3 Up, 3 Down – August 2019, Week 3

August 19, 2019

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3 Up

Hanser Alberto.385/.385/.692 (1.077), 3 doubles, 1 triple, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 26 AB

Alberto isn’t slowing down and I couldn’t be happier to be wrong. Hes been hitting with more authority since the all-star break with 11 extra base hits, tied for fourth on the team. Even his defensive numbers are better than I would’ve guessed based on the eye test. I’m still not betting on him being a long term piece of the rebuild but its starting to look like a lock that he will be in the opening day lineup when March 2020 rolls around.

Jonathan Villar.333/.484/.417 (.901), 2 doubles, 2 RBI, 2 SB, 24 AB

Villar stayed hot even though the Orioles went 0-7 on the road this week. He has raised his season totals to a very respectable .274/.345/.442 (.786) and has a chance at a 20/30 season. (He currently has 15 homeruns and 28 steals.) Hes played in every game the Orioles have played this year and is on pace to score 100+ runs. Hes really come into his own over the second half with an .880 OPS and 11 steals.

Trey Mancini.231/.375/.538 (.913), 2 doubles, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 26 AB

Mancini’s average has taken a hit lately (hitting .244 post all-star break) but hes walking a little bit more (17 in the second half, tied for the team lead) and still hitting for power (21 extra base hits, easily a team best). Hes on pace for 35+ homeruns and 90+ RBI. Coming into the season Trey made comments about wanting to take over Adam Jones’ leadership role and it seemed like that might be a tough task for a guy you never heard much from but he really has been the go to guy whether its a quote after the game or to get the team fired up.

3 Down

John Means0-1, 14.73 ERA, 3.2 IP, 2 BB, 1 K, 2.73 WHIP

Here is a post I wrote for the Baltimore Sports and Life message board discussing Means’ poor second half and what it means in regards to his place in the 2020 rotation:

“I’m not that concerned about Means long term. He has proven to have a growth mindset which is exactly what teams are looking for now. He made real improvements over the off-season, increasing his velocity and adding a pitch that has proven to be effective. If he was willing to put that work in I’m sure he will continue that in future offseasons. Its his first season in the majors which I’m sure is more taxing than a season in the minors. Hes dealt with minor injuries here and there and like Mike said, is probably wearing down a bit.

In the second half he has pitched against the Yankees twice (2nd in team OPS in MLB), Boston (4th), Arizona (9th), and Tampa Bay (13th). He has a high spin fastball to go with his changeup and is in the 80th percentile in hard hit percentage and 66th in exit velocity. Homeruns have been the problem, 7 allowed in his last 5 games covering 23 innings.

Its certainly not a guarantee that he will be a fixture in our rotation for years to come but I do think its pretty close to a guarantee that he will be in our rotation to start 2020, most likely as the opening day starter. If and when he eventually gets moved to the bullpen he can be a weapon out there. He can focus on his two best pitches and ramp up his fastball. He had a 1.17 ERA over 7.1 innings with 13 strikeouts starting the year out of the bullpen. That was over four appearances, three of them against the Yankees and the other against the Rays.”

Anthony Santander.167/.167/.367 (.533), 2 HR, 2 RBI, 30 AB

Santander had to cool off at some point after hitting better over an extended period of time than he has since 2016 when he was in advanced A ball. Hes shown he has a good approach at the plate, some pop in his bat, and gives a solid effort in the corner outfield positions. Consistency will be the key as to if he can lock down a more permanent role once guys like Austin Hays and Yusniel Diaz start to break in at the major league level. Right now I just don’t think hes seeing the ball very well with zero walks and eight strikeouts this week. The last five or six weeks of the season will be important for him to leave a lasting impression heading into the off-season.

Jace Peterson .136/.240/.182 (.422), 1 double, 1 RBI, 22 AB

Peterson’s roller coaster 2019 continued with another cold stretch this week. I think hes fairly similar to Stevie Wilkerson offensively and with some versatility on defense those guys are this team’s version of a Ryan Flaherty. Could play a role on the bench for a playoff contending team if things break right but won’t be getting everyday at bats without some further breakthroughs in their development.

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3 Up, 3 Down – August 2019, Week 2

August 12, 2019

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3 Up

Jonathan Villar.458/.519/.833 (1.352), 2 doubles, 2 triples, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 2 SB, 24 AB

Villar has been absolutely on fire since he had a terrible stretch on the Orioles west coast trip a couple weeks ago. He even made one of the best defensive plays of the season on Sunday, diving beyond the second base bag on a bouncing line drive and quickly getting up to throw across his body for the out. He still runs into too many outs on the base paths but the skills he has been putting on display are why I was surprised that he wasn’t traded before the July 31st deadline. If he keeps this up he could be a fairly valuable trade asset in the offseason.

Jace Peterson.381/.391/.857 (1.248), 2 doubles, 1 triple, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 21 AB

As noted on last week’s 3 down section Peterson earned a promotion after raking at AAA Norfolk but went ice cold as soon as he got called up. Well hes warmed up now. I’m not sure how sustainable this power is but it would make him a much more interesting player than we saw for a large chunk of 2018. His launch angle has increased for three years in a row so maybe hes a swing change guy. His walk percentage is way down (3.2% compared to career 11%) but its obviously a small sample size. I would expect the OBP to rise and the SLG to fall and him to settle back towards a utility player.

