Dean Jones Report: Lowther and Rodriguez dominating; Akin and Hays surging; Diaz returns -
Dean Jones Report

Dean Jones Report: Lowther and Rodriguez dominating; Akin and Hays surging; Diaz returns


We’re just three days away from meeting the face of the Orioles’ rebuild.

The 2019 Major League Baseball draft will begin Monday night at 7  Eastern time. And, of course, everyone knows the Orioles hold the No. 1 pick for the first time in 30 years.

So, who will they take?

According to almost every mock draft, it will be Oregon State University’s Adley Rutschman.

Heading into the NCAA tournament, the junior catcher ranks fourth in Division I with a .419 average in 55 games. He has 17 homers and 57 RBIs. Rutschman also leads the nation in walks (73) and on-base percentage (.580), and ranks sixth in slugging percentage (.765).

But also according to almost every mock draft, the Orioles appear to be strongly considering Texas high school shortstop Bobby Witt Jr. or University of California first baseman Andrew Vaughn. Witt, of course, is the son of the former major-league pitcher with the same name.

In other words, we will likely have to wait until Monday evening to know for sure.

Who would you pick if you could switch places with Orioles executive vice president Mike Elias? I want to hear your thoughts. Share them in the “comments” section below.

And no matter which player the Orioles choose, I’m sure my colleague Rich Dubroff will have all the details on Check back for his updates next week.

In the meantime, let’s dive into the latest “Dean Jones Report.” As regular readers know, it’s my way to provide regular updates on the Orioles’ minor-league system.

Each month, I’ll share the latest news and notes about the 12 prospects who make up my “Dean’s Dozen” rankings. I’ll list each player as a rising stock (bullish) or a falling stock (bearish), based on his recent play. Plus, I’ll highlight a handful of other players divided into two categories – surging and falling. These players will show you who’s hot and who’s not.

Then, at the bottom of every post, I’ll share the upcoming schedule for each of the Orioles’ affiliates. That way, you’ll know when to get out and see all of these players in action. And after you do, be sure to let me know your thoughts at [email protected].

You’ll notice that I’ve added the schedule for Short-A Aberdeen this month. The IronBirds open the season at 7 p.m. on June 14 at Ripken Stadium against Hudson Valley.

One last thing: Look for next month’s “Dean Jones Report” update on Friday, June 28.

With all that said, let’s dive into this month’s update…


No. 1: Yusniel Diaz, OF, Frederick
Statistics: .500, 0 HRs, 0 RBIs in 1 game (Frederick); .225, 1 HR, 7 RBIs, 3 2Bs, 7 runs in 20 games (Bowie) Player Page

The Orioles finally activated the Cuba native from the injured list Wednesday after he missed more than a month with a strained hamstring. It’s worth noting that Diaz, 22, went to Frederick instead of Bowie. Maybe the Orioles want their top prospect to help the Keys as they try to catch Wilmington to win the first half in the Carolina League’s Northern Division. In reality, it’s probably just a way to slowly work Diaz back into action. The organization did the same thing with outfielder Austin Hays before bumping him to Bowie last weekend. It’s obviously disappointing to see Diaz scuffling, but he’s still young. There’s still plenty of time.

No. 2: Ryan Mountcastle, 3B/1B, Norfolk
Statistics: .326, 7 HRs, 33 RBIs, 13 2Bs, 29 runs in 43 games Player Page

On the field, the 2015 first-round selection (36th overall) earned a slam-dunk “bullish” grade this month. Mountcastle, 22, batted .359 with two homers, eight doubles and 14 RBIs in 18 games for the Tides in May. Unfortunately, he hasn’t played since last Friday in the series opener at Gwinnett. He went 2-for-5 with a double and an RBI in the Tides’ 13-7 loss to the Stripers. And then, according to the Virginian-Pilot‘s David Hall – a great source to follow for news on Norfolk, by the way – Mountcastle woke up with a sore left wrist the next day. Hall noted that Mountcastle got a cortisone shot and could return as soon as this weekend. We’ll have to keep an eye on his situation to see if it grows into anything bigger.

