Two more potential riders on the Norfolk-Baltimore Transit Line debuted this week.
OK, it’s a stretch to punch their tickets right now. One of the two pitchers isn’t even in Norfolk yet, so he technically can’t get a seat on that shuttle. And neither is likely to come up any time soon.
But you get the point: The Orioles are adding promising pitchers who could possibly help at the major league level – either later this season or in the coming years.
On May 6, the Orioles acquired right-hander Jordan Kipper from the Los Angeles Angels in exchange for right-hander Damien Magnifico, who had been designated for assignment.
Kipper, 24, was 2-1 with a 1.74 ERA in five starts for Double-A Mobile this year before the deal. The 2014 ninth-round pick was 23-22 with a 4.01 ERA in 70 games (56 starts) in the Angels organization overall. He hadn’t pitched above Double-A in their system.
In his debut with Triple-A Norfolk, Kipper gave up four runs (two earned) and five hits in five innings as the Tides routed Indianapolis, 11-4, on Friday night. He’s scheduled to pitch again Wednesday afternoon in the series finale against Gwinnett at Harbor Park.
Meanwhile, right-hander Miguel Castro – whom the Orioles acquired in a trade with the Colorado Rockies last month – made his season debut with Double-A Bowie on Saturday.
The former Toronto Blue Jays closer – albeit for an extremely brief time in early 2015 – gave up one run and six hits in four innings. Castro, 22, picked up the win as the Baysox rallied for a 2-1 victory in the first game of a doubleheader against Richmond.
While neither pitcher will likely be the next in line to receive a call-up, Castro could enter the discussion at some point if he pitches well since he’s on the 40-man roster.
The Orioles would need to make a move to add Kipper to the 40-man roster. And with 23 pitchers already on it – including closer Zach Britton and right-hander Gabriel Ynoa on the disabled list – that doesn’t appear in the immediate plans. He’ll keep pitching in Norfolk.
Whether Kipper or Castro ever pitch for the Orioles, they’re still adding depth to the organization. And, as we all know, that’s what executive vice president Dan Duquette loves.
Now, let’s move along to the rest of the “Dean Jones Report” for this week.
As regular readers know, in my weekly report on BaltimoreBaseball.com, I provide updates 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”), based on how he has played over the past week – and in some cases, all season.
In addition, I highlight a handful of other players from within the organization. You’ll notice that two Bowie pitchers are “surging” this week, while another Baysox pitcher is “falling” in May.
Finally, you’ll see the upcoming schedule for each of the Orioles’ full-season affiliates. Three of the four teams will be home this weekend, so get out and watch some baseball.
No. 1: Chance Sisco, C, Norfolk
Statistics: .240, 1 HR, 15 RBIs, 7 2Bs, 31 Ks in 29 games
Sisco, 22, came off the bench to hit his first home run of the year at Indianapolis on Sunday. The 2013 second-round pick’s two-run blast in the top of the ninth gave the Tides a one-run lead, but they were unable to hold it in a 5-4, 11-inning loss. Sisco has reached base safely in each of his past seven games. He is hitting .273 (6-for-22) in that span. In 17 games in the sixth spot in the lineup, Sisco is hitting .304 (17-for-56) with three doubles and nine RBIs. In 10 games as the No. 5 hitter, he is only batting .139 (5-for-36).
No. 2: Ryan Mountcastle, SS, Frederick
Statistics: .342, 7 HRs, 26 RBIs, 14 2Bs, 26 Ks in 37 games
The 2015 first-round selection (36th overall) hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down for the Keys. Mountcastle, 20, is batting .377 (20-for-53) with two home runs, nine doubles, one triple and 10 RBIs in 13 games this month. With four doubles since our last update, he is now tied for the Carolina League lead (14) in that category. Mountcastle is also leading the league in total bases (87) and hits (50). Last Wednesday, he hit his seventh home run of the season as the Keys beat Down East, 7-2. Mountcastle had three hits in the first game of a doubleheader at Wilmington on Sunday and four more hits Monday night.
No. 3: Keegan Akin, LHP, Frederick
Statistics: 2-3, 5.34 ERA, 37 Ks, 17 BBs in 30 1/3 innings
Akin, 22, made his longest start as a professional – both in terms of innings and pitches thrown – in the Keys’ 7-2 victory over Down East last Wednesday night. The 2016 second-round pick held the Wood Ducks to two runs and three hits in 7 1/3 innings. He struck out five batters and issued two walks, throwing 63 of his 94 pitches for strikes, according to MILB.com. Following the disastrous season opener in which he didn’t make it out of the first inning, Akin is 2-3 with a 3.64 ERA in his last six starts. He’s scheduled to pitch again tonight at Salem.
No. 4: Cody Sedlock, RHP, Frederick
Statistics: 4-1, 4.38 ERA, 32 Ks, 12 BBs in 37 innings
In his only start over the past week, the 2016 first-round selection (27th overall) lost for the first time in 2017. Sedlock, 21, walked a career-high four batters in that game. So why am I flipping him to “bullish” after two straight “bearish” weeks? Because Sedlock recovered from back-to-back rough outings and danced around those four walks Friday night to only surrender two runs (one earned) in 5 1/3 innings. He also faced two bases-loaded situations – successfully escaping one – as the Keys lost, 2-1, at Wilmington. Coincidentally, Sedlock didn’t walk anyone in his previous two starts during which he allowed 13 runs and 19 hits in 9 2/3 innings.
