O's game blog: Kyle Bradish faces Seattle at the Yard

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During a season when the Orioles have played so many close games – with 30 of 51, or 59 percent, decided by one or two runs – the last three Orioles games were blowouts. All three produced 10-run margins.

Sunday at Boston the Orioles lost 12-2 to the Red Sox, and then Monday night the O's beat the Sox 10-0 at Fenway Park. And last night the Orioles fell behind 8-0 in the third inning and were held to just five hits in a 10-0 loss to Seattle. Yep, back-to-back 10-0 games, so at least the run differential is zero for the two games.

But the Orioles fell to 21-30 with that loss that started a three-game series and eight-game homestand against the Mariners, Guardians and Cubs. The O’s are now 12-12 at home. They had a chance to produce a month of .500 baseball, but instead finished May at 14-16. Their last non-losing-record month was July 2019, when they went 12-12.

The Orioles have been held to two runs or fewer in 24 games this season, and five hits or fewer 12 times.

Baltimore is now 7-9 in series-opening games and 9-25 when their opponent scores first. They are 5-22 when they score three or fewer runs. Over their past 13 games the Orioles have a 7-6 record, and they are 15-16 in 31 games since April 30.

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Cedric Mullins continues the work and tweaks to get his bat rolling

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After hitting two balls last night that he felt were pretty squared up and neither resulted in a hit, O’s center fielder Cedric Mullins continues to work to get his stats more in line with his own expectations of himself.

While no one around the Orioles seems concerned about his current stats, they are well off what he posted during a 2021 season that ended with him as the unanimous choice for Most Valuable Oriole and finishing ninth for the American League MVP Award. He posted an .878 OPS and recorded the first 30 home runs/30 stolen bases season in Orioles history.

He set the bar pretty darn high last year.

“That’s on me. That is a good thing,” Mullins said this afternoon in the Orioles clubhouse.

Through 50 games he is batting .236/.296/.365/.662, and he is batting just .169 (11-for-65) with an OPS of .410 his past 16 games.

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O's work on command with hard-throwing, young Delmarva reliever

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The Orioles have begun the process of building a bullpen with several flamethrowers for the late innings. Throughout baseball, we see playoff-caliber teams that seem to have one mid-to-high 90s velocity reliever after another to parade to the mound.

And up and down the Baltimore farm, the Orioles are looking to develop some hard throwers that could one day find their way to the majors. Right now, at low Single-A Delmarva, the O's have a young Dominican-born right-hander who has hit 100 mph. But, like his velocity, his walk rate is high too. 

So the process to harness that control and command is now underway at ballparks throughout the Carolina League. 

That Shorebirds roster is loaded with young international talent. That part of the O’s pipeline is starting to show its stuff. But there are also players there that are more long-term projects, like 21-year-old pitcher Alejandro Mendez.

When I ranked the top O’s international prospects in February, Mendez was No. 20 on that list, mostly because he has some of the best arm strength in the club’s international program. He has touched 98 mph this year and hit 99 and even 100 on some pitches in the rookie-level Florida Complex League in 2021.

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O's game blog: The homestand begins against Seattle

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After a 4-4 road trip where they went 1-2 at New York and 3-2 at Boston, the Orioles return home tonight to open an eight-game homestand where they will face the Mariners and Gaurdians for three games each and the Cubs for a two-game series.

The Orioles are 12-11 at home for the year and 4-2-1 in seven home series. They went 3-4 on their last homestand against the Yankees and Rays, and are 7-5 in the past 12 home games at Oriole Park.

The Orioles improved to 6-2 in rubber match games when they won Monday night 10-0 at Boston to win that series. Ryan Mountcastle’s solo homer in the first provided a 2-0 lead following Trey Mancini’s RBI triple. Ramón Urías added a two-run shot and Anthony Santander hit a three-run blast in the ninth, his team-leading ninth of the season. The Orioles hit eight homers in the Boston series and have hit 15 over their past 12 games.

