By Contributing Writer: Nick Stevens
The 2017 Delmarva Shorebirds’ roster has been released and features some of the brightest young players within the Baltimore Orioles’ organization. The Shorebirds kick off their season Thursday evening against the Greenville Drive (Boston A affiliate) on MiLB.tv. This year’s team features a large number of 2016 draft picks who are sure to provide fans with an entertaining season at Perdue Stadium.
|LHP Alex Wells|
Photo: Patrick Cavey
The would-be most intriguing new member of the Shorebirds is former Norfolk Tides and Orioles outfielder, Dariel Alvarez. Due to heavy competition in the outfield, Alvarez is transitioning to the pitcher’s mound this year and will showcase his ability in Low-A for Delmarva. Unfortunately, with the news breaking yesterday about Alvarez likely needing Tommy John Surgery, it doesn't look like we will get to see the transition take place this season.
The Delmarva pitching staff should be fairly deep to begin the season. One of the biggest question marks will be Matthias Dietz. Last year’s second round draft choice went 0-3 with a 4.82 ERA with the short-season Aberdeen Ironbirds last season. Dietz needs to show improvement in his control if he wants to continue his climb up the organizational ladder.
Additionally, for the third straight season, Travis Seabrooke will be a Shorebird. Over the last two seasons, Seabrooke lowered his ERA from 4.95 to 3.53, his opponents’ batting average from .296 to .269, and his WHIP from 1.40 to 1.30. Hopefully with a strong start to the season, Travis will earn a quick promotion to the Frederick Keys.
Australian-born Alex Wells may be the best pitcher on the staff in 2017. The 20 year-old went 4-5 with a 2.15 ERA and 0.91 WHIP, while striking out 50 in 62.2 innings pitched. There should be no lack of excitement on the mound this season in Delmarva. Other arms to keep an eye on this year will be 2016 draft picks Cody Dube (10th round), Lucas Humpal (9th round) and James Teague (37th round).
Preston Palmeiro will also be a major attraction for Shorebirds’ fans this season. The son of Rafael Palmeiro, Preston struggled to get on base as a rookie last year with Aberdeen and hit zero balls out of the park. Scouts still believe Preston will develop his power; let’s hope it’s this year. Commanding the infield at shortstop for Delmarva will be last year’s 21st round pick, Chris Clare. The former High Point star posted a .344 OBP in Aberdeen last season, but committed 11 errors.
Roaming the outfield will be two buzzworthy prospects, Cole Billingsley and Ryan McKenna. Billingsley hit .286 and committed zero errors in 96 chances for Aberdeen in 2016 while McKenna (2015 4th round pick) will look to improve his .241 batting average this season.
Manager Ryan Minor and new hitting coach, Buck Britton, will have their work cut out for them this season as Delmarva will look to improve on their 73-66 record from 2016.