Grayson Rodriguez, the Orioles' top pick in the 2018 MLB draft, is dominating at Low-A Delmarva and is one of the best teenage pitchers in the minors.
Grayson Rodriguez, the Orioles' top pick in the 2018 MLB draft, is dominating at Low-A Delmarva and is one of the best teenage pitchers in the minors. (Joey Gardner/Handout)

With so much attention on prospects the Orioles hope will be part of their next contender years down the line, the minor league season has been a particular area of focus during a difficult major league season in Baltimore.

The high-minors teams are at their All-Star break this week, and with little more than two months to go in the regular season on the farm, there have been plenty of performances worth noting.

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Some players, such as Chance Sisco and DJ Stewart, have been rewarded with returns to the big leagues. Others, such as Ryan Mountcastle, are biding their time, while little has been more encouraging than the progress of starting pitchers from Low-A Delmarva up to Double-A Bowie.

Here’s a midseason All-Star team from the Orioles’ minor leagues, with a big crop of high draft picks performing up to expectations and several players working themselves off the fringes. All stats are through Tuesday.

Chance Sisco of the Baltimore Orioles receives congratulations from third base coach Jose David Flores after hitting a home run in the third inning against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park on June 07, 2019 in Houston, Texas.
Chance Sisco of the Baltimore Orioles receives congratulations from third base coach Jose David Flores after hitting a home run in the third inning against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park on June 07, 2019 in Houston, Texas. (Bob Levey/Getty)

Catcher: Chance Sisco

Stats: .292/.388/.530 with 10 home runs and 10 doubles in 45 games at Triple-A Norfolk

Sisco, 24, hit his way to the majors after being forced to start the year in the minors and has carried his newfound power stroke to the majors. Sisco added more loft to his swing and his resulting uptick in power means his 16 home runs between the two stops are by far the best of his career.

Honorable mention: Jesús Sucre

Orioles infield prospect Ryan Mountcastle
Orioles infield prospect Ryan Mountcastle (Lloyd Fox/Baltimore Sun)

First base: Ryan Mountcastle

Stats: .307/.329/.505 with 15 home runs and 18 doubles in 80 games at Triple-A Norfolk

Already the best pure hitter in the organization, Mountcastle muscled up this offseason and has added more consistent power to a profile that will need it now that he’s shifted from the left side of the infield to first base and, more recently, left field. He’s not walking much, but has shown he can meet the challenge of high-minors pitching at age 22.

Honorable mention: J.C. Escarra, Seamus Curran

Second base: Adam Hall

Stats: .309/.388/.410 with three home runs and 16 doubles in 75 games at Low-A Delmarva

Hall, 20, is splitting time with Cadyn Grenier between second base and shortstop, and is following up his strong end to 2018 at Short-A Aberdeen with a consistent year for the Shorebirds. He has more of a traditional up-the-middle profile as a contact hitter with speed, but he’s shown the ability to maximize what he has in his first full season.

Honorable mention: Christopher Bostick

Orioles shortstop prospect Mason McCoy with the Bowie Baysox this season.
Orioles shortstop prospect Mason McCoy with the Bowie Baysox this season. (Alexis Oser / Bowie Baysox/Baltimore Sun)

Shortstop: Mason McCoy

Stats: .339/.398/.448 with four home runs and 18 doubles in 83 games between High-A Frederick and Double-A Bowie

McCoy, 24, tried the launch-angle thing in his first full year, but found how susceptible it made him to pitches he couldn’t pull. His response of adopting an opposite-field approach gave him the most hits in the minors (118) through the first half, and put him onto the prospect radar.

Honorable mention: Cadyn Grenier

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Baltimore Orioles second baseman Jace Peterson, right, forces out Pittsburgh Pirates' Francisco Cervelli at second base and turns a double play on Jung Ho Kang during the fourth inning of a spring training baseball game, Thursday, March 21, 2019, in Bradenton, Fla.
Baltimore Orioles second baseman Jace Peterson, right, forces out Pittsburgh Pirates' Francisco Cervelli at second base and turns a double play on Jung Ho Kang during the fourth inning of a spring training baseball game, Thursday, March 21, 2019, in Bradenton, Fla. (Chris O'Meara/AP)

Third base: Jace Peterson

Stats: .295/.377/.463 with six home runs and 22 doubles at Triple-A Norfolk

Far removed from true prospect status, Peterson is doing it all for the Tides and establishing himself as quality depth for the Orioles. Unfortunately, with Hanser Alberto, Jonathan Villar and Richie Martin entrenched in the middle of the infield and Stevie Wilkerson manning the utility role, it’s a tough roster to crack for the 29-year-old Peterson.

