Dean Jones Report: Sisco's stinginess, Mountcastle's mashing, Alvarez's slump - BaltimoreBaseball.com

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Dean Jones Report: Sisco’s stinginess, Mountcastle’s mashing, Alvarez’s slump

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Photo credit: Joy R. Absalon

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Later this week, I’ll have more than two dozen new players to factor into my updates.

Short-season Single-A Aberdeen will begin its New York-Penn League schedule Friday at Hudson Valley. After two games against the Renegades and three more at Staten Island, the IronBirds will return to Ripken Stadium for their home opener June 22 vs. Auburn.

The team is likely to feature a lot of last year’s draft picks who didn’t start the year with a full-season affiliate, as well as some of the players from the 2016 draft when they sign. Some are headed to physicals this week in Baltimore.

If you haven’t read it yet, I wrote a lengthy piece yesterday on all 41 of the Orioles’ selections in the Major League Baseball first-year-player draft over the weekend.

Also, Orioles right-hander Yovani Gallardo threw five innings for Triple-A Norfolk in what’s believed to be his final, injury-rehab start Monday night. He allowed a solo home run in the first inning before holding Charlotte hitless in the rest of his outing.

Gallardo, who unofficially threw his fastball between 87 and 89 mph for most of the night, struck out five batters and walked two. He threw 52 of his 90 pitches for strikes.

Regular BaltimoreBaseball.com readers know “The Dean Jones Report” is my way to update Orioles fans every Tuesday on the performance of the organization’s top prospects, according to Baseball America, over the previous week and beyond.

Right-handers Dylan Bundy, Mychal Givens and Mike Wright are currently in the major leagues, so they’re excluded from my updates. The remaining seven players each receive a bullish (rising stock) or bearish (falling stock) rating, based on their recent performances. For each prospect, I’ve listed notable statistics and a link to his MILB.com Player Page.

I’ve also selected a handful of players who are either surging or falling in the Orioles’ minor league system. And, at the bottom of the post, I’ve listed the upcoming schedules for the club’s affiliates.

Now, let’s get to this week’s update…

TOP PROSPECTS
No. 2: Hunter Harvey, RHP, extended spring training
BEARISH
Statistics: N/A
MILB.com Player Page

Today marks exactly six weeks since the 21-year-old right-hander underwent sports hernia surgery in Philadelphia. At the time, the belief was that Harvey would miss four to six weeks while rehabilitating at extended spring training in Sarasota, Fla. Orioles manager Buck Showalter told reporters last Monday that the 2013 first-round selection (22nd overall) had yet to begin throwing from a mound. As I said last week, it’s obviously frustrating for fans that Harvey hasn’t pitched in a game in 23 months. But I’m sure you’d rather him be 100 percent healthy before returning in order to decrease the risk of yet another setback.

No. 3: Chance Sisco, C, Bowie
BULLISH
Statistics: .311 average, 0 HRs, 21 RBIs, 12 2Bs, 22 runs in 51 games
MILB.com Player Page

Sisco, 21, had his five-game hitting streak snapped Sunday when he went 0-for-2 with two walks as the Baysox lost, 7-3, at New Hampshire. Still, he batted .300 (6-for-20) in five games since our last update. The 2013 second-round pick had a double and a two-run single in Bowie’s 4-1 victory at Portland on Wednesday. Nearly 80 percent (43 of 55) of Sisco’s hits this season have been singles, but it’s a good sign that he continues to get them and remains among the Eastern League leaders in batting average. The power will hopefully come as he continues to mature. Another great sign for Sisco is that he’s already approaching a career high in runners caught stealing. Through 41 games behind the plate, he has thrown out 35 percent of potential base-stealers (22 of 63).

No. 4: Jomar Reyes, 3B, Frederick
BULLISH
Statistics: .230 average, 4 HRs, 23 RBIs, 24 runs, 49 Ks in 59 games
MILB.com Player Page

Although Reyes, 19, has gone hitless in two of his past three games, he’s still batting .306 (15-for-49) with four multihit performances this month. In the Keys’ 4-3 victory at Potomac on Sunday, Reyes was 3-for-4 with a two-run double to put Frederick ahead for good in the sixth inning. He hasn’t homered in almost a month – May 15 against Myrtle Beach was his last long ball – and he has just three doubles in that span. But because Reyes already has as many hits this month (15) as he did in all of May – a month in which he hit .183 – I’m going to remain bullish. We’ll see if that changes by this time next week.

