Pedro Alvarez and Henry Urrutia struggling at Norfolk; Yacabonis excelling for Tides - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Dean Jones Report

Pedro Alvarez and Henry Urrutia struggling at Norfolk; Yacabonis excelling for Tides

Photo credit: Joy R. Absalon

As you may recall, the Orioles signed veteran right-hander Edwin Jackson to a minor league deal in early April. For the past month, he has been in extended spring training.

On Sunday, Jackson made his first start of the year for Triple-A Norfolk. He allowed one run and three hits in three innings as the Tides beat Durham, 4-3, in 12 innings.

In 2016, Jackson was 5-7 with a 5.89 ERA in 21 games (13 starts) while splitting the season between the Miami Marlins and the San Diego Padres. He is 93-114 with a 4.65 ERA in 361 games (275 starts) during a 14-year career that has included time with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Tampa Bay (Devil) Rays, Detroit Tigers, Arizona Diamondbacks, Chicago White Sox, St. Louis Cardinals, Washington Nationals, Chicago Cubs and Atlanta Braves.

Wow, that turned out to be a long paragraph.

The Orioles would be Jackson’s 12th major league team. He hasn’t played longer than three seasons with any club. Because Jackson signed a minor league deal, the Orioles would need to make a move to add him to their 40-man roster if they want to bring him up.

Jackson, 33, will pitch in Norfolk’s rotation for now. I’ll keep you updated on how he pitches in the coming weeks. His deal reportedly includes a June 1 opt-out clause, so stay tuned.

Meanwhile, the Orioles announced their players of the month for April last week. If you picked Double-A Bowie left-hander John Means and Low-A Delmarva outfielder Jake Ring in the lottery, step forward to claim your prize.

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Means, 24, went 1-1 with a 1.40 ERA in five starts for the Baysox last month. In his first start in May, the 2014 11th-round pick out of West Virginia gave up seven runs and eight hits in 5 1/3 innings during Bowie’s 7-2 loss at Richmond on Friday night. That’s more runs in one game than he allowed in five starts in April (six, four earned).

Ring, 22, batted .359 with three home runs, 19 RBIs, nine doubles and three triples in 21 games for the Shorebirds in April. He also had six stolen bases and scored 15 runs. Unlike Means, the 2016 31st-round selection has remained hot to start this month. Through Monday, Ring is hitting .296 with three home runs and seven RBIs in six games in May.

One last note for this week: Everyone’s favorite Heisman-winning quarterback, Tim Tebow, will be playing for the New York Mets’ South Atlantic League affiliate, Columbia, against Delmarva from Wednesday through Friday at Perdue Stadium. Tebow went 1-for-6 with two walks and a run scored in a pair of games between the two teams last week.

If you’re checking out the “Dean Jones Report” for the first time, I’d like to welcome you to share your thoughts on the Orioles’ minor leaguers in the comments section below.

I update Orioles fans weekly on the club’s minor leaguers who have earned a spot on my “Dean’s Dozen” list. I categorize each player as a rising stock (“bullish”) or a falling stock (“bearish”), depending on how they’re playing.

In addition to that, I highlight a handful of other players from within the organization. Finally, you’ll see the upcoming schedule for each of the Orioles’ four, full-season affiliates.

 

DEAN’S DOZEN

No. 1: Chance Sisco, C, Norfolk

BEARISH

Statistics: .244, 0 HRs, 13 RBIs, 7 2Bs, 27 Ks in 23 games

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The 2013 second-round pick has two multi-hit games in May, including a 2-for-4 performance Monday night in the Tides’ 8-2 victory at Louisville. Sisco, 22, had a leadoff single in the fourth inning and an RBI single in the seventh. However, he is only batting .238 (5-for-21) with no extra-base hits and two RBIs in six games this month. Sisco hit .246 (14-for-57) in 17 games in April. That’s his worst average in a full month since he batted .245 in 13 games for Delmarva in April 2014. While some Orioles fans clamored for Sisco to start the year in the major leagues, it’s clear he still needs some time in Triple-A.