Anthony Santander.346/.346/.615 (.962), 4 doubles, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 26 AB

One of the biggest surprises of the season has been the emergence of Santander in the outfield. We came into the season expecting to see prospects like Austin Hays, DJ Stewart, and Yusniel Diaz as the year went on and while none of those guys have necessarily been disappointing as far as their performance goes, they’ve had a hard time staying healthy. In their stead Santander has made the most of his opportunity. I still don’t think he can keep up this production long term but he has been consistent over more than 200 at bats. And he has a fan club in the UK. Thats more than any other Oriole can say.

3 Down

Chris Davis.083/.188/.167 (.354), 1 double, 2 RBI, 12 AB, 8 K

Forget the fact that Davis that Davis struck out in 67% of his at bats last week (46% on the season) and he seemed to let his offensive woes affect his typically solid defense. He tried to attack his manager, Brandon Hyde! Apparently he came into the dugout frustrated with his effort on a throw at first base and threw something which ended up hitting Hyde. Hyde said something to him (“funny you can hit me with that but you can’t hit the damn baseball” is my best guess) and Davis lost it, having to be held back by multiple teammates. He was pulled from the game and went home early so he didn’t have to talk to reporters. I will be shocked if he isn’t released in the offseason.

Renato Nunez.158/.200/.211 (.411), 1 double, 19 AB

My guess is Nunez is back on the 3 up list in the next week or two. Hes been ice cold for two weeks so if his season trend stays true he will be red hot for a couple weeks sometime soon. I’m not sure why some players are so streaky, whether its a mechanical issue or a mental thing, but the closest way I can relate is shooting three pointers in basketball. Sometimes it feels like you can make every shot no matter how you put it up but other times you can’t get a shot to fall for anything. Not sure whats better, a guy who has an OPS around .800 every month or a guy who alternates OPS’ of .600 and 1.000 but Renato falls more in the latter category.

Tayler Scott0-0, 27.00 ERA, 3.2 IP, 4 BB, 2 K, 3.55 WHIP

Thats Tayler, not Tanner Scott. I’ve heard it can be tough to tell the difference when looking at the box score. Its also confusing that he has yet to give up a run with AAA Norfolk over 13 innings, has 17 strikeouts to one walk, and a 0.77 WHIP but seemingly can’t get anyone out at the major league level with the Orioles. In five appearances he has a 25.41 ERA with the O’s including more walks than strikeouts. Very Dan Straily of him. Maybe the Phillies are interested.

Orioles Top 30 Prospects – August 2019

August 5, 2019

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1. Adley Rutschman (1)

Rutschman is finally playing in games. Hes off to a slow start with the bat for Short A Aberdeen but a long layoff combined with a bout of mono could certainly be playing a factor in that. Behind the plate he has been perfect throwing runners out.

2. DL Hall (4)

The walks are still high, and they may always be, but Hall has really started to put it together since the month turned to July. A 1.77 ERA over 20.2 innings and 28 strikeout for the month and a great first outing in August (6 IP, 1 R, 2 BB, 10 K) plus he had a great appearance at the MLB futures game showing off his fastball and slider. Grayson Rodriguez may be a surer bet to make it into the Orioles rotation but Hall has the higher ceiling.

3. Grayson Rodriguez (2)

Rodriguez’ ERA has gotten a little bit worse every month which isn’t necessarily a huge surprise considering it is the 19 year old’s first full season. Its mainly come down to consistency. Hes still striking guys out at a high rate but whereas I thought he might make the jump to A+ Frederick in the second half, I could see him finishing the year in Delmarva and starting with Frederick next season.

4. Ryan Mountcastle (3)

Mountcastle has been hitting consistently all season and July was no different (.895 OPS). He doesn’t walk and doesn’t have a position but starting in September I think we’ll see this guy in the middle of the Orioles lineup for years to come.

5. Yusniel Diaz (5)

Diaz ended the month on the injured list with a quad injury. According to quotes from Mike Elias it doesn’t sound like a serious injury which is good because Diaz has been great since returning from a previous hamstring injury. Hes a prime candidate to play in the Arizona Fall League and start 2020 with AAA Norfolk.

6. Austin Hays (6)

Hays is another guy who will probably play in the AFL since hes had an injury riddled couple seasons and hasn’t been able to put together a sustained hot streak in AAA. It wouldn’t take much to earn a shot at center field for the Orioles but the production just hasn’t been there to justify that at this point.

7. Dean Kremer (7)

Kremer hasn’t been as great as he was last season but hes still had a very solid season as part of what I imagine has to be one of the best pitching staffs in all of the minor leagues with AA Bowie. Hes gotten better as the year has gone on with a 2.48 ERA in June and a 2.10 ERA in July.

8. Michael Baumann (10)

Baumann was promoted to AA Bowie after putting up pretty good numbers at A+ Frederick but the stuff and his peripherals indicated a better season than his 3.83 ERA. He justified that quickly by throwing a no hitter on July 16th, pumping 98 mph fastballs late in the game. He is the pitcher that has improved his stock the most in a season filled with great performing pitchers.

9. Gunnar Henderson (9)

Henderson is playing in the GCL. The numbers aren’t great over a small sample size but hes very young and making his professional debut. Hes taking walks but the main thing is hes getting at bats against older competition.

10. Keegan Akin (8)

A 8.25 ERA over 12 July innings is the main reason for Akin slipping two spots. After an excellent May he hasn’t been very good. The new AAA ball makes it hard to judge the numbers but the walks have been high all season.

11. Zac Lowther (11)

Lowther continues to be consistently good for AA Bowie. He has a 2.62 ERA over 110 innings with 106 strikeouts. Next season will be exciting when all of the guys in Bowie’s rotation (Lowther, Kremer, Baumann, Alex Wells, Bruce Zimmermann) are in AAA Norfolk because if they put up numbers anywhere near what they have this season they will be knocking on the door to the majors.

