Minor Monday: Kendall pulls the right strings at Norfolk - BaltimoreBaseball.com

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Minor Monday: Kendall pulls the right strings at Norfolk

Gary Kendall
Photo credit: Baltimore Orioles

Gary Kendall has gotten used to a juggling act at Triple-A Norfolk. The Tides’ manager has dealt with the almost constant transition with his roster as players shift from the minor league team to Baltimore and back again.

“It was like that in 2019 and then we had the alt-site,” Kendall said. “Any which way we can help. I understand the job. That is what this is about, preparing guys and having guys ready when they’re called upon to get to the big leagues to provide either short-term or long-term help.”

The Tides have had 12 players make their major league debut with the Orioles this season. It’s a call that Kendall values because of what it means for players to finally earn that promotion to the big leagues.

“You hope that you can do it in person,” Kendall said. “Sometimes, when they’re on the West Coast, it’s a phone call that will ring at three in the morning. Sometimes, I can’t do it personally. For some, it’s very exciting. We bring the staff in. Some guys have had quite different journeys to get here to Triple-A and so it’s an exciting time.”

The Orioles’ top prospect, Adley Rutschman, recently earned his promotion to Norfolk and has made an immediate impact. He already has three multi-hit performances with Norfolk in five games, going 8-for-21 (.381) with two doubles and five RBIs.

“I got a chance to see him at the alternate site,” Kendall said. “He just has an unbelievable toolset, regardless of whether he’s a catcher or plays a little first base. He brings a lot to the table, He has a very efficient bat where hits the ball to all fields with power. He runs very well for a catcher. He can throw and he can defend.

“He’s made a really big impact in our lineup. Guys like him, and he’s a very likable guy. He’s very humble. We’re fortunate to have him.”

Second baseman Jahmai Jones could be a late-season callup to the Orioles. Jones was acquired by the Orioles from Los Angeles in exchange for right-handed pitcher Alex Cobb on February 2, 2021.

Jones had an oblique injury earlier this season at Norfolk but isfully healthy and one of the team’s most productive hitters. He is batting .257 with eight homers and 29 RBIs in 64 games and has played mostly at second base and eight games in left field.

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“His defense is coming along,” Kendall said. “There were some things that were identified in spring training with [Orioles third base coach] Tony Mansolino and he gave us some things we needed to get with Jahmai on — starting and turning double plays and lateral movement to the baseball. He’s done a lot better and he’s made strides. He’s providing a lot of different things for us offensively.”

Rylan Bannon is another player who’s making a late case for a September callup. With a pair of homers Friday night, Bannon has hit five home runs in  three games and has nine on the season. Still, he’s hitting just .165.

Bannon is making a case for Triple-A East Player of the Week, hitting .625 (5-for-8) with five home runs, six RBIs and five walks (.769 OBP).

Bannon also had an oblique injury earlier this season and has struggled with plate discipline. He worked with hitting coach Tim Gibbons and is more confident, seeing the ball better and getting pitches to hit, Kendall said.

He also shortened his swing and is being more direct to the ball.

“Gigantic week,” Kendall said. “Rylan was outstanding at the alt-site. He didn’t get out of the gate really well. He had that injury where he missed about a month. When he got back to us, he was really trying to do so much with the remaining time we have during the season.

“You’re not going to get a finer worker and a guy who really goes out there and plays the game the way it’s supposed to be played. He made some adjustments with Tim and he’s really taken off. He’s doing things to help this ballclub.”

Outfielder Yusniel Diaz is hitting just .175.  The Orioles acquired Diaz — and Bannon, pitchers Dean Kremer and Zach Pop, and infielder Breyvic Valera — from the Los Angeles Dodgers in exchange for Manny Machado in July 2018.

Diaz faced lofty expectations and has struggled with injuries. Kendall is trying to get him back on track.

“We have to get him on the field, that’s the biggest thing,” Kendall said. “We have to get him into a routine where he’s not hampered by anything — like leg injuries or turf toe. We need to get him repetitions. He needs to see a lot of games to make up for some things. He swings the bat better. He’s putting the ball in play. He has sharper contact and even his outs are more productive.

