The “Dean Jones Report” didn’t lose any members this week.
As you know by now, the Orioles and executive vice president Dan Duquette made two deals before the nonwaiver trade deadline Monday afternoon. But neither move involved minor leaguers ranked among the club’s top 10 prospects.
The organization sent Triple-A Norfolk left-hander Ariel Miranda to the Seattle Mariners in exchange for left-hander Wade Miley on Sunday night and High-A Frederick catcher Jonah Heim to the Tampa Bay Rays to re-acquire utility player Steve Pearce right at the deadline.
Miranda, 27, made his major league debut early last month, but he has spent much of the year in Norfolk’s rotation. He was 4-7 with a 3.93 ERA in 19 starts for the Tides. Miranda’s best start came on June 18, when he held Durham to one hit and had nine strikeouts in seven shutout innings. Originally signed by the Orioles out of Cuba in May 2015, he went 6-3 with a 3.60 ERA in 14 starts across three levels last season.
It was announced Tuesday night that Miranda will start Thursday for the Mariners against the Boston Red Sox – so he could help the Orioles in the pennant race after all
Although he’s left-handed and had some success in the minor leagues over the past two years, the Orioles decided that Miranda was expendable in order to add the major league experience that Miley, a 2008 supplemental first-round pick, will bring to the club.
I don’t know that I would have made the deal if I were in Duquette’s shoes, but it’s not a move that immediately stands out as a questionable one. Of course, we can judge it again after we see how Miley fits with the Orioles and what, if anything, Miranda does with the Mariners.
To add Pearce (again), the Orioles dealt Heim to the Rays. This season, the 2013 fourth-round selection has played more than 46 games for the first time in his four-year professional career. In 88 games with the Keys, he batted .216 with 14 doubles, seven home runs and 30 RBIs. On July 21, Heim hit a two-run, walk-off home run with one out in the bottom of the ninth as Frederick beat Salem, 10-9.
But Heim, 21, was behind Double-A Bowie catcher Chance Sisco on the system’s depth chart. As long as Sisco is the player who you think he is, you can afford to make this move. Like most deals for low-level prospects, it’s possible that the Orioles will regret this deal if Heim is playing every day in the majors down the road. It’s not a guarantee, though. And that’s why clubs build their organizational depth – to make deals like this to fill holes in the big leagues.
Anyway, I’m curious to hear your thoughts on the two moves. Personally, I don’t have a lot of outrage in either direction – for or against them. I’m willing to see how they play out.
Now, let’s get to this week’s update.
As regular readers know, each week I share the latest news and notes about the club’s top prospects at the start of this season, 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 MILB.com 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.
We’ll start with an important note on the first player:
No. 2: Hunter Harvey, RHP, disabled list
Statistics: 0-1, 3.52 ERA, 7 Ks, 9 hits, 6 BBs in 7 2/3 innings (at Aberdeen)
Hours after the 2013 first-round pick (22nd overall) underwent Tommy John surgery last Tuesday, Orioles manager Buck Showalter called it successful. That’s obviously what you’d expect him to say at that point. It’d be much bigger news if he had said the surgery didn’t work or that it looked like Harvey, 21, would never be the same again. In reality, we won’t know for at least a year – and probably longer – whether Harvey can make a successful return to action. It’s going to be a long process, something that won’t happen overnight. Because of that, this is the last time I’ll include a Harvey update unless news warrants it.
No. 3: Chance Sisco, C, Bowie
Statistics: .317 average, 2 HRs, 34 RBIs, 20 2Bs, 45 runs in 88 games
Sisco, 21, continues to lead the Eastern League in on-base percentage (.406) by a wide margin, but he has slumped a little bit over the past week. In his last five games through Monday, the 2013 second-round selection batted .158 (3-for-19) with four walks and three runs scored. Despite the recent struggles at the plate, Sisco finished with a .349 average (30-for-86) and 13 runs scored in 22 games last month. I’ve said it before, but it’s worth noting again: Sisco is hitting .347 in 259 at-bats against right-handed pitchers and only .183 in 60 at-bats versus lefties. It’s one area in which the left-handed-hitting catcher needs to improve.
No. 4: Jomar Reyes, 3B, Frederick
Statistics: .226 average, 8 HRs, 41 RBIs, 40 runs, 82 Ks in 95 games
The 19-year-old third baseman hit .280 (26-for-93) in 26 games in June, but he hasn’t been able to carry that momentum forward. In 24 games through Monday, Reyes was batting .204 (19-for-93) with 25 strikeouts and only three walks. Reyes (pictured above) had a two-run single in the top of the fourth inning of the Keys’ 9-8 loss at Wilmington on Friday. Before that, Reyes hadn’t knocked in a run since July 18. In the Keys’ series opener against Myrtle Beach on Monday night – a 5-4 defeat – he went 0-for-4 with a strikeout and also made his 17th error of the season. I’ll chalk the struggles up to more growing pains, but it’d be nice to hear some positive news and see some highlights from Reyes before the end of the season.