No. 2: Ryan Mountcastle, SS, Frederick

BULLISH

Statistics: .320, 6 HRs, 22 RBIs, 10 2Bs, 23 Ks in 31 games

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Mountcastle, 20, had two, three-hit games in the past week. The 2015 first-round selection (36th overall) went 3-for-4 with a home run and two runs scored in the second game of a doubleheader last Tuesday night as the Keys beat Myrtle Beach, 8-2. And then in Frederick’s 12-9 win at Carolina on Friday, Mountcastle had two singles, a double and four RBIs. He’s currently tied for the Carolina League lead in hits (39), second in total bases (67), tied for second in doubles (10) and fourth in home runs (six). And apparently, he likes to hit under the lights. He’s batting .355 in 20 night games compared with .261 in 11 day games.

No. 3: Keegan Akin, LHP, Frederick

BEARISH

Statistics: 1-3, 6.26 ERA, 32 Ks, 15 BBs in 23 innings

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In his most recent start, the 2016 second-round pick pitched around three singles and two walks to remain scoreless through three innings at Carolina on Thursday. But Akin, 22, then fell apart in the fourth. He walked the first two batters before giving up a bunt single and a two-run double without recording an out. The Mudcats scored six total runs in the inning – four charged to Akin (three earned) and two to the Keys’ Tanner Chleborad – and cruised to a 7-2 win. Akin, who is scheduled to pitch again Wednesday versus Down East, is 1-1 with a 3.60 ERA in three starts during the day and 0-2 with an 11.25 ERA in three starts at night.

No. 4: Cody Sedlock, RHP, Frederick

BEARISH

Statistics: 4-0, 4.83 ERA, 28 Ks, 8 BBs in 31 2/3 innings

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Cinco de Mayo wasn’t kind to the 2016 first-round selection (27th overall). Sedlock, 21, struggled for the second straight outing, giving up six runs and nine hits in five innings during the Keys’ 12-9 victory at Carolina on Friday. That’s right. Frederick’s hitters picked Sedlock up, and he got the win. Sedlock remains undefeated in his first full season in the minor leagues, but he also surrendered only the second home run he has allowed in 58 2/3 professional innings dating back to his time with short-season Single-A Aberdeen in 2016. He is in line to make his next start in the series finale Thursday morning against Down East.

No. 5: Chris Lee, LHP, Norfolk

BULLISH

Statistics: 2-1, 5.81 ERA, 20 Ks, 15 BBs in 26 1/3 innings

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In the Tides’ 8-2 win on the road over Louisville on Monday night, Lee held the Bats to two runs and three hits in a season-high 6 1/3 innings. Lee, 24, struck out six batters and walked three in the victory. That was the most strikeouts for Lee in a game since he struck out the same number of hitters in his final start for Frederick on August 1, 2015. It was a nice rebound effort for Lee, who only survived 3 1/3 innings last Wednesday at Charlotte. In that game, he allowed four runs, 10 hits and three walks in Norfolk’s 5-4 win.

No. 6: Cedric Mullins, OF, Bowie

BEARISH

Statistics: .367, 4 HRs, 11 RBIs, 5 2Bs, 1 3B, 17 runs in 14 games

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Mullins, 22, remains on the disabled list with a strained left hamstring. The 2015 13th-round pick suffered the injury April 20 while running to first base, so we’re now beyond the initial two-week timetable. He’s getting closer to full strength, but the Orioles won’t rush him.

No. 7: Jesus Liranzo, RHP, Bowie

BEARISH

Statistics: 1-1, 7.82 ERA, 14 Ks, 13 BBs in 12 2/3 innings

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Liranzo, 22, had arguably his best outing of the year in Bowie’s 5-0 victory at Richmond on Saturday night. The Dominican Republic native tossed two hitless innings for the Baysox, striking out three and hitting a batter. He threw 17 of his 23 pitches for strikes. And even though Liranzo hit the Flying Squirrels’ Jeff Arnold to lead off the eighth, he didn’t walk anyone for just the second time in nine appearances this season. Still, Liranzo had allowed eight runs (seven earned), five hits and four walks in 1 2/3 innings during his previous two games. So, he’s going to need to pitch well for more than one outing before I turn bullish.

