not find it and it fell for a hit. Santander scored but Peterson was thrown out at second. Myworld could not see if Peterson was running at full speed when he first hit the pop up.

The Blue Jays were able to tie the game in the top of the second off Tom Eshelman. Randal Grichuk started the inning with a double down the left field line. Teoscar Hernandez drove him in with a single to left center. Brandon Drury lifted what again appeared to be a routine popup but Chris Davis took an awkward path to the ball and it fell just outside the infield grass for a single. The O’s had the shift on so that would have normally been an easy catch for the second baseman. Fortunately for the Orioles it did not hurt them as Tom Eshelman retired the next three hitters.

Bo Bichette had a rough day at short. A misplay on his part allowed the O’s to retake the lead. Chance Sisco singled and Chris Davis walked. With runners on third and second and two out Jonathan Villar hit an easy grounder to Bichette, but the ball hit off the side of his glove. Sisco scored. Two more scored when Trey Mancini rammed one down the third base line for a double.

Eshelman pitched out of a first and second threat with no out in the fourth. In the fifth a walk and ground rule double by Vlad Guerrero put runners on second and third with one out. The Orioles conceded the run and took the out on a grounder to second and it was 4-2 Orioles.

Even with the departure of Sean Reid-Foley, the Jays pitchers had trouble throwing strikes. Yennsi Diaz made his major league debut and was throwing gas, hitting 97 with his fastball, but it was rarely crossing the plate. After a leadoff single by Trey Mancini, Diaz walked four hitters, allowing two to trot home because of his walks. After his fourth walk he was gone.

Brandon Hyde may have left Eshelman in too long. In the top of the seventh Bo Bichette and Cavan Biggio went back to back, Eshelman throwing only three pitches before giving up the two dingers. In came Dillon Tate and he struggled. Grichuk put the Blue Jays within one with an RBI double and with runners on second and third with one out the lead was in jeopardy. Tate was able to whiff Teooscar Hernandez and got Drury to ground out to third to end the threat.

Shawn Armstrong came on to close in the ninth. He gave up two singles to put runners on first and third with two outs. Teoscar Hernandez came to the plate again in a clutch situation. Shawn was able to strike out Teoscar for the final out, his third whiff of the inning. After getting two hits in his first two at bats Teoscar struck out in his next three at bats.

Game Notes: There were 4,000 Brits at the game. They were part of a scout troop that spent two weeks in West Virginia white water rafting, hiking and climbing mountains. They ended their trip with a visit to Camden Yards. The Brits ended up cheering for Orioles left fielder Anthony Santander. Anthony seemed to enjoy his new fan club….Bo Bichette may not be able to survive at shortstop. His throws were all over the place. He committed two errors, one on a throw that bounced to first, and he misjudged or lost a popup…Despite what appears to be Vlad Guerrero’s girth, he gets down the first base line very quickly. He beat out a grounder to first that appeared to be a routine play, though the pitcher may have been a little late covering…The first four players in the Jays lineup have impressive genes. Three of the four have Hall of Fame fathers. Bo Bichette (the only dad who is not in a Hall of Fame but Dante did have a couple 40 homerun seasons), Cavan Biggio (son of Hall of Famer Craig), Lourdes Gurriel Jr. (son of Lourdes, Hall of Famer from Cuba) and Vladimir Guerrero Jr (son of Hall of Famer Vlad Sr). That is an impressive group of names. If they can come close to producing their dad’s numbers they will be very productive players for the Jays…Dwight Smith, whose dad also played in the major leagues also played for the Blue Jays before he was traded to the Orioles. He did not play in the game today…For Tom Eshelman it was his first major league victory…The back to back homers by Bichette and Biggio was the ninth consecutive game in which the Orioles have given up two or more homeruns. That ties the record the Astros broke in 2016 during their down years. Next in town is the homer happy Yankees. That record could be easily broken…The Orioles have also given up 218 homeruns. With 51 more games to play the Orioles appear to be on pace to break the Reds record of giving up 258 homers, the most in a major league season. All they have to do is give up one homerun per game.