“We’ll just keep trying to go at it with him. He’s a corner outfielder. He plays occasionally in center field. He’s doing OK out there. We just have to keep working.”

Pinto on the rise: In just his second start with Delmarva on August 3rd, Jean Pinto threw six shutout innings, striking out six, to earn the Low-A East League Pitcher of the Week award. Pinto retired the final 15 batters he faced to become the first Shorebirds pitcher to win a weekly award.

Playoff picture: The top two teams in the Double-A Northeast League by winning percentage, regardless of division, will compete in a best-of-five playoff series beginning September 21st, two days after the regular season ends. With 32 games remaining, Bowie is tied with Portland for the second playoff spot. The Akron RubberDucks lead the league with a .629 winning percentage.

35 Comments

35 Comments

  1. Orioles20

    August 16, 2021 at 8:26 am

    Diaz better start to figure it out because guys like stowers are coming not to mention the guys the orioles drafted this year. Pinto looks like a real steal. Can we do more trades with the angels? Looks like we’ve gotten the better end of the deal each time.

  2. Buzz1979

    August 16, 2021 at 8:38 am

    King Kong Bundy!

  3. Baltimore Castaway

    August 16, 2021 at 9:03 am

    You have been spared the less-than-positive commentary on Yusniel Diaz on this site Todd, but it is becoming more and more difficult to see a path forward for this guy. He has played w his head in the clouds since he arrived on the scene three years ago. He’s now old for his level and will need to be put on the 40 man Roster, which isn’t going happen. Good for him that the Dodgers paid him all that money ($7M) when they did—but then again, I think that’s his issue—he already has been paid and he lacks motivation to better himself further..

    It’s a shame he looks like he could have been a helluva player…

    Lastly, it is a glaring example of how crude Dan Duquette’s analytical and Scouting tools were when he agreed to all those players (busts) w the Dodgers.

    • Rich Dubroff

      August 16, 2021 at 9:09 am

      Mike, Diaz was put on the 40-man roster in November.

      • Baltimore Castaway

        August 16, 2021 at 9:17 am

        Thanks Rich–didn’t realize that.

        They may as well bring him up and see if can play in Baltimore. They really have nothing to lose at this point—assuming he is healthy and doesn’t have; turf toe, strained calf, twisted knee, groin injury, sore elbow, bruised heel, neck stiffness, bruised ribs….let’s see–what else have I missed?? This dude’s had more alibis than Hunter (the hillbilly Trust Fund baby) Harvey…

  4. Bman

    August 16, 2021 at 9:25 am

    Diaz is looking like a bust at the moment. He has gone on some short tears when healthy so you can see the potential there. Who knows, maybe he turns it around. Much rather have Elias evaluating talent than duquette. It will be very interesting to see who goes on the 40 man and who’s left unprotected. Lots of good prospects now so will prob lose some more in rule 5 draft. But they seem willing to grab a few of our own like Tyler wells. Have to think this is the last season of signing dead weight like Franco, etc. too many prospects who should get a shot instead. And we’re looking at another top draft pick next year, at least top four, maybe number one or two.

    • Rich Dubroff

      August 16, 2021 at 9:32 am

      Bman, I don’t think the 40-man roster decisions will be terribly hard. They should have enough room to put whoever they want on the 40. Many of the best prospects don’t have to be protected yet.

  5. Tileman

    August 16, 2021 at 9:33 am

    Ok all you guys that said AR wasn’t ready. He’s already crushing it at Norfolk at the plate. Why isnt he going North to start his development at the ML level.
    Also why do we always bring up
    More scrubs when there are guys at Norfolk pitching lights outline Bauman and Braddish

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      August 16, 2021 at 9:40 am

      Tank

      • Baltimore Castaway

        August 16, 2021 at 9:59 am

        BRR,

        The Tank is looking better and better–they’re only 1.5 games behind the Diamondbacks in the “Race to the Bottom”!

