Christian Walker among those surging for Orioles' affiliates -
Dean Jones Report

Christian Walker among those surging for Orioles’ affiliates



The Orioles’ minor league system could look a lot different by this time next week.

Or maybe it won’t.

It all depends on whether executive vice president Dan Duquette can find a match in his quest to improve the American League East-leading club with a trade (or more).

When I first started covering the Orioles’ minor league system nearly a decade ago, the club – for the most part – served as “sellers” at the trade deadline on a regular basis. I don’t have to tell the readers about the dark days of the franchise.



If a team is looking to deal valuable major leaguers in late July, it’s obviously not a good sign for the club’s spot in the standings. But those moves can give fans hope for the future – and writers like myself some new players to watch and critique down the stretch.

On the flip side, when a team is in contention as the Orioles have been for the past five seasons, it’s a matter of which minor leaguers will leave the organization at the deadline.

If the Orioles make any moves between now and the August 1 deadline – yeah, I still have to get used to the fact that it’s not July 31 this year – I’ll be sure to fill you in next week with all of the implications the acquisitions had on the club’s minor league system.

In the meantime, I wanted to share two notes before I get to the rest of this week’s update.

First, Orioles outfielder Hyun Soo Kim homered during his rehab assignment with Double-A Bowie on Monday night. He’ll rejoin the club for Tuesday’s game at Camden Yards.

Also, the club agreed to a minor league deal over the weekend with veteran left-hander Tom Gorzelanny and sent him to Triple-A Norfolk. Gorzelanny, 34, gave up one hit and one walk in one-third of an inning Sunday in his debut with the Tides. Norfolk now has six lefties on their pitching staff. As you know, the Orioles have one – closer Zach Britton.

Anyway, let’s get to the newest “Dean Jones Report” on the Orioles’ minor league system.

Each Tuesday, I share the latest news and notes about the club’s top prospects, as ranked by Baseball America. Right-handers Dylan Bundy and Mychal Givens aren’t included since they’re currently in the majors.

I rate each player as bullish (rising stock) or bearish (falling stock), based on his recent performance. For each prospect, I also list notable statistics and a link to his Player Page in case you want to look deeper into the numbers.

I also share a handful of players who are either surging or falling in the Orioles’ minor league system over the past week or longer. And at the bottom of the post, I provide the upcoming schedules for the club’s affiliates.

Let’s start at the top:

No. 2: Hunter Harvey, RHP, Aberdeen
Statistics: 0-1, 3.52 ERA, 7 Ks, 9 hits, 6 BBs in 7 2/3 innings (at Aberdeen) Player Page

By now, I’m sure you know the 2013 first-round pick (22nd overall) won’t be pitching for a long time. Harvey, 21, was scheduled to undergo Tommy John surgery on his right elbow today – and the procedure is probably complete by now. He will likely be out of action for the next 12 to 18 months. And that’s after Harvey missed almost two full years before making five rehab starts over the past month. There are two ways to look at this. On one hand, it could be the beginning of the 2018 season before Harvey pitches in a game that counts again. If that happens, he would have only pitched 12 2/3 innings in a span of three-and-a-half years. But you could also look at that in a positive way. He’ll have a healthy arm with limited work and will still only be 23 years old at that time. Harvey probably won’t be on any top prospects lists going forward, but there’s still plenty of time for him to succeed.

No. 3: Chance Sisco, C, Bowie
Statistics: .322 average, 2 HRs, 33 RBIs, 20 2Bs, 42 runs in 82 games Player Page

In 11 games since returning from the All-Star Futures Game, the 2013 second-round selection is batting .409 (18-for-44) with one home run, five RBIs and seven runs scored. With two outs in the first inning Friday against Erie, Sisco hit a solo home run to right field – his second of the season. Sisco, 21, had three singles and a walk in Bowie’s 5-3 loss to Erie in 12 innings Saturday. After going hitless in four at-bats Sunday, he bounced back with a double and two singles Monday as the Baysox fell, 10-9, to Hartford. Sisco continues to rank among the Eastern League leaders in hitting and on-base percentage (.410). With Harvey out of action, Sisco should climb up the Orioles’ list of top prospects heading into next year.