UK Comes to Camden - New Fan Base for Santander

Sunday, August 4th, 2019

Back in July the major leagues sent the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox to London to play two games. They were both sellouts. Now in August about 4,000 Britons came to Camden Yards to watch the Toronto Blue Jays play the Baltimore Orioles.

They were part of a scouting group that spent two weeks in West Virginia white water rafting, hiking trails and climbing mountains. The first journey of their trip started in New York, but they were only there half a day. They finished it with trips to Washington, D.C. and Baltimore. When I asked one Brit if he was concerned about Trumps warnings about the dangers of Baltimore he said he wasn’t aware of what Trump said, but then he said most Brits don’t really listen to what Trump has to say.

The fans for whatever reason drew a liking to Anthony Santander, the leftfielder for the Orioles. He had been throwing baseballs to the fans in between innings. The UK crowd had taken most of the seats along left field. When they began chanting “twenty five”, which is the uniform number of Santander, I informed one of the chanters that his name was “San-Tan-Dare”. They changed the chant to “San-tan-dare”. He got a couple of big ovations when he caught fly balls out in left field. Santander must have been surprised that fans from Great Britain knew how to pronounce his name.

The Blue Jays left fielder Lourdes Gurriel did not get the same kind of love. Myworld did not notice whether or not he was throwing baseballs into the stands in between innings. After the Santander love fest he did throw a ball into the left field stands but the Brits still ignored him. Perhaps they were showing respect for the player from Baltimore.

The 4,000 or so fans had to leave by 3 PM because they had flights to catch back to the UK. Only a few witnessed the first base hit from Santander. But he did get a big ovation the second and third time when he came to the plate. When he went back out into the field Santander played with the fans affections. They seemed to be enthralled by his attention.

Perhaps the next time the major leagues want to return to the UK to play a third game in London they should choose the Orioles, to give Anthony Santander another chance to play in front of his newly found fan base.

Top Catching Prospects

Saturday, August 3rd, 2019

Myworld attempts to identify the top ten catching prospects in the minor leagues. This is my opinion based on numbers since we have not seen all of these players play. For the next couple weeks we’ll try to go around the diamond.

1. Adley Rutschman (Orioles) - The first pick in the 2019 draft. The last time the Orioles drafted a catcher in the first round (2007 fifth overall pick) his name was Matt Wieters. Matt has had a good career in the major leagues but when he was in college his bat was going to make him special. That bat never really showed up. Like Matt, Adley is a switch hitter and comes with the same two way press clippings, a powerful bat who can play the defensive game. He makes good contact, walking more than he struck out in college and has the potential to hit for power. He also has a strong arm that can control the running game. At 6′2″ he is solidly built but still agile enough behind the plate. In his professional debut he has walked (5) more than he has struck out (4), but his batting average is less than desired (.176). It is a small sample size of only 34 at bats and it comes after a heavy college season. Adley should get enough experience that he should play in the full season league next year.

2. Joey Bart (Giants) - A similar story for Bart who will eventually be called upon to replace Buster Posey, who has had a good career with the Giants. Like Wieters, Posey was a fifth overall pick (2008) but his offensive game has been better. At 32 years of age his catching shelf life is about to expire and Bart is poised to replace him. Joey was a first round pick in 2018 and was the second overall pick, coming out of the same college as Wieters (Georgia Tech). His first season in rookie ball he shined with 13 homeruns and a .364 average. Those are the kind of numbers we expected from Adley. Joey is also a two way player with a powerful arm to control the running game and a good bat to hit in the middle of the lineup. At 6′3″ he is also a big catcher but very agile behind the plate. For the 2019 season the Giants started him in the California League where his bat continues to shine (.270, 12 homeruns) with a .815 OPS. His speed and ability to make contact is not as strong as Adley but he should make an impact with the Giants by 2021.

