Dean Jones Report: Mountcastle mashing; Hall earns another accolade; Outfielders struggling - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Dean Jones Report

Dean Jones Report: Mountcastle mashing; Hall earns another accolade; Outfielders struggling

Photo credit: Mark J. Rebilas - USA Today Sports

Whenever you can add a “Dean” to your organization, you have to make it happen.

Even if you need to trade one of the best players in the history of your franchise.

Because of that, I’m all for the Orioles sending shortstop Manny Machado to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday to acquire right-hander Dean Kremer. That’s a power move.

I’m joking, of course.

But all kidding aside, you know by now that outfielder Yusniel Diaz headlined the Dodgers’ five-player package for Machado. And in addition to Kremer, the Orioles also received right-handed relief pitcher Zach Pop, as well as infielders Rylan Bannon and Breyvic Valera.

After the deal, my colleague Rich Dubroff shared some specifics about the players, including what one longtime talent evaluator said about Diaz and Valera. While you never want to trade away an impact player like Machado, most experts seemed to like the Orioles’ return.

It’ll ultimately take at least a few years to know whether this deal will go down in history as a win or a loss for the Orioles. But I believe the key is that the club doesn’t stop here.

The “fire sale” needs to continue in order to add as much young talent as possible to the organization. And if other deals happen – most likely involving relief pitcher Zach Britton or center fielder Adam Jones – we’ll break down the moves here at BaltimoreBaseball.com.

In the meantime, you should head to Prince George’s Stadium for at least a game or two when Double-A Bowie is in town over the next month and a half. The Orioles sent four players – Diaz, Kremer, Pop and Bannon – to the Baysox. Valera headed to Triple-A Norfolk. None of them played for their respective teams Thursday, but they’ll be there this weekend.

By the way, I just updated my “Dean’s Dozen” rankings at the end of June. However, most experts consider Diaz a Top 100 player in baseball. So, I’ll find a spot for him next week.

I don’t think any others will make the cut right now, but we’ll see. I’m still thinking. And with catcher Chance Sisco now back at Triple-A Norfolk, I could add him back into the list.

Stay tuned.

With that said, it’s time to turn to this week’s “Dean Jones Report.” As loyal readers know, it’s my way to pass along the news and notes about the 12 players in the “Dean’s Dozen.”

In addition, I share some players who are either “surging” or “falling” in recent weeks. Finally, you’ll see the upcoming schedule for Triple-A Norfolk down to Short-A Aberdeen.

Let’s get to it…

DEAN’S DOZEN

No. 1: Ryan Mountcastle, 3B, Bowie
BULLISH
Statistics: .316, 10 HRs, 40 RBIs, 33 runs in 63 games
MILB.com Player Page

With Diaz joining the Baysox, the 2015 first-round selection (36th overall) might not be the best prospect in Bowie anymore. But don’t tell that to Mountcastle, 21. He homered in consecutive games at Altoona on Tuesday and Wednesday, putting him into double digits in the category. Mountcastle also had a double in Bowie’s 7-5 victory over the Curve on Tuesday. Through 14 games this month, he is hitting .350 (21-for-60) with seven doubles, three homers and nine RBIs. Mountcastle has hit safely in 17 of his past 18 games. That’s not including an 0-for-2 performance in Major League Baseball’s All-Star Futures Game last Sunday. But that’s OK, we’ll let him slide this time. I’m still “bullish” on Mountcastle.

No. 2: Cedric Mullins, OF, Norfolk
BEARISH
Statistics: .313, 6 HRs, 12 2Bs, 5 3Bs, 28 RBIs, 36 runs in 49 games (Bowie); .268, 4 HRs, 16 RBIs, 14 2Bs, 29 runs in 44 games (Norfolk)
MILB.com Player Page

With back-to-back two-hit games last Friday and Saturday, the 2015 13th-round pick boosted his average with the Tides to .288. But Mullins, 23, has entered a miniature slump since then. In his past six games, he is only hitting .130 (3-for-23) with no extra-base hits, no runs and no RBIs. As a result, Mullins’ average in 44 games at Norfolk dropped to .268 after Thursday’s doubleheader – the lowest point since .267 on July 3. The bright side is that he has 16 stolen bases in 17 attempts and 26 doubles in 92 games between the two levels this year. I’m switching to “bearish” for now, but I hope that doesn’t last long.

