SALISBURY, Md. - The team that takes the field tonight at Perdue Stadium for the low Single-A Delmarva Shorebirds will look very different from the team that lost 2-1 at Lynchburg on Sunday.
This club tonight is putting a team on the field made up completely of position players from the 2021 First-Year Player draft, along with infielder Coby Mayo, taken in the 2020 draft.
Buy a scorecard to watch the Shorebirds this week, as they’ve added 12 draft picks from the class of 2021, including the Orioles’ top eight selections from July. They added Mayo as well and two pitchers signed after the 2021 draft as free agents.
It will be a very different look for a team that is 48-42 and five games out of a playoff berth in the Low-A East with 30 games to play.
The newcomers include the Orioles first-round pick in Sam Houston State outfielder Colton Cowser (No. 5 overall pick) and their second-round selection in infielder Connor Norby (No. 41 overall). Of the new additions, five slot into the Orioles’ top 30 prospects list on Baseball America. Cowser is No. 5, Norby is No. 10, Mayo is No. 15, outfielder Reed Trimble is No. 20 and outfielder John Rhodes is No. 26.
“It’s like the season is starting over for the staff, yet we’ve we been through 90 games already. Going to be a lot of fun,” Shorebirds manager Dave Anderson said this afternoon at Perdue Stadium. “We want them to have some fun. This is their first experience in professional baseball. We’ll try to have them learn a bit about playing everyday and about preparing for the games which is important.
“There are a lot of things (to learn). But we’ll go more big picture with them, just the hitting, defense and stuff like that. And we’ll throw stuff in depending how much time we have. Right now, we’re just trying to learn names. I just walked in the clubhouse and had 15 faces staring at me that had no idea who this guy was that just walked in the door,” he said with a laugh.
Cowser will try to pick up where he left off playing in the Rookie-level Florida Complex League. He went 11-for-22 with three doubles, a homer and eight RBIs in seven games. He went 9-for-17 versus right-handers and 6-for-10 with runners in scoring position.
“You know, I was mainly trying to get timing,” Cowser said of his FCL experience. “The first game, I hadn’t seen a pitch in two months. Didn’t know what to expect. It’s like riding a bike, I guess you could say. It’s really exciting because the team believes in you, they took a chance on you.”
Cowser said he drove north from Florida over two days on Saturday and Sunday as part of a three-car caravan with Mayo and infielder Jacob Teter.
Cowser said the draft class of 2021 has already become a close group.
“It was a lot of the whole draft class that was playing together (in Florida). We’re giving each other a hard time already. Baseball clubhouses bring different friendships. That is something I’m really looking forward to,” he said.
Rhodes, taken out of the University of Kentucky in round three, went 3-for-14 in six FCL games. He said the draft picks already feel like their own team within a team.
“It’s been pretty cool, honestly,” said Rhodes. “We got drafted together, we came up the last month together, now we’re going to finish the season together. It will be a unique experience here.
“This is a talented bunch. They just released that we are the No. 2 organizational rank in terms of farm systems. I believe it, man. There is talent everywhere. These guys rake and the future is looking bright.”
Rhodes said even though FCL games were his first in the pro ranks, playing in front of just a few fans takes some getting used to.
“Honestly, it’s a little bit different,” he said. “You go from playing at Mississippi State in front of 10,000 to going to FCL in front of 10. That’s been a difference. You have to create some of your own energy. But when you move up the ranks, the SEC will prepare you a lot for when crowds are rolling in.”
Pitcher Ty Blach, who had Tommy John surgery last July, is here on a rehab assignment. He was playing with the draft picks in Florida. At 30, he’s a veteran of 92 big league games and now he’s with these kids in Salisbury, where today feels like the first day of school.
“It’s been awesome, they are all really excited,” said Blach. “It’s been fun to get to know them the last few weeks in Florida as they’ve come in and played games down there. They are a really tight-knit group. They can play. So it’s going to be fun to see what they have at this level, how they come together and hopefully make a push for the playoffs here.”
Several of the picks today, in addition to talking about the great chemistry already with this group, were saying the organization clearly is taking pride in the No. 2 ranking by Baseball America.
“It just brings an excitement around the club and around the organization,” said Cowser. “That is something that I think each one of these guys in the new class is looking forward to. There is some chatter around and we can feel it in the clubhouse. It is nice to be recognized like that as an organization.”
Delmarva’s all-draft pick lineup tonight:
LF Reed Trimble
2B Connor Norby
CF Colton Cowser
3B Coby Mayo
DH Donta’ Williams
RF John Rhodes
C Connor Pavolony
1B Jacob Teter
SS Collin Burns
The Shorebirds pitcher for their 7:05 p.m. game with the Fredericksburg Nationals is right-hander Houston Roth (6-2, 3.78), a 29th-round pick by the Orioles in the 2019 draft.
Shorebirds win big over Nats: Break up these new-look Shorebirds. They were no-hit through four innings tonight and then scored three runs in the fifth and batted around in the sixth, scoring seven runs in a 10-1 win over Fredericksburg.
So Delmarva is 49-42 overall and 1-0 with their 15 new players that officially arrived today.
Pavalony, a seventh-round pick from Tennessee, drove in four runs in the win. He blasted a two-run homer that had an exit velocity of 101 mph in the fifth and added a two-run double an inning later. Pavalony had gone 2-for-15 without an RBI in five games in the Rookie-level Florida Complex League.
Every player in the Delmarva lineup had a hit, an RBI or scored a run. Batting eighth, 13th-rounder Teter from Florida Southern doubled and scored in the fifth and had a two-run single in the sixth.
Cowser, batted third and went 1-for-3 with a double, walk and sac fly that gave him his first RBI with Delmarva. Norby batted second and played second base and went 1-for-4 with an RBI hit.
Roth improved to 7-2 with an ERA of 3.63 allowing three hits and one run over five innings. The O’s 18th-round pick, right-hander Conor Grady from Florida State threw a 1-2-3 sixth. Right-hander Carlos Tavera, the O’s fifth round pick from Texas-Arlington, pitched a scoreless seventh. He touched 96 mph. Right-hander Peter Van Loon, taken in round 16, pitched a scoreless eighth.
Between a lineup that included eight players from the 2021 draft (and 2020 pick Mayo) and three pitchers also taken last month, the Shorebirds used 11 draft picks from this year in this win.
The Delmarva Shorebirds and their new draft picks beat Fredericksburg 10-1. pic.twitter.com/QoOp8xYa2L-- Steve Melewski (@masnSteve) August 18, 2021
Colton Cowser’s hot smash grounder to the mound went for an out in his Delm debut. But was hit 100 mph off the bat. pic.twitter.com/mlvSG6VVI7-- Steve Melewski (@masnSteve) August 17, 2021