Recapping the Norfolk Tides' 2016 Season, Christian Walker Transitioned to Outfield

Today, I complete our season recaps of the Baltimore Orioles' full-season affiliates and we have finally arrived at the AAA level with the Norfolk Tides. The Tides debuted a new color scheme and nearly snuck into the playoffs.

OF Christian Walker
Photo: Patrick Cavey

Norfolk is the AAA affiliate for the Birds, and Orioles' fans, probably more so than most other fan bases, know that the AAA level is both a place for prospects to "complete" their minor league journey as well as the "extended" roster for the big league club.

The Tides were coming off of a playoff appearance in 2015, but went 62-82 in 2016. Despite that record, Norfolk nearly snuck into the playoffs thanks to the poor South Division in the International League. The South division saw the Gwinnett Braves win the division with a 65-78 read that right. Among the teams in the other two divisions, only one of the other 10 teams had a worse record than the South Division Champion Braves.

Despite their poor win-loss record, the Tides did have quite a bit of talent on the field, several of which that saw time in Baltimore as well. Below you will see the leaders for the Tides this season, both on the mound and at the plate.

  • 1B Trey Mancini - Obviously, especially with the way he has burst onto the scene this week with the Orioles, fans are well aware of who Mancini is. After just 17 games with Bowie, Mancini was promoted to AAA and he continued to do what he does best, hit. Mancini hit .280 with 13 home runs, 22 doubles, five triples, 54 RBI and scored 60 runs in 125 games with Norfolk. He also posted a nice .349 OBP and walked a team-high 48 times.
  • OF Christian Walker - Another name that O's fans know plenty about, Walker spent most of his year with the Tides and hit .264 with a team-high 18 home runs, 29 doubles, two triples, a team-high 64 RBI, and scored 64 runs, which also led the team. Walker finished the year with 220 bases, which was fifth most in the International League. In his first season in the outfield, Walker performed pretty well committing just three errors in 135 total chances and also had three outfield assists.
  • INF Corban Joseph - The brother of Orioles' catcher Caleb, Corban had a very under-the-radar quality season in 2016. Joseph played 85 games with the Tides (22 with Bowie), and hit .305 with seven home runs, 14 doubles, one triple, 34 RBI and scored 36 runs. He also boasted a .362 OBP and struck out just 32 times (also drew 26 walks). Joseph led the Tides (among those with at least 80 games played) in batting average.
  • RHP Richard Rodriguez - Probably an unknown name to most Orioles' fans, Rodriguez had a terrific season for the Tides in 2016. He made 48 appearances (two starts) and went 6-2 with a 2.53 ERA and a 1.10 WHIP over 81 2/3 innings pitched. In addition, he held opponents to a .216 batting average and struck out 81 batters. Rodriguez led all International League relievers for fewest baserunners per nine innings pitched (9.54).
  • LHP Edgar Olmos - The left-handed reliever had a great campaign in his first year in the organization. Olmos went 4-4 with a 2.88 ERA over 42 appearances and 68 2/3 innings pitched. He struck out 76 batters and held left handers to a .217 batting average.
  • RHP Jason Stoffel - The reliever had an impressive 2016 season, of which, he essentially spent half the season with Bowie and the other half with Norfolk. In 28 appearances with the Tides, Stoffel owned a 1.78 ERA and a 1.09 WHIP over 30 1/3 innings pitched. In addition, he also had 12 saves and struck out 37 batters.

As you can see, the Tides struggled with starting pitching, which shouldn't be much of a surprise since there were not many guys who could come up and start for the Orioles when needed. It is encouraging to see multiple relievers have a ton of success however, as bullpens are so vital now days that the more relief depth you have in an organization, the better.


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