The official ending of a playoff run, plus more from minor league award winners

The Orioles’ playoff hopes for 2017 were dashed a while ago. But it became official last night that they will not make the postseason. It had looked in the last few days like a losing season was in the offing for the Orioles. That became official last night as well. Double dagger.

With their 9-6 loss to Tampa Bay, the Orioles are 74-82 with six games left. They are assured of their first losing season since 2011.

With the team having lost 17 of their last 23 games, the Orioles are basically limping to the finish line. Fans and players alike have experienced frustration, disappointment and, probably, many other emotions.

A bad rotation is mostly to blame, but an inconsistent offense was a problem too. The middle of the order struggled to produce as expected and the Orioles will finish with the worst starting pitching in the league.

There will be plenty of time over the days ahead and the offseason to look back and ahead. But last night the inevitable became official: The 2017 Orioles were not nearly good enough.

On the brighter side: The Orioles honored their 2017 minor league award winners in a pregame ceremony before last night’s game.

The winners are:

* Brooks Robinson Player of the Year: Austin Hays (SIngle-A Frederick/Double-A Bowie)
* Jim Palmer Pitcher of the Year: Alex Wells (Single-A Delmarva)
* Cal Ripken Sr. Player Development Award: Bowie coach Butch Davis
* Jim Russo Scout of the Year: Kirk Fredriksson
* Elrod Hendricks Community Service Award: Austin Wynns (Bowie)

Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette was among those presenting the awards last night. He talked about Hays’ rapid rise on the farm this year, from Frederick to Bowie to Baltimore.

“He had a terrific year,” Duquette said “Just a year ago, he was in college. He is the first player from the draft of 2016 to reach the major leagues. He got through the minor leagues so fast, they forgot to list him as a prospect. He’s got all the tools and a terrific work ethic, and he got his 100th RBI the other night. He will join other winners of this award in our clubhouse, like Trey Mancini and Chance Sisco.”

Garabez-Rosa-at-bat-white-Bowie-sidebar.jpgThe Orioles also recognized Bowie’s Garabez Rosa as Eastern League batting champion, Frederick’s Ademar Rifaela as Carolina League MVP and Ryan Mountcastle, who ended the year with Bowie, as Carolina League batting champion.

Before they took the field to be honored, they took the mic for a press conference. Here are some quotes from the award winners published last night. More follow.

Mountcastle on hitting .300 his last 12 games at Bowie: “Just getting comfortable. I think the pitch sequences are a little different as you move up. They are able to throw different pitches in different counts and everything for strikes. So had to get used to that. Just being patient and confident and sticking with everything in my approach.”

Davis, what stood out coaching Hays in Bowie?: “His work habits. The way he went about things. He came up from Frederick and we said, ‘Just show us what you did there.’ The way he hustled and the way he went about things in the cage. That was refreshing. You didn’t have to tell him anything to do.”

Duquette on Rifaela: “He showed excellent power with over 20 home runs and put together the kind of season that really impressed the managers in the league that voted him MVP. We are very proud of him.”

Wynns on his solid year: “What helped me was going to the DR (Dominican Republic, over the winter). Getting reps and getting at-bats. Just keep playing and keep grinding. It put me in a good spot and I learned a lot.”

Rosa on being honored after such a long time in the organization: “I’m thankful to God, first of all, and thankful to the Orioles and very thankful to the opportunity the Orioles provided me.”

Rosa on how being versatile on defense can help him: “The way I see it, it is to add value. This is a very difficult sport, and I’m able to play different positions. All I want to do is help my team and, hopefully, one day help the major league team as well.”

Rifaela on help from fellow Curacao native Jonathan Schoop: “He is everything. Ever since I signed he has been there with me, giving guidance, information and helpful feedback. He is a guy I can always count on and has been a key to my career.”

Fredriksson on seeing one of his picks, eighth-rounder Trey Mancini, doing so well: “I like it when players make me look smart. I’m not going to lie. If you ask Dan, I was probably chirping a little before the eighth round about Trey. Luckily, he lasted that long for us. He has made us all look good.”


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