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A Look Back At the Tides 2023 Championship Season

Highlights, Notes and Accolades from the 2023 campaign
2023 International League Champions (Sydney Smith)
December 2, 2023

Season In Review: The Tides finished the season with a 90-59 regular season record, which was the best in the International League and the second-best in all of Triple-A (Oklahoma City, 90-58). The 90 wins set the record for the most in Triple-A franchise history, and the second-best winning percentage

Season In Review: The Tides finished the season with a 90-59 regular season record, which was the best in the International League and the second-best in all of Triple-A (Oklahoma City, 90-58). The 90 wins set the record for the most in Triple-A franchise history, and the second-best winning percentage (1975 | 86-55, .610). The most recent time the Tides led their division was in 2015 (IL North, 78-66), while the most recent time they owned the best regular season record was in 1995 (86-56). They recorded the best home record in Orioles affiliate franchise history (48-27), while going 42-32 on the road. Of the 26 series, the Tides went 14-2-10 (W-L-S) and went 8-1-3 at home, 6-1-7 on the road. As for the calendar months, the Tides went 1-0 in March, 18-7 in April, 18-9 in May, 14-10 in June, 12-11 in July, 16-12 in August and 11-10 in September. The Tides also went 3-1 in the postseason. For the season halves, the Tides clinched the First Half of the season with a 48-26 record, while going 42-33 in the Second Half.

International League Championship Series: After winning the First Half of the season, the Tides were set to host the International League Championship Series at Harbor Park from September 26 – 28. The Durham Bulls won the Second Half to face off against the Tides. All three games took place following Tropical Storm Ophelia, which was luckily downgraded to a tropical depression hours after reaching land in North Carolina. There was a constant misting throughout the series, combined with flooding around the ballpark due to the storm and a full moon. That didn’t stop fans around Hampton Roads from attending, with 7,255 coming the first night, 8,120 the second night and 6,469 for the final game. That averaged out to 7,281 per game.

Game one of the series was tightly fought. Durham scored first, getting one run in the second inning and one in the third. Norfolk tied the game in the third when Coby Mayo ripped a two-run double. They took their only lead of the game in the fifth when Connor Norby hit a solo home run to make the game 3-2. Durham took a late lead, getting two runs in the seventh and then piled on with five more in the eighth and one more in the ninth. Norfolk did get two more runs across in the ninth thanks to a two-run homer by Lewin Díaz, but it didn’t spark a comeback in a 10-5 game one loss.

With their backs against the wall, Norfolk returned for a successful game two. Norfolk first scored with two runs in the second inning, getting back-to-back homers from Mayo and Kyle Stowers. They scored another two runs in each of the fifth and sixth innings, first getting a two-run single by Joey Ortiz and scored both runs in the sixth on wild pitches. Ortiz knocked the final run in on a double in the seventh to go up 7-0. Durham was able to score twice in the eighth to break up the shutout, but the Tides forced a game three with a 7-2 win. After Cole Irvin opened the game as the Tides starter through the first three innings, Austin Voth served as the follower, striking out nine in four innings. Between Irvin And Voth, they tossed 7.0 scoreless innings and allowed four hits and no walks while striking out 14.

Thursday night was a winner-takes-all championship game. Norfolk came in hot yet again. Mayo hit a two-run automatic double that bounced into the right-center field bullpen. Ortiz knocked in another run on an RBI fielder’s choice to go up 3-0 after one. They went up 4-0 in the third when Díaz drove in an RBI single. To put the cherry on top in the eighth, Jackson Holliday and Mayo (two-run) both hit home runs to solidify a 7-0 Championship clinching win. It took four pitchers to complete the shutout victory, with Cade Povich starting the first four innings, followed by Kyle Dowdy (W, 3.0 IP), Wandisson Charles (1.0 IP) and Nick Vespi (1.0 IP). It marked the sixth International League Championship title by the Tides and the franchise’s first since 1985. The 36-season championship drought was the second-largest in the International League among active teams with at least one championship (54 years, Jacksonville in 1968 | 46 years, Syracuse in 1976)