12. Adam Hall (12)

Hall has been consistent all season with an average hanging around .300 and OPS around .800. He has 21 doubles and 25 stolen bases. On pace to start 2020 as A+ Frederick’s starting shortstop.

13. Hunter Harvey (13)

Harvey’s transition to the bullpen hasn’t gone as smoothly as I’m sure the Orioles had hoped but hes still making progress. Hes given up three runs over his past 7.1 innings with nine strikeouts and only one walk. I think we may see him in Baltimore in September if he can finish the minor league season strong.

14. Drew Rom (14)

Rom has had some struggles over his past few starts but just like Grayson Rodriguez hes a 19 year old kid making his first foray through a full season. The numbers are still great (2.35 ERA over 76.2 innings with 99 strikeouts).

15. Bruce Zimmermann (15)

Zimmermann is the first of the Bowie rotation to get promoted to AAA Norfolk and he didn’t have a great first start. But he did rebound nicely with six strong innings his last time out. It’ll be interesting to see how August goes for him.

16. Zach Pop (16)

Out for the season.

17. DJ Stewart (17)

Stewart missed a chunk of time due to an ankle injury but is back with AAA Norfolk picking up pretty much where he left off. He’ll be back with the O’s at some point before the season is over.

18. Alex Wells (23)

Wells has the worst stuff in the Bowie rotation but the best numbers (outside of strikeouts) and the most consistency. Hes sitting at 8-2 with a 2.12 ERA over 106.1 innings with 81 strikeouts and only 19 walks.

19. Ryan McKenna (24)

McKenna has improved consistently from month to month while playing great defense in center field. He has speed and some pop, if he can improve the consistency of his hit tool he can still be a fringe starter or at least a valuable fourth outfielder at the major league level.

20. Cody Sedlock (29)

Probably the minor league comeback player of the year for the Orioles. He was promoted to AA Bowie after posting a 2.36 ERA over 61 innings with 66 strikeouts with A+ Frederick. After the promotion he threw 11 straight scoreless innings out of the bullpen before having a rough outing on August 3rd. But still he has a 2.63 ERA over 13.2 innings with 18 strikeouts.

21. Kyle Stowers (20)

Stowers is struggling a bit in Short A Aberdeen but I’m not sure how much stock to put into performance for these players coming right out of the draft. Obviously its better to put up impressive numbers right away but I think a full off-season and spring with a player development plan is when you can start to get a good read on how these guys are performing. We’re still looking at relatively small sample sizes and maybe things look better from a scouting perspective rather than just looking at the numbers.

22. Rylan Bannon (22)

Outside of a .650 OPS in May Bannon has been really solid with an OPS around .800. With good defense and some versatility he is a guy that should get some major league time over the next couple seasons.

23. Blaine Knight (18)

Knight’s season has been baffling to me. After starting off so strong with A Delmarva (which is to be expected for an advanced college arm) he has been really bad in A+ Frederick. Only very recently has he started to turn things around with back to back strong starts to end July. Maybe repeating the level in 2020 will be better.

24. Gray Fenter (28)

Continues his strong season with a 1.95 ERA over 78.1 innings with 103 strikeouts. Hopefully he finishes the year strong in Delmarva and can pitch with less restrictions next season in Frederick.

25. Zach Watson (NR)

I kept the Orioles third round pick off of this list until now but he has shown enough power and defense in center field for me to feel good about him. He was quickly promoted from Short A Aberdeen to A Delmarva which speaks to the team’s confidence in his skills.

26. Mason McCoy (19)

McCoy is a guy who has to perform in order to maintain as high as spot as I was giving him last month and unfortunately he just hasn’t. He had a .222 average and .532 OPS in July. Hopefully he can find his swing again and end the season on a high note.

27. Cody Carroll (25)

Still yet to play in 2019 with a back injury.

28. Ofelky Peralta (26)

Since being promoted to A+ Frederick Peralta has been lit up to the tune of a 8.44 ERA over 21.1 innings. If it was up to me he would already be transitioning to the bullpen since it seems inevitable that he is going to end up there.

29. Jean Carmona (27)

I thought Carmona might be a breakout candidate with Short A Aberdeen but instead hes spent most of the season on the injured list and has a .511 OPS over 47 at bats.

30. Brenan Hanifee (NR)

Hanifee has been confusing this season. Hes been inconsistent and also hasn’t struck many batters out (only 63 in 107 innings) but hes also shown flashes of greatness including a nine inning shutout on July 14th. He only turned 21 in May and is more of a groundball pitcher so we’ll see how he develops as he most likely repeats the level next season.

Orioles Roster Power Rankings – August 2019

August 5, 2019

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1. Trey Mancini (Last Month: 1)

Only batted .217 in July but was still third on the team with a .801 OPS thanks to five doubles and seven homeruns.

2. John Means (2)

Had a 5.24 ERA over 22.1 innings in July and ended the month on the injured list but hes still clearly the best pitcher we have.

3. Hanser Alberto (3)

Hit .295 with a .714 OPS for the month, continues to rake against left handed pitching.

4. Jonathan Villar (4)

Showed off all of his skill sets in July with seven steals and three homeruns to go along with a .298 average and .769 OPS.

5. Anthony Santander (9)

Second on the team in OPS for July (.872), he hit .320 with six doubles, a triple, four homeruns, and 18 RBI.

6. Renato Nunez (5)

Team leader in OPS for the month (.955) with four doubles, seven homeruns, and a team leading 19 RBI.

