This, that and the other

The Orioles are in New York for a three-game series that wraps up a long road trip. Three cities, one terrible piece of news regarding ace John Means and one significant update on catcher Adley Rutschman.

Rutschman is in Aberdeen tonight, where the high Single-A IronBirds open a six-game series against the Jersey Shore BlueClaws. The usual Monday off-day is followed by six more home games against the Brooklyn Cyclones.

It’s highly unlikely that Rutschman sticks around for a dozen games, but the Orioles aren’t laying out an exact plan. He’s going to dictate how quickly he moves through his injury rehab assignment.

DL Hall also is reporting to Aberdeen this afternoon, but he isn’t returning from a recent injury. The Orioles have him on a progression after he made only seven starts last summer with Double-A Bowie due to a stress reaction his left elbow.

Hall already proved that he made a full recovery by firing fastballs at 98-100 mph in Clearwater while retiring the Phillies in order with two strikeouts. He’ll get back to Double-A Bowie, eventually pitch at Triple-A Norfolk and, assuming he stays healthy, debut with the Orioles this summer.

Grayson Rodriguez and Kyle Bradish already could be in the rotation, with Rutschman setting up behind the plate.

Manager Brandon Hyde was asked before Sunday’s game in Anaheim if he had anything to add about Rutschman heading to Aberdeen. Hyde paused, smiled and said, “No, not much, no. Glad he’s out of Sarasota and glad he’s starting his rehab assignment.”

Hyde checks minor league box scores, game reports and available information from extended spring training, but his focus primarily stays with his own club.

* The Orioles arrived in New York ranked last in the majors with only six home runs. Cedric Mullins leads the club with two.

Trey Mancini and Austin Hays hit their first homers Sunday afternoon in a 7-6 loss to the Angels. Mancini has been scalding baseballs all month without much of a reward – his lineout to left field registered 102.7 mph off the bat - but a three-run shot in the third inning sliced the Orioles’ deficit in half.

They rallied to tie the game before falling short in their bid for a series sweep.

Mancini would have homered at Camden Yards with the old left field dimensions. He settled for a double.

“It took a little bit of time, but I’ve been hitting some balls really, really well and somehow wasn’t able to get one out,” he said. “It did feel good to finally get one there.”

Mancini said he’s felt “really good” at the plate and took it a step further.

“As good as I ever have, honestly,” he said, “and it hasn’t exactly shown up in box scores or anything like that, but it’s a long season and it happens. You go through streaks where things don’t go your way, but that’s part of the game.”

Hays tied the game with his two-run shot in the top of the seventh inning.

“It’s good to get that monkey off my back,” he said. “It was good to see Trey put a good swing on a ball, so it could give me a little bit of momentum for myself. Got a hanging breaking ball and put a good swing on it.

"I was able to hit over 20 last year, so I don't really have a number in mind of what I'm trying to get to,” Hays said. “I just want to put together my at-bats and put some good swings on balls that are in the zone and the numbers, they will come.”

* Aberdeen infielder César Prieto was named the South Atlantic League’s Player of the Week after going 7-for-19 with four home runs, nine RBIs and four runs scored in six games.

The Orioles gave Prieto, 22, a $650,000 bonus in January after he defected from Cuba last May. He’s expected to move quickly through the system due to his advanced offensive skills and experience.

In his last two seasons in the Cuban National Series, Prieto batted .379/.452/.533 with 68 walks and 34 strikeouts in 690 plate appearances. He hit only 11 home runs, but he’s flashing impressive power with the IronBirds.

Prieto has appeared in 15 games and slashed .321/.381/.679 (18-for-56) with two doubles, six home runs, 13 RBIs, five walks and 10 strikeouts. He’s played shortstop, second base and third base.

* Left-hander Antonio Velez has made three starts for Bowie since the Orioles acquired him, along with minor league outfielder Kevin Guerrero, from the Marlins for relievers Tanner Scott and Cole Sulser. The numbers don’t look good, but he’s earning praise from manager Kyle Moore.

Velez has allowed 10 runs and 15 hits in 14 1/3 innings, with five walks and 14 strikeouts. All 10 runs and 14 of the hits have come in his last two appearances over 10 1/3 innings.

He dazzled in his debut on April 10 against Richmond with four scoreless innings, one hit allowed and seven strikeouts.

“He’s impressed with his makeup and his command,” Moore said. “He’s a really high-command guy. He’s got really, really good off-speed stuff. Both of his off-speed pitches, his curveball and his changeup, grade out to be plus pitches. He’s a guy who throws the changeup and curveball in any count. Any count in any situation he can throw a changeup and a curveball for a strike, locate it well. That’s what’s probably going to make him survive at the next level and maybe even the next level. But love his makeup. A great kid.

“Obviously, we traded big league relievers for him, so they probably have some really high hopes for him. He’s been a great addition to this staff. I looked up his bio before he came and I know he went to Florida State, he pitched in the college World Series. He’s got a really good bio. He signed as a free agent in 2020 because he wasn’t drafted, but he’s one of those guys where you just say, ‘Man, if there was more than five rounds, this guy must have been a sixth-rounder.’ He must have just been right there with somebody willing to take him, because, left-handed pitcher who pitched at Florida State that has off-speed stuff like that. Glad we got him.”

* I also asked Moore about J.D. Mundy during my visit to Prince George’s Stadium last week.

Mundy signed with the Orioles in 2020 out of Radford University, and he hit a combined .291/.390/.536 with 20 doubles and 15 home runs in 308 plate appearances between Single-A Aberdeen and Delmarva.

“Just big-time bat potential,” Moore said, “and everybody says that, and I say that not to neglect his defense, because he’s coming a long way at first base and he’s playing well at first base, which I’m really proud of.

“Really has a knack to hit, and with 30 teams with a DH now, guys like him have 15 more teams they could play for, so it definitely makes him more valuable. He's just a bigtime left-handed hitter that we could see doing damage in the middle of the lineup. Going to try to get him as many at-bats as possible.”

Orioles and Yankees lineups (and notes)
Final thoughts on West Coast road trip

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