Triple-A National Championship: After winning the International League Championship on Thursday, September 28, the Tides flew to Las Vegas the next day to prepare for their winner-takes-all game on Saturday for the Triple-A National Championship. They faced off against the Pacific Coast League Champions: the Oklahoma City Dodgers (Los Angeles Dodgers Triple-A affiliate). It was a close game early on, with Norfolk leading 1-0 through the top of the fifth inning. But Oklahoma City tied the game in the fifth, then took the lead in the sixth. That’s when magic struck for Norfolk in the top of the seventh when Colton Cowser hit a go-ahead grand slam in the seventh to go up 5-2. Connor Norby added two more runs in the ninth on a two-run homer. He finished the night 3-for-3 with two runs, a home run, two RBI and two walks. The home run proved to be much needed insurance runs, as Oklahoma City scored four in the ninth in an attempted comeback. The Tides held on, winning 7-6, taking their first Triple-A championship since 1983.

Manager of the Year: After winning the Triple-A National Championship, Tides Manager Buck Britton was awarded International League Manager of the Year. He became the sixth manager in franchise history to win the award and the first since 2015 when Ron Johnson won the award. It was Britton’s second career league Manager of the Year award (2019 Eastern League with Double-A Bowie). In two years as the skipper for Norfolk, Britton is 164-135 (.548) and is 381-312 (.550) in his five-year professional managerial career. In his career, he’s coached/managed 11 MLB All-Stars.

Keep It 100: Throughout the season, the Tides had nine different players ranked in the Top 100 prospect rankings by (MLB) and Baseball America (BA). Highlighting the Top 100 was Grayson Rodriguez (#5 by MLB, #6 by BA), who started Opening Day for Norfolk to make him the first Top 100 pitcher to start Opening Day in Orioles affiliate franchise history and the first since Aaron Heilman (#45 by BA) in 2003. Rodriguez was second to Philadelphia’s Andrew Painter (#4, #5) on both lists as the best ranked pitching prospect in baseball. Jackson Holliday (#10, #15) started the season with Single-A Delmarva but crawled his was through the farm system and arrived in Norfolk in early September while being ranked as the #1 prospect by both publications. He joined Adley Rutschman (2021 – 22) and Gunnar Henderson (2022 – 23) as the third #1 prospect to be on the Tides in three straight seasons. Into his second Triple-A season, Jordan Westburg (#71, #76) cracked Top 100 lists for the first time in his career while DL Hall (#94, #75) remained listed in the Top 100 for a fifth straight season. After joining the Tides late in 2022, Colton Cowser (#37, #41), Joey Ortiz (#96, #95) and Connor Norby (NR, #93) each earned a spot in at least one Top 100 list. On top of Holliday, the other two Top 100 players to join the Tides midseason were Heston Kjerstad (preseason | #77, NR) and Coby Mayo, who finished #27, #23 by MLB and BA. In all, six prospects (Rodriguez, Holliday, Cowser, Westburg, Norby and Ortiz) that were on BA’s Top 100 Prospects list in the preseason played for the Tides. Since 1990, it’s the second-most to ever appear on a Tides roster (1995 had eight).

Weekly Awards: The Tides had four different Player or Pitcher of the Week winners in 2023, coming from just two players. Colton Cowser earned Player of the Week in Week 3 of the season from April 17 – 23, then again in Week 6 from May 8 – 14. In back-to-back weeks, Chayce McDermott earned Pitcher of the Week, just a few weeks after his Triple-A debut on July 15. The back-to-back weeks stretched from July 24 – August 6.

Offensive Team Records Set: The Tides had one of the best offensive seasons in franchise history, breaking 11 offensive records in 2023 while also setting their wins record (90). The Tides set records in on-base percentage (.360), slugging percentage (.462) and OPS (.822) while recording the most plate appearances (5804) and at bats (5042) in a single season. The on-base percentage topped 1970 (.356), while the slugging and OPS topped 1969 (.434, .789). Norfolk also set records in runs (876), hits (1384), total bases (2327), doubles (284), home runs (201) and RBI (828). The runs (800), total bases (2041), home runs (175) and RBI (748) were set in the prior season, while the hits record beats 1987’s (1331) and the doubles record beat 2019’s (270). At a per game rate, the Tides set five offensive records in plate appearances (38.95), runs (5.88), total bases (15.62), home runs (1.35) and RBI (5.56).

Sit Em’ Down: On top of the 90 wins, the Tides also set records with the most holds (57 | records only available since 2005) and the most strikeouts (1424). The bullpen topped the 56 holds they had in 2009 when the team went 71-71. It was the second straight season the Tides set the franchise strikeout record (1380 in 2022). It was also the best strikeout per nine rate (9.93) in franchise history.

