I’ve had some fun writing this article, which came from a comment/suggestion at the tail end of last season:
in the winter how about an article on 10 guys who you predict will be on the delmarva 2014 opening day roster?
Well, I waited until I had the camp roster earlier this month, but I’m going to go a little better and predict 25. They may not necessarily be the opening 25 – although I presume many of them will – but I constructed the list based on who I thought might advance from Aberdeen and who could be retained from last year’s Shorebird team. Unique about last year’s Delmarva squad was the lack of players who came up at the tail end of the season for a cup of coffee at our level – generally we would get 2 to 3 players from Aberdeen or the Gulf Coast League but last year we did not, probably because the Aberdeen IronBirds were chasing (and succeeded in securing) their first-ever playoff berth.
Thus, in alphabetical order and sorted by position, here are some of the players you might see in Delmarva in 2014:
- Sander Beck, rhp – Beck actually did a good job for the Shorebirds in 2013 (1-1, 2.61 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, and 24/7 K/BB ratio in 14 appearances) but the logjam of pitchers brought in at the upper levels of the system, low draft status (a 33rd rounder in 2011), and his dearth of experience with just 65 professional innings logged in two seasons may mean Beck begins the year here, which would be his first full-season experience. Last year he joined the Shorebirds in early June.
- Augey Bill, lhp – Perhaps the 13th guy, Bill is a lefty who pitched well for both the Gulf Coast League team and Aberdeen. Being a 39th round pick hurts his chances, but going 5-0 with a 1.54 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, and 15/4 K/BB ratio in 23 1/3 innings helps. The question is whether the Orioles deem him ready for a full-season team with the limited resume.
- Steven Brault, lhp – Brault was an 11th round pick last year and starter for the IronBirds. His numbers were solid (1-2, 2.09 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, and 38/12 K/BB ratio in 43 innings) so it’s probable he advances to Delmarva.
- Juan Guzman, rhp – Guzman would be returning for a third tour of duty with Delmarva. He was relatively decent overall in 2013 (6-6, 4.70 ERA, 1.41 WHIP and 88/36 K/BB in 111 innings) but it will be interesting to see if he can grab one of the six starting rotation slots despite stiff competition because he pitched better in those situations than out of the bullpen. Signed out of the Dominican Republic, he made his debut there in 2010 and has pitched stateside since 2012.
- Donnie Hart, lhp – A 27th round pick last season, Hart could round out the bullpen based on good numbers with the IronBirds (3-1, 2.25 ERA, 1.29 WHIP and 26/7 K/BB ratio in 24 innings) and the fact he’s a lefthander. Led Aberdeen with 13 games finished.
- Hunter Harvey, rhp – Regarded as a legitimate big league prospect, last year’s first round selection (#22 overall) and son of former major-leaguer Bryan Harvey, Hunter excelled in eight regular season starts last season split between the Gulf Coast League and Aberdeen (0-1, 1.78 ERA, 1.07 WHIP and 33/6 K/BB ratio in 25 1/3 innings) so the only question to me is which Delmarva appearance will yield his first professional win. Could it be opening night in Asheville?
- Mitch Horacek, lhp – Another who comes from a deep Aberdeen rotation, the 2013 9th round pick went 5-4 with a 2.78 ERA, 0.94 WHIP, and 45/7 K/BB ratio with the IronBirds.
- Branden Kline, rhp – Sidelined in May with a broken fibula, Kline got a little bit of work in the Arizona Fall League but basically will have to play catch-up this season. The 2012 second-rounder (and Shorebird of the Week) went 1-2 with a 5.86 ERA, 1.56 WHIP, and 32/14 K/BB ratio in just 35 1/3 innings here before a forgettable 10.54 ERA in Arizona over 13 2/3 innings – that was against far superior competition than the average South Atlantic League team.
- Harry Marino, lhp – Marino split his time last year between Aberdeen and Delmarva and made his Shorebird debut July 27. A non-drafted free agent originally inked by the Arizona Diamondbacks and signed last year by the Orioles, Marino went 3-1 with a 1.80 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, and 15/10 K/BB ratio between the two teams, pitching 25 innings overall.
