Having scored three or fewer runs in seven of their last 13 games and lost four of their last six, the playoff-hopeful Orioles are hoping to get a spark from one of the best power-hitting prospects in their farm system.
Prior to the series opener against Boston, Baltimore selected the contract of outfielder Kyle Stowers from Triple-A Norfolk and inserted him into the fifth spot in Friday’s lineup as the right fielder. The 24-year-old made his major league debut in a June series at Toronto as a substitute player and went 1-for-7 with a double and one run batted in in two games, but the Orioles weren’t required to move him to the 40-man roster for that replacement stint that stemmed from Canada’s COVID-19 vaccination rules.
A 2019 second-round pick out of Stanford and the club’s No. 9 prospect in MLB.com’s rankings, the lefty-swinging Stowers shared the organization’s Brooks Robinson Minor League Player of the Year award with fellow rookie Adley Rutschman last season and has clubbed 19 home runs and an impressive 51 extra-base hits for Triple-A Norfolk this year. A .264 hitter with an .884 on-base plus slugging percentage in 407 plate appearances, Stowers has struck out 25.6% of the time for the Tides this season, but that’s down from a strikeout rate of 32% across three levels last year. The 6-foot-3, 200-pound outfielder has also driven in 78 runs and walked 45 times for Norfolk this season.
It’ll be interesting to see how manager Brandon Hyde handles Stowers’ playing time since he’s batted .326 with a .977 OPS in 95 at-bats against left-handed pitching this season, superior numbers to his .240 average and .849 OPS against right-handers. Though Stowers figures to see most of his action at the corner outfield spots, he did make 42 starts in center field for the Tides this season.
To make room for Stowers on the 26-man roster, the Orioles designated reserve outfielder Brett Phillips for assignment. Phillips, 28, was acquired from Tampa Bay for cash considerations earlier this month and went 2-for-17 with nine strikeouts in eight games after posting an ugly .475 OPS for the Rays this season.
Prior to Friday’s game, the Orioles also recalled lefty reliever Nick Vespi and infielder Richie Martin from Norfolk, placed infielder Terrin Vavra on the paternity list, and optioned right-hander Logan Gillaspie to Norfolk.