Dean Jones Report: Akin continues dealing; Tate debuts for Baysox; Diaz heating up - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Dean Jones Report

Dean Jones Report: Akin continues dealing; Tate debuts for Baysox; Diaz heating up

Photo credit: Douglas DeFelice - USA Today Sports

Boom. It’s all blown up. Let’s start over.

It’s obviously never fun to see your favorite major-league club go into rebuilding mode. That’s especially true when the people in charge hint that the overhaul could take a while.

Since I was born, I’ve only seen the Orioles in the playoffs five times – that is, if you count the American League wild-card debacle at Rogers Centre in 2016. I get it. It’s hard to devote time and money to support a team that’s likely not going to play in the postseason.

But on the flip side, rebuilds are great for people who follow the minor leagues – like me. I assume you fall into that category, too, since you’re reading this post right now.

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When teams commit to a rebuild – like the Orioles did over the past few weeks – it brings an influx of new faces into an organization. Since July 18, when the Orioles traded infielder Manny Machado to the Los Angeles Dodgers, they’ve acquired 15 new players. In addition to that, the club also added a boatload of money to potentially sign international free agents.

That’s different.

If you’ve been following along, you know I updated my “Dean’s Dozen” to include two of the organization’s new prospects – outfielder Yusniel Diaz and right-hander Dillon Tate – last week. Today, I considered tweaking my rankings to work some of the others into the mix. But then I decided to take a step back and wait a couple of weeks to do that.

Normally, I only do a full update on the “Dean’s Dozen” twice each year – before the season begins and at the All-Star break. It’s a new world out there, though. So, after thinking about it over the past couple of days, I’ve decided to completely revamp my list again.

With all of the new players in the organization, it makes sense to do that.

Next week, I’m going to take a break from the “Dean Jones Report” to go on vacation with my family. But when I return on Friday, August 17, you’ll see my new “Dean’s Dozen.”

The truth is, I don’t know if 12 spots is enough for all the players I’d like to write about. However, I’m going to stick to the formula we’ve developed at BaltimoreBaseball.com.

So, unfortunately, some quality players will drop off the list – like High-A Frederick left-hander Alex Wells and Low-A Delmarva right-hander Brenan Hanifee did last week. Just because the players are no longer in the weekly rankings, though, doesn’t mean I won’t keep an eye on them. I’ll continue to pass along relevant updates as needed.

With that said, let’s get into this week’s update.

We’re getting into crunch time. Believe it or not, we only have about five weeks remaining before the regular season wraps up for the minor-league squads on Labor Day weekend.

As longtime readers know, the “Dean Jones Report” is my way to update Orioles fans on the 12 players in my “Dean’s Dozen” rankings. Beyond that, I discuss a handful of players who are either “surging” or “falling” in recent weeks. And at the bottom of the post, I include the upcoming games for the Orioles’ affiliates from Triple-A Norfolk through Short-A Aberdeen.

Let’s get started.

DEAN’S DOZEN

No. 1: Ryan Mountcastle, 3B, Bowie
BULLISH
Statistics: .305, 11 HRs, 42 RBIs, 14 2Bs, 3 3Bs, 41 runs in 75 games
MILB.com Player Page

The 2015 first-round selection (36th overall) doesn’t have an extra-base hit since he connected for a solo homer in Bowie’s 4-3 win over Erie on July 24 in the second game of a doubleheader. Mountcastle, 21, has hit safely in seven of his nine games since then, but he is only batting .250 (8-for-32) with one RBI in that span. That lack of production was almost enough to make me flip to “bearish” on Mountcastle this week. He’s still hitting above .300, though. So, I’m willing to give Mountcastle some more time to start driving in runs again.

No. 2: Yusniel Diaz, OF, Bowie
BULLISH
Statistics: .314, 6 HRs, 30 RBIs, 10 2Bs, 4 3Bs, 36 runs in 59 games (Double-A Tulsa); .179, 1 HR, 2 RBIs, 0 2Bs, 9 runs in 11 games (Bowie)
MILB.com Player Page

Although Diaz, 21, continues to hit less than .200 in his time with the Baysox, you’ll notice that I’ve switched to “bullish” this week. Here’s why: The Cuba native is starting to heat up. He has two multi-hit performances in his past three games. On Tuesday, he went 2-for-3 with a pair of singles, a walk and a run scored as Bowie fell to Akron, 7-4. Then, Diaz had two singles, an RBI and another run as the Baysox edged the RubberDucks, 4-3, on Thursday. Plus, on Monday, he hit his first homer since joining the organization. And even though Diaz doesn’t have an attractive average, he’s still scoring runs. He has scored nine times in 11 games, including a stretch of seven straight games with at least one run. Just imagine what Diaz will do once he’s swinging the bat with authority. Give him some time.

