The Norfolk Tides Team of the Decade

Looking back at the best Tides of the last 10 seasons

By Ian Locke / Norfolk Tides | November 27, 2019 2:00 PM

With the 20's just around the corner (that's weird to say), I've attempted to assemble an All-Decade Team for the Tides. This proved to be extremely difficult given the amount of quality players who have come through Norfolk the past 10 seasons, but it's the offseason so I toughed my way through it.

Over the last 10 years, there have been over 600 players to suit up for the Tides. That list has included some players who have gone on to great success at the next level, as well as dozens of others who only played a handful of games at Harbor Park. The constant roster shuffling at the Triple-A level can make it extremely difficult for players to remain in Norfolk for an extended period of time, so longevity in a Tides uniform is not something that's very common. 

For this exercise, I only used stats from a candidate's time spent in Norfolk, and only stats that happened this decade. For example, a player like Justin Turner had a very strong season at second base for the Tides in 2009 (.300 average with 28 doubles), but he only played in 23 games for Norfolk in 2010, so he's out. Sorry, Justin - please don't hate me. 

Here's my All-Decade Team:

CATCHER

Chance Sisco (2016-2019)

Sisco appeared in 184 games with the Tides over parts of four seasons, batting .268 with 22 home runs, 38 doubles, 103 RBI and a .353 on-base percentage. He was a Midseason All-Star with the Tides in 2017, and he was a Player of the Week for Norfolk in 2019. Consistently rated among the top Orioles prospects during his time in Norfolk (including a stint as Baltimore's #1 prospect), Sisco played in the 2017 Futures Game and was a member of MiLB.com's Orioles Organizational All-Star Team in 2016 and 2017. 

His first game with the Tides was also pretty cool, as he hit a grand slam and set a career-high with five RBI in a game at Charlotte on September 1st, 2016. 

Also considered: Audry Perez, Steve Clevenger, Austin Wynns

FIRST BASE

Ryan Mountcastle (2019)

In what has been one of the most prolific positions for the Tides this decade, Mountcastle's 2019 campaign shined above everyone else. As a 22-year-old, he earned International League Most Valuable Player honors after hitting .312 with 25 home runs, 83 RBI and 35 doubles while leading the league in hits (162) and total bases (274). He became the first Tides player to earn MVP honors since Roberto Petagine in 1997, and he was the first Tide to lead the IL in hits since Mike Cervenak in 2007.

Since the Tides became an Orioles affiliate in 2007, no player has registered more hits (162) or runs (81) than Mountcastle recorded in 2019, while his .312 average was tied for the second-best recorded by a Tide as an O's affiliate behind the .316 average registered by Oscar Salazar in 2008. He also won the organizational "Triple Crown" after leading all O's minor leaguers in average (.312), home runs (25) and RBI (83). 

Mountcastle was named the first baseman on the International League's Postseason All-Star Team, becoming just the fourth Tides position player to be named to the Postseason All-Star Team since Norfolk aligned with Baltimore in 2007 (joining Oscar Salazar in 2008, Dariel Alvarez in 2015 and Pedro Alvarez in 2017). Mountcastle also represented the International League in the Midseason All-Star Game. 

Oh, and he matched a franchise record on June 2nd vs. Louisville when he homered three times in a game, the first Norfolk player to do so since Chase Lambin in 2005. And that three-homer contest came less than 24 hours after Mountcastle hit a walk-off homer in the bottom of the ninth.

Pretty good. 

Also considered: Trey Mancini, Brandon Snyder, Garabez Rosa

SECOND BASE

Luis Sardinas (2017-2018)

Second base was a weird position for the Tides this decade, as there really wasn't a mainstay over any period of time. 37 players (37!) played more than 10 games at second base over that span, which seems like a lot. Jonathan Schoop undoubtedly has had the better pro career, but he only played 70 games for the Tides and put up decent-but-not-spectacular numbers. 

In the end I went with Sardinas, who appeared in 146 games for Norfolk over a two-year stretch, batting .296 with nine home runs, 25 doubles and 51 runs batted in. A versatile fielder who could also play shortstop and third base, Sardinas led the International League with a .375 average during the second half of the 2017 campaign - a stretch that culminated with an IL Player of the Week award during the final week of the regular season. 

Sardinas has appeared in 182 big league games between five different teams - the Orioles, Padres, Rangers, Mariners and Brewers. 

