Mullins' return highlights week in O's minors - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Dean Jones Report

Mullins’ return highlights week in O’s minors

Photo credit: Joy R. Absalon

It’s the most wonderful time of the year.

Just don’t tell my wife I said that. She would tell you that’s the Christmas season.

Of course, I know Christmas, her birthday, my two sons’ birthdays, our anniversary and my birthday mean a lot more on a personal level than any of the other 359 days in a year. And the day when pitchers and catchers report, Opening Day, the start of the World Series and several other days on the baseball calendar also come with a lot of fun and excitement.

But my job here at BaltimoreBaseball.com is to tell our readers how the organization’s top prospects are performing. And each June, several dozen other possibilities enter the discussion as short-season Single-A Aberdeen and the Rookie-level teams start playing.

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Plus, the 2017 Major League Baseball first-year player draft will take place next week. The first two rounds will happen Monday night, starting at 7 p.m. Round 3 through 10 will begin at 1 p.m. Tuesday, and the final 30 rounds will start at noon Wednesday.

Because of that, we’ll interrupt our regular “Dean Jones Report” schedule for one week.

While we won’t publish the weekly update next Tuesday, we’ll have tons of MLB draft coverage here on BaltimoreBaseball.com. On Monday morning, you can expect a preview of players with local ties that could be selected during the three-day event. And of course, we’ll tell you all about the Orioles’ first-round selection as soon as we know it.

This is a good spot to plug our coverage from last year’s draft. If you missed my piece on all 41 picks from 2016, you can catch up right here. I’m going to do a similar piece this year.

But, for now, let’s jump into this week’s update.

If you’re joining us for the first time, the “Dean Jones Report” is 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, you’ll see several others from within the organization who are either “hot” or “not” since our last update (or longer). This week, a pair of left-handed pitching prospects make the cut in the “surging” category, while another lefty is “falling.”

Finally, I’ll list the upcoming schedule for each of the Orioles’ full-season affiliates. Only one team – Low-A Delmarva – will be home this weekend.

DEAN’S DOZEN

No. 1: Chance Sisco, C, Norfolk
BULLISH
Statistics: .258, 2 HRs, 21 RBIs, 12 2Bs, 46 Ks in 44 games
MILB.com Player Page

Sisco, 22, hasn’t been dominant over the past week for the Tides. But the 2013 second-round selection also hasn’t done anything to harm his current status. It’s a small sample size, but Sisco is batting .455 (5-for-11) in four games in June. He went 3-for-4 with a double, two singles and two RBIs in the Tides’ 8-7 win over Rochester on Saturday. In Norfolk’s lopsided 16-9 win at Gwinnett on Monday night, Sisco went 1-for-4 with a sixth-inning single. He also walked in the eighth inning and was hit by a pitch in the ninth.

No. 2: Ryan Mountcastle, SS, Frederick
BULLISH
Statistics: .328, 12 HRs, 38 RBIs, 20 2Bs, 44 runs in 56 games
MILB.com Player Page

Through the first six games of June, the 2015 first-round pick (36th overall) has been either hot or cold – nothing in between. Mountcastle, 20, has four multi-hit performances and two hitless games in that stretch. His batting average has dipped from .342 on May 26 to its current level at .328, but that’s splitting hairs. Mountcastle has thrived offensively for the Keys through the first two months of the season. He continues to rank among the Carolina League leaders in most categories, including first in total bases (133) and hits (75).

No. 3: Keegan Akin, LHP, Frederick
BULLISH
Statistics: 4-4, 5.16 ERA, 52 Ks, 22 BBs in 45 1/3 innings
MILB.com Player Page

Well, it looks like the 2016 second-round selection’s extra work over the past two weeks paid off – at least for one start. Akin, 22, had a turn in the rotation skipped so he could work on some things in bullpen sessions. He pitched six scoreless innings in his return Sunday as the Keys beat Potomac, 4-2. Akin struck out seven Nationals batters and only allowed two hits. What’s even more impressive to me is that he didn’t walk anyone. That’s only the second time that has happened in his 10 starts this year. It’s an encouraging step for Akin, who earned the Carolina League Pitcher of the Week award for his performance.

No. 4: Cody Sedlock, RHP, Frederick
BEARISH
Statistics: 4-3, 5.80 ERA, 48 Ks, 22 BBs in 54 1/3 innings
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In his past two starts, the 2016 first-round pick (27th overall) has lowered his ERA by a full run. However, it still sits at an unsightly 5.80 through 11 starts. Sedlock, 21, held Salem to one run and three hits in 5 2/3 innings last Wednesday, but the Keys lost, 2-0. He had six strikeouts, walked two batters and threw two wild pitches. Then, in the first game of a doubleheader Monday, Sedlock gave up two runs (one earned) and five hits in five innings during Frederick’s 3-2 win over Potomac in 11 innings. It was his first start at Nymeo Field since April 30. All five starts that Sedlock made in May were on the road.

