Adley Rutschman has quiet week with Triple-A Norfolk but international signings shine – The Mercury News
The wait continues.
Despite some hope among the fan base that Monday would mark the day the Orioles promoted top prospect Adley Rutschman for his major league debut, it seems Rutschman will at least begin the week with Triple-A Norfolk as it starts a road series against Charlotte. His first full week with Norfolk was a quiet one offensively, though he caught three of the Tides’ past four games, his most work behind the plate since returning from the right tricep strain that kept him from competing for an opening day roster spot.
Perhaps a more impressive week with the bat would’ve sent him to Baltimore; Rutschman went 3-for-21 (.143), though he homered for the first time this season. The Orioles are likely less concerned with the results themselves than they are Rutschman’s overall readiness, as determined by whatever internal measurements the organization is using.
Rutschman now has more than 200 plate appearances at Triple-A across the past two seasons. Clearly, the Orioles believe he needs more before joining them.
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. Triple-A right-hander Grayson Rodriguez
Working with Rutschman for the second straight start, Rodriguez allowed one run in five innings, matching a season high with eight strikeouts. He also surpassed 80 pitches for the second straight start; Kyle Bradish got up to 87 before his major league promotion, though he spent last season in Triple-A while Rodriguez is at the level for the first time. Baseball’s top pitching prospect, Rodriguez, 22, leads all upper minors pitchers in strikeout rate (minimum 30 innings).
2. Low-A Delmarva right-hander Juan De Los Santos
In his second outing of last week, De Los Santos gave up two runs in five innings Sunday, striking out seven. It marked the first time in seven starts for the Shorebirds he allowed multiple runs. His two-start week saw him strike out 14 batters in 11 innings while surrendering three runs. Signed out of the Dominican Republic in March 2019, De Los Santos joins Rodriguez as the only Orioles minor leaguers to have pitched 30 innings this season, posting a 1.97 ERA, .186 opponents’ average and 1.062 WHIP. He doesn’t turn 20 until next week.
3. High-A Aberdeen right-hander Conor Gillispie
As Baltimore’s ninth-round pick in 2019, Gillispie represented the fourth-highest selected pitcher during executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias’ three drafts. This year with Aberdeen, he’s largely worked in bulk out of the bullpen, with his most recent appearance earning him South Atlantic League Pitcher of the Week. Gillispie, 24, struck out eight batters in six scoreless innings, allowing one hit and nothing else. He’s allowed two earned runs or fewer in five straight appearances with a 2.05 ERA in that span.
4. Double-A Bowie first baseman Andrew Daschbach
The trifecta of Stanford products from Baltimore’s 2019 draft class all had strong weeks amid what’s been slow starts for each. Comp pick Kyle Stowers broke a nearly three-week homeless stretch with a two-run shot Sunday for Norfolk. In Bowie, sixth-rounder Maverick Handley doubled his hit total for the season with a 4-for-10 output. Daschbach, Baltimore’s 11th-round choice three years ago, matched that, with two of his four hits leaving the yard as he mixed in four walks against two strikeouts. He entered Bowie’s series against Reading in a 2-for-29 slump — striking out 17 times — but posted a 1.517 OPS last week.
5. Low-A Delmarva outfielder Isaac Bellony
Bellony played his way into this space with his Sunday performance alone. Entering the week’s finale 1-for-12 on the weekend, the 20-year-old then recorded three extra-base hits, including a game-tying double in the ninth inning and a walk-off, three-run home run in the 11th to end the Shorebirds’ six-game losing streak. A switch-hitter who Baltimore signed after dipping its toes into the international market in July 2018, Bellony has hit all four of his home runs left-handed, with a .910 OPS from that side compared to a .332 mark as a right-handed hitter.
The top prospect not featured so far
The only of Baltimore’s top three prospects not yet mentioned, left-hander DL Hall mostly impressed in his first two starts at Triple-A, both with Rutschman catching. He’s methodically being built up coming off last year’s stress reaction in his pitching elbow, yet to pitch past the fourth inning or throw more than 64 pitches. He reached that tally Sunday as he struck out seven over 3 2/3 innings in which he also allowed two runs, hits, walks and hit batters each. In four starts, Hall has struck out more than 40% of the batters he’s faced.
International acquisition of the week
With De Los Santos and Bellony representing this group above, a short week from Aberdeen infielder César Prieto is enough to land him here. Before missing about two weeks with a right hamstring strain, Prieto was tearing up High-A pitching in his first stateside stint, earning the organization’s April Minor League Hitter of the Month honor. He picked up where he left off after returning in the middle of last week, going 6-for-12 with a double.
The best former top-30 prospect of the week
Right-hander Cody Sedlock has long since been surpassed by the players who have joined the organization since he was Baltimore’s first-round pick in 2016, with Baseball America ranking him as the system’s No. 2 prospect that offseason. He doesn’t hold the promise he perhaps once did, but Sedlock finds himself on the cusp of the majors with Norfolk. More outings like this week’s bulk relief outing, in which he struck out eight and allowed two runs over 5 1/3 innings. Sedlock has split 2022 between the Tides’ rotation and their bullpen, struggling as a starter but putting up a 2.19 ERA in three lengthy relief appearances.
Time to give some shine to …
After taking Daschbach in 2019′s 11th round, the Orioles selected and signed only seven position players out of the remainder of that draft’s 40 rounds; only two of those — 21st-round pick Toby Welk and 23rd-rounder Shayne Fontana — remain with the organization. Welk has missed the past month with a left knee sprain, but Fontana has continued to make an impact for Bowie. Last week, he slashed .333/.500/.611, with half of his six hits going for extra bases as he walked more than he struck out. Playing mostly left field for the Baysox, the 24-year-old is hitting .282 with an .866 OPS this year.