- Alexander Santana, rhp – Entering his fourth year of pro ball, this Dominican product pitched well for Aberdeen last year (1-1, 2.14 ERA, 1.22 WHIP and 48/18 K/BB ratio in just 33 2/3 innings) so I would look for him out of the bullpen.
- Janser Severino, rhp – Another Dominican, Severino spent time as a starter with the IronBirds last season but pitched better out of the bullpen. Overall, he was 3-4 with a 3.92 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, and 57/21 K/BB ratio in 62 innings.
- Sebastian Vader, rhp – Drafted out of high school in 2010 (18th round), it’s taken Vader awhile to climb the ladder but he led the IronBirds with 7 wins and 85 1/3 innings pitched last season. Overall he was 7-3 with a 2.43 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, and 64/18 K/BB ratio, If not for Harvey, Vader would likely be the opening day starter for Delmarva as he was for Aberdeen last season.
- Jimmy Yacabonis. rhp – One of the bullpen closer mainstays for Aberdeen (the other being Donnie Hart), Jimmy was 3-1 with a 1.52 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, and 14/5 K/BB ratio in 29 2/3 innings as he allowed only 15 hits. He was a 13th round pick last season.
It works out nicely that I have six projected starters: Harvey, Vader, Horacek, Kline, Brault, and Guzman, with Hart and Yacabonis closing and the others filling in the 2 to 3 innings in the middle. If the Aberdeen players can keep their walks down as they did in the NYPL, Delmarva could have a formidable staff.
For position players, (R) is for right-handed hitters, (L) for lefties, and (S) for switch-hitters. I’ll start with the catchers.
- Pedro Perez (R) – He would be the most experienced of the group, but his bat is a definite liability – he hit just .105 (4×38) last season between Aberdeen and Delmarva, with a lifetime .177 mark over 4 pro seasons. The Shorebirds usually carry three catchers, but Perez could be inactive for portions of the season as well.
- Chance Sisco (L) – As a second-round pick last season and in spite of this being his first full professional season out of high school, it’s thought that Sisco will be the primary catcher at Delmarva. He batted a robust .363 last season with a .919 OPS, but most of that was in the Gulf Coast League. Chance went 1-for-5 in 2 games with Aberdeen after the GCL season concluded.
- Austin Wynns (R) – Another fairly high pick (10th round), Wynns was the primary catcher for Aberdeen. While Sisco will be considered the #1 catcher, as a general rule two Delmarva catchers get plenty of playing time so Wynns may be #1A. Wynns hit .235/0/21/.557 OPS in 54 games last year, getting the Aberdeen nod as a college catcher as opposed to being fresh from high school.
- Byron Capellan (R) – Perhaps the most-traveled among the group, the Dominican native split his time between four teams last year, from the Gulf Coast League to one game in Frederick. While he just turned 20, this will be his fifth season in the pro ranks as he began his career while still 16 in the Dominican Summer League. All told, Capellan hit just .133 last season (and was 2-for-16 at Delmarva) and is a .210 hitter in four seasons. He split time between shortstop and second base last year.
- Joel Hutter (R) – Joel is a guy who I think is a “cusp” player, one who could make the Frederick squad with a good spring, but hitting .230/5/41/.651 over a season here is probably not worth a promotion quite yet. He held down third base last year, but has played shortstop in the past. He was a 10th rounder two years ago but only a .240 lifetime hitter so far.
- Jeff Kemp (R) – Another guy who’s versatile, Kemp was the primary second baseman for the IronBirds last season but also appeared at shortstop and third base. His bat isn’t too fearsome, though, as he hit .240/3/20/.686 OPS in 48 games. Kemp was a 33rd rounder last season.
- Connor Narron (S) – In what would be his third season with Delmarva, Connor had a 2013 where he regressed – demoted from Frederick to Delmarva at mid-season and hitting .172/1/12/.536 OPS overall. Predominantly a first baseman, Narron played a little outfield but the onetime fifth-rounder (and 2012 SotW) has probably been passed on the depth chart by Trey Mancini, an 8th round pick in 2013 who hit .328 for Aberdeen and has seen time with the Orioles’ big league camp this spring. I think Mancini has the Frederick gig and will bypass Delmarva. That brings Narron back here to try and improve his numbers.