Transactions: The Tides had 78 different players appear on the roster, fielding 41 pitchers and 37 hitters. The Tides broke the roster size record in 2021 (84) and came close in 2022 (83). The previous high was 75 players on the roster in 2012 which set the International League record for a roster size at the time. The Tides recorded 313 roster moves during the 2023 season, one shy of the franchise record (314 in 2022). 35 players appeared on both the Tides' and Orioles' active rosters during the 2023 season, with six making their Major League debuts (Grayson Rodriguez, Chris Vallimont, Joey Ortiz, Jordan Westburg, Colton Cowser and Heston Kjerstad).

Fast Start: The Tides played their first ever March regular season game in franchise history to start 2023, winning at Durham, 6-4. The Tides went on to go 18-7 in April, giving them the most wins in the calendar month in franchise history (previously 17 wins in 2013). It was also the highest winning percentage (.720) of any April in franchise history (minimum 19 games played), topping 1989’s April (15-6, .714). Hudson Haskin led the Tides offense that month, setting the Orioles affiliate calendar month record in on-base percentage (minimum 50 plate appearances) with .529. He also had the third-highest batting average (.415), seventh-highest slugging percentage (.707) and the fifth-highest OPS (1.236). In all, it was the best offensive month as a team in Orioles affiliate franchise history, setting calendar month records in on-base percentage (.385), slugging (.495), OPS (.880), home runs (40) and runs scored (182). It was the second-best winning percentage (.720) for a calendar month (minimum 19 games) in Orioles affiliate franchise history (May, 2009 | .767).

Grayson’s Gas Pump: 2022 International League All-Star Grayson Rodriguez began the season with Norfolk as the Opening Day starter, but was immediately recalled by Baltimore after the start. He made his MLB debut on April 5 at Texas and stayed with Baltimore until being optioned back to Norfolk on May 27. Rodriguez would stay with Norfolk for another six weeks, finishing his 2023 Triple-A season with a 4-0 record and a 1.96 ERA in eight starts. He struck out 56 batters to 19 walks and limited opponents to a .178 average. His June was particularly impressive, where he stuck out 12.388 batters per nine innings. That was the fifth-highest rate in Orioles affiliate franchise history for a calendar month (min. 20.0 IP). Rodriguez was recalled to Baltimore on July 17 and never returned, finishing his first MLB season with a 7-4 record in 23 starts. He had a 4.35 ERA and 129 strikeouts to 42 walks.

Just Joshin’: A top offensive producer for the Tides in 2023 was Josh Lester, who signed a minor league contract with the Orioles in the offseason prior. He made his presence known early, hitting the first home run of the season for the Tides on Opening Day, then followed with a three-homer game in game two. Lester would rank in the top-10 of the International League in RBI and home runs for the first two months of the season until his contract was selected by Baltimore on June 3. He remained with the Orioles until June 24 when he was optioned and was eventually removed from the 40-man roster on July 26. In 11 games in Baltimore, he went 4-for-22 with four RBI. Lester finished his Triple-A season with 110 games played, hitting .257 with 21 doubles, two triples, 23 home runs, 87 RBI and slashed .307/.475/.782. He finished sixth in the International League in RBI. It was also the fourth-most RBI in a single season in Orioles affiliate franchise history, while the 23 home runs were the third-most. Lester became the 14th player in franchise history to record at least 23 home runs in a season and the 14th to reach 87 RBI.

Haskin Hacks: The fast start by Hudson Haskin came to a halt after enduring a left hamstring strain on April 16 at Nashville. He would be out until mid-June, playing his first game post-injury on June 8 at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. He unfortunately suffered a setback on June 18 with left hamstring tightness. Haskin was later declared out for the season after undergoing surgery to repair a left hip impingement. He finished with 23 games played in Norfolk, hitting .268 (22-for-82) with 14 runs, five doubles, a triple, three home runs, six walks, five stolen bases, seven hit-by-pitches and slashed .368/.463/.831.

