It’s another dismal season for Baltimore. The glimpses of hope quickly disappear in the harsh reality that the O’s are still firmly entrenched in the bottom 5 teams in baseball. High draft picks are made, and people get excited. Then they get to OPACY and they don’t pan out or they never live up to the hype.
One of the consolations I have in covering the O’s is that I do pay attention to the upper end of the farm system (Frederick, Bowie and Norfolk). Norfolk is terrible; they are 4 games behind the 2nd worst team in the International League. Do I need to remind you that the rotation includes Chris Tillman and Brian Matusz?
Frederick on the other hand is killing it. They finished the first half of the season in first place (qualifying for the playoffs) and they are in first so far in the second half of the season. They are accomplishing all this despite losing pitchers and position players to Bowie. Manny Machado is there and doing fairly well. Tyler Townsend was killing it before getting hurt in mid-July. The star of the pitching staff is Bobby Bundy (11-5 with an ERA of 2.75). If he keeps up this success, we could be seeing two Bundy’s in the O’s starting rotation in a few years.
Bowie is also doing extremely well. The Baysox are tied for first place in the Western Division of the Eastern League. We have seen the careers of Brandon Waring and Caleb Joseph stall here, but we are seeing speedsters Xavier Avery and Greg Miclat have moderate success. LJ Hoes is the position player that is really mashing the ball right now. He is batting .326 with 6 HRs in 54 games. Those 6 homers were hit over the past 10 games where he is batting .455. As for pitching, the Baysox are getting great efforts from journeyman Mike Ballard (the guy that was called up to Baltimore for 1 game). Tim Bascom is 7-2 with a 3.24 ERA, but at 26 it is likely that he will never have impact for the organization unless he becomes a solid bullpen option.
So yeah, the reality of the O’s is a bit dismal. We can always hope for that magical turnaround. In the meantime, we can enjoy the small victories in the minors.