The month of May is now in the rearview mirror. It’s time to take a look at how the baby birds fared during the month. Prospect ranks are based on Tony Pente’s updated Top 30 Oriole prospects heading into 2017 published back on April 5th.
In case you’re unfamiliar with how this column works, it is based off of the Baseball America prospect hotsheet they post on a weekly basis that spotlights the top ten hottest performing prospects in the minors. The only difference is we only focus on Oriole prospects. The rankings are somewhat subjective but I tend to emphasize who had the best ERA, FIP, K/BB ratio and Opponent Average for pitchers and Average, Home Runs, and OPS for hitters and rank them as I see fit.
Overall, pitching dominates the top ten this time around, although not necessarily the top ranked pitching prospects in the organization, several of whom have been struggling. The top two spots on the list however go to a pair of hitters on the Keys who have been smoking the ball all year. Without further ado…
1) Ryan Mountcastle – SS – Frederick Keys (A+)
Top 30 Rank: 10
After a strong month of April, Mountcastle kicked it up a notch in May, including a three-homer game on May 26th. Mountcastle now has 11 home runs overall in just 218 plate appearances, after hitting 10 over 489 plate appearances last year at Delmarva. The one thing to nitpick about his May performance is the dearth of walks. One has to wonder if his aggressive tendencies might get him in trouble at higher levels. For now, single A pitching has been no match for him and it would appear we are witnessing a legitimate breakout performance from the Orioles 2015 supplemental first rounder.
2) Austin Hays – CF – Frederick Keys (A+)
Top 30 Rank: 5
Hays also had a three-homer game this month on May 24th, bashing 7 overall. The 2016 3rd rounder also showed improved plate discipline this month, striking out at just a 14% clip. After batting .336 last summer for the Ironbirds, Hays is now batting .314 overall thus far with the Keys, a truly impressive start to young outfielder’s career.
3) Tanner Scott – LHP – Bowie Baysox (AA)
Top 30 Rank: 20
Talk about lights out. Scott has been thriving in his role as a three inning starter for the Baysox, holding opponents to a ridiculous .125 average in May. What’s really encouraging though, is seeing that his walk rate decreased in May from 8.5 per nine to 5.5 per nine. If Scott can keep that up, he could have a chance to help out in Baltimore at some point this year or next.
4) Lucas Long – RHP – Bowie Baysox (AA)
Top 30 Rank: NR
Here’s a guy who hasn’t received much hype in the past but has quietly been dominating all season at Bowie. He put together a tremendous month of May for Bowie and after reading this recent report from Tony, I think it’s time to add Long to the prospect radar.
5) Jhon Peluffo – RHP – Delmarva Shorebirds (Low A)
Top 30 Rank: 19
Peluffo entered the year as an intriguing sleeper who posted strong numbers in the GCL last summer but met his match in three rough outings with Delmarva. The hard throwing righty has turned it around so far in 2017, highlighted a strong month of May.
6) Stefan Crichton – RHP – Norfolk Tides (AAA)
Top 30 Rank: 28
Crichton has been dealing all year for the Tides after impressing in Spring Training. The Orioles have rewarded his performance with a couple brief stints in the majors when a need for an extra reliever arose.
7) Brandon Barker – RHP – Bowie Baysox (AA)
Top 30 Rank: NR
Here’s another unranked 24-year old righty who has been putting up solid numbers for the Baysox. Barker was acquired last summer from the Braves in the Brian Matusz trade and might be worth keeping an eye on if he continues to pitch like this.
8) Matthias Dietz – RHP – Delmarva Shorebirds (Low A)
Top 30 Rank: 12
Dietz had a brutal month of April, posting a 7.40 ERA over five starts. May proved to be a much kinder month to the 2016 2nd rounder who lowered his overall ERA to 4.84 in the process.
9) Alex Wells – LHP – Delmarva Shorebirds (Low A)
Top 30 Rank: 8
The young Aussie continues to be a model of consistency on the mound, thanks to his plus command. He now has a 1.74 ERA overall after tossing 7 shutout innings on June 1st.
10) Randolph Gassaway – OF – Frederick Keys (A+) and Bowie Baysox (AA)
Top 30 Rank: 23
Gassaway showed great plate discipline this month, an impressive sign for a guy known for free swinging tendencies in the past. He is a power guy though so hopefully we see a few long balls from him in June after laying a goose egg in that category in May.
- D.J. Stewart – LF – Bowie Baysox (#25) .262/.372/.437 over 82 PA, 4 HR, 6 BB, 15 K
- Jesus Liranzo – RHP – Bowie Baysox (#9) 3.86 ERA, 11.2 IP, 10 H, HR, 6 BB, 15 K, .222 AVG
The Not Sheet (Uh Oh)
- Chance Sisco – C – Norfolk Tides (#3) .241/.300/.361 over 89 PA, 2 HR, 6 BB, 26 K
- Chris Lee – LHP – Norfolk Tides (#7) 7.46 ERA, 25.1 IP, 36 H, 4 HR, 15 BB, 20 K, .346 AVG
- Garrett Cleavinger – LHP – Bowie Baysox (#21) 12.46 ERA over 8.2 IP, 11 H, 2 HR, 11 BB, 12 K, .275 AVG
- John Means – LHP – Bowie Baysox (NR) 7.24 ERA, 32.1 IP, 43 H, HR, 8 BB, 25 K, .321 AVG
- Keegan Akin – LHP – Frederick Keys (#2) 6.05 ERA, 19.1 IP, 21, 4 HR, 11 BB, 15 K, .288 AVG
- Brian Gonzalez – LHP – Frederick Keys (#16) 4.70 ERA, 23 IP, 31 H, 2 HR, 11 BB, 25 K, .326 AVG
- Cody Sedlock – RHP – Frederick Keys (#1) 9.13 ERA, 22.2 IP, 34 H, 4 HR, 10 BB, 24 K, .333 AVG
- Ofelky Peralta – RHP – Frederick Keys (#11) 5.32 ERA, 22 IP, 19 H, 4 HR, 21 BB, 18 K, .235 AVG
- Zach Muckenhirn – LHP – Delmarva Shorebirds (#18) 6.15 ERA, 26.1 IP, 40 H, 3 HR, 7 BB, 18 K, .339 AVG
- Jomar Reyes – 3B – Frederick Keys (A+) – Reyes is out another month recovering from a broken finger he suffered punching a wall.
- Cedric Mullins – CF – Bowie Baysox (AA) – Mullins played in back-to-back games this week in extended spring training and could be set to return this weekend.
- Hunter Harvey – RHP – Frederick Keys (A+) – Harvey is still in rehab and doing some light throwing from the mound. There’s no timetable on his return to game action but hopefully he can make it back by late-July.
Here are two other guys worth mentioning from the Shorebirds. Ring had little pedigree coming into the year as a 31st round senior sign last summer from Missouri. He has been tearing the over off the ball, although with a less than ideal strikeout rate of 28% on the season. Nevertheless, if he keeps mashing, we may need to move him onto to prospect radar. The same can be said about Palmeiro, whose overall numbers are rather lackluster for a 1B prospect. He finished the month of May on a strong note though, batting .368 with 3 homers over his last ten games.
- Jake Ring – RF – Delmarva Shorebirds – .359/.419/.667 over 86 PA, 8 BB, 25 K
- Preston Palmeiro – 1B – Delmarva Shorebirds – .359/.419/.667 over 86 PA, 8 BB, 25 K