No. 4: Jomar Reyes, 3B, Frederick
Statistics: .230 average, 8 HRs, 39 RBIs, 38 runs, 76 Ks in 90 games Player Page

During a five-game hitting streak that ended Saturday, Reyes hit .368 (7-for-19) with four RBIs. Since then, he is 0-for-9 with two walks and three strikeouts in his past three games. Sure, they’re both small sample sizes. But the comparison is a great example of how Reyes has fared with the Keys this season. Although he is younger than everyone else in the Carolina League, his average is about 50 points below where it was in about the same amount of time at Delmarva last year. And he has just 12 doubles, compared with the 27 he had for the Shorebirds in 2015. That’s a little bit concerning, but I think the Orioles realize there will be some growing pains with Reyes. His long-term potential remains the same, but I’m listing him as bearish this week since he hasn’t had any consistent success in 2016.

No. 6: Chris Lee, LHP, Bowie
Statistics: 5-0, 2.98 ERA, 19 Ks, 1.05 WHIP in 51 1/3 innings Player Page

Lee, who will turn 24 next month, remains on the disabled list in Bowie because of a lat-muscle strain. It has now been two full months since he last pitched for the Baysox. Last week, I told you that Lee had been shut down after he experienced some more discomfort during the throwing program that was part of his rehab. The organization is clearly taking a cautious approach with Lee, who was acquired from the Houston Astros in May 2015. He pitched well enough in 14 starts for Frederick to earn a promotion to Bowie in August. After going 4-2 with a 3.08 ERA in seven starts for the Baysox last year, he won his first five decisions with the team this season. As I’ve said before, the timing of Lee’s injury wasn’t good – for him or the organization. But at this point, it’s best to make sure he’s healthy.

No. 7: Ryan Mountcastle, SS, Delmarva
Statistics: .277 average, 5 HRs, 30 RBIs, 18 2Bs, 38 runs, 72 Ks in 83 games Player Page

The rough stretch continues for the 2015 first-round selection (36th overall). Mountcastle, 19, had consecutive two-hit performances as the Shorebirds beat Kannapolis on Saturday and Sunday. Even with those four hits, he is only batting .125 (6-for-48) with 14 strikeouts in 12 games since July 10. In 21 games this month, Mountcastle has struck out 22 times and walked only once. He has just three extra-base hits – all doubles – and none since July 5. That’s a span of 16 games. For nearly two months, Mountcastle was arguably the best hitter in the organization. But for the past few weeks, he has struggled mightily at the plate.

No. 8: Trey Mancini, 1B, Norfolk
Statistics: .301 average, 10 HRs, 40 RBIs, 15 2Bs, 80 Ks in 84 games (at Norfolk) Player Page

The 2013 eighth-round pick only had one hit in his last 12 at-bats. But that one hit was a bases-clearing triple to give the Tides the lead in the fifth inning of a 9-3 win over Toledo on Saturday night. And Mancini, 24, went 3-for-5 with a triple and three RBIs in a 6-5 loss to the Mud Hens two days before that. If you’re keeping track at home, Mancini has three triples since he last hit a home run (July 1). Although he has only gone deep once in July, Mancini is still batting .306 with 16 RBIs in 21 games this month. Because he’s a two-time Orioles Minor League Player of the Month this season, I’ll give Mancini the benefit of the doubt and list him as bullish this week. We’ll see if he can snap out of this mini-slump.

