Dean Jones Report: Arizona Fall League updates; Kremer's O's success; Ortiz stays consistent - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Dean Jones Report

Dean Jones Report: Arizona Fall League updates; Kremer’s O’s success; Ortiz stays consistent

Photo credit: Joy R. Absalon

Thursday, we learned the Orioles’ first two representatives in the Arizona Fall League.

When the league begins in October, Double-A Bowie outfielder Austin Hays and Triple-A Norfolk utility player Steve Wilkerson will play for the Glendale Desert Dogs. Four pitchers and a catcher from the organization will join them, but the Orioles haven’t decided on those players yet. Minor league infield coordinator Dave Anderson will manage Glendale.

Meanwhile, as my colleague Rich Dubroff noted earlier this week, major-league rosters can expand from 25 players to 40 Saturday. That means we’ll likely see several minor leaguers added to the Orioles’ roster – including Hays and maybe Wilkerson – in the coming days.

Rich broke down all the possibilities, so I won’t bore you with any additional thoughts. Check out his post right here. And let me know in the comments who you’d like to see.

Finally, before we dive into this week’s update, I wanted to let you know that I’ll have one more “Dean Jones Report” next Friday after the minor-league season wraps up. Sometime in mid-September, I’ll release BaltimoreBaseball.com’s third annual “Orioles Minor League All-Star Squad.” Admittedly, with all the trades this season, it’ll be tough to compile.

As regular readers know, the weekly “Dean Jones Report” is my way to keep you updated on the performances from the top players in the Orioles’ minor league system.

First, you’ll see the latest updates on the 12 prospects in my “Dean’s Dozen” rankings. Below that, I’ll discuss players who are either “surging” or “falling.” At the end, you’ll see the remaining schedule for the affiliates from Norfolk through Short-A Aberdeen. As you can see, the season ends on Labor Day. Time is running out for you to see a game in 2018.

DEAN’S DOZEN

No. 1: Ryan Mountcastle, 3B, Bowie
BULLISH
Statistics: .294, 12 HRs, 56 RBIs, 18 2Bs, 4 3Bs, 59 runs in 98 games
MILB.com Player Page

The 2015 first-round pick (36th overall) watched his average drop from .308 on Aug. 15 to .291 – its lowest point since June 22 – after he went 0-for-5 with four strikeouts Tuesday. But then Mountcastle, 21, bumped it back up to .294 with a double, two singles, two RBIs and two runs Wednesday as the Baysox beat Akron, 15-7. He didn’t play Thursday night. Although Mountcastle is only batting .260 (27-for-104) with 29 strikeouts in 25 games this month, I’m not ready to flip to “bearish” yet. Mountcastle hasn’t been great, but he’s still producing – with 14 RBIs and 18 runs in August. Let’s see if he gets hot to end the year.

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); .230, 4 HRs, 13 RBIs, 4 2Bs, 21 runs in 35 games (Bowie)
MILB.com Player Page

On Wednesday, the Cuba native walked in his first three plate appearances. Diaz, who will turn 22 on Oct. 7, then hit a triple to right field in the top of the sixth. He later scored on second baseman Rylan Bannon’s RBI single for Bowie’s fourth run of the inning in a lopsided 15-7 win. With a single in the top of the second against the RubberDucks Thursday night, Diaz extended his modest hitting streak to three games. He also had two singles Tuesday. While Diaz hasn’t broken out yet, I’m keeping him as “bullish” this week. He has a bright future.

No. 3: Austin Hays, OF, Bowie
BULLISH
Statistics: .243, 10 HRs, 38 RBIs, 12 2Bs, 2 3Bs, 32 runs in 62 games (Bowie); .189, 0 HRs, 3 RBIs, 6 runs in 9 games (Aberdeen)
MILB.com Player Page

As I mentioned earlier, the 2016 third-round pick will play in the Arizona Fall League. And it appears that Hays, 23, will likely be among the Orioles’ September call-ups for a second consecutive season. That’s great because it’ll hopefully allow Hays to get some more at-bats after he dealt with an ankle injury for more than two months this season. Since returning to the Baysox on Aug. 7, Hays is hitting .284 (23-for-81) with four homers, eight doubles and 20 RBIs in 19 games. I’m curious to see how Hays performs in spring training next year. I’d rather see him playing every day on a rebuilding club than spending a year at Norfolk.