No. 6: Chris Lee, LHP, Bowie
BEARISH
Statistics: 5-0, 2.98 ERA, 19 Ks, 1.05 WHIP in 51 1/3 innings
MILB.com Player Page

Lee, 23, remains on the seven-day disabled list at Bowie with a lat-muscle strain in the upper part of his back. The organization initially scratched the 2011 fourth-round pick (Houston organization) from his Memorial Day start before deciding to place him on the DL nine days ago. Despite missing the past two weeks, Lee remains third in the Eastern League with a 1.05 WHIP. At the time of his injury, left-handers were hitting just .155 (9-for-58) against him. The quicker Lee gets healthy, the more of a chance he’ll get to prove he can contribute at the major league level later this summer. But again, just like with Harvey, patience is key.

No. 7: Ryan Mountcastle, SS, Delmarva
BULLISH
Statistics: .290 average, 4 HRs, 18 RBIs, 12 2Bs, 2 3Bs, 24 runs in 49 games
MILB.com Player Page

“Ryan, I’m sorry I doubted you after just one month. I know it’s a long season. You’ve proven your point.” That’s what I’d like to say to the 2015 first-round selection (36th overall) with all of you as my witnesses. Mountcastle, 19, earned the South Atlantic League Player of the Week award Monday after batting .469 (15-for-32) with two home runs, five doubles, five RBIs and seven runs in seven games from last Monday through Sunday. And if that wasn’t enough, he celebrated by going 2-for-4 with his fourth home run of the season, two RBIs and two runs in the Shorebirds’ 3-1 win over Kannapolis on Monday night. Despite hitting just .162 in April, Mountcastle is now batting .290 overall through 48 games. He had a .375 average in May and is hitting .353 so far this month.

No. 8: Trey Mancini, 1B, Norfolk
BEARISH
Statistics: .264 average, 6 HRs, 16 RBIs, 9 2Bs, 50 Ks in 47 games (at Norfolk)
MILB.com Player Page

Mancini, 24, broke out of a 1-for-13 slump with three hits, including his 13th double of the year, in the Tides’ 6-4 loss at Gwinnett on Saturday. And, after going hitless in five at-bats Sunday, the 2013 eighth-round pick had an RBI single, a walk and a run scored in Norfolk’s 4-1 victory Monday at Charlotte. Since he batted just .217 (5-for-23) with eight strikeouts in six games since last week’s update, though, I’m listing him as bearish today. But obviously, in the long term, the likelihood of Mancini getting an opportunity to prove himself in the major leagues at some point – possibly as early as later this season – remains pretty high.

No. 9: D.J. Stewart, OF, Delmarva
BEARISH
Statistics: .230 average, 4 HRs, 23 RBIs, 39 BBs, 54 Ks, 13 SBs in 56 games
MILB.com Player Page

In six games over the past week, the 2015 first-round selection (25th overall) batted just .217 (5-for-23) with eight strikeouts and four walks. Three of those five hits have come in his past two games, though, including a single in the first inning Saturday to snap a streak of 10 straight at-bats without a hit. Stewart, 21, then went 2-for-3 with a walk in Delmarva’s victory Monday. His average this month is still a respectable .286 (12-for-42). But if you take away two games last week at West Virginia in which he had a combined six hits in 14 at-bats, that number drops to .214. The lack of consistency is why I have him listed as bearish this week.

SURGING

Garrett Cleavinger, LHP, Delmarva: Although his string of scoreless outings was snapped when he gave up a home run last Monday at West Virginia, the 2015 third-round selection continues to dominate the South Atlantic League. In his past nine appearances, Cleavinger – who was named an All-Star last Tuesday – has struck out 24 hitters and allowed just the one earned run in 20 innings.

