Season In Review: The Tides finished the season with a 69-71 record, placing them in third place in the International League South Division. Norfolk finished 10.5 games back of the Durham Bulls, who posted a 79-60 record. The Tides were at or near the top of the IL South standings all season long, but a difficult closing stretch that saw Norfolk drop 14 of its final 19 games dropped the Tides out of playoff contention.
Opening Exhibit: The Tides and Orioles kicked off the 2018 season with an Exhibition Game at Harbor Park on Monday, March 26th. The Orioles took a close one from the Tides by the score of 7-6 in front of 9,181 fans on a chilly Monday afternoon. The exhibition contest was the sixth time the Orioles have played at Harbor Park since the Tides became Baltimore's Triple-A affiliate prior to the 2007 season.
This Is Birdland: The Tides had 68 different players appear on the active roster in 2018, with 66 of those players appearing in a game (infielders Milton Ramos and Alejandro Juvier were on the roster but never appeared in a game). There were 33 different players to appear on the active roster for both Norfolk and Baltimore in 2018, including 13 players that made their Major League debuts. Players to appear for both the Tides and Orioles: Pitchers Zach Britton (MLB rehab), Cody Carroll*, Paul Fry*, Sean Gilmartin, Donnie Hart, David Hess*, Jhan Mariñez, Ryan Meisinger*, John Means*, Luis Ortiz*, Evan Phillips, Yefry Ramirez*, Josh Rogers*, Tanner Scott, Chris Tillman (MLB rehab) and Jimmy Yacabonis; infielders Pedro Álvarez, Tim Beckham (MLB rehab), Renato Núñez, Luis Sardiñas, Jonathan Schoop (MLB rehab), Breyvic Valera, Engelb Vielma* and Steve Wilkerson*; outfielders Cedric Mullins*, Joey Rickard, Anthony Santander, DJ Stewart* and Mark Trumbo (MLB rehab); and catchers Caleb Joseph, Chance Sisco, Andrew Susac and Austin Wynns*. (* indicates player made MLB debut)
Walk-Off Heroes: The 2018 Tides proved to be clutch when they were needed most, registering 13 walk-off victories. Outfielder DJ Stewart started the game-winning barrage with a two-run, two-out walk-off home run against Gwinnett in the second game of the season - his first home run at the Triple-A level. Luis Sardiñas hit two-walk-off home runs, belting solo game-winners on July 26th vs. Syracuse and August 8th vs. Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. The Tides also saw an ultra-rare feat courtesy of Breyvic Valera, as the infielder hit a two-run, inside-the-park home run in the bottom of the 13th inning to give the Tides a 6-5 win over Syracuse in game two of a doubleheader on July 26th.
Tidal Surge: The Tides found themselves a season-high nine games over the .500 mark on three occasions during the 2018 campaign. Norfolk was 28-19 on May 27th, 56-47 on July 26th and 57-48 on July 28th. Norfolk also held the top spot in the IL South early in the season, building a season-high 2.5-game lead over their division rivals on April 27th.
Baby Birds: Norfolk was host to some of the Orioles' top prospects throughout the 2018 season. Prospects DJ Stewart, Austin Wynns, Chris Lee, David Hess, Yefry Ramirez, and Tanner Scott started the season on the Tides' Opening Day roster. Outfielder Cedric Mullins joined the Tides from Double-A Bowie and was a sparkplug atop the order, while key prospects like Luis Ortiz, Breyvic Valera, Evan Phillips, Josh Rogers and Cody Carroll were acquired at the trade deadline and provided an immediate impact to Norfolk's roster.
Changing Tides: The Tides made 223 roster moves in 2018, three shy of matching the franchise record of 226 previously set during the 2012 and 2017 campaigns. The Tides had 68 different players appear on the active roster, 66 of whom appeared in a game.
Star Gazing: Norfolk had three players selected the International League's Midseason All-Star Team, as IF Drew Dosch, OF DJ Stewart and RHP Jimmy Yacabonis were named to the squad. The All-Star Game was held in Columbus, OH, just 20 minutes away from where Dosch attended high school in Canal Winchester, OH. Dosch went 0-for-1 in the contest, while Stewart went 3-for-3 with an RBI and two runs scored. Yacabonis did not play in the contest due to a promotion to Baltimore.
The Skipper: Tides manager Ron Johnson was named the winner of the Cal Ripken, Sr. Player Development Award, named for the late Orioles coach and manager who is widely regarded as the architect of "The Oriole Way." Johnson helped develop and send off 12 former Tides players to make their Major League debuts in 2018, part of the group of 14 total Orioles players to make their debut this season - tying a team record. Johnson, who holds Norfolk's franchise record for wins by a manager (491), also won the prestigious Ripken award in 2015.