No. 9: DJ Stewart, OF, Frederick
Statistics: .261 average, 2 HRs, 18 RBIs, 6 2Bs, 23 runs, 25 Ks in 26 games (at Frederick) Player Page

Stewart, 22, left the Keys’ 4-2 loss to Salem on Saturday night in the top of the fifth inning after going 0-for-1 with a walk and a run scored. That led to some speculation on Twitter that he was involved in some of the Orioles’ trade talks. In turn, the club announced Sunday that the 2015 first-round pick (25th overall) was day-to-day with a strained right pectoral muscle. He hasn’t played in Frederick’s two games since then. Before the injury, Stewart was only batting .125 (3-for-24) in his past seven games. Despite the slump, he walked five times and scored six runs in that span. It’s encouraging to see Stewart finding ways to get on base and cross the plate even when he’s struggling offensively. But that’s not enough for me to list him as bullish in a week that he’s injured and out of action.

No. 10: Mike Wright, RHP, Norfolk
Statistics: 1-2, 2.58 ERA, 26 Ks, 33 hits, 8 BBs in 38 1/3 innings (at Norfolk) Player Page

In the Tides’ 4-3 victory over Toledo on Sunday, the 2011 third-round selection finished one out short of his second straight quality start. Wright, 26, gave up two runs and five hits in 5 2/3 innings. He matched his season high with six strikeouts and walked one batter. In his last start before that, Wright allowed three runs and five hits in seven innings as Norfolk lost, 3-2, at Buffalo on Tuesday. Since Wright was optioned back to Triple-A on July 9, he is 0-2 with a 4.58 ERA in three starts. That’s still more than a run better than his 5.97 ERA in 14 games (12 starts) for the Orioles this year, but it’s not even close to his 0.87 ERA in his first three starts with the Tides in 2016. That’s why I’m listing him as bearish this week.


Julio Borbon, OF, Orioles – When the club finally placed Kim on the disabled list last week, they pulled the red-hot, 30-year-old outfielder up from Bowie. In 14 games with the Baysox this month before his promotion, Borbon batted .433 (26-for-60). And with Dariel Alvarez optioned to Norfolk after Monday’s game to make room for Kim, it appears that he’ll stay in the major leagues for at least a little bit longer.

Layne Bruner, LHP, GCL Orioles – In his past two starts, the 2016 18th-round pick has struck out 12 batters and given up only two hits in eight innings. Bruner, 21, earned his first professional win Friday as the Orioles beat the GCL Rays, 5-1. He had a career-high seven strikeouts in the game. Overall, he is 1-1 with a 1.59 ERA and 24 strikeouts in 17 innings.

Jay Gonzalez, OF, Bowie – If you look at the stats, you might wonder why I’m listing the 2014 10th-round selection here. In five games with the Baysox, Gonzalez has only two singles and four strikeouts in 15 at-bats (.133). Plus, he only batted .243 in 76 games for Frederick before being promoted Thursday. But Gonzalez, 24, leads the organization with 36 stolen bases in 42 attempts. As you know, that’s a rare trait in these parts.

Yermin Mercedes, C, Delmarva – Mercedes, 23, had a career night in the Shorebirds’ 8-6 win over Kannapolis on Saturday. In the game, he went 4-for-4 with three home runs and four RBIs. And he followed that up by going 3-for-6 with two doubles, two walks and two RBIs in the next two games of the series against the Intimidators. In 22 games in July, Mercedes is hitting .395 (32-for-81) with 10 doubles, four home runs and 13 RBIs.

Aderlin Rodriguez, 1B-3B, Frederick – Believe it or not, Rodriguez now has as many home runs (17) as Mancini this season. In 23 games this month, the 24-year-old infielder has a .396 average (36-for-91) with six doubles, six home runs and 22 RBIs. Overall, he is batting .313 with 18 doubles, six triples and 64 RBIs in 94 games this year.

Christian Walker, OF, Norfolk – In 46 games through May and June, the 2012 fourth-round pick only had 37 hits in 172 at-bats (.215). But Walker, 25, already has 28 hits in his first 21 games this month. He’s batting .346 with eight multi-hit performances in July after only having at least two hits in just six games between May and June.


