With the start of the 2016 season right around the corner, we’re previewing the 12 Eastern League teams in reverse order of last season’s record. Complete rosters are still not finalized, so my Players to Watch is pure speculation at this point.
Up next, we have the Bowie Baysox…
2015 record: 79-63
Affiliation: Baltimore Orioles
Manager: Gary Kendall
Hitting coach: Howie Clark
Pitching coach: Alan Mills
Field coach: Shawn McGill
Five Players to Watch
C Chance Sisco – No one doubts Sisco’s ability to hit as the backstop is advanced at the plate way beyond his 21 years of age. Sisco has a great approach and excellent feel for the strike zone as evident by his .326 average and .402 on-base percentage in three professional seasons. But the big question is whether he will stick as catcher or not. Sisco threw out only 25% of runners last season, but he also did a fine job handling the pitching staffs at Frederick and Bowie.
LHP Chris Lee – Lee took a big step forward last season after a change of scenery did him wonders being acquired by the Orioles’ organization in May. The southpaw pitched to a 3.07 ERA and allowed only one home run in 21 starts over 114.1 innings. That was good enough for Baltimore to add him to the team’s 40-man roster over the winter.
RHP David Hess – Hess shined in the second half of the season as the righty dominated to a 1.61 ERA in his last 15 starts including two big wins in the playoffs for the Baysox. The 22-year-old pitched out of the bullpen during part of his time at Tennessee Tech and questions abound whether he’s better suited to that role. A real intensity on the mound and a high-effort delivery probably signal a change in Hess’ future, but for now he’ll pitch in the rotation.
OF Josh Hart – Hart has a ton of tools, but has yet to put it all together for the Orioles in three professional seasons despite signing for a $1.45 million bonus after being drafted in the supplemental first round. The center fielder has shown little to no power during games and an even worse patience at the plate.
SS Adrian Marin – Marin is an old school, glove first shortstop in the vein of the 1970s. Forty years later offense is more highly thought of at each position and until he can show he can consistently hit, he will remain scuffling in the minors. If (and that’s a huge if) Marin can find his groove at the plate, expect him to be a fast riser in the system.
The defending Eastern League champions will return the majority of the team that topped the Reading Fightin’ Phils in five games including last season’s batting champ Trey Mancini who will surprisingly begin 2016 in Bowie. The Baysox seem to always be a formidable offensive force with a couple of minor league veterans strengthening their lineup. Last year they were buoyed by a solid starting rotation (like Terry Doyle and Joe Gunkel) and a lights out bullpen (Mychal Givens and Andrew Triggs). Their success in 2016, which I expect but not to last year’s level, will once again fall to their pitching staff.