        We are just going to have to make the best of things during this painful part of the re-build. Keeping our sense of humor is part of it, which you help us all with.

    • Orial

      August 16, 2021 at 11:11 am

      Play stoppage next spring would effect all players on 40 man rosters and that would end Adley’s developement. Remedy-he stays at Norfolk and plays no matter what.

    • CalsPals

      August 16, 2021 at 1:41 pm

      He’s got nothing to prove, it’s all about control…go O’s…

    • Icterus fan

      August 16, 2021 at 2:51 pm

      Hmmm. The “race to the bottom” description above got me thinking that maybe a new team name is in order. Wait for it….

      The Baltimore Bathyspheres!

      Yes, one does have to keep a sense of humor in order to maintain sanity and perspective during this dismal time.

  6. Boog Robinson Robinson

    August 16, 2021 at 9:37 am

    Why would the Norfolk players be on the west coast?

    • Rich Dubroff

      August 16, 2021 at 10:00 am

      Ken, he’s talking about the Orioles being on the West Coast.

  7. Letsgetmikey

    August 16, 2021 at 11:15 am

    I was a fan of the Frederick Keys for many years and my heart was broken when the franchise was moved to Aberdeen. After keeping an eye on the Ironbirds home game box scores the last few weeks I’m not quite amused at the attendance. Friday nite with fireworks only drew 2,500 and weeknights a whopping1,200. Frederick would draw more fans on a school nite in April with temps in the 50’s. Just saying

    • Orial

      August 16, 2021 at 11:27 am

      Interesting. Wonder if it’s about the complexes/facilities.

      • Letsgetmikey

        August 16, 2021 at 12:10 pm

        That was some of the excuses that was made when the decision came down but the lighting was better for the A ball Keys than for a game played in Iowa Thursday night

      • mstrchef13

        August 16, 2021 at 1:17 pm

        That is the reason we lost Frederick. We had to lose a franchise and the facilities at Aberdeen and Delmarva were better. It is a shame because Frederick should have been picked up by another ML team. It is impressive to get 1500 people for a game featuring players no one has any reason to get attached to, and I’m sure that other franchises are watching. I can’t imagine that this prospect league is working out the way that MLB hoped or thought it would.

    • jimcarter

      August 16, 2021 at 2:26 pm

      You’re comparing a non pandemic crowd to one in the throes of Covid. The jury is going to out until next season on drawing attendance conclusions.

  8. Orial

    August 16, 2021 at 11:25 am

    Kendall/Buck Britton–are either the heir apparent to Hyde? No matter how hard Hyde has worked there’s gotta be an “exit strategy”(borrowed that from Trump/Biden). Kendall is so proud of how many players he’s promoted to the Majors. That’s arguable. Jahmai Jones hitting .257 and still learning 2B. With Mateo here is he still on the front burner or fading away a la Yusniel Diaz? How come every single pitcher Kendall sends up has to give up 1-2 runs their first inning out? Right now it’s all about arms. Lotta pressure on Elias to up the ante on his “re-build” candidates at Delmarva,Bowie,etc. We’re gonna need a lot more than just GRod. Mr. Elias the Honeymoon period(yes I used that line yesterday too) is closing up–we’re gonna need these young men REAL soon.

  9. Buzz1979

    August 16, 2021 at 3:22 pm

    Hold on to your seats, folks, the White Sox just brought up MIKE WRIGHT!!!

  10. OriolesNumber1Fan

    August 16, 2021 at 5:25 pm

    With all the player promotions recently done, there is another the club and Mike Elias should be proud of just today. Baseball America has just published their newest farm system rankings and the Orioles made another nice move up again, so, wait for it with a drum roll…. the Orioles are now No. 2!!!!
    The Orioles were rated No. 7 in the Baseball America organizational rankings back in January. And in March, they were ranked No. 5 by MLBPipeline.com. So that was their highest rating in the 37 years Baseball America has published this information. Not sure for MLBPipeline.com. But now at number 2 they just topped that as well!!! Tremendous and great news on the work the players are doing with all the new coaching staff!!! Keep up the great work on drafting, developing and all the trades – Mike Elias!!! You’re doing exactly what you said you would do when you were hired – rebuilding up the foundation of a real competitive farm system!!! Keep it going and just ignore the crybabies, including and especially misery and company on this site!

