Buck Britton's Bowie Baysox are winning at an impressive clip - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Rich Dubroff

Buck Britton’s Bowie Baysox are winning at an impressive clip

Photo Credit: Joy R. Absalon

BOWIE—A difficult start to the Bowie Baysox’s season is long in the past. Bowie, the Orioles’ Double-A affiliate, lost 17 of its first 21 games. On June 1, the Baysox fell a season-low 16 games below .500 at 19-35.

Since then, the Baysox have won 30 of their last 38 games, finishing the first half of the season with a 30-38 record. They’ve begun the second half 19-5 after Monday night’s 4-2 win over Harrisburg, the Washington Nationals’ Double-A team.

Bowie’s first-year manager, Buck Britton, the older brother of longtime Orioles reliever Zack Britton, just returned from paternity leave. Combining fatherhood with the success of his team makes the 33-year-old even happier.

“At the beginning of the year, we had some inexperience at this level,” Britton said.

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At 33, Britton is three years removed from playing and in his second year as a minor league manager. Last year, he was Low-A Delmarva’s manager and jumped two levels to succeed longtime Bowie manager Gary Kendall, who moved up to Triple-A Norfolk.

“As far as the minor leagues go, this is a big jump from A ball to Double-A,” Britton said. “Guys got off to slow starts that hadn’t played at this level, and maybe their confidence was down. They didn’t know if they could be here.”

Britton credits longtime minor league manager Keith Bodie, who is the Baysox’s hitting coach and general sounding board for the manager.

“Bodie’s been working hard in the cage with these guys, and they’re buying into it,” Britton said.

“Our starting pitching has been phenomenal all year long,” Britton said. “But the offense is finally starting to click.”

Alex Wells, who equaled his longest professional start on Monday, allowed two runs on four hits in eight innings, striking out four without a walk. His record is 8-1 with a 1.95 ERA.

At 22, Wells is two levels away from the major leagues, and he’s starting to think it’s a realistic goal.

“Absolutely, knowing how close I am to potentially pitching in Camden Yards one day is very exciting,” Wells said. “It makes me work harder … hopefully, one day.”

Wells was the Orioles’ minor league pitcher of the year in 2017 after a standout year at Delmarva, when he struck out 113 batters and walked 10.

The left-hander doesn’t throw hard, topping out at 89-90 mph, and has an excellent curveball. He’s working on a slider and changeup.

“He knows how to pitch, and he’s fearless on the mound,” Britton said.

The Australian native has never been a top prospect because he doesn’t throw hard.

“He’s a guy that’s going to have to prove it at every level,” Britton said. “Look at the numbers he’s putting up here this year, It’s impressive.”

One of the catchers Wells throws to is Carlos Perez, who has substantial major league experience, and that helps, too.

“Knowing that you have a couple of teammates that have played there; they’ve all shared their experiences up there,” Wells said. “Knowing [you’re] a phone call away and only 40 minutes away, it’s very exciting.”

Bowie’s starting staff includes two other left-handers: Zac Lowther, one of the Orioles’ top prospects, who’s 10-5 with a 2.54 ERA; and Bruce Zimmermann, who’s from Ellicott City and went to Loyola Blakefield High School.

Zimmermann, who’s 4-2 with a 2.69 ERA ,was part of the package the Orioles received in the trade that sent Kevin Gausman and Darren O’Day to Atlanta last July 31.

Mike Baumann, who was recently promoted from High-A Frederick, makes his fifth start on Tuesday. In his first four, the right-hander allowed just one run in 18 innings for an 0.50 ERA. Baumann, a third-round draft choice in 2017, was a college teammate of Norfolk’s Austin Hays at Jacksonville University.

Dean Kremer, who was obtained from the Los Angeles Dodgers in the Manny Machado trade, is 5-4 with a 3.76 ERA.

Dillon Tate, who came to the Orioles from the New York Yankees in the deal for Zack Britton, has been moved to the bullpen and has converted all five of his save chances since then.

Infielder Mason McCoy, who hit .379 in 27 games with Frederick, is hitting .310 in 59 games with the Baysox.

Bowie also has Yusniel Diaz, who was the most prominent player the Orioles received from the Dodgers in the Machado trade. He has improved in the outfield.

Diaz hit .239 with five home runs and 15 RBIs in 38 games with the Baysox a year ago. After missing time this season with a hamstring injury, Diaz is hitting .258 with nine homers and 40 RBIs.

