Lee to Norfolk's bullpen; Mountcastle, Akin experience bumps in road; Mullins springs back - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Dean Jones Report

Lee to Norfolk’s bullpen; Mountcastle, Akin experience bumps in road; Mullins springs back

Photo credit: Scott Sears/Norfolk Tides

I don’t like it.

That’s my simple reaction to the Orioles’ deal to acquire infielder Tim Beckham – the No. 1 overall pick in the 2008 draft – from the Tampa Bay Rays. In exchange for Beckham, the Orioles dealt short-season Single-A Aberdeen right-hander Tobias Myers to Tampa Bay.

(As an aside, without looking it up, can you tell me the name of the second pick that year? Hint: He’s currently in the Orioles’ minor league system, but the team didn’t draft him. I’ll give you the answer later, but I bet you’ll look it up before then anyway.)

Beckham, 27, hasn’t lived up to his billing as the first player selected. He’s a career .247 hitter in parts of four seasons with the Rays. Beckham showed a little bit of pop this year with the Rays – 12 home runs in 317 at-bats – but he only had five doubles.

Acquiring Beckham isn’t a game-changing move. It’s not going to make the Orioles into instant playoff contenders. Sure, they’re still technically in contention, but how many fans believe they’re going to be playing baseball deep into October?

Myers, who will turn 19 on Saturday, went 2-2 with a 3.94 ERA in seven starts for the IronBirds this summer. The 2016 sixth-round pick struck out 35 hitters and issued only six walks in 29 2/3 innings.

It’s not true that I’m upset about the trade because Myers shares a birthday with me (although he does), but I wonder how Orioles outfielder/first baseman Trey Mancini feels about the deal. Myers attended the same high school. (OK, maybe I’m reaching a bit now.)

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The primary reason I don’t like the move is because Myers has impressed me in his short time in the organization. He has displayed solid control – as evidenced by his walk totals – and the ability to take over a game with a fastball that can reach 95. On July 4, he gave up just one hit and struck out a career-high eight hitters in six shutout innings against Lowell at Ripken Stadium.

While Beckham is going to impact the major-league club immediately and Myers might be several years away, I think this one could come back to bite the Orioles. Only time will tell.

To be honest, the trade with the Philadelphia Phillies for right-hander Jeremy Hellickson doesn’t bother me as much as the deal for Beckham. At first, I wasn’t happy with the move.

The Orioles didn’t need to acquire a pending free agent just to eat up innings. The club could have dipped into Triple-A Norfolk – like it loves to do – to bring up any number of pitchers to do that. But after taking a step back, I see the club didn’t give up too much.

While left-hander Garrett Cleavinger was a 2015 third-round pick, he has struggled for Double-A Bowie this year (2-4, 6.28 ERA, 1.58 WHIP in 38 2/3 innings). And after a great start to 2016 with Low-A Delmarva (5-0, 1.38 ERA, 0.92 WHIP in 39 innings), the 23-year-old went 2-3 with a 4.82 ERA and 1.55 WHIP in 37 1/3 innings at High-A Frederick.

So, that deal doesn’t irk me as much as the move to acquire Beckham. Of course, we’ll see what happens in the next few seasons. I fully expect some loyal BaltimoreBaseball.com readers to bring up this post in the comments section in 2020.

The third deal the Orioles made over the past week – trading away more international bonus money – was to acquire right-hander Yefry Ramirez from the New York Yankees.

Ramirez, 23, was 10-3 with a 3.41 ERA in 18 starts for Double-A Trenton before the deal. The Dominican Republic native has 91 strikeouts and 38 walks in 92 1/3 innings. He’ll join Bowie. I want to see how he pitches the rest of the season before making any judgment.

Meanwhile, before I forget, I’ll be heading to the sunny (hopefully) beaches of Delaware next week for a much-needed family vacation. Because I’ll be away from the computer, the “Dean Jones Report” will be on hiatus for a week. It’ll return Tuesday, August 15.

