August 11, 2022

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Stowers, Nevin combine for 13 RBIs

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Welcome to the Orioles prospect update, where you’ll find news, promotions and standout performances, all year long.

Stowers, Nevin combine for 13 of Norfolk’s 14 runs (April 15)

Kyle Stowers has only played in four games to start 2022, but the No. 8 prospect has homered in back-to-back games following his long ball in a 4-for-5, five-RBI performance in Triple-A Norfolk’s 14-7 win over Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Teammate Tyler Nevin had a standout night of his own, racking up eight RBIs on three hits (including a grand slam). The two prospects accounted for 13 of Norfolk’s 14 runs.

The first three innings were totally controlled by the duo. Stowers got the scoring started in the Tides’ second straight game of putting up 10+ runs. He smacked his third double of the season – a liner to right off a 1-0 pitch – to give Norfolk an early 1-0 lead in the top of the first. Nevin grounded in a run in the following at-bat. In the next frame, Stowers drew a bases-loaded walk to bring in another run, and Nevin blew the game open with a grand slam to make it 7-0. Stowers added an RBI groundout in the third to give him three RBIs through three innings, and Nevin singled in a run after him for his seventh RBI of the day.

Stowers’ home run came in the fifth, a solo shot to right-center off another 1-0 pitch to extend Norfolk’s lead to eight. In the seventh, Stowers and Nevin combined again to drive the Tides offense. Both players doubled in the seventh to plate their final runs of the day, and Stowers added another two-bagger in the ninth for his fourth hit.

In total, Stowers collected four extra-base hits in the contest (10 total bases) to give him seven extra-base hits, seven RBIs, four walks, four runs scored and one strikeout in 15 at-bats to start the season. Only one of his eight total hits has not gone for extra bases. Bolstered by his big performance, Nevin has driven in 14 runs with 10 hits, six runs scored, three walks and a stolen base through six games. — Stephanie Sheehan

Rodriguez, Rom have strong outings in Minors (April 14)
Many Orioles fans will follow along whenever MLB’s top pitching prospect, Grayson Rodriguez, takes the mound in Triple-A, but he wasn’t the only hurler who had a strong day. While Gray-Rod utilized his wicked stuff to rack up eight strikeouts over five three-hit, two-run innings for Norfolk, No. 17 prospect Drew Rom spun a similar gem for Double-A Bowie, fanning eight batters of his own over five shutout frames.

Rodriguez fanned Estevan Florial and Greg Bird in the first frame and struck out two in the second, but not before a double, a balk and a sacrifice fly led to the first run of the game for Scranton. The Orioles No. 2 prospect fanned Yankees No. 2 prospect Oswald Peraza and got Bird for a second time in the fourth, but a big offensive output at the top of the fifth from Norfolk had Rodriguez sitting on the bench for a while, and he allowed a leadoff homer to begin the bottom of the inning.

Still, he struck out two more batters in the frame and didn’t run a three-ball count on a single batter, giving him just one walk in nine innings so far, along with 15 strikeouts and four hits.

Rom was locked in a pitchers’ duel against Binghamton’s Jose Butto in Bowie’s 10-2 win, stifling the red-hot bats of Mets prospects Brett Baty and Ronny Mauricio. He allowed two singles and a walk in the bottom of the second and faced the bases loaded with one out, but those would be the only baserunners Rom would allow all game, as he worked out of the jam with a whiff and a flyout.

After the one-out single, the 22-year-old retired the next 11 batters he faced, with five of them striking out swinging. Rom has fanned 13 batters in eight innings with three earned runs to begin the 2022 season. — Stephanie Sheehan

Diaz (hamstring) lands back on injured list (April 14)
An unfortunate occurrence has played out yet again. Yusniel Diaz, the Orioles’ No. 26 prospect who headlined the return of the 2018 Manny Machado trade, landed back on the injured list at Triple-A Norfolk on April 13. Diaz had exited the Tides’ contest the day before, being replaced in the second inning. Multiple media reports are tabbing it a right hamstring strain, though the exact timeline is not yet known.