Johnny Dixon, OF, DSL Orioles 2: The 19-year-old outfielder – who signed with the Orioles as an international free agent in March 2015 – is tied for fourth in the Dominican Summer League with nine RBIs through his first eight games. Dixon, who hit safely in his first seven games before going 0-for-4 on Monday, is batting .333 with two home runs and four multihit performances.

Oliver Drake, RHP, Norfolk: Last night, the 29-year-old right-hander earned his seventh save of the season in the Tides’ win over Charlotte. Drake struck out the side in the ninth inning after walking the leadoff hitter. He hasn’t allowed any earned runs in his past 11 appearances. In that span, the 2008 43rd-round pick has 18 strikeouts in 11 innings.

John Means, LHP, Bowie: After struggling in his first two starts for the Baysox, the 2014 11th-round selection bounced back with a seven-inning performance Thursday in a 4-1 win over Portland. After allowing seven runs and 18 hits in 11 1/3 innings to begin his Double-A stint, Means held the Sea Dogs to one run and four hits in the victory.

Franderlin Romero, RHP, Frederick: The 23-year-old right-hander has earned the victory in each of his first three starts for the Keys. Romero, who was acquired May 24 from the Cincinnati Reds, struck out seven batters in five innings during Frederick’s 6-3 win over Potomac on Thursday. Romero allowed a home run in the game, but it’s just the second he has given up in 64 innings overall this year.

FALLING

Dariel Alvarez, OF, Norfolk: In his past eight games, Alvarez is batting .138 (4-for-29). The 27-year-old Cuban outfielder has just two RBIs since May 22. After hitting 31 home runs over the past two seasons, Alvarez only has one so far in 2016. One positive is that six of his 15 walks this season have come in his past three games.

Jonah Heim, C, Frederick: Overall, it has been an up-and-down season for the 2013 fourth-round selection. Heim, who turns 21 later this month, has hit well at times for the Keys. And he was rewarded with a Carolina League All-Star selection last week. But in his past four games, Heim has just one hit in 12 at-bats.

Christian Walker, OF, Norfolk: The 2012 fourth-round pick left Saturday’s game after he apparently injured his hand in the first inning. According to Tides broadcaster Pete Michaud, X-rays were negative. But Walker, 25, didn’t play in the next two games. And, before that, he had just three hits in his previous 17 at-bats (.176) with six strikeouts.

THE WEEK AHEAD

Norfolk
June 14 – at Charlotte, 7:05 p.m.
June 15 – at Charlotte, 7:05 p.m.
June 16 – OFF
June 17 – vs. Durham, 7:05 p.m.
June 18 – vs. Durham, 7:05 p.m.
June 19 – vs. Durham, 7:05 p.m.
June 20 – vs. Lehigh Valley, 7:05 p.m.

Bowie
June 14 – vs. Portland, 6:35 p.m.
June 15 – vs. Portland, 6:35 p.m.
June 16 – vs. Portland, 6:35 p.m.
June 17 – at Erie, 7:05 p.m.
June 18 – at Erie, 7:05 p.m.
June 19 – at Erie, 1:35 p.m.
June 20 – OFF

Frederick
June 14 – at Myrtle Beach, 7:05 p.m.
June 15 – at Myrtle Beach, 7:05 p.m.
June 16 – vs. Lynchburg, 7 p.m.
June 17 – vs. Lynchburg, 7 p.m.
June 18 – vs. Lynchburg, 6 p.m.
June 19 – vs. Lynchburg, 2 p.m.
June 20 – OFF

Delmarva
June 14 – vs. Kannapolis, 7:05 p.m.
June 15 – vs. Kannapolis, 7:05 p.m.
June 16 – at Hickory, 7 p.m.
June 17 – at Hickory, 7 p.m.
June 18 – at Hickory (doubleheader), 5 p.m.
June 19 – at Hickory, 5 p.m.
June 20 – OFF

Aberdeen
June 14 – PRESEASON
June 15 – PRESEASON
June 16 – PRESEASON
June 17 – at Hudson Valley, 7:05 p.m.
June 18 – at Hudson Valley, 7:05 p.m.
June 19 – at Staten Island, 4 p.m.
June 20 – at Staten Island, 7 p.m.

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