(Oh, by the way, the answer to my question about the 2008 draft: Norfolk’s Pedro Alvarez. The Pittsburgh Pirates took him at No. 2. Two picks later, the Orioles selected left-hander Brian Matusz. The San Francisco Giants picked catcher Buster Posey with the next selection. Ouch.)

Now, let’s jump into this week’s update.

As regular BaltimoreBaseball.com readers know, I provide a weekly look at what’s going on in the Orioles’ minor league system. Every Tuesday, I share the latest updates on the Top 12 players in the organization (according to my “Dean’s Dozen” list).

Then, I also mention a handful of players who are either “surging” or “falling” because of their recent play. Finally, I list the upcoming schedules for the top five affiliates in case you’re looking to get out to the ballpark to see some of these players with your own eyes.

DEAN’S DOZEN

No. 1: Chance Sisco, C, Norfolk

BULLISH

Statistics: .280, 3 HRs, 38 RBIs, 21 2Bs, 82 Ks in 79 games

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In 16 games last month, the 2013 second-round pick batted .317 with five doubles and 10 RBIs with the Tides. Sisco, 22, isn’t dominating opposing Triple-A pitchers, but he has hit over .300 in the past two months after batting below .250 in April and May. Last season, Sisco had a .406 on-base percentage in 112 games at Bowie. He’s nowhere close to that so far in 2017 – a .349 on-base percentage in 79 games heading into Tuesday. However, as I said last week, I’d love to see Sisco get a shot in September at the major-league level. We’ll see how the next month goes.

No. 2: Austin Hays, OF, Bowie

BULLISH

Statistics: .338, 10 HRs, 31 RBIs, 10 2Bs in 33 games at Bowie; .328, 16 HRs, 41 RBIs, 15 2Bs in 64 games at Frederick

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If you stick around long enough, you might see the 2016 third-round pick run through a brick wall. Hays, 22, missed just three games last week even though he needed 10 stitches to close a cut on his face from a ball that he fouled off of it. Last week, I wrote: “I’m curious to see if the injury affects him in the short term.” It didn’t. In his first game back Thursday, Hays went 2-for-3 with a solo home run, a walk and three runs scored as Bowie demolished Akron, 21-1. He remained hot in a doubleheader sweep of the RubberDucks on Sunday. Hays went 3-for-6 with a triple, a home run and three RBIs in the two games. And Monday, he had two doubles, a single and two RBIs as the Baysox beat New Hampshire, 6-0.

No. 3: Ryan Mountcastle, 3B/SS, Bowie

BEARISH

Statistics: .167, 0 HRs, 6 RBIs, 4 2Bs in 11 games at Bowie; .314, 15 HRs, 47 RBIs, 35 2Bs, 63 runs in 88 games

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Unlike Hays, the 2015 first-round selection (36th overall) hasn’t adjusted as quickly to Double-A pitching after his promotion from Frederick two weeks ago. Mountcastle, 20, had a pair of doubles and three RBIs in Bowie’s lopsided 21-1 win over Akron on Thursday. In three games since, however, he only has one single and three strikeouts in 10 at-bats. Because of his slow start with the Baysox, I’m temporarily flipping Mountcastle to “bearish” this week. However, I’m not concerned about his long-term prospect status. Once he gets more familiar with the level, I fully expect Mountcastle to pick up where he left off.

No. 4: Keegan Akin, LHP, Frederick

BEARISH

Statistics: 7-8, 4.31 ERA, 109 Ks, 44 BBs in 96 innings

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After dominating opponents with a 3-1 record and 0.90 ERA in five starts in June, the 2016 second-round selection tailed off in July. Akin, 22, struggled to a 1-3 record and 5.74 ERA in six starts during the month. His season ERA jumped from a low of 3.47 on July 8 to its current 4.31 in a span of four starts. And he saved his worst performance for last. In the second game of a doubleheader Saturday at Salem, Akin allowed seven runs, seven hits and two walks in 2 2/3 innings. I believe this is just a blip on the radar. I think he’ll be fine in the long run. But for now, I’m dropping him to “bearish” because of the lackluster month.

