Updating Orioles in the Arizona Fall League (and notes)

The Mesa Solar Sox will represent the East Division in Saturday’s Arizona Fall League championship game. The team that includes Orioles minor leaguers on its roster.

Rings can be won in November, even for an organization that’s rebuilding.

They do receive rings, right?

Anyway, the AFL season began with eight Orioles representatives on Mesa’s roster, including catcher Ramon Rodriguez, who was listed as being on the taxi squad. There have been three subtractions, though outfielder Yusniel Diaz still appears on the roster for whatever reason.

Diaz was shut down with a strained left shoulder. Outfielder Kyle Stowers, whose name has been removed from the roster, was sent home with a lower back injury that the organization considered minor.

Stowers played at three levels of the farm system this year and shared the organization’s Minor League Player of the Year award with Adley Rutschman. He accumulated 530 plate appearances.

Receiving only 12 in the AFL? No big deal.

Thumbnail image for Diaz-Open-Shirt-White-sidebar.jpgDiaz is a different story, again losing valuable at-bats due to injury - though the Orioles also termed Diaz’s shutdown as precautionary. He, too, is expected to transition into a normal offseason in preparation for spring training and his latest attempt to impress the Orioles and earn a spot on the active roster later in the summer.

However, he appeared in only 54 games with Triple-A Norfolk and 11 with Double-A Bowie due to a strained quadriceps and turf toe. He lasted seven games and 34 plate appearances with Mesa before leaving Arizona.

Any setback with Diaz grabs your attention. Sitting stands out.

Rodriguez appeared in only three games, going 3-for-11 with an RBI. He left the Solar Sox last week to join his wife for the birth of their child - becoming a father is a lot harder than catching - and he’s done with the AFL. He’s also listed in Baseball-Reference.com as playing one game for Mayaguez in the Puerto Rican Winter League.

That’s five teams for Rodriguez in 2021, including Bowie and Single-A Aberdeen and Delmarva. But who’s counting?

The final five on the Solar Sox are pitchers Cameron Bishop, Logan Gillaspie, Conner Loeprich and Nick Vespi, and infielder Greg Cullen. All of them, along with Rodriguez, are eligible to be selected in the Rule 5 draft.

The odds vary, but they’re deemed longshots to be protected. Vespi tossed a scoreless and hitless inning in the Fall Stars Game, really impressed at Bowie and is left-handed. His chances may be greater.

Vespi began last night with a 2.51 ERA in 10 relief appearances after Wednesday’s scoreless inning. He struck out 17 batters in 14 1/3 innings, but also walked seven.

Cullen, acquired from the Braves in the Tommy Milone trade and twice sidelined with hamstring injuries at Bowie, keeps getting on base. He began last night with a .385 OBP with the Solar Sox and has a career .393 OBP in three minor league seasons.

Bishop has allowed 11 earned runs (12 total) with 15 walks in 12 1/3 innings. Gillaspie allowed 14 runs and 18 hits in 14 innings, with seven walks and 18 strikeouts. Loeprich surrendered 15 earned runs (17 total) and 21 hits, with 15 walks in 15 innings.

The championship game will air on MLB Network at 7 p.m.

Notes: Orioles center fielder Cedric Mullins finished ninth in American League Most Valuable Player voting by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.

Mullins had 87 points. He received one fourth-place vote, two fifth and sixth, three seventh, nine eighth and ninth, and one 10th.

The Angels’ Shohei Ohtani was the runaway winner with all 30 first-place votes.

Pitcher Marcos Diplán, who cleared outright waivers earlier this month and became a free agent, has reached agreement with the Orioles on a minor league deal with a spring training invite, according to a source.

Diplán pitched in the All-Star Futures Game before making his major league debut, appearing in 23 games and going 2-0 with a 4.50 ERA and 1.233 WHIP in 30 innings. He was the sixth pitcher in Orioles history to not allow an earned run in his first seven career appearances, and the first since Donnie Hart in 2016. He was the first to not allow a hit in his first four outings covering 6 1/3 innings.

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