A former Orioles minor leaguer – and local kid – made history earlier this week.
The problem? He did it with the Milwaukee Brewers.
On Monday, left-handed reliever Josh Hader – an Old Mill graduate – became the first pitcher in the modern major leagues (since 1900) to strike out eight hitters in less than three innings. Two days later, he was named National League Relief Pitcher of the Month.
Through Wednesday, Hader has pitched to a 1.00 ERA and four saves in 11 appearances out of Milwaukee’s bullpen. He has struck out an incredible 39 hitters in 18 innings. Last season, Hader went 2-3 with a 2.08 ERA and 68 strikeouts in 47 2/3 innings for the Brewers.
To be fair, not many people envisioned he’d be this dominant when the Orioles traded him.
You’ll likely recall that the Orioles sent Hader and infielder L.J. Hoes to the Houston Astros on July 31, 2013 for right-hander Bud Norris. And two years later, the Astros made the same mistake when they dealt him to Milwaukee as part of a package for right-hander Mike Fiers and outfielder Carlos Gomez. So the Orioles aren’t the only team to miss out on Hader.
Nevertheless, Hader’s emergence is just another punch to the gut for Orioles fans this year. And the Astros have since won a World Series, so I guess it’s not all bad news in Houston.
Of course, Hader isn’t the only minor leaguer who has moved on from the Orioles in recent years. Because of his success, though, I thought I’d look back at some of the others today.
It’s not an all-encompassing list, by any means. It’s just a few guys who’ve moved on recently. If you enjoy the post, though, tell me at [email protected]. And pass along other names, too. I’ll try to do these updates periodically throughout the year.
Let’s start with catcher Jonah Heim. The 2013 fourth-round pick played for Frederick before the Orioles sent him to the Tampa Bay Rays for infielder Steve Pearce in August 2016.
Heim, 22, played most of the 2017 season with Low-A Bowling Green in the Midwest League. He batted .268 with nine home runs and 53 RBIs in 77 games. Heim also hit .218 in 16 games at High-A Charlotte in the Florida State League.
In December, the Rays shipped Heim to the Oakland Athletics as the player to be named later in the trade for infielder Joey Wendle. (Yes, that’s the same Joey Wendle who had five hits and three RBIs in two wins over the Orioles last week, but let’s get back on topic.)
Through 25 games with High-A Stockton in the California League, Heim is batting .287 with two home runs and 12 RBIs. He is tied for second on the Ports with 27 hits.
In the days leading up to last year’s July 31 trade deadline, the Orioles made two trades.
First, they sent outfielder Hyun Soo Kim and Bowie left-handed reliever Garrett Cleavinger to the Philadelphia Phillies for right-hander Jeremy Hellickson. As you probably know, Kim moved back to South Korea and Hellickson now pitches for the Washington Nationals.
Cleavinger, 24, remains in Philadelphia’s system. The 2015 third-round selection currently pitches for Double-A Reading in the Eastern League. He’s 0-1 with a 5.40 ERA in seven appearances. Cleavinger has struck out 14 batters and issued 10 walks in 8 1/3 innings.
After that deal, the Orioles traded Short-A Aberdeen right-hander Tobias Myers to the Rays for infielder Tim Beckham. In the interest of full disclosure, I wrote that I didn’t like the deal as soon as it was announced. But how has Myers fared since then?
The 2016 sixth-round pick went 2-0 with a 3.08 ERA in five starts for Short-A Hudson Valley in the New York-Penn League after the deal last summer. Myers, 19, had 38 strikeouts and only walked four hitters in 26 1/3 innings. Opponents batted .181 against him.
This season, he’s pitching for Bowling Green in the Rays’ system. Through five games (four starts), Myers is 2-2 with a 4.91 ERA. He has 25 strikeouts in 22 innings. However, he has struggled a bit more with his control, walking 15 batters in that span.
Still, nine months later, I’m not sure the Orioles should’ve made the deal for Beckham. Even if he weren’t injured right now, the 2008 top overall pick wouldn’t make much difference in the Orioles’ success. And instead, they could miss out on the next Josh Hader in Myers.
Sure, maybe that’s a stretch, but we’ll see how things play out in the next several years.
With all of that out of the way, let’s get to the fourth “Dean Jones Report” of the 2018 season. Each Friday, I’ll discuss what’s happing across the Orioles’ minor-league system.