3. Will Smith (Dodgers) - Will was a first round pick of the Dodgers in 2016. At the start of the season he wasn’t even considered the best catcher in the Dodgers system. After the way he has handled major league pitching this year (.326, 6 homeruns, 1.199 OPS) he may not be eligible as a rookie next year since he is now the Dodgers starting catcher in the middle of a playoff race. Based on his career minor league numbers (.236 average) the batting average should not stay at that level, but his power is real. He also has a strong arm and is showing good maturity with a veteran Dodger pitching staff in a playoff race. Keibert Ruiz will find it tough to wrest the catching job from Smith, but the Dodgers appear to be set at catching for the long term. This year Will did hit .269 with 20 homeruns in just 60 games at AAA, where the baseballs may have been a little juiced. For a power hitter he makes good contact.

4. Miguel Amaya (Cubs) - With Wilson Contreras behind the plate the Cubs are not in an immediate need to find a catcher. They found Miguel in Panama, where they signed him for $1.25 million in 2015. His defensive game at this point is above his offensive game, but his power began to show last year with 12 homeruns in his first exposure to the full season leagues. A promotion to the Carolina League for 2019 has seen some offensive struggles (.232) but he has shown some patience at the plate (.347 OBA) and continues to display his power (8 homeruns). His defensive game has improved to such a point that he may be one of the best defensive catchers in the minor leagues. Despite his offensive struggles Miguel should see AA next year and Wilson should start looking in the rear view mirror at his next replacement.

5. Francisco Alvarez (Mets) - The Mets have had a number of promising catchers that have performed less than their expectation once they reached the major leagues. Francisco comes from the catching haven of Venezuela and signed in 2018 for $2.7 million. He did not play last year. At 17 years of age he still has some work to do on his defensive game. He has been pretty impressive with the bat in his first year hitting .462 with two homeruns in just 26 at bats. The Mets promoted him to Kingsport where he continues to rake with a .355 average with two more homeruns. His OPS sits at an impressive 1.073. At 5′11″ and 220 pounds Francisco is a bulky catcher. To stay agile behind the plate he will have to watch his weight. A promotion to the full season league next year is expected.

6. Keibert Ruiz (Dodgers) - Keibert was signed out of Venezuela in 2014 for $140,000. Will Smith has been a step ahead of him on the catching ladder. Keibert was signed for his defense, but his bat has been pretty impressive as well, with a .309 career average entering the 2019 season. The power may not be as great as Smith but he has a better ability to make contact and hit for a higher average. Both players have a strong defensive game. This year Keibert struggled a bit in AA, where he played last year (.254) but a promotion to AAA has seen him increase that average (.324). The Dodgers could leave Ruiz in AAA next year as insurance to an injury to Smith but at some point they will have to make a decision who their starting catcher is.

7. Ronaldo Hernandez (Rays) - Ronaldo was signed out of Colombia in 2014 for a bargain price of $225,000. No catcher on this list has a stronger arm than Hernandez. The other parts of his game still need some work. The Rays converted him to catcher after signing him so his experience is still limited behind the plate. Last year Ronaldo played his first year in a full season league and clubbed 21 homeruns. His career average entering the 2019 season is .306. Playing in the pitcher friendly Florida State League he is hitting .274 with 7 homeruns. His .413 slugging is about 70 points under his career minor league average. The Rays will show patience with him but he could be the Rays first home grown catcher in more than a decade.

8. Shea Langeliers (Braves) - Shea was a first round pick of the Braves in 2019, the ninth player selected in the draft. His defensive tools are supreme with an arm equal to Hernandez. He was considered the best defensive catcher in college baseball. His bat could be a question mark, but he did break an NCAA tournament record with 11 RBIs in one game. The Braves debuted him in Low A where he has struggled with the bat (.211). When you consider the Orioles have started Adley in the rookie leagues the immediate promotion of Shea to full season was an aggressive move. They may start him in Low A to begin the 2020 season but he could be up with the Braves very quickly.