The Orioles improved to 4-4 in series against American League East teams after going 3-19-2 in such series last season. They are 11-16 against AL East teams, including a 5-3 record versus the Red Sox.

Four shutouts of the 2022 season:

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Austin Hays on Alex Cora's comments and more

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The Orioles' level of play has improved, no doubt, over the team that lost 110 games in 2021. That club won just 20 of 76 American League East division games (.263) last year and the current Orioles are 11-16 (.407) in the division.

They just completed a two-week run of games versus the AL East and went 7-8 against the Yankees, Rays, Yankees again and Red Sox. This run started with three straight losses at home to the Yankees and ended with a 7-5 stretch.

The Orioles have gone 4-9 versus the Yankees and 7-7 combined against the Rays and Red Sox, a year after going a combined 7-31 against those two clubs.

Red Sox manager Alex Cora threw the Orioles some props with reporters after Baltimore hammered his team 10-0 last night to win that series, three victories to two.

“Stuff-wise, they’re (pitching) really good,” Cora told reporters Monday night. “You see it. Everybody sees it. We saw it early in the season. … I'm not surprised, because that's how it started in Houston. It started with pitching.”

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The series win in Boston and a 50-game schedule analysis

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When the Orioles beat the Boston Red Sox 10-0 it was an impressive way to end a five-game series and an eight-game American League East road trip in which they went 4-4 at New York and Boston.

The Orioles are playing better within their division this year, producing this stunning stat: They have already won more series against the AL East in 2022 then they did in all of the 2021 season.

Last year the Orioles went 3-19-2 in series play within the division, and this season they are 4-4, with their win last night providing a series victory over Boston. They are 1-3 in series against the Yankees, 1-1 versus the Rays and 2-0 against the Red Sox. They are 4-9 in games against New York, 2-4 against Tampa Bay and 5-3 versus Boston.

That is a record of 11-16 (.407) versus the AL East after going 20-56 (.263) last season. Winning through the year at their current percentage against the division would produce a final mark this season of 31-45 against AL East teams. Better. Progress.

Right-hander Tyler Wells was so good Monday night, throwing six scoreless innings on two hits and 88 pitches as Boston batters went 2-for-20 against him. Keep in mind the Red Sox came into this game averaging 7.3 runs per game over their previous 19 games and had scored six runs or more in eight of their previous 11 games. They had 10 extra-base hits Sunday and just four hits on Monday night.

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O's game blog: The road trip finale at Boston

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The Orioles wrap up a two-city, eight-game road trip tonight at Boston, playing the fifth and final game of their series at Fenway Park. The winner of tonight’s game wins the series, which is tied at two wins each.

O’s pitching allowed five doubles and five homers Sunday as the Red Sox rolled to a 12-2 win – the Orioles' most lopsided loss of the season. Boston led 7-1 after five innings and then added five runs and four hits in the last of the eighth.

Lefty Bruce Zimmermann allowed six runs over four innings to fall to 2-3 with a 4.53 ERA. He has allowed nine homers his past two starts and 12 in the last four after giving up just one home run over his first six starts of 2022.

O’s starting pitchers began this year with an ERA of 2.97 through their first 15 games. But the rotation ERA is 6.99 and has produced just three quality starts over the past 19 games since May 11.

Right-hander Tyler Wells (1-4, 4.30 ERA) gets tonight’s start. For the year, Wells has thrown 37 2/3 innings, allowing 38 hits with six walks to 25 strikeouts. He has recorded a 1.168 WHIP with a 1.4 walk rate and 6.0 strikeout rate.

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The O's build-a-'pen from almost scratch has been working big so far

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Can you build a bullpen and get significant contributions from other teams' castoffs and have that bullpen perform about as well as any in baseball? So far, for the Orioles, that answer is yes.

