New season means finally moving on from the last one (Tides score 12 runs)

Heston-Kjerstad-spring-training-dugout

One of many good things about the fact the 2024 Orioles season has begun is that we will stop hearing about the Texas series and the Orioles being swept in the American League Division Series.

A new year thankfully leads to media asking less about that and the players certainly are glad to stop answering for it and about it.

“I use it for fuel a little bit. But that was last year and this is a new year,” the O’s Gunnar Henderson said this week, probably speaking for just about all of us.

After a 101-win season followed up by their convincing Opening Day romp over the Los Angeles Angels, the O’s are seen as World Series contenders for this season.

They are now the hunted and not the hunters, so to speak.

Continue reading
  0 Comments
0 Comments

In chasing improved command, Chayce McDermott took nice step versus the Phillies

Chayce-Mcdermott

SARASOTA, Fla. – For young Orioles pitcher Chayce McDermott, the club’s Jim Palmer Award winner last year as the top minor league pitcher, his outing Tuesday in Clearwater was a nice step in his development.

Usually a starter, he pitched in relief and with not a ton of notice when he would throw. But he pitched scoreless ball in the seventh and eighth innings on 34 pitches versus the Phillies. And he was upbeat about the radar gun readings. His fastball averaged 95.4 mph and topped at 96.7.

“It was good, got some good feedback,” he said today of his second spring outing. “Felt good to throw out of the ‘pen too and kind of let it go a little bit. Threw harder than I normally do. But it was fun. Getting to watch some guys I grew up watching like (J.T.) Realmuto.

“There is some stuff to work on, but for the most part, it was good. Staying in the strike zone, getting strikeouts and not walking anyone.”

McDermott, 25, is ranked as the club's No. 8 prospect by Baseball America where his fastball and slider get 60 scouting grades and No. 9 by MLBPipeline.com.

Continue reading
  0 Comments
0 Comments

A few more Orioles spring training storylines

Cade Povich Bowie 3

While most eyes will rest upon Jackson Holliday, other prospects, and major pitching additions Corbin Burnes and Craig Kimbrel at spring training, there are plenty of storylines to go around during those six weeks. Lots to fill notepads and space on laptop screens. Lots to keep fingers busy.

Checking under the radar ideas can put a reporter over the top.

Top Orioles prospect rankings are light on pitching, but Cade Povich and Chayce McDermott tend to be listed back-to-back within the first dozen or so, and they’re counted among the camp invites. McDermott was the organization’s Minor League Pitcher of the Year.  

Both pitchers are eyeing 2024 for their major league debuts. They won’t break camp with the team, but their arrivals could come later.

“I mean, it’s a goal I have for sure,” Povich said at the Birdland Caravan. “Obviously, things have to fall into place. Just kind of trust the work I’ve done this offseason and hope whatever comes, comes.”

Continue reading
  0 Comments
0 Comments

Some potential Orioles non-roster invite spring storylines

Basallo

The media crowd around Jackson Holliday’s locker will have more layers than an onion on his first day of availability in camp. Must be his appeal.

(You see what I did there.)

Holliday was a good story last spring. The first-overall draft pick with the youthful face and famous father. Everyone wanted to see him play, and he stuck around much longer than anticipated.

It turned out to be more than a courtesy look and a chance to soak in the environment. Holliday wasn’t reassigned to the minor league side until March 14, after batting .385 with a .991 OPS.

The Orioles announced 30 non-roster invites on Feb. 2 and expanded the list later that day after outrighting reliever Darwinzon Hernández. The camp roster held 71 players, with an overflow in the auxiliary clubhouse.

Continue reading
  0 Comments
0 Comments

O's pitching development program got some props from Baseball America

Cade Povich Bowie 3

At a time when the Orioles organization has gotten a lot of props for their farm system, a lot of those props came due to position players/hitters that have already arrived like Adley Rutschman and Gunnar Henderson, plus a few on the way like Jackson Holliday, Samuel Basallo and Coby Mayo.

On the O’s farm, the hitters are higher ranked than the pitchers. On MLBPipeline.com's O’s top 30 right now, there are just two pitchers ranked in the top 11: Chayce McDermott at No. 10 and Cade Povich at No. 11.