9. Sam Huff (Rangers) - Sam was a seventh round pick in 2016 out of high school. Catchers drafted out of high school usually do not have the same success as catchers drafted out of college. At 6′4″ Sam is large for a catcher but his athleticism and strong arm keep him behind the plate. His large frame gives him exceptional power. Last year he hit 18 homeruns at Low A. The downside was a troubling 23/140 walk to whiff ratio. This could hurt him average wise as he sees more advanced pitching. The Rangers repeated him at Low A this year and after hitting .333 with 15 homeruns in just 30 games they quickly promoted him to High A. The homerun numbers have slowed (10 in 70 games) but the average still remains high (.278). He still continues to struggle to make contact (23/116 walk/whiff ratio in 101 games) so that will have to be monitored. His defense is strong enough that if he hits below .250 with 20 plus homeruns he should make it as a starter.

10. William Contreras (Braves) - The younger brother of Wilson. His offensive game is probably just above his defensive game at this point. He has a strong arm behind the plate, good athleticism and with more experience should be an upper level defender like his older brother. His offensive game has the same potential for power as his brother. Last year he hit 11 homeruns at Low A but failed to hit a homerun in his 83 at bats in the Florida State League. That is where he started his 2019 season and though his offensive numbers were not great (.263, 3 homeruns) he was still promoted to AA. William makes good contact and his power should improve as he matures. Expect him to be with the Braves sometime late next year as a September callup.

Bay Sox on a Roll

Saturday, August 3rd, 2019

The two hottest teams in the Eastern League are the Bowie Bay Sox and the Erie Seawolves. Both are playing .700 ball in the second half, with the Seawolves holding a one game lead. They Bay Sox are the AA team of the Orioles while the Sea Wolves are the AA team of the Tigers, two major league teams fighting for the worst record in baseball.

Myworld was in Bowie to watch the Bay Sox play the Portland Sea Dogs. Michael Bauman was pitching for the Bay Sox. He has been one of the top minor league pitchers for the Bay Sox entering the game with a 2-1 record and a 1.86 ERA in eight appearances, six starts. At 6′4″ with a fastball consistently clocked in the high 90s he is a prospect to watch.

If you arrived late for the game you may have missed Bauman. The first two hitters ripped singles against him and after that he had trouble finding the plate. He walked two and gave up another single and when he attempted to throw a curve it broke in against the left handed hitter, it hit him to drive in the third run. Bauman was gone after that. He did show an impressive fastball that was consistently in the high 90s but myworld did not see too much but his fastball. His breaking pitch did not seem to have a lot of bite and the few times he threw the pitch it did not break across the plate. Marcus Wilson had the big hit with a two run single in the inning.

The Bay Sox battled back after falling behind 3-0. Konner Wade had shut the Bay Sox down for the first four innings but T.J. Nichting broke the shutout in the fifth with an RBI single. Wade left the game after the sixth still holding a 3-1 lead.

Adam Lau came on to pitch the seventh for the Sea Dogs. He walked Jesmeul Valentin to lead off the inning. With one out Preston Palmeiro hit a one out hit and run single to right. The ball was booted by Marcus Wilson allowing Valentin to score and Palmeiro to advance to second. Palmeiro scored on a infield single up the middle by Ryan Ripken to tie the game. Yes. Palmeiro and Ripken are sons of Rafael and Cal, but they do not have their major league tools. Palmiero is a first baseman who lacks power and only stands 5′11″. Ripken is tall (6′6″) but at 26 he has not shown power to play the corners.

The Bay Sox ripped Matthew Gorst in the eighth to take a three run lead. Ryan McKenna started the inning with a bunt single. Palmiero walked with the bases loaded and T.J. Nichting singled to drive in two. Nichting was caught between first and second and Wilson held the ball watching Palmeiro at third. When he threw to first Nichting broke for second. Palmeiro was caught leaning too far off third and Joey Curletta gunned him down at third instead of throwing to second.

