Trey Mancini might wind up playing in his first All-Star Game later this summer. And his third full-season in the major leagues is turning out to be a very good one.
But Mancini has never forgotten his minor league roots. During this homestand he has walked through the clubhouse wearing a Delmarva Shorebirds T-shirt, and he was recently part of a group of Orioles that talked with Delmarva players via Skype.
He’s taken note of how well the Shorebirds have played this year. Tuesday night Delmarva clinched first place in their division in the first half in the South Atlantic League. When the league’s playoffs begin in September, Delmarva will be in for the first time since 2005. The Shorebirds began this year going 24-4 and are 47-20 after last night’s win.
“What they did is extremely impressive, and that is one of the toughest divisions to win in the minors too,” Mancini said. “There are many teams in it and it’s a very competitive league. We had a great team when I was there in ‘14 and I think finished third in our division, and we had a really good first half. So, it is hard to win that. They dominated, and it’s impressive what they did. We met some of those guys in spring training, seems like they have a good group there. Super happy for them.”
“It seems like yesterday I was there,” he said. “I can’t believe it’s been five years. It seems way, way more recent than that. Those guys are closer to climbing the ladder than they may think. There is still Frederick, Bowie and Norfolk ahead, but you can climb the ladder quickly.”
Later this year the Shorebirds will chase their first title since the 2000 season. Mancini was on the 2015 Double-A Eastern League champion Bowie Baysox.
“That was incredible. Still one of the best baseball memories I’ve had,” Mancini said. “We had such a good group in Bowie that year, and we were really close. It was special to win with that group. I hope they win like we did in ‘15.”
And he added that while we all know a team 20 games under .500 on the farm can still produce a top player for the major leagues, winning can play a big role in player development for an individual and a team.
“It does help,” Mancini said. “Getting a taste of winning and winning a championship is fun. You realize that in the minors. Once you get a taste of that, you crave it always and it makes you hungrier as a player. I think it’s very important to win in the minors.”
Another honor for Rutschman: On Thursday night, catcher Adley Rutschman was named the 42nd winner of the Golden Spikes Award. The award honors the top amateur baseball player in the United States based on their athletic ability, sportsmanship, character and overall contribution to the sport.
The Orioles selected Rutschman No. 1 overall in the recent 2019 First-Year Player Draft. He is the eighth Golden Spikes Award winner to be selected with the first overall pick in the draft, joining Bob Horner (1978), Ben McDonald (1989), Phil Nevin (1992), Pat Burrell (1998), David Price (2007), Stephen Strasburg (2009) and Bryce Harper (2010). Yesterday, Rutschman was also named the winner of the Dick Howser Trophy, which is awarded annually to the national college baseball player of the year.
Double one-hitters on the farm: While the Orioles were getting crushed last night and allowing six Red Sox homers, some good pitching was happening on the farm. Double-A Bowie one-hit Trenton and recorded 14 strikeouts in a 3-0 win.
Lefty Zac Lowther fanned seven in five scoreless and is now 6-4 with a 1.96 ERA. Harvey threw three innings of scoreless relief with four strikeouts, touching 99 mph with his fastball. Tyler Erwin completed the shutout, recording his eighth save. Harvey pitched in relief to help hold down his season innings total. Bowie has won six in a row.
Short season single-A Aberdeen won its season opener 2-1 over Hudson Valley on a combined one-hitter with 14 strikeouts. Right-hander Ryan Conroy got the start and gave up just one hit and one unearned run over seven innings at Ripken Stadium, with two walks and 12 strikeouts. Conroy was drafted in round eight last year out of Elon. Yelin Rodriguez and Marlon Constante threw an inning each to complete the game.
When Single-A Frederick lost the opener of a doubleheader 1-0 at Salem, 21-year-old right-hander Brenan Hanifee threw a strong game. He allowed five hits and one run. Over his past four starts, Hanifee has a 1.52 ERA.
Jace Peterson continued his hot hitting as Triple-A Norfolk lost to Toledo 7-2. He went 2-for-4 to produce his fifth straight multi-hit game. In that span, he is 11-for-20 with four doubles, a homer and four RBIs. Ryan Mountcastle drove in two for the Tides.