Myriad Orioles Thoughts: Watching the Dodgers' system; Harvey debuts; Jones leads offense - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Dan Connolly

Myriad Orioles Thoughts: Watching the Dodgers’ system; Harvey debuts; Jones leads offense

Photo credit: Joy R. Absalon

Despite a modest, three-game winning streak, the Orioles most obvious path this month is to remain sellers at the non-waiver trade deadline.

To that end, Joe McIlvaine, the Orioles’ senior advisor of player personnel and one of the top special assistants to executive vice president Dan Duquette, has been watching the Triple-A Oklahoma City Dodgers for the past several days.

The Dodgers are one of the many teams that have contacted the Orioles about the club’s top relievers, specifically lefty Zach Britton and right-hander Brad Brach.

However, the Dodgers are particularly intriguing trade partners because they have a deep farm system, which includes several intriguing young arms. The Orioles desperately need to re-stock their system, especially with high-ceiling, near-ready starters.

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The Triple-A Oklahoma City team has three players on Baseball America’s Midseason Top 100 Prospect list: RHP Walker Buehler (17th), outfielder Alex Verdugo (35th) and second baseman Willie Calhoun (74th). The Dodgers also have right-hander Yadier Alvarez (60th) on the list. He’s pitching in the High-A California League.

Buehler, a 22-year-old who was selected with the 24th overall pick in the 2015 draft out of Vanderbilt University, is making his Triple-A debut Thursday. He had Tommy John surgery in 2015, and pitched only three minor league games in 2016. This year, he had a 2.89 ERA in 16 starts between High-A and Double-A before his promotion this week.

He is obviously highly coveted, and the Dodgers, who are running away with the National League West, may not want to deal him, especially considering they have one of baseball’s best closers in Kenley Jansen. Britton or Brach would likely pitch in a set-up role – or multi-inning situations – if acquired by Los Angeles.

I’m not saying that will happen. Or that the Dodgers are the primary trade target for the Orioles. But there obviously is enough interest for McIlvaine to spend some time watching Oklahoma City.

Harvey makes season debut

Much of the hand-wringing about this disappointing season has revolved around the Orioles’ lack of starting pitching, and, specifically, an inability to develop quality starters. And for good reason.

Well, one of the organization’s most intriguing pitching prospects took a small step in the right direction Wednesday.

Right-hander Hunter Harvey, 22, pitched a scoreless inning (two hits, one strikeout) for the Gulf Coast League Orioles, his first outing for an affiliated team since having elbow surgery last July. It’s just the sixth affiliated outing in the last three seasons for Harvey, the club’s first-round pick (22nd overall) in 2013.

“Hunter Harvey had a good day today, 27 pitches, one inning, felt great. Velocity was really good. I saw the schedule, they’ve got him mapped out all the way through the end of August, which is good,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “He’s got a couple more outings in the Gulf Coast League, then he goes to Aberdeen, then to Delmarva. That was real encouraging today, that was a big day in his baseball ladder climbing.”

Harvey will pitch in a game once a week through August – health willing – and throw side sessions in between. Because Harvey began his rehab from surgery in November, he’ll be throwing for 10 months straight when he reaches August. So, Showalter said the Orioles won’t send him to the Arizona Fall League or have him pitch at all during the winter. The goal is to have Harvey ready for spring training, where he’d likely begin at Double-A.

After that? Well, Showalter’s not going there yet.

“I’ll leave that up to (player development director) Brian Graham and them, they’re the experts in player development. But we all have an opinion. I think that’s what’s gonna end up (happening). I’m hoping. That’s a long way off, but he’s not going to be a candidate to make our club (to start) next year. But I know he has the potential to make a lot of people ask that question.”

Suddenly, an explosive offense

We all know the Orioles can score in bunches, especially when they aren’t facing top-shelf pitching.

They drove that point home – along with plenty of baserunners – in the past two days. The Orioles beat the Rangers 12-1 Tuesday and 10-2 on Wednesday, marking the first time this season they’ve scored 10 or more runs in consecutive games.

In pure enigmatic, 2017 fashion, the Orioles had scored just six runs in their previous three games before the offensive explosion.

So, what gives?

Part of it is a Rangers’ staff that isn’t particularly formidable – it entered Wednesday with a 4.30 ERA, smack in the middle of the American League (yet far better than the Orioles’ 5.10 staff ERA).

