Bowie's finest pave Baltimore's way

Britton, Guzman lead diverse group of Orioles All-Stars

Zach Britton was 10-7 with a 2.70 ERA across two Minor League levels. (Will Bentzel/

By Robert Emrich / Special to | October 15, 2010 6:00 AM

This offseason, will be 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' farm system was highlighted in 2010 by a trio of Minor League veterans enjoying their finest seasons, recent Draft picks displaying their potential and a duo of starting pitchers marching toward the big leagues.

Baltimore had one affiliate reach the postseason -- the Class A Advanced Frederick Keys fell in four games in the opening round of the Carolina League's Mills Cup playoffs. The Orioles' Double-A affiliate, the Bowie Baysox, managed a winning record for the fourth straight season and missed a playoff berth by two games.

Catcher -- Caleb Joseph, Bowie (106 games): After turning in All-Star performances in 2008 and '09, Joseph hit a speed bump at Double-A in 2010, but still slugged 11 homers and drove in 51 runs for the Baysox. Bowie manager Brad Komminsk felt Joseph's most important contribution came behind the plate, where he threw out 27 percent of runners trying to steal.

"His throwing improved as the season went on," Komminsk said. "He wasn't throwing well early. I don't know if he had a dead arm, but about halfway through, he started throwing the ball well."

First baseman -- Joseph Mahoney, Frederick (72 games)/Bowie (52 games): Mahoney took his game up a notch this year, hitting .299 with nine homers for the Keys, and then added 20 points to his average and matched that home run total with the Baysox.

"He did a nice job," Komminsk said. "He has a good eye at the plate, [is] not afraid to go deep into counts, has power to all fields and can drive in some runs."

Second baseman -- Ryan Adams, Bowie (134 games): Adams provided a spark at the top of the Baysox lineup, posting a .365 on-base percentage and scoring 81 runs. He also managed to slug 15 homers, second among Eastern League second basemen.

"He's a professional hitter," Komminsk said. "He's one of the top four hitters in the league, he can hit the ball. He's one of the better ones as far as quality at-bats and driving the ball to all fields. He was pretty darn good."

Shortstop -- Robert Andino, Norfolk (132 games)/Baltimore (14 games): The 26-year-old Andino enjoyed a strong second half, batting .306 in 42 games after the All-Star break. He managed to swipe 16 bases in 19 tries while collecting 47 extra-base hits and 76 RBIs, which were ninth in the International League and the best among Triple-A shortstops.

Third baseman -- Brandon Waring, Bowie (129 games): The 24-year-old Canadian delivered his fourth straight 20-homer season, slugging 22 for the Baysox. Waring also drew a career-high 59 walks while turning in a solid defensive season, committing 12 errors.

"He's got raw power, no doubt about that," Komminsk said. "He gets it up in the zone, he can hit it all fields. If you look at his numbers, he had a pretty solid year. He played good for us at third. He caught everything hit at him, he has an accurate arm, he was solid. One of the better fielding third baseman in our league, if not the best."

Left fielder -- Kipp Schutz, Aberdeen (68 games): The 2009 19th-rounder led all Orioles' Minor Leaguers with a .313 average. Schutz finished ninth in the New York-Penn League with 116 total bases and was the starting left fielder for the AL All-Stars. He led the IronBirds with five triples and 42 RBIs.

Center fielder -- Kyle Hudson, Frederick (136 games): Hudson paced the Carolina League's fastest team with 40 stolen bases, best in the league and the Orioles organization. The 23-year-old also drew 62 walks and scored 83 runs. Hudson was also second on the circuit in putouts by a center fielder with 241.

Right field -- Ronnie Welty, Frederick (130 games): Welty proved to be a offensive threat for the Keys. In addition to slugging 18 homers, he also drove in 82 runs, batted. 282 with 47 walks and stole 11 bases. Welty contributed in the field with nine outfield assists.

Designated hitter -- Joel Guzman, Bowie (130 games):Guzman, who joined his third organization in as many years, enjoyed his finest season, finishing by leading all Double-A players with 33 homers, nearly tripling his 2009 total of 12.

"He was just happy he was playing," Komminsk said. "I expected a lot of him, and he took it and ran with it. He was a huge force in the middle of the lineup. When he was in there, he made pitchers pitch."

Left-handed starting pitcher -- Zach Britton, Bowie (15 games)/Norfolk (12 games): A former third-round pick, Britton, did not disappoint in his Double-A debut, going 7-3 and limiting Eastern League batters to a .231 average for Bowie. After tossing a scoreless inning of relief in the Futures Game, he earned a mid-July promotion to Triple-A Norfolk, where he picked up three more wins and posted a 2.98 ERA. He finished second in the organization with 124 strikeouts.

"He's a good quality left-handed starter. He's at 94-95 mph, [with] good sink on the ball and can get some groundballs," Komminsk said. "He made some good progress with us. He can be a force for some years in the American League."

Right-handed starting pitcher -- Chris Tillman, Norfolk (21 games): Despite making 11 starts in the Majors, Tillman managed to lead all Orioles' Minor Leaguer pitchers with 11 wins. Even more impressive, the 22-year-old topped the International League with two shutouts and his 3.34 ERA was fifth in the league. Tillman was also an International League All-Star for the second consecutive season.

Relief pitcher -- Dennis Sarfate, Norfolk (47 games): Beyond saving 20 games, the former Major Leaguer limited International League batters to a .176 average. Sarfate also struck out 72 batters in 56 innings.

Robert Emrich is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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