Some historic homers in Frederick, and Pedro Alvarez is again mashing Triple-A pitching - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Dean Jones Report

Some historic homers in Frederick, and Pedro Alvarez is again mashing Triple-A pitching

Photo credit: Joy R. Absalon

It took 3,927 games for it to happen once. And then it happened again two days later.

Nick Markakis never did it. Matt Wieters never did it. Manny Machado never did it. Even Billy Rowell never did it. (Still too soon?)

Last week, outfielder Austin Hays and shortstop Ryan Mountcastle became the first and second players to homer three times in a game for High-A Frederick. Consider this for a minute: Neither Hays (born in 1995) nor Mountcastle (born in 1997) was alive when the Keys started playing in 1989. Man, I’m starting to feel old. And I’m only 31.

Sure, it could just be one of the quirks of baseball. Another Keys player might not hit three home runs in a game for another 28 years. Or maybe someone else will do it next month.

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Regardless of when it happens again, it’s another milestone for Hays and Mountcastle to add to their resumes as they continue their march to the major leagues. As you’ve seen in “The Dean Jones Report” this year, both players have excelled at Frederick.

The Orioles are also pleased with the progression of another duo: Right-handed pitchers Hunter Harvey and Gray Fenter, who continue to battle back from Tommy John surgeries. Harvey, the club’s top pick in 2013, is expected to throw a 35-pitch bullpen session in Sarasota, Fla., today. Fenter, a seventh-rounder in 2015, will throw two innings in an extended spring game today. Both have been progressing well.

Another former Orioles’ pitching prospect, right-hander Parker Bridwell, will make his first major league start tonight for the Los Angeles Angels against the Atlanta Braves in Anaheim, Calif. The Orioles dealt their 2010, ninth-rounder to the Angels in April for cash considerations or a player to be named.

Now, let’s jump into the rest of this week’s update. If you haven’t read the report before, it’s my look at the recent performances of the 12 Orioles minor leaguers who have earned a spot on my “Dean’s Dozen” list. I’ll categorize each player as a rising stock (“bullish”) or a falling stock (“bearish”) based on how he has played over the past week.

After those 12 players will be several others from within the organization who are either “hot” or “not” over the past week. As you’ll see below, a familiar face remains on fire for Triple-A Norfolk while a newly-acquired left-hander is struggling with the Keys. And one former prospect has been released.

Finally, you’ll see the upcoming schedule for each of the Orioles’ full-season affiliates.

DEAN’S DOZEN

No. 1: Chance Sisco, C, Norfolk
BULLISH
Statistics: .252, 2 HRs, 19 RBIs, 11 2Bs, 41 Ks in 38 games
MILB.com Player Page

In the Tides’ 6-2 win at Toledo last Tuesday night, the 2013 second-round selection hit his second home run of the season. After Robert Andino reached on an error to lead off the second inning, the left-handed-hitting Sisco hit a two-run shot to left-center field off Mud Hens right-hander Anibal Sanchez. Sisco, 22, hit safely in all four games in which he played since last week’s update. In that span, he batted .333 (6-for-18) with the aforementioned home run, a double and three RBIs. Sisco has four multi-hit games in seven starts since May 18, so we’ll see if he can build off that momentum in the coming weeks.

No. 2: Ryan Mountcastle, SS, Frederick
BULLISH
Statistics: .332, 11 HRs, 35 RBIs, 16 2Bs, 37 Ks in 49 games
MILB.com Player Page

Last week, I rated the 2015 first-round pick (36th overall) as “bearish” and said, “I’m going to chalk it up as a temporary blip for now.” Apparently, it was very temporary. Mountcastle, 20, has already eclipsed his career high in home runs. He hit 10 in 115 games for Delmarva last year. After his three-homer outburst in the Keys’ 9-5 win over Buies Creek on Friday night, Mountcastle now has 11 in 49 games. With a .332 average, he’s also hitting 51 points better than he did with the Shorebirds in 2016 (.281).

No. 3: Keegan Akin, LHP, Frederick
BEARISH
Statistics: 3-4, 5.95 ERA, 45 Ks, 22 BBs in 39 1/3 innings
MILB.com Player Page

Akin, 22, hasn’t pitched for Frederick since he gave up seven runs and seven hits – including four home runs – in three innings against Wilmington last Monday night. His next start was skipped so he could work on some things in bullpen sessions. He is expected to start again Sunday. He has clearly struggled this year, but I’m not willing to write him off because he pitched so well for the IronBirds last summer. A really good or really bad two-month stretch probably isn’t a true indicator of Akin’s skill level. He’s likely somewhere in between.

