Dean Jones Report: Looking at how the season began for Top 12 Orioles' prospects -
Dean Jones Report

Dean Jones Report: Looking at how the season began for Top 12 Orioles’ prospects


It’s time to kick off the second year of “The Dean Jones Report” on

The minor league season started Thursday. And it only took one day for the first snowout. Double-A Bowie’s game at Akron on Friday was postponed due to snow showers and strong winds. The two teams made up the game Sunday as part of a doubleheader.

Meanwhile, Triple-A Norfolk – with a roster full of major league experience – stumbled out of the gate. The Tides allowed 39 runs and were swept in a four-game series at Charlotte.

Four candidates to start the Orioles’ game at Toronto on Saturday afternoon – right-handers Mike Wright and Gabriel Ynoa, as well as left-handers Chris Lee and Jayson Aquino – all struggled in their season debuts for Norfolk. The quartet gave up 24 runs (19 earned), 31 hits and seven walks in 12 innings. If you’re keeping track at home, that’s… not good. Meanwhile, Alec Asher (see below in surging) is on turn for that Orioles start and impressed in his first Tides start.

Wright is scheduled to pitch again Tuesday night, followed by Ynoa, Lee, Aquino and Asher. Obviously, if any of those pitchers are recalled to make Saturday’s start, they will need to be scratched for the Tides. So, barring any news from the Orioles over the next few days, it’s a situation worth keeping an eye on down the road at Harbor Park.

Anyway, in case you’ve forgotten how we do things around here, let me remind you.

Each Tuesday, I’ll track the performances of the Orioles minor leaguers on my “Dean’s Dozen” list. I’ll categorize each of the players in the report as a rising stock (“bullish”) or a falling stock (“bearish”), based on their recent performance.

I also will highlight a handful of additional 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 organization.

And finally, I’ll give you the upcoming schedule for all the affiliates in case you’re interested in heading out to the ballpark to see these players in action.

Let’s start at the top of Dean’s Dozen…

No. 1: Chance Sisco, C, Norfolk
Statistics: .143, 0 HRs, 4 RBIs, 2 2Bs, 7 Ks in 4 games Player Page

The Orioles’ consensus top prospect went hitless in his first seven at-bats of the season before hitting run-scoring doubles in back-to-back plate appearances during the Tides’ 15-5 loss to Charlotte on Saturday night. Sisco, 21, then had a day off Sunday afternoon in the series finale against the Knights before returning to the lineup Monday in Norfolk’s home opener. However, the early-season slump continued for the 2013 second-round pick as he struck out in all four of his at-bats in the Tides’ 3-0 victory. It was the first time in his professional career – spanning 362 regular-season games – that Sisco had four strikeouts in a game. Still, there’s no need to be concerned about his performance yet.


No. 2: Ryan Mountcastle, SS, Frederick
Statistics: .250, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 2B, 3 Ks in 4 games Player Page

Mountcastle, 20, went 2-for-4 with a double, a solo home run, a walk and two runs scored in the Keys’ season-opening 15-11 loss to Carolina. The 2015 first-round selection (36th overall) followed that up with two singles in Frederick’s 5-1 win over the Mudcats the next day. Since then, however, Mountcastle hasn’t gotten a hit in eight at-bats over the past two games – both losses. While this mini slump could be enough for me to rate Mountcastle as “bearish” this week, I’m giving him a “bullish” rating due to his home run in the opener. Plus, as regular readers will recall, Mountcastle batted .162 for Delmarva last April. So, he’s still roughly 90 points above that right now. Remember, it could always be worse.


No. 3: Keegan Akin, LHP, Frederick
Statistics: 0-0, 81.00 ERA, 2 Ks, 3 BBs in 2/3 of an inning Player Page

Walk. Strikeout. RBI double. RBI single. Walk. Strikeout. Three-run home run. Solo home run. Walk. Call to the bullpen. That’s how the High-A debut went for Akin, 22, on Friday night in the Keys’ season opener against Carolina at Nymeo Field. In 135 innings last year – 109 as a junior at Western Michigan and 26 for short-season Single-A Aberdeen – the 2016 second-round pick allowed just one home run. After less than 1/135th of that time in 2017 (you’ll notice my quality math skills), he already has exceeded that. For now, I’m saying this was simply a bad start. Akin is scheduled to pitch again Wednesday morning against Potomac, so we’ll see if he can put one horrendous performance behind him.


No. 4: Cody Sedlock, RHP, Frederick
Statistics: 1-0, 0.00 ERA, 5 Ks, 1 BB in six innings Player Page

Through one start, the national experts are beating me. While I have Akin ahead of Sedlock in the Dean’s Dozen rankings (and the Keys have him one spot higher in the rotation), most prospect rankings put the 2016 first-round pick (27th overall) in front. While Akin struggled mightily in his Frederick debut, the 21-year-old right-hander shined the following night in the Keys’ 5-1 win over Carolina. Sedlock held the Mudcats to only two hits during six shutout innings. He struck out five and retired 13 of the final 14 hitters he faced. In his next start, Sedlock is scheduled to face Carolina again Thursday night.