Also considered: Jonathan Schoop, Ryan Adams, Johnny Giavotella

SHORTSTOP

Paul Janish (2015-2017)

Janish was a defensive rock for the Tides over three consecutive seasons, as he committed just 14 errors over 1,037 chances at shortstop during that stretch - an amazing .986 fielding percentage. Janish never put up gaudy offensive numbers (he hit .245 with three home runs, 25 doubles and 67 RBI over 244 games in a Norfolk uniform), but his veteran presence and leadership skills were highly respected on the field and in the locker room over his three-year stint with the Tides. 

Janish was the starting shortstop on Norfolk's lone playoff team this decade (a 2015 South Division championship), a season that saw him hit .436 (17-39) in the ninth inning or later. He appeared in 473 games across nine Major League seasons, and he now serves as an Assistant Coach at his alma mater, Rice University. 

Also considered: Blake Davis, Robert Andino, Ivan De Jesus

THIRD BASE

Josh Bell (2010-2012)

Bell opened the decade as one of the top-rated players in the Orioles system, and with good reason. As a 23-year-old swtich-hitter with the Tides in 2010, he hit .278 with 13 home runs, 25 doubles and 50 RBI in 81 games, then followed that up a year later by batting .253 with 19 homers and 57 RBI. 

Since Norfolk became an Orioles affiliate in 2007, Bell's 32 homers are the third-most by any Tides player, and his 19-homer season in 2011 is the 4th-most by any Tides player as an O's affiliate. He appeared in 100 big league games over his career with the Orioles (79) and Arizona Diamondbacks (21).

Also considered: Drew Dosch, Michael Almanzar, Buck Britton

OUTFIELD (3)

Christian Walker (2014-2016)

Walker opened his career with the Tides at first base but moved to left field in 2016, so I'm using that loophole to get him in my lineup. Over three seasons and 313 games with Norfolk, he batted .260 with 42 home runs, 72 doubles and 157 runs batted in. Since Norfolk became an Orioles affiliate in 2007, no player has appeared in more games with the Tides than Walker, and he ranks among Tides leaders as an Oriole affiliate in home runs (1st, 42), hits (2nd, 313), doubles (2nd, 72), runs (2nd, 147) and walks (5th, 107). 

He ranked among IL leaders in doubles (T-3rd, 33) and extra-base hits (T-3rd, 52) while leading the league in at-bats in 2015, the same season he led the Tides to their first playoff berth in 10 seasons. He registered back-to-back 18-homer seasons in 2015 and 2016, a mark that is tied for the 5th-most in a single season since Norfolk became an O's affiliate. 

Dude could mash.

Dariel Alvarez (2014-2016)

Since the Tides became an Orioles affiliate, no player has registered more hits than Alvarez, who accumulated 344 hits over 304 games in a Norfolk uniform. Alvarez also tops that category in most doubles (79) and at-bats (1,209) while ranking second in games played (304) and third in runs scored (137). 

Alvarez was a Postseason All-Star with the Tides in 2015, a season that saw him hit .275 with 16 home runs, 72 RBI and 141 hits (5th in the league). That same season he was a Midseason All-Star, and he captured the Home Run Derby crown - the first Norfolk player to accomplish that feat since Ryan Thompson did so in 1993. 

In 2016, Alvarez led the International League in doubles (38) and at-bats (524) while ranking third in the circuit with 151 hits. He also had an absolute rocket for an arm, as evidenced by his 13 outfield assists in 2016 - a season in which he led all IL outfielders with a .995 fielding percentage. 

L.J. Hoes (2012-2013, 2016)

There are several outstanding candidates for the third outfield spot on this list, but I eventually settled on a guy who spent three full years in Norfolk. Hoes hit .280 with 11 home runs, 42 doubles and 101 runs batted in over his 283 games with the Tides. Since Norfolk became an Orioles affiliate, no Tides player has scored more runs (161) or drawn more walks (135) than Hoes. 

He batted .300 with Norfolk in 2012 as a 22-year-old, then followed that up by ranking fourth in the IL by batting .304 in 2013. His 58 walks drawn in 2013 are the most by a Tides player in a single season as an Orioles affiliate, and he authored a 20-game hitting streak in 2012 - which is tied for the 5th-longest in Tides franchise history. After a two-year stint with the Astros, Hoes returned to Norfolk in 2016, where he posted a .318 OBP over 102 games. 

Also considered: Mike Yastrzemski, Henry Urrutia, Xavier Avery, Rhyne Hughes, DJ Stewart, Jason Pridie

DESIGNATED HITTER

Pedro Alvarez (2017-2018)

Alvarez displayed unmatched power during his two seasons in Norfolk, belting 34 home runs in just 181 games. His 26-homer campaign in 2017 is the 5th-highest by any player in franchise history, while his 89 RBI in 2017 are tied for 8th on the Tides all-time list. 

