The Orioles minor league affiliates (three of them, anyways) kicked off the 2011 season on Thursday night, and while Low-A Delmarva was the only team to emerge from the opening day slate, that’s not to say that there weren’t plenty of positive signs for the most surprising big-league squads’ minor league system.


Delmarva 2, Greensboro 1

First, (and can we really start anywhere else?) we travel back to Delmarva, where 2010 first-round pick Manny Machado made his full-season debut. And boy was it a beauty.

The highly-touted shortstop picked up two hits in three at-bats, and drove in two runs, which provided the cushion in the Shorebirds 2-1 victory.

Machado batted third in the lineup, played shortstop and had a part in a double-play.

Other tidbits from the contest with the Marlins Low-A affiliate included:

– 2009 second-round pick Mychal Givens making only his seventh professional start at second base. With Machado on board, the team has to find a spot for Givens, who was drafted as the shortstop of the future a year before Machado fell to them. It looks like that full-time home will be at second. Givens hit second, and notched one hit, scored a run on Machado’s triple and struck out once.

– Jonathan Schoop, the team’s 10th ranked prospect according to Baseball America, made his second-ever start at third base. The Shorebirds have a crowded infield, with true shortstops playing at second and third base. Schoop is getting his first extended taste of full-season ball, coming off a season in which he hit .290 with 18 doubles, five homers, 35 RBI and a 20:25 BB-to-K ratio in 62 games.

– Michael Ohlman, the team’s 11th-round pick in 2009, continued to struggle, striking out in all three of his plate appearances. The team is high on Ohlman, especially at the plate, where they expected him to contribute right away. Instead, he has floundered to a .205 average in 89 pro contests, with 92 strikeouts in 316 at-bats.

– Right-hander Luis Noel made the start for Delmarva, tossing four innings of four-hit ball, allowing one run, one walk and striking out four batters. This is Noel’s third go-around in Low-A, although he did lose some development time last season, missing the first three months due to a problem with his visa.

– Other pitchers who made appearances for the Baby Birds include: Chris Petrini, a free-agent signing who pitched lights-out last year, posting a 1.93 ERA in 21 games, splitting time between the O’s GCL squad and Aberdeen. Petrini tossed three-innings of one-hit ball and picked up the victory.

Harrisburg 5, Bowie 0

The Baysox were shutout, thanks to a stellar pitching performance by Nats farmhand Brad Meyers, who racked up nine strikeouts in only five innings. Meyers scattered four hits and didn’t issue a walk. This strikeout-prone Baysox squad struck out a total of 15 times, including three from Greg Miclat and two a piece from Xavier Avery, Joe Mahoney, Robbie Widlansky, Billy Rowell, and Ronnie Welty.

Other tidbits include:

– Rowell made his first-ever start above High-A ball, after spending the past three seasons with Frederick.

– Orioles’ 2010 strikeout king Brandon Waring only went down swinging once, and notched one of the team’s five base-hits. Widlansky, Welty, Avery and Pedro Florimon Jr. collected the other four. Florimon was the only member of the lineup to not record a strikeout.

– Avery picked up his first stolen base of the season, off of top prospect Derek Norris. Avery swiped 38 bags last season and has refined his methods on the basepaths. Look for at least that many steals this year.

– Chorye Spoone got the ball for the Baysox on opening-night and pitched three innings of highly erratic ball. He threw 34 strikes and 33 balls, walked five batters and hit another. He was saddled with the loss.

– Ryohei Tanaka, Tim Bascom and Wynn Pelzer rounded out the staff for the night. The three relievers combined to allow one hit and one run in five innings of work. Bascom was expected to pitch out of the number-four spot in the rotation this season, but was forced into duty when Spoone failed to make it out of the fourth-inning.

Charlotte 4, Norfolk 3

The Knights downed the Tides in each team’s opener, behind a strong pitching performance from Lucas Harrell and a three-hit night from Alejandro De Aza. Minor league vet Gookie Dawkins also hit a solo HR for the White Sox Triple-A affiliate. 

For the Tides, their production came in the form of a solo HR from Nolan Reimold, a sac fly from Matt Angle, and an RBI double from newcomer Brendan Harris.

Other notes from the game:

– Ryan Drese, a dark-horse candidate for the final rotation spot in spring-training, got the opening-night start and pitched well. Pitching two days after his 35th birthday, Drese scattered seven hits over six innings, allowing two runs and striking out three. The right-hander made his first pro appearance since 2008.

– Big-league vet Mark Hendrickson pitched the final two innings, allowing two runs on four hits, including Hawkins’ homer.

– Tyler Henson had a solid Triple-A debut, going 2-for-3 with two doubles, a walk and a strikeout. The 23-year old has quietly risen up through the system, showing good pop and great speed.

– As a team, the Tides were 0-for-7 with runners-in-scoring position.

– Matt Angle had a solid game, despite not recording a hit in four five plate appearances. He walked once, struck out twice, drove in a run on a sac-fly and nailed Eduardo Escobar at third base, picking up his first outfield assist of the season. Angle has six OFA last year and 13 the year before. He is consistently ranked as having the strongest outfield arm in the system by Baseball America.

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