Mancini, Drake rise above for Orioles

Organization gets big years from Walker, Alvarez -- and Double-A title

Trey Mancini led all Orioles Minor Leaguers in homers, RBIs and batting this season. (Kevin Pataky/MiLB.com)

By Danny Wild / MiLB.com | October 9, 2015 10:00 AM

This offseason, MiLB.com is honoring the players -- regardless of age or prospect status -- who had the best seasons in their organization. We're taking a look at each team to determine the outstanding seasons in Minor League Baseball. Select a team from the dropdown below.

The Orioles saw five players make their Major League debuts this season, including relievers Oliver Drake and Mychal Givens, who were named the organization's Pitchers of the Year.

Around the O's system, Double-A Bowie captured its first Eastern League championship, Triple-A Norfolk won its division and both Class A Delmarva and Class A Short Season Aberdeen finished above .500. Class A Advanced Frederick was the lone domestic affiliate with a losing record at 64-76.

Baltimore fans have to be excited about first-base prospect Trey Mancini while hoping right-handers Hunter Harvey and Dylan Bundy return from injuries that sidelined them for the entire 2015 campaign.

Orioles Organization All-Stars

Catcher -- Chance Sisco, Bowie (20 games), Frederick (75 games): The Orioles' No. 8 prospect reached Double-A, a year after winning the South Atlantic League batting and on-base percentage titles as a 19-year-old. This season, the backstop batted .297 with six homers, 34 RBIs, an even 100 hits and eight stolen bases across two levels. The system's top catching prospect also led all Orioles backstops in RBIs.

"Cisco did well, he had a good year," said Brian Graham, the Orioles director of player development. "He missed a stretch there with a pulled oblique. Good left-handed-hitting catchers are hard to find, and he improved his development. His receiving skills and ability to throw improved, and he continued to swing the bat well. He's got an impressive resume going so far."

First base -- Trey Mancini, Bowie (84 games), Frederick (52): The 23-year-old won the Orioles' Minor League Triple Crown, was named Brooks Robinson Minor League Player of the Year, claimed the Eastern League batting and slugging titles and led the system in almost every offensive category, including hits, runs, doubles and total bases. He led all O's farmhands by hitting .341 with 21 homers and 89 RBIs across two levels, was the system's Player of the Month three times and was one of five finalists for USA Today's Minor League Player of the Year Award. He also was named Carolina League Player of the Month for May.

"He did everything you'd want him to do. He's a player who drove in runs and played good defense. He's making strides and getting better and going in the right direction," Graham said. "I think what happens is he looks a little unorthodox at times, but he makes all the plays defensively, he has really good hands, he understands the strike zone and he continues to perform."

"He's been unbelievable," Bowie manager Gary Kendall told MASN. "He runs hard and plays the game the right way. Just impressed -- not only with his production but what he brings as a teammate. He's a very humble kid. He promotes his teammates and doesn't talk about himself.

Second base -- Steve Wilkerson, Delmarva (92 games): The Clemson product hit .287 with two homers, 30 RBIs, a .376 OBP and 10 steals in his first full season. The switch-hitting South Atlantic League All-Star batted .303 in May and July and owned a .956 fielding percentage.

"A switch-hitter that played really good defense," Graham said. "He showed an ability to get on base and swing the bat well, and he's a level-to-level guy who's going to play at every level and work his way, hopefully, to the big leagues."

Shortstop -- Ryan Mountcastle, Aberdeen (10 games), GCL Orioles (43 games): The Orioles took the 18-year-old with the last pick in the first round of this year's Draft, and the right-handed-hitting infielder responded by batting .296 with four homers, 19 RBIs and 10 steals in 53 games. Baltimore's 11th-ranked prospect is known for his bat speed and above-average power -- no Orioles shortstop slugged more than four homers in 2015, and Mountcastle, in a little more than two months, was one of them.

"First impression is very good," Graham said. "It's difficult for a high school hitter to hit .300 in the Gulf Coast League, and he did it. He makes all the plays defensively, he's a gamer and he comes to play every day. Offensively he has a chance to be a good hitter."

Graham also said he'd like to see Mountcastle begin next season at Delmarva rather than extended spring training.

"I would hope he would have the ability to play at Delmarva," he said. "That's our hope going into the offseason."