    • Baltimore Castaway

      August 16, 2021 at 5:57 pm

      #1Fan

      It is very good to see the Orioles ranked as the second best Farm System. It just goes to show you how far off the beam this System was when he took over 3 years ago.

      This System still has a very longggg way to go to get to where they need to be.

      Key injuries to Mayo, Servideo, Baumler and Hall, delayed growth in guys like Kjerstad, Blaine Knight and Cadyn Grenier have slowed things down a bit.

      Lastly, this team has received NOTHING from the International Market in the last decade plus. This is certain to begin to change soon.

    • dlgruber1

      August 17, 2021 at 12:54 am

      Does Baseball America rank the major league teams as well?

    • CalsPals

      August 17, 2021 at 6:59 am

      Exactly, well said DL…go O’s…

  11. OriolesNumber1Fan

    August 16, 2021 at 7:57 pm

    Yeah, thanks to Dan Duquette they were way off the beam!!! But it does show they are on the right track now and how far they’ve come in three years!!! Mike Elias is a man of his word by addressing the farm system and he will continue to address going forward. He will also need to address the quality of pitching in the system which is their Achilles heel right now. It seems all their young pitching from the DD era brought up to the parent club this year does not seem to be working so far. No surprise there. But anyways, remember, the Padres and Rays both had the number 1 farm system very recently and look where they are right now. So, keep the faith and with another great draft next year and more work on the teams overseas connections with the players overseas, thing will be better soon. So don’t be suckered in by the crybabies, misery and company always crying and are looking for more company on this site. And remember one other thing, it’s pretty hard for Mike Elias to “tank” when the Orioles were already put in the cellar with the worst team ever in the great history of the Orioles before he even started!!! And remember the person responsible who put the team there with his entire body of work with ALL of his trades and drafts!!! And his loyalty to the Orioles when he was using all of Andy MacPhail’s great foundation work and Buck Showalters managing who turned this team around in a very short time to secretly behind the scenes trying to become president of the Blue Jays!!!

  12. Baltimore Castaway

    August 16, 2021 at 8:45 pm

    #1Fan

    That is a subject of great debate… I am a defender of Dan Duquette, even though he was his own worst enemy with his flatline personality. The real culprit in that sad chapter is one Peter Angelos. He enabled all the dysfunction. He allowed Brady and Buck to “whisper in his ear” and be snitches on Dan and pursue their own agendas. He’s the one who wouldn’t allow the team to invest in the International Market.

    That’s right–I said it.

    • OriolesNumber1Fan

      August 17, 2021 at 8:39 am

      Do not blame Buck for the GM’s nonsense. He was able to communicate with PA because there was no GM after Andy MacPhail resigned to be the caretaker of his sick/dying dad. And if Buck wanted the GM job that was eventually given to DD, he could have taken it then when it was first offered to him after MacPhail left and way before DD was even interviewed for the job. And Buck declined. So there was no agenda there!!! Period!!! FYI: the only player move Buck made was getting Darren O’Day off of waivers when there was no GM in place! Buck also recommended they remove the rubberized track that went around the field. This was changed for the better of the team due to safety issues because of his players cleats were slipping on this track. He also removed both circled on deck place mats that almost got Matt Wieters hurt as well for the same issue!!!
      I never heard a negative issue or complaint by Buck in the press from his players when he was manager. He ALWAYS backed his players and coaching staff and ALWAYS stated he would go to war with the 25 guys in the dugout and never wanted to discuss other teams players when there was any rumor of any player that might get traded to the Orioles. He even went after Joe Girardi when he was manager of the Yanks when Girardi was talking smack to his third base coach and accused him of stealing signs. I’ll never forget seeing Buck having to be held back physically by his coaches and players even though you could see Buck was having trouble standing because he needed knee surgery.
      I’m sure he had issues getting along with DD because of DD’s non personality and DD”s inability to communicate. And also because DD had one foot out the door on his way to Toronto as we all found out!!! So, I’m sure PA and Buck both had trust issues as him as GM for the Orioles sake. As any Owner and manager would!!! So this was ALL Dan Duquette doings!!! No one to blame but himself!!!
      Buck was an awesome manager and if anyone ever spent any time listening to him on the MLB Network or the Yanks pregame you would here how brilliant he is when it comes to baseball. He well respected in the baseball world!!! He will some day be in the Orioles Hall of Fame for all of what he did as manager and all without ever having a true number 1 starter a certain GM never gave him.