No. 5: Chris Lee, LHP, Norfolk
BEARISH
Statistics: 2-3, 6.89 ERA, 38 Ks, 25 BBs in 47 innings
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Monday was the one-year anniversary of when the Baysox placed Lee, 24, on the disabled list with a left shoulder strain. As you know, he never pitched again in 2016. And it’s one of the worst-timed injuries that I can remember. Lee was 5-0 with a 2.98 ERA in eight games (seven starts) for the Baysox when he went down. If nothing else, I believe he would have had a chance to pitch in Baltimore by the end of the year if he had remained healthy. Now, here we are a year later. Lee gave up five runs (four earned) and eight hits in five innings Saturday in the Tides’ 8-7 win over Rochester. His ERA hasn’t been below 4.82 this season.

No. 6: Cedric Mullins, OF, Bowie
BULLISH
Statistics: .369, 5 HRs, 12 RBIs, 5 2Bs, 1 3B, 19 runs in 15 games
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Guess who’s back? Mullins, 22, made his grand return to Bowie’s lineup Sunday after more than six weeks on the disabled list with a strained left hamstring. The 2015 13th-round pick went 2-for-5 as the Baysox beat Altoona, 7-6, in 11 innings. Mullins (pictured above) walked to start the bottom of the first inning and later hit a solo home run to lead off the fourth. He also hit a single in the 10th inning. To be honest, Mullins could have gone hitless and it would have been great to just have him back. But it’s even better to see that he picked up where he left off.

No. 7: Jesus Liranzo, RHP, Bowie
BEARISH
Statistics: 1-2, 6.14 ERA, 27 Ks, 17 BBs in 22 innings
MILB.com Player Page

Last week, I listed the Dominican Republic native as “bullish” because of his 2.89 ERA over the previous 9 1/3 innings. Liranzo, 22, has actually lowered his season ERA slightly since that update (from 6.30 to 6.14). But after giving up one run, one hit and one walk in Bowie’s 4-3 loss in 14 innings to Erie on Thursday, Liranzo has now allowed runs in three of his past four outings. He’s still a flamethrower who will pile up the strikeouts – 27 in 22 innings overall this year – but in my eyes, the inconsistency is causing the hit on his status.

No. 8: Stefan Crichton, RHP, Norfolk
BULLISH
Statistics: 3-0, 1.37 ERA, 28 Ks, 3 BBs in 26 1/3 innings at Norfolk; 6.48 ERA, 5 Ks, 1 BB in 8 1/3 innings for O’s
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The tale of two Stefan Crichtons continued this week. The 2013 23rd-round pick lowered his season ERA with the Tides to 1.37 by throwing 4 1/3 scoreless innings over three games since our last update. Crichton, 25, gave up two hits and struck out two batters in two innings Friday as Norfolk lost, 6-2, to Rochester. He then recorded one out Sunday against the Red Wings before throwing two hitless innings with three strikeouts Monday. In 34 2/3 innings between Triple-A and the majors, Crichton has only walked four batters. He’s had some rougher moments when promoted to the Orioles, but his dominance at Triple-A means his seat on the Norfolk shuttle will be kept warm.

No. 9: Ofelky Peralta, RHP, Frederick
BEARISH
Statistics: 0-3, 5.58 ERA, 41 Ks, 37 BBs in 40 1/3 innings
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The good news? Peralta, 20, only walked one batter and gave up one earned run in 4 1/3 innings during the Keys’ 6-3 loss at Salem on Friday. The bad news? The Dominican Republic native allowed four unearned runs and nine hits in the defeat. Peralta has only pitched into the sixth inning in two of his 10 starts. Because he’s one of the youngest players in the Carolina League, I expected some growing pains. But it’s disappointing and unfortunate that he hasn’t been able to at least show some flashes of dominance. With that said, he’s still a promising prospect. It just might be a longer road to the majors than originally hoped.

No. 10: Austin Hays, OF, Frederick
BULLISH
Statistics: .315, 10 HRs, 30 RBIs, 12 2Bs, 3 3Bs in 52 games
MILB.com Player Page

For the second time in the past three weeks, the 2016 third-round pick had four hits in a game. Hays, 21, went 4-for-6 with a double, three singles and two RBIs in the Keys’ 13-3 rout over Salem on Saturday. He also had a double, two singles and two RBIs in seven at-bats as Frederick swept a doubleheader over Potomac on Monday night. Three hitless performances over the past week have kept his average down, but I’m not concerned. Hays has shown that he can hit High-A pitching. I think he’s ready for the next step.

No. 11: DJ Stewart, OF, Bowie
BEARISH
Statistics: .251, 8 HRs, 28 RBIs, 12 2Bs, 29 runs in 51 games
MILB.com Player Page

The 2015 first-round selection (25th overall) has slumped recently for the Baysox. Stewart, 23, hasn’t had a multi-hit game since May 25. In that span, he is only batting .194 (7-for-36) with one home run and three RBIs. As I’ve said in these updates for much of the past two seasons, Stewart is a streaky hitter. He’s going to go through plenty of ups and downs throughout the season. It’s worth noting that – despite the struggles over the past week and a half – Stewart still hit safely in seven of the nine games in that stretch.