No. 5: Cody Sedlock, RHP, Frederick

BEARISH

Statistics: 4-4, 6.28 ERA, 57 Ks, 29 BBs in 67 1/3 innings

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The 2016 first-round pick (27th overall) is back on the mound. That’s most important. However, the club appears to be limiting Sedlock, 22, to 40 pitches per outing for now. In the opener of a doubleheader against Salem on Saturday, Sedlock pitched three shutout innings. He struck out three batters and issued one walk, throwing 24 of his 40 pitches for strikes. After Sedlock’s struggles through May and June, as well as the arm trouble last month, it’s good to see the Orioles being conservative with one of their prized arms. However, the overall statistics for this season aren’t going to look pretty in the end.

No. 6: Cedric Mullins, OF, Bowie

BULLISH

Statistics: .330, 9 HRs, 29 RBIs, 16 2Bs, 40 runs in 49 games

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Since his return from the disabled list a week and a half ago, the 2015 13th-round selection has hit safely in all six games. Mullins, 22, is hitting .417 (10-for-24) with a home run, three doubles and five RBIs. Like almost everyone else, he came up big in Bowie’s 21-1 victory over Akron on Thursday. In that game, Mullins had a two-run home run and scored twice. I’ve been praising Mullins for the past year. That continues this week. One thing to watch as he returns to full strength: Mullins is just 5-for-10 in stolen-base attempts this year. He hasn’t stolen a base since June 15. Last year, Mullins was 30-for-36 at Delmarva.

No. 7: Tanner Scott, LHP, Bowie

BULLISH

Statistics: 0-1, 1.83 ERA, 74 Ks, 40 BBs in 59 innings

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Scott, 23, tossed 3 2/3 hitless innings last Thursday against Akron. The 2014 sixth-round selection struck out two hitters and walked two in Bowie’s 21-1 rout over the RubberDucks. However, it didn’t come without pain (fortunately, just a little bit). The Baysox placed Scott on the seven-day disabled list Saturday with a blister on the middle finger of his left hand. Scott had a 3.21 ERA in five starts in July. Most important, that has been his worst month so far this season. After all his struggles in the past – and all the high ERAs in the organization – it’s refreshing to see a low ERA like that as his worst month.

No. 8: Chris Lee, LHP, Norfolk

BEARISH

Statistics: 4-5, 5.70 ERA, 65 Ks, 48 BBs in 94 2/3 innings

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Lee, who will turn 25 later this month, moved to the bullpen last week after he struggled through 19 starts with the Tides. In his past two appearances – Thursday and last night – the 2011 fourth-round pick followed right-hander Mike Wright into the game. Lee has pitched much better in this new role. He has only allowed two unearned runs and four hits in 7 2/3 innings across the two outings. Even though these past two games are encouraging signs for Lee, it’s not enough to overcome the fact that he’s out of the rotation for now.

No. 9: Jesus Liranzo, RHP, Bowie

BEARISH

Statistics: 1-3, 5.09 ERA, 56 Ks, 35 BBs in 46 innings

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On Sunday, the Dominican Republic native turned in his worst start since he moved into the Baysox rotation in the middle of June. Liranzo, 22, walked six batters and allowed three runs in 1 2/3 innings during Bowie’s 5-3 win over Akron in the second game of a doubleheader. While Liranzo has had some control issues – 35 walks in 46 innings this year – I don’t think he’s really as bad as six walks in fewer than two innings. That’s more of an anomaly than a routine. Still, it’s concerning. We’ll see how he responds in his next start.