No. 3: Austin Hays, OF, Bowie
BEARISH
Statistics: .224, 6 HRs, 18 RBIs, 22 runs in 43 games
MILB.com Player Page

“Stay the course and trust the process, if you’re committed to the right things success will come,” Hays, 23, wrote on Twitter on Thursday morning. The 2016 third-round selection remains out of action with an ankle injury. Not much news to report. Hays was supposed to resume baseball activities this week, so we’ll see if that leads to his return before long.

No. 4: Hunter Harvey, RHP, Bowie
BEARISH
Statistics: 1-2, 5.57 ERA, 30 Ks, 9 BBs in 32 1/3 innings
MILB.com Player Page

Speaking of injured prospects, the 2013 first-round pick (22nd overall) still hasn’t returned to the mound after dealing with instability in his right shoulder. Harvey, 23, hasn’t pitched for the Baysox since June 1 – exactly seven weeks ago. For now, fans must remain patient.

No. 5: DL Hall, LHP, Delmarva
BULLISH
Statistics: 2-5, 2.44 ERA, 67 Ks, 32 BBs in 66 1/3 innings
MILB.com Player Page

The 2017 first-round selection (21st overall) remains one of the hottest prospects in baseball. On Monday, the South Atlantic League honored him as its Pitcher of the Week for the second straight time. Hall, 19, earned his second win in the Shorebirds’ 4-1 victory at West Virginia on Monday. He dominated the Power through six innings, striking out a career-high 10 batters while allowing one run and three hits. Best of all, Hall only threw 80 pitches in the game. Since June 10, he has only given up two earned runs in 32 2/3 innings. If you’re keeping track at home, that’s a 0.55 ERA. So far, so good with last year’s top pick.

No. 6: DJ Stewart, OF, Norfolk
BEARISH
Statistics: .247, 9 HRs, 39 RBIs, 44 runs, 19 doubles in 75 games
MILB.com Player Page

After going 1-for-6 in the Tides’ doubleheader sweep over Rochester on Thursday evening, the 2015 first-round pick (25th overall) is hitting just .167 (9-for-54) with 14 strikeouts in 15 games this month. Stewart, 24, went 2-for-4 with a double and a solo homer in Norfolk’s 7-3 loss at Buffalo on Tuesday. Other than that, he hasn’t had a multi-hit game since June 22. Since the start of June, the notoriously streaky hitter only has four multi-hit performances. With the Orioles’ youth movement underway, it’s not a good time to slump.

No. 7: Keegan Akin, LHP, Bowie
BEARISH
Statistics: 9-6, 2.91 ERA, 100 Ks, 46 BBs in 92 2/3 innings
MILB.com Player Page

You’re might be surprised to see that I’m “bearish” on the 2016 second-round selection this week. Akin, 23, just reached 100 strikeouts for the season (tied for the Eastern League lead). But I’m switching from “bullish” in the short term because he has issued 14 walks in 11 innings over his past three starts. And as I noted last week, Akin also threw a wild pitch and walked a hitter in the league’s All-Star Game. He has dealt with some groin tightness recently, but it’s unclear how much that has affected his control. In my last update, I said I’d write it off for now. Since the walks have continued to pile up, though, it’s a situation to watch. Akin picked up his ninth win in Bowie’s 7-1 victory at Reading on Sunday. He gave up one run, three hits and four walks in five innings. Akin will start tonight against Erie.