No. 3: Cedric Mullins, OF, Norfolk
BEARISH
Statistics: .313, 6 HRs, 28 RBIs, 12 2Bs, 5 3Bs, 36 runs, 9 SBs in 49 games (Bowie); .263, 5 HRs, 18 RBIs, 16 2Bs, 3 3Bs, 37 runs, 9 SBs in 56 games (Norfolk)
MILB.com Player Page

The clock is ticking. It’s only a matter of time before Mullins, 23, makes his major-league debut. I can’t wait. But for now, I’m still “bearish” on the 2015 13th-round selection. Mullins had three hits, including his 11th homer of the year, in the Tides’ 5-3 loss at Charlotte on Monday. Then, he hit a leadoff shot Wednesday against the Knights in a game that was suspended due to rain. So, technically, that one doesn’t count – at least not yet. However, Mullins remains stuck in a lengthy slump. Since July 15, he’s only batting .208 (15-for-72). And in Mullins’ past nine games, he only has a .139 average (5-for-36). While I don’t believe his recent offensive struggles will keep him down long, it could delay his promotion.

No. 4: Austin Hays, OF, Aberdeen
BULLISH
Statistics: .224, 6 HRs, 18 RBIs, 22 runs in 43 games (Bowie); .208, 0 HRs, 3 RBIs, 5 runs in 6 games (Aberdeen)
MILB.com Player Page

Finally, the 2016 third-round pick has returned to action. Hays, 23, started an injury-rehabilitation assignment last Saturday with the IronBirds as he works his way back from an ankle injury. I was at Ripken Stadium to see Hays go 0-for-3 in the first game of a doubleheader that night. He didn’t play in the second game. But more important, Hays had a pair of two-hit games over the past three days. It’ll be good if he can get some momentum going over the final month of the season. He’s playing, so I’m “bullish” again.

No. 5: Hunter Harvey, RHP, Bowie
BEARISH
Statistics: 1-2, 5.57 ERA, 30 Ks, 9 BBs in 32 1/3 innings
MILB.com Player Page

As I said last week, Orioles manager Buck Showalter told reporters before the July 24 game against the Boston Red Sox that the 2013 first-round selection (22nd overall) could soon pitch in a game. More than a week later, that hasn’t happened yet. But my colleague Rich Dubroff posted on Twitter last night that Harvey, 23, “is throwing on the side, and getting close to pitching in games.” That update is courtesy of Showalter, too, who said the club won’t likely use Harvey in the majors in September. When I update my “Dean’s Dozen” in the coming weeks, I think he’s going to slide down the list. However, if Harvey can remain healthy, he still could become a major-league starter one day. But will that ever happen?

No. 6: DL Hall, LHP, Delmarva
BULLISH
Statistics: 2-6, 2.27 ERA, 81 Ks, 37 BBs in 75 1/3 innings
MILB.com Player Page

On Tuesday, the 2017 first-round pick (21st overall) tied a season high with four walks in the Shorebirds’ 3-1 loss to Lakewood. Hall, 19, also gave up three hits in four innings. But he struck out four batters and managed to keep the BlueClaws off the scoreboard. Hall finished July with a 2-1 record and 0.67 ERA in five starts. He had 39 strikeouts and only walked 10 hitters in 26 2/3 innings. Because of that, according to the Shorebirds, the Orioles recognized Hall as the organization’s Minor League Pitcher of the Month. Opponents are only hitting .196 against him this season. Even better, righties are batting just .171. But most impressive, Hall held opposing hitters to a .116 average in July. That’s filthy. Hall won’t start again until next week when the Shorebirds head on a road trip.

