Former Orioles first-round draft pick DJ Stewart earned a bump to Triple-A Norfolk this year while his outfield mates last year, Austin Hays and Cedric Mullins, return to Double-A Bowie for the start of the minor league season next week.
The Tides, the Baysox, and the High-A Frederick Keys announced their break-camp rosters Friday as minor league camp wrapped up at Twin Lakes Park in Sarasota, Fla., with each of the groupings announced featuring enough highly-rated prospects to keep things interesting this spring.
Stewart, the 2015 first-round pick out of Florida State, headlines a group at Norfolk that also includes hard-throwing left-hander Tanner Scott, right-hander David Hess, and major league depth pieces such as Joey Rickard, Donnie Hart, Jimmy Yacabonis, and Alex Presley. Yefry Ramírez, a right-hander acquired from the New York Yankees last July 31, will make his Triple-A debut this spring after going 15-3 with a 3.47 ERA in the Eastern League.
Hays, the organization's top prospect according to Baseball America, will be in a crowded outfield at Double-A Bowie that also includes Mullins, Mike Yastrzemski, and reigning Carolina League Most Valuable Player Ademar Rifaela.
Right-hander Hunter Harvey, the organization's top pitching prospect who nearly earned a spot on the Opening Day roster in spring training, and highly rated left-hander Keegan Akin will get their first tastes of Double-A. Infielder Ryan Mountcastle will also be at Bowie once he recovers from a hairline fracture in his hand.
Below them at Frederick, the list of players returning to the Carolina League is just as impressive as the list of players jumping a level from 2017. Cody Sedlock, the Orioles' first-round pick in 2016, is recovered from an elbow injury and looking to regain his dynamic four-pitch mix for the Keys, while third baseman Jomar Reyes, 21, is back for a third season after missing much of last season with a hand injury. Hard-throwing right-hander Ofelky Peralta, 20, will be back to improve on last year's 5.42 ERA as well.
Among the newcomers for new Keys manager Ryan Minor are some players who performed well for him last year at Low-A Delmarva, including left-hander Alex Wells and infielder Preston Palmiero.
Wells, the Orioles' minor league Pitcher of the Year last year, will be part of a rotation that also features right-handers Jhon Peluffo and Lucas Humpal.
The Keys will also showcase right-hander Branden Kline, a Frederick native who missed much of the past three seasons with injuries but is healthy and throwing well this spring.
At Delmarva, big-name pitchers, including 2017 first-round pick DL Hall, plus Brenan Hanifee, Michael Baumann, Zac Lowther, Cameron Bishop, Matthias Dietz, and Gray Fenter, will be part of a stacked Shorebirds pitching staff.
Pitchers: Jayson Aquino, Josh Edgin, Andrew Faulkner, Jason Gurka, Donnie Hart, David Hess, Jhan Mariñez, Tim Melville, Yefry Ramírez, Joely Rodriguez, Tanner Scott, Matt Wotherspoon, Jimmy Yacabonis.
Catchers: Armando Araiza, Martin Cervenka, Audry Perez.
Pitchers: Christian Alvarado, Mike Burke, Tyler Erwin, Brian Gonzalez, Lucas Humpal, Francisco Jiménez, Steven Klimek, Branden Kline, Jhon Peluffo, Ofelky Perlta, Cody Sedlock, James Teague Matt Trowbridge, Alex Wells.
Infielders: Chris Clare, Alejandro Juvier, Alex Murphy, Preston Palmeiro, Jomar Reyes, Collin Woody.
Outfielders: Cole Billingsley, Ryan McKenna, Randolph Gassaway, Jake Ring.
Catchers: Daniel Fajardo, Stewart Levy.
Pitchers: Michael Baumann, Cameron Bishop, Scott Burke, Matthias Dietz, Gray Fenter, DL Hall, Brenan Hanifee, William Reed Hayes, Alex Katz, Zac Lowther, Zach Muckenhirn, Travis Seabrooke, Nick Vespi, Ryan Wilson.