Honorable mention: Willy Yahn, Rylan Bannon

DJ Stewart of the Baltimore Orioles
DJ Stewart of the Baltimore Orioles (Lynne Sladky/AP)

Outfield: DJ Stewart

Stats: .302/.425/.588 with 11 home runs and 15 doubles in 53 games between Triple-A Norfolk, Double-A Bowie and Short-A Aberdeen

Like Sisco, Stewart hit his way to the majors after a slow start at Norfolk. An ankle injury shortly after he was called up halted that momentum. While Stewart, 25, is working his way back through the minors, Anthony Santander replaced him and is hitting well enough to hang onto that spot.

Outfield: Zach Jarrett

Stats: .272/.323/.382 with six home runs and 13 doubles in 84 games between High-A Frederick and Double-A Bowie

A 28th-round pick in 2017, all Jarrett has done in his professional career is make the All-Star Game in his two full seasons, last year at Delmarva and this year with the Keys. His early-season cameo in Bowie didn’t go well, but Jarrett, 24, is thriving at Frederick while playing all three outfield spots.

Mason Williams, pictured with the Yankees, rounds second base after getting his first major league hit, a two-run homer at Camden Yards.
Mason Williams, pictured with the Yankees, rounds second base after getting his first major league hit, a two-run homer at Camden Yards. (Gail Burton/AP)

Outfield: Mason Williams

Stats: .289/.349/.460 with 11 home runs and eight doubles in 73 games at Triple-A Norfolk

With the Orioles’ stocks of high-minors players who can play center field, including Austin Hays, Cedric Mullins, Ryan McKenna and Yusniel Díaz, Williams seemed like surplus to requirements when he was signed as a minor league free agent to man Norfolk’s outfield. The 27-year-old Williams held his own in the majors before, so it’s not out of the question that he could get a shot in the second half with center field such a light spot for the Orioles.

Honorable mentions: Cole Billingsley, T.J. Nichting

Orioles introduce 2018 first-round draft pick Grayson Rodriguez at Camden Yards.
Orioles introduce 2018 first-round draft pick Grayson Rodriguez at Camden Yards. (Kenneth K. Lam/Baltimore Sun)

Starting pitcher: Grayson Rodriguez

Stats: 2.18 ERA with a 0.887 WHIP and 84 strikeouts against 16 walks in 62 innings at Low-A Delmarva

Rodriguez, 19, has more than lived up to the hype that comes with being the 11th overall pick in the 2018 draft. He has dominated in a way that calls back to the success of Dylan Bundy and Hunter Harvey in their full-season debuts. What’s most impressive is Rodriguez’s propensity to improve on what’s already the makings of a durable mid-rotation starter.

Bowie Baysox pitcher Alex Wells
Bowie Baysox pitcher Alex Wells (Bert Hindman/HANDOUT)

Starting pitcher: Alex Wells

Stats: 1.92 ERA with a 1.054 WHIP and 62 strikeouts against 18 walks in 79 2/3 innings at Double-A Bowie

The 22-year-old Australian left-hander has continued to thrive without premium stuff in his first year at Double-A, living around the strike zone and keeping runners off the bases en route to his best season yet. Success in the Eastern League can be a harbinger for a pitcher like him going forward, and he’s removing the questions that come with his profile at every stop.

Starting pitcher: Drew Rom

Stats: 1.54 ERA with a 1.119 WHIP and 79 strikeouts against 22 walks in 64 1/3 innings at Low-A Delmarva

A projectable left-hander with a clean delivery who was taken in the fourth round of last year’s draft, Rom has matched Rodriguez step-for-step when it comes to dominating the South Atlantic League. The 19-year-old’s three-pitch mix and propensity for throwing strikes puts him into a loaded crop of left-handed pitchers climbing the ranks.

Honorable mentions: Michael Baumann, Cody Sedlock, Zac Lowther, Bruce Zimmermann

Relief pitcher: Tyler Joyner

Stats: 1.91 ERA with a 0.897 WHIP and 61 strikeouts against 19 walks in 61 1/3 innings at Low-A Delmarva and High-A Frederick

The Shorebirds’ young rotation gets plenty of the credit for the best record in the minors, but the bullpen there has more than done its part. Joyner, 23, was essentially logging starter-level innings and striking out a batter per inning at the back of the Delmarva bullpen before being promoted to the Keys.

Relief pitcher: Zach Matson

Stats: 2.18 ERA with a 1.258 WHIP and 69 strikeouts against 27 walks in 41 1/3 innings between Low-A Delmarva and High-A Frederick

No full-season pitcher in the Orioles system has a better strikeouts-per-nine rate than Matson’s 15. It comes with a high walk rate, but at 23, Matson is one of several Orioles relief prospects who have taken to the new pitching philosophy.

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Honorable mentions: Tanner Scott, Tim Naughton, Dillon Tate

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