It’s a wholly disappointing development for Diaz. The 25-year-old is approaching a career inflection point, without much in the way of health or sustained success since he landed in Baltimore in July 2018. He was an early cut from Orioles camp despite a torrid showing because the club wanted him to prove that performance in a prolonged, health-first manner in the Minors. Early returns were positive; Diaz was slashing .368/.480/.789 through his first six games with two doubles, two homers, eight RBIs and more walks (five) than strikeouts (two). Such numbers were begging the question how quickly he might be able to force the O’s hand and earn a much-anticipated debut.

Now he faces another return from injury, after varying shoulder, hamstring, quad and toe injuries over the past four years. — Zachary Silver

Haskin, for three! (April 10)
For any prospect, there are plenty of productive ways to announce your arrival at a new level. Then there is what Hudson Haskin did.

The Orioles No. 16 prospect achieved the first three-homer game of the year in the Minor Leagues, leaving the yard thrice to lead Double-A Bowie to an 11-6 win over Richmond. Hitting solo shots in the fourth and sixth and a two-run homer in the seventh, Haskin matched the team record, becoming the sixth player in Baysox history to do so.

“I’m very lucky and thankful that I was able to have the day that I did,” Haskin said. “It’s funny, people were asking me: ‘Were you thinking about it at all?’ Honestly, I wasn’t, because I’ve never hit two home runs before in a game. I’m not a home run hitter.” Full story »

G-Rod dazzles in Triple-A debut (April 8)
Grayson Rodriguez
spent 2021 making Single-A, then Double-A, look easy. Now he’s doing the same to the Minor Leagues’ highest circuit. 

The sport’s top pitching prospect (No. 6 overall, and Orioles’ No. 2) was simply brilliant in his Triple-A debut, striking out seven over four one-hit innings in Norfolk’s 12-1 win over Charlotte. Rodriguez retired 10 of his first 11 hitters and didn’t allow a hit until the fourth, holding the Knights to two total baserunners and throwing 40 of 61 pitches for strikes. All seven whiffs came swinging, four off Rodriguez’s changeup. 

It was, in short, the type of dominant performance Rodriguez made a habit of in ’21, when he arrived like a comet at Double-A Bowie and spent the summer thriving. Rodriguez went 6-1 with a 2.60 ERA and 121 strikeouts in 18 starts at the level, where top prospect Adley Rutschman and No. 5 prospect D.L. Hall also starred.

Hall and Rutschman will join him at Norfolk once healthy, with Rutschman projected to return sooner and Hall still building up after dealing with elbow concerns last season. The trio could all be in Baltimore by summer’s end, which the Orioles hope marks a turning point in their lengthly rebuild. It was long assumed Rutschman would be the first to debut, perhaps as early as Opening Day had the triceps issue not surfaced. But if it lingers, and Rodriguez keeps pitching like this, the big righty might just find himself at Camden Yards first.

Also noteworthy from the Tides were homers from Robert Neustrom and former Top 30 prospect Rylan Bannon, the first of the season for each. A power hitting infielder with versatility, Bannon is on the 40-man roster and looking to bounce back from a difficult first season at Triple-A. A left-handed hitting outfielder, Neustrom faces a more complicated roster path but put himself on the map in 2021, producing 16 homers and .344 OBP across two upper levels. — Joe Trezza

Diaz on FIRE to open Triple-A slate (April 7)
When the Orioles made the relatively surprising decision to cut Yusniel Diaz from camp as early as they did, executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias said that they need to see a longer spell of success — and health — from their No. 26 prospect before he receives a callup.

Diaz has responded with might — and then some.

The outfielder, who has had a winding, injury-riddled road since he headlined the return in the Manny Machado trade with the Dodgers in 2018, has put his best foot forward at Triple-A Norfolk, highlighted no more than a two-homer game in the Tides’ tilt with the Charlotte Knights on April 7. All told, Diaz has five hits (three for extra bases) and six RBIs through his first three games this season. It has provided the Orioles a wholly positive sign after an offseason of change as he looks to make his long-awaited debut sooner than later.

