It’s been just over a year since Terrin Vavra came to the Orioles as part of the August trade deadline deal that sent reliever Mychal Givens to the Colorado Rockies, adding yet another infield prospect that the Orioles believe can help solve one of their biggest issues.
In that year, Vavra has solidified himself as a player who is in the Orioles’ long-term plans, and embraced all that being part of this developing farm system could mean for the future at Camden Yards.
“We’re striving for a culture of excellence, and I think that’s the most exciting part because we understand that what we’re doing down here in the minor leagues is we’re trying to develop and bring that culture of excellence all the way to Baltimore, and that’s exciting because everyone’s involved with that,” Vavra said. “We need the guy behind us, we need the guy next to us pushing us. You definitely can feel that when you’re on a field with these guys. We have the right staff and front office people to set us up for a long period of success. I’m just grateful to be a part of it.”
The 24-year-old infielder, who plays primarily second base but also gets time in center field and at shortstop, has been among the most successful prospects the Orioles acquired in their five trades in the summer of 2020. He went 5-for-13 with a home run and a pair of doubles in his first week back after missing two months with a back injury, giving him an .874 OPS in 35 games in Double-A this season.
Even with Vavra’s 151 plate appearances there, he ranks third among Orioles’ high-minors hitters who have at least that many trips to the plate in wRC+ (147) and wOBA (.390), both measures that aim to contextualize a player’s overall production for a league’s offensive environment. Only top prospect Adley Rutschman and Bowie slugger Kyle Stowers rate better in their system.
Vavra accomplishes it differently than those players, though. He does it with an all-fields approach focused on hitting the ball into the gap in left-center, and advanced plate discipline. He leads all Orioles farmhands with at least 190 plate appearances with a 16.6% walk rate (including his rehab games), and is one of eight Orioles farmhands with a swinging strike rate below 10%.
Vavra comes from a baseball family. His father, Joe, was the Detroit Tigers’ hitting coach in 2020 and his brothers, Tanner and Treysen, both play professionally as well. Vavra envisions filling a traditional role in this progressive Orioles farm system.
“I wanted to show that I could be a table-setter for some of those big bats that were coming up behind me,” Vavra said. “Early in the year we had, and still to this day, we have a lot of talented players. I know that me personally, the more I can get on and help those guys and set them up for success, the better the team is going to be. That’s really my goal every time that I step into the box, just get the next guy in a better situation than he was if I wasn’t up before him. I’m just trying to get stronger, hit the ball harder, show that I can do some damage, too, when the time comes. When guys get on before me, I’m able to help contribute in that way as well.”
Bowie manager Buck Britton, noting Vavra’s bloodlines, said he’s a “smart baseball player” whose hitting approach makes him “kind of a throwback.”
“He’s starting to pull the ball more with more authority and I think you’re going to start seeing a little more power because of that,” Britton said. “He’s got a knack for barreling the ball. He has pretty good hand-eye coordination, finds the barrel a lot. I think as he starts getting more comfortable pulling the ball in the air, the power is going to jump a little bit. But I think Vavra, if he can be versatile in the field — play the outfield, play second base — I think his ticket is going to be he’s going to be a good hitter. … I think he’s got a chance to hit a little bit.”
The Orioles went for a volume approach in the returns on the five in-season trades they made last summer, and Vavra seems to be the top player they brought back in that group so far. He was acquired with corner infielder/outfielder Tyler Nevin, who made his major league-debut Memorial Day weekend and has 12 home runs with a .678 OPS in 366 plate appearances at Triple-A Norfolk.
That trade also included teenage Dominican outfielder Mishael Deson, who in his stateside debut in the Florida Complex League this summer is batting .344 with a .855 OPS and 10 steals at age 19.
Shortstop Isaac de Leon, another 19-year-old from the Dominican Republic, came to the Orioles in the July trade of left-hander Richard Bleier from the Miami Marlins and is batting .298 with a .782 OPS in the FCL. Venezuelan right-hander Miguel Padilla, 19, has struggled in the FCL after being traded for right-hander Hector Vázquez.
Left-hander Kevin Smith was the headliner in a three-player trade that sent Miguel Castro to the New York Mets, and after pitching to a 1.05 ERA with a 1.05 WHIP in six outings at Bowie, he’s seen his ERA (5.95) and WHIP (1.75) spike in the last three months at Norfolk. Infielder Victor González, 18, was part of that trade as well but played only 11 games in the Dominican Summer League before landing on the long-term injured list.
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