Dean Jones Report: Mancini, Reyes lead several O's prospects in bullish week - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Dean Jones Report

Dean Jones Report: Mancini, Reyes lead several O’s prospects in bullish week

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Photo credit: Joy R. Absalon

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I hope everyone had a great Fourth of July holiday weekend.

Or, at least, I hope yours was better than the Orioles’.

Yikes. It hasn’t been pretty on the West Coast over the past week. And, really, it hasn’t been pretty on the road all season. The Orioles are just 16-22 away from Camden Yards in 2016 heading into Tuesday night in LA.

Sure, they have flaws. But they’re also 31-13 at home and still lead the American League East by two games over the Boston Red Sox – who, by the way, also have flaws.

If you look closely enough at the 30 major league teams, you’ll be able to find ways that each and every one of them could improve. It’s early July. There is still half of the season that needs to be played. One terrible trip to the West Coast won’t cause a team to miss the playoffs. But a .421 winning percentage on the road over an entire season could do it.

Anyway, enough of my quick venting about the major league squad. I’ll leave the rest of that analysis to Dan Connolly. He’s relying on me to keep you updated on the minors.

So let’s turn our attention to this week’s update.

If you’re just joining us this week, “The Dean Jones Report” is how I keep Orioles fans updated every Tuesday on the latest news involving the organization’s top prospects, according to Baseball America. Right-handers Dylan Bundy and Mychal Givens are currently in the major leagues, so they’re not included.

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

TOP PROSPECTS
No. 2: Hunter Harvey, RHP, Aberdeen
BULLISH
Statistics: 0-0, 0.00 ERA, 11 Ks, 3 hits, 0 BBs in 5 innings
MILB.com Player Page

The 2013 first-round pick (22nd overall) made his second consecutive scoreless outing for the GCL Orioles on Wednesday. Harvey, 21, struck out the side in the first inning. In the second, he allowed two singles before getting a strikeout to end the frame with runners on the corners. Harvey finished the game with six strikeouts and two hits allowed in three innings. Now, he’s moving on in his rehabilitation process. Originally scheduled to start Monday night for Aberdeen, he’ll pitch in the IronBirds’ doubleheader tonight. Technically, Harvey remains on the seven-day disabled list at Frederick. And that’s likely where he’ll head once he proves the injuries are finally behind him.

No. 3: Chance Sisco, C, Bowie
BULLISH
Statistics: .308 average, 1 HR, 27 RBIs, 17 2Bs, 33 runs in 68 games
MILB.com Player Page

It happened Tuesday night. Sisco, 21, hit his first home run since August 30 of last season – a span of almost 70 games. After hitting his first triple of the season in the top of the seventh inning of Bowie’s 13-10 loss at Harrisburg, the 2013 second-round selection led off the ninth with a solo shot to right field to snap his homerless streak. Sure, Sisco hasn’t been hitting the ball out of the park in 2016. But he has reached base safely in 22 of his past 23 games. In that span, he is batting .314 (27-for-86) with 10 RBIs and 14 runs scored. And he continues to put the ball in play, striking out just 39 times in 68 games so far this year.

No. 4: Jomar Reyes, 3B, Frederick
BULLISH
Statistics: .234 average, 7 HRs, 33 RBIs, 33 runs, 61 Ks in 75 games
MILB.com Player Page

Reyes, 19, appears to be getting more comfortable at the plate. Since the All-Star break, he has hit safely in nine of his 11 games for the Keys – although he has just two multi-hit performances in that span. And he has homered in three of his past five contests. In Frederick’s 5-1 loss to Salem on Thursday, Reyes drove in the Keys’ only run with a solo shot in the fourth inning. The next night, he hit a three-run bomb in the fifth as Frederick routed the Red Sox, 11-5. And he was 2-for-4, including a solo homer with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, as the Keys lost, 4-1, to Salem on Sunday. Now that he has had some time to adjust to Carolina League pitching, I’m curious to see how Reyes finishes the year.

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

It has now been more than six weeks since the 23-year-old left-hander last pitched for the Baysox on May 23. Six weeks is a long time, especially after Lee’s strong start to the year. And as Orioles starters continue to struggle, I can only wonder whether Lee would have gotten a chance to start by now had he been healthy for the past month-plus of the season. Obviously, we’ll never know. Perhaps the organization would have still wanted him to get more work in the minor leagues before making the jump. And, as I’ve mentioned before, despite his record and success, Lee has had a hard time punching out hitters – just 19 strikeouts in 51 1/3 innings. So maybe it wouldn’t have mattered. But I still would have liked to see if a healthy Lee could have helped. Maybe one day in the future.

