As affiliates' seasons end, looking at O's minor leaguers that surged and fell in 2016 -
Dean Jones Report

As affiliates’ seasons end, looking at O’s minor leaguers that surged and fell in 2016

Urrutia_02 (1)
Photo credit: Joy R. Absalon


Another minor league season is in the books.

When it comes to wins and losses, the Orioles’ organization had a rough time in 2016.

Norfolk (62-82), Bowie (56-86), Frederick (68-72), Aberdeen (32-43) and the Gulf Coast League Orioles (27-32) all had losing records. Only Delmarva (73-66) finished above .500 – and that wasn’t even certain to happen until the Shorebirds won 10 of their final 12 games.

Overall, the Orioles’ top six affiliates had a combined .455 winning percentage (318-381).

But, as I’m sure most readers know, developing players and putting them another step closer to the major leagues are the goals for an organization’s minor league affiliates, not wins and losses.

So, in the final “Dean Jones Report” of the 2016 season, I’m changing things slightly.

This season, I’ve updated readers on how the Orioles’ top prospects, according to Baseball America, have fared on a weekly basis. I’ve rated each player as bullish (rising stock) or bearish (falling stock) based on how he did that week.

In this update, each prospect is rated with his full-season performance in mind. And, below that, I’ve listed a handful of players who are surging or falling while considering their complete bodies of work in 2016. Finally, I’ve included five notable selections from this year’s draft at the bottom of the post and how they played over the past few months.

Be sure to come back next week for the inaugural Orioles Minor League All-Star Squad. I’ll highlight the best performances at each position in 2016.

In the meantime, tell me which players you think are deserving in the comments below.

No. 1: Chance Sisco, C, Norfolk
Final 2016 statistics: .317 average, 6 HRs, 51 RBIs, 28 2Bs, 57 runs in 116 games Player Page

What a perfect ending to the year for the 2013 second-round pick. Sisco, 21, earned a promotion to Norfolk for the final five days of the season after hitting .320 with an Eastern League-leading .406 on-base percentage through 112 games. And what a Triple-A debut it was. In his first game with the Tides, Sisco hit a grand slam and had five RBIs in a 13-9 win over Charlotte on Thursday afternoon. Although he only batted .250 (4-for-16) in his limited action at Norfolk, Sisco finished on a high note by going 2-for-4 with a two-run home run in his final at-bat of the year as the Tides won, 7-1, at Durham on Monday. When the Orioles name their Brooks Robinson Minor League Player of the Year in the coming days, it’d be a big surprise if Sisco isn’t the one being honored. He has lived up to the hype in 2016.

No. 2: Hunter Harvey, RHP, disabled list
Final 2016 statistics: 0-1, 2.13 ERA, 18 Ks, 12 hits, 6 BBs in 12 2/3 innings Player Page

Harvey, 21, underwent successful Tommy John surgery in July and is expected to miss at least a year. It’s possible that the 2013 first-round selection (22nd overall) won’t pitch in a game again until April 2018. After a promising start to his career, Harvey has pitched just 12 2/3 innings – all this season – in the past two years due to several injuries.

No. 3: Jomar Reyes, 3B, Frederick
Final 2016 statistics: .228 average, 10 HRs, 51 RBIs, 53 runs, 102 Ks in 126 games Player Page

Reyes, 19, ended the season with a seven-game hitting streak for the Keys. He hit safely in 13 of his final 15 games, including a 4-for-4 showing in Frederick’s 7-4 loss at Salem on Aug. 26. In that span, Reyes batted .313 (15-for-48) with one home run, five RBIs and six runs scored. I listed Reyes as bearish mainly because he only hit .228 overall with a .271 on-base percentage in 2016. He’ll need to do better in those categories next season. But it’s important to keep in mind – as I’ve written numerous times throughout the year – he’s very young compared with the pitchers he faced in the Carolina League. And he reached double digits in home runs, which is a good sign for his age. To be honest, I’m still bullish on his long-term prospects within the organization. But he has room to improve in 2017.

