We’ve made it through another offseason.
Three of the Orioles’ four full-season affiliates – Double-A Bowie, High-A Frederick and Low-A Delmarva – will kick off their 2018 campaigns Thursday. The Baysox (against Harrisburg) and the Shorebirds (against Asheville) open at home, while the Keys start on the road at Myrtle Beach. Triple-A Norfolk will play its first game Friday against Gwinnett.
The beginning of another minor league season also means the return of the weekly “Dean Jones Report” here on BaltimoreBaseball.com. Just like I’ve done in the past, I’ll track the Orioles minor leaguers on my “Dean’s Dozen” rankings. I’ll categorize each of the 12 players as a rising stock (bullish) or a falling stock (bearish) based on their recent performances.
I’ll also highlight a handful of players divided into two categories – surging and falling. These players could change from week to week, depending on who’s hot and who’s not in the Orioles’ minor league system. Finally, I’ll provide the upcoming schedule for the Orioles’ affiliates – in case you’re interested in getting out to see some of these players in action.
Shortly before spring training started, I unveiled the preliminary Dean’s Dozen list for the 2018 season. I said that I’d re-evaluate my rankings if any of the players made the Orioles’ Opening Day roster. Catcher Chance Sisco and outfielder Anthony Santander did that.
So, as you’ll see, I’ve bumped Sisco and Santander from the list and moved everyone else up either one or two spots, depending on where they were in the initial rankings. Then, I added left-hander Zac Lowther (pictured above) and right-hander Cody Sedlock at No. 11 and No. 12.
Lowther, who will turn 22 later this month, just missed the cut in my preliminary rankings for 2018. The 2017 competitive balance round B selection struck out 75 hitters in 54 1/3 innings at Short-A Aberdeen last season. He had a 1.66 ERA and an impressive 0.85 WHIP. In his first full season in the Orioles’ system, Lowther will start in the rotation at Delmarva.
Meanwhile, the second addition to my updated rankings comes with a little more intrigue.
When I put together the list in early February, I omitted Sedlock because of his struggles with injury and command during the 2017 season. Sedlock, 22, jumped over Delmarva and headed straight to Frederick to start last year. But with the Keys, the 2016 first-round pick (27th overall) made two trips to the disabled list due to issues with his throwing arm.
After going 3-0 with a 1.64 ERA in his first four starts with the Keys, Sedlock fell off a cliff. His ERA soared to as high as 6.80 in late May – and stayed above 6.00 until late August. Overall, Sedlock went 4-5 with a 5.90 ERA and 1.72 WHIP in 20 starts at Frederick.
Those numbers obviously aren’t what you want to see from a first-round pick in Single-A.
Still, with Sisco and Santander making the Orioles, that opened spots in my Dean’s Dozen rankings. And since Sedlock is a player whom Orioles fans want to hear about on a regular basis, I’m willing to put him at No. 12 for now and see how things shake out. Obviously, if he struggles early, I’ll reconsider his position as the season progresses.
But, for now, Sedlock is reportedly healthy. So we’ll see if he pitches like it again.
Here’s the latest Dean’s Dozen list that I’ll be writing about weekly:
No. 1: Austin Hays, OF, Bowie
No. 2: Ryan Mountcastle, 3B, Bowie (disabled list)
No. 3: Hunter Harvey, RHP, Bowie
No. 4: Cedric Mullins, OF, Bowie
No. 5: Tanner Scott, LHP, Norfolk
No. 6: DL Hall, LHP, Delmarva
No. 7: DJ Stewart, OF, Norfolk
No. 8: Keegan Akin, LHP, Bowie
No. 9: Alex Wells, LHP, Frederick
No. 10: Michael Baumann, RHP, Delmarva
No. 11: Zac Lowther, LHP, Delmarva
No. 12: Cody Sedlock, RHP, Frederick
And, finally, here’s the first week of scheduled games for the Orioles’ full-season affiliates:
THE WEEK AHEAD
April 5 – OFF
April 6 – vs. Gwinnett, 7:05 p.m.
April 7 – vs. Gwinnett, 7:05 p.m.
April 8 – vs. Gwinnett, 1:05 p.m.
April 9 – vs. Charlotte, 6:35 p.m.
April 10 – vs. Charlotte, 6:35 p.m.
April 11 – vs. Charlotte, 12:05 p.m.
April 5 – vs. Harrisburg, 6:35 p.m.
April 6 – vs. Harrisburg, 7:05 p.m.
April 7 – vs. Harrisburg, 1:35 p.m.
April 8 – vs. Harrisburg, 1:35 p.m.
April 9 – vs. Erie, 6:35 p.m.
April 10 – vs. Erie, 6:35 p.m.
April 11 – vs. Erie, 6:35 p.m.
April 5 – at Myrtle Beach, 7:05 p.m.
April 6 – at Myrtle Beach, 7:05 p.m.
April 7 – at Myrtle Beach, 6:05 p.m.
April 8 – at Myrtle Beach, 6:05 p.m.
April 9 – at Carolina, 7 p.m.
April 10 – at Carolina, 7 p.m.
April 11 – at Carolina, 11 a.m.
April 5 – vs. Asheville, 7:05 p.m.
April 6 – vs. Asheville, 7:05 p.m.
April 7 – vs. Asheville, 7:05 p.m.
April 8 – vs. Asheville, 2:05 p.m.
April 9 – vs. Hickory, 7:05 p.m.
April 10 – vs. Hickory, 7:05 p.m.
April 11 – vs. Hickory, 10:35 a.m.