No. 3: DL Hall, LHP, Frederick
Statistics: 1-2, 4.50 ERA, 53 Ks, 19 BBs, 1.47 WHIP in 30 innings Player Page

The 2017 first-round pick (21st overall) was supposed to start the first game of a doubleheader for the Keys against Lynchburg on Thursday. However, rain forced both games to be postponed. Instead, the teams will play back-to-back doubleheaders on Friday and Saturday at Nymeo Field. Hall, 20, is now set to start the opener Friday. He has experienced some growing pains through the first two months. On May 16, Hall suffered the loss after giving up four runs and five hits in a season-low 2 2/3 innings at Wilmington. But then he bounced back with five shutout innings in Frederick’s 8-7 victory over Myrtle Beach in his latest start on May 23. Hall matched a career high with 10 strikeouts and held the Pelicans to two hits in the game. He is among the league leaders in strikeouts (53) despite throwing only 30 innings. Hall should be fine in the long run, but I’m “bearish” for now.

No. 4: Austin Hays, OF, Bowie
Statistics: .162, 2 HRs, 6 RBIs, 3 runs in 9 games (Frederick); .310, 1 HR, 6 RBIs, 2 2Bs, 5 runs in 7 games (Bowie) Player Page

After the 2016 third-round selection’s late start to the season because of a thumb injury, it’s good to see him back on the field again. Hays, 23, only had six hits in 37 at-bats for the Keys before moving up to Bowie last weekend. But he did homer in back-to-back games against Myrtle Beach on May 20 and 21. And Hays appears to be getting more comfortable since joining the Baysox. He has hit safely in six of his seven games at Double-A this season. Last Saturday, Hays went 3-for-6 with a double, two RBIs and three runs in Bowie’s 19-4 win at Erie. And on Wednesday night, he hit a three-run homer as the Baysox fell to Akron, 9-8. I’m “bullish” this month on Hays as he works to get more at-bats in Bowie.

No. 5: Keegan Akin, LHP, Norfolk
Statistics: 3-2, 3.70 ERA, 60 Ks, 22 BBs, 1.34 WHIP in 48 2/3 innings Player Page

A month ago, I noted that it was tough to decide whether to list the 2016 second-round pick as “bullish” or “bearish.” It was much easier to go “bullish” on Akin, 24, this time. He ranks among the International League leaders in strikeouts (60) and WHIP (1.34) through 10 starts. In five games this month, Akin went 3-1 with a 2.77 ERA. He had 33 strikeouts in 26 innings in that span. I’d like to see Akin get a shot in the majors in the weeks ahead. But for now, he’ll continue with the Tides. Akin is scheduled to start Saturday against Louisville.

No. 6: Grayson Rodriguez, RHP, Delmarva
Statistics: 6-0, 1.47 ERA, 61 Ks, 12 BBs, 0.84 WHIP in 43 innings Player Page

Unfortunately, the 2018 first-round selection (11th overall) watched his ERA nearly triple over the past month. The good news is, it only went from 0.54 to 1.47 since my last update. Rodriguez, 19, continues to lead the South Atlantic League in the category. He’s a big part of the Shorebirds’ tremendous first half. (More details on other members of Delmarva’s rotation will come later in this update.) On Monday, Rodriguez pitched a career-high seven innings in Delmarva’s 2-1 win over Hagerstown. He struck out eight batters and held the Suns to one run and two hits. You can’t say anything bad about Rodriguez right now.

No. 7: Ryan McKenna, OF, Bowie
Statistics: .213, 4 HRs, 18 RBIs, 8 2Bs, 23 runs, 5 SBs in 49 games Player Page

It’s getting better for the 2015 fourth-round pick after a terrible start to the year, but he still isn’t anywhere near the potential he flashed at the beginning of last season with Frederick. McKenna, 22, is hitting .219 with 12 RBIs and 15 runs in 25 games this month. He has hit safely in seven of his past eight games, including the last six. But he only has two multi-hit performances in May. The last one happened on May 13 – 15 games ago. McKenna did hit a three-run homer in Bowie’s 9-5 loss to Akron on Thursday afternoon, so we’ll see if that can get him going. For now, it’s another month with a “bearish” rating.