No. 4: Ryan Mountcastle, SS, Delmarva
Final 2016 statistics: .281 average, 10 HRs, 51 RBIs, 28 2Bs, 53 runs, 95 Ks in 115 games Player Page

In the first half, the 2015 first-round pick (36th overall) batted .297 with five home runs and 20 RBIs in 55 games. The fact that Mountcastle, 19, almost hit .300 before the All-Star break after struggling with a .162 average in April is remarkable. His average was lower in the second half – .268 in 60 games – but he had 11 more RBIs (31 compared to 20 in the first half). Plus, Mountcastle had 13 extra-base hits (seven doubles, two triples, four home runs) and 18 RBIs in 25 August games – both highs for a month in 2016. It’s great to see the strong finish out of the young infielder. He’s moving in the right direction.

No. 5: Tanner Scott, LHP, Bowie
Final 2016 statistics: 5-4, 4.76 ERA, 81 Ks, 40 hits, 57 BBs in 64 1/3 innings Player Page

When the 2014 sixth-round selection takes the mound, you’re just not sure which pitcher you’re going to get – the flame-thrower who was 3-0 with a 0.91 ERA and 42 strikeouts in 29 2/3 innings in May and June for Frederick or the erratic left-hander who was 2-4 with an 8.05 ERA and 39 strikeouts in 34 1/3 innings across the other months with the Keys and Bowie. Oh, and don’t forget that Scott, 22, allowed more than two baserunners per inning in 14 appearances for the Baysox after his July 21 promotion. The people who matter within the organization – and many others outside of it – are obviously high on him. But until he can harness his 100-mph stuff, the Orioles won’t be able to depend on him in the majors.

No. 6: Trey Mancini, 1B, Norfolk
Final 2016 statistics: .282 average, 20 HRs, 68 RBIs, 26 2Bs, 140 Ks in 142 games Player Page

The 2013 eighth-round pick did what he needed to do early in the season to earn a promotion from Bowie to Norfolk. Mancini, 24, quickly moved up a level after hitting seven home runs in 17 games with the Baysox. And he appeared to be on his way to a second consecutive Brooks Robinson Minor League Player of the Year award after hitting .292 with 10 home runs and 30 RBIs in 73 games for the Tides before the All-Star break. But then his performance really declined. In 52 games in the second half, Mancini only batted .262 with three home runs and 24 RBIs. He hit just .215 (26-for-121) in 30 games in August. Still, Mancini finished with a .438 average (7-for-16) in five games this month. He’ll be 25 in March, so it’ll be time to see what he can do at the major league level in the spring.

No. 7: Chris Lee, LHP, Bowie
Final 2016 statistics: 5-0, 2.98 ERA, 19 Ks, 1.05 WHIP in 51 1/3 innings Player Page

Lee, 24, did almost everything right for the first seven weeks of the season. Although his strikeout numbers were well below his career average during eight appearances (seven starts) with the Baysox, Lee pitched at least six innings in every game and held his opponents to three runs or less in seven of them. But then, after pitching a career-high eight innings in a 2-1 loss at Hartford on May 23, he suffered a strained lat muscle and didn’t pitch again. That’s why I’m listing Lee as bearish for his overall season performance. If he weren’t injured, Lee likely would have received a shot in the major leagues at some point this season. Who knows, maybe a deal for left-hander Wade Miley wouldn’t have been needed. Lee could help the Orioles at some point in 2017, perhaps to start the year.

No. 8: Garrett Cleavinger, LHP, Frederick
Final 2016 statistics: 7-3, 3.07 ERA, 102 Ks, 60 hits, 34 BBs in 76 1/3 innings Player Page

In the first half, the 2015 third-round pick dominated South Atlantic League competition. Cleavinger, 22, was 5-0 with a 1.38 ERA and 53 strikeouts in 39 innings over 17 appearances with the Shorebirds before the All-Star break. He only allowed earned runs in three of those 17 games. But Cleavinger lost his dominant touch after he moved to Frederick to start the second half. In 20 appearances with the Keys, he was 2-3 with a 4.82 ERA in 37 1/3 innings. Cleavinger allowed at least one earned run in 11 of those 20 games – including seven of his final 10 outings. In that span, he had a 6.06 ERA in 16 1/3 innings. I don’t think these late-season struggles will affect his long-term outlook, but it’s a little disappointing to see Cleavinger’s success early in the year overshadowed by his finish.