But despite that, there are also some reasons to be encouraged about the O’s pitching development program.

It recently got some props and scored quite well in Baseball America’s Farm System Statcast Pitching Rankings, co-authored by Geoff Pontes and Dylan White. It was a deep dive into minor league pitchers, aggregating full-season pitching data, metrics and stats for hurlers between ages 17 and 26.

The goal was “to more accurately understand which organizations have the highest quality of overall pitching talent.” And they were attempting to “view the developing pitching talent in each organization, not the team’s ability to stock quality MiLB free agents into Triple-A bullpens.”

Continue reading
  0 Comments
0 Comments

Still robust and impressive: The O's top 10 prospects list

jackson holliday

With the release of a new top 10 O’s prospects list this week by Baseball America comes confirmation of what we already knew: the O’s system remains loaded. They currently hold the title of top farm system in all of baseball.

The new top-100 prospects lists are likely to come out sometime in January and February. But on the latest lists from Baseball America and MLBPipeline.com, the Orioles have six top-100 prospects.

Here is how Baseball America ranked them this week on its new team top 10.

1) Shortstop Jackson Holliday: Did we expect anyone else? The player drafted No. 1 overall by the Orioles on July 17, 2022 has lived up to the hype and then some. He played at four levels last summer – ending the year at Triple-A Norfolk – and hit .323 with a .941 OPS and led all minor league players in runs scored, with 113. He played above-average defense and has 60-grade speed. He was the O’s Minor League Player of the Year and Baseball America’s National Player of the Year after a season in which he played in the All-Star Futures Game. Speaking of the future, his day in Baltimore could be close. Holliday will celebrate his 20th birthday tomorrow.

2) Catcher Samuel Basallo: He turned 19 in August. He is a super-fast riser that has become the shining star of the O’s international program. He rose three levels last year, producing 20 homers and a .953 OPS. He played four games at the end of 2023 at Double-A Bowie, where he will likely start the 2024 season. It could end for him at Triple-A. The tools and production are loud for this guy. While Holliday is the third straight O’s farm player to be No. 1 in prospect rankings, Basallo could be the fourth. Yes, impressive by the Orioles. 

Continue reading
  0 Comments
0 Comments

What could be coming in starting pitching on the Orioles' farm

Chayce-Mcdermott

If you look at the Roster Resource section on FanGraphs.com, they list their current projected pitching rotations for each club. It might surprise some to note that the Tampa Bay Rays, a team known for producing good pitchers and solid pitching development, does not have one homegrown pitcher listed among its top five.

Tyler Glasnow, Aaron Civale and Shane Baz were added via trades, Zach Eflin in free agency and Zack Littell was added on waivers.

Of the O’s listed five, just John Means and Grayson Rodriguez were drafted by the Orioles. Kyle Bradish, Dean Kremer and Cole Irvin – listed fifth right now – all came via trades.

So, for the top two AL East teams from last year, 80 percent of their current rotations came from outside their own organization.

The bigger message is get good pitching wherever and whenever you can. At the end of the year, they count only wins, not wins generated mostly by homegrown talent.

Continue reading
  0 Comments
0 Comments

Diving into an imaginary trade package for Burnes

MIke-Elias-2022-Winter-Meetings-2

With family and friends gathering soon for the Thanksgiving holiday, the baseball business could slow but won’t necessarily halt. The screeching sound isn’t brakes. More likely talk radio.

Mike Elias could turn off his phone or charge it in another room while the turkey’s carved. He might be traveling and temporarily unavailable. But he’s aware of a fast-developing market after his time at the general managers meetings in Arizona. How pitching could fly off the board – unlike turkeys, who can’t fly – with so many teams searching for it.

The expanded playoffs increase the aggressiveness of executives, especially after the second-place, 84-win Diamondbacks reached the World Series. Snoozing brings the risk of losing.

