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  • Writer's pictureGrant DeVivo

Orioles Monthly MiLB Awards: April & May

Updated: 7 days ago

My monthly recognitions for each affiliate's player and pitcher of the month

*Cover Photo Credit: Kate Kirsch

This is something that I will begin to do at the end of each month and heading into the new month. I willl recognize both a player and a pitcher on each Orioles affiliate, one of each who had a standout performance in the past month, and recognize them as my player or pitcher of the month.

I missed the chance to do this at the end of April so just for this first time around, I will vote for players based on their stats from the past two months combined. So technically, this is an April and May MVP voting (March if you count the Tides' opening series). Let's dive into who I thought had the best performances for each team in the past two months, thus leading to me nominating them for my player and pitcher of the month awards. Each player will be listed with their stats from the previous two months.

Norfolk Tides

Heston Kjerstad hit .326 in April and May and won IL April Player of the Month. Photo: Kate Kirsch

The tear that MLB's No. 21 prospect has been on to start the season has been unlike any other. Kjerstad has been ridiculous with the bat for Norfolk as he finishes the first two months of the season batting .326 with a 1.092 OPS, and 95 total bases. His 13 home runs are second in the International League while his 44 RBIs stand alone at the top. He earned International League April Player of the Month honors after batting .324 for Norfolk in April and putting together a 10 RBI performance on April 3. That was in the midst of a 4 game stretch where he hit .550 with 6 HR and 21 RBI. My jaw hit the ground when I saw that. The (positively) scary part is that Kjerstad's rough stint in the Majors has only motivated him more, so expect these numbers to keep rising as he gets more ABs at Norfolk and as he keeps pushing to get back with the O's soon.

The Orioles' No. 9 prospect who was acquired in the Jorge Lopez trade was named International League pitcher of the Month for April after going 2-1 with a 1.03 ERA (just 3 earned runs) and 40 K in 23.1 innings. He has my vote for pitcher of the month for April and May combined after showing improved command of the zone and high strikeout numbers. In 56.2 IP, Povich had a 3.18 in April and May with a 1.11 WHIP and 75 strikeouts which is tied for the best in the league with his teammate Chayce McDermott. Batters hit just .203 against him. His fastball tops out at 94-95 MPH, but he got many of his strikeouts on a lethal low-80s chanegup that drops late out of the zone. Povich is on a great trajectory that could see him tested at the highest stage soon, the Major Leagues.

Bowie Baysox

TT Bowens posted an .868 OPS at Double-A in April and May. Photo: Grant DeVivo

The Baysox have a lot of solid young bats on the team right now. However, Bowens, one of my favorite hitters in Bowie right now, had by far the best start to the 2024 season out of all of them. The 6'2" 235 lb. first baseman batted .298 in April and May while posting an .868 OPS with 6 homers and 31 RBI. Both the batting average and the OPS led the team at the time. He started the season going 9-for-25 (.360) with 9 RBI, and he has remained Bowie's most consistent bat in the lineup. In the first three games of Bowie's 6-game set at Somerset, Bowens went 6-for-16 (.375) with 2 homers and 4 RBI. A big figure at first base with power potential, Bowens has been an exciting young player to watch and see develop in Bowie. An interesting fact about him...I don't think he likes playing in the sun and day games because he's just a .195 hitter in day games, yet he crushes it under the lights (.327).

  • Pitcher of the Month: LHP Trey McGough

Bowie also has a strong bullpen with a good group of desiring up-and-rising power arms just absolutely shutting the Eastern League down. McGough was a part of that bullpen until his recent promotion to Norfolk. With Bowie, the hard-throwing southpaw spun a 1.83 ERA with only 6 walks and 24 punchouts in 19.2 innings pitched. He had a 70 percent strike rate on pitches thrown, and 49 percent of his outs were obtained via the ground ball. Between Bowie and Norfolk, he has a 2.60 ERA and an excellent 0.83 WHIP. Batters have hit just.151 against him with lefties putting up a meager .167 clip against him. Armed with a hard fastball, great command of the zone, and wipe out breaking stuff, McGough has had a solid season thus far and is an intriguing option as a potential left-handed specialist for the O's one day.

Aberdeen Ironbirds

Edgar Portes sported a 2.04 ERA in a dominant strtch in April and May. Photo: Grant DeVivo

The Ironbirds have had a somewhat slow start to the season offensively as they are hitting just .221 as a team with a .320 OBP and a .657 OPS. However, their most consistent hitter and their star in the lineup has been Eztel, a 22-year old Texan taken in the 10th round of last year's draft. A 6'2" outfielder who does not strike out a lot, Eztel hit .306 in the first two months for Aberdeen with 29 RBI, 21 walks, and an .859 OPS. He was a .343 hitter in April, and his signature moment came on April 28 when he walked off the Jersey Shore Blue Claws to cap off a 5-1 Ironbirds series win. This guy has had a phenominal start to the 2024 season. He has stood out as Aberdeen's best pitcher, and he certainly has a great shot at making it to Bowie before the season ends.

Oh man, Portes ran away with this one. There is a lot to be excited about with this 21-year-old from the Dominican Republic. First of all, he throws a lot of strikes. Many of his appearances, which are lengthy, average around 60-62 pitches, and more than half of them are strikes. Second of all, even amidst a 59 percent fly ball rate, he keeps the ball in the park. He has only surrendered one home run this season. Third, he just shoves. He had a 2.04 ERA in April and May with 47 punchouts in 39.2 innings and a 1.08 WHIP. Everytime I have seen Portes pitch, I have been nothing but impressed and excited for this young righty. The Orioles' pitching development system has done a tremendous job at developing young pitchers in recent years, and I am excited to see Portes continue to grow and develop as a pitching prospect for the Orioles. There is some serious potential with this guy.

Delmarva Shorebirds

Stiven Acevedo dominated lefties with a .375 AVG in April and May. Photo: Hannah Reagle

There is no sugarcoating that the Shorebirds offense has been off to a slow start as their team .214 batting average and .618 OPS rank in the bottom three in the Carolina League. However, one star hitter that the 'Birds could always count on in April and May was Acevedo. His .280 batting average led the team during that time, and his 18 RBI sits near the top of the team leaderboards. He absolutely crushed left-handed pitching as he sported a .375 average and a 1.036 OPS against them. Acevedo is following up a solid 2023 season with a great 2024 season. While the power numbers may be down from 2023, Acevedo has still had a great start to the season and is standing out as a rising star in the Delmarva lineup.

7 starts may not seem like a lot, but De Leon put up impressive numbers in those 7 starts, thus leading him to be my pick for Delmarva Pitcher of April and May. He had a 2.25 ERA in the first two months of the season with an 0.96 WHIP and 41 strikeouts in 28 innings. Batters hit just .190 against him, and he only yeilded 7 walks which demonstrates his ability to work hard and make offenses earn their bases. De Leon was by far one of the best performing starters for Delmarva. He deserved the promotion he got to Aberdeen in May, where he has continued his success with a 3.27 ERA in 3 games (2 starts).

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