Over time we will see if this bullpen can keep up its impressive start and how the ‘pen will hold up when having to cover so many innings. But if we gave a 49-game grade, how could they get anything other than an A?

Even in losing 12-2 Sunday, right-hander Cody Sedlock helped preserve the bullpen for tonight by pitching three innings plus in his major league debut. He and Marcos Diplán combined to give up six runs, but no other pitchers were needed on a day when starter Bruce Zimmermann allowed five homers and pitched just four innings.

The O’s ‘pen, in having this big year, has been a real key in the team’s overall improvement and ability to beat good teams and win some close games. The Orioles seem to be slowly getting better at winning those close games as the year goes on.

Through Saturday’s games, the Baltimore 'pen had an ERA of 3.00 to rank second behind Houston at 2.53. And the O’s bullpen compiled a 2.61 ERA in May, also second to the Astros, whose relievers are at 1.94 for the month.

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O's game blog: Looking for another win at Fenway Park

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The Orioles (20-28) and Red Sox (22-25) split a doubleheader on Saturday with Boston winning the opener 5-3 before the Baltimore bullpen allowed one unearned run and no walks over 5 1/3 innings in the nightcap as they won 4-2.

The O’s bullpen has allowed four earned runs over 16 1/3 innings this series for an ERA of 2.20. The bullpen ERA for the year is down to 3.00, which now ranks second in the major leagues behind only the Astros at 2.53. The Orioles bullpen has pitched to a 2.61 ERA in 27 May games, the second-best mark in the majors this month, behind only the Astros bullpen with a 1.94 ERA in 26 games.

O’s pitchers allowed seven runs in the doubleheader to a Red Sox team that was averaging 7.5 runs per game over the previous 16 games with 120 runs scored in that span.  

All four O’s runs were scored in the fourth inning of Game 2 on a Ramón Urías RBI single and Rougner Odor’s three-run homer. Odor has hit safely in 12 of his last 13 games since May 16, slashing .306/.320/.612 (15-for-49) with four doubles, one triple, three home runs, seven runs scored and 13 RBIs. During this span, he ranks among American League leaders in RBIs (third), total bases (eighth, 30), and slugging percentage (10th). Odor has raised his slugging percentage from .311 entering play on May 16 to .417 entering play today. He produced a career-long 11-game hitting streak from May 16-27, the longest by an O’s batter this season.

On the mound today for Baltimore will be lefty Bruce Zimmermann (2-2, 3.78 ERA) making his 10th start. The Orioles are 5-4 when he takes the ball this year. He has recorded a 1.217 WHIP allowing 9.1 hits per nine and 1.5 homers with a 1.9 walk rate and 7.4 strikeout rate.

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O's 'pen comes up big in Game 2 plus Stowers on team camaraderie

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Team Ticker - the team playing with heart and guts - pulled out the second game of the doubleheader Saturday night at Fenway Park.

The Orioles latest win in a close game came after they lost such a game Saturday afternoon. They fell 5-3 in the afternoon but beat Boston 4-2 in the evening. 

The Orioles (20-28) scored all four runs in the third inning on a Ramón Urías RBI single and Rougner Odor three-run homer, his fourth on the season. That gave the Orioles an early 4-0 lead, which was a nice response to the earlier loss. Their pitching took it from there.

Boston (22-25) had scored 120 runs in its previous 16 games or 7.5 per game in that stretch heading into the doubleheader. Then they got just seven runs in the twinbill and just two in the nightcap.

After O's righty Denyi Reyes allowed one run over 3 2/3 in his first major league start, the Baltimore bullpen came up big yet again. 

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O's game blog: Jordan Lyles pitches the opener (update, Reyes in Game 2)

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After producing their biggest comeback win since Aug. 14, 2016 on Friday night, the Orioles returned to Fenway Park this morning for long day of baseball. The clubs play the first game of a day-night doubleheader at 12:10 p.m., with the second game set for 6:10 p.m.

