The 2017 season is finally underway.
Well, at least at the major league level. The minor leaguers will kick things off Thursday.
Three of the Orioles’ four full-season affiliates start on the road this year.
Only High-A Frederick – which plays Carolina at 7 p.m. Thursday – will begin at home. Triple-A Norfolk (at Charlotte) and Low-A Delmarva (at Greenville) will head south, while Double-A Bowie (at Akron) travels to the Midwest.
The Tides return to Harbor Park on Monday for their home opener against Gwinnett at 6:35 p.m., while the Baysox and Shorebirds will remain on the road until next Thursday, when they host Harrisburg and Hagerstown, respectively.
With the start of a new minor league season, we’ll kick off the second year of “The Dean Jones Report” on BaltimoreBaseball.com on Tuesday.
Each week, I’ll track the performances of the Orioles minor leaguers on my “Dean’s Dozen” list. Regular readers will realize this is slightly different than last year, when I used Baseball America’s rankings. I’ll categorize each of the players in the weekly report as a rising stock (bullish) or a falling stock (bearish), based on their recent performance.
I also will highlight a handful of additional players divided into two categories – surging and falling. These players could change from week to week, depending on who’s hot and who’s not in the Orioles’ minor league system.
For now, though, let’s introduce you to the 2017 preseason “Dean’s Dozen.” Back in November, I put together a preliminary version of the rankings.
I’ve kept a lot of the same players from my initial list, but have also made a few changes.
For one, I’ve removed first baseman (and now outfielder) Trey Mancini since he started the year in the majors. If he goes back to Norfolk, I’ll get him in an updated Dean’s Dozen. But for now, he’s off – and I’m sure Orioles fans would prefer if I don’t have to add him back.
I’ve also dropped Frederick infielder Jomar Reyes from my list. While he’s only 20 years old, he took a step back in 2016 – batting .228 with a dreadful .271 on-base percentage in 126 games – and will return to the Keys for a second straight Opening Day. If he’s able to improve at the start of the year, Reyes could jump back into my mix by the All-Star break.
Now, let’s get to the updated list: