Another Friday highlight for the Orioles farm was Cesar Prieto hitting his fourth and fifth homers of the season.
Triple-A: Norfolk Tides 5, Durham (Rays) 4
The next best thing to checking the Tides box score and seeing that it was a Grayson Rodriguez start is seeing that it was a Kyle Bradish start. Although Bradish allowed three runs, two were unearned after a Rylan Bannon error. His pitching line looks great with only the earned runs: 6 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 8 SO. That gets a Stone Cold Steve Austin-vintage “Oh, hell yeah!” Bradish has a 1.20 ERA and 0.73 WHIP over his first three starts. He built up to 86 pitches in this outing. Perhaps we’ll see him in Baltimore once he’s stretched out to 100.
Norfolk’s five runs were all scored in the first two innings of the game, after which they held on the rest of the way to improve their season record to 11-5, remaining in first place in the International League East. It was a good game for anybody who wants some infield prospects to force their way to Baltimore: Rylan Bannon and Tyler Nevin had five hits between them.
Bannon and Nevin each homered for the second time this season and stole a base; Nevin added a pair of doubles. Both are OPSing at least .900. I dig it, man. Those hoping for outfield prospects had less excitement: Kyle Stowers, Robert Neustrom, and Johnny Rizer all went hitless, with Rizer striking out three times.
Minor league Rule 5 pick Cole Uvila continued his stretch of scoreless relief appearances to begin the 2022 season. He’s yet to even allow a hit in six innings! Although he did walk four guys total, including one last night, so, you know, a little bit less of that, Cole.
Double-A: Bowie Baysox 2, Akron (Guardians) 1
This was not exactly a barnburner. The Baysox and RubberDucks combined for 11 hits over the whole game and each team’s batters struck out 10 times. Until the ninth inning, the only offense was the teams trading solo home runs early in the game. Gunnar Henderson delivered his first Bowie regular season bomb in the bottom of the first. The other prospects you care about went hitless. Akron’s Marcos Gonzalez answered in the third, and that was that, until the ninth.
The walkoff happened quickly. Bowie’s leadoff batter was outfielder Zach Watson, scuffling with a .528 OPS to start the season. Akron’s Kevin Kelly hit him with a pitch. The next man up, fellow outfielder Dylan Harris, hit a double and Watson raced all the way around the bases for the walkoff win. It looked like this:
I think everybody who stayed to the end got their money’s worth. Harris, by the way, was one of the undrafted free agents after the truncated 2020 draft. He had three hits in this game. He’s only played in three Bowie games to date, so that 1.643 OPS is the smallest of sample sizes, but hey, good job.
Another guy from that 2020 undrafted class, Brandon Young, made the start for Bowie. One thing about Young is he has an appearance that would allow him to convincingly play the role of Jesus. More relevant to this game, he allowed just one run – Gonzalez’s homer – over four innings, otherwise scattering two other hits and a walk. Young only needed 49 pitches to get through four. I’m not sure why they pulled him there, but he’s only gone 4.1, 5, and 4 innings in his first three starts, so it does seem to be part of the team’s plan.
Following Young, pitchers Cameron Bishop and Ryan Conroy combined for five scoreless innings. Bishop struck out six over three innings. Conroy added another three strikeouts in his two innings. Nice work.
High-A: Aberdeen IronBirds 7, Greensboro (Pirates) 5
We need to talk about César Prieto. The Orioles signed the 22-year-old Cuban infielder back in January. Some pundits said, “He might move quickly!” I didn’t believe it, I guess because my mind is stuck on Dan Duquette’s older Cuban signings like Henry Urrutia and Dariel Alvarez, who amounted to nothing.
I don’t know if Prieto is going to be different from them, but I do know this: He homered twice on Friday night and he’s now hit five home runs in 13 games for a combined .347/.377/.694 batting line. The fact that he already had foreign professional experience seems to have helped him make a smooth transition to the American minor leagues. I wonder how quickly the Orioles might consider moving him up. That might depend on how quickly a Bowie infielder gets promoted to Norfolk…
The IronBirds, like the Tides, are in first place in their division. This win powered them to a 10-3 record. Pretty good! They were able to win this game with late offense. The teams were tied 3-3 after three innings and Aberdeen just kept getting clutch hits. Connor Norby was on base twice out of the leadoff spot, and fellow 2021 draftees John Rhodes and Collin Burns were also in the multi-hit club. Neither Colton Cowser nor Coby Mayo played in this one. I would tell you why if I knew.
Low-A: Myrtle Beach (Cubs) 5, Delmarva Shorebirds 2
Not much to say about this one. 2020 first round pick Pete Crow-Armstrong almost single-handedly beat Delmarva, with two hits, a walk, and two runs driven in.
Something I have written about this Shorebirds roster and will write again as the early months of the season go along is it doesn’t have very many big prospect names. What it has is a whole lot of former international signings who will be trying to play their way into better prospect stock. One to highlight here is 19-year-old outfielder Mishael Deson, acquired from the Rockies in 2020. In Friday’s game, Deson singled and walked, and he stole second base each time. He’s batting over .300 through 12 games.
Although he ended up taking the loss, 19-year-old righty Juan De Los Santos also merits a mention. He’s sporting a 1.38 ERA in three games on the young season. De Los Santos added five strikeouts to his season tally in a 4.1 inning outing, giving up the one run on three hits and a walk. Three Shorebirds relievers gave up four runs the rest of the way to put it out of reach away from Delmarva.
Saturday’s Scheduled Games
- Norfolk: vs. Durham, 6:35. Starter: Zac Lowther
- Bowie: vs. Akron, 6:35. Starter: Antonio Velez
- Aberdeen: at Greensboro, 6:30. Starter: TBD
- Delmarva: vs. Myrtle Beach, 7:05. Starter: Ryan Long