The Orioles (19-27) trailed 6-0 after two innings last night and were behind 8-2 when the seventh inning started. But they scored 10 late runs to beat Boston 12-8 in the opener of this five-game, four-day series. 

Jorge Mateo's three-run homer in the seventh pulled them within 8-5, and an inning later they scored three more, two on an Austin Hays' homer, to get even. A four-run ninth put the win over the top. 

In that game at San Francisco in August 2016, the Orioles trailed 7-1 after five and then scored two each in the seventh and eighth and three runs in the ninth for an 8-7 win. That was the last time they won when trailing by six runs at any point in the game.

Entering play last night, the Orioles had lost their last 181 games in which they trailed by at least six runs. Baltimore’s 11 comeback wins this season are tied for the second-most in the American League and fifth-most in the majors, and their comeback last night is the second-largest comeback win in the AL this season, and tied for the third-largest in the big leagues.

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Notes on the comeback win, Grayson Rodriguez and more

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The Red Sox have been playing winning baseball and scoring a lot of runs lately. They scored six early runs last night to lead the Orioles 6-0 after two innings. By the end of the sixth, Boston was ahead 8-2.

They were, or so they thought, well on their way to their eighth win in nine games and 12th in the past 16. The Red Sox had been 6-1 in their previous seven home games and had won four straight series, beating the Rangers, Astros, Mariners and the White Sox. They were averaging 7.5 runs per game in the last 15 games and their plus-26 run differential in May was fourth-best in MLB.

Then, Boston allowed 10 runs the last three innings as Baltimore rallied to win 12-8 last night. The Orioles scored three runs in the seventh to trail 8-5, three in the eighth to tie it and four in the ninth to put it away.

The last time the Orioles won when trailing by six at any point in a game was Aug. 14, 2016 at San Francisco. In that game, Baltimore trailed 7-1 after five and scored two in the seventh, two in the eighth and three in the ninth for an 8-7 victory.

The Orioles are now:

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O's game blog: Kyle Bradish faces Red Sox in series opener

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As the Orioles' road trip continues at Boston tonight, they face a Red Sox team playing much better than the last time these two teams faced. On April 29 at Baltimore, the clubs began a three-game series and the Red Sox had lost seven of nine at the start of the series. The Orioles won the last two games that weekend to take two of three.

But now, Boston is red-hot and scoring a lot of runs. The Red Sox (21-23) beat the White Sox 16-7 last night, scoring 16 runs for the second time in three games. Boston has won seven of its last eight games and is 10-3 in its past 13 games. The Red Sox have scored 100 runs (7.7 per game) in those 13 games. They have scored 112 runs (7.5 per game) their past 15 games, going 11-4.

Boston has won four series in a row, going 2-1 at Texas, 2-1 versus Houston, 4-0 versus Seattle and 2-1 against Chicago. The Red Sox are 10-10 at home but are 6-1 in the last seven games at Fenway Park.

Boston’s Trevor Story had two hits, including a three-run homer on Thursday night, as he continues his recent torrid hitting. Hitting that has seen him produce seven homers and 21 RBIs his past seven games and eight homers in his last 10. He has driven in 32 runs this month.

O’s right-hander Kyle Bradish (1-3, 5.74 ERA) will try to slow down this hot club tonight. He made his major league debut in that April 29 game against Boston and pitched well. Over six innings, he gave up five hits and three runs (two earned) with one walk and two strikeouts on 81 pitches. In his third start, Bradish would allow two runs over seven innings with 11 strikeouts at St. Louis.

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Kyle Stowers on his recent power surge for Norfolk

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Triple-A Norfolk outfielder Kyle Stowers said he recently made a small batting adjustment. It helped produce big results.

Stowers, ranked as the Orioles' No. 8 prospect via MLBPipeline.com and No. 9 by Baseball America, hit three home runs Sunday at Charlotte. He has hit four homers his past four games and seven in his last 10 games.