No. 7: Ryan Mountcastle, SS, Delmarva
BULLISH
Statistics: .290 average, 5 HRs, 25 RBIs, 17 2Bs, 2 3Bs, 34 runs in 66 games
MILB.com Player Page

Mountcastle, 19, has been stuck in neutral for the past few weeks. On June 17, the 2015 first-round pick (36th overall) went 2-for-4 to raise his average to .299 – its highest point since the second game of the season. Since then, he is batting .259 (14-for-54) with four doubles and five RBIs in 13 games. And four of those five RBIs came in the Shorebirds’ 8-1 win over Greensboro in the first game of a doubleheader Wednesday. But even after going 0-for-4 with three strikeouts in Delmarva’s 6-1 loss to Lakewood on Monday, Mountcastle is still hitting .290 this year. Plus, he had five hits in 10 at-bats over the two games before that one, so I’m going bullish this week and looking for him to get hot again soon.

No. 8: Trey Mancini, 1B, Norfolk
BULLISH
Statistics: .303 average, 10 HRs, 29 RBIs, 13 2Bs, 64 Ks in 67 games (at Norfolk)
MILB.com Player Page

Speaking of being hot lately, let’s turn to the 2013 eighth-round selection out of Notre Dame. Mancini, 24, has been crushing the ball for the Tides since the beginning of June. In that span, he is batting .350 (43-for-123) with six home runs, six doubles and 19 RBIs in 32 games. With Norfolk trailing, 1-0, in the bottom of the ninth inning Friday, Mancini hit a two-run blast – his 17th overall in 2016 – to left-center field for a walk-off victory. And in the Tides’ 7-0 win at Gwinnett on Monday, Mancini had an RBI double and a two-run single. The Orioles will announce their Minor League Player of the Month for June in the coming days. And even though I don’t get a vote, I’m unofficially casting my ballot for Mancini to take that honor for the second time in the first three months of the season.

No. 9: D.J. Stewart, OF, Frederick
BULLISH
Statistics: .310 average, 0 HRs, 3 RBIs, 3 2Bs, 8 runs, 6 Ks in 9 games (at Frederick)
MILB.com Player Page

Stewart, 22, has at least one hit in six of the eight games in which he has recorded an official at-bat since his promotion to the Keys to start the second half. The 2015 first-round draft pick (25th overall) entered Friday’s win over Salem as a pinch runner in the seventh inning and sat out Saturday and Sunday against the Red Sox. But he bounced back in a big way Monday as Frederick beat Lynchburg, 9-6, on the road. In the game, Stewart went 3-for-4 with an RBI double and matched his career high with four runs scored. There’s still room to improve – he has just one hit in 12 at-bats against left-handers since joining Frederick – but for now, I’m staying bullish on Stewart.

No. 10: Mike Wright, RHP, Norfolk
BULLISH
Statistics: 1-0, 0.87 ERA, 13 Ks, 5 BBs, 14 hits in 20 2/3 innings
MILB.com Player Page

Yes, this is the same Mike Wright who has a 3-4 record with a 6.12 ERA in 13 games (12 starts) for the Orioles this season. It’s the same guy who has allowed 12 home runs in 64 2/3 innings at the major-league level in 2016. But in three starts for the Tides, the 2011 third-round pick has done everything he needs to do to prove that he wants another shot to help the Orioles this year. Will he get it? Only time will tell. Since heading back to Norfolk, though, he has given up just two runs in 20 2/3 innings. On Saturday, Wright allowed just three hits in 6 2/3 innings as the Tides beat Durham, 1-0, in 12 innings at Harbor Park.

SURGING

Cristian Alvarado, RHP, Delmarva: In six starts last month, the 21-year-old Venezuela native was 4-0 with a 1.29 ERA and 39 strikeouts in 35 innings. Alvarado hasn’t allowed a run in his past 19 innings. I don’t have a vote for the organization’s Pitcher of the Month, but I’d go with Alvarado in June. He’ll make his first start of July tonight against Lakewood.

Cole Billingsley, OF, Aberdeen: In eight games since joining the IronBirds, the 2016 19th-round selection is batting .355 (11-for-31) with two home runs, five RBIs and six runs scored. Billingsley, 22, also has two stolen bases in as many attempts. He hit his first professional home run – a solo shot – Wednesday before going deep again Friday.

Matthew Grimes, RHP, Bowie: Although the 2014 18th-round pick took the loss in his first game with the Baysox on Monday, I’m still listing him here because of his recent promotion. Grimes, 24, went 8-4 with a 1.45 ERA in 14 games (13 starts) for Frederick before being moved up to Bowie over the weekend. He gave up three runs in 4 2/3 innings in his first Double-A start as the Baysox lost, 7-2, to Trenton.