Elias is known to prefer club control beyond one year if listening to trade offers, but the quest for a starter who slots high in the rotation might now allow it. Some of the biggest names assumed to be available are approaching free agency, most notably Milwaukee’s Corbin Burnes, Cleveland’s Shane Bieber and Tampa Bay’s Tyler Glasnow. The White Sox’s Dylan Cease has two years left on his contract.

The rentals can command less in return, but higher demand and desperation also can plant the sellers more firmly in the driver’s seat. Bidding wars aren’t confined to free agency.

Continue reading
  0 Comments
0 Comments

After winning the Jim Palmer award, Chayce McDermott eyes big league job in '24

Chayce-Mcdermott

It has been an interesting last 13 or 14 months for Orioles Triple-A pitcher Chayce McDermott. Last Aug. 1, he was acquired from Houston in a three-team trade that sent Trey Mancini to the Astros. Houston had drafted McDermott in 2021 in round four out of Ball State.

This season he advanced from Double-A to Triple-A in mid-July and ends his first full season in the organization named Saturday as the O’s Minor League Pitcher of the Year, winning the Jim Palmer Award.

Ranked as the club’s No. 10 prospect by MLBPipeline.com and No. 14 via Baseball America, MLB Pipeline ranks him as the club’s top pitching prospect.

Late last season his life was uprooted by the trade, but this season ends with the Palmer award. Joining the Orioles has proven to be huge for McDermott, who turned 25 Aug. 22.

“I think people overlook sometimes that getting traded is very hard,” he said Saturday after the announcement of his award. “You get used to an organization and then you pick up and move. Meet new people, new coaches. But I feel like it was a super smooth transition, super easy. I love everyone in the Orioles organization, and they have been super helpful in my career. Now it just feels like I am part of the family.”

Continue reading
  0 Comments
0 Comments

Jackson Holliday is named Orioles' Minor League Player of the Year (updated, plus the other winners)

holliday orange

After a season when he rose to No. 1 in prospects rankings and has already been named Baseball America’s Minor League Player of the Year, today shortstop Jackson Holliday was named winner of the Orioles' Brooks Robinson Award as the organization's Minor League Player of the Year for 2023.

The Orioles named right-hander Chayce McDermott the recipient of the Jim Palmer Award as the club's Minor League Pitcher of the Year. Norfolk manager Buck Britton won the Cal Ripken Sr. Player Development Award. Dave Jennings won the Jim Russo Scout of the Year award.

Holliday has played at four levels in the 2023 season, beginning the year at Single-A Delmarva and later moving to High-A Aberdeen, Double-A Bowie and Triple-A Norfolk. He ended the regular season with Norfolk and will play with the International League champion Tides tonight against Oklahoma City, winners of the Pacific Coast League title, in the Triple-A Championship game in Las Vegas.

Over 125 games this year between the Shorebirds, IronBirds, Baysox and Tides, Holliday, 19, has hit .323/.442/.499/.941 with 30 doubles, nine triples, 12 homers, 24 steals, 154 hits, 101 walks, 113 runs and 75 RBIs.

“Yeah, I’ve got no complaints," Holliday said via a Zoom call today with reporters about his remarkable season. "This year has gone about as well as I could possibly imagine. My goal was Double-A, and to make it to Triple-A is quite something. It’s been quite a year."

Continue reading
  0 Comments
0 Comments

Orioles claim Webb on waivers (plus other notes)

Jacob Webb Angels jersey

The Orioles are making an adjustment to their bullpen prior to Tuesday night’s series opener against the Astros at Camden Yards.

Right-hander Jacob Webb has been claimed on waivers from the Angels. A corresponding move is pending because Webb hasn’t reported to the club.

A spot on the 40-man roster opened with pitcher Austin Voth transferred to the 60-day injured list.

Voth is on a rehab assignment at Triple-A Norfolk, where he tossed a scoreless and hitless inning yesterday. He hasn’t pitched for the Orioles since June 13 due to right elbow soreness, so a move to the 60-day IL isn’t impactful for his return.

Webb, who turns 30 on Aug. 15, was designated for assignment Saturday after posting a 3.98 ERA and 1.358 WHIP in 29 relief appearances. He walked 20 batters and struck out 34 in 31 2/3 innings.