Now 25 years old, and with only 188 Minor League games since he joined the O’s in July 2018, every game matters for Diaz — and he’s making the most of them. — Zachary Silver

Outlooks clarify for Bradish, Hall (April 7)
A handful of Orioles have remained at extended Spring Training in Florida, for either rehab or build-up purposes. Two such names are top pitching prospects Kyle Bradish (No. 10) and D.L Hall (No. 5). Speaking from the club’s Minor League complexes in Twin Lakes, Fla., executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias said that Bradish had just completed four simulated innings and will “imminently” be joining the rotation at Triple-A Norfolk. Bradish was thought to have a real shot at the Opening Day roster thanks to a dynamite spring, but the organization elected to slow-play him into action. A Major League call could come sooner than later.

Hall, meanwhile, faces a steeper road back. Off a season in which he threw just 31 2/3 innings due to elbow issues — the last being a stress reaction in his left elbow — Hall will remain back in Florida to continue build-up under the watchful eye of the O’s training staff. Same with Bradish, Hall will look to get into the four- to five-inning range before he’s sent to a Minor League affiliate. But unlike Bradish, that will come at a slower place and likely with a lower-level affiliate than Double-A Bowie, where Hall was expected to start the year.

“We’re trying to get in a position where we’re not having to shut it down artificially in September or something like that,” Elias said. “So that will be a little bit longer, but he’s looking terrific and feeling healthy.”

Hall was a long-shot for the Opening Day roster given his uncertain road back, though it’s wholly expected he’ll make his Major League debut in 2022, barring any setbacks. The lefty made one appearance in Grapefruit League action, dialing it up to 100 mph with two punchouts in a 1-2-3 relief inning against the Phillies on March 28. — Zachary Silver

Rutschman’s debut not far off after return to health (April 7)
Speaking to reporters ahead of Opening Day in St. Petersburg, executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias said that top prospect Adley Rutschman had “an inside track to make the team” before his right triceps injury. But once he’s healthy, the 24-year-old might soon make his much-awaited debut. More >

Talent-filled Minor League rosters unveiled (April 4)
Where the Orioles will be shuttling some of their top talent has been unveiled.

Baltimore on Monday released the break camp rosters for Single-A Delmarva, High-A Aberdeen and Double-A Bowie. Among the notable names at each:

Other top prospects such as D.L. Hall (No. 5), Kyle Bradish (No. 10) and Heston Kjerstad (No. 9) are expected to join affiliates once they complete either buildup or rehab programs. The Triple-A roster has already been set, with top pitching prospect Grayson Rodriguez headlining the group. — Zachary Silver

Rutschman resumes baseball activities, but out for Opening Day (April 4)
Adley Rutschman‘s long awaited return to baseball activities has taken place, though the top prospect will have to wait past Opening day for a return to game action. More >

Prieto gives O’s a first extended look (April 1)
One of the splashier and more intriguing signings of the 2022 international signing period, Cesar Prieto made his Grapefruit League debut against the Pirates, giving a glimpse into some tools that made him the O’s No. 12 prospect just over two months after his signing. More >

Rodriguez, MLB’s top pitching prospect, will start year in Triple-A (March 31)
The wait might need to be counted in weeks rather than months.

The Norfolk Tides, Triple-A affiliate of the Orioles, announced that Grayson Rodriguez, the top pitching prospect in baseball as ranked by MLB Pipeline, will open the year on their roster. Baltimore’s top young pitcher is just one callup away from his Major League debut, which is expected to come at some point in the 2022 season.

There was wonder whether Rodriguez, just 22, would open the year in Norfolk or return to Double-A Bowie, where he made 18 smashingly successful starts in 2021 but didn’t pitch past five innings. That was planned in part to control his innings, but it appears the O’s don’t feel the need to take the training wheels off in Double-A before elevating him to Triple-A. Rodriguez made one appearance in Grapefruit League action this spring, pitching one smooth inning and one rough one en route to “being a better pro.” He has set the goal for a Major League debut in 2022.

