Dean Jones Report: Updated rankings account for new faces in O's minors -
Dean Jones Report

Dean Jones Report: Updated rankings account for new faces in O’s minors


After a week away, I’m back in control of “Minor League Friday” on

Thanks to my colleague, Rich Dubroff, for pinch-hitting last week with a “Diner Question” about which Orioles minor leaguer you’re most eager to see. Later that day, the Orioles made Rich look like a genius with his timing when they recalled outfielder Cedric Mullins.

Mullins, who hit .288 with 11 homers, 29 doubles and 46 RBIs in 108 games between Double-A Bowie and Triple-A Norfolk this season, made his long-awaited major-league debut that night. He became the first Orioles player with three hits in his debut.



And the 2015 13th-round pick hasn’t looked back yet. Mullins, 23, has hit safely in five of his six games with the Orioles. He’s hitting .400 with four doubles and five runs scored.

Because of his promotion, you’ll notice that Mullins isn’t in my “Dean’s Dozen” anymore.

Remember, as I told you two weeks ago, I’m overhauling the rankings today. Because of the Orioles’ flurry of trades in July, I wanted to revamp the list with some of the new faces.

After all, the club made those deals to get more top-quality prospects in the system.

This week, you’ll notice a bunch of changes. Besides Mullins, you’ll no longer see three other minor leaguers who were in my most recent “Dean’s Dozen.” For different reasons, I’ve taken injured right-hander Hunter Harvey (previously No. 5), Norfolk outfielder DJ Stewart (No. 8) and High-A Frederick right-hander Michael Baumann (No. 11) out of my rankings.

Truthfully, Harvey should be in the Top 12. But as I’ve done in the past, I’m removing the 2013 first-round selection (22nd overall) from the rankings until he can stay on the field.

Harvey, 23, could still develop into a top-of-the-rotation starter as the Orioles hope. However, he has only thrown 63 2/3 innings since 2015. With an influx of pitchers coming into the organization – both through trades and recent drafts – Harvey needs to make an impact soon. Time hasn’t run out yet, but the minutes keep slowly ticking away.

As for Stewart, I’m still optimistic that he’ll become a contributor with the Orioles – perhaps as early as this September. Despite being selected as an International League All-Star, the 2015 first-round pick (25th overall) hasn’t been consistent with the Tides. Stewart, 24, has 21 doubles and 12 homers, but he’s only batting .235 (and just .200 in the second half).

It’s simply a numbers game with Stewart. He’s a lot closer to the majors than many of the other notable names in the organization. In my opinion, though, the new prospects have bumped him off this list. Don’t write Stewart off, but the club has more depth than before.

Baumann, who will turn 23 next month, ranks second in the organization with 12 wins between Low-A Delmarva and Frederick. The 2017 third-round selection went an impressive 5-0 with a 1.42 ERA in 38 innings over seven starts with the Shorebirds before moving up to the Keys. In Frederick, he’s 7-3 with a 4.04 ERA in 75 2/3 innings over 14 starts.

With Baumann, it was a tough call. I really like the stuff he brings to the mound. But ultimately, I decided to drop him off the list and keep left-hander Zac Lowther on it.

One other note: You’ll see that I still don’t have any of the 2018 draft picks in my Top 12.

First-round pick Grayson Rodriguez (11th overall) seems to be performing well this summer with the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League Orioles. Through eight games (seven starts), he has a 1.65 ERA. Rodriguez, 18, has struck out 15 hitters in 16 1/3 innings.

In 1 1/3 innings against the GCL Red Sox on Aug. 9, he surrendered five runs (two earned) and five hits. Other than that, Rodriguez has only allowed one earned run in 15 innings.

The Orioles’ second and third selections in this year’s draft – Delmarva shortstop Cadyn Grenier and Aberdeen right-hander Blaine Knight – could also be in the Top 12. But Grenier has struggled offensively so far, while Knight has only pitched in one game.

Since they still haven’t been in the organization for long – and selfishly, because I have a boatload of other players to discuss – I’ve decided to not add any 2018 picks at this time.

With all of that out of the way, let’s turn to the updated “Dean’s Dozen.”

As regular readers know, the weekly “Dean Jones Report” allows me to keep you updated on the top prospects in the organization. In addition, every update includes a handful of players who are either “surging” or “falling” in recent games. And each post wraps up with the upcoming schedule for the Orioles’ affiliates from Norfolk through Aberdeen.


