Baltimore Orioles announce minor league award winners
By Tim Smart
The Baltimore Orioles will recognize their selected minor league players of the year in a ceremony before Saturday’s game against the White Sox
The Baltimore Orioles haven’t invoked much optimism from fans this year on the major league level, but there are a handful of prospects who’ve had outstanding seasons in the minors, and will be recognized before Saturdays contest in Baltimore.
Outfielder Cedric Mullins will receive the player of the year award after hitting .269/.333/.438 between Double-A Bowie and Triple-A Norfolk before his call up to the majors on August 10th.
Mullins has been one of the few bright spots for the Orioles in a season that has come completely off the rails.
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Coming into the 2018 season, Mullins was listed as the 6th-rated prospect in the Orioles organization by Fangraphs. One of the biggest knocks against him was that he couldn’t hit lefties, which unfortunately has remained the case. In 35 PA’s against lefties in the majors this year, Mullins has hit .200/.310/.200 with 12 strikeouts and just 4 walks.
While Mullins has some work to do to remain an everyday player going forward, he’s certainly taken a step in the right direction this year. We’re hoping to see a big step forward from Mullins in 2019.
Two pitchers will split the pitcher of the year award: left-handers Keegan Akin and Zac Lowther.
Fangraphs was down on Akin coming into the year, starting to project him into the bullpen rather than the rotation. However, Akin impressed in Double-A Bowie, starting 25 games and posting a 3.27 ERA with 142 strikeouts in 137.2 innings.
Akin isn’t on the 40-man right now, but there’s a chance he makes the major league roster out of spring training next year.
He doesn’t have huge upside, so there’s little reason to keep him down for service time reasons, and with the dearth of starting pitching, Akin could have an impact up at the major league level in 2019.
Lowther is just 21 and split time between Class-A Delmarva and High-A Frederick. He’s a command and deception guy without elite velocity which could become an issue at higher levels, but he’s looked impressive in the limited video I’ve seen this year.
Between the two levels, Lowther started 22 games and posted a 2.18 ERA and 151 strikeouts in 123.2 innings.
Lowther will likely spend time in Frederick and Bowie in 2019. Best case scenario for him reaching the majors is likely some time in 2020; there would have to be injury issues next year for the Orioles to have reason to bring him up.
Additionally, the Orioles will recognize outfielder Zach Jarrett with the community service award, area scout Rich Morales with the scout of the year award and pitcher Dean Kremer for being the O’s minor league strikeout leader.
The final recognition will be the player development award, given to Norfolk manager Ron Johnson. I’m only half kidding when I say that I’m not sure the Orioles deserve a player development award.
It feels like there’s been a systemic failure to develop major league-quality starting pitching for so long in this organization that awarding someone for player development when the major league club is on pace to be one of the worst teams in the last century seems obtuse.
But now I just seem jaded over something trivial at an award ceremony. Anyway…
Congratulations to all of the Orioles’ award winners this year! We hope your success translates to the major league level, and hope to see you all in Baltimore soon.