7. Pedro Severino (7)

.273 average and .746 OPS bolstered by back to back four hit games towards the end of the month.

8. Dylan Bundy (8)

A trip to the IL and a 6.75 ERA over 18.2 innings wasn’t his best work but his track record keeps him in the top 10.

9. Asher Wojciechowski (23)

Quickly became one of the Orioles best pitchers with a 3.60 ERA over 30 innings with 37 strikeouts and a 0.93 WHIP.

10. Shawn Armstrong (13)

Two saves and a 4.09 ERA over 11 innings in July.

11. Mychal Givens (11)

Three saves and a 2.79 ERA over 9.2 innings with 11 strikeouts for the month.

12. Paul Fry (15)

1.08 ERA over 8.1 innings and 10 strikeouts in July.

13. Miguel Castro (16)

3.38 ERA over 10.2 innings with 14 strikeouts last month.

14. Chance Sisco (10)

Fell off with a .196 average and .578 OPS in July.

15. Gabriel Ynoa (14)

3.86 ERA over 18.2 innings with 10 strikeouts.

16. Richard Bleier (17)

2-0 with a 5.40 ERA over 8.1 innings with five strikeouts.

17. Stevie Wilkerson (19)

.704 OPS in July and the first ever save by a position player.

18. Jace Peterson (NR)

.509 OPS in his first 25 at bats of the season in July.

19. Tom Eshelman (NR)

6.35 ERA over 22.2 innings with 17 strikeouts for the mid-80’s fastball throwing youngster.

20. Aaron Brooks (NR)

7.07 ERA over 14 innings with nine strikeouts in July.

21. Branden Kline (NR)

11.57 ERA over only 2.1 innings for the month.

22. David Hess (NR)

10.80 ERA over 6.2 innings with nine strikeouts in July.

23. Jimmy Yacabonis (22)

7.94 ERA over 11.1 innings with 12 strikeouts.

24. Richie Martin (24)

.233 average and .585 OPS for July, his best month yet.

25. Chris Davis (25)

Actually had a .709 OPS in July over 54 at bats but still struck out at a 50% rate.

3 Up, 3 Down – August 2019, Week 1

August 5, 2019

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3 Up

Trey Mancini.292/.393/.667 (1.060), 3 doubles, 2 HR, 9 RBI, 24 AB

Mancini was relieved not to be traded at the July 31st deadline and perhaps with that looming possibility no longer in the back of his mind he was able to relax and have a great week. Or he was just able to continue his hot hitting since the team returned from the all-star break. Either way he has brought patience and power to the plate and easily drove in the most runs on the team for the week, more than doubling the next closest player (Chris Davis).

Chris Davis.222/.364/.556 (.919), 2 HR, 4 RBI, 18 AB

Davis returned from an absolutely abysmal road trip to post some respectable numbers for the week. He walked four times (lets not talk about the 9 strikeouts) and hit two homeruns. Hes still Chris Davis, I’m sure his batting average will never get above .200 and his OPS will hardly crack .600 but a good week is a good week.

Shawn Armstrong0-0, 2.25 ERA, 2 Saves, 4 IP, 0 BB, 6 K, 1.25 WHIP

I expected Armstrong to take over the closer role (as much as this team can have one) after the trade deadline due to Mychal Givens being traded but that didn’t happen and yet it seems like Armstrong is getting the save opportunities anyway. Givens has settled into the high leverage set up man. Armstrong seems to be taking to his new role fairly well. At least the results have been good over a very short sample size. Expect Paul Fry to get some save chances too.

3 Down

Renato Nunez.167/.231/.167 (.397), 2 RBI, 24 AB

It was bound to happen. Nunez is an incredibly streaky hitter and hot been on a hot streak for quite a while. We’re in the middle of another cold stretch, its just a matter of how long its going to last. He has been playing third base a bit since Rio Ruiz was optioned. He doesn’t seem to have much confidence in his arm. Its strong enough, accuracy seems to be the issue.

Jace Peterson.182/.182/.182 (.364), 2 RBI, 1 SB, 22 AB

Peterson had an interesting couple weeks. He was having a great season for AAA Norfolk (.910 OPS over 326 at bats), was released after passing an opt out date in his contract, re-signed a couple days later and was soon brought up to the big leagues. Unfortunately he hasn’t been able to carry that offense with him over his first 40 plate appearances. We’ll see how long of a leash they give him before they decide to turn back to Rio Ruiz.

David Hess0-1, 9.00 ERA, 5 IP, 0 BB, 8 K, 4 HR, 1.20 WHIP

The peripherals are actually not that bad for Hess this week but the fact remains that he gave up four homeruns over five innings. He had a spot start on short notice and a relief appearance. He clearly has some swing and miss stuff over short stints but the fastball is pretty straight and when he misses in the middle of the plate its batting practice.

3 Up, 3 Down – July 2019, Week 4

July 29, 2019

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3 Up

Renato Nunez .321/.441/.643 (1.084), 3 HR, 7 RBI, 28 AB

One of the few cool things about the beginning of a complete rebuild at the major league level is finding a few gems among the rubble that may be keepers. Or trade chips that you didn’t know you would have. All three of the guys on the positive side of this list would fall in that category. Nunez continues to tap into his power (leading the team with 25 homeruns) and now is starting to walk more as teams start to respect that. He has also started to play third base for the first time since spring training with Rio Ruiz optioned to AAA. Still just 25 years old and with four more years of control, his development has been a pleasant surprise.