No. 1: Ryan Mountcastle, 3B, Bowie
(Previous: No. 1)
Statistics: .304, 12 HRs, 53 RBIs, 17 2Bs, 3 3Bs, 53 runs in 86 games Player Page

Some fans might be surprised that I’m keeping the 2015 first-round selection (36th overall) in the top spot over his teammate, outfielder Yusniel Diaz. But as long as Mountcastle, 21, continues to excel with the Baysox, I believe he deserves to be atop the “Dean’s Dozen.” Last Friday, Mountcastle hit his 12th homer of the season – a two-run shot – as Bowie beat Hartford, 7-5. He also went 7-for-12 with three RBIs and six runs in the first three games of the current series against Richmond before going hitless in four at-bats last night. If this were a video game, I’d bring Mountcastle up tomorrow and just see what happens. But sadly, it’s real life. The Orioles should be patient and let him get more work in the minors.

No. 2: Yusniel Diaz, OF, Bowie
(Previous: No. 2)
Statistics: .314, 6 HRs, 30 RBIs, 10 2Bs, 4 3Bs, 36 runs in 59 games (Double-A Tulsa); .216, 2 HRs, 7 RBIs, 2 2Bs, 15 runs in 22 games (Bowie) Player Page

Last night, the Cuba native went 0-for-2 with two walks as the Baysox lost, 6-3, to Richmond. That stopped his five-game hitting streak. Although Diaz, 21, hasn’t put it all together so far at Bowie, he has shown flashes of the promise that led the Orioles to make him the centerpiece of the deal that shipped shortstop Manny Machado to the Los Angeles Dodgers last month. In the second game of a doubleheader against Richmond on Tuesday, Diaz hit a three-run homer. I’m sure Orioles fans would like to see him go on a tear before the season ends. That would instill some confidence that the rebuilding plan will work.

No. 3: Austin Hays, OF, Bowie
(Previous: No. 4)
Statistics: .232, 7 HRs, 26 RBIs, 25 runs in 50 games (Bowie); .189, 0 HRs, 3 RBIs, 6 runs in 9 games (Aberdeen) Player Page

He’s back and better than ever. OK, maybe not better than ever yet. But Hays, 23, has played well since rejoining the Baysox on Aug. 7. The 2016 third-round selection has hit safely in five of the seven games since he returned from an ankle injury. In that span, Hays is batting .276 (8-for-29) with two doubles, a grand slam and eight RBIs. Although Hays’ .225 overall average this year – between Bowie and Aberdeen – is still a long way from the .329 that he hit with the Baysox and Keys in 2017, it’s encouraging to see some positives. I’ve written in the past about seeing if he could build some momentum heading into 2019. So far, so good. We’ll see if Hays can keep that going over the final few weeks of the year.

No. 4: DL Hall, LHP, Delmarva
(Previous: No. 6)
Statistics: 2-7, 2.24 ERA, 85 Ks, 38 BBs in 80 1/3 innings Player Page

The 2017 first-round pick (21st overall) has only made one start so far this month. Hall, 19, took the loss after allowing four runs (one earned) and six hits in five innings at Rome on Aug. 9. He had four strikeouts and issued one walk. Still, as I’ve said in previous updates, Hall has dominated the South Atlantic League since early June. He hasn’t surrendered more than one earned run in a game since June 2. And overall, Hall has held his opponents to one earned run or fewer in 15 of his 19 appearances this season. While he’s still at least a couple of years away from the majors, it’s nice to see Hall living up to early expectations. He’s scheduled to make his next start with the Shorebirds tonight against Charleston.

No. 5: Keegan Akin, LHP, Bowie
(Previous: No. 9)
Statistics: 13-6, 2.92 ERA, 129 Ks, 56 BBs in 123 1/3 innings Player Page

In this update, the 2016 second-round selection made the biggest jump from a player who started the year in the organization. Akin, 23, hasn’t lost since July 6. In his past six starts, he is 5-0 with a 2.78 ERA. That’s almost right in line with Akin’s season average, so you can see that he has remained consistent throughout the year. Plus, Akin currently leads the Eastern League in wins (13), ERA (2.92) and strikeouts (129). In other words, he is currently in line to win the “Pitching Triple Crown” in the league. Barring a late-season collapse, he’ll likely be the Eastern League Pitcher of the Year. If the Orioles want to fully commit to their rebuild, they should give Akin a long look for a rotation spot in 2019. In the meantime, he’s scheduled to make his next start Sunday afternoon for the Baysox at Erie.