No. 8: Zac Lowther, LHP, Bowie
Statistics: 4-3, 1.68 ERA, 43 Ks, 20 BBs, 1.12 WHIP in 48 1/3 innings Player Page

My favorite pitcher in the organization dominated for the Baysox in May. Lowther, 23, went 3-1 with a 0.60 ERA in five starts during the month. The 2017 competitive balance round B selection only allowed three runs (two earned) in 30 innings in that span. In fact, Lowther currently has a scoreless streak of 21 2/3 innings. He hasn’t allowed a run since the third inning of Bowie’s 3-2 loss at Altoona on May 7. Lowther has a 3-2 record and a 0.77 ERA in six games on the road. However, he is only 1-1 with a 4.05 ERA in three starts at Prince George’s Stadium. His next start is scheduled for Saturday at home against Hartford.

No. 9: Dean Kremer, RHP, Bowie
Statistics: 0-0, 0.00 ERA, 14 Ks, 4 BBs, 1.03 WHIP in 9 2/3 innings (Frederick); 0-2, 8.38 ERA, 8 Ks, 6 BBs, 2.07 WHIP in 9 2/3 innings (Bowie) Player Page

Earlier this month, the 2016 14th-round pick came off the injured list to make two starts for Frederick. You’ll recall that Kremer, 23, suffered a strained left oblique before spring training started. He spent several extra weeks in Florida before joining the Keys on May 9. In that game, Kremer tossed 3 2/3 scoreless innings as Frederick beat Potomac, 3-0. He followed that up six days later with six shutout innings at Wilmington. And that brings us to why I’m “bearish” on Kremer this month. In two starts since moving up to Bowie, he is 0-2 with an 8.38 ERA. He has allowed 14 hits and six walks in 9 2/3 innings with the Baysox.  You shouldn’t be too concerned yet. It’s an extremely small sample size. And Kremer still has plenty of time to straighten things out. Remember, he went 4-2 with a 2.58 ERA in eight starts at Bowie last season after coming over from the Los Angeles Dodgers.

No. 10: Blaine Knight, RHP, Frederick
Statistics: 3-0, 0.68 ERA, 33 Ks, 4 BBs, 0.56 WHIP in 26 2/3 innings (Delmarva); 0-0, 3.38 ERA, 11 Ks, 6 BBs, 1.00 WHIP in 16 innings (Frederick) Player Page

Knight, who will turn 23 on June 28, earned a well-deserved promotion to Frederick in early May. In five starts with Delmarva, the 2018 third-round selection only allowed two runs in 26 2/3 innings (0.68 ERA). He struck out 33 hitters and issued only four walks in that span. Knight hasn’t been as dominating with the Keys, but he still has a respectable 3.38 ERA through three starts. In his Carolina League debut on May 11, Knight held Fayetteville to one run and two hits in six innings. He’s scheduled to pitch again tomorrow night in a doubleheader against Lynchburg.

No. 11: Hunter Harvey, RHP, Bowie
Statistics: 2-3, 5.82 ERA, 43 Ks, 14 BBs, 1.60 WHIP in 38 2/3 innings Player Page

Six years later, the 2013 first-round pick (22nd overall) remains an enigma. Harvey, 24, is 2-3 with a 5.82 ERA through nine starts with the Baysox this season. He has put together a couple of excellent starts. On May 6 at Altoona, Harvey only allowed two hits in six scoreless innings during Bowie’s 10-5 victory. And on May 18, he picked up another win after holding Erie to one run and six hits in six innings. But Harvey has been terrible in a couple of other starts. He allowed seven runs and nine hits in four innings during a 7-4 loss at Akron on May 13. And in Harvey’s most recent start, the Baysox provided an early seven-run lead in a 19-4 rout at Erie last Saturday. However, Harvey didn’t factor in the decision after walking four batters and allowing two homers in 2 1/3 innings. He’ll start tonight against Hartford.

