When the Double-A Bowie Baysox started this year going 7-23, no one would have predicted they would regroup to produce such a stellar record. But they have.
They are 57-31 since that point with a very strong rotation, some solid position players and a couple of veteran coaches to help young manager Buck Britton.
Buck, 33, is the older brother of former Oriole Zack Britton. Buck played many seasons on the O’s farm, but never made the majors. He might one day as a skipper after leading Single-A Delmarva to a 68-66 record last season and helping to engineer Bowie’s turnaround this year.
Britton was at Oriole Park during the Yankees series and was a guest of Jim Hunter and Mike Bordick on the Orioles radio network. Here are a few topics they covered.
Are the Bowie pitchers buying into how analytics can help them?: “I think these guys are really buying into it. They are starting to understand how their pitches work and then developing a game plan as to how to attack hitters’ swings with the movement on their pitches. They have bought into the system we have down there and you are starting to see guys really understand how to pitch.”
Is winning good for individual player development?: “I think it is good for development and it’s important. When guys win, they want to come to the ballpark and are even more receptive to instruction. When they do have a mental or physical error it is easier to correct.”
How is outfielder Yusniel Diaz doing?: “I think he got off to a slow start but has really started to come on the last month or month and a half. He’s a guy hitting right in the middle of our lineup. He spent some time away from us dealing with an injury but still is tops in doubles and RBIs in the league. This is a guy with the potential to be a run producer.”
Note: Diaz has been out since Aug. 2 with a quad injury.
Any other position players that have a bright future?: “We have guys, yes. They are still a ways away from the player they will be when they get to Baltimore. But we’ve got some solid players.
“Ryan McKenna is a guy who, you look at his batting average and by looking at that you think he is struggling. Then you look at the tops in the league in different categories and he’s all over the top 10, whether it’s walks or runs or stolen bases. He’s a young player, just 22, still finding his way.
“Our shortstop Mason McCoy came to us after a great start at Frederick. Came to us at a time where we weren’t having a lot of success and he was a sparkplug for us. Continues to make the routine out play there and that is so important for our level. Been hitting at the top of our lineup and hitting .285 or so and doing well for us.
“Rylan Bannon a third baseman we got in the Dodger trade (involving Manny Machado). Done a nice job for us at third base. Little guy with some sneaky pop in his bat. He’s got some things in his swing to iron out, but he’s been solid for us all year. Hitting .260 or .270 and steady for us all season long.
What is the biggest challenge you face?: “I think the most important thing is building a culture for the guys and the team. Being a young manager, I think players, whether they mean to or not, they’ll kind of see how much you give them. But to kind of set an atmosphere and let them know, that even though I am a young manager, that I have an idea of what I am doing and I’m here to develop just like they are.
“So, I think that is the biggest challenge, especially with all the personalities you have. And then on the baseball-side, every level you go up, the game speeds up. For managers too. In Double-A you make one mistake and it can lead to something and a snowball effect. Luckily, I have guys like (pitching coach) Kennie Steenstra and (hitting coach) Keith Bodie to help me.”
On the No. 8 organizational ranking from Baseball America: “It is a nice shoutout to development, which kind of works behind the scenes. I think it’s important and good for the energy down there and the coaching staffs to know when you go to the yard every day that you are making an impact with these guys.”
Bowie went 20-7 in June and 20-8 in July. They are 5-5 in August and now are 34-16 in the second-half Eastern League race. They are in second place, 1 1/2 games behind Erie. Bowie is off Monday and hosts Richmond in a doubleheader Tuesday at 5:35 p.m.
On the farm Sunday: Triple-A Norfolk blanked Syracuse 3-0 as Keegan Akin and Dillon Tate combined on a six-hitter. Akin faced just three batters over the minimum and did not allow a runner to reach second. He is 5-5 with an ERA of 4.36. Tate went three scoreless to record his second save. Norfolk is a league-best 7-2 in August.
Ryan Mountcastle had two hits and two RBIs. He is batting .315 and leads all O’s minor leaguers with 20 homers and 70 RBIs.
Short-season Single-A Aberdeen beat Vermont 11-0 as Andrew Daschbach went 2-for-4 with five RBIs. Adley Rutschman went 1-for-3 and drove in two runs and Kyle Stowers added a three-run homer. Over Rutschman’s past three games, he is 4-for-10 with three RBIs.
Single-A Delmarva beat Kannapolis 4-2 as Ryan Wilson, Matt De La Rosa and Jhon Peluffo teamed on a seven-hitter with 14 strikeouts. Delmarva is 31-17 in the second-half and leading its division by three games.
On to New York: The Orioles wrapped up their homestand Sunday with the Rio Ruiz two-run homer in the last of the ninth and an 8-7 win over Houston. Today they begin a week-long road trip to New York and Boston when they play a day-night doubleheader at Yankee Stadium.
The Orioles are 2-13 against the Yankees this season with 12 losses in a row. They have been swept in the last four series by New York.
They’re due to win a game or two against the Yankees this week, aren’t they?