No. 6: Dillon Tate, RHP, Bowie
(Previous: No. 7)
Statistics: 5-2, 3.38 ERA, 75 Ks, 25 BBs in 82 2/3 innings (Double-A Trenton); 0-2, 7.27 ERA, 6 Ks, 4 BBs in 17 1/3 innings (Bowie) Player Page

You really can’t sugarcoat it. Tate, 24, has pitched terribly in his first three starts in the organization. So far, the Texas Rangers’ 2015 first-round pick (fourth overall) is 0-2 with a 7.27 ERA as a member of the Baysox. He has given up at least four earned runs and seven hits in each of those games. Opponents are batting .343 against him in that span. It certainly isn’t the introduction that Orioles fans wanted, but it’s still early. Naturally, I’m “bearish” on Tate this week. But it’s not time to throw in the towel yet. Tate will get another chance to shake off his recent struggles when he takes the mound tonight at Erie.

No. 7: Luis Ortiz, RHP, Norfolk
(Previous: Not Ranked)
Statistics: 3-4, 3.71 ERA, 65 Ks, 18 BBs in 68 innings (Double-A Biloxi); 2-0, 2.81 ERA, 9 Ks, 5 BBs in 16 innings (Norfolk) Player Page

The Orioles acquired Ortiz, who will turn 23 next month, from the Milwaukee Brewers in the deal for second baseman Jonathan Schoop. The Rangers’ 2014 first-round selection (30th overall) hadn’t pitched above the Double-A level before the Orioles assigned him to Norfolk. After pitching to a no-decision in his first outing with the Tides, Ortiz has earned a win in back-to-back games. On Wednesday, he gave up one run and five hits in five innings as Norfolk beat Pawtucket, 8-3. Ortiz had five strikeouts and walked one batter. Don’t be surprised if the Orioles give him a look when rosters expand in September. More likely, he’ll be in the mix in spring training to compete for one of the spots in next year’s rotation.

No. 8: Jean Carlos Encarnacion, 3B, Delmarva
(Previous: Not Ranked)
Statistics: .288, 10 HRs, 57 RBIs, 23 2Bs, 5 3Bs, 45 runs in 97 games (Low-A Rome); .277, 1 HR, 3 RBIs, 2 2Bs, 1 3B, 4 runs in 11 games (Delmarva) Player Page

Three Charleston pitchers combined for a no-hitter last night in a 7-1 victory over the Shorebirds at Perdue Stadium, so the Dominican Republic native obviously didn’t have any hits in the game. Encarnacion, 20, went 0-for-4 with a strikeout. He also failed to get a hit in four at-bats Wednesday. In fact, since Aug. 10, Encarnacion is only batting .136 (3-for-22) with one extra-base hit – a solo homer in Delmarva’s 7-1 win at Columbia last Saturday. Still, I’m “bullish” on Encarnacion after adding him to my updated rankings. While on vacation, I attended his Aug. 3 organizational debut. Encarnacion went 2-for-4 with a double in the Shorebirds’ 4-2 win that night. He got my attention. Let’s see if he keeps it.

No. 9: Ryan McKenna, OF, Bowie
(Previous: No. 10)
Statistics: .377, 8 HRs, 18 2Bs, 2 3Bs, 37 RBIs, 60 runs in 67 games (Frederick); .257, 3 HRs, 12 RBIs, 6 2Bs, 30 runs in 47 games (Bowie) Player Page

Through 11 games this month, the 2015 fourth-round selection has batted .281 (9-for-32). As a result, his overall average since joining the Baysox on June 21 has inched up to .257. But it’s more encouraging that McKenna, 21, has cut down on his strikeouts over the past couple of weeks. After striking out 28 times in 26 games in July, he has only whiffed five times this month. And even though it’s a small sample size, his improved plate discipline is showing. McKenna had a .330 on-base percentage in July. It’s .425 in August.