No. 4: Cody Sedlock, RHP, Frederick
BEARISH
Statistics: 4-2, 6.80 ERA, 39 Ks, 16 BBs in 43 2/3 innings
MILB.com Player Page

The 2016 first-round pick (27th overall) was roughed up again in his latest start. Sedlock, who will turn 22 in three weeks, was charged with seven runs (six earned) and eight hits in 4 1/3 innings as the Keys lost, 11-7, at Potomac in the first game of a doubleheader Wednesday. He has allowed at least six runs in four of his past five starts. Meanwhile, after not giving up any home runs in 26 2/3 innings during his first five starts, Sedlock has surrendered four longballs in 17 innings over his past four games. He is scheduled to pitch again Wednesday night when the Keys open up a four-game series at Salem.

No. 5: Chris Lee, LHP, Norfolk
BEARISH
Statistics: 2-3, 6.86 ERA, 33 Ks, 24 BBs in 42 innings
MILB.com Player Page

I think I have jinxed another player. Last week, I wrote how Lee, 24, had “overcome a bad first impression” with his recent performance for the Tides. Since that update, the 2011 fourth-round selection has allowed 14 runs (12 earned) and 13 hits in 4 2/3 innings over two starts. Last Wednesday, Lee suffered through his shortest start since he pitched only two-thirds of an inning for Rookie-level Greenville in the Houston Astros’ organization on July 21, 2013. He gave up six runs (four earned) and seven hits in two innings as the Tides lost, 6-3, at Toledo. On Monday afternoon, Lee made it a little bit further. He allowed eight runs, six hits and two walks in 2 2/3 innings as Norfolk fell, 12-4, at Columbus.

No. 6: Cedric Mullins, OF, Bowie
BEARISH
Statistics: .367, 4 HRs, 11 RBIs, 5 2Bs, 1 3B, 17 runs in 14 games
MILB.com Player Page

Mullins, 22, hasn’t played since April 20, when he suffered a strained left hamstring in a 12-2 loss to Richmond. A return finally appears imminent. He played nine innings in the outfield during an extended spring game Monday and is expected to do the same today. Playing consecutive games is often the final hurdle before a return. It’s been a lengthy layoff, but the good news is that the injury shouldn’t affect Mullins’ long-term potential.

No. 7: Jesus Liranzo, RHP, Bowie
BULLISH
Statistics: 1-1, 6.30 ERA, 23 Ks, 15 BBs in 20 innings
MILB.com Player Page

Liranzo, 22, pitched his longest outing since August 17, 2016 in Bowie’s 10-5 victory over Hartford on Thursday afternoon. The Dominican Republic native gave up one run and two hits in three innings. He struck out three Yard Goats batters in the game. Most important, he didn’t walk anyone and threw 23 of his 36 pitches for strikes. Liranzo struggled with his control earlier this year, but he has issued just two walks in his past 9 1/3 innings. In that five-game stretch, he has a 2.89 ERA. Although his season numbers still aren’t pretty, that’s enough to turn me “bullish” on the young right-hander once again.

No. 8: Stefan Crichton, RHP, Norfolk
BULLISH
Statistics: 3-0, 1.64 ERA, 23 Ks, 3 BBs in 22 innings at Norfolk; 0-0, 6.48 ERA, 5 Ks, 1 BB in 8 1/3 innings for Orioles
MILB.com Player Page

As I expected last week, the 2013 23rd-round pick headed back to Norfolk after he threw 3 1/3 innings for the Orioles in their 14-7 loss to the Minnesota Twins last Monday. So, I’ve added him back to the list this week. Crichton, 25, pitched two perfect innings to close out the Tides’ 14-3 rout over Columbus on Friday night. It’s unfortunate that he hasn’t had more success at the major league level because he has pretty much dominated Triple-A. Crichton’s stretch of scoreless innings ended Monday, though, when he gave up a solo home run and three hits in 2 2/3 innings during Norfolk’s 12-4 loss at Columbus. He’ll likely continue shuttling back and forth between Norfolk and Baltimore for the rest of the year.

