Josh Michael: Undefeated Shorebirds are worth the price of admission

The 2018 minor league season is in full swing now for the Orioles’ four full-season affiliates, and while there is plenty of talent throughout the affiliates’ rosters, the low Single-A Delmarva Shorebirds are the standouts thus far.

I knew the Shorebirds were going to have a good pitching staff thanks in large part to having seven pitchers currently in the Top 30 Orioles’ prospects list per MLBPipeline.com. Their offense was anticipated to be solid, but had some unknowns in it, as well.

Thus far in 2018, the Shorebirds are like watching a high-quality improv group: You know it’s going to be fun and great to watch, but you don’t know who the star is going to be.

After Tuesday’s win over Hickory, the Shorebirds are a perfect 6-0 and have outscored their opponents 45-19. It’s not as though the offense has just been crushing opponents into submission either. The Shorebirds have won four of their six games by two or fewer runs.

Offensively, they entered Tuesday hitting a ridiculous .310 as a team with an .807 OPS. The team also leads the league in RBIs, runs and hits. Of the 12 Shorebirds to come to the plate thus far, six of them are hitting better than .300, including three of them .400 or better.

While the offense has certainly done a lot of damage, that pitching staff I mentioned earlier has also been a star. The Shorebirds have already recorded two shutout wins and have the second-lowest team ERA in the South Atlantic League. The staff leads the league in strikeouts.

I could go on for a while about each of the Shorebirds players that have gotten off to terrific starts, but I do want to highlight a few of them.

On the pitching staff, two of those top prospects, right-hander Michael Baumann and left-hander Zac Lowther, produced scoreless starts in their first turns in the rotation. Baumann picked up the win on opening day with five scoreless innings that saw him strike out 10. Not to be outdone, Lowther picked up a win in his first start on Monday with six scoreless innings, striking out 13. Oh, yeah, Lowther also did not allow a hit in his start and walked just one.

At the plate, two guys have really stuck out to me in outfielder Will Robertson and third baseman Trevor Craport. Neither player is ranked in the top 30 prospects list, but both are off to terrific starts in 2018. Robertson is hitting .348 (8-for-23) with two doubles, one home run, five RBIs and has scored six runs. Craport is hitting .353 (6-for-17) with a double, triple, seven RBIs (tied for team lead) and has scored five runs.

I know the Shorebirds are not going undefeated in 2018 and the pace that several of their players have gotten off to will likely not be maintained, but there is no doubt that they are worth the price of admission in 2018, whether you prefer offense or pitching.

Josh Michael blogs about the Orioles for Baby Birdland. Follow him on Twitter: @BabyBirdland. His opinions on the Orioles will appear here as part of MASNsports.com’s longstanding initiative of welcoming guest bloggers to our pages. All opinions expressed are those of the guest bloggers, who are not employed by MASNsports.com but are just as passionate about their baseball as our roster of writers.

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