Orioles glimpse into future with Tate's outing

Hyde loves rookie reliever's stuff in 2nd career appearance

August 2nd, 2019

BALTIMORE -- Coming off their first non-losing month in nearly two years, the O’s can look toward the dog days of August knowing there is written-in-pen proof that they can be competitive, at least in spurts. And they’ll do so while continuing to give opportunities to young players who could factor into their 2020 calculus.

Their latest effort in that space came on Thursday night, when 's debut at Camden Yards highlighted an 11-2 loss to the Blue Jays. Promoted from Double-A Bowie last weekend, Tate retired the first six hitters he faced -- including some nifty glove work on a comebacker for the second out in the seventh inning -- before his second career appearance was spoiled by home runs from Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Billy McKinney.

But by then, Tate, ranked as the O's No. 27 prospect by MLB Pipeline, had already impressed manager Brandon Hyde, who deemed Tate “the highlight of the game for me” on a night Hyde admittedly stretched the young righty in an attempt to cover innings.

“I loved the stuff I saw,” Hyde said of Tate, who struck out two and didn’t walk a batter over three frames. “That last home run is on me.”

In the short term, it provided value for an Orioles club that received ineffective outings from (4 2/3 innings, four earned runs) and (one inning, four earned runs), and was held to one run in six innings by Blue Jays rookie Trent Thornton. Big picture, it provided a glimpse of what one of baseball’s former top prospects could do, now four years removed from being selected fourth overall in the 2015 MLB Draft.

And a day after the O’s were quiet at the Trade Deadline, it provided stark contrast to where the club stood a year ago, when Tate was one of the dozen prospects to come over in midseason trades for Manny Machado and others.

Here is a closer look at where some of those blue-chip prospects stand with the organization a year later:

OF Yusniel Diaz

Club rank per MLB Pipeline: No. 5

Acquired for: Machado

Current level: Bowie

On the injured list for a second time this season, the latest with a minor quad injury, it’s been a disjointed second season for Diaz. The 22-year-old has yet to replicate the production from his first stint at Double-A, when he hit .333/.390/.491 over a 33-game sample before coming over as the centerpiece of last season’s Machado deal.

This season, he’s hit for more power when healthy. But overall, his .258/.331/.465 slash line suggests a player who has yet to take the leap forward the Orioles would’ve hoped for.

RHP Dean Kremer

Club rank per MLB Pipeline: No. 8

Acquired for: Machado

Current level: Bowie

One of several young arms pleasantly impressing at Bowie, Kremer quickly earned a promotion to that level after an oblique strain zapped much of his spring. While not the strikeout machine he was in Class A ball last year, Kremer is still fanning nearly a batter per nine and pitching to a 3.21 ERA over his first 13 starts. His past seven outings have been particularly solid -- a 2.06 ERA over those games. Left-hander Bruce Zimmerman (acquired from the Braves in the Kevin Gausman deal) also turned heads by going 5-3 with a 2.58 ERA over 17 starts at Bowie.

3B Rylan Bannon

Club rank per MLB Pipeline: No. 24

Acquired for: Machado

Current level: Bowie

After struggling in his first taste of Double-A last season, Bannon’s numbers have improved dramatically this time around. The bat-first utility type is hitting .265 with eight homers and a .767 OPS this season, while splitting time at second base and third. He hit 20 homers at Class A in 2018, his first full professional season.

RHP Zac Pop

Club rank per MLB Pipeline: No. 26

Acquired for: Machado

Current level: Injured

A hard-throwing righty, Pop is one of three pitchers acquired last summer whose progress has stalled due to injury. Cody Carroll and Josh Rogers are the others. Carroll has yet to appear this season due to back issues, while Rogers pitched to a 8.79 ERA in five Major League games before undergoing UCL revision surgery in July. He, like Pop, who underwent Tommy John surgery in April, are expected to miss all of the 2019 season and most of ‘20. Also injured is right-hander Luis Ortiz, who is currently sidelined at Triple-A Norfolk.