He may no longer be young enough to get listed on some of those top prospects lists, and his defense has been questioned at times, but Robbie Widlansky has simply had one of the best offensive seasons of anyone on the O’s farm this year for Double-A Bowie.
Consider that he has hit well against both left (.305) and right-handed pitchers (.318). Consider that he is second among all Orioles minor leaguers in batting average and first in RBIs. Consider his .387 average with runners in scoring position. Consider that he excelled down the stretch as Bowie was fighting to make the playoffs. In 27 August games, the lefty-batting Widlansky batted .363 with 11 doubles, two homers, 20 RBIs and a .980 OPS.
He has tough competition from players like L.J. Hoes and Ty Kelly, but Widlansky has emerged as a solid candidate to be named the Orioles’ minor league Player of the Year.
On the season, in 128 games, he is batting .316 with 35 doubles, eight homers, 82 RBIs and an OPS of .850.
The 27-year-old Widlansky was drafted in Round 11 of 2007 out of Florida Atlantic. He won the Carolina League batting title with Single-A Frederick, hitting .340 in 2009.
“I think Widlansky, since he signed with us, has always been a very potent hitter,” Bowie manager Gary Kendall said. “He’s a guy that sometimes gets slighted because people don’t look too much at what he contributes defensively. He’s a better runner than people think. He’s 11-of-12 stealing bases.
“He gets hits against lefties and righties. He has a track record, I think he won a batting title in the Carolina League. It doesn’t surprise me that he’s hitting .316. He works very, very hard and he could have a 3-for-4 day, but if he has that one out, he’s not happy.”
Widlansky played 159 games in 2010 and 2011 in Bowie and this year has played both corner outfield positions and first base, along with serving as the Baysox DH.
“He’s a guy the Orioles should take a look at,” Kendall said. “I know he’s on the radar because when Dan Duquette was here, he asked about him. He’s a guy that is not forgotten about in this organization, and I think he will get a good opportunity in the future.”
In the Eastern League stats, Widlansky ranks second in the league in on-base percentage at .404. He is tied for second in doubles, third in batting average and RBIs, fourth in walks and fifth in hits.
Former big leaguer Denny Hocking, the Baysox batting coach, said Widlansky is a smart hitter who just worked very hard this year to get better.
“He deserves all the credit for the work that he has put in this year and the maturity we see from him. He’s been a guy that has always been able to hit. His ability to focus with runners in scoring position is a testament to his focus and maturity,” Hocking said.
In addition to working with Hocking this year, Widlansky also picked up tips and pointers from instructor Terry Crowley and Mike Boulanger, the Orioles minor league hitting coordinator.
“He told me after one game about an at-bat where he had a pitch down and away, and he said it was a pitch that normally he’d just shoot that ball into left field, but said the stuff he learned from all three of us has allowed him to be more patient and look for balls more middle in and try to drive them. He’s not afraid to hit with two strikes. His knowledge of what he’s trying to do at the plate has really risen this year,” Hocking said.
Hocking sees Widlansky as a player that still has that major league chance even as younger players are considered better prospects and often get more hype and attention.
“You can get misled if you only see him once or twice throughout the year,” Hocking said. “But there’s a method for his madness every time he goes up to the plate. He’s capable of doing anything on the field. Whether it be hit for power or look at his average with runners in scoring position or look at his walks and strikeouts (64 walks to 74 strikeouts).
“He’s a guy we hadn’t asked to bunt all year, and then the other night he comes up two men on, nobody out in the ninth in a tie game and lays down a perfect bunt. He’s a pro. He’s a guy that can get overlooked until you see him on an everyday basis,” Hocking said.
Widlansky and the Baysox completed the regular season Monday with a record of 78-64. That is the third most wins in Bowie history behind only the 1994 and 2008 seasons when Bowie won 84.
Bowie is back in the playoffs for the first time since 2008 and will host Akron Wednesday and Thursday at 7:05 p.m., in the first two games of a best-of-five series. Dylan Bundy gets the start on Wednesday night.
To purchase your playoff tickets visit www.baysoxshop.com or call 301-464-4880.