“He was trying to do way too much,” Britton said. “Being the focal point of the Manny Machado trade, that’s not easy. He’s starting to relax a little bit. Things are starting to click for him.

“A guy who’s got the talent that he has, when he gets a little bit of confidence, when he gets a little bit of that swagger going, look out because he can really take off.”

Their centerfielder is Cedric Mullins, who was 6-for-64 (.094) with the Orioles and was recently demoted from Norfolk to Bowie after he hit .205 in 66 games for the Tides.

“It can continue to snowball for you if you’re not careful,” Britton said. “I’m glad he’s here, and I hope that we can have an environment here that let’s him go out there and be Cedric Mullins again.

“You step into center field at Camden Yards, where Adam Jones has been … that’s a tough spot to go into. Maybe he tried to do a little more than what he could do. He’s got some ability, and hopefully he can get a little bit of a breather down here and get him going and get him back up there.”

Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB

21 Comments

21 Comments

  1. CalsPals

    July 16, 2019 at 7:41 am

    Sounds like we have some youngens here that are doing well, bet we have others as well, probably should keep them all down so we secure that #1 pick next year…go O’s…

    • Bhoffman1

      July 16, 2019 at 1:10 pm

      So we should play under achievers and keep the talented young kids down to secure the number one pick next year. Who’s going to pay the bills if no one shows up at the park the next two months.

    • CalsPals

      July 16, 2019 at 1:30 pm

      Easy big fella, being sarcastic, I’m all about bringing the youngens up, have been all year…go O’s…

    • OriolesNumber1Fan

      July 18, 2019 at 8:49 pm

      Now you’re buying in. Finish tanking this lost year and next year and we should have a really great minor league system in place for the future!!!

  2. chico salmon

    July 16, 2019 at 7:47 am

    I enjoy watching live, competitive baseball. Having cut the cable cord, I’ve moved my entertainment dollars to Bowie, Frederick, and Aberdeen. These teams are competitive, fun, and exciting. It’s also, in some ways, refreshing. Sorry, Orioles, my dollars may find their way back to OPACY (I live only 10 miles from the ballpark), but I’m having way too much fun going to minor league affiliates. I would enjoy others to salvage your baseball summer and do the same.

    • chico salmon

      July 16, 2019 at 7:48 am

      Encourage others (spellcheck, ahh….)

  3. PC in OC

    July 16, 2019 at 9:33 am

    Rich, I have a question for you, that doesn’t concern this article. On almost every major move that the Orioles make, Angelos ( Peter and his Sons ) are involved. It’ always, Angelos wont part with the big money , to get the top talent, when they become available. OR Angelos this, Angelos that ( He is worth more then 2 billion ) and he sure isn’t going to take it with him. My question is, Do any of the other owners, have any say so, in any of these decisions made by Angelos. Do they meet, Do they discuss anything about his decision’s, do they do anything! or does Angelos have Carte Blanche.

    • Phil770

      July 16, 2019 at 10:04 am

      I assume you mean the affiliate owners, MLB owners would have no formal say. I think Angelo’s is an easy foil. The O’s had the 5th highest payroll in baseball, and for 2017 and 2018 had the worst team in MLB. That is on Duqette. DD declined to sign Markakis and Cruz and the spent more money and resources to replace them…and failed. Angelo’s management style has run off good people and make it more difficult to attract and retain talent

    • ClayDal

      July 16, 2019 at 2:02 pm

      In defense of Duquette, he signed Nelson Cruz in the first place after Cruz had been suspended for the last 50 games of the previous season in the Biogenesis scandal. They didn’t want to go 4 years on a 34 year old. In the event, Cruz ended up still ended up productive for 4 years and beyond. Markakis was set to sign a 4 year contract when something came up in the physical and they didn’t want to go 4 years with him. The ironic thing is Nick had his best season in season 4. The big mistake with Nick was they were never able to ( and still haven’t) find a replacement

      • Phil770

        July 16, 2019 at 6:04 pm

        My point is that DD decided they each were worth three years and not four – both proved them wrong and he ended spending more money and traded assets for less performance by replacements, including Trumbo. I acknowledge that PA gave the okay to bring back Davis, but don’t know if he was asked his opinion or whether he agreed or disagreed with it. Hard to believe that PA would not ask anyone (DD, Buck or Brady). Regardless, Davis is on PA as a truly bad decision. I think Davis’ suspension was must more costly to the O’s than anything Cruz ever did. I know DD has many fans on this site, I am just not one of them; too many mistakes in evaluating talent (and fit).

