Diary of a long-suffering Pirates fan: That Spring Breakout Game Revisited II: That victory looks even better now

Orioles' prospects are hitting at historic levels. But they couldn't touch Pirates pitching in the Spring breakout game.
Pittsburgh Pirates v Baltimore Orioles
Pittsburgh Pirates v Baltimore Orioles / Mike Ehrmann/GettyImages

Recall that the Orioles have the #1 rated farm system in major league baseball.  Their AAA affiliate, the Norfolk Tides, won the National AAA championship last year.

Please also recall the Spring Breakout game this year in which a team of Pirates prospects played and defeated a team of Baltimore Orioles' prospects.  The final score was 3 to 1. The Orioles got only one hit (a bunt single).

Why am I mentioning this?

Because the defending AAA champions Norfolk Tides are again in first place in the international league.  They have a record of 5-1.  And while it is a small sample size, it is interesting to note that the Norfolk Tides are scoring runs at a historic pace.

In six games, the Tides have scored 74 runs.  An average of 12.3 runs per game.  If they keep up that pace (I love small sample-size statistics), they will set a record for the most runs scored in a season by a professional baseball team.

With that kind of offensive output, it should come as no surprise that Norfolk players appear in the leaderboard of most AAA statistics.  But to give you a flavor of this, let’s just look at OPS.  Norfolk has six players with an OPS over 1.00.  Let’s review:

Heston Kjerstad                OPS of 1.795

Peyton Burdick                  OPS of 1.476

Kyle Stowers                      OPS of 1.354

Connor Norby                    OPS of 1.259

Jackson Holliday                OPS of 1.221

Coby Mayo                         OPS of 1.087

You read that right.  The #1 rated prospect in all of baseball, Jackson Holliday, has only the fifth-best OPS on his team.

Why am I telling you this?  Because remember that Spring breakout game?  The Pirates pitchers held this murderer’s row of sluggers to a bunt single. 

Mind you some of the prospects noted above did not participate in that Spring breakout game.  But who cares?  Why should I allow that pesky fact to get in the way of a good narrative?

How good are the Pirates pitching in the minor leagues?  They one hit a team on pace to score the most runs in the history of professional baseball.

Alas, though the Pirates AAA affiliate, the Indianapolis Indians, play in the International League, too, they are not scheduled to play Norfolk this year.  The only way the two teams can meet is if they each win their respective divisions and thus meet for the International League championship.

So those hoping for another Skenes vs. Holliday showdown on the AAA stage, it’s not likely to happen.  Both Holliday and Skenes will likely be on their respective team’s MLB roster before year’s end.

The only way we are likely to see a Skenes vs. Holliday redo this year is if the Pirates and the Orioles meet again in the World Series.

And with the Pirates at 6-1, that thought doesn’t sound as preposterous as it might have a couple of weeks ago.