Over the weekend against Tampa Bay, the Orioles gave southpaw DL Hall a taste of the majors, hoping he would learn from his first start and apply those lessons as he prepares to serve in a role as relieves on the section.
With Triple-A Norfolk he will have a good example of how to handle such circumstances. The Orioles are now in Toronto, where they deployed a similar tactic in June with outfielder Kyle Stowers called up for a series as a substitute player. Stowers received just eight board appearances during that stint, going 1 for 7 with four strikeouts, but since joining Triple-A Norfolk he’s hit .288/.371/.531 – good for a .902 OPS – with 22 of his 46 hits for extra bases.
Stowers, Baltimore’s No. 11 prospect according to Baseball America, leads the International League in RBIs and ranks second in extra-base hits. He paces the Orioles’ full-season minor leagues in those categories and home runs, trailing only top overall prospect Gunnar Henderson in slugging percentage and OPS.
“When guys can taste it and see what it’s like here, I think it’s always positive,” Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said. “They’re coming down, they know what they’re working towards, what it’s like here. You never know until you’re here, honestly, and playing in these environments and facing the pitcher you’re up against and the batters that DL was going to face. Now you have something to work on and something to work towards, and I hope that’s what DL is going to do, and I think Kyle has done a good job this year.
Stowers continued to do so this past series. Each week, The Baltimore Sun will break down five of the best players in the Orioles’ prospect ranks and hand out superlatives to those who fell short of that cut.
1. Norfolk Triple-A Outfielder Kyle Stowers
Stowers’ performance continues to produce wonders as to why he’s making it to Triple-A rather than the majors. In a series against Rochester, he cut .304/.429/.522, doubling twice with a home run. Although he also walked five times, he struck out nine times, all in three games; if there’s one obvious weakness in his game, it’s swing and miss, although his strikeout and swing rates are down from 2021. But it’s possible that’s a trade-off for power that it provides. Notably, he actually performed better in left vs. left matchups, with a .996 OPS compared to a mark of .865 when he has the advantage of the pack.
2. Aberdeen Southpaw Cade Povich
Executive Vice President and General Manager Mike Elias called Povich the centerpiece of the four minor league pitchers Baltimore received from the Minnesota Twins for All-Star tie-up Jorge López, saying the 22-year-old southpaw had the forward. -of-the -rotational potential. He showed it in what turned out to be his only two starts with Aberdeen, pitching six shutout innings in both before being promoted to Double-A Bowie. Chayce McDermott, acquired from the Houston Astros as part of returning first baseman Trey Mancini, also advanced after striking out seven in four innings last week for the IronBirds.
3. Norfolk Triple-A infielder Jordan Westburg
Early in his Norfolk stint, Westburg seemed on the fast track to potential promotion, finishing June with an OPS of 1.077 before his bat slowed unusually. In a five-over streak from early July to early August, Orioles No. 6 the prospect hit .183 with a .517 OPS. He finally started to shake that off last week against Rochester, posting 1,100 OPS thanks to a pair of homers and doubles. He also walked six times in the face of six strikeouts, a significant improvement after batting three times as much as he walked in the previous slump.
4. High-A Aberdeen Utility Billy Cook
Baltimore’s 10th-round pick in the 2021 draft, Cook has been pretty streaky in his first full professional season. He had four more hits in the IronBirds’ four previous streaks, then delivered just five — three doubles and two home runs — last week against Hudson Valley, adding two interceptions. He played all three outfield spots and both first and second for the IronBirds, hitting .202 with a total of .684 OPS.
5. Double-A right-hander Garrett Stallings
The fact that Stallings was recognized as the Orioles’ minor league pitcher of the month for July shows just how well he’s come back from a disastrous June. He maintained it in August. Since allowing 10 earned runs while recording 10 outs to leave his June ERA at 28.50, Stallings, who turned 25 last week, has a 1.73 ERA in his last seven outings. , walking only three of the 138 batters he faced in that span. Last week against Akron, he allowed one run on three hits in six innings, striking out five without walking any.
The best prospect not presented so far
As baseball’s top prospect, Henderson automatically qualifies for that spot with anything other than a stellar week. The 21-year-old infielder was solid for Norfolk, hitting .269 with .790 OPS, but hitting an atypical 13 times. He’s been knocked out in 16 of his last 34 plate appearances, a trend that will hamper any internal consideration of adding him to the major league roster for a playoff push.
International acquisition of the week
Caesar Prieto’s bat hasn’t quite flourished like it has with Aberdeen since moving to Bowie, but maybe last week can be a turning point. The 23-year-old recorded nine hits, including a double and a homer, and posted a .942 OPS. Known for his ball batting skills, Prieto only kicked three times, although he also only walked once. Baltimore’s No. 16 hope hit .285 with a .711 OPS while playing all around the infield for the Baysox.
The best former top 30 prospect of the week
A top-30 prospect in 2019, Bowie right-hander Brenan Hanifee had little chance to build on that status, losing the 2020 season like all minor leaguers have before undergoing elbow reconstruction surgery. Tommy John in May 2021. He had a few rough outings in Bowie’s rotation in July, but had his best start since returning with 4 2/3 innings on Thursday in which the only run he allowed was not not deserved. Drafted in the fourth round from Baltimore in 2016, Hanifee is just 24 years old and could soon reestablish himself among the top 30 talents.
It’s time to brighten up…
Having joined Delmarva at the age of 18, right-hander Yaqui Rivera struggled early on, but that certainly wasn’t the case on Friday. Now 19, he threw five perfect innings of relief on just 50 pitches, striking out six while combining with Juan De Los Santos on one hit. Rivera was one of the prospects the Orioles got from the Miami Marlins in exchange for relievers Tanner Scott and Cole Sulser.
Short season extracts
In his first week in the Florida Complex League, 2022 No. 1 overall pick Jackson Holliday went 2-for-6 with a walk and a stolen base. In what turned out to be his final week in the FCL, 67th overall pick Jud Fabian went 5-for-8 and walked six before being promoted to Delmarva. Jose Ramirez, a 19-year-old southpaw signed out of Venezuela in 2019, struck out 11 in five innings during a start in the Dominican Summer League.
Fabian and nine other rookies have joined the Shorebirds from FCL, with Dylan Beavers (competitive balance A round), Max Wagner (second), Silas Ardoin (fourth), Cameron Weston (eighth), Adam Crampton (ninth), Bradley Brehmer ( 12th), Jared Beck (13th), Adam Retzbach (14th) and Reese Sharp (20th) also promoted. Keagan Gillies, Baltimore’s 15th-round pick last year, and Juan Nunez, acquired with Povich and two others for López, will also travel to Delmarva.
To create space in Bowie for Povich and McDermott, the Orioles promoted left-hander Drew Rom, their number 18 prospect and right-hander Ryan Watson, among the best players in the system, in Norfolk. Infielder Luis Valdez, who leads all Baltimore minor leaguers with 59 interceptions, jumped from Delmarva to Aberdeen.
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