Brief Bro-Hearn: After being acquired via trade for cash from Kansas City, Ryan O’Hearn did not make the Orioles Opening Day roster and started the season in Norfolk. He immediately proved he was too good for Triple-A, hitting safely in eight of his first nine games. He belted four home runs in that span, including a three-game home run streak from April 2 – 5. After those nine games, O’Hearn had his contract selected by the Orioles. He served his first Baltimore stint for about a month before being optioned to Norfolk on May 5. O’Hearn played two more games with the Tides before being recalled on May 9 and stayed up in the big leagues for the remainder of the season. He went on to set personal MLB career-highs in games (112) and at bats, hitting .289 (100-for-346) with 48 runs, 22 doubles, a triple, 14 home runs and 60 RBI while slashing .322/.480/.802.

Cano Can: Another heavy Orioles contributor that started in Norfolk this season was Yennier Cano. He was originally acquired at the trade deadline in 2022 from Minnesota as piece in the Jorge López trade. After pitching three games for the Orioles in 2022, Cano began 2023 with a brief stint in Triple-A. He pitched in three games, not allowing a run in 3.0 innings with one save. He was recalled to Baltimore on April 14 and remained there for the remainder of the season. Cano quickly earned the role as the setup man to closer Félix Bautista, not allowing an earned run in his first 17 games with the Orioles (21.2 IP). That ERA continued to stay low enough to earn Cano his first MLB All-Star Appearance, becoming the first Tide in Orioles affiliate franchise history to play in a MLB All-Star game after starting in Norfolk. Cano finished his MLB season with a 1-4 record and eight saves in 72 relief appearances. He allowed a 2.11 ERA (17 ER, 72.2 IP), a 1.00 WHIP, a .226 opponent’s average and had 65 strikeouts to 13 walks.

May Flowers: The Tides followed their fast start with a stellar month of May. After going 18-7 in April, the Tides went 18-9 in May and led the International league by 8.5 games at the end of the month. The Tides pitching staff recorded 253 strikeouts, the fifth-most ever in Orioles affiliate franchise history. Cole Irvin was the top pitcher for the Tides that month, setting the Orioles affiliate calendar month franchise record in WHIP (min. 20.0 IP) with a 0.68. He also had 13 strikeouts to one walk. The offense’s run production continued to stay high, recording 166 runs and 38 home runs. The Tides longest winning streak of the season started on game two of April 28 and continued through May 4 for six games.

Cole Turns to Diamond: Although he started on the Orioles Opening Day roster, Cole Irvin made three starts for Orioles before being optioned to Norfolk. This came after he was traded to Baltimore from Oakland in the preseason. The lefty corrected his early MLB struggles in Norfolk, setting the Orioles affiliate franchise record for WHIP (0.68) in a calendar month (min. 20.0 IP) during May, while also recording a 13.00 SO/BB ratio (13 SO, 1 BB) and allowed a .176 opponent’s average. Irvin was able to rejoin the Orioles for one quick relief appearance on May 20, was sent down to Norfolk for another stint and was recalled again on June 10 through the middle of September. During that span, Irvin served as a spot starter and reliever for the Orioles. He finished his MLB season with a 1-4 record in 24 games (12 starts), having a 4.42 ERA (38 ER, 77.1 IP) and struck out 68 batters to 21 walks. For the Tides, Irvin made nine starts and went 6-3 with a 4.38 ERA (24 ER, 49.1 IP) with 30 strikeouts to nine walks.

The Rom-inator: Another Tides southpaw who had a great May was Drew Rom, who notably finished with 12.253 strikeouts per nine innings, the 10th-highest for a calendar month in Orioles affiliate franchise history (min. 15.0 IP). His strikeout rates remained high in July, recording a 10.881 strikeouts per nine innings ratio. Following a start on May 3 vs. Durham where he earned the win in 6.0 scoreless innings while striking out a season-high 11 batters, the Orioles recognized Rom’s success and selected his contract on May 9. He didn’t appear in a game and was optioned back to Norfolk on May 11. On August 1, Rom was traded to the Cardinals along with César Prieto in exchange for Jack Flaherty. Rom started two games for Triple-A Memphis before being recalled to St. Louis on August 21 for the remainder of the season. Despite not playing the final two months of the season with Norfolk, Rom finished second on the Tides in strikeouts (100), going 7-6 with a 5.34 ERA (51 ER, 86.0 IP). He finished with the fourth-most strikeouts (118) in the International League. He made eight starts with the Cardinals to finish the season, going 1-4 with an 8.02 ERA (30 ER, 33.2 IP).

