A look at two of the most improved players on the O’s farm

What a wild scene at Wrigley Field last night. And yes, 71 years is long enough. The Chicago Cubs beat the Los Angeles Dodgers to advance to the World Series for the first time since 1945. Now they look for their first world championship since 1908.

Between 1908 and 1945, the Cubs lost the World Series seven times. The Cleveland Indians, the American League champs, have not won the World Series since 1948. The Indians will host the Fall Classic opener on Tuesday night. If there is a Game 7, it would be played on Wednesday, Nov. 2.

According to ESPN Stats and Info and Elias Sports, the combined years for both teams since their last World Series title is 174 years, the most ever. The previous was 129 years when the Houston Astros and Chicago White Sox played in 2005.

Now onto to an Orioles-related topic.

Baseballs glove.jpgIf the goal of the Orioles’ player development operation is to get players to improve and get closer to the major leagues, then two players who fit that bill big time this season were outfielder Cedric Mullins and reliever Jimmy Yacabonis.

Both had very solid years and showed promise for the future. And neither was a high draft pick. In fact, both were 13th-round selections with Yacabonis drafted out of St. Joseph’s University in 2013 and Mullins out of Campbell University in 2015.

Listed at just 5-foot-8 and 175 lbs., Mullins was the leadoff batter and center fielder for Single-A Delmarva. In 124 games, Mullins hit .273/.321/.464 with 37 doubles, 10 triples, 14 homers, 79 runs, 30 steals and 55 RBIs. Yep, he filled up the stat sheet.

Mullins, who turned 22 on Oct. 1, is a switch-hitter who posted better stats hitting lefty. Batting left-handed, he hit .290 with an OPS of .831. Batting right-handed, he hit .217/.632.

Mullins got better as the year got longer. In the second half he hit .293/.335/.510 with an OPS of .844. Over his last 10 games for the Shorebirds, he hit .419 with five doubles, three homers and 10 RBIs.

An above-average runner, Mullins showed a polished and impressive approach at the plate. As a shorter player that was not a high draft pick, he’ll have to prove himself at each level on the farm. But he sure had a solid 2016 season and we should see him at Single-A Frederick next year.

The 24-year-old Yacabonis went 2-4 with a 2.64 ERA between Frederick and Double-A Bowie. In 64 2/3 innings, he gave up 51 hits and 20 walks with 67 strikeouts. Like Mullins, he improved during the year, to the point where his stats were better after he moved up to Bowie. There, he posted an ERA of 2.03 with a 1.08 WHIP and 46 strikeouts over 44 1/3 innings.

Yacabonis has shown a plus fastball since his first day in the pro ranks. He pitched this year between 93 and 95 mph, touching 97 mph with a solid slider and changeup. But he relied mostly on his fastball, which showed good sink at times.

Yacabonis needs to be added to the Orioles’ 40-man roster next month to avoid being eligible for the Rule 5 draft and the Orioles seem likely to add him.

Right now, he is pitching for Peoria in the Arizona Fall League. In five innings, he has allowed three hits and one run with two walks, six strikeouts and a .167 average against.

While on the subject of minor league talent, the latest edition of the Orioles’ top 10 prospects will be released tomorrow by Baseball America. Dylan Bundy, who was the O’s No. 1 prospect per Baseball America at the end of every year from 2012-2015, no longer qualifies for the list. So who will be the Orioles’ new No. 1 prospect when the list is released Monday?

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