Aug 22, 2015; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Orioles left fielder Henry Urrutia (51) hits a RBI single during the second inning against the Minnesota Twins at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
Let’s face it, at this point there isn’t much to talk about when it comes to the Baltimore Orioles major league team.
They continue to lose games by the same formula. Starting pitching is ineffective and can’t go deep in games. The offense depends way too much on the home run and can’t put together runs otherwise.
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But, there is at least a bit of a bright spot. If you go to the minor leagues, the team is seeing success.
The Orioles’ AAA affiliate, the Norfolk Tides, won the International League South over the Gwinnett Braves by one game.
This is despite the constant roller coaster the AAA team endured, using so many different players. Eighteen people started a game for the Tides, and the team used 30 different pitchers.
The team nearly used as many position players, using 26 of them, with only five players (Christian Walker, Michael Almanzar, Dariel Alvarez, Henry Urrutia, and Julio Borbon Jr.) playing more than 100 games.
That wasn’t the only level where the Orioles’ organization saw success. The Bowie Baysox also won their division, winning the Eastern League Western division by five games over the Altoona Curve.
The Baysox were led by two very different starters. Terry Doyle, a minor league journeyman, went 12-1 with a 1.97 ERA. Joe Gunkel, acquired by the Orioles for Alejandro De Aza, started the most games for the Baysox, showing his ability as a potential future starter in the major leagues.
Leading the Baysox offensively was a three-headed crew of Trey Mancini, Quincy Latimore and Mike Yastrzemski. Latimore led the team in hits, HR and 2B. Mancini led the team in average with an average of .359.
The team’s two single A teams did not make the playoffs, but both had seasons where they finished toward the top half of their divisions.
Despite this minor league success, the Orioles’ farm system is largely considered to be weak by national pundits. That is likely because some of the best players this year were journeymen, not top prospects.
Latimore and Doyle will never be major league players. But both stepped up in a big way this year for the minor league Orioles.
The question now is what moves this team makes to be successful for 2016, both at the major and minor league levels.