I’ll list each player in my “Dean’s Dozen” rankings as a rising stock (“bullish”) or a falling stock (“bearish”). Then, I’ll pass along a few players who are either “surging” or “falling” in recent weeks. Finally, I’ll share the upcoming schedule for all the Orioles’ affiliates.
No. 1: Austin Hays, OF, Bowie
Statistics: .232, 4 HRs, 11 RBIs, 11 runs in 24 games
The 2016 third-round selection has hit safely in four straight games. Hays, 22, hit his fourth homer of the season as the Baysox beat Erie, 7-3, on Tuesday. Then, he went 2-for-5 with a double, a triple, two RBIs and a run scored Wednesday in Bowie’s 9-6 win over the SeaWolves in the series finale. With all that said, I’m switching to “bearish” this week. That’s because Hays only batted .118 (2-for-17) in the four games before that. In last week’s update, I noted that it was still early and that I was still optimistic about Hays. That hasn’t changed, but I’d like to see him heat up soon to solidify his spot at No. 1.
No. 2: Ryan Mountcastle, 3B, Bowie
We’re still patiently waiting for the 2015 first-round pick (36th overall) to make his season debut. Mountcastle, 21, remains on the disabled list because of a hairline fracture in his right hand. He started taking batting practice against coaches last week. We’re now at the seven-week mark in his recovery. The initial timetable for his return was four to six weeks.
No. 3: Hunter Harvey, RHP, Bowie
Statistics: 0-1, 3.65 ERA, 10 Ks, 5 BBs in 12 1/3 innings
The 2013 first-round selection (22nd overall) pitched four innings Thursday for the first time since July 25, 2014. Harvey, 23, allowed a leadoff single and a stolen base in the first inning before retiring the next three hitters. Then, he gave up four runs, five hits and two walks over the next two innings before finishing strong with a 1-2-3 inning in the fourth. So, overall, it was a mixed performance for Harvey. And his season ERA more than tripled in one night – from 1.08 to 3.65. However, I’m staying “bullish” this week because of the milestone. In his four starts this year, Harvey has progressively thrown more pitches (34, 55, 63 and 69). He’ll pitch again next week, either at Altoona or at home against Hartford.
No. 4: Cedric Mullins, OF, Bowie
Statistics: .245, 4 HRs, 15 RBIs, 7 2Bs, 2 3Bs, 16 runs in 24 games
Mullins, 23, only batted .154 (4-for-26) in seven games since last week’s update. As a result, the 2015 13th-round pick’s season average tumbled from .278 to .245 in one week. It’s still early, of course, but Mullins has been more productive at home so far this year. In 12 games at Prince George’s Stadium, Mullins is hitting .269 (14-for-52) with three home runs and 10 RBIs. But in 10 games on the road, he’s only batting .217 (10-for-46) with one homer and five RBIs. The switch-hitter is 7-for-17 (.412) with five extra-base hits – three doubles and two home runs – against left-handed pitchers. I’m “bearish” in the short term because of Mullins’ recent slump, but nothing has changed about my long-term optimism.
No. 5: Tanner Scott, LHP, Norfolk
Statistics: 0-0, 0.00 ERA, 11 Ks, 4 BBs in 9 innings (at Norfolk); 0-0, 5.79 ERA, 5 Ks, 1 BB in 4 2/3 innings (with Orioles)
The 2014 sixth-round selection continued his scoreless stretch at Triple-A after returning to Norfolk from the Orioles on Saturday. Scott, 23, made three appearances over the past week, tossing a shutout inning in each of those games. On Thursday night, Scott pitched the top of the ninth in the Tides’ come-from-behind 6-5 win over Louisville in 10 innings. He retired the first two hitters before giving up a walk and a double. With runners on second and third, Scott forced a groundout to end the inning. Norfolk tied the game in the bottom of the ninth and won it an inning later on a walkoff single by Austin Wynns. It’s pretty clear that Scott will be back in Baltimore this year. It’s just a matter of when that’ll happen.
No. 6: DL Hall, LHP, Delmarva
Statistics: 0-0, 1.69 ERA, 12 Ks, 7 BBs in 10 2/3 innings
In his most recent start, the 2017 first-round pick (21st overall) doubled his strikeout total for the season. Hall, 19, struck out six Hickory hitters in the Shorebirds’ 7-6 loss to the Crawdads on Sunday afternoon. He allowed one run and three hits in 2 2/3 innings. Hickory scored six runs in the final three innings to come from behind to beat Delmarva. Hall has issued seven walks in 10 2/3 innings – including four at Hagerstown on April 17 – so he still has stuff to work on. But I’m staying “bullish” today. He’ll start Sunday against Augusta.