No. 5: Chris Lee, LHP, Norfolk
Statistics: 2-1, 5.46 ERA, 24 Ks, 18 BBs in 31 1/3 innings
I’m torn on the 24-year-old left-hander right now. Lee has held opponents to two runs or fewer in five of his seven starts this year, but also has walked at least three batters in five games in 2017. Lee has unimpressive numbers overall – 5.46 ERA and 1.95 WHIP – but in his five “good” starts, he has a 2.55 ERA and a more respectable 1.50 WHIP. Basically, about 70% of the time, Lee has pitched well for the Tides. That’s good enough for me to remain “bullish” this week, but I’d like to see him cut down on the baserunners as the season progresses.
No. 6: Cedric Mullins, OF, Bowie
Statistics: .367, 4 HRs, 11 RBIs, 5 2Bs, 1 3B, 17 runs in 14 games
Mullins, 22, hasn’t played since April 20 due to a strained left hamstring. The 2015 13th-round pick did take time to ponder an interesting question on Mother’s Day, though. So, while you wait for Mullins to return to Bowie’s lineup (which appears to be getting closer), take a minute and ask yourself: Where would you be without your mother?
No. 7: Jesus Liranzo, RHP, Bowie
Statistics: 1-1, 7.07 ERA, 17 Ks, 14 BBs in 14 innings
Overall, the Dominican Republic native has given up at least one run in half of his outings (five out of 10) this season, including five in one-third of an inning April 30 against Akron. But Liranzo, 22, made consecutive scoreless appearances against Richmond on May 6 and last Thursday. In those two games, he had six strikeouts and allowed two hits in 3 1/3 innings. Liranzo also hit a batter and walked another. Because of his recent success, I’m turning “bullish” on Liranzo this week. We’ll see if he can build on the momentum.
No. 8: Stefan Crichton, RHP, Norfolk
Statistics: 3-0, 1.56 ERA, 17 Ks, 2 BBs in 17 1/3 innings at Norfolk; 0-0, 10.80 ERA, 2 Ks, 1 BB in 3 1/3 innings for Orioles
This year, we’ve seen Triple-A Stefan Crichton and major league Stefan Crichton. The first version has been remarkable – a 1.56 ERA and team-leading three wins. The other has been lackluster – 10.80 ERA in 3 1/3 innings. On Friday night, the 2013 23rd-round pick tossed three scoreless innings in the Tides’ 11-4 victory at Indianapolis. Crichton, 25, hasn’t allowed a run in three appearances for Norfolk this month. In that eight-inning stretch, he has struck out eight batters and scattered six hits. Left-handed hitters are only batting .167 against Crichton this season.
No. 9: Ofelky Peralta, RHP, Frederick
Statistics: 0-1, 5.90 ERA, 33 Ks, 25 BBs in 29 innings
Peralta, 20, hasn’t made it through six innings in a game yet this year. In fact, he has only pitched into the sixth in two out of his seven starts – his first two outings this month. Peralta allowed four runs and four hits in 5 2/3 innings during the Keys’ 4-3 loss to Myrtle Beach on May 3. Last Tuesday, the Dominican Republic native held Down East to three runs (two earned) and six hits in 5 1/3 innings in Frederick’s 8-4 win. But Peralta took a step back Monday night as he only lasted four innings in the Keys’ 9-5 victory over Salem. He allowed three runs (two earned), four hits and five walks in the game.
No. 10: Austin Hays, OF, Frederick
Statistics: .294, 3 HRs, 14 RBIs, 2 2Bs, 3 3Bs in 32 games
After hitting .341 in April, the 2016 third-round pick has slumped this month. Hays, 21, is batting .195 (8-for-41) with one double and no RBIs in 11 games in May. In his past six games, Hays only has three singles and a double in 26 at-bats. His batting average has dropped from .361 after the first game of an April 26 doubleheader to its current .294. It’s unclear if the hamstring discomfort that caused him to miss a few games a couple of weeks ago is still bothering Hays, but his recent struggles have turned me “bearish” for now.
No. 11: DJ Stewart, OF, Bowie
Statistics: .248, 6 HRs, 21 RBIs, 8 2Bs, 15 runs in 32 games
In four games last Monday through Thursday, the 2015 first-round selection (25th overall) had just one hit in 14 at-bats. He struck out three times and walked twice in that stretch. But Stewart, 23, hit successfully in the final three games of a four-game series against Richmond over the weekend. In that span, he was 4-for-10 with a home run and two runs scored. Stewart has reached base safely in 16 of the 20 games in which he has played since Mullins went on the disabled list. He has provided a spark atop the lineup for the Baysox.