No. 12: Brenan Hanifee, RHP, Frederick
Statistics: 3-4, 5.59 ERA, 27 Ks, 25 BBs, 1.63 WHIP in 38 2/3 innings Player Page

Hanifee, who turned 21 on Wednesday, pitched better in May than he did in April. After going 2-2 with a 6.65 ERA in five starts during the first month, the 2016 fourth-round selection was 1-2 with a 4.02 ERA in four games (three starts) in the second month. In his most recent start, Hanifee only allowed two runs and five hits in six innings as the Keys beat Potomac, 5-2, on Sunday afternoon. It’s good to see some progress, but he still needs to cut down on the number of free passes. In 2018, Hanifee only issued 22 walks in 132 innings at Delmarva. And he never walked more than two hitters in a game. But already this year, he has walked 25 hitters in 38 2/3 innings – including three or more walks five times.


Michael Baumann, RHP, Frederick: The 2017 third-round pick currently ranks second in the Carolina League with 61 strikeouts in 39 innings. Baumann, 23, is 1-2 with a 3.23 ERA in eight starts with the Keys. He struck out a career-high 12 hitters in 6 2/3 no-hit innings on April 30, but the Keys couldn’t hold a late lead in a 5-4 loss to Wilmington.

Mason McCoy, SS, Bowie: Most folks probably don’t know much about the 2017 sixth-round selection. McCoy, 24, hit .266 in 124 games at Delmarva in 2018. This year, he’s doing much better. McCoy batted .379 with nine doubles, two homers and 17 RBIs in 27 games for Frederick before moving up. He’s hitting .344 through 21 games with the Baysox.

Ofelky Peralta, RHP, Delmarva: Over the past two seasons, the Dominican Republic native went 5-16 with a 5.68 ERA in 38 starts for Frederick. But Peralta, 22, has shined after dropping back down a level for his second stint with the Shorebirds. Through nine appearances (eight starts), he is 4-0 with a 1.51 ERA and 55 strikeouts in 41 2/3 innings.

Drew Rom, LHP, Delmarva: The 2018 fourth-round selection is yet another reason why the Shorebirds are off to such an incredible start. Rom, 19, is 4-0 with a 1.49 ERA through nine games (seven starts). He has 55 strikeouts in 42 1/3 innings. Rom held Greenville to one run and three hits in five innings Thursday as Delmarva picked up its 41st win in 52 games.

Cody Sedlock, RHP, Frederick: Just when you thought all hope was lost for the 2016 first-round pick (27th overall), he is making an impressive comeback. Sedlock, who will turn 24 on June 19, is 3-0 with a 1.44 ERA in eight starts for the Keys. He went 2-0 with a 0.41 ERA in 22 innings over four starts this month. Could we see a promotion to Bowie before long?

Chance Sisco, C, Norfolk: What an incredible run for the 2013 second-round selection. Sisco, 24, heads into the final day of May with a .361 average, nine homers, five doubles and 27 RBIs in 22 games this month. He went 2-for-4 with a pair of two-run homers in the Tides’ 12-5 loss to Columbus on Thursday. Will he get another shot in the majors soon?

DJ Stewart, OF, Norfolk: Sisco would likely be the Orioles’ Minor League Player of the Month in May if it weren’t for the 2015 first-round pick (25th overall). Stewart, 25, batted a remarkable .456 with five homers, 10 doubles, two triples and 27 RBIs in 19 games this month before getting called up. And then, he had three hits in his first game in the majors.

Alex Wells, LHP, Bowie: The Australia native suffered a small scare on May 20 against Binghamton. The Rumble Ponies’ Dario Pizzano hit a line drive off his left arm in the top of the third. But Wells, 22, seems to be fully recovered. He threw seven scoreless innings in Bowie’s 4-1 loss at Erie on Monday. Overall, Wells is 2-1 with a 1.72 ERA in 36 2/3 innings.


Martin Cervenka, C, Bowie: In 2018, the Czech Republic native turned some heads with 15 homers, 22 doubles and 60 RBIs in 97 games with the Baysox. But Cervenka, 26, has struggled this year. He’s hitting .205 with three extra-base hits (two homers and one double) in 36 games. Need a bright spot? He had three multi-hit games in the past week.