No. 4: DL Hall, LHP, Delmarva
BULLISH
Statistics: 2-7, 2.22 ERA, 95 Ks, 40 BBs in 89 1/3 innings
MILB.com Player Page

Nothing too spectacular from the 2017 first-round selection (21st overall) in his latest start. But that’s OK since Hall, who will turn 20 on Sept. 19, has shined in 2018. Last Friday, he gave up two runs (one earned) and four hits in four innings as the Shorebirds won, 8-3, at Greensboro. Hall struck out five batters and issued two walks in the start. As I’ve noted in recent weeks, he has really taken it up a notch in the second half. In 10 games (nine starts) since the South Atlantic All-Star break, Hall is 2-2 with a 0.92 ERA (five earned runs in 48 2/3 innings). He’s scheduled to make his final start of the season tonight at Lakewood.

No. 5: Keegan Akin, LHP, Bowie
BEARISH
Statistics: 14-7, 3.27 ERA, 142 Ks, 58 BBs in 137 2/3 innings
MILB.com Player Page

And just like that, the 2016 second-round pick likely won’t win the “Pitching Triple Crown” in the Eastern League. Akin, 23, has struggled mightily in his past two starts, so I’m turning short-term “bearish” this week. Last Friday, he suffered the loss after allowing four runs and seven hits in three innings as the Baysox fell, 10-2, to Erie. And then Wednesday, Akin was charged with six runs and nine hits in 4 2/3 innings in Bowie’s 15-7 victory at Akron. Those rough outings pushed his season ERA to 3.27, which is now third in the league. Akin still has the most wins (14) and strikeouts (142) in the Eastern League, but he has failed twice to tie right-hander Brad Bergesen’s franchise record for wins in a season. Akin will get one more opportunity to get his 15th victory – in the season finale Monday afternoon against Altoona.

No. 6: Dillon Tate, RHP, Bowie
BULLISH
Statistics: 5-2, 3.38 ERA, 75 Ks, 25 BBs in 82 2/3 innings (Double-A Trenton); 2-3, 5.91 ERA, 17 Ks, 6 BBs in 35 innings (Bowie)
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Tate, 24, earned the win after pitching 6 1/3 innings – his longest outing since joining the Baysox – at Akron on Monday. The Texas Rangers’ 2015 first-round selection (fourth overall) gave up two runs and seven hits in Bowie’s 5-3 win over the RubberDucks. While that’s not really a dominant performance, it’s encouraging because it was Tate’s second straight quality start after he struggled in his first four games in the organization. Because he seems to have a little bit of momentum going, I’ve flipped to “bullish” this week. Tate will start Saturday against Altoona, so let’s see if he can end the year on a good note.

No. 7: Luis Ortiz, RHP, Norfolk
BULLISH
Statistics: 3-4, 3.71 ERA, 65 Ks, 18 BBs in 68 innings (Double-A Biloxi); 2-1, 3.04 ERA, 17 Ks, 7 BBs in 26 2/3 innings (Norfolk)
MILB.com Player Page

On Monday, the Rangers’ 2014 first-round pick (30th overall) held Durham to one run and three hits in 5 2/3 innings. Ortiz, who will turn 23 on Sept. 22, had four strikeouts and walked one batter. He has pitched at least five innings in each of his five starts since coming over to the Tides in the deal that sent second baseman Jonathan Schoop to the Milwaukee Brewers. And more important, Ortiz has only given up one run in three of those games. So, as you’ll see, I’m back to “bullish” on Ortiz after briefly switching to “bearish” a week ago. Ortiz is scheduled to face the Bulls again Saturday, but this time it’ll be on the road.

No. 8: Jean Carlos Encarnacion, 3B, Delmarva
BEARISH
Statistics: .288, 10 HRs, 57 RBIs, 23 2Bs, 5 3Bs, 45 runs in 97 games (Low-A Rome); .239, 2 HRs, 7 RBIs, 3 2Bs, 2 3Bs, 10 runs in 23 games (Delmarva)
MILB.com Player Page

Although the Dominican Republic native earned a spot on the South Atlantic League Postseason All-Star team, I’m switching to “bearish” today. That’s because Encarnacion, 20, has slumped over the past two weeks. In nine games since Aug. 19, he is only hitting .121 (4-for-33) with 11 strikeouts and one walk. On Tuesday, Encarnacion went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts in the Shorebirds’ 4-2 loss to Hickory. He also went hitless in three at-bats during Delmarva’s 2-1 win over the Crawdads Thursday night. While it’s not good to see Encarnacion slumping to end the year, I’m not worried about his long-term potential yet.