No. 7: DJ Stewart, OF, Norfolk
Statistics: .243, 2 HRs, 11 RBIs, 13 runs in 20 games
The notoriously streaky 2015 first-round selection (25th overall) has gone streaking again. This time, it’s a bad streak. Stewart, 24, is only batting .154 (4-for-26) with eight strikeouts in his past seven games. I watched part of Thursday night’s game on MILB First Pitch app on my phone. Stewart had a nice piece of hitting for an RBI single in the bottom of the eighth as the Tides clawed their way back. However, since his average has tumbled 32 percentage points since last week’s update, I’m flipping to “bearish” on Stewart today.
No. 8: Keegan Akin, LHP, Bowie
Statistics: 3-2, 3.33 ERA, 31 Ks, 12 BBs in 27 innings
The 2016 second-round pick struck out a career-high 12 batters Tuesday on his way to a third straight win. The 23-year-old Akin (pictured above) has pitched six innings in each of those games. In his latest outing, he gave up two runs and two hits as the Baysox beat Erie, 7-3. According to the Baysox, Akin’s 12 strikeouts were the most by a Bowie player since right-hander Radhames Liz struck out 14 batters in August 2007. That’s another blast from the past. One statistic to note about Akin, courtesy of MILB.com: When he’s pitching ahead in the count, opponents are only batting .181 against him. But when he falls behind, they’re hitting .435. Akin is scheduled to make his next start for the Baysox on Sunday afternoon against Akron.
No. 9: Alex Wells, LHP, Frederick
Statistics: 0-3, 4.50 ERA, 21 Ks, 9 BBs in 26 innings
It’s official… The Australian native has now walked as many batters (nine) in 26 innings this year as he did in 62 2/3 innings with Aberdeen during his first professional season in 2016. With one more walk, he’ll match his total in 140 innings with Delmarva last year. Still, I don’t think it’s a major problem that Wells, 21, has issued more walks than in the past. As he moves higher in the organization, hitters should theoretically become more selective. It’ll be part of his learning process. For now, things aren’t going too well. He lost his third straight start after giving up five runs – including three homers – in the Keys’ 5-2 defeat to Salem on Tuesday. Wells will look to get back on track Sunday at Wilmington.
No. 10: Michael Baumann, RHP, Delmarva
Statistics: 3-0, 1.80 ERA, 30 Ks, 11 BBs in 25 innings
In the Shorebirds’ 7-1 win over Greenville on Tuesday night, the 2017 third-round pick tossed six shutout innings. Baumann, 22, had three strikeouts and only gave up two hits. He also walked two batters. In a quirky twist of the schedule, Baumann has yet to pitch outside Maryland in 2018. He made four of his first five starts at Perdue Stadium, while his only road outing came at Hagerstown. Baumann won’t pitch in another state for at least another turn through the rotation. His next start will be Monday against Augusta.
No. 11: Zac Lowther, LHP, Delmarva
Statistics: 2-1, 1.23 ERA, 39 Ks, 3 BBs in 22 innings
Lowther, 22, remains my early favorite for the Jim Palmer Minor League Pitcher of the Year award. And that’s saying a lot since – as you’ve seen with my updates – several of the Orioles’ young pitchers have performed exceptionally over the first month of the season. In his latest start, the 2017 competitive balance round B selection didn’t factor in the decision for the first time this year. Lowther gave up two runs and four hits in six innings as the Shorebirds topped Hickory, 4-2. He struck out eight batters. He leads the South Atlantic League in strikeouts (39) and WHIP (0.55). Lowther will start Saturday against Augusta.
No. 12: Cody Sedlock, RHP, Frederick
Statistics: 0-2, 13.50 ERA, 6 Ks, 9 BBs in 9 1/3 innings
The 2016 first-round pick (27th overall) remains sidelined. Sedlock, 22, had a 2.68 WHIP and 13.50 ERA in three starts before going on the disabled list with a right shoulder strain. I’ll keep you posted on his recovery, but he’ll likely drop out of the Top 12 at midseason.