Stowers’ three-homer game tied a franchise record for the Tides, and he connected in three straight innings with solo homers in the fifth and sixth and then a three-run shot in the seventh at Charlotte.

Stowers' power is back for him and the Tides.

“I’d say the biggest thing in the last few weeks has been kind of get a little more upright (in my stance) again,” he said today during a Zoom session with reporters. “I was a little crouched early in the year and so it’s kind of getting back to a little more upright, which I feel like is a little more of an athletic position for me. It’s a small change, nothing too big. Kind of been feeling confident all year. Felt like I’d run into some tough luck early and things started to drop a little bit.

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One surprising area on stat sheet where Aberdeen is strong

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The Orioles' high Single-A Aberdeen IronBirds affiliate, at 28-12, has produced one of the best records in minor league baseball this year. There are obvious reasons for that, to include one of the best offenses in the South Atlantic League. The IronBirds score, on average, 5.56 runs per game through Wednesday’s contests.

Then there's a team ERA that ranks third in the league at 3.84 with an unheralded but solid rotation.

And there are more hidden reasons for Aberdeen’s success. Like the club’s tremendous ability to steal bases.

They have stolen a whopping 74 bases this year and have been caught just 13 times for an 85 percent success rate. They rank second in the league in steals, and the “go-go” IronBirds have four players with 11 or more steals and 14 players with at least one stolen base.

In the minor leagues, pitchers can only make a pickoff move toward a base twice per plate appearance. On a third try, the runner will be awarded second base if not picked off. That helps, but manager Roberto Mercado said the club's success in swiping bases comes mainly from talented players employing a good process, not from a rule.

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Jordan Lyles as leader and mentor: He embraces that role

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When the Orioles pinned a loss on Yankees right-hander Gerrit Cole on Monday, it was a credit to their hitters to beat such a talented pitcher. But it was also in large part because their pitcher, right-hander Jordan Lyles, dueled head-to-head evenly with Cole for his second straight start.

The Orioles went 1-1 in those two games, but outscored the Yankees 8-7 in the Lyles versus Cole games. Lyles went 13 2/3 innings, allowing nine hits and five earned runs for an ERA of 3.29.

Lyles has been a leader and gamer for the Orioles, going 3-4 with an ERA of 4.10. He has thrown six innings or more in four of his past five starts. He wants the ball and and threw 117 pitches Monday night at Yankee Stadium. That is leadership by example for the other pitchers. The next night left-hander Bruce Zimmermann went a career-high 6 1/3 innings.

But for the 31-year-old Lyles, a player with over 10 years of major league service, he is happy to provide leadership and mentorship to the O’s pitching staff in the four days when he is not pitching, as well. It’s a role he embraces and a role when he was a younger pitcher that he wanted to have some day.

“I have always wanted to be, especially in the second half of my career, a guy that younger guys can lean on for questions on and off the field,” Lyles told me recently at Oriole Park. “There is a lot more that goes into things than just being on the bump and pitching with our major league lifestyle. I think the mental side of things is an area where I’m pretty good with talking to guys about. And then also on the physical side when analytics came into the game I kind of jumped on board a couple of years ago. So even though I am older, I can still relate to them on an analytical standpoint. I can relate to the young guys multiple ways.

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O's game blog: Looking for a series win in the Bronx

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It is time for an Orioles impressive stat alert: They are 5-1 in rubber match games this year, winning five in a row since a loss to Milwaukee early in the year.

They have won those games by scores of 5-0 over the New York Yankees, 9-5 over Boston, 6-1 against Kansas City, 3-2 at St. Louis and 7-6 in 11 innings over the Tampa Bay Rays.

So, five wins in a row by a combined score of 30-14 in series-deciding games. The Orioles (18-26) will try to keep that win streak going tonight at New York. A win would make them 2-2 in four series versus the Yankees, who are 10-2-1 in overall series play in 2022. 