The Bay Sox brought out their closer Christian Alvarado to pitch the ninth. Like McKenna the lead off hitter Jarren Duran bunted down the third base line. Alvarado threw it past the first baseman and Duran stopped at second. C.J. Chatham singled to drive in Duran. Two strikeouts and a walk to Luke Tendler put two runners on. Just as a father was explaining to his daughter about wanting to pitch carefully to Marcus Wilson because a homerun would give the Sea Dogs the lead, Wilson hit the next pitch over the left field fence. Too bad Alvarado was not listening. Wilson drove in five of the seven Sea Dog runs.

The Bay Sox did not score in the home half.

Game Notes: The Bay Sox pitchers struck out 17 Sea Dogs. The bullpen was responsible for 16 of those K’s. Steven Klimek showed a wicked curve ball and his fastball hit the mid 90s. He threw two shutout innings, striking out four. He will be a pitcher to watch…It was Navy night at Bay Sox stadium and daddy/daughter date night with 7,900 in attendance…Bobby Dalbec swung and missed at a breaking pitch in the dirt from Klimek. Dalbec struck out three times from the DH spot. Sea Dog catcher Austin Rei struck out all four times he came to the plate…Carlos Perez had trouble holding on to the ball during stolen bases. The Sea Dogs stole four bases against him, two when he could not throw the ball because the ball slipped out of his hand when he came up throwing…Jarren Duran shows some good speed. He was a seventh round pick of the Red Sox in 2018…A 20-7 June record by the Bay Sox was the best in franchise history.

Rays Short of Perfection in Win Against O’s

Sunday, July 14th, 2019

Myworld has witnessed two no hitters, a seven inning minor league game thrown by John Stephens and a nine inning major league game thrown by Max Scherzer. I don’t recall either of those games being perfect. Today Tampa Bay used two pitchers to pitch 8 innings of perfect ball. Ryne Stanek, a fireballing righthander whose fastball lights up the radar guns at 98 pitched the first two innings. Ryan Yarbrough a junk ball throwing lefty who stays in the slow lane at 88 pitched a perfect six. They each spell their first name differently, but they often act as a pair, with Ryne taking the first two innings as the opener before handing it to Ryan to take the next four to seven innings.

The perfect game was ended on the first pitch in the ninth when Hanser Alberto pushed a ground ball through the vacated right field hole, a spot where the second baseman should have been playing if he had not been on the left hand side of the bag in the shift. Stevie Wilkerson punched the second pitch of the ninth into center field for a cleaner hit. Yarbrough struck out pinch hitter Chance Sisco before departing. The Orioles would end the shutout on a Anthony Santander single but Emilio Pagan retired Trey Mancini on a strike out on a 96 mph fastball with two runners on to preserve the 4-1 victory.

Tom Eshelman got the start for the Orioles. Perhaps they should use the lefty fireballer Brandon Kline to pitch the first two innings for him and then bring in the soft tossing righthander Eshelman for the next four to seven innings. Tom’s fastball sits at 86-87 and does not even encroach on the 90 and up velocity meter on the radar. He pitched a decent game, being called up today after the trade of Andrew Cashner left open a roster spot.

The Rays were able to tag on a run in the second. They loaded the bases with no outs on back to back singles from Nate Lowe and Michael Brosseau and a Ji-Man Choi walk. Eshelman struck out Willy Adames looking on a 3-2 pitch. Joey Wendle lined one into right field where Trey Mancini made a diving catch. Nate Lowe was able to score on the out for the first run. A Mike Zunino whiff ended the inning and Eshelman had to feel good about getting out of the jam.

Austin Meadows buried a pitch deep into Eutaw Street to lead off the third. It bounced once and hit off the warehouse. Eshelman left with two outs in the sixth when Michael Brosseau hit a two run shot that just carried the right center field wall. After that homerun Michael had a .405 batting average with a 1.400 OPS in 38 at bats. Michael has a career .300 minor league batting average and was hitting .317 with a .590 slugging percentage and 15 homeruns in 68 games when the Rays called him up from Durham. He was not drafted, signed as a free agent in 2016 after the draft, playing four years at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan. The Bulls used him as a utility player and after driving in 57 runs to lead the International League the Rays decided to call him up. He has now hit three homeruns in his last two games.

