BOWIE, Md. — In this season of rebuilding for the major league Orioles, some of the organization’s most prized prospects are learning to win at one of the most important levels of the minor leagues.
The Double-A Bowie Baysox are red hot. They’re fresh off the best month in their 27-year franchise history. They went 20-7 in June.
They’re feeling it.
“As you start getting on a roll, the confidence starts to come back out, the swagger I guess,” said Manager Buck Britton.
“It’s definitely a lot different,” said Eastern League all-star infielder Rylan Bannon, who was acquired last year in the Manny Machado trade. “You show up now and it’s more of a winning culture. You show up every night, and you go out there doing your job. Winning is expected.”
The Baysox are .500 with a 42-42 record. That, in and of itself, is astounding because they started the season 7-23, which at the time was the worst record in all of baseball. Over their last 30 games they’re 23-7.
“The big thing is offensively we’ve started to get going,” said Britton. “Pitching has kind of been our saving grace. It’s been there all year for us.”
One of those pitchers is Woodstock, Md. native Bruce Zimmermann. The Loyola Blakefield High School product came over in the Kevin Gausman deal last summer. He’s 4-2 this season in 15 games with a 2.52 ERA. He just tossed seven scoreless innings on Thursday. He grew up an O’s fan.
“Beyond just playing professional baseball, playing for your hometown team is really a special thing to be able to have an opportunity to do,” he said. “I’m very happy with how I’ve played so far this year. There’s a feeling that I’m on the right track, no doubt.”
Another guy making a name for himself this year is a guy whose name all Birds fans are already quite familiar with. We’re talking about Preston Palmeiro, son of former Orioles star slugger Rafael Palmeiro. Like his dad, Preston plays first base. He has worked his way up the O’s system since being drafted and starting in Aberdeen three years ago.
“I was born in 1995, and my dad’s first year in Baltimore was 1994. So, the first few years of my childhood were spent in Baltimore, and then my dad finished in Baltimore,” said Preston. “It’s really cool to play for any professional team, let alone a team your dad played for and had a lot of success with.”
“I’m sure he’s kind of chasing, a little bit, what his dad did, and that’s putting extra pressure on himself,” said Britton. “I think he’s slowly starting to realize that, hey, he’s got a chance to do it himself and pave his own way.”
Palmeiro and the Baysox host Harrisburg each night through Sunday before hitting the all-star break.