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Five of the 10 players in the starting lineup for the Norfolk Tides on Wednesday are in MLB Pipeline’s Top 100 prospects. Four of them, leftfielder Colton Cowser (34th) second baseman Connor Norby (95th) rightfielder Jordan Westburg (66th) and shortstop Joey Ortiz (89th) were in the first five slots in the batting order.
The starting pitcher was DL Hall (87th) who allowed two runs on four hits in six innings in Norfolk’s 3-2 loss to Jacksonville. Hall struck out nine and walked one and lowered his ERA to 3.29.
A true major leaguer, reliever Dillon Tate, who’s rehabbing a right forearm injury, threw a scoreless inning, allowing one hit.
The loss was only the ninth against 25 wins for the Tides, the team with the best record and best talent in Triple-A.
“How many guys on the Top 100 list? That’s ridiculous,” Orioles first baseman/designated hitter Ryan O’Hearn said.
O’Hearn had two brief stints with the Tides this season, and saw how deep their team was.
“You look and see Lewin Díaz batting seventh or eighth in that lineup with an OPS of over [.900] in the minor leagues, O’Hearn said.
“It’s pretty telling as to what you’ve got on that team. That’s a minor league juggernaut. I think their record speaks for itself…From one through nine, that lineup is tough, it’s not like a lot of Triple-A lineups where the first three guys can swing it and after that, it falls off. You have quality at-bats up and down the lineup, power up and down the lineup, and the hitting coaches do a great job.”
Manager Brandon Hyde saw the Tides players during spring training, and he was impressed at what he saw.
“What’s cool is that a lot of those guys are prospects,” Hyde said. “It’s not a lot of veteran guys that have been up and down in Triple-A and the big leagues for six or seven years. It’s a pretty young, offensive Triple-A club. Awesome to see that they’re swinging the bat the way they are. A lot of guys having really good years, but it’s a really fun team. We saw that in spring training and we’ve seen a few of them up here and love that they’re swinging the bat well up here.”
Díaz is one of the few who have substantial major league experience (112 games with Miami). Outfielder Daz Cameron (73 games with Detroit) joined him in the lineup on Wednesday.
Hall is joined in the rotation by Cole Irvin, who’s started 65 games with Oakland and the Orioles. Bruce Zimmermann, who started last year’s Orioles’ home opener, Drew Rom, who was recalled by the Orioles on Tuesday and Spenser Watkins, currently on the injured list with an injured finger have been regular starters.
“The pitching side is pretty incredible, too,” O’Hearn said. “It’s unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. You’ve got to give credit to the org. They’ve developed guys to that point where they’re all knocking on the door to the major leagues and they’re playing together as a team.
“It’s a good energy and good mix. If you’ve got to be in Triple-A, I couldn’t think of a better team to be on in Triple-A. You’re going to get five or six [at-bats]s because the lineup turns over so many times.”
Pitching’s good. It’s all good. I don’t know if there’s a secret other than really good players and coaches that can really develop guys and they have. They similarity as far as plan and approach, how the hitters are going to attack pitchers and stuff is very similar to how they do it here. If there was a model for how to run a Triple-A team or how to develop guys, it would be this team.”
Notes: Catcher Anthony Bemboom hit a two-run home run for Norfolk’s two runs. …Hyde will miss Saturday’s game to attend the graduation of his daughter, Aria from Syracuse University. Bench coach Fredi González will manage in his place. …Kyle Bradish (1-1, 5.95), Tyler Wells (2-1, 3.15) and Kyle Gibson (4-2, 4.40) face the Pittsburgh Pirates’ Johan Oviedo (2-3, 5.59), Roansy Contreras (3-3, 4.74) and Mitch Keller (4-1, 2.72) this weekend. …First baseman Samuel Basallo had three hits in Single-A Delmarva’s 2-0 loss to Down East. The Shorebirds had just four hits. Seven-footer Jared Beck pitched four shutout innings, allowing five hits.
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