Every Tuesday, I give an update on how the minor leaguers on Baseball America’s Orioles 2016 Top 10 prospect list have played in the previous seven days.
Regular readers know that right-handers Dylan Bundy, Mychal Givens and Mike Wright are excluded since they’re in the major leagues. I assign the other seven players a bullish (rising stock) or bearish (falling stock) rating, based on their recent performances. For each player, I’ve also listed some statistics and a link to his MILB.com Player Page.
Although he hasn’t pitched in a regular-season game in nearly two years, right-hander Hunter Harvey continues to be included in my list because I’m sure Orioles fans enjoy any updates they can get about the club’s first-round pick from three years ago.
This week, I’m posing a hypothetical question – we can’t go back in time, after all – to BaltimoreBaseball.com readers about Harvey. I want to know whether you would have drafted another right-hander who was available in that spot instead of Harvey. This player made 10 starts in the major leagues last year, but hasn’t done well in Triple-A so far this season. He’s also three years older than Harvey and his ceiling arguably isn’t as high.
But would you take that over what the Orioles have seen from Harvey up so far in his career? Do you think he’ll ever make it to the major leagues? Do you think the Orioles made the wrong pick? And what did you think at the time? Remember, as the cliché goes, hindsight is 20-20. Be sure to share your thoughts in the comment section below.
For those of you who might be new to “The Dean Jones Report,” I also select a handful of additional players each week who are either surging or falling in the Orioles’ minor league system. The names in this section could change from week to week, depending on who’s hot and who’s not.
Now, let’s start by getting back to the question about Harvey:
No. 2: Hunter Harvey, RHP, extended spring training
MILB.com Player Page
Harvey, 21, remains out of action following sports hernia surgery two weeks ago. The initial recovery timetable would put his return sometime in early to mid-June. While waiting for the 2013 first-round selection (22nd overall) to pitch again, let’s discuss what could have happened if the Orioles had gone a different direction with that pick. Immediately after the Orioles took Harvey, the Texas Rangers chose Oral Roberts right-hander Chi Chi Gonzalez. The Orioles actually drafted Gonzalez three years earlier – in the 11th round in 2010. But he didn’t sign. Gonzalez, 24, made it to the major leagues in 2014 and went 4-6 with a 3.90 ERA in 14 appearances (10 starts) for the Rangers. But he has struggled at Triple-A Round Rock this year. He is 1-4 with a 6.63 ERA in seven starts. Would the Orioles be better off – right now and in the long run – if they had drafted the college pitcher at No. 22 instead of the high school son of a former major leaguer?
No. 3: Chance Sisco, C, Double-A Bowie
Statistics: .333 average, 0 HRs, 14 RBIs, 7 2Bs in 28 games
MILB.com Player Page
The 2013 second-round pick had an eight-game hitting streak snapped when he went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts in Bowie’s 5-4 loss to Erie on Saturday. It is already the second time that Sisco, 21, has hit safely in eight straight games this season. He batted .407 (11-for-27) during the recent streak, but only one of the hits went for extra bases (an RBI double as the Baysox beat Hartford, 6-3, last Tuesday). Sisco, who hit six home runs between High-A Frederick and Bowie last year, hasn’t gone deep yet this year. But he remains atop the Eastern League with a .333 average and ranks second in on-base percentage (.439). The left-handed hitter is batting .364 against right-handed pitchers this season, but only .188 versus lefties. Because Sisco is still getting on base regularly, I’m listing him as bullish again this week. But I’d like to see him add to the extra-base-hit numbers soon.
No. 4: Jomar Reyes, 3B, High-A Frederick
Statistics: .231 average, 4 HRs, 17 RBIs, 19 runs in 35 games
MILB.com Player Page
Reyes, 19, hit his first home run since April 30 – a solo shot in the eighth inning – in Frederick’s 8-5 loss to Myrtle Beach on Sunday. It was only his third extra-base hit in May. While he hasn’t dominated the Carolina League this year, Reyes also hasn’t been completely overmatched. As I said last week, he’s much younger than most of the pitchers he’s facing on a daily basis. There will be times when he struggles – like when he went hitless in a span of 13 at-bats from May 7 through Friday. And there will be times when he excels – like being one home run shy of tying a career-high about one-third of the way through the season. Like most undeveloped players, Reyes’ power should increase as he gets older.