Jayson Aquino, LHP, Bowie – In three starts since his brief appearance in the major leagues earlier this month, the 23-year-old left-hander is 0-1 with a 7.02 ERA. Aquino was charged with seven runs and 11 hits in 3 2/3 innings Monday as the Baysox lost, 10-9, to Hartford. He was 2-3 with a 2.25 ERA in five starts for Bowie in June.

Joe Gunkel, RHP, Norfolk – This month, the 24-year-old right-hander is 0-4 with a 5.56 ERA in 22 2/3 innings for the Tides. In Norfolk’s 5-2 loss to Toledo on Friday, he gave up five runs and nine hits in six innings. Gunkel, 24, is 5-12 overall with a 4.22 ERA in 20 starts between the Tides and Baysox this year.

Francisco Jimenez, RHP, Delmarva – The 21-year-old right-hander has struggled in his past two starts for the Shorebirds. He suffered the loss in both games after giving up a combined 13 runs (12 earned), 16 hits and eight walks in 7 1/3 innings. That’s a 14.73 ERA in those two starts. Overall, Jimenez is 7-9 with a 5.27 ERA in 19 games (16 starts).

Franderlin Romero, RHP, Frederick – For the second straight week, I’m including the 23-year-old right-hander in this category. In five starts this month, Romero is 0-2 with a 9.55 ERA. In the Keys’ 7-0 loss to Salem on Friday, he gave up five runs and seven hits – including a career-high three home runs – in five innings.

Tanner Scott, LHP, Bowie – The Orioles promoted the 2014 sixth-round selection and his 100 mph fastball from Frederick to the Baysox on Thursday. That’d normally get him into the category above this one. But he has given up three runs and five hits in two innings over his first two appearances in Bowie. Plus, he was charged with five runs and didn’t record an out in his next-to-last outing with the Keys on July 17.


Norfolk (39-63)
July 26 – vs. Columbus, 7:05 p.m.
July 27 – vs. Columbus, 7:05 p.m.
July 28 – vs. Columbus, 12:05 p.m.
July 29 – at Indianapolis, 7:15 p.m.
July 30 – at Indianapolis, 7:05 p.m.
July 31 – at Indianapolis, 1:35 p.m.
Aug. 1 – vs. Durham, 7:05 p.m.

Bowie (43-57)
July 26 – vs. Hartford, 7:05 p.m.
July 27 – vs. Hartford, 11:05 a.m.
July 28 – at Akron, 7:05 p.m.
July 29 – at Akron, 7:05 p.m.
July 30 – at Akron, 7:05 p.m.
July 31 – at Akron, 2:05 p.m.
Aug. 1 – at Reading, 7:05 p.m.

Frederick (52-48)
July 26 – at Winston-Salem, 7 p.m.
July 27 – at Winston-Salem, 1 p.m.
July 28 – at Wilmington, 6:35 p.m.
July 29 – at Wilmington, 7:05 p.m.
July 30 – at Wilmington, 7:05 p.m.
July 31 – at Wilmington, 5:05 p.m.
Aug. 1 – vs. Myrtle Beach, 7 p.m.

Delmarva (55-45)
July 26 – vs. Kannapolis, 7:05 p.m.
July 27 – OFF
July 28 – at West Virginia, 7:05 p.m.
July 29 – at West Virginia, 7:05 p.m.
July 30 – at West Virginia, 7:05 p.m.
July 31 – at West Virginia, 2:05 p.m.
Aug. 1 – at Hickory, 7 p.m.

Aberdeen (15-21)
July 26 – at Hudson Valley, 7:05 p.m.
July 27 – OFF
July 28 – vs. Mahoning Valley, 7:05 p.m.
July 29 – vs. Mahoning Valley, 7:05 p.m.
July 30 – vs. Mahoning Valley, 7:05 p.m.
July 31 – at Brooklyn, 4 p.m.
Aug. 1 – at Brooklyn, 7 p.m.

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