      • Baltimore Castaway

        August 17, 2021 at 9:14 am

        Your frame on how to look at Showalter is very hard to deny. And your viewpoints are very well-stated.

        I will stay with my premise that Angelos was the one who broke “chain-of-command” rules in allowing Showalter and Anderson to have secret chats regularly–this is a death-knell for any organization, let alone a MLB Club.

        Duquette is definitely a very odd fellow. But he did great things too in putting that over-achieving Club together. Angelos gave him very little to work with in terms of Staffing and Scouting.

        The last item to mention here is that Showalter is very “old school” and is unwilling to embrace the new-school analytics in today’s game—this doesn’t make him a bad person, it makes him someone that these young GMs in todays game will not hire–and that’s a very sad thing to see.

        • OriolesNumber1Fan

          August 17, 2021 at 1:04 pm

          I guess we agree to disagree on this subject. But how you or anyone could TRUST Dan Duquette when he was looking to jump ship to the Toronto Blue Jays off the coattails of Andy MacPhail’s work to assemble the core team and then Buck Showalters managerial skills who turned around the Orioles as fast as he did is beyond me. But I’m guessing Duquette’s backstabbing/back room maneuver to Toronto was his own undoing and IS the primary reason why NO owner ever hired him as a GM or any other trusted front office position ever again. I guess owners and I both understand how important it is to TRUST a GM to run their company.
          If I was an owner I wouldn’t want my trusted GM to make terrible trades for my current players, essentially a tear down as you would, and then skip to another team as president and then to top it off also be in my own division. What better way to eliminate one team from competition in your own division then basically tearing down one team and then jumping ship to another. And because of all of this, you can still question why PA didn’t trust DD and asked Buck Showalter and Brady Anderson their opinions on players???
          I still think that because the Orioles basically blocked his move to Toronto and wanted a draft pick(s) from Toronto as compensation for him which Toronto then seemed disinterested to do was the reason DD unloaded all the players at the 2018 trade deadline and didn’t hold out for better quality players! I think Duquette knew the writing was on the wall that he would be fired, so he seemed disinterested in putting any time in to making these trades.

  13. dlgruber1

    August 16, 2021 at 9:16 pm

    Just looked this up, it’s the makeup of the Rays roster that went to the WS last season. Thought some might find it interesting:

    Trades: 15
    Draft: 5
    MLB free agency: 3
    International free agency: 3
    Other: 2

    • DcOsfan

      August 16, 2021 at 9:47 pm

      Curious- of the 15 players from trades – how many were at the MLB level and how many were MiLBers who eventually found their way to the MLB level?

    • Baltimore Castaway

      August 16, 2021 at 9:57 pm

      The Tampa Rays are playing 3D Chess with most other team’s playing chess in MLB.

      Spending a lot of time in Florida this Summer… they are joy to watch. They hustle, they mix and match on a daily basis, their BP comes in every night and gets the job done…they have a Manager who has handle on every play. Their payroll is like $60M–a fraction of the Yankees and Red Sox…

      Am hoping that this is the model that Elias aspires to…

  14. BirdsCaps

    August 17, 2021 at 11:32 am

    Kendall managed Aberdeen for many seasons and was one of the nicest people in the minors. Rather than signing a few autographs, he’d come out and have conversations with the fans. I’m hoping he gets a chance as a bench coach in the majors.

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