Third base -- Jomar Reyes, Delmarva (84 games), GCL Orioles (five games): Graham praised Reyes for his ability to succeed at Class A, despite turning 18 in February. The Orioles' No. 4 prospect and top-ranked third baseman hit .277 with five homers and 48 RBIs after signing out of the Dominican Republic for $350,000.

"Jomar was 18 in the South Atlantic League, and he played really well," Graham noted. "We were really pleased he could play at that level and do what he did at his age. Being 18 years old and in his first full season coming up from the Dominican Republic, he's also a big, strong physical kid. He's a pretty impressive kid."

Outfielders

Quincy Latimore, Bowie (122 games): Latimore showed power in his first season with the Orioles, hitting .274 with 20 homers and 64 RBIs at Double-A. The 26-year-old was an Eastern League All-Star and ranked second among Baltimore farmhands in homers and fifth in RBIs.

"He was impressive, had a good year," Graham said. "He was an offensive presence in that lineup in Double-A. Regardless that he's a veteran guy, who's to say he can't make it to the big leagues when he's 27 or 28? He's sound defensively as well -- he had a good year."

Dariel Alvarez, Norfolk (130 games), Frederick (five games), Baltimore (12 games): The 26-year-old made his big league debut in August after hitting .277 with 16 homers and 73 RBIs in the Minors. He ranked second in the system with 146 hits.

"He had a good year. He has a presence when he's in the lineup. When teams have to pitch to him, he has a chance to make things happen," Graham said. "He's got power and speed and didn't strike out a lot -- he didn't walk a lot, either, but didn't strike out a lot. And he's a good defensive outfielder with probably the best arm in the organization."

Jay Gonzalez, Delmarva (72 games), Frederick (61 games): The 2014 10th-round pick ascended two levels this year, hitting .268 with 42 RBIs, 34 steals and a .381 OBP. Though Gonzalez had no homers, he led the system in steals and ranked fifth with 125 hits.

"Really good at Delmarva in his first full season, and when he got promoted to Frederick, his numbers weren't quite as good, but he got on base and walked a lot," Graham said. "His OBP was good and he puts good at-bats together. He puts pressure on the other team."

More Organization All-Stars

Utility Player -- Christian Walker, Norfolk (138 games), Baltimore (seven games): The O's top-ranked first baseman hit .257 with 18 homers and 74 RBIs at Triple-A before getting nine at-bats with the big club. Baltimore's No. 5 prospect, who won a pair of College World Series at South Carolina, also helped Norfolk go deep in the playoffs with a strong finish. 

"The second half, he was outstanding," Graham said. "The first half, he was OK, but the second half, he was really good -- that's the impressive thing. Defensively, he was sound. Offensively, if you look at his average, homers and RBIs, his second half was really good, one of the best in baseball."

Walker hit .257 after the All-Star break with 13 homers and 44 RBIs in 54 games.

Right-handed starting pitcher -- Terry Doyle, Norfolk (seven games), Bowie (19 games): The 29-year-old went 16-2 with a 2.16 ERA and 110 strikeouts over 158 2/3 innings. He ranked second in the system in ERA and innings pitched and tied for second in the Minors in wins.

"A great example of a guy who throws strikes and commands the ball," Graham said. "He doesn't overpower you, but he throws three pitches for strikes, changes speed and commands the ball. When you do that, you have a chance to win games. He did a great job this year."

Left-handed starting pitcher -- Chris Jones, Norfolk (30 games): Jones was 8-8 with a 2.94 ERA in 30 games, including 22 starts, at Triple-A. He was third in the system in ERA and fourth with 150 innings pitched.

"He really did a good job in Triple-A, and he's been used in a variety of roles this year, primarily as a starter," Graham said. "He took the ball every fifth day, threw strikes, competed and had success."

Reliever -- Oliver Drake, Norfolk (42 games), Baltimore (12 games): Drake and Mychal Givens were named the Orioles' co-Minor League Pitchers of the Year, but Drake gets the edge here after going 1-2 with a 0.82 ERA and was 23 saves in 23 opportunities. He allowed just one homer, held opponents to a .151 average and struck out 66 batters over 44 innings.

"Drake's numbers are unheard of -- numbers like that don't happen at any level, much less Triple-A," Graham said. "He performed at a really high level, and he deserves a lot of rewards for that. He's certainly going to compete as a big league bullpen guy. When your numbers are like that at Triple-A, the opportunity in the big leagues is there to see if you can repeat something like that."

Danny Wild is an editor for MiLB.com. Follow his MLBlog column, Minoring in Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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