The Orioles pen was able to shut out the Rays for the last 3.1 innings. Paul Fry even struck out the side in the seventh. But the Orioles could not overcome the perfection of the Rays through the first eight innings.

Game notes: The crowd was announced at 14,802 but it looked sparser than that…In the second Trey Mancini came up short on a diving attempt to rob Brosseau of a single. He did dive to rob Joey Wendle of a hit. Trey is better utilized at first base, but with Renato Nunez more a DH than an infielder and with Chris Davis at first base right field is the only place left for him. He catches what he reaches but his range is not great…Chris Davis is slugging .321. He went 0 for 3 today. Myworld can’t imagine the Orioles protecting Davis on the 40 man next year, not when they are rebuilding. They might as well just eat his $20 million plus salary and give the younger players an opportunity to get playing time…There has not been a combined perfect game in major league history. They have had combined no hitters but no combined perfect games. With the opener now used by more teams that will be the next event to be shattered.

Stevie “Wonder” Wilkerson Powers O’s Over Rays

Saturday, July 13th, 2019

After giving up 16 runs the previous day the pitching staff redeemed themselves by holding the Rays to one run. After striking out with runners on first and third and one out in the fifth Stevie Wilkerson redeemed himself by powering a 2-run homerun in the seventh inning to give the Orioles a 2-1 win over the Rays.

The Orioles could not figure out Brendan McKay for the first five innings. They were able to get three hits off him, two of them in the fifth inning to put runners on first and third with no outs. McKay was able to strike out Keon Broxton and Stevie Wilkerson. Wilkerson did foul off four two strike pitches before swinging and missing at a 95 mile per hour fastball. Richie Martin grounded out to second to end the inning. So either the ineptness of the Orioles bats prevented them from driving in the run or the quality of McKay’s pitches were too much for the Orioles to handle. In three starts Brendan lowered his ERA to 1.69. But the three hitters he faced had a combined average of less than .200.

The Orioles started Aaron Brooks, his first in an Oriole uniform. He was claimed off waivers from the Athletics in early July. He did not allow a hit in his 2.2 innings of work. After giving up a big fly to the warning track to Joey Wendle in the third the Orioles pulled him to bring in Jimmy Yacobonis.

The Rays only got three hits all game. The first came from Mike Zunino, who powered a pitch into the left field bleachers, the first hitter Yacobonis faced in the game. Yacobonis also gave up singles to the next two batters. Kevin Kiermaier grounded out to first to end the inning. Yacobonis retired 9 of the next 10 hitters he faced, issuing a leadoff walk to Austin Meadows in the sixth.

Shawn Armstrong came on to pitch the seventh for the Orioles. He walked the only two hitters he faced. Richard Bleier came on to retire the next three hitters to bail out Armstrong. A ground ball by Zunino was bobbled a bit by Hanser Alberto, but he was able to get the throw to first in time to retire Zunino.

The Orioles were able to get two runners on in the sixth on two out back to back singles by Renato Nunez and Pedro Severino off Andrew Kittridge. Collin Poche came on to replace Kittridge and struck out Jonathan Villar to end the threat.

Poche came on to pitch the seventh. Anthony Santander tagged him for a leadoff single. With one out Stevie Wilkerson ran the count to 2-2. He again fouled off a couple two strike pitches. This time he came through with a shot into the centerfield bullpen to give the Orioles a 2-1 lead.

Bleier walked the leadoff hitter in the eighth. This brought in Mychal Givens, who has been having trouble closing games. His last save was June 11. He retired all five hitters he faced, including getting Tommy Pham to ground into a double play to pick up his seventh save.