The Entertainer: Outfield prospect Cedric Mullins joined the Tides from Double-A Bowie on June 1st, and he made an immediate impact atop the Tides order. Mullins, a 23-year-old switch-hitter out of Campbell University, batted .269 with six home runs, 17 doubles, 19 RBI, 12 stolen bases and 41 runs scored in 60 games for Norfolk before being promoted to Baltimore in early August. Mullins also made several outstanding defensive plays, including a catch on July 25th that ranked #4 on SportsCenter's Top 10 Plays. In his first game with Baltimore on August 10th, he went 3-for-4 with two doubles, two RBI and two runs scored - becoming the first player in Orioles history to register three hits in his MLB debut. He was named the Orioles Brooks Robinson Minor League Player of the Year.
Double Dosch: Drew Dosch led the International League with 36 doubles in 2017, and he followed that up by matching DJ Stewart for the team-lead with 24 doubles in 2018. Dosch now has 60 career doubles in a Norfolk uniform, the 4th-most by any Tides player since Norfolk became an Orioles affiliate in 2007. Only Dariel Álvarez (79), Christian Walker (72) and Brandon Snyder (61) have recorded more doubles for the Tides over that span.
John Means Business: After being promoted to Norfolk on May 18th, John Means became a formidable presence in the Tides starting rotation. Between the months of June and July, Means combined to go 4-1 with a 2.41 ERA (18 ER, 67.1 IP) while striking out 63 and yielding just eight walks - including just one walk during the entire month of June. His torrid run started with a season-high ten strikeout performance at Columbus on June 6th. With Norfolk, Means went 6-5 with a 3.48 ERA, 89 strikeouts, 19 walks and one complete game shutout (July 19th at Rochester). He ranked among Orioles minor leaguers in strikeouts (3rd, 130) and ERA (8th, 3.72).
Welcome to Melville: Pitcher Tim Melville, who grew up in Hampton Roads, appeared in 40 games for the Tides in 2018. He opened the year in Norfolk's rotation before joining the bullpen in July, and he went 4-0 with four saves and a 3.00 ERA in 26 outings as a reliever. His nine wins tied for the 5th-most among Orioles minor leaguers and were tied for the 6th-most in the International League.
Gara-Best Behavior: Infielder Garabez Rosa enjoyed his first full-season with Norfolk, hitting .277 with 11 home runs and 56 RBI. Rosa, the 2017 Eastern League MVP with Double-A Bowie, finished the 2018 season ranked 7th in the IL with 133 hits with his .277 average ranking 10th in the Orioles farm system. 2018 wrapped up Rosa's 12th year with the Orioles organization, making him the longest-tenured player in the system.
Yaz He Can: Outfielder Mike Yastrzemski put together a solid season in Norfolk, hitting .265 with nine home runs, 18 doubles, six triples and 49 RBI in 94 games. The Vanderbilt product joined the Tides from Double-A Bowie on May 15th, and his .359 on-base percentage from May 15th through the end of the season ranked 8th in the International League. His six triples tied for second in the IL, and his 13 career triples are the most for any Tides player as an Orioles affiliate.
Go DJ, That's My DJ: Outfielder DJ Stewart spent his first full Triple-A season with Norfolk, leading the team in home runs (12) and finishing 2nd on the team in with 55 RBI and 11 stolen bases. The Florida State product ranked 7th in the IL with 54 walks and ranked 2nd on the Tides with a .329 on-base percentage. He was promoted to Baltimore on September 11th.
Domo Arigato, Mr. Renato: Infielder Renato Núñez joined the Tides on May 16th and appeared in 56 games with the Tides, batting .289 with five home runs, 14 doubles and 25 RBI. Núñez made a splash in his organizational debut, recording the game-winning hit and driving in three runs in his Tides debut on May 16th. He was also one of two Tides players (the other being Joey Rickard) to record five hits in a game, as he went 5-for-6 with two RBI in Norfolk's 16-1 win over Louisville on June 22nd.
Mr. Rogers Neighborhood: Pitcher Josh Rogers was acquired by Baltimore in a trade with the New York Yankees on July 31st, a deal that sent O's closer Zach Britton to the Yankees. In 24 starts between Scranton/WB (19) and Norfolk (5), Rogers posted a 3.54 ERA - good for 9th in the International League. He went 2-1 with a 2.08 ERA in his five starts with the Tides, and his 139.2 innings between Norfolk and Scranton ranked 6th in the IL.
Rickard Rolling: Outfielder Joey Rickard hit .275 with two home runs, 13 doubles and 27 RBI in 44 games with the Tides. Rickard posted a .384 on-base percentage with Norfolk, and he reached base safely in his first 27 games with the Tides to open the season. He established a new career-high for hits in a game when he went 5-for-5 in a 5-2 win vs. Buffalo on April 6th at Harbor Park.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.