Down on the farm, Baltimore Orioles minor league affiliates kicked off their 2019 seasons on Thursday night. One of the highlights from last night came from the Delmarva Shorebirds and RHP Blaine Knight.
While the big league Baltimore Orioles have brought about a mix of positive and frustrating emotions, the Baby Birds kicked off their seasons down on the farm on Thursday night, with Orioles’ minor league affiliates going 1-3 on Opening Night.
Jomar Reyes notched three hits for the Frederick Keys and future first baseman of the Baltimore Orioles, Ryan Mountcastle, recorded an RBI-single and drew a walk for the Norfolk Tides, despite both teams falling short of victory.
The lone affiliate to secure a win on Thursday night was the Delmarva Shorebirds. After watching Mike Wright implode, I needed some positive baseball to watch. The Shorebirds aren’t televised very often and a four-hour drive for a minor league game is hard to make. Luckily, their opening four-game set against the Lexington Legends (Kansas City Royals affiliate) is televised this weekend and game one did not disappoint.
Delmarva took game one by a score of 6-5, thanks to a 10th-inning two-run shot off the bat of third base prospect Jean Carlos Encarnacion.
The highlight was starting pitcher Blaine Knight. Knight is ranked as the 10th-best prospect in the Baltimore Orioles farm system, according to MLB Pipeline. Knight went 5.2 innings, giving up two earned runs on three hits, striking out three, and walking one.
Thanks to the radio announcer, we heard a few velocity numbers from Knight. He sat in his normal range, throwing 92-93 for much of the evening and holding that velocity over his entire outing. The curveball sat 74-75 mph.
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Knight needed just 56 pitches to get through the first five innings and didn’t walk his lone batter until the sixth. He didn’t have great control of his secondary pitches but he was able to sneak in a few impressive sliders, two in particular in that keep right-handed hitters honest. When he was able to command his curveball, it was spot on with great shape. Unfortunately, he frequently missed high with his curveball and other secondary pitches.
The home run he gave up appeared to be a result of that. After missing with a few pitches, Legends’ hitters went patient and waited for Knight to rely on the fastball to give him a much-needed strike. Lexington clean-up hitter Chase Vallot picked out a perfect pitch and sent it over the outfield wall.
Overall, it was a solid performance from Blaine Knight. He truly does have a small frame but a powerful arm. He intrigued me enough to hopefully make the long drive to Delmarva to see him up close and personal.
The Shorebirds are back tonight with last year’s first-round pick, RHP Grayson Rodriguez on the mound. Elsewhere on the farm, Hunter Harvey returns to the mound for the Bowie Baysox, Cameron Bishop will throw for the Frederick Keys, and Gabriel Ynoa will toe the rubber for the Tides. The Baltimore Orioles are off tonight, so enjoy a minor league game!