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  • Writer's pictureGrant DeVivo

Rising Tide

What to think about as Norfolk Tides open 2024 season


After months of cold weather and waiting, Minor League Baseball is back. For Birdland, it all begins tonight at Triple-A with the defending champion Norfolk Tides.


I can’t be at Opening Day tonight, as I am five hours away from Norfolk, Virginia with a baseball game of my own scheduled for 4:30 pm. However, I am still excited for the Norfolk Tides this season, and I will certainly be keeping a close eye on this game and this season from back home. There should be good vibes going around Harbor Park starting this weekend. The Tides are coming off the heels of a championship season, and their 2024 roster is stacked with some of both the Orioles and baseball’s most prestigious prospects. The future of Orioles baseball has arrived in Norfolk, and fans should be excited to rush to Harbor Park to watch this promising and exciting Tides team.


As the Tides prepare to begin their journey into the 2024 season, here are some things that I thought about that you should think about regarding both the opening series and the season ahead.

 

Norfolk-Durham Rematch

The Tides open 2024 with a 3-game weekend series against the Rays’ Triple-A affiliate, the Durham Bulls. This is always an exciting match up, as it is essentially Battle of the AL East: Triple-A addition. In 2023, Norfolk dominated that battle and pulled away with a 15-6 season series record, leaving Durham with little to no answer against them. They added salt to the wound by beating the Bulls in the International League championship series, allowing the Tides to carry onto the Triple-A championship. You better believe that the Bulls, one of baseball’s most historic Minor League franchises, will play with a fire lit underneath them this season and starting on Friday. They will send top prospects including gifted infielder Junior Caminero and southpaw Mason Montgomery to do battle against the Orioles’ elite prospects.

 

Jackson Holliday, baseball's top prospect, will start with the Tides but is close to going to the big leagues. Photo: The Baltimore Banner

Many fans, including myself initially, were disappointed to hear that Holliday, baseball’s top prospect, did not make the Orioles’ Opening Day roster. However, whether you agree with me or not, this will ultimately be the best thing for him. Let Holliday get his groove and confidence going so that it all translates and travels with him once he gets the call. Give him some time to adjust to secondbase because nobody is bumping Gunnar Henderson out of shortstop. Let him get at-bats against lefties and fix the strikeouts (9 of his 15 outs against lefties in Spring Training were strikeouts). Let Holliday learn and grow just a bit more within the perfect learning environment to do so for the time being: Triple-A.


We know it won’t be long before he gets the call. I expect it to happen shortly after the 6 weeks he needs in Triple-A for service time and the sixth year of arbitration. Everyone breathe and relax. This is the best thing for Holliday right now, and he will be up sooner than you know.


Holliday’s Fellow Infielders

I love Holliday’s fellow infielders. They include top prospects Coby Mayo and Connor Norby, two top infield prospects who had great Spring Trainings and are on the brink of a big league promotion.

Connor Norby is one of the several exicitng infield prospects in Norfolk. Photo: John Topoleski

Mayo, MLB’s 30th best prospect, slugged .563 last season while smashing 29 home runs. He hit .360 this spring with a 1.008 OPS. You’ve heard me talk about Mayo on here before. I don’t have much else to say besides I look forward to seeing him at the yard this summer, either at third base or DH’ing. Norby, the Orioles’ 7th best prospect, totaled 92 RBIs while posting an .842 OPS, and he hit .276 this spring with an .827 OPS at big league camp. He has it tougher as a middle infielder, and the Orioles have plenty of those. However, he would make a great depth and bench option in the near future. He’s not a big guy, but he has big power, and he plays a great, athletic defensive game as well.


The infield is rounded out with Diego Castillo and Errol Robinson. Robinson, a hometown guy who hails from Boyds, Maryland, is with the Orioles on a Minor League deal and impressed me by batting .400 and stealing 5 bases. Castillo is a waiver claim and hit .353 in Spring Training with a .476 OBP. He hit 11 home runs in 96 games with the Pirates in 2022, so there is power potential hanging around in the organization should the Orioles ever need Castillo.

 

Pitchers Are Dealing

Justin Armbruester makes up one of the core four prospect pitchers in the Tides' rotation. Photo: John Topoleski

I absolutely love the Tides’ starting rotation. It’s absolutely stacked with talent on the rise, and it consists of pretty much the majority of what is the Orioles’ top pitching prospect pool. To start the season, the rotation will consist of Chayce McDermott, Cade Povich, Justin Armbruester, and Garrett Stallings. As they are right now, they are strikeout machines who come at batters with different arm angles and arsenals. They know how to execute pitches and gather tons of swings and misses. These guys will be workhorses for the Tides, and they expect to eat a ton of innings as they look to finish their craft and break into the Orioles’ pitching staff. All four are knocking on the doors of Camden Yards, and rightfully so.

 

Tonight

The Tides host the Bulls tonight at Harbor Park to open the 2024 campaign. First pitch is scheduled for 6:35 pm while gates open at 5:30 pm. McDermott has been named the Tides’ Opening Day starter, while Durham’s starter has yet to be announced. The game can be streamed for free on MiLB.TV, but those going to the game can expect to receive a 2024 Tides magnet schedule. There will be a pre-game party with DJ CanRock as well as a pregame ceremony honoring and remembering the 2023 championship team. A full schedule of the weekend and season's promotions and festivities can be found here.

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