No. 8: Ryan McKenna, OF, Bowie
BEARISH
Statistics: .377, 8 HRs, 18 2Bs, 2 3Bs, 37 RBIs, 60 runs in 67 games (Frederick); .253, 1 HR, 6 RBIs, 4 2Bs, 13 runs in 26 games (Bowie)
MILB.com Player Page

McKenna, 21, seems to manage to get one hit in almost every game. Since moving up to the Baysox about a month ago, the 2015 fourth-round pick only has seven hitless games. But McKenna hasn’t been as hot as he was with Frederick earlier in the year. Although he is batting .271 (16-for-59) in 16 games this month, it hasn’t been easy. McKenna has struck out 18 times in that span, including three times against Reading on Sunday and twice in Bowie’s 7-3 loss to Erie on Thursday. You can’t take anything away from McKenna’s success this year – especially in Frederick – but it’s time to temporarily move to “bearish” this week.

No. 9: Michael Baumann, RHP, Frederick
BEARISH
Statistics: 5-0, 1.42 ERA, 47 Ks, 13 BBs in 38 innings (Delmarva); 4-2, 4.07 ERA, 37 Ks, 25 BBs in 55 1/3 innings (Frederick)
MILB.com Player Page

I’m staying “bearish” on the 2017 third-round selection because his struggles continued last Friday at Potomac. Baumann, 22, kept his opponent from scoring much better than he did in his previous two outings. He only allowed two runs in 4 2/3 innings, instead of 12 runs in his previous 10 frames. However, Baumann also walked a career-high five batters. And he surrendered four hits, too. Overall, Baumann only threw 49 of his 95 pitches for strikes. After shining for the first three months of the year, he appears to have hit a wall lately. We’ll see if Baumann can bounce back when he takes the mound tonight against Down East.

No. 10: Zac Lowther, LHP, Frederick
BEARISH
Statistics: 3-1, 1.16 ERA, 51 Ks, 9 BBs in 31 innings (Delmarva); 3-1, 3.25 ERA, 49 Ks, 16 BBs in 44 1/3 innings (Frederick)
MILB.com Player Page

This week, I’m also flipping to short-term “bearish” on the 2017 competitive balance round B pick. Potomac touched up Lowther, 22, for five runs and six hits in three innings Monday. He also allowed four walks – tied for the most in his career – in the Keys’ 10-7 loss. In four starts in July, the two-time Orioles Minor League Pitcher of the Month is 0-1 with a 6.63 ERA. He has given up 14 runs and 23 hits – including five homers – in 19 innings, so it doesn’t look like he’ll be picked for the organizational award again this month. Nevertheless, I don’t think you should be concerned about Lowther’s long-term outlook. I believe he’ll bounce back before long. Lowther is scheduled to start Sunday against Wilmington.

No. 11: Alex Wells, LHP, Frederick
BULLISH
Statistics: 4-6, 3.97 ERA, 65 Ks, 27 BBs in 90 2/3 innings
MILB.com Player Page

The week started well for the Australia native on a big stage. Wells, 21, retired both hitters he faced in the sixth inning of the All-Star Futures Game on Sunday. He forced San Diego Padres prospect Buddy Reed to fly out to left field before striking out St. Louis Cardinals minor leaguer Andrew Knizner. Then, in his return to the Keys on Thursday night, Wells held Down East to one run, four hits and one walk in 5 2/3 innings. It was a great rebound outing for Wells, who had struggled in his past two starts. Although it doesn’t matter in the long run, it’s nice to see his ERA drop back below 4.00 once again. Since he shined in front of a television audience at Nationals Park last weekend, I’m back to “bullish” for now.

No. 12: Brenan Hanifee, RHP, Delmarva
BULLISH
Statistics: 7-4, 2.56 ERA, 63 Ks, 16 BBs in 102 innings
MILB.com Player Page

In the Shorebirds’ 4-3 loss at West Virginia last Saturday, the 2016 fourth-round pick suffered a loss for the first time in more than a month. But Hanifee, 20, didn’t pitch terribly. He held the Power to three runs and six hits in five innings. Still, that snapped Hanifee’s streak of five straight starts with at least six innings pitched and less than three runs allowed. One good thing to like: Hanifee has been remarkably consistent this year. His ERA by month has been 2.77 in April, 2.31 in May, 2.76 in June and 2.25 in July. And even better, Hanifee has only allowed 16 walks in 102 innings this season. I’m excited to see how he finishes the year. He’s set to start for the Shorebirds on Saturday against Greensboro.