No. 6: Chris Lee, LHP, Bowie
Statistics: 5-0, 2.98 ERA, 19 Ks, 1.05 WHIP in 51 1/3 innings
There’s nothing new to report as Lee, 23, remains out of game action with a strained lat muscle. He hasn’t pitched for the Baysox since May 23, when he tossed a career-high eight innings. If Lee were healthy, I wonder if the Orioles would have included him in a trade for a proven major league starter. Of course, if he were healthy, he might have been a major league starter by now. As I’ve said before, Lee’s injury couldn’t have come at a worse time. But at least it doesn’t appear to be any sort of structural issue. He’ll be back eventually.
No. 7: Ryan Mountcastle, SS, Delmarva
Statistics: .283 average, 6 HRs, 33 RBIs, 21 2Bs, 39 runs, 75 Ks in 88 games
The 2015 first-round pick (36th overall) appears to have snapped out of his recent slump. Mountcastle, 19, has hit safely in his past five games and eight of his last 10. Since July 21, through Monday, he was batting .325 (13-for-40) with five multi-hit performances. Mountcastle hit a two-run home run in the first inning of the first game of the Shorebirds’ doubleheader sweep at West Virginia on Friday night. Before that, he hadn’t homered since June 16. Another note from the splits: He’s batting .384 in 99 at-bats against left-handed pitchers and only .243 in 247 at-bats versus righties. But all six of his home runs have come against right-handers.
No. 8: Trey Mancini, 1B, Norfolk
Statistics: .292 average, 10 HRs, 40 RBIs, 16 2Bs, 87 Ks in 91 games (at Norfolk)
Mancini, 24, had three hits and three RBIs in the Tides’ 6-5 loss to Toledo on July 21 to raise his average with Norfolk to .310 – the highest it had been since he was promoted from Bowie in late April. In 10 games since then, however, the 2013 eighth-round selection was only batting .154 (6-for-39) with one double, no RBIs and 10 strikeouts through Monday. His average has dropped to .292 in that span. Mancini hadn’t homered since July 1. That’s a little bit concerning, considering he seemed to be hitting one every other game to start the year. Still, he has 17 home runs in 412 at-bats overall this season – or about one every 24 at-bats. That’s good. It’s just not as good as it was a month ago.
No. 9: DJ Stewart, OF, Frederick
Statistics: .261 average, 2 HRs, 18 RBIs, 6 2Bs, 23 runs, 25 Ks in 26 games (at Frederick)
The 2015 first-round pick (25th overall) hasn’t played since he left in the fifth inning of Frederick’s 4-2 loss to Salem on July 23 with a strained right pectoral muscle. The Orioles initially listed Stewart, 22, as day-to-day and didn’t put him on the disabled list. Still, even if it’s not serious, the injury has derailed his momentum with the Keys. After scoring only 27 runs in 62 games for Delmarva to start the season, Stewart had nearly that many in his first 26 games at Frederick (23). And his average is 31 points better at the higher level. But that doesn’t mean anything if he’s not on the field.
No. 10: Mike Wright, RHP, Norfolk
Statistics: 2-2, 2.53 ERA, 35 Ks, 40 hits, 9 BBs in 46 1/3 innings (at Norfolk)
In the Tides’ 10-4 victory at Indianapolis on Saturday night, the 2011 third-round selection struck out a season-high nine batters in eight innings. Wright, 26, picked up his first win in more than a month by holding the Indians to four runs (two earned) and seven hits. When he’s able to put it all together, Wright can be a dominant starting pitcher. The problem for the Orioles, though, is that hasn’t happened much as he has pitched to a 6-9 record and 6.00 ERA in 114 innings in the major leagues over the past two seasons. There will come a time for Wright to get another chance, but for now, he needs to dominate Triple-A hitters.
Dariel Alvarez, OF, Norfolk: Alvarez, 27, has a 17-game hitting streak for the Tides. In that span, he is batting .377 (26-for-69) with nine doubles, one home run, eight RBIs and 10 runs scored. Alvarez had three doubles in Norfolk’s 10-4 win over Indianapolis on Saturday. He’s currently second in the International League with 30 doubles this season. The big-league acquisition of Pearce, though, doesn’t help his chances of playing time in the majors this year.
