Three of the Orioles’ four full-season minor league affiliates began a new season last night, and Triple-A Norfolk starts its season tonight. The Tides will host the Gwinnett Stripers at 7:05 p.m. Norfolk starts the year with a six-game homestand at Harbor Park.
Here is the Tides final opening day roster, which was announced today:
Pitchers: Jayson Aquino, Josh Edgin, Andrew Faulkner, Donnie Hart, David Hess, Jhan Mariñez, Tim Melville, Yefry Ramirez, Joely Rodriguez, Tanner Scott, Asher Wojciechowski, Matt Wotherspoon, Jimmy Yacabonis.
Catchers: Austin Wynns, Andrew Susac.
Infielders: Drew Dosch, Garabez Rosa, Luis Sardiñas, Ruben Tejada, Engelb Vielma.
Outfielders: Jaycob Brugman, Alex Presley, Joey Rickard, Michael Saunders, DJ Stewart.
Four players will open the season on Norfolk’s disabled list: pitchers Eddie Gamboa, Chris Lee and Ryan O’Rourke, and and catcher Joel Polanco.
The Tides have dropped each of their last 10 season openers. Norfolk’s last season-opening victory came in 2007 when the Tides won at Scranton. That was the first game for Norfolk as an Orioles affiliate. Conversely, the O’s are 8-0 in their last eight season openers.
The Tides season-opening rotation will go this way: Ramirez, Hess, Yacabonis, Aquino and Melville.
Ramirez was acquired by the Orioles last July 31 from the New York Yankees for international bonus pool money. At the time of the deal, he was 10-3 with a 3.41 ERA for Double-A Trenton. He then went 5-0 with an ERA of 3.66 in six starts for Double-A Bowie to end a strong 2017 season. He was an Eastern League All-Star and finished first in the league in wins, second in opponent average against and seventh in ERA.
For the season, between Trenton and Bowie, the 24-year-old from the Dominican Republic went 15-3 with a 3.47 ERA. Over 124 1/3 innings, he allowed 105 hits with 49 walks, 117 strikeouts and a .232 average against. Ramirez is on the Orioles’ 40-man roster.
The 2018 season is Norfolk’s 50th in the International League. The Tides - who were known as the Tidewater Tides from 1969-1992 - joined the IL in 1969, serving as an affiliate of the New York Mets from 1969-2006. Norfolk has been an Orioles affiliate since 2007.
Ron Johnson returns as Norfolk’s manager for his seventh season. His 422 wins are the most by any manager in Tides history. Johnson has 1,683 wins over a 24-year career. He is joined on the staff by pitching coach Mike Griffin, hitting coach Butch Davis, field coach José Hernandez, athletic trainer Chris Poole, and strength and conditioning coach Trevor Howell.
Elsewhere on the farm tonight, Bowie (0-1) hosts Harrisburg with Jordan Kipper on the mound. Single-A Frederick (1-0) plays at Myrtle Beach with Cristian Alvarado getting the start. Single-A Delmarva hosts Asheville with Cameron Bishop getting the start.
Delmarva’s season-opening six-man rotation has been finalized and it goes this way: Micheal Baumann, who went last night and struck out 10 batters over five scoreless innings and then Bishop tonight. Then it’s Matthias Dietz, Brenan Hanifee, Zac Lowther and DL Hall, the club’s 2017 top draft pick. Gray Fenter will pitch in relief after Hall in that game iÁ a piggyback situation. So the Shorebirds have seven pitchers on a starter schedule in a six-man rotation.
Meanwhile, right-handed pitcher Dariel Alvarez, formerly an outfielder, is at extended spring training continuing his throwing program with bullpen sessions. He had Tommy John surgery in April 2017. Alvarez should be able to join an affiliate by at least mid-season, quite possibly sooner.