Thursday, May 16, 2024

Farm Aid


The Orioles could have called the Jackson Holliday experiment a failure. Calling up a guy absolutely smoking the minors only for the major league pitching to do him in, all while the spotlight's firmly upon him, it's been seen before, but it's been a while since a call-up has underwhelmed like this. And with Holliday's callup feeling like a logical next step, it'd be understandable if the Orioles took a hit following the demotion.

But right as Holliday was struggling, a completely different Orioles rookie was commanding the attention, and keeping the Orioles competitive. And so that took the sting out of it.

That's what separates this Orioles team from one you may have seen in 2021, upon Adley Rutschman's debut. Back then, the whole team was hinging on a top prospect to do well so the winning iteration of the team could be built around them. Now, because this is already a competitive team with so many working homegrown parts, successful prospects are just ways of strengthening the already-strong core. So Colton Cowser coming up and going on a tear was just another great element of this team's development system.

Cowser's numbers have gone down a bit, but his 6 homers and 20 RBIs have still contributed mightily to the power numbers this team is capable of. Also a wise contribution? Kyle Stowers, who's now a major league piece after hitting a ton of homers in Norfolk. The trouble with this is that at the moment, it's been hard for Stowers to land substantial playing time now that Austin Hays is back, and now he's kinda warring with Stowers for time. And yes, while this isn't the situation for the next 10 years like Atlanta, considering that Anthony Santander's a free agent after the season, it's making this a rocky development period for both of them.

Then you think about Heston Kjerstad, who's lower on the totem pole than either of those two and really has no place to break into the major league outfield picture. So far for Norfolk, Kjerstad's played beautifully, hitting .337 with 33 RBIs and 11 homers. Not only has Kjerstad not succeeded in the majors in general, but he's been sent back to Norfolk, like Holliday, because of the lack of immediate success. There's so many young players on this team that it's impossible to get all of them in the lineup at once, and I'm guessing it's gonna lead some of them to be traded fairly soon. Kjerstad for sure, but possibly even someone like Cowser or Stowers if they don't heat up long-term. 

The rotation doesn't really have that much of a youth overflow issue, as Grayson Rodriguez and Tyler Wells happened to go down around the time that both Kyle Bradish and John Means came off the IL. Bradish has been strong so far, though he's yet to register a decision in 3 games. Means is looking very sturdy in 2 games back, and has 1 win under his belt. Burnes, Irvin and Kremer are still working pretty consistently as well. Last year there was somebody like D.L. Hall scratching to get in, but he's over in Milwaukee...hurt again, I think [I mean, his name IS 'D.L.'...]

The Orioles have enough working now that they'll be great for a while, it seems. I just hope that this competitive environment for the young players doesn't stunt the growth of any of their finest prospects.

Coming Tomorrow- I dunno what I'm happier about; the team doing well, or this guy finally becoming a multi-tool guy.

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