Yermin Mercedes, C, Delmarva: Mercedes, 23, has hit safely in 19 of his past 20 games, including his last 10. During his current 10-game hitting streak, the Dominican catcher is batting .450 (18-for-40) with two home runs and nine RBIs. He leads the South Atlantic League in OPS (.950) and ranks second in average (.355) and hits (93). Mercedes has 10 home runs and 49 RBIs in 69 games overall.

Jhon Peluffo, RHP, GCL Orioles: For the second week in a row, the 19-year-old Colombian right-hander blanked his opponent on a Monday at Ed Smith Stadium. Peluffo, who threw five shutout innings in his season debut a week ago, struck out seven Red Sox hitters and allowed just three hits in five innings in the GCL Orioles’ 5-1 win this week.

Garabez Rosa, 2B-SS, Bowie: Although he has a pair of 0-for-4 games over the past two days, the 26-year-old Dominican infielder now has enough at-bats to qualify as the Eastern League leader with a .342 average this season. Before the mini slump, Rosa had hit in 11 straight games. In that span, he hit .362 (17-for-47) with six multihit performances.

FALLING

Ryan McKenna, OF, Aberdeen: McKenna, 19, hasn’t gotten a hit for the IronBirds since he had a double in the sixth inning of their 9-2 win over Auburn on June 24 – a span of 21 consecutive at-bats. After batting .265 in 10 games for the GCL Orioles last year, the 2015 fourth-round selection is hitting just .152 with six RBIs in 13 games this season.

Alexis Torres, 2B-SS, GCL Orioles: The club’s fifth-round pick last month, Torres has struggled in his first five games in Florida. After getting a double in his second professional at-bat, the 19-year-old infielder has gone hitless in his past 13 with five strikeouts. It’s obviously a super-small sample size, but an average of .067 never looks good.

Collin Woody, 3B, Aberdeen: The 2016 38th-round pick – who earns some points in my book for being born on my birthday, by the way – was 2-for-2 with his first professional home run in the IronBirds’ 5-3 loss at Vermont on Wednesday. But Woody, 21, is hitless in his other 17 at-bats this year, including nine since those two hits Wednesday.

Mike Yastrzemski, OF, Norfolk: It has been a rough month for the 2013 14th-round selection. Yastrzemski, 25, is batting just .100 (7-for-70) since June 13, including .071 (1-for-14) in his first three games this month. Although he has 19 extra-base hits in 44 games since joining the Tides in May, only two of them have come in his past 18 contests.

THE WEEK AHEAD

Norfolk
July 5 – at Gwinnett, 7:05 p.m.
July 6 – at Gwinnett, 12:05 p.m.
July 7 – vs. Syracuse, 7:05 p.m.
July 8 – vs. Syracuse, 7:05 p.m.
July 9 – vs. Syracuse, 7:05 p.m.
July 10 – vs. Syracuse, 6:05 p.m.
July 11 – OFF

Bowie
July 5 – vs. Trenton, 7:05 p.m.
July 6 – vs. Trenton, 7:05 p.m.
July 7 – vs. Trenton, 7:05 p.m.
July 8 – at Reading, 7:05 p.m.
July 9 – at Reading, 6:35 p.m.
July 10 – at Reading, 2:05 p.m.
July 11 – OFF

Frederick
July 5 – at Lynchburg, 6:30 p.m.
July 6 – at Lynchburg, 6:30 p.m.
July 7 – at Lynchburg, 6:30 p.m.
July 8 – vs. Winston-Salem, 7 p.m.
July 9 – vs. Winston-Salem, 6 p.m.
July 10 – vs. Winston-Salem, 6 p.m.
July 11 – vs. Winston-Salem, 2 p.m.

Delmarva
July 5 – vs. Lakewood, 7:05 p.m.
July 6 – vs. Lakewood, 7:05 p.m.
July 7 – vs. Hagerstown, 7:05 p.m.
July 8 – vs. Hagerstown, 7:05 p.m.
July 9 – vs. Hagerstown, 7:05 p.m.
July 10 – vs. Hagerstown, 5:05 p.m.
July 11 – OFF

Aberdeen
July 5 – vs. West Virginia (doubleheader), 6 p.m.
July 6 – vs. West Virginia, 7:05 p.m.
July 7 – OFF
July 8 – at Williamsport, 7:05 p.m.
July 9 – at Williamsport, 7:05 p.m.
July 10 – at Williamsport, 5:05 p.m.
July 11 – vs. Brooklyn, 7:05 p.m.

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