    • ClayDal

      July 16, 2019 at 6:37 pm

      Cruz was 34 years old. A 4 year contract would have been risky. Good for Cruz he is still going strong at 39. These are decisions a GM has to make. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t. If Markakis had broken down like O’Day and Hardy did after getting their extensions, people would have been all over him. One last thing about Cruz- it may be possible that the Orioles never had a chance to go 4 years on Cruz. In other words the Mariners offered 4 years and told him to take it or leave it-now. Not saying that happened but it has happened in the past. In other words the Orioles never had the opportunity to match the offer. Besides for all we know Cruz liked Seattle. It’s a lovely part of the country and has a real international flavor. Maybe he wanted to go there. Bottom line Cruz being here wouldn’t have had am effect on the Orioles biggest problem-pitching

  4. Grand Strand Bird Fan

    July 16, 2019 at 9:44 am

    As noted the Orioles have several pitching prospects at Bowie that are having excellent seasons. I saw Bauman pitch for Frederick early in the season. His fastball was in the mid 90’s consistently. Hopefully, if they continue their success one or more will move up to Norfolk this season. Nice summary.

  5. Bancells Moustache

    July 16, 2019 at 9:55 am

    Wise of Rich to accentuate the positive, as things are getting ugly in Birdland when guys are trashing Ben McDonald, Gary Thorne and Jon Miller (?!). I haven’t had a chance to catch Bowie since I left Anne Arundel County and moved to the city, but intend to get there at some point. My priority for Minor League games is Aberdeen when the new blood arrives.

  6. Ekim

    July 16, 2019 at 10:25 am

    Thank you for an excellent piece on the Bay Sox. I’m 20 minutes from there (30 from the O’s) so am quite familiar with their roster. I’m particularly pleased that you focused on Alex Wells. I saw him twice at Delmarva two years ago and was impressed with his control (only walked 10 batters for the whole season) and he continues to exhibit it even at a much higher level of competition. Right now he has half the walks that Lowther has. To me, he’s a “pitcher” and not a thrower. I wish some of the “flamethrowers” would take a look at how he goes about pitching. Maybe if they did they’d have more success. Just saying…

  7. mlbbirdfan

    July 16, 2019 at 2:37 pm

    Rich: I have a strong suggestion, to supplement this excellent article:
    Buck Britton
    Keith Bodie
    Alex Wells
    Zac Lowther
    Bruce Zimmerman
    Mike Baumann
    Dean Kremer
    Dillon Tate
    Mason McCoy
    Yusni Diaz
    PLUS
    Adley Rutschman
    DL Hall
    Grayson Rodriguez
    Ryan Mountcastle
    Adam Hall
    Austin Hays
    TWO REACTIONS
    1) Mike Elias fulfilling a pledge to fill the pipeline with superior talent! Good.
    2) These names could possibly win half of its games against the Baltimore Orioles current squad.
    3) As a season ticket holder for 25+ years in Camden Yards, from day one to the present, I am upset with Mike Elias and company on one thing. They have steadfastly refused to lower ticket prices even 5 % per ticket. The payroll has dropped from $150 to $75 million, and will go lower next year – probably far lower. No excuses. Lower prices!
    Rich, you do good research. How about a story on this third point. Including an interview with the general manager. Thanks!
    – MLB
    fan of the Orioles for 60+ years

    • Camden Brooks

      July 16, 2019 at 3:56 pm

      #3 should read Angelos and company. We have no idea how much input Elias has in ticket prices, or even what his take is on the issue.

    • ClayDal

      July 16, 2019 at 4:51 pm

      Ticket prices depend on supply and demand. Orioles attendance is down around 2,000 a game so far this year so it hasn’t fallen large enough for them to slash ticket prices that much. If attendance falls dramatically, you might see a serious reduction in prices. Conversely, if the attendance were to jump back to the early levels of Camden Yards, prices would go up accordingly. Great myth is that salaries have anything to do with ticket prices. If that were true you wouldn’t have to pay anything to watch a college football game since those players aren’t getting paid. At least they are not supposed to

  8. Zoey Dog Says Throw Strikes

    July 16, 2019 at 4:20 pm

    Didn’t he change the spelling to “Buch”?

    😉

    • CalsPals

      July 16, 2019 at 4:55 pm

      All in the family…lol

  9. cb

    July 16, 2019 at 9:22 pm

    Baumann threw a no hitter tonight. He struck out 10 and walked two. His era at Bowie is now 0.33.

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