No. 9: Ryan McKenna, OF, Bowie
BEARISH
Statistics: .377, 8 HRs, 18 2Bs, 2 3Bs, 37 RBIs, 60 runs in 67 games (Frederick); .246, 3 HRs, 16 RBIs, 7 2Bs, 2 3Bs, 35 runs in 57 games (Bowie)
MILB.com Player Page

The 2015 fourth-round pick had two singles and scored two of Bowie’s four runs Thursday night. McKenna, 21, also had four RBIs in four games from last Friday through Tuesday. That’s significant because he only has one other RBI this month – on Aug. 2 at Akron. Despite his two hits Thursday night, I’m remaining “bearish” on McKenna this week. We’ll see if he can adjust to Double-A pitching next season, when he’ll likely return to the Baysox.

No. 10: Zac Lowther, LHP, Frederick
BULLISH
Statistics: 3-1, 1.16 ERA, 51 Ks, 9 BBs in 31 innings (Delmarva); 5-3, 2.67 ERA, 92 Ks, 26 BBs in 87 2/3 innings (Frederick)
MILB.com Player Page

In the Keys’ 4-1 loss at Potomac on Monday, the 2017 competitive balance round B selection matched his career high with seven innings. Although Lowther, 22, took the defeat, he held the Nationals to just two runs and four hits while striking out six. More important, in my opinion, Lowther effectively worked out of trouble in the later innings. After giving up the lead in the sixth, he got the final two outs with a man on second base. Then, in the seventh, Lowther retired the side in order after surrendering a leadoff double. I’m excited to see where Lowther starts the 2019 season. For now, he’ll make one more start with Frederick. He’s scheduled to start Saturday against Myrtle Beach at Nymeo Field.

No. 11: Dean Kremer, RHP, Bowie
BULLISH
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); 4-2, 2.29 ERA, 43 Ks, 15 BBs in 39 1/3 innings (Bowie)
MILB.com Player Page

Arguably the best performer of all the Orioles’ trade-deadline acquisitions through his first month in the organization, the Los Angeles Dodgers’ 2016 14th-round pick continues to shine with the Baysox. Kremer, 22, turned in his second straight scoreless start in Bowie’s 4-1 win over Erie on Sunday. He struck out eight batters and only gave up two hits in six innings against the SeaWolves. In five starts in August, Kremer is 3-2 with a 1.91 ERA. He has 32 strikeouts in 28 1/3 innings. He’ll look to end the month – and his season – on a positive note tonight when he starts against Altoona at Prince George’s Stadium.

No. 12: Jean Carmona, SS, Aberdeen
BEARISH
Statistics: .239, 4 HRs, 24 RBIs, 8 2Bs, 3 3Bs, 28 runs in 39 games (Rookie-level Helena); .209, 0 HRs, 7 RBIs, 4 2Bs, 6 runs in 22 games (Aberdeen)
MILB.com Player Page

On Aug. 16, the Dominican Republic native went 3-for-3 with a double and a walk in the IronBirds’ 13-1 rout over Lowell. But it has been mostly downhill for Carmona, 18, in 12 games since that performance. In that span, he is only batting .122 (6-for-49) with 14 strikeouts. And four of those six hits came in the past four games. In other words, we’re seeing some growing pains with Carmona. But remember, he won’t turn 19 until Halloween. I believe it’ll take some time to see what Carmona can do. For now, we’ll need to be patient.

2018 DRAFT SPOTLIGHT

Robert Neustrom, OF, Aberdeen: I haven’t talked much about the fifth-round pick this summer, but he has quietly done well at the plate. Neustrom, 21, is batting .283 with four homers, 16 doubles and 28 RBIs in 59 games. Most of that production came this month. In August, Neustrom has a .362 average (34-for-94) with three homers and 18 RBIs.

Drew Rom, LHP, GCL Orioles: Most of the attention understandably went to the club’s top three picks – right-handed pitchers Grayson Rodriguez and Blaine Knight, as well as infielder Cadyn Grenier. But the fourth-round selection also impressed in the Gulf Coast League. Rom, who will turn 19 in December, finished with a 1.76 ERA in 30 2/3 innings.

SURGING

Adam Hall, SS, Aberdeen: Once again, I’m writing about the 2017 second-round pick in this category. But Hall, 19, lost his 19-game hitting streak after he went 0-for-4 in the IronBirds’ 6-1 win over Connecticut in the first game of a doubleheader Wednesday. Still, he is batting .390 (32-for-82) with 15 stolen bases and 20 runs in 23 games this month.

Zach Jarrett, OF, Delmarva: The son of NASCAR legend Dale Jarrett earned a spot on the South Atlantic League Postseason All-Star squad. Jarrett, 23, has batted .273 with 14 homers, 25 doubles and 67 RBIs in 125 games this year. The 2017 28th-round selection has cooled off considerably in the second half, but he had two hits last night against Hickory.