The Orioles beat the Yankees and Gerrit Cole by 6-4 Monday night as Cole allowed a season-high five runs. They lost 7-6 in 11 innings last night, playing their third extra-inning game in five games.

Baltimore is now 4-2 the last six games and 4-1 in extra innings. The O's are 12-12 their past 24 games and 6-15 in road games. The Orioles are 4-8 versus the Yankees (1-7 on the road) and 8-13 in American League East games (1-7 on the road).

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A look at a young Dominican right-hander excelling at Delmarva

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For the Orioles, the building of the elite talent pipeline on the farm begins for many kids out of the spotlight and in the lower minors.

That is where they try and take their talent and a good learning process and put the two together to start a career toward Baltimore. One that can take a long time and have ups and downs along the way.

For kids from the Dominican Republic, that process starts in the Dominican Summer League and they eventually make their way to the United States to full-season affiliated baseball, where they hope to start to put themselves on the map. That is happening this year with a right-hander that turns 20 today.

He is Juan De Los Santos, from San Cristobal, Dominican Republic. In his first year of full-season ball with low Single-A Delmarva, De Los Santos is showing a fastball touching 97 mph and maybe more importantly, showing how eager he is to learn and grow as a player, soaking up every resource available to him.

It is a nice start to a career that began in the DSL in 2019, was interrupted by the cancelled 2020 minor league season, but continued last summer in the rookie-level Florida Complex League where he pitched to an ERA of 3.83 in 45 innings.

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O's game blog: Bruce Zimmermann faces the Yankees

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The Orioles were behind 2-0 in the early innings and took a 4-2 lead. They were tied at 4-4 but then took a 5-4 lead. And then 6-4. And they won the series opener at Yankee Stadium by that 6-4 score in a strong start to a week-long American League East road trip to New York and Boston.

Ramón Urías hit a go-ahead homer off losing pitcher Gerrit Cole in the top of the sixth inning. It was No. 3 for Urías, who is 6-for-13 his past three games with a double and a homer, and who has hit two homers his last six games.

Trey Mancini went 2-for-4 with a pair of singles and leads the Orioles with 15 multi-hit games. Mancini owns a season-long 17-game on-base streak, the fourth-longest active streak in the AL and tied for the eighth-longest active stretch in the major leagues.

In the month of May, Mancini is batting .382/.460/.474 (29-for-76) and ranks among AL leaders in on-base percentage (4th), hits (T-4th), and batting average (6th). For his career, Mancini owns a line of .286/.358/.460 with 40 extra-base hits (20-2Bs, 3B, 19 HRs), 60 runs scored, and 67 RBIs in 122 May games.

Robinson Chirinos has four RBIs his last four games and after producing just one in the previous 18 games.

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César Prieto moves to Double-A, plus several O's notes

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When the Orioles made a series of minor league promotions on Monday, one was certainly no big surprise. Cuban-born infielder César Prieto, signed as part of the latest O’s international class in January, moved up from high Single-A Aberdeen to Double-A Bowie.

There he will join a talented infield that already includes ranked prospects in Gunnar Henderson, Jordan Westburg and Joey Ortiz. But the Orioles feel Prieto deserved to move up and certainly can co-exist on that roster where the first three players mentioned all have starts at multiple infield spots.

Henderson: 22 at third, 13 at short.
Westburg: 12 at second, 12 at third, 11 at short.
Ortiz: 17 at second, 13 at short, two at third.

Prieto, 23, hit .340/.381/.619/ with an OPS of 1.000 in 25 games with Aberdeen. He returned back to their active roster on May 11 after missing about 10 days with a right hamstring strain. As of Monday, Prieto led the O’s farm in batting average, slugging and OPS. He has six doubles, seven homers and 20 RBIs.

It's been a torrid hitting start for a player that some felt could move fast through the system because of his previous experience in the Cuban professional leagues.

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