Hanser Alberto.458/.480/.583 (1.063), 1 HR, 4 RBI, 24 AB

I’ve been as big a skeptic of Alberto as you will find with Oriole fans but there is one skill he has that I’m starting to believe in. His ability to hit left handed pitching. For the season he has a .404 average and .942 OPS against lefties while only batting .246 with a .595 OPS against RHP. That can be a valuable part of a platoon or a nice weapon to have on the bench especially on a contending team. He might not be traded because I’m not sure he has enough of a track record to get back anything that would make it worth it but don’t be surprised if a National League team targets him before Wednesday.

Pedro Severino .400/.520/.600 (1.120), 1 double, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 1 SB, 20 AB

It looked like Severino was going to fade into the background a bit as Chance Sisco forced his way into the majority of the playing time at the catcher position but a nice week combined with a Sisco slump might have reversed his fortunes. Definitively the better defensive option he broke out with the bat this week with back to back four hit games.

3 Down

Aaron Brooks0-1, 10.38 ERA, 8.2 IP, 2 BB, 7 K, 2.08 WHIP

Brooks is a guy who was struggling with the Oakland A’s and the Orioles claimed him off waivers in an attempt to fill in a rotation that was already shallow before they traded Andrew Cashner. While that seems to have worked with Asher Wojciechowski, Brooks has been hit pretty hard. A pitcher won’t be able to find a longer leash with almost any other club so I’m sure he’ll be given at least a few more chances as a starter. If that doesn’t work there is always the bullpen.

Chance Sisco.077/.143/.077 (.220), 13 AB

Sisco came up from AAA Norfolk and tore it up for the first 80 or so at bats after his promotion. Now hes going through his first slump of the year at the major league level. He still seems to have good at bats but with his lack of defensive skills behind the plate he has to hit in order to justify his spot on the roster. Way too early to give up on him but something to keep an eye on. At the same time its not like there is anyone waiting to take his place other than Adley Rutschman in a year or two.

Chris Davis.000/.077/.000, 12 AB, 10 K

Just the worst player in the major leagues since 2018 (that gets consistent playing time) proving that despite a few blips of success here and there he is indeed still the worst. Davis seems like a good enough guy but it will be a happy day in Birdland when he finally gets released.

3 Up, 3 Down – July 2019, Week 3

July 21, 2019

wojo

3 Up

Trey Mancini.276/.344/.793 (1.137), 3 doubles, 4 HR, 7 RBI, 29 AB

Mancini broke out of his slump in a big way. He came out of the all-star break as cold as he went into it, going hitless over 11 at bats against the Rays. He finally got off the slide against the Nationals with a nubber that managed to roll down the right field line for a double. That must have taken some pressure off of his shoulders because he hit two homeruns the next night, two doubles on Saturday, and two more homeruns on Sunday. He is 8 for his last 18 and making a statement that his first half wasn’t a fluke. If he does get traded before the deadline at least we got to witness one more red hot stretch before hes gone.

Anthony Santander.343/.368/.571 (.940), 1 triple, 2 HR, 7 RBI, 1 SB, 35 AB

Every time I think Santander is coming back down to earth as a AAAA player he goes on another stretch that makes you take notice again. Do that enough times and you change your perception. The Orioles are desperate enough for production from center field that they’ve been trying him out there. Its certainly not a long term solution but it has allowed the team to get his bat in the lineup consistently while giving Dwight Smith Jr. a chance to try and break out of his slump. The outfield is a rare bright spot in the organization and Santander is out here making his case to be a part of it into the future.

Asher Wojciechowski1-1, 2.03 ERA, 13.1 IP, 2 BB, 19 K, 0.75 WHIP

Wojo appeared in three games against teams contending for a playoff spot and pitched like he should be on a team contending for a playoff spot. He struck out two batters out of the bullpen against the Rays in the first game after the all-star break, pitched a solid game against the Nationals in the beltway series (3 runs over 5.2 innings), and most recently had the best pitching performance of the year for the Orioles holding the Red Sox to one hit over 7.1 innings. His slider is a real weapon. Hitters are having what appears to be an impossible time picking it up. If he can be consistent with that and continue to limit walks he can at least be a useful bullpen arm.

3 Down

Dwight Smith Jr. – .100/.182/.150 (.332), 1 double, 20 AB

Smith came close to challenging Chris Davis for a stretch of ineptitude. He went 33 consecutive at bats without getting a hit until he hit a double in the 9th inning of a blowout loss to the Red Sox on Saturday. He came back on Sunday and recorded another hit and a walk so lets look at the bright side and say hes two for his last four? Unfortunately the previous 33 at bats count just the same and his average for the season is down to .231 with his OPS dropping below .700 (.697).

Jimmy Yacabonis0-0, 12.71 ERA, 5.2 IP, 3 BB, 6 K, 2.65 WHIP

Yacabonis had only given up one run over the first 5.1 innings he pitched after the all-star break but then he proceeded to pull what we could call a Dylan Bundy (see below), giving up seven runs on eight hits. Except he only recorded one out, allowed some inherited runners to score, and also walked a batter. I’d say an outing like that would put his job in jeopardy but who are we kidding? This is the 2019 Baltimore Orioles we’re talking about.

Dylan Bundy0-1, 63.00 ERA, 1 IP, 0 BB, 1 K, 8.00 WHIP

Bundy started the first game coming out of the all-star break against the Tampa Bay Rays and got lit up to the tune of seven runs and eight hits in one inning. After the game he was placed on the injured list with pain in his knee. Not the way you want to start the second half of the season and certainly not what the Orioles wanted if they had any chance of trading him before July 31st.