No. 12: Gabriel Ynoa, RHP, Orioles
BEARISH
Statistics: 1-4, 6.82 ERA, 17 Ks, 9 BBs in 33 innings at Norfolk; 1-0, 0.00 ERA, 5 Ks, 0 BBs in six innings for Orioles
MILB.com Player Page

Seven of the Dominican Republic’s nine walks at Triple-A this season have come during two of his eight starts at the level. Ynoa, 24, issued four free passes in the Tides’ 8-2 loss at Syracuse on April 23. And then Monday, he walked three batters in Norfolk’s 16-9 win over Gwinnett. The Braves roughed Ynoa up for six runs and seven hits in 4 2/3 innings. Last Wednesday, he gave up three runs and seven hits in 4 1/3 innings against Pawtucket. That’s a lot different from Ynoa’s impressive outing against the Chicago White Sox in May.

SURGING

Tanner Scott, LHP, Bowie: The Orioles selected the 2014 sixth-round pick as the organization’s Pitcher of the Month for May. Scott, 22, only allowed three runs and seven hits in 18 innings over six starts during the month. He struck out 26 batters and walked 11 in that span. In his latest start, Scott held Altoona scoreless for three innings Friday.

David Washington, OF, Norfolk: In late November, the career minor leaguer who hit 30 home runs last season signed a minor league deal with the Orioles. Washington, 26, hadn’t done much to stand out for the Tides until the past two weeks. Since May 24, Washington is hitting .472 (17-for-36) with five home runs, 11 RBIs and nine runs in 11 games.

Alex Wells, LHP, Delmarva: Wells, 20, turned in his best start as a professional in the Shorebirds’ 8-2 victory over Hickory on Thursday. The Australia native struck out five Crawdads batters and scattered three hits in seven shutout innings. He’s now 8-7 with a 1.97 ERA in 23 starts between Aberdeen and Delmarva throughout the past two years.

Stevie Wilkerson, UTIL, Bowie: The 2014 eighth-round selection has jumped out to a quick start against Double-A pitching since his promotion from Frederick on May 23. Wilkerson, 25, is hitting .348 (16-for-46) with four home runs and 11 RBIs in 12 games with Bowie. In June, he is batting an incredible .526 (10-for-19) with two homers and five RBIs.

FALLING

Miguel Castro, RHP, Bowie: The Dominican Republic native struggled with his command in his most recent outing. Castro, 22, surrendered seven runs, six hits and two walks in four innings during Bowie’s 8-7 win over Altoona on Friday. Overall, he is 2-0 with a 6.91 ERA in 14 1/3 innings over four relief appearances for the Baysox.

Brian Gonzalez, LHP, Frederick: Gonzalez, 21, appeared to turn a corner last season with Delmarva. He went 10-8 with a 2.50 ERA in 27 starts for the Shorebirds. But the 2014 third-round pick has regressed for the Keys this year. Gonzalez is 2-3 with a 5.70 ERA in 10 starts. He allowed seven runs and 11 hits in five innings at Salem last Thursday.

Gerrion Grim, OF/DH, Delmarva: The 2014 14th-round selection has already set a career high in home runs (eight) and tied his career high in RBIs (25). You’d think that’d get him into the “surging” category. But Grim, 23, has slumped recently with the Shorebirds. He is only batting .143 (8-for-56) with one extra-base hit and five RBIs in his past 14 games.

THE WEEK AHEAD

Norfolk (24-33)
June 6 – at Gwinnett, 7:05 p.m.
June 7 – at Gwinnett, 12:05 p.m.
June 8 – at Durham, 7:05 p.m.
June 9 – at Durham, 7:05 p.m.
June 10 – at Durham, 6:35 p.m.
June 11 – at Durham, 5:05 p.m.
June 12 – OFF

Bowie (30-27)
June 6 – at Reading, 7:05 p.m.
June 7 – at Reading, 7:05 p.m.
June 8 – at Reading, 7:05 p.m.
June 9 – at Trenton, 7 p.m.
June 10 – at Trenton, 7 p.m.
June 11 – at Trenton, 1 p.m.
June 12 – OFF

Frederick (28-29)
June 6 – vs. Potomac, 11 a.m.
June 7 – OFF
June 8 – at Lynchburg, 6:30 p.m.
June 9 – at Lynchburg, 6:30 p.m.
June 10 – at Lynchburg, 6 p.m.
June 11 – at Lynchburg, 2 p.m.
June 12 – at Myrtle Beach, 7:05 p.m.

Delmarva (23-32)
June 6 – at West Virginia, 7:05 p.m.
June 7 – at West Virginia, 7:05 p.m.
June 8 – at West Virginia, 7:05 p.m.
June 9 – vs. Kannapolis, 7:05 p.m.
June 10 – vs. Kannapolis, 6:35 p.m.
June 11 – vs. Kannapolis, 2:05 p.m.
June 12 – vs. Kannapolis, 7:05 p.m.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. whosyourterp

    June 8, 2017 at 2:08 pm

    Thanks Dean very insightful as normal

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