Joining Rodriguez in Norfolk will be a slew of his fellow top prospects: outfielder Kyle Stowers (No. 8), infielder Terrin Vavra (No. 14), lefty Kevin Smith (No. 18), infielder Jahmai Jones (No. 22) and outfielder Yusniel Díaz (No. 26). Also expected to start the year in Norfolk is some combination of catcher Adley Rutschman (No. 1), righty Kyle Bradish (No. 10), righty Mike Baumann (No. 13), lefty Zac Lowther (No. 27) and righty Félix Bautista (No. 30). Time is short for Rutschman (right triceps strain) to break camp with the team let alone be ready for the Triple-A opener, while Baumann, Lowther and Bautista remain in contention for the Opening Day roster. Bradish, like lefty D.L. Hall (No. 5) meanwhile, appears set to remain in Sarasota in order to continue his build-up. Hall, for his part, is slated for Double-A Bowie as he returns to form from a left elbow stress reaction that cut short his 2021 season.

Orioles whittle down prospects in camp (March 30)
Even before Kyle Stowers was reassigned to Minor League camp, his chances of making the Opening Day roster were slim. Executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias hinted on Monday that the club’s No. 8 prospect likely was destined to start the year in Triple-A, but the club enjoyed what it was able to glean from Stowers in his team-leading 10 Grapefruit League appearances, despite the struggles. Stowers impressed with a powerful homer against the Pirates (off a lefty, at that), but that was one of just two hits in 21 at-bats, as he struck out a team-high nine times by the time he was reassigned.

“I thought was a great experience for him,” said manager Brandon Hyde. “I think it was good for him, his first Major League camp, to get him as many at-bats as possible. He showed great athleticism, I loved the way he played defense, he’s obviously got huge power. Now it’s about getting Triple-A at-bats and understanding the speed of the Major Leagues, and go putting up numbers in Triple-A. But I think he’s got a high ceiling.”

What Stowers’ reassignment also does is further clarify the O’s thinking when it comes to prospects and the Opening Day roster. Now only four of Baltimore’s Top 30 prospects (as ranked by MLB Pipeline) remain at Major League camp, and one of them — top prospect Adley Rutschman — has all but been ruled out for Opening Day with his right triceps strain. The others are righty Mike Baumann (No. 13), lefty Zac Lowther (No. 27) and righty Félix Bautista (No. 30). Lowther has the best shot of the group to make the roster, though Stowers, Baumann, Bautista and others could soon follow. — Zachary Silver

O’s option trio of prospects (March 28)
After turning in a dominant performance on Monday in his Grapefruit League debut against the Phillies, D.L. Hall was one of four players optioned to Minor League camp. Hall, who struck out two in a scoreless inning while hitting 100 mph on the radar gun, was sent to Double-A Bowie. Right-hander Kyle Bradish, the club’s No. 10 prospect, and outfielder Yusniel Diaz (No. 26) were each sent to Triple-A Norfolk, along with lefty Alexander Wells.

“Yusniel Diaz has had a great showing in camp, just like he tends to do, and we see the talent that has been apparent to people inside the organization for as long as we’ve had him in this organization,” general manager Mike Elias said. “But unfortunately, he just has not been able to put together the sustained stretch of health and statistical success that we believe him to be capable of.”

Even so, Elias expects Diaz to make his MLB debut at some point in 2022, and the same goes for Hall and Bradish. — Paul Casella Story >

Rutschman (right triceps) taking part in catching workouts (March 25)
Still about a week away from any formal baseball activities, Adley Rutschman (right triceps strain) has resumed some catching workouts as he attempts to keep his lower body in shape, manager Brandon Hyde said. That’s been limited to receiving baseballs, Hyde said, no throwing, hitting or anything to test his right arm. But it’s a good sign that he is progressing in the right direction.