- Kristopher Richards (R) – Another player who split time btween Delmarva and Aberdeen in 2013, this non-drafted free agent also lends the flexibility to play at first, second, or occasionally third base. Overall, Richards hit .207/0/22/.519 OPS but was respectable with a .253 average for Aberdeen.
- Conor Bierfeldt (R) – A slugging outfielder who fell to the 29th round last year, Bierfeldt was second in the NYPL with his 12 home runs – overall his numbers were .264/12/16/.862 OPS in 62 games. (The league leader in home runs had 13 in 74 games.) Obviously the question is whether that power can translate to better pitching and a tough hitter’s park. Bierfeldt was a corner outfielder, generally playing left field for the IronBirds.
- Sam Kimmel (L) – Interestingly, Kimmel was a catcher who converted to outfield last season, which is why he repeated at Aberdeen. So he will be a little older than SAL competition, but as an 18th round pick he’s probably at about the correct level. Kimmel hit .277/1/16/.695 OPS last season with the IronBirds and is a .280 hitter in two seasons there. Kimmel played exclusively in left field last season.
- Anthony Vega (L) – He began the season with Delmarva last year, but after a .211 first half Vega was sent to Aberdeen; there he batted a more respectable .256 for the season. Overall, it translated to a .229/2/13/.570 OPS season for the 2012 30th round pick who manned mostly left field here but slid over to center for Aberdeen.
- Mike Yastrzemski (L) – Of course, most casual fans know the name made by his grandfather; indeed, the younger Yaz turned down the Red Sox out of high school. A 14th round pick, Mike has been featured in the big league camp after a .273/3/25/.781 OPS season for Aberdeen where he played all three outfield positions, mostly center.
It doesn’t appear the Shorebirds will be an offensive juggernaut, but their pitching should be very good. We may see a lot of 3-2, 2-1 style games at the ballyard. And since I projected a rotation, I may as well do a batting order while I’m at it.
- Mike Yastrzemski, cf (L)
- Jeff Kemp, 2b (R)
- Sam Kimmel, lf (L)
- Conor Bierfeldt, rf (R)
- Chance Sisco, dh (L)
- Joel Hutter, 3b (R)
- Connor Narron, 1b (S)
- Austin Wynns, c (R)
- Byron Capellan, ss (R)
And one last thing. As you know, I do a Shorebird of the Week, which means I take all the photos and write the text which goes with it. One problem with this approach is that I have a tough time getting my first couple weeks filled and certain pitchers who don’t happen to appear in games I attend are overlooked. To this end, I would like to solicit reader photos of players, for which I would give credit. (Sorry, there’s nothing in the budget for pay.) I know some readers go down to spring training so I would love to use more photos and enhance the whole Shorebird of the Week portion of this website.
But be looking for the first installment April 3rd. We are just three weeks away!
Update 3/22: Well, so much for going 25-for-25. Steve Melewski of MASN Sports reported that among the seven cut from the Orioles’ minor league camp was relief pitcher Harry Marino. Also cast away were two other Shorebirds from last season: pitcher Casey Upperman and first baseman Nik Balog. It proves again that there is a pecking order in the organization, as none of the seven cut were drafted by the Orioles: several were signed out of independent leagues, one came in a trade, and Balog was signed as an undrafted free agent in 2012.
Update 3/24: And another two bite the dust as Melewski reported Connor Narron and Juan Guzman were among five minor league cuts. Frankly, I was sort of surprised Narron even made it to camp but the organization isn’t really deep at first base and probably wanted to evaluate him in a situation where other players were readily available to see. Meanwhile, it appears the depth of mound prospects for our level made Guzman a victim of a numbers game.
Update 3/26: And….there goes Sander Beck. Another low-round victim of the numbers game. I wonder how many of these guys will be playing independent league this summer.