Alvarez was named to the International League Postseason All-Star Team as the designated hitter in 2017, the first Tides DH to earn that honor since Brian Daubach in 2005. Alvarez also belted 31 doubles during his 2017 campaign, and he set a league record in Home Runs Hit Over The Party Deck Where The Opposing Right Fielder Never Bothered To Move*.

(*unofficial stat)

Also considered: Michael Aubrey, David Washington

STARTING PITCHERS (5)

Chris Tillman (2010-2012, 2017-2018)

Tillman made 55 starts for the Tides this decade, a span that saw him register 22 victories while posting a 4.13 ERA and 251 strikeouts. (He also went 8-6 with a 2.70 ERA in 18 starts for the Tides in 2009, but I'm not supposed to count that so I won't.)

In 2010, he was an IL Midseason All-Star and ranked 4th in the IL with a 3.34 ERA while tying for fifth in the league with 11 victories. That 11-win campaign is the only time this decade a Tides pitcher has reached double digits in wins in a season, which is kind of hard to believe. Eight different guys have reached nine wins in a season, but that 10-win plateau is tough to reach at the Triple-A level.  

Anyway, Tillman also authored Norfolk's lone no-hitter of the 2010's, a nine-inning gem on April 28, 2010 that saw him strike out six. He went on to be a rock in Baltimore's rotation for several seasons, culminating in an All-Star bid during a 16-win season for the Orioles in 2013.  

Jake Arrieta (2010, 2012-2013)

Arrieta went 16-9 with a 3.24 ERA over 31 games with the Tides this decade, including a 2010 campaign that saw him go 6-2 with a 1.85 ERA in 12 games (11 starts). He limited International League opponents to a .216 average over his 178.0 innings with the Tides, as he registered 17 more strikeouts (156) than hits allowed (139). 

He twice authored 7.0-inning shutouts, including a 10-strikeout, one-hit shutout on June 27, 2013 that turned out to be his final start in the Orioles organization (he was traded to the Chicago Cubs five days later). Arrieta went on to win the National League Cy Young Award in 2015, the third former Tide to win the award after Dwight Gooden (1985) and Mike Scott (1986). 

Mike Wright (2013-2017)

Wright ranks among leaders this decade in starts (1st, 70), innings pitched (1st, 389.2), wins (T-1st, 22) and strikeouts (2nd, 287). He also went 9-1 during the 2015 campaign, the best winning percentage by any Tides pitcher since Jason Isringhausen also went 9-1 during the 1995 season.  

Beginning with the All-Star break of the 2014 campaign, Wright was nearly unhittable for a season and a half. He finished the 2014 season by posting a 1.90 ERA over his final eight starts, then piggybacked that by going 9-1 with a 2.22 ERA over 15 appearances in 2015. 

Wright also weirdly owned Durham over his time with Norfolk, which is no small feat since the Bulls are good seemingly every year. In 10 career starts vs. Durham, Wright went 3-1 with a 0.63 ERA (5 ER, 71.2 IP) while holding batters to a .157 average. He also took a no-hitter into the final inning in back-to-back starts against the Bulls in 2014, losing both in heartbreaking fashion on base hits by Mikie Mahtook - one with two outs and another with one out. 

Chris Jones (2013-2015)

Jones was a valuable member of the Tides staff for three years, pitching as both a starter and reliever. Jones registered 20 wins (2nd-most by any Norfolk pitcher this decade), posting a 3.12 ERA over 340.1 innings of work. His 237 strikeouts rank fourth this decade, and his 150.0 innings pitched in 2015 are the second-most by any Tides pitcher in a single season over the last 10 years. 

He went 8-8 in both 2014 and 2015, and he ranked 7th in the International League with a 2.94 ERA in 2015. That same season he ranked 4th in the league in walks per nine innings pitched (1.71) while helping pitch the Tides to the IL South Division championship. He allowed three earned runs or less in 29 of his 30 appearances that season and made two starts for Norfolk during their postseason run. 

Tyler Wilson (2014-2017)

Wilson made 55 starts over four seasons in Norfolk, going 18-16 with a 3.99 ERA. The University of Virginia product posted a 3.24 ERA over 17 starts with the Tides during their division championship season in 2015, a season that culminated with Wilson allowing one run over five innings in a playoff win vs. Columbus.  

Since Norfolk became an Orioles affiliate, Wilson's 55 career starts are 4th-most all time. He also posted a 1.28 WHIP over his time with the Tides while issuing just 77 walks over 302.0 innings of work - an average of 2.29 per nine innings pitched.  