Continue reading
  0 Comments
0 Comments

O's hammer six homers, sweep Minnesota, reach 54-35 at the break (updated)

Hays and Mullins

MINNEAPOLIS – A day that started out with the Orioles striking out often, ended with them pounding the Minnesota Twins 15-2 today behind a barrage of six homers, a few blasted well over 400 feet.

It was a nice way to say goodbye to the first half by saying goodbye to a few baseballs against the pitching staff that began today with the second-best ERA in the majors at 3.56 to Atlanta at 3.55.

The Orioles hit the break at 54-35 with a five-game win streak and they tie a season-high at moving to 19 games above the .500 mark.

The Orioles' .607 win percentage at the break is the eighth-best in team history at this point of the year.

The Orioles scored seven runs in the fifth inning to lead 8-1 and six in the sixth to make it a 14-1 blowout. The six homers are a season-high, doubling up any game this year save for one when they hit a previous season-high four on June 13 versus Toronto.

Continue reading
  0 Comments
0 Comments

Cedric Mullins on improved hitting vs. lefty pitching, plus a big night on the farm

Mullins Santander celebrate gray

When it comes to facing left-handed pitchers, O’s center fielder Cedric Mullins, no longer a switch-hitter, has had success in the past batting left-on-left.

But the hits were not coming to him very often against lefty pitchers last year, when he hit .209/.265/.313/.578 against left-handers. That was very different from his solid numbers of 2021, when he produced a .277 batting average and .788 OPS left-on-left.

So Mullins’ winter focus was on getting back to stats like those in this 2023 season.

“Just really kind of dug deep into how some of my at-bats went last year,” he said this week at Globe Life Field. “Kind of getting a sense of what guys were trying to do to me and kind of make adjustments from there. Tried to simulate as much as I possibly could (this winter).”

The deep dive included a closer look at how those southpaws were getting him out.

Continue reading
  0 Comments
0 Comments

Delayed Orioles home opener set for today with Kremer on the mound

dean kremer pitcher

The threat of severe thunderstorms can’t ruin the Orioles’ home opener this afternoon.

Aaron Judge, maybe, but not thunderstorms.

The temperature in Baltimore reached 85 degrees yesterday but is likely to stay in the 50s today. No rain or hail or high winds, though. Cloudy and playable.

Gates open at noon. Severna Park native Parijita Bastola will perform the national anthem prior to the game. She was a contestant on season 22 of NBC’s “The Voice,” and also performed at Governor Wes Moore’s inauguration earlier this year.

Moore and children Mia and James will throw out the ceremonial first pitches.

Continue reading
  0 Comments
0 Comments

Some of the newly acquired pitchers get off to good starts for O's farm

camden yards

Most of the six new pitchers the Orioles acquired in the recent trades of Trey Mancini to Houston and Jorge López to Minnesota have gotten off to good starts for their new organization.

The Orioles added three top 30 prospects.

For Mancini they got right-hander Seth Johnson from Tampa Bay. He underwent Tommy John surgery on Aug. 3, so the Orioles won’t see him for a while, but MLBPipeline.com ranks him as the club's No. 8 prospect. Baseball America has him at No. 10. After Grayson Rodriguez and DL Hall, Johnson is now the Orioles' third highest-rated pitcher.

The O’s also added 23-year-old right-hander Chayce McDermott from Houston in that deal. He now ranks as Baltimore’s No. 12 prospect, according to MLBPipeline.com, and No. 17 in Baseball America's estimation. In two games with the Orioles' high Single-A Aberdeen team, he has allowed two runs and three hits in five innings, going 0-1 with a 3.60 ERA with one walk to 10 strikeouts.

In the deal with Minnesota, the O’s added lefty Cade Povich, also pitching at Aberdeen. In his first start for his new organization, he threw six scoreless innings on one hit last Saturday. MLBPipeline.com ranks Povich as the O’s No. 26 prospect, while Baseball America puts him at No. 29.

Continue reading
  0 Comments
0 Comments

O's pitching acquisitions move right into their top 12 prospects

mike elias

If you could take sentiment out of it – almost impossible to do when it comes to Trey Mancini - the Orioles return in Monday's trade doesn’t look too bad.

