Orioles in AFL: Stewart, Marin working hard in desert
MLB Pipeline checks in on Baltimore's prospects in the Arizona Fall League
By Mike Rosenbaum
The Baltimore Orioles' decision to challenge Chance Sisco with a trip to last year's Arizona Fall League paid dividends for the young catcher in 2016, as he produced a .320 average in Double-A en route to a Triple-A promotion at age 21.
This year, the club is hoping the AFL will similarly serve as a springboard for the career of No. 12 prospect D.J. Stewart.
Stewart's first two months this season were much like his 2015 professional debut, when he hit .218 over 62 games in the Class A Short Season New York-Penn League after the Orioles selected him in the first round with the No. 25 overall pick.
But the Florida State product began to find his stroke as the calendar flipped to June, and by the end of the month he was playing for Class A Advanced Frederick.
Stewart flourished in the Carolina League, hitting .279/.389/.448 with 16 extra-base hits including six home runs across 59 games. Altogether, he posted a .776 OPS with 10 home runs and 26 steals between the two levels.
Now playing for Peoria in the Fall League, the 22-year-old outfielder is looking to further his development after a successful first full season.
"Work on my swing," Stewart said when asked about his objectives this fall. "I'm kind of making an adjustment with my stance right now, so just fine-tuning that and coming out here and putting together good at-bats."
Whereas Stewart is getting his first taste of the Fall League this year, Marin is one of the three Orioles farmhands back for a second tour of Arizona after he hit .278 with Peoria in 2015.
Following two straight years at Class A Advanced Frederick, Marin advanced to Double-A Bowie this season and hit .232 with 11 steals in 119 games. Though his offensive production declined in the Eastern League, the 22-year-old -- who prides himself on being able to play anywhere on the field -- once again offered solid defense at shortstop.
Marin knows that his defensive versatility will be key in helping him progress through Baltimore's system -- but not if he doesn't make the necessary strides at the plate.
"I'm just really trying to focus on taking things one pitch at a time," the 2012 third-round Draft pick said. "Not thinking about the past or the future; just staying in the present, right now, and giving it all my effort every single pitch out here."
Though they're working on different things in the Fall League, both Marin and Stewart share the same goal of reaching the Major Leagues.
"I'm always trying to envision myself [playing in Baltimore], so I can be there one day. That's my dream, that's my goal, so I have to visualize myself there," said Marin.
"Camden Yards is an amazing ballpark," Stewart said. "Hopefully one day I can get there and contribute for the team."
Orioles hitters in the Fall League
Austin Wynns, C
Wynns, 25, enjoyed a career-best offensive campaign in 2016, hitting .287/.336/.416 with six home runs and 18 doubles in 80 games across the Class A, Double- and Triple-A levels. Defensively, the 2013 10th-rounder threw out 45.3 percent of (29 of 64) attempted basestealers, also a career-best mark.
Orioles pitchers in the Fall League
Parker Bridwell, RHP
Stefan Crichton, RHP
Tanner Scott, LHP
Jimmy Yacabonis, RHP
A shift to the bullpen after returning from the disabled list in mid-July helped the 25-year-old Bridwell reach the Majors in the second half, when he allowed five earned runs on five hits in 3 1/3 innings spanning two appearances. While the Orioles' No. 27 prospect has yet to take the mound in Arizona, he's expected to use the Fall League to make up for the time he lost during the regular season
Crichton, 24, proved to be a workhorse in his first Double-A campaign, logging a 3.73 ERA in 72 1/3 innings over 48 appearances including four starts. The 6-foot-3 right-hander has showed big-league-caliber stuff so far this fall, pairing a power sinker at 95-97 mph with a low-80s slider that he throws with good depth and tilt.
Scott, the Orioles' No. 10 prospect, caught scouts' attention last fall by hitting 100 mph out of the bullpen for Peoria. He's bumping triple digits once again this year -- 101 mph, in fact -- and doing so as a starter. The 22-year-old southpaw got off to a strong start, allowing two earned runs across his first three starts for Peoria before struggling in his latest outing.
This season was Yacabonis' best at a full-season level as he set career highs in ERA (2.64), appearances (50), innings pitched (64 2/3) and strikeouts (67). The 24-year-old righty generated more ground balls with his mid-90s fastball as well as more whiffs with his curveball, and the combination helped him to hold hitters to a .216 average including a .211 clip over 34 Double-A appearances.
Mike Rosenbaum is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @GoldenSombrero. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.