It is a very exciting time here in Birdland. The Baltimore Orioles won 101 games this season, making it just the third time in franchise history the O's have won 100 or more games in a season. The Norfolk Tides won the Triple-A National Championship, and the farm system been repeatedly rewarded now that the minor league off-season has begun.
The Delmarva Shorebirds are the Orioles Single-A affiliate, and while they may not have enjoyed as much success as the top two teams in the franchise, they still have plenty to celebrate.
Delmarva Shorebirds 2023 in review
The Shorebirds finished with a disappointing 28-37 record this season, good enough for fourth place in the Carolina League. Obviously, the goal is always to win games, but the primary goal for Single-A is to develop talent and help the entire organization improve, and that is where the Shorebirds had as much success as anyone in the league. Here's just a few of the players that spent time in Delmarva this season.
Holliday started his first full professional season in Delmarva but made quick work of the opposing pitching. He batted .396/.522/.660 with a 1.183 OPS in his time with the Shorebirds. The boy wonder played eight games at shortstop and five more at second base with just one error in 55 total chances. Holliday spent just 14 games in Delmarva before the Orioles front office realized he was too talented for that league.
Holliday went on to blaze through High-A and Double-A, making it all the way to Triple-A Norfolk by season's end, helping them win the International League championship. He also took home the prospect hitter of the year award at the inaugural MiLB awards. Not bad for a 19 year old.
Speaking of 19 year old future stars, Samuel Basallo also began his season with the Shorebirds. Basallo had an extended stay in Delmarva and slashed .299/.384/.503 with 12 home runs in 83 contests with the Shorebirds. He also had a career year defensively throwing out 33% of potential base stealers while making huge strides at first base.
Basallo was named the Carolina League MVP for his play in Delmarva but had continued success after being promoted. He moved up two levels this season and finished the year with the double-A Bowie Baysox while also being named a Baseball America first team all-star.
Enrique Bradfield Jr
The Orioles used their first draft pick of the 2023 draft on Enrique Bradfield Jr and for good reason. After playing just three games in the Florida Coast League, Bradfield was promoted to Delmarva where he continued to shine. Enrique slashed had a .302 batting average and an incredible .494 OBP.
He has an advanced knowledge of the strike zone for a younger player and had a 9 / 19 K/BB ratio, but his most impressive skill is his speed. Bradfield stole 20 bases in just 17 games in Delmarva and had a memorable dash from second base to home on a bunt single. Bradfield had a very exciting stint in Delmarva before finishing his season with the Aberdeen IronBirds.
Those three players are three of the Orioles top eight prospects and get Shorebirds fans plenty of entertainment this season. Outside of them playing, there was one big event that needs to be noted and that is the retirement of Ryan Minor's jersey.
Minor was the first person to have his jersey retired in team history and his #44 will never be worn again by a Shorebird. He had a great season as a player for the Shorebird in 1997 and return later as a coach. Minor was a coach or manager for the team for nine seasons. He is currently battling stage four colon cancer, and we wish him the best.
We now have time to prepare for next season which should bring some new top prospects to Maryland's Eastern Shore. Jackson Baumeister, the O's third draft pick from the 2023 draft and #24 prospect, make his professional debut and the Birds top international free agent signing from the past year, Luis Almeyda, the O's #25 prospect, should hopefully join him in Delmarva. See you there.