Game Notes: It was the first game of a day/night double header. The Orioles lost the second game 12-4…Mike Zunino has a very slow bat. We were impressed how far the ball went despite his slow swing, but the ball he hit still carried over the fence. The slow bat could be responsible for him consistently hitting near the Mendoza line each year…Yacobonis has a nice fastball that hits the mid 90s. His big issue has been the homerun ball. In his last two years he has given up 15 homeruns in just 71 innings…Emilio Pagan has had an excellent rookie season. In his one inning of work he struck out two and had a pop out to the catcher, his fastball hitting 96…Pedro Severino was batting cleanup. Perhaps that was because he is hitting .316 against lefthanders. Myworld does not see that lasting…Keon Broxton struck out in all three of his at bats, dropping his average to .176. The Orioles need to find better…Anthony Santander was hitting .354 in Camden Yards…The Rays bullpen ERA of 3.65 is second best in the majors. They have only lost one lead after the sixth inning. Make that two…Bill Bundy went on the injured lost after giving up seven runs in the first inning. The Orioles also traded Andrew Cashner to the Red Sox for two 17 year old international prospects. That gives two other pitchers an opportunity to make the starting rotation.

Orioles Givens it Away

Sunday, June 16th, 2019

The Orioles rallied for two runs in the bottom of the eighth. They turned to Mychal Givens to seal the victory. Givens threw a flat changeup to Marcus Hernandez. Marcus tagged it into the Orioles bullpen for his first homerun of the year. Givens stayed on for the tenth inning and gave up a mammoth homerun to Rafael Devers that landed in the Red Sox bullpen, that sits behind the O’s bullpen in centerfield. The Red Sox would tack on four more runs, then overcame their own bullpen issues to hang on to a 8-6 victory.

It was a long torturous game. The first nine innings lasted four hours as managers chose to change pitchers in the middle of innings rather than let them finish the inning and bring on a new pitcher to start the inning. The last inning went 40 minutes as the two teams combined for eight runs.

It didn’t seem like a pitcher’s duel because both starting pitchers did not last past five innings. There were 15 pitchers that combined for over 400 pitches. Brian Johnson was removed early because this was his first start since April. John Means had already thrown over 100 pitches after just five innings.

The Orioles struck first in the bottom of the third. Keon Broxton led off the inning bouncing a pitch over the glove of Rafael Devers into the left field corner and gliding into second. He advanced to third on a fly out and scored when Hanser Alberto hit a high bouncer that Devers attempted to field with his bare hands to throw to first. He dropped the ball, Broxton scoring on the hit.

John Means was effective in his first three innings, giving up just one hit per inning. In the top of the fourth he gave up four consecutive hits that gave the Red Sox two runs. Rafael Devers started the hit parade with a single. Xander Bogaerts hit a double into the left centerfield gap, scoring Devers to tie the game. Michael Chavis hit a single up the middle but it was stopped Villar from going into the outfield. Bogaerts rounded third too far and got caught in between, eventually being tagged by Alberto for the second out. Jackie Bradley gave the Red Sox a 2-1 lead with a double into right center field.

Brian Johnson gave up two hits to the first two hitters he faced in the bottom of the fourth and that was it for him. Colton Brewer, the righthander came on to face Chris Davis, a lefthanded hitter. Davis grounded to first, the Red Sox failing to turn a double play. Keon Broxton laid down a bunt, was thrown out at first but was called out for runner’s interference (running too much on the fair side of the foul line. Anthony Santander would have easily scored on the bunt but he had to return to third because of the interference call. Brandon Hyde was ejected for arguing the call. Richie Martin struck out to end the threat.

The Orioles loaded the bases in the fifth on a single sandwiched between two walks. Josh Taylor came on to pitch and got Jonathan Villar to ground out to short to end the rally.

Both teams stranded a bucketful of runners as the game progressed. In the bottom of the eighth Jonathan Villar did not wait for anyone to drive him in. After walking he stole second. He then took advantage of a Christian Vazquez lob throw back to the pitcher to steal third. He scored on a wild pitch to tie the game. With two outs Stevie Wilkerson pinch hit for Richie Martin. He lined a triple into the right field corner. Hanser Alberto came through again, grounding a single past the shortstop to give the Orioles the lead.