2018 DRAFT SPOTLIGHT

Grayson Rodriguez, RHP, GCL Orioles: The first-round pick (11th overall) finally gave up a hit – three of them, in fact. But Rodriguez, 18, still hasn’t allowed a run after he threw two scoreless innings Tuesday in the GCL Orioles’ 1-0 loss to the GCL Twins. Through five innings, opponents are now hitting .176 (3-for-17). A small sample size, but a bright start.

SURGING

Martin Cervenka, C, Bowie: Cervenka, 25, made the Eastern League All-Star Game despite only hitting .173 in 39 games between May and June. But this month, the Czech Republic native finally appears to be living up to that honor. Despite going 0-for-4 Thursday, Cervenka is batting .286 (12-for-42) with five homers and 14 RBIs in 12 games this month.

Mason McCoy, 2B-SS, Delmarva: Two weeks ago, I put the 2017 sixth-round pick in the “falling” category because he had to shift off shortstop as 2018 second-round selection Cadyn Grenier joined the Shorebirds. McCoy, 23, hasn’t let the move get to him, though. He went 2-for-5 with a homer Sunday before leading off Tuesday’s game with another longball.

John Means, LHP, Norfolk: For the second straight week, I’m including the 2014 11th-round selection. Means, 25, threw a seven-inning, complete-game win in the Tides’ 1-0 victory at Rochester in the first game of a doubleheader Thursday. With Machado gone, the Orioles have clearly turned toward the future. That should include an audition for Means.

FALLING

David Hess, RHP, Norfolk: On July 6, the Orioles sent the 2014 fifth-round pick back to the Tides. Hess, 25, has struggled in two starts since then, going 0-2 with a 9.00 ERA and 16 hits allowed in nine innings. In Norfolk’s 8-1 loss at Buffalo on Monday, Hess was charged with five runs, eight hits and three walks in 6 1/3 innings. He’s trending the wrong way.

Kirvin Moesquit, 2B-OF, Delmarva: It’s hard to put the 2015 24th-round selection in this category because he leads all Orioles minor leaguers with 37 stolen bases in 48 attempts. But Moesquit, 23, has really struggled at the plate in July. In 15 games this month, he’s only batting .154 (8-for-52) with 14 strikeouts and one extra-base hit.

Jomar Reyes, 3B, Frederick: In the interest of full disclosure, I decided to put the Dominican Republic native here before he had three hits Wednesday and his fourth homer of the season Thursday. Nevertheless, I’m sticking with my initial decision. Reyes, 21, only has seven RBIs and eight extra-base hits in 34 games since June 1. That’s not good.

THE WEEK AHEAD

Norfolk (50-46)
July 20 – at Rochester, 6:05 p.m.
July 21 – at Rochester, 6:05 p.m.
July 22 – at Rochester, 1:05 p.m.
July 23 – OFF
July 24 – vs. Syracuse (doubleheader), 5:05 p.m.
July 25 – vs. Syracuse, 7:05 p.m.
July 26 – vs. Syracuse, 12:05 p.m.

Bowie (43-53)
July 20 – vs. Erie, 7:05 p.m.
July 21 – vs. Erie, 6:35 p.m.
July 22 – vs. Erie, 1:35 p.m.
July 23 – vs. Binghamton, 7:05 p.m.
July 24 – vs. Binghamton, 7:05 p.m.
July 25 – vs. Binghamton, 11:05 a.m.
July 26 – at Harrisburg, 7 p.m.

Frederick (44-53)
July 20 – vs. Down East, 7 p.m.
July 21 – vs. Wilmington, 6 p.m.
July 22 – vs. Wilmington, 2 p.m.
July 23 – vs. Wilmington, 2 p.m.
July 24 – at Winston-Salem, 7 p.m.
July 25 – at Winston-Salem, 11 a.m.
July 26 – at Winston-Salem, 7 p.m.