The club is hopeful that whenever Rutschman does resume full baseball activities, the ramp-up won’t be as long. Since he’s not on the 40-man roster, Rutschman took part in Minor League camp prior to the start of Grapefruit League action where he faced live pitching in intrasquad action, so there’s optimism he’ll come back from the injury still sharp. But the club will exert extreme caution in bringing him back to game speed, now likely to start the year in the Minors before a callup. The biggest question is if he’ll be ready for Triple-A Opening Day on April 5. — Zachary Silver

Elias not ready to rule out Rutschman for start of year (March 23)

The good news is that Adley Rutschman continues to improve from the right triceps injury that sidelined him right when Major League camp opened. The even better news is that executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias was not ready to rule out his top prospect for the start of the Minor League season on April 5.

Rutschman is still shut down from baseball activities, but he could resume some of his progressions before the end of March. Even so, it’s incredibly unlikely the O’s will usher him straight to the big leagues for his debut — something that was far from certain even before his injury. But it’s positive that starting the year on time remains a possibility.

“If this dissipates rapidly, we want him out there,” Elias said. “… I know he’s really bummed that this happened literally right when the big leaguers were showing up, but we’re taking the long view with him.”

Still, the timing of this injury, given that Rutschman appears on the verge of his callup and that it came right when Major League camp was set to open, is unfortunate. Rutschman got a bevy of ramp-up activity during Minor League camp, but the club will want him to get plenty of in-game experience before any sort of callup. There’s little thought that the early, extended action Rutschman got in Florida led to this injury.

“He was really playing his ass off in the early camp, so the timing of this stinks,” Elias said. “… Now we’re in the process of letting that fully calm down and flush out before we put him back out there. But obviously, it’s something that we’re going to be professional about doing the right thing and pacing properly. But he is trending well. … I think it’s more weeks and days still with with regard to him joining game action.” — Zachary Silver

O’s top prospects get taste of bigs vs. Yanks (March 23)
Six of the Orioles’ top 14 prospects, per MLB Pipeline, appeared in the team’s 7-1 Grapefruit League loss to the Yankees. It was a valuable experience for these youngsters who could have big roles in the future. Story >

Kjerstad (hamstring) dealt another blow in road back (March 23)
Heston Kjerstad appeared on the verge of his professional debut with the Orioles, sidelined in 2021 by a myocarditis diagnosis and without a Minor League season in ’20. But for the club’s No. 9 prospect, a left hamstring strain will delay his long-awaited debut by eight to 12 weeks, executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias said. Story >

Stowers hammers first Grapefruit homer — and it’s LOUD (March 22)
There are three positives to be associated with the home run Kyle Stowers hit on Tuesday, his first long ball in Grapefruit League action in his first taste of big league Spring Training. The first was the exit velocity; the sound of the 108 mph blast reverberated around LECOM Park. The second was the distance: 363 feet, meaning it wasn’t a cheapie.

And the third? The opposing pitcher. A left-handed-hitter, Stowers hit the homer off a lefty, and a veteran lefty at that, the Pirates’ José Quintana.

“I thought today was the most comfortable I’ve seen him so far,” manager Brandon Hyde said of Stowers, whose homer was his first hit in 10 at-bats (four games) in Grapefruit League action. “… His at-bats are improving every game and that’s what you’re looking for from a young hitter. A lot of times they press early, and I think he’s relaxing a little bit at the plate.”

Stowers, the club’s No. 8 prospect per MLB Pipeline, is pushing for a spot on the Major League roster, although he is a non-roster invitee in camp. He likely will have to wait until later in the season, as the outfield is mostly filled unless the O’s move any of their current Major Leaguers.

No matter when Stowers’ promotion to the bigs comes, blasts like the one he used to punctuate Baltimore’s six-run drive against Quintana demonstrate what he can provide when the big league club comes calling. Flag Court and Eutaw Street, take notice.