Wild Wild Westburg: A big help to Norfolk’s offensive prowess in the first half of the season came from Jordan Westburg, who started 2-23 with Norfolk until having his contract selected by Baltimore on June 26; the day after the first half of the Triple-A season ended. At the time of his call-up, Westburg led the league in runs (57) while also ranking in extra-base hits (3rd, 35), home runs (T-3rd, 18), RBI (T-4th, 54), hits (5th, 79), slugging percentage (5th, .567) and OPS (9th, .939). May was particularly strong for Westburg, who became the fifth Tide in Orioles affiliate franchise history to hit nine home runs in a calendar month and the first since Rylan Bannon (record 10 home runs in May, 2021). He set the Orioles affiliate franchise record for the most runs scored (28) in a calendar month. On top of that, he tied for the most extra-base hits (19) in a month (Pedro Álvarez, May of 2017) while compiling 24 RBI. Westburg finished with 67 games played with Norfolk, hitting .295 (79-for-268) and his 18 home runs matched his 2022 Norfolk total that took him 91 games. In Orioles affiliate franchise history (since 2007), Westburg ranks third in home runs (36), tied for fifth in RBI (128), eighth in extra-base hits (81) and ninth in runs (121). As for his MLB rookie season, he played 68 games with the Orioles and hit .260 (54-for-208) with 26 runs, 17 doubles, two triples, three home runs, 23 RBI and 16 walks while slashing .311/.404/.715.

Canadian Wildfires: Beginning in March 2023, and with increased intensity starting in June, all of Canada was affected by a record series of wildfires that burned the largest area in the history of North America. Prior to the Tides series at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre from June 6 – 11, smoke from the fires started drifting down into the United States and in some cases crossed the Atlantic into Europe. The air quality was so poor that many northeastern baseball teams had to postpone or cancel their games, with the quality being recorded at higher than 250 and touching 300 in some cases. The first two games at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre were postponed, ultimately deciding to cancel the Tuesday game and played a doubleheader on Saturday to make up Wednesday’s game. It was the only cancelled game of the season for the Tides, which also spoiled the Triple-A debut of Top 100 prospect Heston Kjerstad.

Cheddar Kjerstad: Once the air pollution died down, Heston Kjerstad made his Triple-A debut on June 8 at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Coincidentally, it was exactly one year after Gunnar Henderson and Jordan Westburg made their Triple-A debuts at Nashville in 2022. In his second game with Norfolk on June 9, Kjerstad hit his first of two inside-the-park home runs of the season. He settled into his own in July, where in 19 games he hit .387 (29-for-75) with 17 runs, three home runs, 12 RBI and slashed .453/.640/1.093. That helped him earn a spot in the 2023 SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game, becoming the eighth player in Orioles affiliate franchise history to be selected for the honor AFTER playing for the Tides in the same season. Kjerstad would hit a cold streak in August, slashing .229/.293/.362/.655 in 27 games in the month, although he hit his second inside-the-parker on August 8. He picked himself up for a strong first half of September and had his contract selected by Baltimore on September 14. Between his first and final game with the Tides, Kjerstad ranked among International League leaders in triples (T-1st, 5), runs (2nd, 57), hits (3rd, 88), hit-by-pitches (5th, 9), and extra-base hits (6th, 34).

1st Half Winners: The final week of the First Half came at Nashville from June 20 – 25. Although they lost six of eight games entering the final stretch, the Tides still led the league by 5.0 games over St. Paul and needed only a win or a Saints loss to clinch. The series opener on Tuesday was postponed due to rain, and St. Paul won that night. Wednesday night, Norfolk got on the board early thanks to a Colton Cowser leadoff home run. Grayson Rodriguez was on the mound that night, allowing two runs (one earned) in 4.1 innings. The two runs given up to the Sounds came in the third inning to give Nashville a 2-1 lead. Norfolk answered right back with three runs in the fourth, including a go-ahead two-run triple by Connor Norby. Nashville got a run back in the sixth to make it a 4-3 game, but Norfolk sunk the dagger with four runs in the ninth for an 8-3 win. That clinched their first playoff berth since 2015.

