For a kid from Wisconsin drafted in the third round of 2018, Terrin Vavra’s first full season in pro ball in 2019 could not have gone much better. He was the low Single-A South Atlantic League MVP for Asheville when he filled up the stat sheet. Then came the 2020 season and no minor league ball. Then late that year, he got traded to the Orioles from Colorado with Tyler Nevin for relief pitcher Mychal Givens.
In 2019, he had a big year. But after the deal, he would go through some big changes.
“Initially, it was kind of a shock,” said Vavra, 24, taken 96th overall out of the University of Minnesota in 2018. “It was a little bittersweet. I was fortunate to make some good relationships with the Rockies organization. But ultimately you have to work with the opportunity that is being given to you. To come to this organization and be a part of something that they are building here, I am fortunate to be a part of it now.”
In the South Atlantic League, Vavra hit .318/.409/.489 with 32 doubles, a triple, 10 homers, 79 runs, 18 steals, 52 RBIs and an OPS of .899. He walked as much as he struck out, 62 times.
A big year after a solid start in short-season ball after the draft. And as a college drafted player who turned 24 May 12, the O’s decision this year was to skip High-A ball and start him with Double-A Bowie, where he has been igniting one of the best lineups in the minors at the top of the order.
Bowie was rolling, too, before losing the last two days at Hartford to fall to 21-7. This is still one of the best records of any team on the farm.
“It seems like it’s someone different each night that steps up and is a difference-maker and I think that’s what make us so scary,” said Vavra of a lineup averaging 6.3 runs per game with an .803 team OPS.
Over 24 games, Vavra is batting .275/.407/.484 with six doubles, a triple, four homers, 17 RBIs and an OPS of .891.
“Like to use the middle of the field,” he said of his hitting approach. “When I’m going well, that’s what I’m doing. Putting the ball in play, getting on base and setting things up for the guys hitting behind me.”
And continuing to show solid plate discipline with 17 walks to 28 strikeouts.
“I think that comes from setting your sights on one pitch and being able to shut down anything not in that zone,” Vavra said. “It’s a blessing and a curse sometimes. Sometimes you take close pitches that maybe you need to be a little more aggressive with. But ultimately it’s going to help you get a better pitch throughout the at-bat.”
The Baysox have been putting up a lot of runs and Vavra said they have been a team with solid clubhouse chemistry that just has been winning consistently. Player development is the most important part on the farm. But Vavra said his team is learning how to win, too.
“I think our ultimate goal is to help the club in Baltimore win games and part of that is learning how to win in the minor leagues,” he said. “So I think what we are doing here will go a long ways in the future and it will help the Orioles organization for years to come. We have a great group here. Lot of talented guys. Some young guys that, you know, are quick to adapt and are quick learners and we have some guys that have kind of been there and they know how to go about their day-to-day business and handle themselves. That is what this team is, a bunch of professionals, and I hope I can be included with that.
“It is one of those things, when you show up at the field, you can just feel that the other team doesn’t really matter who we are playing, we know we are better than anyone we will play. It’s a subtle confidence and it’s really, really fun to be a part of.”
When the minor leagues were shut down in 2020, Vavra was more fortunate than most players. He could turn both to his family and the family business for help. He is the son of Joe Vavra, who spent many years on the big league coaching staffs of the Minnesota Twins and the Detroit Tigers. He was most recently the Tigers hitting coach in 2020. Older brother Tanner, 31, played in the minors and was drafted in round 30 by the Twins in 2013. Middle brother Trey, 29, played in the minors and was drafted by the Twins in round 33 in 2014.
Terrin is the only one in pro ball this year, but the other brothers are coaches at St. Thomas (Minnesota) and took that team to the Division III College World Series, where they played over the weekend.
The brothers opened a facility, Triple Threat Training, in Wisconsin in 2018. The facility, in the western part of the state, is about an hour from the Twin Cities and a half-hour from Eau Claire, Wisc.
“We are trying to give back to the game a little bit,” said Vavra. “Our community (Menomonie) up in Wisconsin, you know we are trying to build the game there. We have experienced some things in our professional careers and there are some good players there. You just have to give them the opportunity.”
And being in a baseball family gives him the chance to have not one, but three resources to tap into for advice or any help he ever needs.
“It’s nice ,for sure. They’ve been there, done that. They can relate and give me their two cents whenever I need it,” he said. “They know how tough it can be, how good it can be. They want what is best for me, and if they see something, they will tell me. Nice to have three people that can help you. Sometimes I just like to talk about things outside the game with them. We can get too caught up in the game sometimes.”
Big day of offense: The Orioles highest scoring game of the year was 11. Then Sunday they had scored 12 by the fourth inning on their way to an 18-5 win over Cleveland.
* Ten players scored at least one run and it’s the first time at least 10 players have scored in a game since Sept. 10, 2014 against Boston.
* Nine different Orioles recorded an RBI, tying the franchise record, done three times prior and last on Sept. 28, 2000 against Toronto.
* The 18 runs were the most since beating Oakland 18-2 on Aug. 16, 2015. It was just the third time the O’s scored 18 in a game against Cleveland and first since April 19, 2006.
* The O’s recorded 21 hits for the 40th time in club history and first since Aug. 30, 2019 against Kansas City (21).
* For the 12th time in team history, eight batters recorded multiple hits in a game. It was the first time they did that since Aug. 25, 2017 against Boston.
* In going 8-for-9 over the last two days, Cedric Mullins raised his average from .298 to .322. Mullins reached base 10 times with three homers in his past two games and he is the first player to do so since Chris Davis on May 14, 2017.