No. 5: Chris Lee, LHP, Norfolk
Statistics: 0-1, 21.60 ERA, 1 K, 2 BBs in 3 1/3 innings Player Page

Things didn’t go well for Lee, 24, on Saturday night at Charlotte. During his first regular-season start in nearly 11 months, the Houston Astros’ 2011 fourth-round selection gave up eight runs and nine hits – including two home runs – in 3 1/3 innings during the Tides’ 15-5 loss. The Knights did most of their damage in the third inning, when they scored six runs on five hits, two walks, and a wild pitch. Charlotte first baseman Danny Hayes hit a grand slam – his first of two homers on the night – to wrap up the scoring in the inning. For now, Lee is scheduled to pitch again Thursday afternoon against Gwinnett at Harbor Park.


No. 6: Cedric Mullins, OF, Bowie
Statistics: .545, 3 HRs, 8 RBIs, 1 2B, 1 3B, 10 runs in 5 games Player Page

Do you hear that sound? No, it’s not me patting myself on the back for raving to readers about the 2015 13th-round pick for much of the past year. It’s the sound of Mullins, 22, ripping another shot across the diamond. As Baysox broadcaster Adam Pohl told me Monday night, “Everything is a rocket.” Through five games, Mullins is on pace to shatter the record for batting average in a season (.545). And at this rate, he’ll finish the year with 85 home runs, 227 RBIs and 284 runs scored. OK, so even I can agree that Mullins will likely fall short of those numbers by September. But I think we can all forget any questions about whether skipping Frederick would hurt him. I’m interested to see what adjustments Eastern League pitchers make in the coming weeks.


No. 7: Jesus Liranzo, RHP, Bowie
Statistics: 0-1, 3.38 ERA, 4 Ks, 5 BBs in 2 2/3 innings Player Page

I had the Dominican Republic native penciled in as “bullish” before he was charged with the loss in Bowie’s 7-6 defeat in the series opener at Erie on Monday night. Liranzo, 22, escaped a jam in a tie game during the bottom of the ninth after he allowed the first two SeaWolves hitters to reach base. Then, he started the 10th with back-to-back strikeouts before surrendering a single and a walk with two outs. Right-hander Jefri Hernandez replaced Liranzo and promptly allowed a walkoff single to left field. While one loss won’t damage Liranzo’s status over the long term, it’s a bit of a concern that he has walked five hitters in 2 2/3 innings so far this year. In 2016, Liranzo issued 27 walks in 53 innings overall.


No. 8: Stefan Crichton, RHP, Norfolk
Statistics: 1-0, 3.86 ERA, 4 Ks, 1 BB in 4 2/3 innings Player Page

Trivia question: Who leads Norfolk in wins and is tied for the most innings pitched on the team through five games? OK, so it’s obvious that I’m talking about the 2013 23rd-round pick since I’m quizzing you here instead of within a write-up about another player. Crichton, 25, had mixed results in his first two appearances for the Tides this year. On Friday, he gave up two runs, three hits and one walk in two innings during Norfolk’s 11-4 loss at Charlotte. But he pitched much better Monday night, retiring all eight batters he faced in the Tides’ 3-0 victory over Gwinnett at Harbor Park.


No. 9: Ofelky Peralta, RHP, Frederick
Statistics: N/A Player Page

Peralta, 19, will make his season debut for the Keys in tonight’s game against Potomac at Nymeo Field. The Dominican Republic native went 8-5 with a 4.01 ERA in 23 starts for Delmarva in 2016. He struck out 101 hitters and issued 60 walks in 103 1/3 innings.


No. 10: Austin Hays, OF, Frederick
Statistics: .316, 0 HRs, 4 RBIs, 1 3B in 4 games Player Page

The 2016 third-round pick has hit safely in each of Frederick’s first four games, including two multihit performances. Hays, 21, smacked a two-run triple during Frederick’s nine-run sixth inning Friday night against Carolina. He later scored to tie the game at 10, completing the Keys’ comeback from a 10-0 deficit. However, they eventually lost to the Mudcats anyway, 15-11. Yes, it was that kind of game. Still, Hays ranks second on the Keys – behind third baseman Jomar Reyes (more on him later) – with six hits so far this season. He’s also tied for the team lead with four RBIs.


No. 11: DJ Stewart, OF, Bowie
Statistics: .125, 1 HR, 4 RBIs, 1 2B, 2 Ks in 4 games Player Page

You don’t often see a player with a lower on-base percentage than his batting average. But when you’re less than a week into a season, anything is possible. Stewart, 23, is batting just .125 through four games. But remarkably, his on-base percentage sits at .118. That’s because he hit a sacrifice fly in Saturday night’s 4-1 win at Akron. The sacrifice fly factors into on-base percentage but not batting average. Anyway, statistical quirks aside, the 2015 first-round selection (25th overall) has just two hits in 16 at-bats so far in 2017. But he did hit a home run in the season opener and has four RBIs overall.