No. 10: Zac Lowther, LHP, Frederick
(Previous: No. 12)
Statistics: 3-1, 1.16 ERA, 51 Ks, 9 BBs in 31 innings (Delmarva); 4-2, 2.50 ERA, 83 Ks, 24 BBs in 75 2/3 innings (Frederick) Player Page

Consider the 2017 competitive balance round B pick as “my new Cedric Mullins.” If you’ve read my updates over the past few years, you know I started to talk favorably about the Orioles’ new center fielder after he had a breakout season at Delmarva in 2016. At the time, not many other people considered Mullins to be among the club’s best minor leaguers. Today, you won’t find Lowther, 22, as high on many other lists of the Orioles’ prospects. But I simply can’t write off the two-time Orioles Minor League Pitcher of the Month. And Lowther continues to live up to my expectations. On Wednesday, he picked up his first win in nearly two months after holding Salem to two hits in seven scoreless innings during the Keys’ 4-0 victory. Despite the lack of wins in that span, Lowther hasn’t pitched poorly. Since his previous victory on June 21, he has a 3.25 ERA. Compared with the rest of his season, that’s not great. But I’m sure a lot of pitchers would take that ERA if they could.

No. 11: Dean Kremer, RHP, Bowie
(Previous: Not Ranked)
Statistics: 5-3, 3.30 ERA, 114 Ks, 26 BBs in 79 innings (High-A Rancho Cucamonga); 1-0, 0.00 ERA, 11 Ks, 3 BBs in 7 innings (Double-A Tulsa); 2-2, 3.29 ERA, 29 Ks, 12 BBs in 27 1/3 innings (Bowie) Player Page

Last night, the Dodgers’ 2016 14th-round selection turned in his worst outing since he joined the Baysox a month ago. Kremer, 22, was charged with four runs and eight hits in 5 1/3 innings during Bowie’s 6-3 loss to Richmond. Even though it’s just one start, I’m going to rate him as “bearish” this week. The eight hits that Kremer surrendered were the second-most this year. He allowed nine hits while pitching for High-A Rancho Cucamonga on June 7. Obviously, I’m looking forward to seeing what Kremer brings to the organization or I wouldn’t have included him in my updated rankings. So, in the long run, I’m “bullish.”

No. 12: Jean Carmona, SS, Aberdeen
(Previous: Not Ranked)
Statistics: .239, 4 HRs, 24 RBIs, 8 2Bs, 3 3Bs, 28 runs in 39 games (Rookie-level Helena); .314, 0 HRs, 3 RBIs, 3 2Bs, 4 runs in 9 games (Aberdeen) Player Page

With the last spot in my “Dean’s Dozen,” I’m going to go with one of the most intriguing players acquired by the Orioles last month. Carmona, 18, only hit .239 (37-for-155) in 39 games for the Brewers’ Rookie-level affiliate in Helena, Montana, before coming over in the deal for Schoop. But he flashed some signs of his potential with eight doubles, three triples, four homers and 24 RBIs. Through nine games with the IronBirds, Carmona is hitting .314 (11-for-35) with three doubles, three RBIs and four runs. Last night, the Dominican Republic native went 3-for-3 before leaving Aberdeen’s 13-1 rout over Lowell in the seventh inning. At this time, it’s unclear if anything happened or if the club just decided to rest him. Even though Carmona is at least a few years away from the majors, it’ll be exciting to watch him climb the ladder. He could be a key piece to the success of the Orioles’ rebuild.


Cadyn Grenier, SS, Delmarva: As I alluded to earlier, the competitive balance round A pick hasn’t hit well through 30 games with the Shorebirds. Grenier, 21, is hitting .174 with nine doubles and seven RBIs. He has struck out 40 times. On Wednesday, Grenier had his first multi-hit performance since July 22. Between those two games, he went 3-for-47 (.064).


Adam Hall, SS, Aberdeen: Hall, 19, had a single, a triple, four RBIs and two stolen bases in the IronBirds’ lopsided 13-1 win over Lowell last night. As a result, the 2017 second-round selection extended his hitting streak to eight games. He is batting .462 (12-for-26) in that span. Hall has 11 stolen bases in 14 attempts, including five in his past three games.

Aderlin Rodriguez, 1B, Bowie: I’ve written about the Dominican Republic native frequently in recent updates. But Rodriguez, 26, continues to deserve it. He went 3-for-4 with five RBIs and two runs as the Baysox beat Richmond, 10-4, on Wednesday. Rodriguez currently ranks third in the Eastern League with 78 RBIs and fourth in the league with 20 homers.

Cody Sedlock, RHP, Aberdeen: The 2016 first-round pick (27th overall) continues to work his way back from a right shoulder strain. Sedlock, 23, has been on the disabled list at Frederick since he made three starts in April. In 16 2/3 innings over seven games on his rehab assignment with the GCL Orioles and the IronBirds, Sedlock has posted a 1.62 ERA.

