Orioles minor league report: Recent first-round draft picks DL Hall, Heston Kjerstad excel with one other about to hitch combine


Sunday, the Orioles will add one other high prospect to their farm system by means of the primary general decide within the MLB draft. Their current first-rounders nonetheless taking part in for his or her minor league associates all had nice weeks within the lead-up to a different one becoming a member of them.

Who precisely their first decide will likely be stays considerably of a thriller, with government vice chairman and common supervisor Mike Elias saying this weekend the membership’s record of choices stays at 5 and can doubtless keep there till they should make the decide about 7 p.m. Sunday.

Not wanting to offer any benefits to the groups choosing behind Baltimore or the representatives who will negotiate the signing bonuses for these gamers, Elias has been understandably quiet about who the Orioles are contemplating. But it’s believed Baltimore’s quintet aligns with the 5 gamers seen as the most effective out there on this draft class: Georgia highschool outfielder Druw Jones, Oklahoma highschool shortstop Jackson Holliday, Florida highschool outfielder Elijah Green, Georgia highschool second baseman Termarr Johnson and Cal Poly shortstop Brooks Lee.

It marks the ninth top-five choice Elias has been concerned with since 2012, relationship to his time with the Houston Astros.

“We’ve done well, but we haven’t always hit the picks perfectly,” Elias stated Saturday. “But one thing that we have done is not give much of an indication of what we’re going to do. The way the system is set up, that’s beneficial.”

Some of the Orioles’ current high picks starred this week, two of whom had been Elias’ choices. Each week, The Baltimore Sun will break down 5 of the highest performers within the Orioles’ prospect ranks and hand out some superlatives for many who didn’t make that reduce.

1. Triple-A Norfolk left-hander DL Hall

Baltimore’s first-round decide in 2017, Hall has had an up-and-down tenure at Triple-A, together with a bout with pitch-tipping that led to a tough pair of begins to shut June. But he has emphatically moved previous that. On Wednesday, Hall struck out a career-high 14 in six innings, permitting a run on three hits and two walks. He induced 31 swinging strikes amongst his 98 pitches; for comparability, John Means’ 113-pitch, 12-strikeout no-hitter final season featured 26 swings and misses. Removing the 2 begins towards Lehigh Valley the place he had tipping points, Hall has struck out greater than 44% of the batters he’s confronted in his different 10 begins for Norfolk.

2. Low-A Delmarva outfielder Heston Kjerstad

The narrative across the Orioles’ underslot drafting strategy — taking a participant barely decrease within the rankings within the first spherical, signing them to a bonus under the slot worth and spreading these financial savings to proficient later-round picks — might definitely change if Kjerstad retains producing as he has. The No. 2 decide within the 2020 draft has performed nothing however rake since coming back from the center situation myocarditis and a left hamstring pressure, illnesses that stored him off the sector for 2 years after his choice. After hitting .529 and strolling six instances towards two strikeouts final week for Low-A Delmarva, Kjerstad was promoted to High-A Aberdeen on Monday, leaving the Shorebirds with a batting line of .463/.551/.650 in 98 plate appearances.

3. Double-A Bowie outfielder Colton Cowser

Kjerstad’s promotion brings some high-draftee pedigree to Aberdeen that was misplaced when Cowser, Coby Mayo and Connor Norby had been bumped to Bowie. After a gradual begin to his first full skilled season, Cowser, final 12 months’s fifth general decide, appears to be discovering his footing. He hit .273/.360/.500 final week for the Baysox, with two doubles and a house run representing half of his hits. He’s nonetheless placing out an atypical quantity, however the outcomes in any other case counsel he’s on course.

4. Triple-A Norfolk second baseman Terrin Vavra

The success of Gunnar Henderson and Jordan Westburg — now ranked as Baltimore’s No. 2 and 4 prospects, respectively, primarily based on Baseball America’s newest high 100 — with Norfolk has followers clamoring for promotions, however Vavra is simply as deserving of, if no more prone to obtain, the prospect to debut. Already on Baltimore’s 40-man roster, Vavra has been dynamic as a table-setter for the Tides, persevering with this week with a .350 common, .458 on-base share and a good 4-to-4 strikeout-to-walk ratio. In 177 Triple-A plate appearances, Vavra is hitting .329 with an .888 OPS.

5. Double-A Bowie right-hander Garrett Stallings

On May 8, Stalling pitched the primary six innings of a mixed no-hitter for Bowie. Over his subsequent eight begins, he had a 16.96 ERA, permitting 16 house runs in 26 innings. Acquired from the Los Angeles Angels together with right-hander Jean Pinto for shortstop José Iglesias, Stallings has now thrived in two straight bulk reduction outings. After placing out 10 in 4 one-run frames, Stallings threw six shutout innings out of the bullpen for Bowie on Friday. Pinto can be on a pleasant run at Aberdeen, with a 1.24 ERA over his previous seven appearances.

The high prospect not featured to date

With Adley Rutschman’s commencement from prospect standing, right-hander Grayson Rodriguez is now the Orioles’ high prospect. His injured proper lat has value him the title of the sport’s consensus high pitching prospect, with Tampa Bay’s Shane Baz shifting above him in Baseball America’s rankings. Although he’s progressing nicely, it’s nonetheless uncertain Rodriguez returns earlier than September, that means he’ll doubtless stay a prospect by means of the offseason. Elias stated reimaging of the damage final week “looked great, as good as it could have.”

“Things are trending well, but we still have stuff to go,” Elias stated. “We still do not have a timetable yet, either, just because of the nature of these lat injuries. We’re not at a sort of checkpoint where we’d start scripting that out.”

International acquisition of the week

When Delmarva’s Luis Valdez will get on base, he’s prone to break for second. That was the case this week, when Valdez walked seven instances and singled 4 others and got here away with 5 steals with out being caught. He now has 41 this season, 20 greater than another Orioles minor leaguer. He doubled twice final week, as nicely, hitting .316/.519/.421.

The greatest former top-30 prospect of the week

The Orioles haven’t gotten a lot manufacturing out of third base this season, however Rylan Bannon continues to slug away at Norfolk. Part of the Los Angeles Dodgers’ bundle to amass Manny Machado, Bannon hit .333 with a 1.100 OPS final week. Across his previous 23 video games at Triple-A, Bannon is hitting .257/.415/.554 with six house runs and 17 walks in 94 plate appearances. He didn’t do a lot with the 15 main league plate appearances he has obtained, and he didn’t get into any video games for Baltimore in his most up-to-date stint earlier than being moved to the taxi squad after which returned to Norfolk.

Time to offer some shine to …

Infielder Frederick Bencosme has carried out nicely in his first month stateside. Signed out of the Dominican Republic in August 2020, the 19-year-old has hit .366 with a .427 on-base share for Delmarva after being one of many group’s high performers within the Dominican Summer League final 12 months. He hit .412 with a .945 OPS final week, strolling and placing out twice every whereas stealing three bases.

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