No. 6: Chris Lee, LHP, Double-A Bowie
Statistics: 5-0, 2.41 ERA, 13 Ks, 0.96 WHIP in 37 1/3 innings
MILB.com Player Page
In Lee’s most recent start – Thursday at Erie – he continued to pitch effectively without overpowering hitters. The only difference was that the 23-year-old left-hander didn’t factor into the decision for the first time this season because the Baysox bullpen allowed the SeaWolves to score three times to tie the game after he left. In Bowie’s 6-5 win, Lee allowed two runs, a season-high seven hits and one walk while striking out only one batter in six innings. It was only the second time in six games this year that he allowed more than one hit or walk per inning. Lee remains among the Eastern League leaders in wins and WHIP. Until he gets beat – or at least hit hard – I’m going to remain bullish.
No. 7: Ryan Mountcastle, SS, Low-A Delmarva
Statistics: .259 average, 1 HR, 9 RBIs, 27 Ks in 31 games
MILB.com Player Page
Mountcastle, 19, continues to rebound from an extremely poor start for the Shorebirds. He has hit safely in 13 of his past 16 games. In 13 games this month, the 2015 first-round selection (36th overall) is batting .396 (19-for-48) with five doubles and five RBIs. With back-to-back, three-hit games last Tuesday and Thursday, Mountcastle raised his season average from .227 to .262. It’s now at .259. After striking out 22 times in 18 games in April, Mountcastle has only five strikeouts in May. He is batting .370 in 12 games from the second position in the lineup this year, but only .186 in 19 games at other spots.
No. 8: Trey Mancini, 1B, Triple-A Norfolk
Statistics: .259 average, 3 HRs, 5 RBIs, 21 Ks in 20 games (at Norfolk)
MILB.com Player Page
Although the 2013 eighth-round selection hit safely in five of the Tides’ eight games over the past week, he batted just .222 (6-for-27) with six strikeouts during that stretch. Mancini, 24, did hit solo home runs in back-to-back games last Tuesday and Wednesday – his second and third times going deep since being promoted to Norfolk in late April – but he hasn’t knocked in any runs in his past five games. In 38 games between Bowie and Norfolk this year, Mancini has 10 doubles, 10 home runs and 19 RBIs. But I’ve listed him as bearish for this week simply because he has slowed down from his hot start in Double-A. There’s still plenty of time for that to change, though. And I’m sure it will.
No. 9: D.J. Stewart, OF, Low-A Delmarva
Statistics: .202 average, 2 HRs, 14 RBIs, 26 BBs, 30 Ks in 33 games
MILB.com Player Page
The 2015 first-round pick (25th overall) hit his second home run of the season in the Shorebirds’ 6-3 loss to West Virginia on Monday. Still, he is just 2-for-20 (.100) in six games since he hit his first home run in a 9-3 loss to Asheville on May 9. Due to the recent slump, Stewart’s average briefly dropped below .200 over the weekend for the first time since April 23. The 22-year-old outfielder has gone hitless in nine of his 13 games so far this month. Although Stewart went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts in Delmarva’s 4-1 loss to Asheville last Tuesday, he did walk and steal second and third in the first inning. Stewart ranks second on the Shorebirds with eight stolen bases (in 11 attempts) this year.
Dariel Alvarez, OF, Norfolk: The 27-year-old outfielder has been on fire this month. In 15 games in May, Alvarez is batting .362 (21-for-58) with 13 RBIs. And he hit his first home run of the season in the Tides’ come-from-behind win, 3-1, over Pawtucket on Monday. He was 2-for-4 in the victory – his third, multihit performance in his past four games.
Brian Gonzalez, LHP, Delmarva: Gonzalez, 20, is 1-1 with a 1.00 ERA and 13 strikeouts in 18 innings in May. The club’s highest draft pick in 2014 (third round) has gone six innings in each of his three starts so far this month. Gonzalez is 2-1 with a 1.06 ERA (two runs in 17 innings) at Perdue Stadium. He is scheduled to pitch again Thursday at Lakewood.
John Means, LHP, Frederick: The 2014 11th-round selection improved to 4-0 in the Keys’ 5-2 win over Myrtle Beach on Monday. Means, 23, held the Pelicans to two runs and six hits in six innings. He had eight strikeouts and walked one batter. In 18 innings over three starts this month, Means has struck out 24 hitters and walked three. He has not allowed more than two runs in any of his eight starts this year.