Andrew Cashner Traded to Red Sox

July 13, 2019

The Orioles traded RHP Andrew Cashner to the Boston Red Sox for SS Noelberth Romero and OF Elio Prado.

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The first reaction I would expect from Oriole fans when they hear about this trade is “thats it”? The fact that the Orioles are “only” getting back two 17 year olds that nobody has heard of playing in the Dominican Summer League might not sound like a good return for a starting pitcher who has been one of the best in the American League over the past month. While that is true, its pretty clear that Cashner has been pitching over his head and should come back to earth at some point in the near future. While he has a 9-3 record on the worst team in baseball with a 3.83 ERA over 17 starts covering 96.1 innings he is also outperforming his peripherals. He is in the 11th percentile in strikeout percentage, 15th percentile in exit velocity, 13th percentile in hard hit percentage, and 25th percentage in xwOBA. Lets not forget this is a guy that seemed like dead weight coming into the season coming off of a 5.29 over 153 innings in 2018. The fact that he pitched himself into a tradeable asset is a plus. He is a free agent following the season and if the Red Sox make the playoffs might not even figure into their playoff roster. I’d say we traded him at peak value.

Romero and Prado both signed with the Red Sox in the 2018-2019 international signing period. Romero for $275,000 and Prado for $85,000. Romero is six foot tall and only 145 pounds playing shortstop. He was hitting .264/.336/.364 (.700) with three doubles, a triple, and two homeruns in the DSL with two stolen bases in 110 at bats. Prado, an outfielder, is the same height but a little more filled out at 160 pounds. Hes hitting .303/.400/.418 (.818), with five doubles, three homeruns, 26 RBI, and nine stolen bases over 122 at bats. Those are solid numbers for their age, especially for Prado (20 walks to 21 strikeouts). I like the separation of their on-base percentage from their batting average. Approach/patience/batting eye is the hardest thing to teach for a hitter so the fact that they’re already showing signs of that is a good place to start. Power can always be added as they grow into their bodies and hit the weight room. I’m guessing our international director Koby Perez and his scouts had a lot of input on who to target from the Red Sox complex. Trading for young international players of this profile might also be another way to boost the Orioles presence into that market.

In the meantime the Orioles thin rotation gets even thinner. Newly acquired Aaron Brooks and Asher Wojciechowski as well as Tom Eshelman, Gabriel Ynoa, and *gasp* Dan Straily can be patched together to get us through the 2019 season. We could also add an arm or two from waivers or other trades as we near the July 31st deadline. Mychal Givens and Trey Mancini are the top options on the board to be dealt with players like Jonathan Villar, Renato Nunez, Dylan Bundy, and maybe Pedro Severino as other possibilities. My first thought as a guy who is excited to start seeing our prospects come up and establish themselves was maybe we’ll see Keegan Akin following this trade but Elias has proven that he won’t rush the guys who he really thinks have a chance to be good long term which is probably the right call. He’ll most likely get a cup of coffee in September when rosters expand.

3 Up, 3 Down – July 2019, Week 1

July 8, 2019

Athletics Orioles Baseball

3 Up

Andrew Cashner1-0, 1.29 ERA, 7 IP, 0 BB, 4 K, 0.43 WHIP

Three weeks in a row on this list for Cashner, who has been one of the best pitchers in the American League over the past month or so. He’s 3-1 with a 1.41 ERA over his last five starts covering 32 innings. It has coincided with him using his change-up more than he ever has so the fact that the performance is tied to an adjustment makes it feel like a little more than a fluky hot streak. At this point he may have the most trade value on the team other than Trey Mancini. I also think he is the most likely player to be traded before the July 31st trade deadline. Dylan Bundy and all-star John Means also had great starts last week.

Chris Davis .500/.571/1.083 (1.655), 1 double, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 12 AB

Yes, you read that correctly. Chris with a C. This isn’t an Oakland Athletics website. Sure he only had 14 plate appearances last week but he consistently hit the ball with authority. In no way do I have any confidence that he will ever be good again for more than a week or two here and there but he at least saves himself from being released when he has stretches like this. A nice goal for him for the rest of the season would be to get his batting average over .200 (currently at .189) and maybe get to 15 homeruns (currently at seven). Hes played in 16 games over the past month and is hitting .277 with an OPS close to .800. Not a bad platoon bat.

Renato Nunez .300/.364/.700 (1.064), 2 doubles, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 20 AB

Chance Sisco had slightly better numbers than Nunez last week but I gave Renato the edge since he had five more at bats and drove in more runs. The power here is real. He became only the third player in Orioles history to hit 20 or more homeruns before the all-star break while being 25 years old or younger. (Boog Powell and Manny Machado being the other two.) He has the best OPS on the team over the past month (.849) for any player with more than 50 at bats. (Chance Sisco has a 1.077 OPS over that span in exactly 50 at bats.) He hit 32 homeruns in AAA a couple years ago in the A’s minor league system, it would be cool to see him beat that mark this year in the majors.

3 Down

Dwight Smith Jr..000/.118/.000 (.118), 15 AB

Pretty rough week for Smith, going hitless in 15 at bats. He only got on base twice with two walks. He has a .555 OPS in 45 at bats since returning from the concussion injury list after running into the outfield wall. With the outfield being one of the deepest and most competitive aspects the Orioles talent pool, especially at the corners, and Smith’s defense being among the worst of the bunch he really needs to come out of the all-star break showing the decision makers some of the success he had to start the year. DJ Stewart should be back from the injured list after the break, Anthony Santander has been solid since coming up, Austin Hays is (hopefully) healthy again in the minors, and Yusniel Diaz and Ryan McKenna are really heating up at AA Bowie. Smith is out of options.