Part of it, though, is that some of these Orioles are really starting to hit. Jonathan Schoop is at .300, Trey Mancini at .309 and last year’s whipping boy Caleb Joseph, at .299. Adam Jones had three hits Wednesday – all of the opposite field variety, and that’s always a good sign.

Maybe a lot of this starts with Jones, who is in the leadoff spot again.

“It’s been like eight or nine years of that with me trying to be like a catalyst for things. I just try and play this game as hard as I can and the guys feed off of that,” he said. “I’m on base, somehow, some way, the guys feed off of that. I’m not anything special. I just put my head down and play this game really hard. When you do that, good things tend to happen. The team just feeds off me. Manny (Machado) feeds of it. Schoop feeds off of it and it just trickles down the rest of the lineup.”

Jones says trade rumors should quiet some

Killing my lead of this piece, Jones said Wednesday night that he thinks the Orioles’ three straight wins should quiet trade rumors for now. And, if they keep winning, maybe the tune completely changes, from sellers to buyers.

“Shuts up all the trade rumors. I know that. We feel that we’re still in this race, a long way to go, so we’re not just going to give up,” Jones said. “I don’t take offense to that stuff. It’ll die down when you win. You’ll become buyers and not sellers when you win.”

23 Comments

23 Comments

  1. Ben1

    July 20, 2017 at 8:01 am

    rather we stock the big team with arms and why should we trust any of DD scouts considering their lack of success in DD years with Os

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      July 20, 2017 at 10:06 am

      Lack of success … really? Look at the record my friend.

    • Dan Connolly

      July 20, 2017 at 4:33 pm

      Ben, I’m not sure there is an alternative if you’re saying sell.

  2. Ben1

    July 20, 2017 at 8:04 am

    we lookes great against the Rangers (last place in West). I’ll be a believer if the arms and bats continue against Hoiston this weekend. We made Chicago look unstoppable and Texas helping Os look great. Long season.

    • Dan Connolly

      July 20, 2017 at 4:34 pm

      I’d agree. Although even Houston right now is missing some key ingredients. But still best record in AL.

  3. general81

    July 20, 2017 at 8:16 am

    Britton to the Dodgers for Buehler, Calhoun, and Alvarez. Make it happen.

    • Dan Connolly

      July 20, 2017 at 4:35 pm

      Can’t imagine it would be that much. Who knows I suppose.

  4. Osfan73

    July 20, 2017 at 9:21 am

    Thrilled with the win streak, but still cautiously optimistic at best given our rotation, though 3 straight good outings by this group was a good sight as well. Still think it prudent to sell this year though.
    If we pursue anything from the Dodgers it should be primarily pitching, I don’t think we need any more outfielders, Kim doesn’t get to play as it is and Schoop has 2nd base nailed down for awhile so they can keep their prospect Calhoun far as I’m concerned.
    I’m hoping beyond hope Harvey stays healthy now. I’ve heard so much about him these last 3 years and can’t wait to see what he has.
    Lastly maybe just maybe this series with Texas is what our offense needed at the right time, allows them to get on a roll and generate some consistency wich generates confidence that you’ll break through when facing better, tougher pitching staffs.
    Miley today, say a prayer or look away.

    • Dan Connolly

      July 20, 2017 at 4:36 pm

      The whole purpose of making any deadline deals for Os is improving future pitching. So I’m with ya.

  5. Boog Robinson Robinson

    July 20, 2017 at 10:04 am

    More sell, sell, sell? More dumping on D.D.? Why does everybody think that we haven’t had any success with Dan Duquette? Look at his record for crying out loud! Dan D. didn’t tear ligaments in Bundy’s or Harvey’s elbows. Dan didn’t even put this organization together. He inherited it. And frankly, I believe he’s done a great job considering who the owner is, and how few Bal’more fans actually put their butts in the seats on a nightly basis. Even last year, when things were going swimmingly, the crowds were less than 20k on a more than regular basis.

    This is and has been a very good and solid team, and all I read is waaaah waaaaah waaaaah from my fellow Oriole fans. Fire Dan …. trade everyone … tear it down. Frankly, the only player on this team I’d even consider selling right this moment is Manny, and only because our city can’t afford him. We’ve got a good core of players. Why trade them all away? Why fire Duquette? The season isn’t over yet, and even it it were … remember … it’s baseball … there’s always next spring. Please keep this team together Mr. Angelos.

    • Osfan73

      July 20, 2017 at 10:41 am

      Agree I wouldn’t fire DD, but do you really think we’re going to make the playoffs with this rotation? And assuming that miracle were to happen just how far do you think they would take us?? This may be the year to start thinking about pitching for the future considering we have little on the way up from the minors.