Cedric Mullins, OF, Norfolk: After only batting .094 (6-for-64) in 22 games with the Orioles, the 2015 13th-round selection headed back to the Tides on April 22. And Mullins, 24, isn’t knocking on the door for a return to the majors right now. Through 30 games with Norfolk, he is only hitting .223 – including .143 (3-for-21) in his past five games.

Preston Palmeiro, 1B, Bowie: The son of former Orioles first baseman Rafael Palmeiro can’t seem to get anything going for the Baysox. Palmeiro, 24, is only hitting .185 with 42 strikeouts in 41 games. A left-handed hitter, he’s actually doing well against southpaws – with a .286 average in 35 at-bats. But against right-handers, he’s hitting an abysmal .150.

Zach Pop, RHP, Bowie: A month ago, I included the 2017 seventh-round selection in the “surging” category. Pop, 22, was 1-0 with an 0.84 ERA in 10 2/3 innings over eight appearances through the end of last month. But then disaster struck. On May 14, Pop underwent Tommy John surgery. So it’ll be a while before he’s back on the mound again.

Josh Rogers, LHP, Norfolk: It seems like forever since the 2015 11th-round pick pitched for the Orioles on April 10 against Oakland. Rogers, 24, gave up five runs and four hits in 3 2/3 innings that day. Overall, he is 2-5 with a 9.41 ERA in nine starts for the Tides. Rogers has been brutal lately. In his past four starts, Rogers is 0-4 with a 13.50 ERA.


Norfolk (22-29)
May 31 – vs. Louisville, 7:05 p.m.
June 1 – vs. Louisville, 7:05 p.m.
June 2 – vs. Louisville, 1:05 p.m.
June 3 – at Durham, 7:05 p.m.
June 4 – at Durham, 7:05 p.m.
June 5 – at Durham, 7:05 p.m.
June 6 – at Columbus, 7:05 p.m.
June 7 – at Columbus, 7:15 p.m.
June 8 – at Columbus, 7:15 p.m.
June 9 – at Columbus, 2:05 p.m.
June 10 – OFF
June 11 – vs. Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, 7:05 p.m.
June 12 – vs. Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, 7:05 p.m.
June 13 – vs. Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, 12:05 p.m.
June 14 – vs. Toledo, 7:05 p.m.
June 15 – vs. Toledo, 7:05 p.m.
June 16 – vs. Toledo, 1:05 p.m.
June 17 – OFF
June 18 – at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, 7:05 p.m.
June 19 – at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, 7:05 p.m.
June 20 – at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, 7:05 p.m.
June 21 – at Buffalo, 7:05 p.m.
June 22 – at Buffalo, 6:05 p.m.
June 23 – at Buffalo, 1:05 p.m.
June 24 – vs. Gwinnett, 7:05 p.m.
June 25 – vs. Gwinnett, 7:05 p.m.
June 26 – at Durham, 7:05 p.m.
June 27 – at Durham, 7:05 p.m.

Bowie (19-33)
May 31 – vs. Hartford, 7:05 p.m.
June 1 – vs. Hartford, 6:35 p.m.
June 2 – vs. Hartford, 1:35 p.m.
June 3 – OFF
June 4 – at New Hampshire, 6:35 p.m.
June 5 – at New Hampshire, 6:35 p.m.
June 6 – at New Hampshire, 10:35 a.m.
June 7 – at Portland, 6 p.m.
June 8 – at Portland, 6 p.m.
June 9 – at Portland, 1 p.m.
June 10 – OFF
June 11 – vs. New Hampshire, 6:35 p.m.
June 12 – vs. New Hampshire, 6:35 p.m.
June 13 – vs. New Hampshire, 6:35 p.m.
June 14 – vs. Trenton, 7:05 p.m.
June 15 – vs. Trenton, 6:35 p.m.
June 16 – vs. Trenton, 1:35 p.m.
June 17 – OFF
June 18 – at Hartford, 7:05 p.m.
June 19 – at Hartford, 7:05 p.m.
June 20 – at Hartford, 7:05 p.m.
June 21 – at Harrisburg, 7 p.m.
June 22 – at Harrisburg, 6 p.m.
June 23 – at Harrisburg, 1 p.m.
June 24 – vs. Hartford, 7:05 p.m.
June 25 – vs. Hartford, 7:05 p.m.
June 26 – vs. Hartford, 7:05 p.m.
June 27 – vs. Akron, 7:05 p.m.

