Norfolk Tides Won the Most Unsurprising Championship of All-Time

The Baltimore Orioles youth movement of top prospects has not only propelled them to an AL East title, but there is more on the way in Triple-A.

TORONTO, CANADA - AUGUST 1: Jordan Westburg #11 and Colton Cowser #17 of the Baltimore Orioles celebrates their MLB game win over the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre on August 1, 2023 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images)

The Baltimore Orioles have been the talk of the baseball world with the improbable turnaround to their franchise’s future. After losing 110 just two years ago, the Orioles clinched the AL East division with their 100th victory of the 2023 season.

While that, on its own, is very impressive, it’s what continues to happen with the Minor League system that deserves far more recognition than it has.

After the Norfolk Tide clinched the International League championship on Thursday with their 7-0 victory over the Durham Bulls, which was their first title since 1985, the Tide proceeded to win the whole dang thing after defeating the Oklahoma City Dodgers 7-6.

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The beginning of the game started off slow, but the tides soon turned after Colton Cowser obliterated a pitch to deep right-center field for a go-ahead grand slam in the top of the seventh inning.

This game was chock-full of top prospect, not only for their respective teams, but in all of baseball.

The most impressive performance of the game had to be by Connor Norby, who hit a much needed two-run home run to provide the Tide with the insurance they needed in order to close it out in the ninth to secure their title.

Going back to the game that got them to the Triple-A title game, the International League Championship, the Tide were able to control it from the very beginning.

Jackson Holliday led off the bottom of the first inning with a walk, who then scored on Colton Cowser’s double the very next at-bat. Coby Mayo followed that up with a ground-rule double, and Norfolk grabbed a quick 2-0 lead on their way to the 7-0 victory.

There was a lot of excitement about the Tide’s roster coming into the Minor League season. The hype surrounding them certainly lived up to the expectations that were set on them. It shouldn’t be too much of a surprise considering the Orioles continue to churn out top prospects at a pace that we have not seen in a very long time.

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This roster was littered top-to-bottom with multiple highly-ranked prospects amongst multiple ranking platforms across the industry. Jackson Holliday (Just Baseball’s No.1), Colby Mayo (No. 28), Colton Cowser (No. 34), Joey Ortiz (No. 45), and Connor Norby (No. 94) are just some of the names that highlighted this roster as they recorded the final out.

Not to mention those who made their MLB debuts, like Heston Kjerstad (No. 23) and Jordan Westburg (No. 39), who also spent time on this roster throughout the season.

Enough cannot be said about how talent-heavy this roster is currently constructed. Going into their Triple-A Championship matchup against the Oklahoma City Dodgers, there was no reason to believe that they should not have been the favorites to be named the best team, at the Triple-A level, amongst the minor leagues.

Arizona Fall League (AFL)

While we look ahead, like a lot of us prospect followers do, the AFL is going to be something to watch for when it comes to those who will be following-up this young core en route to hopefully debuting in Baltimore in the future.

On September 22nd, the Orioles announced that the following players would be heading to Arizona to participate in the Arizona Fall League:

  • Carter Baulmer (RHP) 2020 5th Round Pick
  • TT Bowens (1B) 2020 UDFA
  • Billy Cook (OF) 2021 10th Round Pick
  • Trey McGough (LHP) 2019 24th Round Pick by the Pittsburgh Pirates
  • Connor Pavolony (C) 2021 7th Round Pick
  • Zach Peek (RHP) 2019 6th Round Pick by the Los Angeles Angels
  • John Rhodes (OF) 2021 3rd Round Pick
  • Carlos Tavera (RHP) 2021 5th Round Pick
  • Peter Van Loon (RHP) 2021 16th Round Pick