No. 10: DJ Stewart, OF, Bowie

BULLISH

Statistics: .262, 13 HRs, 56 RBIs, 17 2Bs, 61 runs, 16 SBs in 97 games

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With a two-run home run Saturday in Bowie’s 4-2 loss to Akron, the 2015 first-round pick (25th overall) surpassed his RBI total of 55 in 121 games between Delmarva and Frederick last season. Stewart, 23, batted .273 with five home runs and 21 RBIs in 27 games in July. That’s the best he has done in a month this season in all three categories – though he did have four home runs and 19 RBIs in 20 games in April. Although Stewart’s batting average has dropped from .272 on July 5 to its current level, I’m staying optimistic for now.

No. 11: Ofelky Peralta, RHP, Frederick

BEARISH

Statistics: 2-8, 5.73 ERA, 82 Ks, 67 BBs in 81 2/3 innings

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In his last three starts, the Dominican Republic native has a 1.69 ERA (three earned runs in 16 innings). Peralta, 20, tossed five shutout innings Sunday in the Keys’ 2-0 loss at Salem. Despite his recent run of limiting the damage, Peralta maintains an abysmal 1.90 WHIP in 81 2/3 innings for Frederick. Overall, he has allowed 67 walks. That’s easily the worst in the Carolina League (second place heading into Tuesday’s action was 52). I’m still optimistic on Peralta in the long run. He’s young for the league, but the control has to get better.

No. 12: Alex Wells, LHP, Delmarva

BULLISH

Statistics: 9-4, 2.29 ERA, 91 Ks, 10 BBs in 114 innings

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The streaks continue for another week. In the Shorebirds’ 1-0 loss to Greensboro in the first game of a doubleheader Sunday, the Australia native pitched six scoreless innings without giving up any walks. Wells, 20, didn’t give up a run in five starts in July. He hasn’t walked a batter since June 25 – and just two in a stretch of 12 starts since May 21. Although he didn’t factor in the decision Sunday, Wells tied a season high with seven strikeouts. If I were the Orioles, I’d give Wells a well-deserved promotion to Frederick to end the year. They could get a glimpse of what he can do against the next level before the season is over. For now, they’ve rewarded him with the organization’s Pitcher of the Month Award for July.

SURGING

Pedro Alvarez, 1B/DH, Norfolk: Alvarez, 30, is popular in this week’s update. I mentioned his draft spot earlier, but now it’s time to commend the Dominican Republic native on his recent play. Alvarez has 24 home runs for the Tides this season. That’s the most by a player since the club became an Orioles affiliate. He batted .327 with 23 RBIs in 28 games in July.

DL Hall, LHP, GCL Orioles: How can the Orioles’ 2017 first-round selection (21st overall) be surging when he hasn’t even pitched in an organized game yet? Well, that’s because we now know when that debut will occur. Hall, 18, is scheduled to pitch for the Rookie-level Gulf Coast Orioles on Friday against the GCL Rays in Sarasota, Fla.

Jomar Reyes, 3B, GCL Orioles: Reyes, 20, started an injury-rehabilitation assignment with the GCL Orioles on Thursday. In five games in Florida, the Dominican Republic native is hitting .500 (10-for-20) with four RBIs and five runs scored. Reyes has been on the disabled list at Frederick for three months after breaking his right hand while punching a wall.

Anthony Santander, OF, Bowie: Technically, the Rule 5 selection is on an injury-rehabilitation assignment with the Baysox as he works his way back from a sore right elbow. Santander, 22, has been on fire in his short stint at Bowie. In five games, he is 9-for-13 with four doubles, two home runs and seven RBIs. It seems like he’ll be ready soon.

FALLING

Brian Gonzalez, LHP, Frederick: Gonzalez, 21, appeared to turn a corner last season with Delmarva. The 2014 third-round pick – the Orioles’ top choice that year – went 10-8 with a 2.50 ERA for the Shorebirds in 2016. But he has struggled with the Keys. In 19 starts, Gonzalez is 4-7 with a 5.31 ERA. And now he’s on the disabled list with a left hand injury.

Steve Wilkerson, UTIL, Bowie: The 2014 eight-round pick shined for the Baysox in June. Wilkerson, 25, batted .344 in 24 games during the month. But his fortunes changed in July. Wilkerson only hit .214 with three extra-base hits in 21 games. After starting 33 games at third base for the Baysox, he lost his spot there when the Orioles promoted Mountcastle.