A strong farm system got stronger, and now some at-bats opened up for other players like Terrin Vavra, Yusniel Diaz or maybe at some point later Kyle Stowers, as Mancini joins the Houston Astros.

Calling him a rental player after all he has been through and all that he means to the team and town almost seems disrespectful, but from a most technical standpoint, he is a pending free agent that Houston will have for the rest of this season. And possibly no more. It is not impossible to say he and the Orioles could have contract conversations over the winter.

And for Mancini, a beloved figure today and probably forever in Birdland, the Orioles did get two pitchers who show promise for the future. Both have touched 98 mph and were ranked highly for two clubs that have solid pitching development in Houston and Tampa Bay. And they are ranked highly in the now well-regarded O’s farm system.

The Orioles acquired right-hander Seth Johnson, 23, from Tampa Bay, and MLBPipeline.com last night, in an updated O’s top 30 list, rated him No. 8, right behind Stowers and just ahead of Heston Kjerstad. They added right-hander Chayce McDermott, 23, from Houston and ranked him No. 12. He is just behind César Prieto and ahead of Mike Baumann. So the two new guys are already keeping good company there.

Continue reading
  0 Comments
0 Comments

Elias on Mancini trade, and reaction from Orioles

mancini sad gray

ARLINGTON, Texas - Orioles executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias knew that trading Trey Mancini would be an unpopular move. A beloved player and leader inside the clubhouse. Someone fans adore. The face of the franchise. A class act and an ideal role model.

Part of a team that’s been a surprise contender, just three games out of the last wild card spot heading into tonight’s series opener against the Rangers.

But Elias stuck to business, and he couldn’t pass up the two pitching prospects who came to the Orioles in a three-team transaction.

Elias acquired right-hander Seth Johnson from the Rays and Chayce McDermott from the Astros. Houston also gets right-hander Jayden Murray from the Rays, who obtained outfielder José Siri from Houston.

Johnson will undergo Tommy John surgery, making him a longer-term investment for the Orioles. Both pitchers are coming from the high Single-A level.

Continue reading
  0 Comments
0 Comments

A look at the Mancini trade and some ramifications of it

trey mancini hits black

He played in 701 games in his time in Birdland. That is a significant number, but Trey Mancini’s impact on the Orioles will go way beyond anything on a stat sheet.

The kid from Florida who was once overlooked by the big colleges in his home state, went to Notre Dame to play college ball. Then he was an eighth-round draft pick by the Orioles in 2013. Picks in round eight don’t often become middle-of-the-order hitters and team leaders, but Mancini did that.

He was loved by Birdland even before he kicked cancer’s butt. Even before he became close friends with Mo Gaba and Baltimore got to see from a distance that beautiful relationship. Even before the Orioles team he played on took on a completely new look and went from a club that made the 2016 playoffs to one that lost 115 games and had to rebuild from the ground up.

He carried himself so well and represented the Orioles so well, on and off the field.

Fans here can now hope this season will end with Mancini maybe playing in the World Series and getting a ring with his new team in Houston.

Continue reading
  0 Comments
0 Comments

More on Mancini trade, Orioles recall Yusniel Diaz

GettyImages-1241690145

ARLINGTON, Texas - The trade that sent Trey Mancini to the Astros this afternoon involved three teams.

The Orioles received right-hander Chayce McDermott from the Astros and right-hander Seth Johnson from the Rays. MLBPipeline.com ranked McDermott, 23, as Houston’s No. 12 prospect and Johnson, 23, as the No. 6 prospect for the Rays.

The Orioles also recalled outfielder Yusniel Diaz from Triple-A Norfolk. He's waiting to make his major league debut.

Johnson was the 40th overall pick in the 2019 draft out of Campbell University, which also claims Orioles outfielder Cedric Mullins. He’s set to undergo Tommy John surgery.

Johnson made seven starts at high Single-A Bowling Green, allowing nine earned runs in 27 innings with 11 walks and 41 strikeouts.

Continue reading
  0 Comments
0 Comments