No. 9: Ofelky Peralta, RHP, Delmarva
Final 2016 statistics: 8-5, 4.01 ERA, 101 Ks, 87 hits, 60 BBs in 103 1/3 innings Player Page

Peralta, 19, successfully made the jump from the GCL Orioles in 2015 to spend the majority of the year in Delmarva’s rotation. The highlight of his season came July 8, when he struck out eight batters and pitched a rain-shortened, five-inning no-hitter in a 5-0 win over Hagerstown. Peralta earned the organization’s Player of the Month award in July, when he went 3-0 with a 2.57 ERA in four starts. Although he finished the year with a respectable 4.01 ERA, Peralta gave up a run more per nine innings in the second half (4.64 ERA in 10 starts) than he did before the All-Star break (3.56 ERA in 13 starts). Still, even though he didn’t get better as the season progressed, Peralta is in a nice spot heading into 2017.


Cristian Alvarado, RHP, Delmarva: The 21-year-old Venezuelan finished second in the South Atlantic League with 148 strikeouts in 148 innings. Alvarado earned the organization’s Pitcher of the Month award in June after going 4-0 with a 1.29 ERA and 39 strikeouts in 35 innings. He threw a seven-inning one-hitter in a 6-0 win over Greensboro on June 29.

Brian Gonzalez, LHP, Delmarva: If I had a vote for the Orioles’ Jim Palmer Pitcher of the Year award, I’d give it to the 2014 third-round pick. Gonzalez, 20, pitched much better in his second season with the Shorebirds. In 2015, he was 4-9 with a 5.71 ERA in 23 starts. This year, Gonzalez went 10-8 and finished third in the league with a 2.50 ERA in 27 starts.

Jesus Liranzo, RHP, Bowie: Before the 21-year-old Dominican was charged with three runs in two-thirds of an inning in the season finale Monday, he had excelled out of the bullpen for the Shorebirds and the Baysox. In 16 appearances at Delmarva, Liranzo had a 1.05 ERA and 46 strikeouts in 34 1/3 innings. For Bowie, he was 1-1 with a 3.38 ERA in 11 outings.

Yermin Mercedes, C, Frederick: If there’s anyone who can challenge Sisco for the Brooks Robinson Award, it’d be Mercedes. The 23-year-old Dominican batted .345 with 20 home runs, 31 doubles and 77 RBIs in 122 games between Delmarva and Frederick. In his final five games, Mercedes hit .500 (10-for-20).

Aderlin Rodriguez, 1B, Frederick: Like Mercedes, the 24-year-old Dominican seemingly came out of nowhere to lead the Keys offensively in 2016. Rodriguez led all Orioles minor leaguers in home runs (26) and RBIs (93) this year. Despite being slightly old for the Carolina League, Rodriguez batted .325 with 16 home runs and 53 RBIs in the second half.

Alex Wells, LHP, Aberdeen: Seemingly overshadowed by several high 2016 draft picks with the IronBirds, the 19-year-old Australian impressed in his first season. Wells was one of two Aberdeen players – along with outfielder Cole Billingsley – to be selected for the New York-Penn League All-Star Game. He was 4-5 with a 2.15 ERA in 13 starts.


Jason Garcia, RHP, Bowie: Last season, the 2014 Rule 5 pick finished with a 4.25 ERA in 21 appearances out of the Orioles bullpen. Garcia, 23, went 6-10 with a 4.73 ERA in 24 starts at the Double-A level this year. He pitched better down the stretch – 2.64 ERA in six August starts – but Double-A hitters batted .291 against him in 2016. Not good.

Josh Hart, OF, Frederick: Hart, 21, hit twice as many home runs in 337 minor league at-bats this year (four) as the 2013 supplemental first-round selection (37th overall) had in 907 at-bats in his first three seasons (two). And he batted .296 with 10 RBIs in 26 games in August. But overall, things were tough for Hart in his second straight year with the Keys.