Also considered: Zack Britton, Steve Johnson, Keegan Akin, Michael Bowden, Chris George, Jason Berken

RELIEF PITCHERS (7)

Oliver Drake (2011, 2015-2016)

Drake made 90 relief appearances with the Tides, and I'm pretty sure he never gave up a hit. Ok, maybe that's a stretch, but he was nearly unhittable during most of his time with the Tides. He posted a 1.85 ERA and a .187 average against over his 90 games with Norfolk, picking up 33 saves in the process. His 1.85 career ERA is the lowest by any pitcher in Tides franchise history (minimum 100.0 innings pitched). 

He was a Midseason and Postseason All-Star with the Tides in 2015, a season in which he posted a 0.82 ERA and 23 saves while allowing 23 hits over 44.0 innings. That's right, he had as many saves as hits allowed. Oh, and he struck out 43 more batters (66) than hits allowed (23). Filthy. 

Jimmy Yacabonis (2017-2019)

Over three seasons in Norfolk, Yacabonis went 9-7 with a 3.18 ERA and 13 saves. He was a Midseason All-Star as a reliever in 2017, a year in which he went 4-0 with a 1.32 ERA and 11 saves in 41 appearances. He limited IL batters to a .144 average that year, registering 18 more strikeouts (48) than hits allowed (30) in 61.1 innings. 

A year later, Yacabonis was converted to a starting pitcher, and all he did was make the All-Star Team again. He limited batters to a .219 average that season while leading the Tides in games started. He returned to the bullpen in 2019 and continued to thrive, racking up two more saves. His career average against is .201, which is what's known as "very good".

Pedro Beato (2015-2016)

Talk about consistent. Beato matched a franchise record by making 63 appearances for the Tides in 2015, a year in which he went 5-5 with a 2.65 ERA. The next season, he established a new franchise record with 65 appearances and he went…5-5 with a 2.65 ERA. Seriously, the guy was a machine. 

Beato registered 20 saves over his two seasons in Norfolk, limiting opponents to a .236 average against. He was also a vital bullpen piece in Norfolk's 2015 playoff run, and he went 1-0 with four scoreless appearances in the playoffs that season. 

Richard Rodriguez (2015-2017)

Rodriguez went 11-9 with a 2.61 ERA over 103 relief outings with Norfolk over parts of three seasons. He struck out 176 batters over 172.2 innings of work and held opponents to a .220 average while working out of the Tides bullpen. 

Rodriguez posted a 2.53 ERA over 48 outings with the Tides in 2016, then followed that up by posting a 2.42 ERA and 10 saves over 42 games for Norfolk in 2017. His 2.61 career ERA is the second-best by any Tides pitcher as an Orioles affiliate. 

Zach Phillips (2011-2012, 2016)

Every bullpen needs a good left-hander or two, and Zach Phillips certainly qualified as a solid southpaw during his time with Norfolk. Over 105 relief appearances with the Tides, Phillips went 12-6 with a 3.72 ERA and 136 strikeouts. He actually led the Tides in wins in 2016 (9) despite never starting a game, with his nine wins tying for the second-most by any pitcher this decade. 

And if you're really looking to stump your friends with useless Tides trivia, Zach Phillips owns the best win-loss percentage of any Tides pitcher as an Orioles affiliate (minimum 15 decisions) with a 12-6 mark. I bet even Zach Phillips doesn't even know he owns that record.

Jairo Asencio (2013)

Asencio only pitched for one season in Norfolk, but it was one of the best seasons in franchise history. He went 5-0 with 28 saves and a 2.66 ERA over 47 appearances for the Tides in 2013, a year that saw him named to both the IL Midseason and Postseason All-Star Teams. 

His 28 saves led the International League that season and are the second-most by a Tides pitcher in franchise history, trailing the 29 saves registered by Cory Doyne in 2007. 

Dennis Sarfate (2010)

Sarfate appeared in two seasons for the Tides, although it's probably best for him that his 2009 season wasn't considered for this exercise. In 2010, however, the right-hander turned in a 20-save season, the 5th-highest single season total by a Tides pitcher as an Orioles affiliate. 

During that 2010 season, Sarfate went 2-2 with a 2.73 ERA over 47 appearances. He had twice as many strikeouts (72) as hits allowed (32) over 56.0 innings, which is all sorts of disgusting (in a good way). 

Also considered: Evan Meek, Chaz Roe, Preston Guilmet, Tanner Scott, Mark Worrell, Matt Wotherspoon

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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