The Orioles GCL and DSL teams clinched the playoffs, plus other notes

Two Orioles’ minor league teams clinched playoff berths today.

The Orioles entry in the Dominican Summer League is headed to the playoffs and clinched its division with a record of 45-24. The DSL Orioles have the third best record in that 33-team league. In the DSL, six teams make the playoffs, the five division winners and a wild card team. Two teams get opening-round byes and the first two rounds are best of three series with the championship series a best of five-game set.

The O’s DSL team includes Hector Veloz, the player the club signed to a $300,000 bonus last summer. He is batting .228 with two homers and club-leading 31 RBIs.

With a 5-0 win this afternoon over the Rays, the Orioles Gulf Coast League team won its division championship and qualified for the GCL playoffs for the first time since 1991. The GCL Orioles are 34-18 and the lead the division by nine games with eight to play.

Today, Miguel Chalas and Juan Guzman teamed for the shutout win.

Four teams make the playoffs in that league. The first series is a one-game playoff on Sunday August 28 and the championship series is a best of three set.

Some of my media friends debate me on this, but I say Joe Mahoney is having a solid season at Double-A Bowie. Mahoney just drove in seven runs over three games in Bowie’s series at Richmond.

Since July 1, over 45 games, Mahoney is batting .304 with 11 doubles, five triples, five homers and 43 RBIs. He has 19 RBIs in 17 August games.

On the year, Mahoney is batting .294 with eight homers, 54 RBIs and an OPS of .859. He missed some time with a quad injury and he hit homers at a greater rate at Double-A last year.

But his bat is picking up steam as the season winds down and I think by the end of this year his numbers will more closely resemble last year’s stats that earned him the 2010 Orioles’ minor league Player of the Year Award.

Aaron Baker has now played four games with Bowie, three at DH and one at first base, since joining the club Sunday. He is 3-for-13 with two doubles and two RBIs.

Bowie beat Richmond 5-4 last night to open a game-and-a-half lead on the Flying Squirrels for second place in the division. The top two teams make the playoffs and right now Bowie has the spot.

Despite a loss last night, the Single-A Frederick Keys have an excellent shot to set a club record for wins soon. If Frederick can win just six of its last 17 games, the Keys would record 80 victories for the first time. The 2005 club went 79-61 and the Keys are now 74-48.

Also, Frederick has never won both halves in the Carolina League and they are closing in on that after winning the first half race in their division by five games and they hold a five-game lead right now in the second half.

Kyle Hudson continued his hot hitting at Triple-A last night, going 2-for-3 with a double in Norfolk’s loss to Charlotte. Over his last 31 games, Hudson is batting .382 at 47-for-123 and he has 16 multi-hit games in that stretch.

Pitcher David Walters recorded his 29th save for Single-A Delmarva last night. He needs five more saves to break the Shorebirds’ single-season record.

When Parker Bridwell rejoins the Delmarva rotation tomorrow, the Shorebirds are expected to go to a six-man rotation. Last night, David Baker pitched seven shutout innings of one-hit ball in Delmarva’s win over West Virginia.

Baltimorean Joe Velleggia has missed the last three short-season Single-A Aberdeen games with a strained oblique. The injury kept Velleggia out of the New York-Penn League All-Star game this week. He is currently leading the IronBirds in homers (7), RBIs (28) and slugging (.463).

Jaime Esquivel, a 19-year-old, right-hander from Texas taken in the 28th round last June, continues to pitch well in the Gulf Coast League. Last year, Esquivel was signed to an overslot deal of $225,000.

In 10 games, including seven starts, this summer in the GCL, Esquivel is 5-1 with an ERA of 0.81. Over 44 1/3 innings, he has allowed just 24 hits with 15 walks and 36 strikeouts.

Rather than move him up, perhaps to Aberdeen, it appears the Orioles will keep him with the GCL team, which is headed for the playoffs.

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