Trey Mancini.136/.269/.136 (.406), 22 AB

Two bad weeks in a row for Mancini. Its officially a cold stretch. Lets call it an all-star game snub hangover. I think the four day break is coming at a good time for Trey who has suffered a lot of minor injuries this year and is probably a little banged up. While he still didn’t have many hits, and none for extra bases, at least he walked four times matching his strikeout total. With Ken Rosenthal reporting teams are showing interest in trading for Mancini it wouldn’t hurt if he got back on track although I think his service time more than offsets a cold stretch.

Richard Bleier0-0, 15.43 ERA, 2.1 IP, 0 BB, 1 K, 3.00 WHIP

It was a rare week where the Orioles bullpen didn’t actually have to pitch as many innings as the starters and for the most part most of the relievers used were effective. Bleier wasn’t one of them, a trend that has continued all season. He has only walked two batters all season so his control is fine. But over 26 innings he has given up 37 hits and only struck out 11 batters. Its been a struggle. With prospects like Hunter Harvey and Dillon Tate moving to the bullpen and having success, time might be running out for some of these struggling relievers especially the ones who are out of options.

Orioles Top 30 Prospects – July 2019

July 3, 2019

grayrod

1. Adley Rutschman – C (Last Month: 1)

Rutschman officially signed last week and will head to Sarasota where he’ll get in a couple GCL games before heading to short A Aberdeen. I expect him to stay there for a few weeks before joining Delmarva in their bid for the Sally league title.

2. Grayson Rodriguez – RHP (3)

Rodriguez had one bad start before the A all-star break (his only bad start of the season) but quickly got back on track after the break. He is shooting up national prospect rankings and should be bound for A+ Frederick before too long.

3. Ryan Mountcastle – 1B (2)

Mountcastle continues to hit very well at AAA Norfolk while playing primarily at first base. He has also starting to get time out in left field with the occasional start at third base in an attempt to increase his versatility for when he makes the majors.

4. DL Hall – LHP (4)

The biggest issue for Hall right now is consistency and his walks. He has already matched his walk total from last year in 40 less innings. But hes also close to matching his strikeout total as well (100 in 94.1 innings in 2018, 80 in 53.2 innings this year). The command is going to have to improve but for now the stuff plays.

5. Yusniel Diaz – OF (5)

Diaz got off to a very slow start in April and then missed about a month due to a leg injury. He had one homerun over 20 games before his injury but in 23 games since hes returned he has hit seven of them. He has an OPS over .850 since June and appears to be back on track to what we were expecting from him.

6. Austin Hays – OF (6)

Its been a rough couple years for Hays and that continued in June. It appeared as if he was finally recovered from his thumb injury at the end of spring training as he made his way up to AAA for the first time. Unfortunately on June 19th he left a game after injuring his hamstring running out a ground ball. It doesn’t appear to be too serious of a strain but he just hasn’t been able to put consistent playing time together.

7. Dean Kremer – RHP (7)

Kremer missed the first month of the season with an oblique strain and took some time to get back in the swing of things once he got back to AA but he has gotten better results almost every time out. He had a 2.48 ERA in June and has only given up one run over his last three starts covering 17 innings.

8. Keegin Akin – LHP (8)

Akin’s overall numbers don’t necessarily stand out but when you look at them in conjunction with AAA and the International League as a whole they start to look pretty good. The offensive environment has increased dramatically since they’ve switched to the major league ball. No matter what ball they’re using hes walking too many batters but his strikeout rate is great.

9. Gunnar Henderson – SS (9)

Henderson officially signed and was introduced to the Camden Yards faithful just one day after Adley Rutschman and similarly to the college player of the year he will head to Sarasota. The only difference being that while the GCL will only be a pit stop for Rutschman it will most likely be where Henderson plays the rest of the season. The hope being he can perform and develop enough to start at A Delmarva in 2020 (but Short A Aberdeen is probably more realistic).

10. Michael Baumann – RHP (10)

Baumann was the starting pitcher in the Carolina League all-star game and then was quickly promoted to AA Bowie in the days following the festivities. He has since made two appearances out of their bullpen, to help manage his innings, and has yet to give up a run. He makes his first AA start tonight (July 3rd).

11. Zac Lowther – LHP (11)

Lowther had an insanely good month of May (0.60 ERA over 30 innings) which makes his still solid April (3.44 ERA over 18.1 innings) and June (3.66 ERA over 32 innings) seem disappointing. But the crafty lefty is probably the pitcher in AA Bowie’s rotation most likely to get called up to AAA Norfolk. Alex Wells and Dean Kremer aren’t far behind in that regard but Lowther comes across as the leader of the staff.

12. Adam Hall – SS (12)

Hall is a nice baseline of what Gunnar Henderson’s progression might look like. Not that their skill sets are particularly similar but Hall got a cup of tea in the GCL after being drafted in the second round out of high school (sound familiar?) then had a solid season in Short A Aberdeen last year before improving upon that this year against more challenging competition. Hall has more speed to his game and less power but he is proving that his hit tool is here to stay.

13. Hunter Harvey – RHP (13)

The fact that Harvey is still pitching in June without landing on the injured list (knock on wood) would be great news on its own. As a starter his stuff was good but he was very inconsistent and he had a 6.12 ERA over 11 starts covering 50 innings. Since switching to the bullpen in the middle of June he hasn’t given up a run with his fastball sitting at 98-99 mph and touching 100. He was recently promoted to AAA Norfolk which puts him very close to becoming a member of the Orioles bullpen. He has future closer written all over him.