Yermin Mercedes, C, Frederick: I’ve included Mercedes, 23, in this category several times this year. But the Orioles finally rewarded him Monday with a promotion to Frederick after he batted .353 with 14 home runs, 25 doubles and 60 RBIs in 91 games for Delmarva. In his debut with the Keys against Myrtle Beach, Mercedes went 0-for-3 with a walk.
Cedric Mullins, OF, Delmarva: The 2015 13th-round pick has hit leadoff for the Shorebirds in 95 of his 96 games this season. Mullins, 21, is only batting .258 overall, but he leads the South Atlantic League with 10 triples and ranks third with 29 doubles. During his current seven-game hitting streak, Mullins is 12-for-33 (.364) with nine doubles and six RBIs.
Preston Palmeiro, 1B, Aberdeen: The youngest son of Rafael Palmeiro reached base in his first four games. Palmeiro, 21, went 0-for-3 with a walk in the first game of a doubleheader Sunday against Mahoning Valley before he had two singles and an RBI in the nightcap. The seventh-round pick has struck out five times in his first 13 at-bats, though.
Jason Stoffel, RHP, Norfolk: On July 24, Stoffel gave up a solo home run to the first batter of the ninth inning against Toledo. It was his first blown save since he joined the Tides on June 23. Stoffel, 27, has bounced back in his past four games, holding opponents to just one hit while striking out five batters and picking up four saves over four scoreless innings.
Jimmy Yacabonis, RHP, Bowie: The 2013 13th-round selection made 11 consecutive scoreless appearances since he gave up four runs in 1 1/3 innings on July 1 at Altoona. Yacabonis, 24, has struck out 14 batters and given up only nine hits in 14 2/3 innings during that stretch, lowering his ERA from 3.00 to 1.65.
John Means, LHP, Bowie: Means, 23, started the year with a 5-0 record and 1.80 ERA in nine starts for Frederick before he was promoted to the Baysox in late May. He’s 3-4 with a 5.17 ERA in 11 starts for Bowie. In his last start, Means gave up six runs and 10 hits in four innings Wednesday against Hartford. He only has 20 strikeouts in 55 2/3 innings for the Baysox after striking out 54 in 50 innings for the Keys.
Tobias Myers, RHP, GCL Orioles: The 2016 sixth-round pick has made two starts for the Orioles’ Gulf Coast League affiliate. Myers, who will turn 18 on Friday, pitched two scoreless innings in his professional debut against the GCL Rays on July 23. Six days later, he was charged with four runs and six hits in 2 2/3 innings against the same team.
Franderlin Romero, RHP, Frederick: This is Romero’s third straight week in this category. And to be honest, he’s probably most deserving this time. Romero, 23, gave up three home runs, five runs and seven hits in two-thirds of an inning as the Keys lost, 7-6, at Winston-Salem on Wednesday. He finished July with an 0-3 record and 11.28 ERA in six starts.
THE WEEK AHEAD
Aug. 3 – at Durham, 7:05 p.m.
Aug. 4 – at Durham, 7:05 p.m.
Aug. 5 – at Charlotte, 7:05 p.m.
Aug. 6 – at Charlotte, 6:05 p.m.
Aug. 7 – at Charlotte, 5:05 p.m.
Aug. 8 – vs. Gwinnett, 7:05 p.m.
Aug. 3 – at Reading, 7:05 p.m.
Aug. 4 – at Reading, 7:05 p.m.
Aug. 5 – vs. Richmond, 7:05 p.m.
Aug. 6 – vs. Richmond (doubleheader), 5:35 p.m.
Aug. 7 – vs. Richmond, 2:05 p.m.
Aug. 8 – OFF
Aug. 3 – vs. Myrtle Beach, 12 p.m.
Aug. 4 – at Winston-Salem, 7 p.m.
Aug. 5 – at Winston-Salem, 7 p.m.
Aug. 6 – at Winston-Salem, 6:30 p.m.
Aug. 7 – at Winston-Salem, 5 p.m.
Aug. 8 – OFF
Aug. 3 – at Hickory, 12 p.m.
Aug. 4 – vs. West Virginia, 7:05 p.m.
Aug. 5 – vs. West Virginia, 7:05 p.m.
Aug. 6 – vs. West Virginia, 7:05 p.m.
Aug. 7 – vs. West Virginia, 5:05 p.m.
Aug. 8 – vs. Lakewood, 7:05 p.m.
Aug. 3 – vs. Tri-City, 7:05 p.m.
Aug. 4 – vs. Tri-City, 7:05 p.m.
Aug. 5 – vs. Tri-City, 7:05 p.m.
Aug. 6 – at Connecticut, 7:05 p.m.
Aug. 7 – at Connecticut, 4:05 p.m.
Aug. 8 – at Connecticut, 7:05 p.m.