No. 7: Dillon Tate, RHP, Bowie
BULLISH
Statistics: 5-2, 3.38 ERA, 75 Ks, 25 BBs in 82 2/3 innings (Double-A Trenton); 0-1, 6.75 ERA, 4 Ks, 1 BB in 5 1/3 innings (Bowie)
MILB.com Player Page

Tate, 24, made his Baysox debut in the first game of a doubleheader at Harrisburg on Sunday. On the surface, it doesn’t look like it went too well for the Texas Rangers’ 2015 first-round selection (fourth overall). He allowed five runs (four earned) and eight hits in 5 1/3 innings. Tate also issued one walk and hit a batter. But when you look closer, you’ll see that he also struck out the side in the second inning and retired six of seven hitters between the fourth and fifth. So, yes, he has some work to do after his first start in the organization. But, no, I’m not going to turn “bearish” on one of the top prospects that the Orioles acquired in recent weeks because of one below-average performance. Overall, Tate is now 5-3 with a 3.58 ERA in 16 starts at the Double-A level this season. Give him some time. Tate is scheduled to take the mound Saturday evening as the Baysox host Reading.

No. 8: DJ Stewart, OF, Norfolk
BEARISH
Statistics: .239, 11 HRs, 44 RBIs, 49 runs, 20 doubles in 87 games
MILB.com Player Page

The 2015 first-round pick (25th overall) just completed the worst-hitting month of his four-year professional career. Stewart, 24, only hit .175 (17-for-97) with 28 strikeouts in 27 games. He started August with an 0-for-2 performance before the Tides’ game at Charlotte on Wednesday was suspended in the third inning because of rain. Although Stewart has struggled, he did hit two homers over the past week. That pushed him into double digits on the year. On Monday, Stewart went 2-for-5 with a solo shot and his 20th double in 2018. Nevertheless, I can’t ignore the lengthy slump. So, I’m staying “bearish” for another week.

No. 9: Keegan Akin, LHP, Bowie
BULLISH
Statistics: 11-6, 2.82 ERA, 116 Ks, 52 BBs in 111 2/3 innings
MILB.com Player Page

For the third time this year, the 2016 second-round selection tossed seven innings as the Baysox topped Akron, 4-3, on Thursday. Akin, 23, held the RubberDucks to two runs and three hits. He had nine strikeouts – his most since June 21 – and issued two walks. Left-handed hitters are only batting .174 against Akin. Most of his success has come on the road. He’s 8-1 with a 2.13 ERA in nine starts away from Prince George’s Stadium and 3-5 with a 3.49 ERA in 11 starts at home. I don’t think you can read too much into that, but it’s a quirky statistic that I wanted to pass along. Naturally, I’m still “bullish” this week.

No. 10: Ryan McKenna, OF, Bowie
BEARISH
Statistics: .377, 8 HRs, 18 2Bs, 2 3Bs, 37 RBIs, 60 runs in 67 games (Frederick); .252, 3 HRs, 12 RBIs, 5 2Bs, 19 runs in 37 games (Bowie)
MILB.com Player Page

More of the same with McKenna, 21, this week. The 2015 fourth-round pick has averaged almost a hit per game since he joined the Baysox on June 21. But he has also averaged at least one strikeout in each game, too. Last Saturday, McKenna hit a solo shot in the fifth inning of Bowie’s 9-2 victory at Harrisburg. And the next day, he went 2-for-4 with an RBI triple and a run scored in the second game of a doubleheader. But as I said last week, I’m not as excited about how McKenna is playing in Bowie after his excellent play in Frederick. As a result, I’m remaining “bearish” once again. I want to see a string of multi-hit games.

No. 11: Michael Baumann, RHP, Frederick
BULLISH
Statistics: 5-0, 1.42 ERA, 47 Ks, 13 BBs in 38 innings (Delmarva); 7-2, 3.36 ERA, 45 Ks, 30 BBs in 72 1/3 innings (Frederick)
MILB.com Player Page

The 2017 third-round selection kicked off August with his third straight win. Baumann, 22, held Potomac to two runs and five hits in five innings during the Keys’ rain-shortened victory, 7-2, on Wednesday. Technically, it counts as a complete game for Baumann. He also had a seven-inning complete game with Delmarva on May 20. In Baumann’s past four starts, he is 3-0 with a 1.66 ERA. So, it appears that he has recovered from a couple of rocky starts about a month ago. Between the two levels, Baumann is 12-2 with a 2.69 ERA in 20 starts. He has struck out 92 hitters and has a 1.14 WHIP in 110 1/3 innings.