MLB Rehabbers: During the final week of the first half, the Tides had multiple MLB Rehabbers from the Orioles playing for them. Former AL All-Star Cedric Mullins joined Norfolk that week during recovery from a right groin strain and led off for the Tides during the playoff clinching win. He hit a two-run home run in the ninth to help seal the victory. Batting second that same night was 2019 International League MVP Ryan Mountcastle, who was rehabbing from blurred vision. In May, Dillon Tate and Mychal Givens both joined the Tides on rehab, with Tate rehabbing a right elbow flexor strain and Givens returning from a knee injury. Tate needed a second rehab assignment during June before ultimately sitting out the remainder of the season. Givens would also battle right shoulder inflammation, rehabbing a second time in August before ultimately being released on the 19th of the month. Danny Coulombe made one rehab appearance in August due to left bicep tendonitis. After signing with the Orioles in May, Aaron Hicks hit the Injured List with a left hamstring injury in July and rehabbed with Norfolk in August. Austin Voth joined the Tides on rehab as well in August from right elbow discomfort. He was eventually outrighted to Norfolk in September but was a key member in Norfolk championship run. The eighth rehabber was veteran John Means, who was recovering from Tommy John surgery that took place on April 26, 2022. 16 months later, Means made three starts for Norfolk before joining the Orioles in September to complete a playoff push.

Hall Monitor: It was a season of the lowest lows and the highest highs for Orioles prospect DL Hall in 2023. He started the season ranked as a Top 100 prospect for both Baseball America and MLB Pipeline but would fall outside of the list midseason. Hall started the season with Norfolk but was battling chronic lower back issues for the first half of the season. At first it seemed like business as usual, making four starts for the Tides which increased his pitch count from 70 to 89 between the starts. He was recalled to Baltimore for one game as a reliever before being optioned to Norfolk for another six weeks. When he returned, Hall had two starts of over 90 pitches, but then saw his pitch count never go higher than 61 over his next five starts. Hall wasn’t feeling healthy and was sent to the FCL Orioles for rehab. His final outing with Norfolk before the FCL Orioles was on June 14 and didn’t pitch for the FCL Orioles until July 25. After two appearances with them, he rejoined the Tides solely as a reliever on August 5. He had six solid outings with the Tides in that role and was recalled to Baltimore on August 26 for the remainder of the season as a reliever. Hall finished his Tides season with a 1-2 record and a 4.22 ERA in 17 appearances (11 starts). For the Orioles, he was effective going 3-0 in 18 relief appearances with a 3.26 ERA. He made the Orioles playoff roster and pitched in two games to combine for 3.1 scoreless innings. He retired 10 of 12 batters faced in the playoffs with six strikeouts.

Stowers Powers: In his third season with the Tides, Kyle Stowers played in 68 games and hit .245 (57-for-233) with 42 runs, nine doubles, a triple, 17 home runs and 49 RBI while slashing .364/.511/.875. He found himself starting with Baltimore on their Opening Day roster, but played with Triple-A Norfolk for the majority of the season. His first stint started on April 11 by was recalled on April 30. He was optioned again on May 17 and shortly landed on the Injured List due to right shoulder inflammation injury he sustained on May 21. He started rehabbing the injury in games on June 29 – July 8 before rejoining the Tides on July 14 after the All-Star Break. Stowers would have to overcome another serious injury where he was hit by a pitch in the faced and fractured his nose. Fortunately he returned a couple weeks later and finished out the season. After the conclusion of the 2023 season, Stowers ranked among Orioles affiliate career leaders (min. 500 at bats) in home runs (2nd, 39), slugging (3rd, .507), OPS (3rd, .867), RBI (4th, 138), walks (7th, 97), hit-by-pitches (7th, 14) and on-base percentage (9th, .361).

César’s Palace: After spending the first two months of the season with Double-A Bowie, César Prieto was promoted to Norfolk on June 20. Prior to joining the Tides, he led the Eastern League in batting average (.365) by .039 points, while also ranking in hits (1st, 84), on-base percentage (5th, .406) and OPS (T-8th, .882). Prieto’s offensive prowess did not slow after his call-up, where in 27 games he hit .317 (33-for-104) with 16 runs, eight doubles, a triple, two home runs, 20 RBI and eight walks while slashing .365/.471/.836. He ended up getting traded to St. Louis right at the 6 p.m. Trade Deadline on August 2 as a part of a package to acquire Jack Flaherty.

