The Baltimore Orioles announced multiple moves throughout the minor league system on Thursday. These moves may be met with disappointment among some in the fan base.
Last Sunday marked the end of the first half of the 2019 season for both the Delmarva Shorebirds (A-Low) and the Frederick Keys (A-Adv.). Additionally, Tuesday was the end of the first half of the season for the Bowie Baysox (AA). Traditionally, the mid-point of the MiLB season is when promotions occur, if warranted. This mid-point was no exception in the Baltimore Orioles system.
A multitude of moves were announced by the club on Thursday afternoon.
Among the moves announced were OF Ademar Rifaela going from Bowie to AAA Norfolk, OF Cole Billingsley and IF Willy Yahn going from Frederick to Bowie, C Daniel Fajardo, OF Will Robertson and OF Robbie Thorburn going from Delmarva to Frederick, OF Dalton Hoiles going from Aberdeen (A-Short) to Bowie and OF Edison Lantigua going from Aberdeen to Delmarva (Lantigua drove in what would become the game-winning run in last night’s game for Delmarva).
Quite a few minor leaguers were placed on the 7-day IL, including Frederick RHP Victor Romero, C Alfredo Gonzalez, and C Delby Ramirez. RHP Jimmy Murphy (currently on 7-day IL) was added to the Shorebirds roster, while Frederick IF Trevor Craport was removed from the Injured List.
Rifaela, who was hitting .257/ .314/ .450 with eight home runs and 33 RBI for the Baysox, will presumably take the place of Dwight Smith Jr. who ended his rehab assignment and returned to the Orioles lineup in time for Thursday night’s game against the Seattle Mariners.
Billingsley and Yahn, both Carolina League All-Stars, were hitting .322/ .395/ .389 and .296/ .314/ .426, respectively, at the time of their promotion. I previously highlighted Yahn’s Frederick performance here on Birds Watcher. Ironically, Billingsley hurt his ankle in a nasty fall at first base in his first Baysox game on Wednesday.
Fajardo, who had a big hand in the success of the Shorebirds pitching staff, was presumably promoted to do the same in Frederick, while Robertson (.263/ .367/ .407) and Thorburn (. .278/ .318/ .412) were both promoted on merit. Thorburn, in fact, performed outstandingly in a replacement role for Robert Neustrom at Delmarva.
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Hoiles, the son of former Oriole Chris Hoiles, played just two games for the Ironbirds before this promotion while Lantigua appeared in three games before his promotion. I’m not sure if these two will stick with their new teams as they may just be temporary roster spot fillers.
I alluded to disappointment among the Orioles faithful as most of the chatter I read on message boards and social media centered around pitchers who may be promoted and challenged. As of Thursday night, no pitchers have been moved, surely causing consternation among the fan base.
I am especially eager to see the second-half performance of the Shorebirds pitching staff with the subtraction of Fajardo. I, as well as all Orioles MiLB fans, must remember the focus of the minor leagues is not the win-loss record, but development and preparation for the major leagues.
No matter the reason, all these promotions were well-deserved. It is a good time to be a fan of the Baltimore MiLB system. The lower levels of the system are providing hope for the future in Baltimore.