No. 12: Zac Lowther, LHP, Frederick
BULLISH
Statistics: 3-1, 1.16 ERA, 51 Ks, 9 BBs in 31 innings (Delmarva); 3-2, 2.89 ERA, 59 Ks, 20 BBs in 56 innings (Frederick)
MILB.com Player Page

As the last player in my “Dean’s Dozen,” the 2017 competitive balance round B pick is in danger of falling off the list when I reorganize it in two weeks. But if you’ve read my updates all season, you know it’s going to be tough for me to do that. Lowther, 22, has already won the organization’s Minor League Pitcher of the Month award twice this year. He dominated opponents at Delmarva through late May before moving up to the Keys. Although Lowther struggled to a 0-2 record and 4.70 ERA in six starts in July, he finished the month with two strong starts. Lowther only allowed two earned runs in 11 2/3 innings in that span. In Frederick’s 3-2 win at Down East in the first game of a doubleheader Sunday, he had seven strikeouts. That brings his season total to 110. I’m back to “bullish” this week. Lowther is scheduled to start tonight in the Keys’ series opener at Wilmington.

2018 DRAFT SPOTLIGHT

Yeancarlos Lleras, RHP, GCL Orioles: It’s still unclear whether the Puerto Rico native spells his first name the way I’ve written it or as “Yeankarlos.” In fact, MILB.com has it spelled both ways on his player page. Either way, the sixth-round pick hasn’t been good in his past three outings. Lleras, 18, has given up 13 runs in five innings over that stretch.

SURGING

Martin Cervenka, C, Bowie: You might not have been familiar with the Czech Republic native before, but you should know his name now. Cervenka, who turned 26 today, got a nice birthday gift Thursday when the Orioles picked him as the Minor League Player of the Month. Cervenka hit .364 (24-for-66) with seven homers and 25 RBIs in 20 games in July.

Tyler Erwin, LHP, Frederick: I’ll bet that most Orioles fans haven’t heard of the 2016 23rd-round pick, either. But Erwin, who will be 24 on Aug. 29, is quietly having one of the best seasons for a reliever in the organization. He is 2-3 with a 1.78 ERA and 14 saves in 38 appearances for the Keys. Erwin has 62 strikeouts and only 16 walks in 50 2.3 innings.

Branden Kline, RHP, Bowie: The feel-good story keeps going for the 2012 second-round selection, who graduated from Thomas Johnson High School in Frederick. Kline, 26, is 4-3 with a 1.75 ERA in 23 games with the Baysox. He has 10 saves in 11 chances. And that’s after Kline went 1-0 with a 1.31 ERA in 12 appearances at Frederick earlier this year.

Jomar Reyes, 3B, Frederick: The Dominican Republic native only has one hit in his past six at-bats, but he has been trending upward lately. Reader Bill D. pointed out last weekend that Reyes, 21, has been on a tear. In 14 games since July 18, Reyes is hitting .409 (18-for-44) with two homers, five doubles, eight RBIs and eight runs. That’s good to see.

Aderlin Rodriguez, 1B, Bowie: I’m including the Dominican Republic native in the “surging” category again this week because he earned the Eastern League’s Player of the Week award for his recent play. Rodriguez, 26, homered in four straight games from July 22 through July 28. He has seven multi-hit games since July 19, raising his average to .271.

Josh Rogers, LHP, Norfolk: Considered the third-best prospect in the deal that sent reliever Zach Britton to the New York Yankees, the 2015 11th-round pick stood out in his first game with the Tides last Saturday. Rogers, 24, pitched seven scoreless innings in Norfolk’s 5-1 win over Toledo. He held the Mud Hens to three hits and three walks. Not a bad start.

FALLING

Rylan Bannon, 2B-3B, Bowie: The Los Angeles Dodgers’ eighth-round pick in 2017 – one of the pieces in the deal for Machado – already has two homers in nine games with the Baysox. Bannon, 22, hit 20 home runs in 89 games at High-A Rancho Cucamonga, so that’s not a big surprise. However, he is only batting .172 (5-for-29). Hopefully, he can adjust.

Wilson Garcia, 1B-DH, Frederick: I’ve included the Venezuela native in the “surging” category a couple of times this year. However, Garcia, 24, is currently in a small slump. He’s still hitting .315 with 19 homers, 18 doubles and 60 RBIs in 81 games. But he hasn’t gotten a hit in his past 14 at-bats. That’s a small sample size, but it’s worth watching.

Brian Gonzalez, LHP, Bowie: I’ve beaten up on the 2014 third-round pick a lot since he moved up to the Baysox on May 18. But the truth is, I’m actually a big fan of Gonzalez, 22. Nevertheless, he is 4-5 with a 6.64 ERA in 13 games (12 starts) at Bowie. And with the Orioles adding a lot of pitchers lately, I’m curious to see where he goes from here.