Mychal Givens came on to get the save. He gave up the homerun to Marcus Hernandez. The next batter Mookie Betts almost took one deep, hitting it above the glove of a leaping Trey Mancini and bouncing off the rightfield scoreboard for a triple. Givens got out of the inning by striking out the next two hitters.

The tenth myworld was gone after Rafael Devers blasted a pitch deep into the centerfield bullpen. The Red Sox would go on to score five runs. It was a good thing too because the Orioles homered twice in the bottom frame, Wilkerson and Trey Mancini going deep to score three.

Game notes: John Means had thrown over 100 pitches after five innings. He only walked two but he had at least six three ball counts…Rafael Devers did not look good playing defense at third. Don’t know if Michael Chavis would do any better, moving Devers to first. Currently Chavis is playing first, but his natural position in the minor leagues was third…This was the fourth straight game for myworld. We have another in D.C. to make it five straight…Myworld thought it was interesting that the Red Sox pinch hit for Eduardo Nunez in the ninth but did not pinch hit for Marcus Hernandez. They would have lost the DH spot since Holt would have had to play second. They did not pinch hit and Marcus rewarded Alex Cora with a game tying homerun…Marcus Hernandez has two career homeruns. Both have been at Camden Yards…Eduardo Nunez was supposed to play second base and Anthony Benintendi was to DH. Benintendi was a late scratch because of quad tightness and Nunez moved to the DH slot while Hernandez went to second base. Benintendi is dealing with a quad issue but hopes to play Monday.

Kremer Dominates Fisher Cats

Wednesday, June 12th, 2019

Myworld was in Bowie to watch Dean Kremer and the Bay Sox do battle against the New Hampshire Fisher Cats. The Fisher Cats are not the same team with the promotions of Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Cavan Biggio and Bo Bichette. They do have Nate Pearson but he was not pitching tonight.

Kremer was acquired from the Dodgers for Manny Machado. Yusniel Diaz, who was playing right field was also acquired in that trade as was the Bay Sox third baseman Rylan Bannon. In his three starts in AA Kremer has struggled with a 6.89 ERA. The opposition was hitting .333 against him and he had issued walks to 8 batters in 15.2 innings. At Frederick he made two starts and had not given up a run in 9.2 innings.

Kremer threw seven shutout innings, striking out eight and walking one. He showed a good fastball at 93 miles per hour but the pitch that got the swings and misses or called third strikes was his breaking pitch. It had at least three hitters watch it spin across the middle of the plate and begin their walk back to the dugout before the umpire announced strike three. The Fisher Cats were able to put a runner on second base in the second and fifth innings but Kremer allowed no runner to find third base.

Dillon Tate, acquired from the Yankees threw the last two innings to complete the shutout, retiring all six hitters he faced and striking out three. Tate was a first round pick of the Rangers back in 2015. He was traded to the Yankees for Carlos Beltran. The Orioles acquired Tate in the Zach Britton deal. He hit 96 with his fastball.

The Bay Sox scored their first two runs on sacrifice flies. Yusniel Diaz drove in the first run with a fly ball in the first and Ryan McKenna drove in a second run with a fly ball in the third. Rylan Bannon drove in a run with a double in the sixth.

Yusniel Diaz has not been healthy. He came into the game hitting just .215 and failed to get a hit, dropping that average to .208. He is slugging just .313. This year was an opportunity for him to possibly see some major league time, but his bat has got to start producing.

Prospect to watch: Mason McCoy may not hit for power, but he has speed and is hitting .323. He could be a disruptor. We don’t see him playing shortstop in the major leagues, but maybe as a utility player. He scored three times last night.

No Fisher Cat prospect stood out. Yennsy Diaz was hitting 97 with his fastball but the Orioles had no issues getting the barrel of the bat on the ball. He struck out two. Forrest Wall has a good bat that lacks power. He also has an arm for left field, after moving from second base. The former supplemental first round pick of the Rockies is still just 23 but he has no real defensive position to play. He is a Ryan Mountcastle without the power.