No. 8: Stefan Crichton, RHP, Norfolk

BULLISH

Statistics: 3-0, 1.88 ERA, 16 Ks, 2 BBs in 14 1/3 innings at Norfolk; 0-0, 10.80 ERA, 2 Ks, 1 BB in 3 1/3 innings for Orioles

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I wonder if the 2013 23rd-round selection is making money while moonlighting as the driver of the Norfolk-Baltimore Transit Line. The Orioles optioned Crichton, 25, back to the Tides again Sunday to make room for right-hander Chris Tillman. Since April 13, the club has brought Crichton back and forth from Norfolk three times. He pitched 2 1/3 scoreless innings Wednesday at Charlotte to pick up his team-leading third win of the season for the Tides. Two days later, he was charged with one run in one-third of an inning as the Orioles beat the Chicago White Sox, 4-2, in the series opener. And then Monday, he tossed 2 2/3 scoreless innings in Norfolk’s 8-2 victory at Louisville.

No. 9: Ofelky Peralta, RHP, Frederick

BEARISH

Statistics: 0-1, 6.86 ERA, 24 Ks, 17 BBs in 19 2/3 innings

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For the first time in five starts this season, the Dominican Republic native pitched into the sixth inning Wednesday against Myrtle Beach. Peralta, 20, gave up four runs and four hits – including a pair of solo home runs in the sixth – during Frederick’s 4-3 loss to the Pelicans. He also hit a batter – his fifth in 2017 – and walked two others. Like Akin, Peralta has pitched much better during the day (0-1, 3.38 ERA in two starts) compared with the typical night games (0-0, 11.00 ERA in three starts). He’ll start tonight against Down East.

No. 10: Austin Hays, OF, Frederick

BULLISH

Statistics: .330, 3 HRs, 14 RBIs, 1 2B, 3 3Bs in 26 games

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Hays, 21, missed a few days last week with hamstring discomfort, but he appeared as a pinch hitter in Wednesday’s game and returned to the lineup Thursday. In the Keys’ 12-9 win over Carolina on Friday, the 2016 third-round selection went 2-for-3 with two walks and two runs. Hays also had a pair of singles and a run scored in Frederick’s 5-4 loss to the Mudcats in the series finale Sunday. He currently leads the Keys with three stolen bases.

No. 11: DJ Stewart, OF, Bowie

BEARISH

Statistics: .250, 5 HRs, 20 RBIs, 8 2Bs, 21 Ks in 26 games

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The month started off well for the 2015 first-round pick (25th overall). Stewart, 23, had three hits – including a solo home run – in Bowie’s 5-2 victory over Erie on May 1. But in five games since then, he is hitting .150 (3-for-20) with six strikeouts. We’ve still seen some positive signs from Stewart during his recent miniature slump. In the second game of a doubleheader Friday, he went 2-for-3 with a pair of doubles, two walks and two runs scored as the Baysox routed Richmond, 12-2. And he has walked four times in that stretch. Stewart has been a streaky hitter throughout his career. That’s not going to change now.

No. 12: Gabriel Ynoa, RHP, Orioles

BULLISH

Statistics: 1-4, 6.65 ERA, 14 Ks, 6 BBs in 21 2/3 innings at Norfolk; 1-0, 0.00 ERA, 5 Ks, 0 BBs in six innings for Orioles

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What a whirlwind week for the Dominican Republic native. The Orioles brought Ynoa, 23, up Thursday to serve as extra help in the bullpen. A day later, the move paid off when left-hander Wade Miley had to exit with a left wrist contusion. Ynoa struck out five batters and scattered six hits in six innings to pick up his second career major league victory in the Orioles’ win over the White Sox. And then, one day after that, he landed on the 10-day disabled list with a right hamstring strain. It doesn’t appear to be serious. Ynoa will likely rejoin Crichton and the rest of the relievers on the pitching carousel once he’s healthy.