Alex Wells, LHP, Frederick: When the Orioles started wheeling and dealing, the Australia native lost his spot in my Top 12. But Wells, 21, pitched seven shutout innings in the Keys’ 6-0 win at Wilmington on Aug. 5. Then, last Saturday, he allowed one run and had seven strikeouts in seven innings against Buies Creek. He’s set to start tonight at Lynchburg.

Bruce Zimmermann, LHP, Bowie: The Orioles acquired the Loyola Blakefield graduate from the Atlanta Braves in the deal for right-handers Kevin Gausman and Darren O’Day. Zimmermann, 23, made his debut with the Baysox at Hartford last Sunday. The Braves’ 2017 fifth-round pick earned the win after allowing one run and four hits in five innings.


Rylan Bannon, 2B-3B, Bowie: The move to the East Coast hasn’t been good for the Dodgers’ 2017 eight-round selection. Bannon, 22, is only batting .113 (6-for-53) in 17 games since came to the Baysox in the deal for Machado. Dating back to Aug. 3, Bannon hasn’t gotten a hit in 23 straight at-bats. That’s rough no matter how you look at it.

Matthias Dietz, RHP, Frederick: The 2016 second-round pick still hasn’t adjusted to the Carolina League after moving up from Delmarva in early July. Dietz, who will be 23 on Sept. 20, is 0-6 with a 9.00 ERA through eight starts with the Keys. In 30 innings, he has allowed 35 runs (30 earned), 33 hits and 27 walks. Dietz will start Sunday at Lynchburg.

Brenan Hanifee, RHP, Delmarva: Hanifee, 20, isn’t pitching terribly. The 2016 fourth-round selection is 7-5 with a 3.02 ERA and 1.09 WHIP in 21 starts for the Shorebirds. But he hasn’t earned a win since June 28. And in Hanifee’s past five starts, he has a 5.40 ERA in 25 innings. Again, the whole body of work isn’t bad. It’s just something to watch for now.

Chance Sisco, C, Norfolk: Since going back to the Tides in mid-July – his second demotion this year – the 2013 second-round pick only has two multi-hit games. Sisco, 23, is batting an abysmal .186 (13-for-70) with 20 strikeouts in 20 games during that span. I assume Sisco will return to the Orioles by the end of the year, but he doesn’t deserve it right now.


Norfolk (64-57)
August 17 – at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, 7:05 p.m.
August 18 – at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, 6:35 p.m.
August 19 – at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, 1:05 p.m.
August 20 – OFF
August 21 – vs. Charlotte (doubleheader), 5:05 p.m.
August 22 – vs. Charlotte (doubleheader), 5:05 p.m.
August 23 – vs. Charlotte, 12:05 p.m.

Bowie (56-64)
August 17 – at Erie, 7:05 p.m.
August 18 – at Erie, 7:05 p.m.
August 19 – at Erie, 1:35 p.m.
August 20 – at Richmond, 6:35 p.m.
August 21 – at Richmond, 6:35 p.m.
August 22 – vs. Richmond, 7:05 p.m.
August 23 – vs. Richmond, 7:05 p.m.

Frederick (57-64)
August 17 – at Lynchburg, 6:30 p.m.
August 18 – at Lynchburg, 6 p.m.
August 19 – at Lynchburg, 5 p.m.
August 20 – OFF
August 21 – at Salem, 7:05 p.m.
August 22 – at Salem, 7:05 p.m.
August 23 – at Salem, 7:05 p.m.

Delmarva (59-59)
August 17 – vs. Charleston, 7:05 p.m.
August 18 – vs. Rome, 7:05 p.m.
August 19 – vs. Rome, 5:05 p.m.
August 20 – vs. Rome, 7:05 p.m.
August 21 – vs. Rome, 7:05 p.m.
August 22 – OFF
August 23 – at Greensboro, 7 p.m.

Aberdeen (25-31)
August 17 – at Connecticut, 7:05 p.m.
August 18 – at Connecticut (doubleheader), 5:05 p.m.
August 19 – at Connecticut, 4:05 p.m.
August 20 – at Vermont, 7:05 p.m.
August 21 – at Vermont, 7:05 p.m.
August 22 – at Vermont, 7:05 p.m.
August 23 – vs. Staten Island, 7:05 p.m.



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