    • Bancells Moustache

      July 20, 2017 at 10:43 am

      That’s what I said yesterday Boog. There is still a solid core of guys here. Schoop, Bundy and Gausman. The pieces in the bullpen. Mancini. Davis isn’t going anywhere, for better or worse. Plus you’ve got some good young bucks rising up from the farm. WHile everyone shrieks that the sky is falling,I don’t see why this need be a full-on rebuild. You sell your two shiniest assets, Britton and Machado, for the best price and you can stay competitive, even get better. Maybe you aren’t a World Series contender in 18 ( you certainly aren’t in 17), but you can get back there in 19 and beyond. Did the Giants not go on their title run AFTER Barry Bonds left? Did I not see the Cardinals repeatedly popping up in the playoffs and World Series AFTER Albert Pujols went to Anaheim? The Yankees look pretty damn good after Alex Rodriguez, Mark Texeira and St. Derek have taken their talents to Pebble Beach. One third baseman, whose career production has no business in the same paragraph as the gentlemen listed above, does not a team make.

    • Dan Connolly

      July 20, 2017 at 4:39 pm

      Some good stuff in this exchange. No need for me to comment further 🙂

  6. Bancells Moustache

    July 20, 2017 at 10:14 am

    Nothing like watching 160 million dollars worth of first baseman strike out in the 7th with the bases loaded, immediately followed by a few hundred grand worth of first baseman hitting a bases clearing double that he legged into a triple. I’m not a Chris Davis basher like many, I genuinely like the guy, I’m a fan. When he is on, he’s Mark McGwire with country gravy, plus he’s my kid’s favorite player. Even still, yeesh, that contract seems uglier and uglier when you realize the Orioles had Mancini in their system when it was signed. I must also say this: stop with Boom-Boom. That’s as weak of a nickname as you can find, simply stealing it from a guy who already had it 30 years ago. Remember the glory years of sports nicknames? The Sultan of Swat. The Splendid Splinter. The Brown Bomber. The Galloping Ghost. The Wild Bull of the Pampas. Now we get recycled names from other people (Boom Boom, LBJ), the incredibly lazy use of initials (KRod, CP3, D12) or most stunning of all, the combination of BOTH above listed practices. (how many A-Rod and LT’s have there been now?) Ugh. Dan-o, you need to start a trend with your fellow scribes and bring back the golden age of nicknames.

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      July 20, 2017 at 10:47 am

      Richie, I love reading you almost as much as our leader on this site! I just have to comment on two of your points….

      1) Even though I named on of my dogs after Crush, I AM a Davis basher. That contract stunk to high heaven the minute they signed him … and I blame fan pressure for that one, not D.D. But you’re right when he’s on, “he’ Mark McGwire with gravy” as you put it. But think about this for a moment, the same holds true for Ubaldo … ‘cept maybe it’s more Seaver than McGwire.

      2) I LOVE Boom Boom as a nickname, recycled or not. Besides being apropos, It’s funny BECAUSE it’s recycled. (but you’re spot on about all the “Rods”)

      • Bancells Moustache

        July 20, 2017 at 12:40 pm

        Please, I insist you refer to me as BanMo

        • Boog Robinson Robinson

          July 20, 2017 at 12:46 pm

          LOL … OK then henceforth you will be BanMo.

    • Dan Connolly

      July 20, 2017 at 4:41 pm

      I jokingly refer to him as The Great Mancini. A little literary reference — but a stretch too.

  7. afterp

    July 20, 2017 at 11:40 am

    Any trade with LA should start with Urias. And yes based on current returns you should always sell your closer to restock the system. Next man up – Britton gone, promote Brach, Brach gone, promote Givens, Givens gone promote TScott…

    • Dan Connolly

      July 20, 2017 at 4:42 pm

      Urias is now a question mark tho. Hard to make him a centerpiece.

  8. GSISDANNO

    July 20, 2017 at 11:48 am

    The last two nights have shown that the Orioles can pound mediocre pitching. Nights like these make the Orioles’ offensive stats look better than they really are. I keep reading that the Orioles are among the best at hitting with RISP. Well, when they are being held to three hits, there aren’t many chances to hit with runners in scoring position. I love the Orioles but they have a lot of flaws.

  9. mlbbirdfan

    July 22, 2017 at 12:36 pm

    Urias has The highest ceiling in the Dodgers system.

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