“Each day has been getting a little better, and in the box, especially today, I felt like I had a little bit of a breakthrough in my last at-bat [a 105.6 mph flyout], kind of just letting go of what’s going on with my body and just focusing on seeing the ball,” Stowers said. — Zachary Silver

Rutschman (triceps) progressing well, remains on same track (March 21)
While top prospect Adley Rutschman has yet to resume any baseball activities, he’s progressing well in this period of rest as he recovers from the right triceps strain he endured at the outset of camp. Manager Brandon Hyde said that Rutschman, while yet to throw or hit (as expected), is feeling better and focusing on lower-body conditioning. Rutschman has been more present around the team, on-field for some Grapefruit League game warmups, but hasn’t strayed from simply shagging balls thrown into the infield.

“Making a lot of progress,” Hyde said. “Happy with how it’s coming along. … Strength guys are really happy with the progress he’s making.”

While all positive, the news does not change Rutschman’s initial timeline, which was prescribed as a two-week period of rest and then a third week that will restart some of his hitting, throwing and catching progressions in the March 28-30 timeframe. It was far from a certainty that Rutschman would make the Opening Day lineup before the injury, and this flare-up, despite its progress, seems to make it so the focus is more on health for the Minor League season, though his debut could very possibly be delayed there, too. — Zachary Silver

Diaz’s bat shows thump (March 22)
Yusniel Diaz
just wants to be known as a Major League outfielder instead of the “centerpiece in the Manny Machado trade” in 2016. He’s slimmed down in the offseason after adhering to a diet that cut out nearly all of his favorite things. His legs are much stronger after a hearty dose of offseason workouts, and the shoulder ailment that cut short his Arizona Fall League experience is finally healed.

At least it looked that way when the O’s No. 12 prospect per MLB Pipeline swatted a solo homer in Sunday’s 3-2 loss to the Red Sox. Of the handful of prospects that made the trip to Fort Myers, Fla., to face the Red Sox at JetBlue Park, Diaz made the biggest splash.

He’s also probably feeling the most pressure, having not only been an integral part of that trade we promise not to bring up again but, at 25 years old, being one of the elder statesmen among the top prospects.

Sunday’s eighth-inning smash won’t guarantee him a spot in the O’s crowded outfield among some stiff competition, but it certainly didn’t hurt his case. — Dawn Klemish

Ortiz makes slick play in first Grapefruit action (March 18)
Step aside, vets.

After some serious defensive miscues by the O’s starters in Friday’s Grapefruit League opener against the Blue Jays, Joey Ortiz showed everyone how it’s done. Baltimore’s No. 20 prospect, per MLB Pipeline, dove to his right to rob Toronto’s Orelvis Martinez of a hit in the bottom of the sixth inning, earning cheers from the Ed Smith Stadium faithful.

“Special play. He’s a really good defender,” said manager Brandon Hyde. “I’ve watched him here for the last few weeks, love the way he plays defense. … He’s got chance to be a good player.”

Perhaps it should not have been of much surprise. Among the Orioles burgeoning shortstop class, Ortiz has been lauded for defensive prowess. It was telling that when he lined up in the middle infield with No. 6 prospect Jordan Westburg, also a shortstop, Ortiz lined up at short and Westburg at second. Neither is expected to make the big leagues this year, but they and several others will give O’s fans a look at the future through the Grapefruit League slate.

The double-play duo, who turned one on Friday, were also joined by Colton Cowser, among other top prospects to get playing time following the departure of Friday’s starters. Kyle Stowers, who is in big league camp, was among said starters, going 0-for-3 with a strikeout. Tyler Nevin also contributed a two-run double in the first, scorching a ball into the left-center gap as DJ Stewart and Kelvin Gutierrez came around to score. — Zachary Silver

Mental fortitude the focus for No. 12 prospect Diaz (March 18)
After injury setbacks hurt his prospect stock, Yusniel Diaz spent the offseason focused on coming back to baseball stronger. Not only did the outfielder improve his physical strength, but he also built up his mental toughness. Story > — Zachary Silver

Rutschman (triceps) unlikely for Opening Day (March 16)
Appearing to be on the brink of his highly anticipated Major League debut, Adley Rutschman will likely have to wait until after Opening Day, as a right triceps strain at the outset of big league camp has instead resulted in a two- to three-week shutdown from baseball activities. The catcher’s injury stems from a Friday intrasquad game among O’s Minor Leaguers, after which he showed up to the facilities with some discomfort on Saturday. Further testing in the week that followed revealed a strain to his triceps muscles, though no structural damage was found.

