Minor league notes on Ortiz, Cowser, Hall, Holliday and more

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It has finally happened. The Double-A Bowie Baysox are rolling. It happened later than we thought but the Baysox are making up for lost time now.

After going 27-42 in the first-half Eastern League race, Bowie has surged into first place in its division in the second half, going 20-8 heading into Thursday’s game. The Baysox have a few scorching hot hitters and a bullpen that has posted a 2.48 ERA in the second half after posting a 4.78 ERA earlier.

Among the hottest hitters is shortstop Joey Ortiz, the club’s fourth-round pick in 2019 from New Mexico State. The Orioles' first three selections in that draft were Adley Rutschman, Gunnar Henderson and Kyle Stowers, and they took Ortiz as their fifth pick.

He got off to a very slow start this season after undergoing season-ending left shoulder surgery last June. He ended this June batting .206 with a .596 OPS. Then he got on fire for the Baysox in July and produced a batting line of .404/.438/.674 with an OPS of 1.112.

“He had an elite shoulder injury that is difficult to come back from, and I think he has finally found his strength and his groove,” said Matt Blood, the Orioles' director of player development. “And he’s been making little adjustments all along the way. This is the player we saw last year before he got hurt. Probably a combination of getting fully healthy and strong as well as making adjustments to the league and the pitching he’s seen this year. Joey and that Bowie team are playing fantastic.”

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Beavers on Yelich comp, Fabian on not signing with Boston (plus O's win)

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Cal outfielder Dylan Beavers, the No. 33 overall pick in the MLB Draft last Sunday night by the Orioles, once had dreams of being a two-way player in college.

Cal was going to use him as both a pitcher and a position player. His fastball was touching 92 and 93 mph and the coaches saw promise in him as a two-way talent. But that didn’t last too long once he got on campus, he told me during an interview for MASN here on Saturday.

“It was right after the fall of my freshman year, so before the (spring) season even started. It kind of seemed like I was going to end up playing the outfield full time. I did warm up on opening weekend but once Covid and everything happened, I had a ton of time to work on my swing, my defense and stuff. And just went full time as a hitter. I definitely have more of a future as an outfielder," Beavers said. 

This season Beavers, as a fourth-year junior, batted .291/.426/.634 with 16 doubles, three triples, 17 homers, 62 runs and 50 RBIs. He hit 18 homers in 2021 and 36 for his Cal career.

He was at Camden Yards Saturday to sign his first pro contract and see the ballpark before he heads to Florida for O’s orientation and the likelihood that his first pro games will come in the rookie-level Florida Complex League.

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O's draft picks Dylan Beavers and Jud Fabian talk about joining the Orioles

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University of California outfielder Dylan Beavers was an Orioles draft pick, No. 33 overall, last Sunday night. And now, just days later, he has signed his first pro contract and was at Camden Yards today to get a look around. He took time to talk with Baltimore reporters.

He said he didn’t have a lot of interaction with the O’s leading up to the draft. It was a nervous time, but then he heard his name called with the club’s Competitive Balance Round A selection.

“It was a little bit stressful, but I knew it would be a great time and I was super excited when I finally got picked," Beavers said. "I was definitely just ready to get my name called. It happened, and it was Baltimore and you know it made it that much better.”

Beavers, age 20 from Paso Robles, Calif., began his career as a freshman as a two-way player, also a pitcher who could touch 92 and 93 mph on the mound. But he quickly became a full-time position player. This season, as a fourth-year junior, the lefty-hitting right fielder batted .291/.426/.634 with 16 doubles, three triples, 17 homers, 62 runs and 50 RBIs. He hit 18 homers in 2021 and 36 for his Cal career.

He indicated that generating good bat speed gets him to his power.

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Orioles lineup and draft signings

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Adley Rutschman is batting second again tonight as the Orioles try to win their first game after the All-Star break.

Rutschman is catching, which puts him on the bench or makes him the designated hitter Sunday afternoon.

Manager Brandon Hyde posted the same lineup as last night.

Jordan Lyles is working on an extra day of rest following the All-Star break. This is his fifth start against New York in 2022, posting a 4.56 ERA in 23 2/3 innings.

The last two starts have been quality by definition, with two earned runs in seven innings and three in 6 2/3. He struck out a combined 16 batters.

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A look at the O's four picks on first day of MLB Draft

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When the Orioles made their third No. 1 overall MLB Draft pick in team history on Sunday night, the pick was a popular one with a couple of the MLB Network analysts. They reacted quite favorably on the telecast when the O’s selected high school shortstop Jackson Holliday from Stillwater, Okla.

The son of long-time big league outfielder Matt Holliday, Jackson was Baseball America’s national High School Player of the Year. Holliday, who gets 60 grades from scouts for his hit tool, running and arm, is age 18 and hit .685/.749/1.392 (89-for-130) with 29 doubles, six triples, 17 home runs, 74 runs scored, 79 RBIs and 30 stolen bases in 40 games during his senior season. His 89 hits set a national high school record.

He follows Ben McDonald in 1989 and Adley Rutschman in 2019 as O’s 1/1 picks and is the first high school position player the team made its top draft pick since Manny Machado in 2010.

The slot amount to sign Holliday is listed at $8,842,200.

“They didn’t cut a deal here,” said Jim Callis of MLBPipeline.com on the MLB Network draft telecast. “They took one of the best players. I think Jackson Holliday is probably the best combination of hitting ability and ceiling in this draft. He plays on the infield, Druw Jones (drafted second) is an outfielder, there is defensive value here. I like Harold's (Reynolds) Bobby Witt Jr. parallel. He is a five-tool shortstop. I can’t think of too many players - and Jackson Holliday is one - that got better in every phase of the game (this season). Better hitter, stronger, faster, better arm, better shortstop as a senior. He was a good player coming in and he’s a great player now. I love this pick for the Orioles.”

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Doubling back to the MLB Draft

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TAMPA, Fla. - A few takeaways from the first night of the MLB Draft:

Jackson Holliday’s father, former major league outfielder Matt Holliday, knew about the selection 30 seconds ahead of the announcement because he received a call from Scott Boras.

I didn’t make the immediate connection. Boras used to represent Matt, and he negotiated his client’s seven-year, $120 million deal with the Cardinals back in 2010.

Of course, Boras would rep Jackson.

From the moment that the Orioles drafted Oregon State catcher Adley Rutschman one/one rather than prep shortstop Bobby Witt Jr. in 2019, they were destined to have their careers tracked side by side. It won’t be the same with Holliday and Druw Jones, who went second to the Diamondbacks, because they weren’t universally seen as the top two prospects in the class. But there will still be comparisons as they embark on their professional careers.

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