No. 9: Ofelky Peralta, RHP, Frederick
BEARISH
Statistics: 0-2, 6.00 ERA, 36 Ks, 36 BBs in 36 innings
MILB.com Player Page

The Dominican Republic native tossed four scoreless innings and only gave up two hits in the Keys’ 6-0 win over Buies Creek on Saturday. That sounds good, right? Well, he also walked a career-high seven batters and threw 46 of his 88 pitches for balls. That’s not so good. Peralta, 20, remains the most enigmatic prospect in the organization. He’s young for the Carolina League and has struck out nearly one batter per inning in his four seasons as a professional (201 strikeouts in 208 1/3 innings). But he has also walked 152 batters and hit 20 more in his career. The Orioles need Peralta to figure out how to harness his stuff.

No. 10: Austin Hays, OF, Frederick
BULLISH
Statistics: .319, 10 HRs, 26 RBIs, 9 2Bs, 3 3Bs in 45 games
MILB.com Player Page

What a week for the 2016 third-round pick. Hays, 21, batted .320 (8-for-25) with five home runs, a double, six RBIs and seven runs scored in six games for the Keys. In addition to his three-homer game, he also hit a solo shot in the third inning of Frederick’s 9-5 win over Buies Creek on Friday and a two-run blast a day later in the Keys’ 6-0 victory over those Astros. Hays’ batting average is down in May (.299 compared with .341 in April), but he has eight doubles and seven home runs in 24 games. Last month, he had one double, three triples and three home runs in 21 games.

No. 11: DJ Stewart, OF, Bowie
BULLISH
Statistics: .254, 8 HRs, 28 RBIs, 11 2Bs, 28 runs in 46 games
MILB.com Player Page

Stewart, 23, hit safely in five of his seven games over the past week, but he only batted .240 (6-for-25) in that span. However, I’m still “bullish” on the 2015 first-round selection (25th overall) because he maximized the damage during that stretch with two home runs, two doubles and six RBIs. Stewart is one of three Baysox players – along with Adrian Marin and Garabez Rosa – tied for third place in the Eastern League with 28 runs scored. His 28 RBIs are second on the team behind Rosa, who leads the league with 40.

No. 12: Gabriel Ynoa, RHP, Orioles
BULLISH
Statistics: 1-4, 6.00 ERA, 14 Ks, 6 BBs in 24 innings at Norfolk; 1-0, 0.00 ERA, 5 Ks, 0 BBs in six innings for Orioles
MILB.com Player Page

The Dominican Republic native missed nearly three weeks with a strained right hamstring, but he returned to action last Thursday. Ynoa, who turned 24 on Friday, pitched 2 1/3 scoreless innings in the Tides’ 9-7 victory at Toledo. The club took things slow with Ynoa, who threw 27 of his 43 pitches for strikes. He allowed four singles in the game. Ynoa is scheduled to pitch again tonight against Pawtucket at Harbor Park. We’ll see if the Orioles stretch him out a little bit longer as he continues his recovery.

 

SURGING

Pedro Alvarez, OF, Norfolk: For the second straight week, I’m including the 2008 first-round pick (second overall) in this category. The notoriously streaky hitter has been on one of his incredible power surges in the past two weeks. Alvarez, 30, is batting .375 (18-for-48) with seven home runs, seven doubles and 17 RBIs in 11 games since May 18.

Lucas Long, RHP, Bowie: The 2014 24th-round selection has converted all three of his save opportunities for the Baysox since May 16. Long, 24, gave up two runs and six hits in four innings against Binghamton on May 20, but he struck out eight batters and picked up the win in Bowie’s 5-4 victory. Long is 5-1 with a 1.76 ERA in 12 appearances (two starts).

Ademar Rifaela, OF, Frederick: With the All-Star cast of prospects playing for the Keys, it’s not hard to overlook the Curacao native. But Rifaela, 22, is batting .306 with four home runs, six doubles and 16 RBIs in 25 games this month. Splitting time between left and right field, Rifaela has yet to make an error for Frederick. He has two, four-hit games this year.

 

FALLING

Cristian Alvarado, RHP, Frederick: The Keys’ starting woes haven’t been confined to Akin and Sedlock. Alvarado, 22, is 2-6 with an 8.24 ERA in 10 games (nine starts) for Frederick. The Venezuela native allowed six runs and seven hits in 2 2/3 innings against Buies Creek on Monday. One bright spot: He has walked eight batters in 43 2/3 innings.

Garrett Cleavinger, LHP, Bowie: In the first half of the 2016 season, the 2015 third-round pick was 5-0 with a 1.38 ERA in 17 games for Delmarva. Cleavinger, 23, is 2-5 with a 5.53 ERA in 34 appearances split between Frederick and Bowie since he was promoted to the Keys in late June last year. He has allowed three runs in each of his past two outings.

