As fans of the Baltimore Orioles anticipate top draft pick Adley Rutschman’s arrival in Aberdeen, others in that draft class are on the move and causing a change in the system.
Wednesday was a very busy day in the Baltimore Orioles minor league system as multiple players got the call into their manager’s office to be informed that they had been promoted. The movement throughout the system was precipitated by two members of the 2019 draft class who earned promotions to the Delmarva Shorebirds, the Low-A affiliate of the Orioles.
Moving up to Delmarva from Aberdeen (A-Short Season) are pitcher Dallas Litscher, outfielder Johnny Rizer (seventh-round pick in 2019), and outfielder Zach Watson (third-round pick in 2019). All three were deserving of the promotion and provide further evidence that good things are happening in the lower levels of the Orioles minor league system. Litscher was 4-0 with a 2.23 ERA in seven appearances (six starts), Rizer was slashing .305/ .374/ .537 with three home runs and 19 RBI, and Watson was slashing .236/ .300/ .418 with two home runs and nine RBI for the Ironbirds at the time of their promotion.
As expected, their promotion caused a ripple effect in the higher levels of the system. Three players were promoted from Delmarva to Frederick (A-Adv.) to make room for Litscher, Rizer, and Watson and subsequently, three players were released from Frederick’s roster to make room for the newest Keys.
Pitcher Reed Hayes, outfielder Robert Neustrom and outfielder Will Robertson earned the promotion to Frederick and sadly displaced infielder Trevor Craport, RHP Cameron Ming and outfielder Kirvin Moesquit, all of whom were released from their contracts. Hayes was promoted after posting a 2-0 record with three saves and a 1.10 ERA over 16.1 innings of relief. Neustrom produced a .285/ .364/ .453 slash line with five home runs and 36 RBI, while Robertson went .273/ .360/ .417 with three home runs and 18 RBI to earn their promotions to the Carolina League.
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All of the players promoted with the exception of Litscher and Robertson have seen game action with their new teams. In fact, Watson belted his first home run for the Shorebirds on Thursday against Greenville (Boston affiliate) and Hayes has made two scoreless appearances (3.1 innings) for the Keys.
If all this movement makes you head spin, keep in mind there is more to come. It has been widely reported, yet not confirmed by the Orioles, that Adley Rutschman, the top overall pick in this year’s draft, will make his debut in Aberdeen on Saturday. In what may be in anticipation of that move and possibly more, the Ironbirds added two players to replace the trio sent to Delmarva, demoted one player to the Gulf Coast League and released outfielder Tristan Graham, utility man Juan Montes, catcher Luke Ringhofer and outfielder Trey Truitt in a flurry of corresponding moves on Wednesday.
It would appear that general manager Mike Elias is starting to make good on his goal to create an elite talent pipeline in the organization. All these moves, especially those surrounding the 2019 draft class, provide evidence of that.