Gabriel Ynoa, RHP, Norfolk: Really, I could name any of the Norfolk starters here. By acquiring Hellickson, the Orioles made it clear that they don’t trust any of them. I’m picking on Ynoa, 24, because I had extremely high hopes for him to start the year. Instead, the Dominican Republic native is 4-8 with a 6.56 ERA in 15 starts for the Tides.

THE WEEK AHEAD

Norfolk (50-60)

August 3 – OFF

August 4 – vs. Durham, 7:05 p.m.

August 5 – vs. Durham, 7:05 p.m.

August 6 – vs. Durham, 4:05 p.m.

August 7 – at Lehigh Valley, 7:05 p.m.

August 8 – at Lehigh Valley, 7:05 p.m.

August 9 – at Lehigh Valley, 7:05 p.m.

Bowie (58-50)

August 3 – at New Hampshire, 7:05 p.m.

August 4 – at Portland, 7 p.m.

August 5 – at Portland, 6 p.m.

August 6 – at Portland, 1 p.m.

August 7 – OFF

August 8 – vs. Harrisburg, 7:05 p.m.

August 9 – vs. Harrisburg, 7:05 p.m.

Frederick (49-56)

August 3 – at Wilmington, 6:35 p.m.

August 4 – at Wilmington, 7:05 p.m.

August 5 – at Wilmington, 7:05 p.m.

August 6 – at Wilmington, 4:05 p.m.

August 7 – OFF

August 8 – vs. Winston-Salem, 7 p.m.

August 9 – vs. Winston-Salem, 7 p.m.

Delmarva (49-55)

August 3 – at West Virginia, 7:05 p.m.

August 4 – at West Virginia, 7:05 p.m.

August 5 – at West Virginia, 6:05 p.m.

August 6 – at West Virginia, 2:05 p.m.

August 7 – vs. Hagerstown, 7:05 p.m.

August 8 – vs. Hagerstown, 7:05 p.m.

August 9 – vs. Hagerstown, 7:05 p.m.

Aberdeen (22-18)

August 3 – at Staten Island, 7 p.m.

August 4 – at Staten Island, 7 p.m.

August 5 – at Tri-City, 7 p.m.

August 6 – at Tri-City, 5 p.m.

August 7 – at Tri-City, 7 p.m.

August 8 – vs. Mahoning Valley, 7:05 p.m.

August 9 – vs. Mahoning Valley, 7:05 p.m.

2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. woody

    August 2, 2017 at 5:55 pm

    Hey Dean

    Mullins really excites me. Any kid with speed that hits an opposite field homer off Kimbrel in spring training is going to catch your eye right! How likely do you think it is that he makes the opening day roster next year, and do the organisation see him playing CF whilst Adam Jones is still at the club? You’ve been making some positives noises in recent weeks – who are realistic contenders to help the o’s next season?

    • Dean Jones

      August 3, 2017 at 10:41 am

      woody,

      Thanks for reading! Yes, as you’ve probably noticed from my writing, I’m a big fan of Mullins. And as I’ve noted, so is Buck Showalter. That goes a long way in the organization. Although he has been hampered by some injuries this year, he has continued to shine when he has been on the field. He hit another HR yesterday.

      Sure, I think it’s possible that he could make the Opening Day roster next year, depending on how spring training goes. I think it’s probably more realistic that he starts the year in Norfolk, though. Remember, he spent all of last year in Low-A Delmarva and skipped High-A Frederick. That doesn’t happen often, but it’d be hard to see him completely skipping another level. With that said, we’ll see how things go. I can’t predict the future and not every case is the same.

      As for your question about Adam Jones, I think he’s the CF as long as he’s with the team and wants to play there. But it’s a good problem to have.

      Anyway, thanks for reading. Please keep the questions/comments coming.

      Best,

      Dean

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