Zach Muckenhirn, LHP, Bowie: What a rough month for the 2016 11th-round selection. Muckenhirn, 23, posted an abysmal 10.13 ERA in 11 appearances in July. He allowed 12 runs, 11 hits and 12 walks in 10 2/3 innings in that stretch. Muckenhirn pitched pretty well in his first two stops at Delmarva and Frederick this year. So, let’s hope he can figure it out.

THE WEEK AHEAD

Norfolk (58-50)
August 3 – at Gwinnett, 7:05 p.m.
August 4 – at Gwinnett, 6:05 p.m.
August 5 – at Gwinnett, 1:05 p.m.
August 6 – OFF
August 7 – vs. Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, 7:05 p.m.
August 8 – vs. Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, 7:05 p.m.
August 9 – vs. Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, 12:05 p.m.

Bowie (50-58)
August 3 – vs. Reading, 7:05 p.m.
August 4 – vs. Reading, 6:35 p.m.
August 5 – vs. Reading, 1:35 p.m.
August 6 – OFF
August 7 – vs. New Hampshire, 7:05 p.m.
August 8 – vs. New Hampshire, 7:05 p.m.
August 9 – vs. New Hampshire, 11:05 a.m.

Frederick (52-58)
August 3 – at Wilmington, 7:05 p.m.
August 4 – at Wilmington, 6:05 p.m.
August 5 – at Wilmington, 1:35 p.m.
August 6 – OFF
August 7 – at Potomac, 7:05 p.m.
August 8 – at Potomac, 7:05 p.m.
August 9 – at Potomac, 12:05 p.m.

Delmarva (54-52)
August 3 – vs. Charleston, 7:05 p.m.
August 4 – vs. Charleston, 7:05 p.m.
August 5 – vs. Charleston, 5:05 p.m.
August 6 – OFF
August 7 – at Rome, 7 p.m.
August 8 – at Rome, 7 p.m.
August 9 – at Rome, 7 p.m.

Aberdeen (18-26)
August 3 – at Brooklyn, 6:40 p.m.
August 4 – at Brooklyn, 6 p.m.
August 5 – vs. Staten Island, 4:05 p.m.
August 6 – vs. Staten Island, 7:05 p.m.
August 7 – vs. Staten Island, 7:05 p.m.
August 8 – vs. Vermont, 7:05 p.m.
August 9 – vs. Vermont, 7:05 p.m.

2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Gregblick

    August 3, 2018 at 10:25 am

    Hey Dean, good morning

    So now that the dust has settled I am interested to get your take on our haul. I liked every trade we did, with exception to the (2) with Atlanta. Just seems like trading Brach a guy who although struggling, would have been worth more than the allotted slot bonus we picked up. I also agree with your old colleague Mr. Connely who wrote a great article for the athletic on the (imo) horrible trade of Gausman. I was for trading Gausman, full disclosure I was for trading everyone but Bundy, so I was happy to see it happen. But that trade has a better chance of making us cry out “why” in 3 years as opposed to seeing those pieces be major contributors.

    For my final rant, I just feel like we missed a golden opportunity to acquire a couple more blues chippers by accepting Villar, and Atl taking on Oday. I also dont believe Tate was a great headliner, but I accept that I am in the minority on that, so I withhold judgement.

    I would like to know how the international slot bonus can be used, or more specifically can it be rolled over to next years signing period? Reason I ask is there are only 3 blue chippers left, and (2) haven’t even been classified as FAs by MLB yet. What happens if they are not or sign with say Miami for less, or somewhere else they feel is more desirable. If we cant roll over the slots, then it seems to me a team just starting to jump back into this market will be spending foolishly by either over paying Mid tier prospects, or signing a large amount of lesser known ones hoping to catch lightning in a bottle. That strategy is fine, but not something you needed to acquire almost 3mil for, and was also the headliner acquisition on two separate trades.

    Thanks as always, and again apologies as always for being so long winded. Enjoy the vacation…
    Greg

  2. Disco Stupid

    August 3, 2018 at 11:58 am

    Thanks Dean for all the scouting and updates!
    I was shocked that was the best offer the orioles received for Gausman. Sounds like they got interesting pieces back but its a deal I would have envisioned without O’Day being included. Maybe we should have put Gausman in the pen to see if he could be a lights out reliever then trade him in the offseason. Sheesh!
    Anyway thought overall we did well and I’m looking forward to seeing the young guys.
    Also curious about Greg’s question on international spending. Seems like we have a lot of eggs in that basket but waiting on Victor Victor could freeze us out of the market.

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