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  • Writer's pictureGrant DeVivo

Orioles Monthly MiLB Awards: June

Updated: Jul 2

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

*Cover Photo Credit: Grant DeVivo

We have officially transitioned into July. As my favorite month of the year has now passed, June, it is time to recognize some star Orioles Minor Leaguers and their performances last month. This is the same format as the last Learning To Fly Player of the Month blog that I completed, though this one is actually on time unlike the last one. I am recognizing a position player and a pitcher from each of the Orioles' four affiliates, and I will recap and recognize their performance in the previous month. Let's look at who stood out in June.

Norfolk Tides

Billy Cook mashed 6 home runs in June while collecting 20 RBI. Photo: Skylar Prieto

Ok, Cook may not have posted the best batting average in June (.238), but he came up big in almost every other category. Thus I must say again, the league should not have "let him Cook." The former Pepperdine product slugged .475 in June and posted an .811 OPS while mashing 6 gome runs and reaching 20 RBI. From June 11-16, he had a great series against the Memphis Redbirds as he went 9-for-22 (.409) with a triple, 3 home runs, 6 RBI, and 4 walks. He also sent a grand slam into orbit on June 23 against the Lehgih Valley Ironpigs. Cook has been nothing short of productive since arriving to Norfolk, as he has posted a .793 OPS with 34 RBI since being promoted to Triple-A. Ranked by MLB Pipeline as the Orioles' No. 30 prospect, this hard-working utility player has the makings of making an impact in a Major League lineup someday while filling in at whatever position necessary.

The Orioles claimed Davidson, 28, off waivers from the Royals during the offseason and after outrighting him off the 40-man roster shortly after, he has proven to be a very nice left-handed depth option in Norfolk. His month of Junewas one to remember as he appeared in 5 games (1 start) and worked 23 innings. In those 5 games, he worked to a 0.739 WHIP and a 1.17 ERA, allowing just 3 earned runs while striking out 26 batters and walking just 3. His latest outing came on Sunday against Charlotte when he got the start and fired 79 pitches (52 strikes) to toss 5 scoreless innings. The southpaw has dazzled in his new opportunity this season in the Orioles organization and while his Major League stats may not be pretty, if the Orioles ever need a backup play for a left-handed swingman out of the 'pen, then Davidson might not be a bad fallback option.

Bowie Baysox

John Rhodes was a .296 hitter in June, and he had a 5-for-5 6 RBI Father's Day. Photo: Grant DeVivo

Entering June, Rhodes had only hit .241 in April and .169 in May, and that month of May included 24 strikeouts and a 6-game hitless streak. Well, the Orioles' No. 23 prospect said no more of that. He tore it up in June and if you read one of my previous blog posts about John and I, then you might consider crediting me with his torrential month (please don't). Rhodes hit .296 in June with 3 home runs, 15 RBI, and a .770 OPS, He slugged .437 and he cut his strikeout total down to 15. Through June 20, he was hitting .357 in 13 games with a .955 OPS. His spectacular month included an unforgettable and massive Father's Day performance, as he went 5-for-5 with 6 RBI and a home run. Rhodes has improved tremendously, and the slugging outfield prospect is becoming more aggressive and pesky in the box. Expect his numbers to keep improving as the season climbs on and as he pushes for a promotion to Norfolk.

The Baysox bullpen continues to steal the show! Last month, reliever Trey McGough got Baysox Pitcher of the Month. Now, the 26-year-old Heid takes home his own recognition after dominating out of skipper Roberto Mercado's bullpen last month. Working primarily in the late innings and even getting assignments in extra innings, Heid pitched to a 1.10 ERA in 16.1 relief innings in June. He posted a ridiculous 0.674 WHIP while striking out 19 bagters, walking just 2, and allowing just two earned runs. Heid continues to baffle hitters with a well-commanded low to mid-90s 4-sea fastball and a wipeout slider. He has had great command of the zone all season, and he will not hesitate to come after batters. His season ERA sits at 1.24, and his season WHIP sits at 0.936. The way that Heid has been throwing for the Baysox this season, there is no need for him to be pitching in Double-A much longer. He deserves to be given a shot at Triple-A soon.

Aberdeen Ironbirds

Mac Horvath hit .314 with a 1.009 OPS in the month of June, and his potential is shining through. Photo: John Topoleski

The Orioles' No. 11 prospect and 2023 second round pick ran away with this one. Through the first 10 games in June, the former University of North Carolina product hit .349 with 3 home runs and 9 RBI. He remained both consistent and flamming hot for the Ironbirds the rest of the month, as he finished June batting .314 with a 1.009 OPS. He slugged 4 hom runs and collected 13 RBI while also snagging 7 doubles alog the way and slugging .614. When the Orioles drafted Horvath, they drafted him for his power. Even amidst a slow start to the 2024 season in which he dealt with injuries, the month of June exploited his offensive potential and power out of the middle of the order. He is nowfully healthy and he has adjusted to South Atlantic League pitching, so I expect him to continue red hot in the month of July and post similar numbers as he grows upon the talent and potential that was seen in him when he was signed last year.

I was torn between several pitchers here, and I hate having to make close decisions like this because so many names are worthy of reconigiton here. However, I can't neglect the dominant month of June that the 20-year-old Rivera had. In 14 relief innings the right-hander tossed a 1.93 ERA with a dominant 0.857 WHIP. Batters only hit .106 against him and failed to take him yard, and he collected 15 strikeouts while allowing only 3 earned runs. He collected his third save of the season on June 16 when he spun a scorless 9th inning against he Hickory Crawdads, helping the Ironbirds to a 15-12 win. The talented reliever has had a tremendous season for Aberdeen this year, as he has pitched to a 1.99 ERA and a 1.042 WHIP. There is a lot to like in Rivera, and it would be great to see him get a shot at Double-A before the season's end.

Delmarva Shorebirds

19-year-old Aron Estrada hit .356 in June and stole 11 bases. Photo: Hannah Reagle

Delmarva has not had a ton to show for in offense this season, but it has begun to pick up the pace lately as they finish June with their best monthly record so far of 14-12. The 19-year-old Estrada helped lead that offensive surge thanks to his electric month of June. Estrada, who hails from Venezuela, hit .356 in June with 7 doubles, a triple, 4 home runs, and 15 RBI. He was a pest on the basepaths for opposing teams, has he swiped 11 bases while only being caugt once. He was a .368 hitter in the final 20 games of June, and he owned the Fayettville Woodpeckers as he reached base safely in all 6 games against them.On the season, Estrada now owns a .289 batting average with 27 stolen bases and 35 RBI, all of which rank first on the Shorebirds. In a season where the Shorebirds need an offensive leader, a sparkplug that gets the bats 1-9 going, Estrada has been a standout performer for this young Shorebirds team. It will be exciting to see where this talented young man goes in the future years as well as the rest of this season.

The 6'5" Virginian has been a workhorse for the Shorbirds all season, and June was no exception. He pitched a total of 14.2 innings and kept batters to a mediocre .241 batting average. He posted a 3.07 ER with a 1.296 WHIP, and he struck out 17 batters while walking just 6. His most impressive outing came on June 13 when he tossed 3.2 scoreless innings of relief while striking out 6. This paved way for the Shorebirds to pick up a 6-0 win against the Kannapolis Cannonballers, and Gibson was credited with thre win. The Shorebirds have already sent a well-performing pitcher to High-A in Michael Forret, and with the way that Gibson has hhandled his role in Low-A ball this year, he could be getting a promotion fairly soon. He has had a great season for the Shorebirds this year.

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