14. Drew Rom – LHP (16)

You can make an argument that Rom should be even higher on this list. He has performed well all season without any blips (even Grayson Rodriguez had the one) at 19 years old. My argument would be the pitchers ahead of him are performing well at higher levels with more developed pitches. Which is to be expected. If he can continue his success he will continue to rise up this list as time goes on.

15. Bruce Zimmermann – LHP (19)

Zimmermann continues to stay below the radar but when you look at his game log and overall stats for the season he is flat out having a great season. Hes older than the other members of the AA Bowie rotation and wasn’t as highly regarded as the guys ahead of him before the season but if he continues to perform he will certainly get a chance to pitch in the majors.

16. Zach Pop – RHP (15)

Pop is out for the season following Tommy John surgery.

17. DJ Stewart – LHP (17)

Stewart earned his way to play every day in the outfield for the Orioles but unfortunately hurt his ankle in a collision and has yet to return. He is currently on a rehab assignment. He will most likely become ineligible for this list by the end of the season.

18. Blaine Knight – RHP (14)

Knight has been one of the biggest disappointments of the season. After pitching to a 0.68 ERA over five starts in A Delmarva he was promoted to A+ Frederick where he has struggled mightily. He currently has a 5.72 ERA over 39.1 innings and a 22/23 strikeout to walk ratio following a 33/4 K/BB ratio for Delmarva. At 23 years old hes not young for the level so hopefully he can turn things around soon.

19. Mason McCoy – SS (20)

McCoy has just consistently hit all season. No matter the level he puts the bat on the ball and makes good things happen. A promotion to AAA Norfolk and/or a September call up when rosters expand isn’t out of the question in 2019.

20. Kyle Stowers – OF (21)

Stowers signed a week or so before Rutschman and Henderson and has had 19 at bats for Short A Aberdeen to the tune of a .760 OPS. He has two doubles and two walks. Not much to go off of but he’ll probably play the rest of the season with the Ironbirds with an eye on A Delmarva to start 2020.

21. Tom Eshelman – RHP (Not Rated)

The Orioles acquired Eshelman from the Philadelphia Phillies for 2018-2019 international pool slots and he immediately became a guy on the radar to make some starts with the big league team. That is exactly what he did on Monday July 1st, giving up two runs over five innings in his major league debut. He was returned to AAA Norfolk (where he has a 4.05 ERA over 20 innings) but most likely he will get another shot to stick with the O’s after the all-star break.

22. Rylan Bannon – 2B/3B (18)

Bannon started the season off hot (.826 OPS in April) then went ice cold (.654 OPS in May) and has seemed to level off (.780 OPS in June). Really he profiles as a bench player in the major leagues who can give you solid defense at second and/or third base while holding his own at the plate in limited at bats. That kind of player serves a purpose on a team but maybe he can find a way to be more than that with the Orioles new development team.

23. Alex Wells – LHP (23)

Another lefty having a lot of success in the AA Bowie rotation, Wells has the weakest stuff out of all of the ones on this list but he works fast and knows how to sequence his pitches in a way that keeps hitters off balance. As bad as AAA Norfolk’s rotation is and has been it should soon be an exciting box score to look at every morning as the guys in Bowie’s pitching staff get promoted.

24. Ryan McKenna – OF (24)

McKenna finally got his OPS over .700 for the season last night (July 2nd) after hitting two homeruns, giving him four over his past four games. He had a terrible April offensively with a .596 OPS but has adjusted and gotten better as the season has gone along (.667 OPS in May, .715 in June). Despite the struggles at the plate he continues to play great defense in center field.

25. Cody Carroll – RHP (22)

Still waiting for Carroll to make his season debut. Wouldn’t take much for him to get a chance in the Orioles bullpen.

26. Ofelky Peralta – RHP (25)

After a blistering start to the season Peralta had a miserable June (6.97 ERA over 20.2 innings) and that includes a scoreless five inning outing in his last start of the month. But he followed that up with six more scoreless innings in his last time out. Peralta’s ultimate destination will be the bullpen where I think he can prosper throwing heat in short stints but for now they want him working on things as a starter where he can accumulate innings.

27. Jean Carmona – 2B (26)

Carmona got off to a decent start with Short A Aberdeen over a very short sample size (.259 average, two doubles, and a triple over 27 at bats) but he quickly found himself on the injured list. I haven’t heard what the issue is but more of an issue is that he had 12 strikeouts and no walks over those 27 plate appearances.

28. Gray Fenter – RHP (30)

Fenter has kind of come out of nowhere for me this year but he just continues to have success. He has a 1.87 ERA over 57.2 innings with with 71 strikeouts. Hes 23 (same age as Blaine Knight) so I’d like to see him move up to A+ Frederick and see if he can translate these results there or if he crashes to earth like Knight has.

29. Cody Sedlock – RHP (27)

Sedlock has had an odd year. He was so good over the first two months of the season, making the Carolina League all-star game but then mysteriously missed a month of action. I haven’t seen anything definitive but I’m guessing they’re just being very careful with his arm after he missed so much time over the past couple years. He is slowly working his innings back up and had a good outing on June 30th with four scoreless innings.

30. Robert Neustrom – OF (28)

Neustrom missed more than a month with an injury and hasn’t quite been the same since he returned. I’ll give him time to knock the rust off before I decrease how I feel about him as a prospect but an OPS in the .600’s which is what he has since he came back isn’t going to cut it.