SURGING

Tucker Nathans, OF/DH, Bowie: The undrafted 28-year-old outfielder didn’t even join the Baysox until Mullins went on the disabled list last month. Nathans, who signed with the Orioles out of the independent leagues in 2013, hit three home runs in Bowie’s 11-9 loss to Erie on Wednesday afternoon. He became the fifth Baysox player to accomplish that.

Garabez Rosa, UTIL, Bowie: The Dominican Republic native has shined offensively through the first month of his 11th professional season. Rosa, 27, leads the Eastern League in hits (43) and total bases (65). He also ranks second in batting average (.358), tied for second in RBIs (22) and tied for seventh in home runs (five). He’s hitting .436 (17-for-39) in May.

Tanner Scott, LHP, Bowie: The strategy of using the 2014 sixth-round pick to start games appears to be working. Scott, 22, had his best outing of the year Sunday as the Baysox beat Richmond, 8-4. He struck out six batters and allowed just one hit – a two-out double in the first inning. Overall, he has a 1.50 ERA and 27 strikeouts in 18 innings this season.

Jimmy Yacabonis, RHP, Norfolk: The 2013 13th-round selection hasn’t allowed a run in 15 2/3 innings this season. Yacabonis, 25, is a perfect five-for-five in save opportunities. He has only allowed six hits and five walks in his 12 appearances – six of which have been longer than one inning. Opponents are only hitting .120 against Yacabonis in 2017.

FALLING

Pedro Alvarez, OF, Norfolk: The homerless streak ended at 17 games Monday when the 2008 first-round pick (second overall) went deep in the first inning of Norfolk’s 8-2 victory over Louisville. But Alvarez, 30, is still only batting .177 with 29 strikeouts and only seven extra-base hits in 30 games. He’s hitting .161 (5-for-31) with five RBIs in May. And the reports about his outfield defense haven’t been encouraging.

Garrett Cleavinger, LHP, Bowie: The 2015 third-round selection struck out an incredible 102 hitters in 76 1/3 innings while splitting last year between Delmarva and Frederick. Cleavinger, 23, had more success for the Shorebirds, but he went 7-3 with a 3.07 ERA in 37 games overall. He has struggled this year, going 0-1 with a 5.27 ERA in 13 2/3 innings.

Henry Urrutia, OF, Norfolk: Seemingly out of the Orioles’ plans after playing in 34 total games for the club in 2013 and 2015, the Cuban native has struggled as a role player for the Tides this season. Urrutia, 30, is batting .159 (7-for-44) with one home run, three RBIs and 17 strikeouts in 15 games for Norfolk. He has mostly hit in the leadoff spot.

 

THE WEEK AHEAD

Norfolk (13-17)

May 9 – at Louisville, 6:35 p.m.

May 10 – at Louisville, 11:05 a.m.

May 11 – at Indianapolis, 7:05 p.m.

May 12 – at Indianapolis, 7:15 p.m.

May 13 – at Indianapolis, 7:05 p.m.

May 14 – at Indianapolis, 1:35 p.m.

May 15 – vs. Gwinnett, 6:35 p.m.

Bowie (16-15)

May 9 – at Reading, 6:35 p.m.

May 10 – at Reading, 11:35 a.m.

May 11 – vs. Richmond, 6:35 p.m.

May 12 – vs. Richmond, 7:05 p.m.

May 13 – vs. Richmond, 6:35 p.m.

May 14 – vs. Richmond, 2:05 p.m.

May 15 – OFF

Frederick (16-15)

May 9 – vs. Down East, 7 p.m.

May 10 – vs. Down East, 7 p.m.

May 11 – vs. Down East, 11 a.m.

May 12 – at Wilmington, 7:05 p.m.

May 13 – at Wilmington, 7:05 p.m.

May 14 – at Wilmington, 1:35 p.m.

May 15 – at Salem, 7:05 p.m.

Delmarva (15-16)

May 9 – OFF

May 10 – vs. Columbia, 7:05 p.m.

May 11 – vs. Columbia (doubleheader), 6:05 p.m.

May 12 – vs. Columbia, 7:05 p.m.

May 13 – vs. Greenville, 7:05 p.m.

May 14 – vs. Greenville, 2:05 p.m.

May 15 – vs. Greenville, 7:05 p.m.

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