Yermin Mercedes, C, Delmarva: The 23-year-old catcher had a seven-game hitting streak snapped when he went 0-for-4 in Delmarva’s 3-2 win over Greensboro on Sunday. During his streak, Mercedes batted .519 (14-for-27) with four doubles, one home run and six RBIs. Although Calvert Hall catcher Alex Murphy has hit safely in eight straight games for the second time this season and is doing well at the plate (.281 average, three home runs, 20 RBIs), he has been overshadowed offensively by Mercedes so far.
Mike Yastrzemski, OF, Norfolk: The 25-year-old outfielder was promoted to the Tides on Monday after batting .268 with six home runs and 27 RBIs in 33 games at Bowie this year. Batting third in his Triple-A debut, Yastrzemski went 2-for-4 with two strikeouts. He started Norfolk’s three-run rally in the eighth inning with an RBI triple before scoring on the home run by Alvarez.
Jason Garcia, RHP, Bowie: Things continue to be extremely ugly at the Double-A level for last season’s Rule 5 pick. Garcia, 23, gave up six runs and six hits in two innings during Bowie’s 8-7 loss to Erie on Friday. In his past four starts, Garcia has a 9.53 ERA. And that’s not including five unearned runs that he surrendered in a 13-6 loss to Erie on May 8. Overall, Garcia is 1-4 with a 7.43 ERA in 26 2/3 innings this year.
Joe Gunkel, RHP, Norfolk: As I’ve said before, what a difference a week makes in the minor leagues. Last week, I listed the 24-year-old right-hander among the surging players because he had allowed only four runs (two earned) in his first 12 1/3 innings for Norfolk. But that changed in a big way Thursday. Gunkel surrendered nine runs and 11 hits in three-plus innings in the Tides’ 12-3 loss to Charlotte.
Adrian Marin, SS, Bowie: Marin, the Orioles’ third-round selection in 2012, has shown some promising signs in his first four-plus professional seasons. He had 52 doubles over the past two years at Frederick. And the 22-year-old shortstop hit .266 for the Baysox in April this year. But Marin has struggled so far this month. He is hitting .138 (4-for-29) with no extra-base hits in 10 games.
Henry Urrutia, OF, Bowie: The 29-year-old outfielder batted .272 with eight RBIs in 34 games over two seasons with the Orioles, but he had only three extra-base hits – including one home run – in that span. Now, he finds himself headed in the wrong direction. After hitting .245 with no home runs and 11 RBIs in 32 games for Norfolk, Urrutia was sent back to Bowie when Yastrzemski received his promotion Monday.
THE WEEK AHEAD
May 17 – at Pawtucket, 7:05 p.m.
May 18 – at Pawtucket, 11:05 a.m.
May 19 – at Syracuse, 6:35 p.m.
May 20 – at Syracuse, 6:35 p.m.
May 21 – at Syracuse, 1:05 p.m.
May 22 – at Syracuse, 1:05 p.m.
May 23 – vs. Gwinnett, 6:35 p.m.
May 17 – vs. Reading, 6:35 p.m.
May 18 – vs. Reading, 6:35 p.m.
May 19 – vs. Reading, 11:05 a.m.
May 20 – at Harrisburg, 7 p.m.
May 21 – at Harrisburg, 6 p.m.
May 22 – at Harrisburg, 1:30 p.m.
May 23 – at Hartford, 6:05 p.m.
May 17 – at Wilmington, 6:35 p.m.
May 18 – at Wilmington, 10:35 a.m.
May 19 – at Wilmington, 6:35 p.m.
May 20 – vs. Potomac, 7 p.m.
May 21 – vs. Potomac, 6 p.m.
May 22 – vs. Potomac, 2 p.m.
May 23 – vs. Potomac, 7 p.m.
May 17 – vs. West Virginia, 7:05 p.m.
May 18 – vs. West Virginia, 10:35 a.m.
May 19 – at Lakewood, 6:35 p.m.
May 20 – at Lakewood, 7:05 p.m.
May 21 – at Lakewood, 4:05 p.m.
May 22 – at Lakewood, 1:05 p.m.
May 23 – at Greensboro, 7 p.m.