Top prospects Ryan Mountcastle, Grayson Rodriguez and Mike Baumann were among the Orioles’ minor league award winners announced Thursday, representing the cream of what was a breakout year at all levels on the farm.
Mountcastle, the Brooks Robinson Minor League Player of the Year, was the International League MVP thanks to a .312/.344/.527 batting line with 25 home runs and 35 doubles in his age-22 season for Triple-A Norfolk.
While that type of production is typically the type that earns a promotion to Camden Yards in September, the Orioles are holding Mountcastle back before they add him to the roster in the fall and allow him to compete for a spot out of spring training.
Rodriguez, the 2018 first-round pick, dominated at Low-A Delmarva in his first full season. He went 10-4 with a 2.68 ERA in 94 innings, striking out 129 with a 0.99 WHIP while leading Delmarva to a playoff berth.
He shared the Jim Palmer Minor League Pitcher of the Year award with Baumann, the team’s third-round pick in 2017, started the year at High-A Frederick with a 3.83 ERA and a big spike in strikeouts before going to Double-A Bowie and elevating his performance along with it.
Baumann had a 2.31 ERA with 65 strikeouts in 70 innings with a 0.94 WHIP for the Baysox, and threw a nine-inning no-hitter on July 16 against Harrisburg.
Baumann’s teammate in Frederick, left-hander Cameron Bishop, won the Elrod Hendricks Community Service Award for his off-field work with the Keys. Bishop participated in reading programs at Frederick County libraries and did a sign language video with students from the Maryland School for the Deaf, according to an announcement from the Keys.
Delmarva pitching coach Justin Ramsey, who was the coach of the year in the South Atlantic League, won the Cal Ripken Sr. Player Development Award for his work with the Shorebirds’ record-setting pitching staff.
With a rotation of Rodriguez, Drew Rom, Gray Fenter, Ryan Wilson, Nick Vespi and Hector Guance, and a strong bullpen throughout, the Shorebirds staff led the South Atlantic League in ERA (3.00), WHIP (1.18) and strikeouts.
Delmarva manager Kyle Moore, Double-A Bowie manager Buck Britton and GCL Orioles manager Alan Mills will also be honored for their respective managerial awards in their leagues.
The Orioles will also recognize south Texas area scout Thom Dreier as the Jim Russo Scout of the Year, his second time winning the award after earning the honors in 2016. Dreier signed Rodriguez last year, and added 10th-round catcher Jordan Cannon to his list of signees this year, but missed most of the draft season after a roadside cardiac arrest left him hospitalized for a month.
The award winners will take part in a fan Q&A on Saturday at Camden Yards on the Budweiser Roof Deck at 5:30 p.m. before they’re honored on the field before first pitch.
Around the horn
Orioles manager Brandon Hyde visited Ravens coach John Harbaugh at practice on Thursday morning. ... Hyde said after the Orioles’ 8-4 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays that left-hander Richard Bleier will start Friday’s series opener with the Seattle Mariners. Right-hander Aaron Brooks will provide length behind Bleier, who will be making his first major league start.