Orioles' farm system retains No. 1 ranking; McCann on his scoreless inning - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Rich Dubroff

Orioles’ farm system retains No. 1 ranking; McCann on his scoreless inning

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SAN DIEGO—MLB Pipeline has named the Orioles’ minor league system the best in baseball for the fifth straight rankings. The Orioles’ first No. 1 ranking came in midseason 2021, and they’ve been on top in both of last year’s rankings and now this year’s as well.

MLB.com began ranking minor league systems in 2015.

The Orioles have six players ranked in MLB Pipeline’s Top 100. Bowie shortstop Jackson Holliday is ranked first, Norfolk outfielder Colton Cowser (14), Norfolk outfielder/first baseman Heston Kjerstad (25), Norfolk infielder Coby Mayo (28), Aberdeen catcher Samuel Basallo 50 and Norfolk infielder Joey Ortiz (54).

Four National League Central teams — Pittsburgh, Milwaukee, Chicago and Cincinnati — are ranked 2 through 5.

Of the other American League East teams, Tampa Bay is seventh, Boston 16th, New York 21st and Toronto 25th.

The Houston Astros are 30th.

Baseball America also ranked the Orioles as having the game’s best far system in their midseason list.

McCann’s scoreless inning: With the Orioles trailing 10-1 heading into the bottom of the eighth inning during Tuesday night’s 10-3 loss to the San Diego Padres, manager Brandon Hyde asked backup catcher James McCann to pitch.

McCann pitched a scoreless inning, allowing two hits, and doesn’t have a sore arm a day later.

“I think I threw harder in the cage warming up than on the field,” he said, laughing.

He didn’t dare try a fastball.

“See how slow I can throw it and make sure I was throwing strikes,” McCann said. “That’s what I tell position players every time they throw and every time I catch them is ‘throw it as slow as you can for strikes.’ The reason I say that is there’s no such thing as throwing above hitting speed. There is something to throw it below hitting speed.

“If you’re just out there playing catch, then it’s like batting practice. I’m a big believer in position players, see how slow you can throw it and let your defense make the plays.”

McCann got out of the inning unscathed.

“I wish we weren’t in that situation. I understand that situation. I understand we’ve got to save the bullpen,” McCann said. “Go out there and try and make them hit it right at guys. No one wants to do it, but you understand in the moment the importance of it for today, for the next few days just to save our bullpen.”

McCann said that relief pitching wasn’t on his bucket list.

“It’s definitely something I’ll remember,” he said. “I can’t say I every dreamt of it, but it’s definitely a memory I’ll have forever.”

Catcher Adley Rutschman greets pitchers at the end of each inning to debrief or encourage them. McCann doesn’t remember what Rutschman told him.

“The only thing I remember is [second baseman Adam] Frazier saying, ‘that’s how you navigate the top of the lineup. Good job.’”

Notes: Manager Brandon Hyde held Aaron Hicks out of the lineup for the second game with a back injury. He hopes that Hicks can pinch-hit. … After Thursday’s offday, Kyle Gibson, Cole Irvin and Kyle Bradish will pitch the weekend series in Oakland.

Call for questions: I’ll be answering Orioles questions in the next few days. Please email your questions to: [email protected].

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