Even in a best-case scenario, it’s unlikely for Rutschman to be physically ready for Opening Day, with at least two weeks between him and baseball activities, which would then leave only one more week to ready himself. At that, Rutschman was an early report to Florida, but he is yet to face pitchers from outside the organization this spring, and given some of the tepidness about his likelihood for the big league roster injury notwithstanding, his chances at this juncture appear minimal.

It’s a tough blow for the consensus top prospect in baseball, who shined in his first pro season in 2021 and finished at Triple-A Norfolk, now taking part in his third consecutive big league camp. His past acclaim and future hopes suggest it’s a hurdle not overly burdensome for the 24-year-old.

“I think it’s an extremely small blip for a guy that’s going to have a long career,” said manager Brandon Hyde. “I’m looking forward to when he’s healthy to be out there. He makes us better. We’ll see. I just want him to get healthy.” — Zachary Silver

Kjerstad hits setback in return (March 14)
Many eyes are on Heston Kjerstad this Spring Training as the O’s 2020 first-round Draft pick (second overall) nears his pro debut following a long road back from a myocarditis diagnosis. The outfielder hit another unfortunate snag at camp — but one that’s also positive by its nature.

Kjerstad sustained a pulled hamstring in a recent intrasquad game while diving for a ball in the outfield, executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias said, which puts his readiness for the start of the Minor League season in doubt. Kjerstad is set for further testing as the club continues to evaluate his status.

“To the degree that this costs some at-bats the front end of the season and delays his pro debut, it’s going be a shame,” Elias said. “But we’re just going to keep pushing through it and fighting through it. He’s as tough they come, we’ve learned that.”

Kjerstad was an early arrival to Spring Training when Minor League camp opened up at the end of February. The club has had him to face live pitching all winter in order to try and get him back up to game speed after a two-year layoff. Most positive about the setback is that it came as he remains a full-go otherwise from the lingering impacts of myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart wall.

“The most important thing is is his internal health. Everything’s going really well there, and on a number of levels that’s that’s the most important thing,” Elias said. “Somebody gets normal, athletic injuries after going through something like that, it’s in a weird way kind of back to normal.” — Zachary Silver

O’s formally open Minor League camp, have two key players full-go (March 8)
Tuesday was the first official full-squad workout day for Orioles Minor Leaguers in Sarasota, Fla., and with it, on top of hijinks and overall good vibes that come with being back in action, came some positive news on players injured in 2021.

Shortstop Joey Ortiz, the club’s No. 20 prospect and part of a strong crop of middle infielders, reported that he is fully healthy from his surgery in early July to repair a labrum tear in his left shoulder. Ortiz felt a pull in his shoulder when he chased a slider in a game with Double-A Bowie and thought it was a sprain. But lingering discomfort prompted the club to look further, and an MRI revealed the tear. The injury caused him to miss the remainder of the 2021 season, but Ortiz was active at the O’s instructional camp in October.

“As far as feeling 100 percent, I’m full-go right now,” Ortiz said. “I feel great.”

Elsewhere on the farm, third baseman Coby Mayo (No. 17 prospect) also said he remains unhampered by a knee ailment that forced him to miss almost all of the first three months of the 2021 season. All told, the touted 20-year-old said he is feeling rejuvenated and stronger at the outset of this camp, with 10-15 pounds added on since his drafting in 2020 as he looks to solidify himself as the O’s third baseman of the future.

“Obviously, no one likes to get injured, but like I said, everything happens for a reason,” Mayo said. “I took advantage of it and went full force with that and really targeted getting better in all aspects.” — Zachary Silver

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