No. 12: Gabriel Ynoa, RHP, Norfolk
Statistics: 0-1, 16.88 ERA, 2 Ks, 1 BB in 2 2/3 innings Player Page

We’re starting to see a theme here – and it’s not a good one. Another Norfolk pitcher lit up by Charlotte over the weekend. Ynoa, who will turn 24 next month, struggled through 2 2/3 innings in his season debut for the Tides on Friday night. He allowed seven runs (five earned) and 10 hits in the 11-4 loss. In 25 starts for Triple-A Las Vegas in the Pacific Coast League last season, the Dominican Republic native only gave up more runs in a game twice. And he only allowed more earned runs than he did Friday three times. Last April, Ynoa – whom the Orioles acquired in a trade with the New York Mets on February 10 – went 1-0 with a 1.48 ERA in four starts for the 51s. So, I’m optimistic he’ll turn it around in his next start Wednesday.



Alec Asher, RHP, Norfolk: If you’re looking for an intriguing possibility to start Saturday’s game in Toronto, you might want to focus on the 25-year-old right-hander whom the Orioles acquired two weeks ago from the Philadelphia Phillies. Asher struck out six batters in 4 1/3 scoreless innings for the Tides on Monday night. He’ll be in turn to pitch again Saturday — maybe in Toronto.

Jomar Reyes, 3B, Frederick: Last year, the 20-year-old infielder struggled to a .228 batting average and .271 on-base percentage. While most national experts still consider Reyes to be among the Orioles’ top prospects, I removed him from the Dean’s Dozen last week because I wanted to see improvement. So far, he’s batting .500 (8-for-16) in 2017. That’s improvement.

Aderlin Rodriguez, 1B, Bowie: The 25-year-old infielder led the Carolina League with an .891 on-base percentage in 2016 and finished second in the league with 26 homers – a total that led all Orioles minor leaguers. A year later, he’s up to Bowie. And he’s still mashing. Through five games, Rodriguez is hitting .381 with three home runs and eight RBIs.



Cristian Alvarado, RHP, Frederick: In 2016, the 22-year-old right-hander struck out one batter per inning for Delmarva. Alvarado finished with a 10-9 record and 3.41 ERA in 27 starts, leading to some optimism heading into 2017. But his season debut didn’t go well. The Venezuela native was charged with nine runs and 10 hits in four innings Monday.

Brandon Barker, RHP, Bowie: I had high hopes for the 24-year-old right-hander after the Orioles picked him up from the Atlanta Braves in the deal for left-hander Brian Matusz last May. Barker was 5-7 with a 4.75 ERA in 18 games (17 starts) for Bowie in 2016. He allowed four runs on three hits, two walks and a hit batter in three innings Thursday at Akron.

Preston Palmeiro, 1B, Delmarva: The son of former Orioles first baseman Rafael Palmeiro is off to a rough start with the Shorebirds. Through four games, the 2016 seventh-round selection is batting .188 (3-for-16) with nine strikeouts and three singles. He batted third in the lineup for the first three games before dropping to sixth Monday.



Norfolk (1-4)
April 11 – vs. Gwinnett, 6:35 p.m.
April 12 – vs. Gwinnett, 6:35 p.m.
April 13 – vs. Gwinnett, 12:05 p.m.
April 14 – vs. Charlotte, 7:05 p.m.
April 15 – vs. Charlotte, 7:05 p.m.
April 16 – vs. Charlotte, 1:05 p.m.
April 17 – OFF

Bowie (3-2)
April 11 – at Erie, 6:35 p.m.
April 12 – at Erie, 12:05 p.m.
April 13 – vs. Harrisburg, 6:35 p.m.
April 14 – vs. Harrisburg, 7:05 p.m.
April 15 – vs. Harrisburg, 2:05 p.m.
April 16 – OFF
April 17 – vs. Richmond, 6:35 p.m.

Frederick (1-3)
April 11 – vs. Potomac, 7 p.m.
April 12 – vs. Potomac, 11 a.m.
April 13 – at Carolina, 7 p.m.
April 14 – at Carolina, 7 p.m.
April 15 – at Carolina, 5 p.m.
April 16 – at Carolina, 2 p.m.
April 17 – at Winston-Salem, 7 p.m.

Delmarva (1-4)
April 11 – at Greensboro, 7 p.m.
April 12 – at Greensboro, noon
April 13 – vs. Hagerstown, 7:05 p.m.
April 14 – vs. Hagerstown, 7:05 p.m.
April 15 – vs. Hagerstown, 7:05 p.m.
April 16 – vs. Hagerstown, 2:05 p.m.
April 17 – vs. Greensboro, 7:05 p.m.

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