Trevor Craport, 3B, Delmarva: On a team full of regular “surging” candidates, the 2017 11th-round pick ranks second with 18 RBIs. Craport, 21, is hitting .275 with 19 runs in 23 games. And he appears to be heating up: Craport went 5-for-11 with three homers, two doubles, six RBIs and five runs in Delmarva’s three-game sweep over Greenville this week.
Seamus Curran, 1B/DH, Delmarva: The 2015 eight-round pick only played in 13 games for Aberdeen last year before he needed season-ending surgery to repair his kneecap after a collision at first base. But Curran, 20, appears to have put the injury behind him. In 24 games with the Shorebirds, he’s hitting .281 with five homers and a team-leading 19 RBIs.
Drew Dosch, 3B, Norfolk: The 2013 seventh-round selection missed 17 days in April with a left hamstring injury. It’s unclear if Dosch, 25, would’ve been considered for a promotion if he were healthy when the Orioles needed infield help. Either way, in seven games since his return to the lineup, Dosch is hitting .346 (9-for-26) with a run in every contest.
Chris Lee, LHP, Norfolk: I’m including Lee, 25, in this category because he’s scheduled to make his 2018 debut tonight for the Tides. Last season, he struggled to a 5-6 record and 5.11 ERA in 27 games (20 starts) at Norfolk. We’ll see if he can pitch his way back into the discussion for a promotion to the majors. He has been sidelined with an oblique injury.
Preston Palmeiro, 2B, Frederick: The 2016 seventh-round selection and son of former Orioles first baseman Rafael Palmeiro shifted from his father’s position to second base this year. Although the younger Palmeiro, 23, made five errors early, he appears to have improved. Offensively, he leads the Keys with five homers and 17 RBIs in 26 games.
Chris Clare, SS, Frederick: In the Keys’ 8-3 win over Salem on Thursday, the 2016 21st-round selection finally broke through with his first multi-hit performance. Clare, 23, improved to .164 with three hits, including a double – his first extra-base hit. In his previous 12 games, Clare went 2-for-33 (.060). One bright spot? He has walked 19 times.
Lucas Humpal, RHP, Frederick/Bowie: The Orioles promoted the 2016 ninth-round pick to start for the Baysox on Wednesday. But it wasn’t because Humpal, 24, has pitched well. Bowie simply need to fill a hole in their rotation. In four starts with the Keys, Humpal is 0-4 with a 5.57 ERA. He didn’t do much better for Bowie, giving up five runs in 3 1/3 innings.
John Means, LHP, Bowie: Speaking of the Baysox rotation, the 2014 11th-round selection has been the losing pitcher in his past three starts. Means, 25, suffered from some bad luck in the first game after allowing only one run and four hits in six innings against Richmond on April 17. But in the last two, Means has allowed 13 runs (eight earned) in 9 1/3 innings.
THE WEEK AHEAD
May 4 – vs. Louisville, 7:05 p.m.
May 5 – vs. Louisville, 7:05 p.m.
May 6 – vs. Louisville, 1:05 p.m.
May 7 – at Durham, 7:05 p.m.
May 8 – at Durham, 10:35 a.m.
May 9 – at Durham, 7:05 p.m.
May 10 – at Durham, 7:05 p.m.
May 4 – vs. Akron, 7:05 p.m.
May 5 – vs. Akron, 6:35 p.m.
May 6 – vs. Akron, 1:35 p.m.
May 7 – at Altoona, 6 p.m.
May 8 – at Altoona, 6 p.m.
May 9 – at Altoona, 10:30 a.m.
May 10 – vs. Hartford, 6:35 p.m.
May 4 – at Wilmington, 7:05 p.m.
May 5 – at Wilmington, 6:05 p.m.
May 6 – at Wilmington, 1:35 p.m.
May 7 – vs. Lynchburg, 7 p.m.
May 8 – vs. Lynchburg, 7 p.m.
May 9 – vs. Lynchburg, 11 a.m.
May 10 – vs. Potomac, 7 p.m.
May 4 – vs. Augusta, 7:05 p.m.
May 5 – vs. Augusta, 7:05 p.m.
May 6 – vs. Augusta, 2:05 p.m.
May 7 – vs. Augusta, 7:05 p.m.
May 8 – OFF
May 9 – at Lexington, 10:35 a.m.
May 10 – at Lexington, 7:05 p.m.