No. 12: Gabriel Ynoa, RHP, Orioles
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
Ynoa, 23, remains on the 10-day disabled list with a right hamstring strain. However, the Dominican Republic native’s return will likely come any day. It remains to be seen whether he’ll go back to Norfolk or rejoin the Orioles’ bullpen when he’s activated. Regardless of what happens, he’ll be in Baltimore again before long. The shuttle will continue operating.
Randolph Gassaway, OF, Frederick: In 13 games this month, the 2013 16th-round pick is hitting .400 (20-for-50) with five doubles and 13 RBIs. Gassaway, 21, has seven multi-hit performances already this month, including both games of the Keys’ doubleheader loss at Wilmington on Sunday. Pictured above, Gassaway is batting .500 (11-for-22) in six games since our last update.
Francisco Jimenez, RHP, Delmarva: The Dominican Republic native hasn’t allowed a run in his past 16 innings for the Shorebirds. Jimenez, 22, has only allowed three hits and four walks in that span. Last year, he was 9-9 with a 4.27 ERA in 26 games (20 starts) for Delmarva. In 2017, Jimenez is 2-0 with a 1.57 ERA in six games (one start).
Lucas Long, RHP, Bowie: Long, 24, has been electric out of the Baysox bullpen this year. The 2014 24th-round selection is 4-1 with a 1.74 ERA in eight appearances (two starts). Plus, he has just one of four complete games in the Eastern League. On May 5, Long threw all seven innings in the second game of a doubleheader as Bowie beat Richmond, 12-2.
Tanner Scott, LHP, Bowie: The 2014 sixth-round pick has carved out a regular spot in this category. Scott, 22, continues to dominate in three-inning stints at the beginning of games for the Baysox. He retired nine of the 10 batters he faced Saturday against Richmond. Overall, Scott has a 1.29 ERA in seven games and hasn’t allowed a run since April 26.
Mike Yastrzemski, OF, Norfolk: After spending the first month of the season in extended spring training while recovering from offseason surgery, the 2013 14th-round pick – and grandson of former Boston Red Sox great Carl Yastrzemski – joined the Tides on May 2. Yastrzemski, 26, is batting .333 (14-for-42) with one home run and 10 RBIs in 11 games.
Cristian Alvarado, RHP, Frederick: Three disastrous starts have destroyed Alvarado’s statistics in 2017. The Venezuela native was charged with seven runs and eight hits in 2 1/3 innings during his latest outing as the Keys lost the first game of a doubleheader to Wilmington, 10-2, on Sunday. Alvarado, 22, is 2-3 with an 8.04 ERA overall, but opponents have scored 24 of the 28 runs against him in 11 1/3 innings during those three games.
Paul Janish, SS, Norfolk: I’ve seen a lot of so-called Orioles fans looking to replace shortstop J.J. Hardy, who is only batting .203 with six extra-base hits this year. But can you find his replacement? Janish, 34, is hitting .194 (7-for-36) with nine strikeouts in 12 games this month for the Tides. Is that really an upgrade?
John Means, LHP, Bowie: The Orioles’ Minor League Pitcher of the Month in April hasn’t pitched well in May. In his first two starts this month, the 2014 11th-round pick is 0-2 with a 9.58 ERA in 10 1/3 innings. Means, 24, gave up four runs and seven hits in five innings last Wednesday as the Baysox lost, 4-3, at Reading. He’ll pitch tonight at Harrisburg.
Zach Muckenhirn, LHP, Delmarva: Muckenhirn, 22, was roughed up for seven runs and nine hits in 3 1/3 innings during his last start Thursday against Columbia. His ERA jumped from 2.90 to 4.46 after the Shorebirds’ 7-4 loss to the Fireflies. In the game, the 2016 11th-round selection gave up his first home run since last August for Aberdeen.
THE WEEK AHEAD
May 16 – vs. Gwinnett, 6:35 p.m.
May 17 – vs. Gwinnett, 12:05 p.m.
May 18 – vs. Charlotte, 6:35 p.m.
May 19 – vs. Charlotte, 7:05 p.m.
May 20 – vs. Charlotte, 7:05 p.m.
May 21 – vs. Charlotte, 1:05 p.m.
May 22 – OFF
May 16 – at Harrisburg, 6:30 p.m.
May 17 – at Harrisburg, 6:30 p.m.
May 18 – at Harrisburg, 10:30 a.m.
May 19 – vs. Binghamton, 7:05 p.m.
May 20 – vs. Binghamton, 6:35 p.m.
May 21 – vs. Binghamton, 2:05 p.m.
May 22 – vs. Hartford, 6:35 p.m.
May 16 – at Salem, 7:05 p.m.
May 17 – at Salem, 7:05 p.m.
May 18 – at Salem, 7:05 p.m.
May 19 – vs. Wilmington, 7 p.m.
May 20 – vs. Wilmington, 6 p.m.
May 21 – vs. Wilmington, 2 p.m.
May 22 – vs. Wilmington, 7 p.m.
May 16 – vs. Greenville, 10:35 a.m.
May 17 – OFF
May 18 – at Greensboro, 7 p.m.
May 19 – at Greensboro, 7 p.m.
May 20 – at Greensboro, 7 p.m.
May 21 – at Greensboro, 4 p.m.
May 22 – vs. Hagerstown, 7:05 p.m.