Wonderful Wandisson: Another player to get the call up from Bowie was reliever Wandisson Charles. He originally signed a minor league contract with the Orioles on December 19, 2022. He had a slow start in Triple-A, where in his first 13 starts he went 2-2 with a 9.95 ERA and two saves while having 18 strikeouts to 15 walks in 12.2 innings. Charles settled in from there, allowing runs in just three of his final 15 games. He solidified his role as the team closer in that span, going 3-1 with six saves and a 2.60 ERA and struck out 22 batters to 13 walks in 17.1 innings pitched. Charles limited hitters to a .127 average (7-for-55) in that final span.

Armbruester Heroics: The starting pitcher for the Tides in the Triple-A National Championship game, Justin Armbruester, didn’t join the Tides until June 20 along with Prieto and Charles. Prior to Norfolk, Armbruester made 12 starts with Double-A Bowie. He went 3-2 with a 2.47 ERA, striking out 43 batters and walked 19. He left the Eastern League ranked among league leaders in ERA (2nd), opponent’s slugging (3rd, .355), WHIP (4th, 1.15) and opponent’s average (T-9th, .228). He earned the win in his Triple-A debut on June 22 at Nashville. Armbruester totaled 14 games (13 starts) with Norfolk, going 3-4 with a 4.70 ERA and had 66 strikeouts to 32 walks in 59.1 innings. He pitched the final game of the season for Norfolk at Buffalo, leaving him off the roster for the International Championship Series. However he was activated for the Triple-A National Championship game and made the start, going 5.0 innings and allowed one run on two hits (one home run to Hunter Feduccia) and three walks while striking out four.

‘Pen Support From Ex-Sox: Two bullpen options joined the Tides in 2023 after playing for organizational division rival Boston Red Sox in 2022: Darwinzon Hernández and Eduard Bazardo. Hernández was a reliable southpaw out of the bullpen, going 2-1 with a save in 27 relief outings. His ERA was 2.96 with an opponent’s average of .144, striking out 37 batters to 19 walks in 27.1 innings. Hernández would ask for his release from the Orioles on July 27 and signed with the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks in the Japanese Pacific League. Bazardo found similar success, also pitching in 27 games for the Tides. He went 4-1 with two saves and recorded a 3.05 ERA with a .218 opponent’s average. Bazardo tallied 38.1 innings, striking out 43 batters to 11 walks. He had his contract selected by Baltimore on July 17 but left the organization a couple weeks later after getting traded to the Seattle Mariners near the Trade Deadline on August 1 in exchange for Logan Rinehart.

Needed Veteran Support: After starting the 2023 season in the Mets Organization, T.J. McFarland opted out of his contact on July 18 to join the Orioles organization. It was his fourth season playing for the Tides (also played in 2014 – 2016). The 34-year-old would make 21 appearances for the Tides and went 3-0 with a 1.80 ERA. He made two appearances in the postseason, which included him earning the win in the Triple-A National Championship.

Hometown Hero: Joining the Tides midseason in 2023 was Garrett Stallings, who was called up from Double-A Bowie on June 24 through the end of the season. Stallings is an alumnus of Grassfield High School in Chesapeake, Virginia, which is roughly 20 minutes south of Harbor Park. It took a couple months for him to get adjusted to the Triple-A level, going 5-3 with a 6.66 ERA in 11 games (10 starts) through August. However he had a spectacular September, going 3-0 in four games (two starts) with a 2.78 ERA. He also had a .794 WHIP in the month, the third-lowest in Orioles affiliate franchise history (min. 20.0 innings). Stallings strong suit throughout was getting strikeouts, where in July he struck out 11.571 batters per nine innings, the eighth-highest rate for a calendar month in Orioles affiliate franchise history. He struck out nine batters in three separate games in 2023: July 1 vs. Charlotte (9 K, 1 ER, 6.0 IP), August 1 vs. Charlotte (9 K, 0 ER, 8.0 IP) and September 7 vs. Jacksonville (9 K, 1 ER, 6.0 IP).

Povich Pitches: Joining the Tides late on July 28 was southpaw pitching prospect Cade Povich. He was originally acquired from the Minnesota Twins along with Yennier Cano in the 2022 Trade Deadline exchange for Jorge Lopez. Almost a year later, Povich made his Triple-A debut vs. Nashville. Like Stallings, Povich also needed an adjustment period but had a strong September. In four starts, he went 1-1 with a 2.91 ERA. He allowed a .169 opponent’s average in the month, the fifth-lowest in a calendar month in Orioles affiliate franchise history. Povich went on to start the winner-takes-all Game Three of the International League Championship Series, where he went 4.0 innings and didn’t allow a run.