Delmarva (51-43)
July 20 – vs. Greensboro, 7:05 p.m.
July 21 – vs. Greensboro, 7:05 p.m.
July 22 – vs. Greensboro, 5:05 p.m.
July 23 – at Hagerstown, 7:05 p.m.
July 24 – at Hagerstown, 7:05 p.m.
July 25 – at Hagerstown, 7:05 p.m.
July 26 – at Hagerstown, 7:05 p.m.

Aberdeen (13-20)
July 20 – vs. Connecticut, 7:05 p.m.
July 21 – vs. Connecticut, 6:05 p.m.
July 22 – vs. Connecticut, 4:05 p.m.
July 23 – OFF
July 24 – at West Virginia, 7:05 p.m.
July 25 – at West Virginia, 7:05 p.m.
July 26 – at West Virginia, 7:05 p.m.

10 Comments

10 Comments

  1. Grand Strand Bird Fan

    July 20, 2018 at 8:40 am

    Dean,

    Any word when Blaine Knight will start pitching? I had read he will begin in Aberdeen but is not on their roster. Just curious.

    • Dean Jones

      July 20, 2018 at 9:28 am

      Grand Strand… I actually looked for that while writing this post. Sorry, I don’t have an answer for you. But obviously, he had quite a season at Arkansas. So I don’t see any point in rushing it. But that’s just my personal thoughts.

  2. Orial

    July 20, 2018 at 8:43 am

    Not a very overwhelming analysis. Thank God for the trade? Mullins I think will be fine,Mountcastle looks like the real deal,Stewart seems to be an O’s fan favorite but I don’t know. Pitching depth is concerning being that the main hopefuls are at Delmarva and Aberdeen. Britton better bring a decent starter candidate.

    • Dean Jones

      July 20, 2018 at 9:30 am

      Orial, thanks for writing… Just think how underwhelming it would look if they didn’t make the trade. I’m with you on Mullins. You know I love him and can’t wait to see him get a chance. I hope we can say the same about Mountcastle before long. I hope Hays can come back healthy, too. We’ll see. It’s a rebuild, but hopefully it doesn’t take years to materialize. Patience runs thin for fans.

  3. OsfansinWV

    July 20, 2018 at 10:12 am

    Realistically, how long will it take for pitchers like Hall,Akin,Lowther and Wells to make it to Baltimore? What’s latest on H Harvey? I know injuries are unpredictable but when do the O’s give up on him? The surplus of OF’s we have and shortage of pitching is not helping in the short term. I’m all in for a rebuild but think we need to keep a player or 2 like Jones and Schoop around for the leadership in the locker room!!!! Let’s go O’s!

  4. Dblack2508

    July 20, 2018 at 10:45 am

    I see why the Orioles haven’t called up any outfielders yet, as for Stewart I really do not see him as a fit in a big league roster at this point. Mountcastle to me projects as another player without a position.

    • Ekim

      July 20, 2018 at 1:42 pm

      In my mind, (which isn’t much) the only reason that Stewart is still around is the $$$ the O’s threw at him as a 1st round pick. With the patience they’ve shown him it’s past the point of no return. Maybe he’ll become a perennial minor leaguer like Yastrzemski but that’s the limit for him.

    • Paul Folkemer

      July 20, 2018 at 2:52 pm

      I think people are selling Stewart short. He’s not going to be a star, but he’s got some skills the O’s could use, like the ability to draw a walk and get on base. I’d think about bringing him to the majors once he gets past his current slump. There’s nothing to lose by giving him a shot.

  5. jimcarter

    July 20, 2018 at 11:00 am

    The O’s have too many bodies to wish for Mullins before September 1. Where in the world would be play? Jones hasn’t even been asked about a potential trade. Mancini isn’t going anywhere (like back to AAA). Then we have Trumbo, Rickard (who needs to stay at AAA), Gentry is coming back soon. A full commitment to a rebuild would (at least) involve some easy moves like demoting a few and releasing one or two. As long as the familiar faces are on the roster, Buck will drive them until they drop in an effort to avoid (1) the worst Orioles record in history and (2) a personal losing record as manager of the Orioles.

  6. OriolesNumber1Fan

    July 22, 2018 at 1:02 pm

    Wow, more “bear”ishes found here than Yellowstone national park!!!

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