It was a nice week for players selected with the Orioles’ second pick of a draft.
The most notable case was Gunnar Henderson, who arrived in the majors Wednesday to put the Orioles’ first three selections of the 2019 draft together in their lineup. The former second-round pick recorded a hit in all but one of his first seven games, including a home run in his second major league at-bat.
Jordan Westburg, who Henderson left behind on Triple-A Norfolk’s infield, didn’t put together his best week, but 2020′s 30th overall pick still left it with a .500 slugging percentage thanks to half of his four hits being home runs.
Likewise, 2021 second-round Connor Norby continued his power output with Double-A Bowie, while Dylan Beavers, the Orioles’ top pick this year behind No. 1 overall selection Jackson Holliday, impressed with Low-A Delmarva. Both are highlighted here as each week, The Baltimore Sun will break down five of the top performers in the Orioles’ prospect ranks and hand out some superlatives for those who didn’t make that cut.
1. Double-A Bowie infielder Connor Norby
Norby is tied with Westburg for the organization’s minor league home run crown with 23, with three of those coming among his six hits last week as he slugged .895. He added a triple for good measure. Norby is hitting .292/.373/.575 with 15 home runs since joining Bowie, with an OPS more than 200 points above his mark with High-A Aberdeen.
2. Low-A Delmarva outfielder Dylan Beavers
Beavers, the 33rd overall pick in the 2022 draft, has had little trouble adapting to pro ball. He slashed .375/.423/.542 for the Shorebirds last week, and his OPS in Low-A actually went down. It’s certainly still respectable at .999.
3. Triple-A Norfolk right-hander Mike Baumann
Before pitching solidly for the Orioles in the opening game of Monday’s doubleheader as Baltimore’s 29th man, Baumann dominated for the Tides. The only run he allowed over six innings was unearned as he struck out 13 in a start Wednesday. In the two months between his previous major league stint and Monday’s start — after which he was returned to Norfolk — Baumann had a 2.89 ERA and struck out nearly a third of the batters he faced in Triple-A.
4. Triple-A Norfolk infielder Joey Ortiz
Even with Henderson, Adley Rutschman and Kyle Stowers in the majors, Ortiz is an example of why executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias believes there’s more talent coming from Baltimore’s 2019 draft. In his first week with Triple-A, Ortiz continued to mash in the manner that got him there, putting up an OPS of 1.124 with two doubles, a triple and a home run with three steals in as many tries to go along with it.
5. Double-A Bowie right-hander Noah Denoyer
Amid all of the recent talk about the Orioles’ 2019 draft, a pitcher they — and every other team — didn’t take that year had a strong outing for the Baysox. Signed as an undrafted free agent, Denoyer worked four nearly perfect innings Thursday, with a walk the only baserunner against him. Working largely in bulk relief, Denoyer has a 2.44 ERA for Bowie, striking out 64 of 181 opposing hitters.
The top prospect not featured so far
Grayson Rodriguez starts for Bowie on Tuesday in his second start since returning from a Grade 2 right lat muscle strain. In the first, he threw 31 pitches over 1 1/3 innings on Thursday for High-A Aberdeen, shaking off some rust but working in each piece of his repertoire. Each outing from Rodriguez, the game’s top pitching prospect, will provide more information as to whether he can join the Orioles to help a late playoff push.
International acquisition of the week
Baltimore Orioles Insider
As a 19-year-old in Low-A, Delmarva’s Moises Chace has not had the smoothest first season in affiliated ball. But perhaps he’s closing it well. Friday for the Shorebirds, he completed five innings for the first time this season, allowing two runs on three hits and a walk while striking out four. It marked his first outing without multiple free passes since mid-June.
The best former top-30 prospect of the week
Time has likely run out for Robert Neustrom to break into the Orioles’ 2022 outfield plans, but a late push with Norfolk wouldn’t hurt. He hit .385 with a .538 slugging percentage last week, beginning September well after he struggled mightily in August.
Time to give some shine to …
Among Orioles minor leaguers with at least 300 plate appearances, Aberdeen outfielder Donta’ Williams has the sixth-highest walk rate, and of the five players above him, only Henderson has a better strikeout rate. That’s a welcome sign for Baltimore’s 2021 fourth-round pick, even as he’s generally had struggles in his first full season. Last week, he hit .313/.389/.625 with a double and two triples, stealing two bases and walking twice against three strikeouts.
Tuesday, 7:05 p.m.
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