Jim Palmer Award Winner: Another pitching prospect that made their Triple-A debut was Chayce McDermott, who was also acquired in a trade during 2022 that sent Trey Mancini to Houston and brought McDermott in from Tampa Bay. He was promoted to Norfolk from Bowie on July 14 and remained with the Tides. Unlike most pitching prospects, McDermott needed minimal adjustments and found success immediately. He never allowed more than three earned runs in and of his outings, while pitching no fewer than 3.0 innings. He also recorded at least seven strikeouts in seven of his 10 outings. In his final start on September 9, McDermott strained his back and was placed on the Injured List for the remainder of the season. Combining his stats with Double-A Bowie, he played in 26 games (22 starts), going 8-8 with a 3.10 ERA. He struck out 152 batters while walking 68 in 119.0 innings. That effort earned him the Jim Palmer Award, a seasonal award given to the top pitching prospect in the Orioles farm system. McDermott led all Orioles prospects in opponent’s average (.167) and slugging (.281) while ranking second in ERA, strikeouts and wins.

Norby Knocks: Having one of the best seasons in Tides franchise history in 2023 was Connor Norby. He set several records, most notably topping the single season mark for most runs in a season (104). He also tied for the most extra-base hits (64) with Roberto Petagine (1997). Norby set the single season records for plate appearances (633) and at bats (565). In all he played 138 games for the Tides, hitting .290 with 40 doubles, three triples, 21 home runs and 92 RBI while slashing .359/.483/.842. While Norby had a consistent pace throughout the season, he stood out in May by tying the Orioles affiliate franchise record for most doubles in a month (12). He also had 25 runs in April, tied for third-most in a calendar month. As for Orioles affiliate single season records, Norby set the record for most runs, most hits (164), and most RBI. He led the International League in hits, runs and doubles (tied), while also ranking in extra-base hits (2nd) and RBI (3rd).

Holy Cowser: The other offensive leader for the Tides was Colton Cowser, who earned himself a 2023 All-Star selection in the outfield for the International League. He set Orioles affiliate single season franchise records in on-base percentage (.417), OPS (.937), and walks (64). Cowser also had the third-highest slugging percentage (.520) in Orioles affiliate history. By surpassing 500 career plate appearances with the Tides, he ranks among franchise career leaders in on-base percentage (12th, .398), slugging (17th, .498) and OPS (10th, .896). As for Orioles affiliate calendar month records, he recorded the best on-base percentage ever in May (.533) while also ranking fifth in batting average from that month (.409). He also tied for the third most runs (25 in April, the fourth most walks (20 in April), and the sixth best OPS (1.215 in May). Cowser also had one of the best plays in professional baseball during the 2023 season, robbing a home run on August 23. He did have his contract selected by Baltimore on July 5 and accumulated 42 days of service time over the season. He finished his Tides season three plate appearances shy of qualifying as a league leader. In 87 games, Cowser hit .300 with 72 runs, 18 doubles, a triple, 17 home runs, 62 RBI and slashed .417/.520/.937.

Holliday Season: After starting the season in Low-A Delmarva, Jackson Holliday climbed three levels throughout the season and made his Triple-A debut on September 5 with the Tides. He became the third Top Prospect in baseball to play for the Tides since 2021, joining Adley Rutschman and Gunnar Henderson. At 19 years and 275 days old, Holliday was the fourth-youngest player in franchise history to play for the Tides. Between the four levels he played 125 games, hitting .323 with 113 runs, 30 doubles, nine triples, 12 home runs, 75 RBI and 101 walks while slashing .442/.499/.941. For Norfolk, he played in 18 games batting .267 with two home runs and nine RBI, slashing .396/.400/.796. His combined effort earned himself the Brooks Robinson Award.

Homegrown Orioles Into the Playoffs: The Orioles not only clinched their first playoff berth since 2016, they clinched the best record in the American League for the first time since 1997. Baltimore earned a bye from the Wild Card Series and faced off against the Texas Rangers. Of the 26 players on the playoff roster, 19 played for Norfolk at one point in their career with 12 of them playing for the Tides in 2023. The Orioles were swept 3-0 by the Rangers, who ended up winning the 2023 World Series.