David Hess, RHP, Bowie: The 2014 fifth-round pick went 10-5 with a 3.64 ERA in 28 games (27 starts), mostly at Frederick, last season. But Hess, 23, failed to continue that success with the Baysox in 2016. He was 5-13 with a 5.37 ERA in 25 games (24 starts) for Bowie this year, including an abysmal 1-4 with a 10.80 ERA in five starts in June.

L.J. Hoes, OF, Norfolk: In 2012, after a midseason promotion from Bowie, the 2008 third-round pick hit .300 with three home runs and 38 RBIs in 82 games for the Tides. He made his major league debut later that year. Four years later, Hoes didn’t have the same success in Norfolk. He batted .242 with six home runs and 33 RBIs in 102 games this season.

Henry Urrutia, OF, Bowie: If it weren’t clear before, it became evident this year that Urrutia (pictured above) was no longer in the Orioles’ plans when the club demoted him to the Baysox from Norfolk in mid-May. Later, the 29-year-old Cuban was removed from the 40-man roster and outrighted to Bowie. Urrutia hit .316 in 75 games for the Baysox, but that doesn’t change things for his future.

Mike Yastrzemski, OF, Norfolk: The 2013 14th-round pick – and grandson of former Red Sox great Carl Yastrzemski – hit .424 with two home runs and seven RBIs in his first nine games with the Tides after a promotion in mid-May. But Yastrzemski, 26, only batted .199 in 44 games in the second half. The left-hander hit .141 versus lefties with the Tides.


Cody Sedlock, RHP, Aberdeen: The club’s first-round selection (27th overall) finished with a 3.00 ERA in nine starts for the IronBirds. Sedlock, 21, pitched exactly three innings in each of his outings and only gave up more than two runs once – in an 8-7 loss at Staten Island on Aug. 24. In that game, he allowed five runs (four earned) and four hits.

Keegan Akin, LHP, Aberdeen: Akin, 21, was nearly flawless in nine starts at Aberdeen. The second-round pick had a 1.04 ERA in 26 innings and didn’t allow a run after July 24 – a span of 20 innings. In his final start of the season, Akin retired all nine batters he faced in the IronBirds’ 5-4 victory over Brooklyn. He struck out four hitters in the game.

Matthias Dietz, RHP, Aberdeen: The club’s third selection in the June draft didn’t have the same level of success as the first two picks. Dietz, who also was picked in the second round, finished 0-3 with a 4.82 ERA in seven starts for the IronBirds. He struck out eight hitters and walked 10 in 18 2/3 innings. Dietz, 20, only had one scoreless outing as a pro.

Austin Hays, OF, Aberdeen: Although he went hitless in his final 12 at-bats of the season, the third-round pick still finished with a .336 average, 15 extra-base hits (nine doubles, two triples, four home runs) and 21 RBIs in 38 games for the IronBirds. From Aug. 18 to Sept. 1, he had 10 multi-hit performances and batted .426 (26-for-61) with 13 RBIs in  games.

Alexis Torres, SS, GCL Orioles: On the flip side, the Orioles’ highest draft pick to play for the GCL Orioles really had trouble adjusting to professional baseball in 2016. Torres, 18, only hit .183 with six extra-base hits (five doubles, one home run) in 37 games. The fifth-round selection out of Puerto Rico had three hits and four RBIs on July 29 against the Rays.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Boog Robinson Robinson

    September 7, 2016 at 7:26 am

    Mr. Jones, thanks for all your hard work this year. I really looked forward to the report every Tuesday afternoon.

    Hey, every the optimist with this team, I look forward to seeing Sisco, Reyes, Mancini, Mountcastle and the likes some day if Mr. Duquette doesn’t trade them away for the rentals. Your reports on Sedlock and Akin have me excited as well. Of course disappointment isn’t unfamiliar. I can remember the day I was juiced about players like Urrutia, Yaz- and Mike Wright, only to have them seemingly fading away as they age.

    One this I noticed is your failure to mention Christian Walker? Is he out of the teams plans at this point? Trade bait perhaps?

    Again, thanks for the weekly read, and job well done.

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