Branden Kline, RHP, Bowie: Thursday night, the 2012 second-round pick and Thomas Johnson High School graduate tossed a scoreless inning at Akron. Kline, who will turn 27 on Sept. 29, continues to work toward a spot in the Orioles’ bullpen – perhaps as soon as this year. Overall, he has a 1.53 ERA and 17 saves in 64 2/3 innings between Frederick and Bowie.

Josh Rogers, LHP, Orioles: Rogers, 24, was the last piece in the three-player return from the New York Yankees for closer Zach Britton. In five starts at Norfolk, he went 2-1 with a 2.08 ERA in 30 1/3 innings. That led the Orioles to promote Rogers for his major-league debut Tuesday. He earned the win in the club’s 12-5 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays.

FALLING

Michael Baumann, RHP, Frederick: Thursday night, the 2017 third-round pick tossed seven shutout innings at Potomac. So why is Baumann, who will turn 23 on Sept. 10, in this category? In the first half, Baumann went 9-0 with a 1.86 ERA in 72 2/3 innings between Delmarva and Frederick. Since the All-Star break, he’s 4-5 with a 4.81 ERA in 58 innings.

Cody Carroll, RHP, Norfolk: Carroll, who will turn 26 on Oct. 15, went 0-2 with a 7.00 ERA in nine games in the majors. He walked nine batters and gave up eight hits in nine innings. And after the Orioles optioned Carroll to the Tides on Monday, he was charged with two runs, one hit and four walks in two-thirds of an inning at Gwinnett on Wednesday. Not good.

Brett Cumberland, C, Bowie: In Bowie’s 4-0 win at Akron Thursday night, the Atlanta Braves’ 2016 competitive balance round B pick – who came to the Orioles in the deal for right-handers Kevin Gausman and Darren O’Day – went 0-for-3 with a strikeout. That lowered his average to .143 (5-for-35) in 12 games with the Baysox. Two of his five hits were homers.

THE WEEK AHEAD

Norfolk (68-67)
August 31 – at Durham (doubleheader), 5:35 p.m.
September 1 – at Durham, 6:35 p.m.
September 2 – at Durham, 5:05 p.m.
September 3 – at Durham, 1:05 p.m.

Bowie (66-68)
August 31 – vs. Altoona, 7:05 p.m.
September 1 – vs. Altoona, 6:35 p.m.
September 2 – vs. Altoona, 1:35 p.m.
September 3 – vs. Altoona, 1:35 p.m.

Frederick (63-71)
August 31 – vs. Myrtle Beach, 7 p.m.
September 1 – vs. Myrtle Beach, 6 p.m.
September 2 – vs. Myrtle Beach, 6 p.m.
September 3 – vs. Myrtle Beach, 2 p.m.

Delmarva (66-64)
August 31 – at Lakewood, 7:05 p.m.
September 1 – at Lakewood, 7:05 p.m.
September 2 – at Lakewood, 7:05 p.m.
September 3 – at Lakewood, 1:05 p.m.

Aberdeen (37-35)
August 31 – vs. Connecticut, 7:05 p.m.
September 1 – at Hudson Valley, 6:05 p.m.
September 2 – at Hudson Valley, 5:05 p.m.
September 3 – at Hudson Valley, 7:05 p.m.

3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Orial

    August 31, 2018 at 10:51 am

    Excellant report AGAIN. Three comments that stood out—Diaz 3 straight walks a real good sign,Hays better off on a rebuilding team than Norkolk a solid point,and Akin my God he hit a pot hole. Tired arm maybe? Encarnacion and Carmona are both intriguing but VERY young.

  2. Djowen

    August 31, 2018 at 6:40 pm

    Dean, without giving us a complete report on these players your report is useless. How is their defense? Do they make the routine plays? Do they go beyond the routine plays? Can they run the bases. Do they make outs on the base-path that they shouldn’t. We all know that Mountcastle can hit. What we don’t know is if he can play D well enough to play anything other then DH. What you give us is great but it is very incomplete.

  3. Ekim

    September 1, 2018 at 12:35 pm

    Since I follow the top four teams on a daily basis and am somewhat familiar with most of the names I enjoy reading your weekly commentary. For the most part I’m in agreement with your assessments. I have to say, though, that with some of the ‘fodder’ that was dumped on us you might be looking at them with the same rose colored glasses that Douchette was wearing when he agreed to the trades. Growing up as a Brooklyn Dodger fan I can remember the cry “Wait ‘till next year!” For us I’m afraid it’s going to be many years.

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