Frederick (25-25)
May 31 – vs. Lynchburg (doubleheader), 5 p.m.
June 1 – vs. Lynchburg (doubleheader), 4 p.m.
June 2 – at Carolina, 4 p.m.
June 3 – at Carolina, 7 p.m.
June 4 – at Carolina, 7 p.m.
June 5 – OFF
June 6 – at Down East, 7 p.m.
June 7 – at Down East, 7 p.m.
June 8 – at Down East, 6 p.m.
June 9 – at Down East, 1 p.m.
June 10 – vs. Carolina, 7 p.m.
June 11 – vs. Carolina, 7 p.m.
June 12 – vs. Carolina, 7 p.m.
June 13 – at Salem, 7:05 p.m.
June 14 – at Salem (doubleheader), 6:05 p.m.
June 15 – at Salem, 6:05 p.m.
June 16 – at Salem, 2:05 p.m.
June 17 – OFF
June 18 – Carolina League All-Star Game in Frederick, 7:15 p.m.
June 19 – OFF
June 20 – at Wilmington, 6:35 p.m.
June 21 – at Wilmington, 7:05 p.m.
June 22 – at Wilmington, 6:05 p.m.
June 23 – at Wilmington, 1:35 p.m.
June 24 – at Lynchburg, 6:30 p.m.
June 25 – at Lynchburg, 6:30 p.m.
June 26 – at Lynchburg, 6:30 p.m.
June 27 – vs. Wilmington, 7 p.m.

Delmarva (41-11)
May 31 – at Greenville, 7:05 p.m.
June 1 – at Greenville, 7:05 p.m.
June 2 – at Greenville, 3:05 p.m.
June 3 – at Kannapolis, 7 p.m.
June 4 – at Kannapolis, 7 p.m.
June 5 – at Kannapolis, 7 p.m.
June 6 – vs. Hagerstown, 7:05 p.m.
June 7 – vs. Hagerstown, 7:05 p.m.
June 8 – vs. Hagerstown, 6:35 p.m.
June 9 – vs. Hagerstown, 2:05 p.m.
June 10 – at West Virginia, 7:05 p.m.
June 11 – at West Virginia, 7:05 p.m.
June 12 – at West Virginia, 7:05 p.m.
June 13 – vs. Hickory, 7:05 p.m.
June 14 – vs. Hickory, 7:05 p.m.
June 15 – vs. Hickory, 7:05 p.m.
June 16 – vs. Hickory, 2:05 p.m.
June 17 – OFF
June 18 – South Atlantic League All-Star Game at Charleston, 7:35 p.m.
June 19 – OFF
June 20 – at Greensboro, 7 p.m.
June 21 – at Greensboro, 7 p.m.
June 22 – at Greensboro, 7 p.m.
June 23 – at Greensboro, 2 p.m.
June 24 – vs. Lakewood, 7:05 p.m.
June 25 – vs. Lakewood, 7:05 p.m.
June 26 – vs. Lakewood, 7:05 p.m.
June 27 – at Hagerstown, 7:05 p.m.

Aberdeen (0-0)
June 14 – vs. Hudson Valley, 7:05 p.m.
June 15 – vs. Hudson Valley, 6:05 p.m.
June 16 – at Brooklyn, 4 p.m.
June 17 – at Brooklyn, 7 p.m.
June 18 – vs. Tri-City, 7:05 p.m.
June 19 – vs. Tri-City, 7:05 p.m.
June 20 – vs. Tri-City, 7:05 p.m.
June 21 – at Hudson Valley, 7:05 p.m.
June 22 – at Hudson Valley, 6:05 p.m.
June 23 – at Hudson Valley, 4:35 p.m.
June 24 – OFF
June 25 – vs. Brooklyn, 7:05 p.m.
June 26 – vs. Brooklyn, 7:05 p.m.
June 27 – vs. Brooklyn, 7:05 p.m.



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