Alex Katz, LHP, Frederick: The 2015 27th-round pick, whom the Orioles acquired from the Chicago White Sox on May 20, hasn’t pitched well for his new organization. Katz, 22, was charged with four runs and four hits without recording an out in his Keys debut last Wednesday. After a scoreless outing Friday, he gave up another two runs in 1 2/3 innings Monday.

Henry Urrutia, OF, Norfolk: The four-plus-year Orioles’ tenure of the Cuba native came to an end Thursday when the organization released him. Urrutia, 30, only batted .175 (11-for-63) with one home run and four RBIs in 20 games for the Tides this year. His best season came in 2013, when he hit .276 in 24 games for the Orioles.

 

THE WEEK AHEAD

Norfolk (21-29)
May 30 – vs. Pawtucket, 6:35 p.m.
May 31 – vs. Pawtucket, 6:35 p.m.
June 1 – vs. Pawtucket, 7:05 p.m.
June 2 – vs. Rochester, 7:05 p.m.
June 3 – vs. Rochester, 7:05 p.m.
June 4 – vs. Rochester, 1:05 p.m.
June 5 – at Gwinnett, 7:05 p.m.

Bowie (27-24)
May 30 – vs. Erie, 6:35 p.m.
May 31 – vs. Erie, 6:35 p.m.
June 1 – vs. Erie, 6:35 p.m.
June 2 – vs. Altoona, 7:05 p.m.
June 3 – vs. Altoona, 6:35 p.m.
June 4 – vs. Altoona, 2:05 p.m.
June 5 – OFF

Frederick (24-26)
May 30 – OFF
May 31 – at Salem, 7:05 p.m.
June 1 – at Salem, 7:05 p.m.
June 2 – at Salem, 7:05 p.m.
June 3 – at Salem, 6:05 p.m.
June 4 – vs. Potomac, 6 p.m.
June 5 – vs. Potomac (doubleheader), 5 p.m.

Delmarva (20-29)
May 30 – at Hagerstown, 7:05 p.m.
May 31 – at Hagerstown, 7:05 p.m.
June 1 – vs. Hickory, 7:05 p.m.
June 2 – vs. Hickory, 7:05 p.m.
June 3 – vs. Hickory, 7:05 p.m.
June 4 – vs. Hickory, 2:05 p.m.
June 5 – OFF

3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. ubetonit

    May 31, 2017 at 5:09 am

    Tonight 3 young pitchers who the pitching-rich (sarcasm) Orioles apparently didn’t think much of pitched well tonight:
    Zach Davies @ NYM L 4-5 5.0 6 2 2 0 2 1
    Ariel Miranda @ COL W 10-4 5.0 3 2 2 0 4 1
    Parker Bridwell vs ATL W 9-3 6.0 6 3 3 2 1 4

    Zach Davies never had a cup of joe with the O’s. He was traded on July 31, 2015 to Milw. They gave him his first start one month later on Sept 2, 2015.

    Ariel Miranda pitched in ONE gm; & never got a chance to start with O’s. He was traded for Miley on July 31, 2016 and given his first start one week later. He was a very respectable 5-2 1.09 Whip 3.54 ERA while Miley struggled last Aug&Sept. . In the month of Sept, SEA won 5 of 6 gms that Miranda started.

    Parker Bridwell pitched in 2 gms for the O;s, but never got a chance to start. He was traded for a player to be named later or cash considerations.

    It seems too much of a coincidence, but it seems the Orioles didn’t believe in their own minor league pitchers enough to give them a chance to start. Milw, SEA, LAA did & quickly

    • Dan Connolly

      May 31, 2017 at 10:58 am

      Now let’s throw a little more perspective in here. Davies has a 5.17 ERA in the NL. Miranda has a 4.17 ERA w half his games in pitcher-friendly Seattle and he is 28. Both were dealt as part of in-season trades to get Parra and Miley, respectively. I wouldn’t say the Orioles gave up on them. They just were the pieces they needed to let go to get guys to fill voids (OF with OBP/D) and LH starter. The trades haven’t been good for Os, but were understandable moves at the time. Os did DFA Bridwell, so he fits better in your scenario of not believing.

  2. Atloriole

    May 31, 2017 at 9:18 am

    Thanks for the update on Fenter!

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