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Top Prospects, Family Fun, and another GREAT Season of Shorebirds Baseball!

September 21, 2023

The month of September marked the end of the Shorebirds 2023 campaign and it was one that featured multiple top prospects, the 2023 Orioles Draft Class, and fun promotions bringing tons of family fun to Perdue Stadium this year. With the conclusion of the season, the Shorebirds wanted to take

The month of September marked the end of the Shorebirds 2023 campaign and it was one that featured multiple top prospects, the 2023 Orioles Draft Class, and fun promotions bringing tons of family fun to Perdue Stadium this year. With the conclusion of the season, the Shorebirds wanted to take a moment to look back at this year's team and thank our season ticket holders, sponsors, and fans for an awesome 2023 season!

The start of the 2023 season generated plenty of excitement as the Opening Day Roster for the Shorebirds was highlighted by the first overall pick from the 2022 draft, Jackson Holliday, along with rising prospect Samuel Basallo. They would be the core of a deep offensive unit that instantly showed out after an 11-7, opening night win against the Salem Red Sox, which included a three-hit and two RBI performance from Basallo in his Single-A debut.

After a series victory versus the Red Sox in Salem to start the season, the Shorebirds hosted the Kannapolis Cannon Ballers for their first series at Arthur W. Perdue Stadium. The offense picked up right where it left off from the opening weekend as they cruised to a 7-2 win in the home opener behind a 4 RBI night from Creed Willems and 4 shutout innings on the mound from Bradley Brehmer in relief who earned the win in his first professional appearance. Jackson Holliday delivered another signature performance one night later as he drove home 4 more runs in a 12-2 victory to put the Shorebirds at 4-1 after five games.

The Cannon Ballers would win the final four games of the series against Delmarva, but the Shorebirds rebounded in a major way in the next series against the rival Fredericksburg Nationals. The offense put together their best series of the season as they took four of the five games versus the Fred Nats while scoring a total of 48 runs on the week. Samuel Basallo continued to showcase himself as a strong run producer as he drove in 4 runs with a double and a home run in an 11-6 series-opening win. The most impressive victory of the series was on Friday, April 21 where the Shorebirds scored a season-best 16 runs, anchored by Jackson Holliday who homered twice in a single for the first time in his career while driving in 4 runs for the third time in 12 games.

Holliday would win the honors as the Carolina League Player of the Week following his stellar series against the Nationals, along with a promotion to High-A as he joined the Aberdeen IronBirds following a 14-game stint with the Shorebirds where he batted .396 with 2 home runs and 16 RBI. He also walked 14 times to achieve an on-base percentage of .522. Holliday would not slow down and would incredibly make his way to Triple-A Norfolk by September and in the process turned himself into the consensus No. 1 prospect in all of baseball.

The pitching staff stepped up for Delmarva following the departure of Holliday in the next series at home against Salem. After losing the series opener 5-0, The Shorebirds rattled off four-straight wins including a 3-1 victory in game two where they allowed just two hits. They’d limit the Red Sox to only one hit in a 5-3 victory in Saturday’s matchup as Juan De Los Santos and Deivy Cruz combined dominance helped Delmarva win their third series of the month. The Shorebirds finished the month of April at 12-8, pacing the league in most offensive categories as they scored 139 runs with a team batting average of .271.

One of the best stories of 2023 for the Shorebirds was the bounce-back season for fan favorite, Creed Willems. The 19-year-old catcher batted just .190 in his first full season in Delmarva in 2022 but rebounded in a major way in 2023 as he was one of the best power bats in the Carolina League, hitting 8 home runs with 28 RBI while boasting an impressive batting average of .302 in 30 games. Willems received the call-up to High-A on May 30 and finished with a total of 17 home runs between Delmarva and Aberdeen after clubbing 9 more with the IronBirds. He regained top-30 prospect status in the Orioles system as he finished the year ranked No. 21 per MLB Pipeline.

Along with Willems, outfielder Elio Prado also enjoyed a nice, second season with the Shorebirds. On May 11, Prado became the normal lead-off hitter for Delmarva and from that point on he slashed .263/.358/.423 with 6 home runs, 18 RBI, and 27 runs scored in that 40-game sample size. Overall, Prado improved his batting average by .54 in 2023 compared to his 2022 season in Delmarva and that ultimately led him to Aberdeen as he was promoted to High-A on July 14 after 65 games with the Shorebirds.

Another player who turned it on in the month of May was Carter Young. The shortstop from Vanderbilt became an on-base regular where he batted .270 in his final 60 games with Delmarva while reaching base at a .341 clip in that span thanks to a team-high 45 walks drawn on the season. He put together one of the best individual stretches in Minor League Baseball in back-to-back games against Fredericksburg on June 4 as he went 4/4 at the plate and one game later versus Down East on June 6 where he went 5/5 to give him a base-hit in 9 consecutive at-bats, the most in-a-row by any player in the minors in 2023. He made the move to High-A on August 8 as he was the 12th player from the Shorebirds’ Opening Day roster to be promoted at that point.

Despite notable development from some of their core players, the Shorebirds would falter at the beginning of June as they went 5-16 in their final 21 games of the first half, including five losses by one run and four in extra innings. But Delmarva was able to begin the second half on a strong note thanks to one of their most exciting wins of the season on June 24 as they rallied from down two runs late to defeat the August GreenJackets 4-3 in 10 innings on a walk-off single by Anderson De Los Santos giving the Shorebirds their first victory of the second half. Delmarva would carry that momentum into the next series against the Lynchburg Hillcats where they took four of the six games against the Cleveland Guardians affiliate. The highlights of that series included a pair of shutout wins versus one of the top offenses in the Carolina League and a thrilling 4-1 win on Sunday, July 2 where Samuel Basallo broke a scoreless tie in the eighth with a grand slam. It would be the first of three grand slams hit by the Shorebirds in a seven-game span as Anderson De Los Santos and Noelberth Romero each hit one in the ensuing series versus Fredericksburg.

Samuel Basallo’s grand slam was one of several home runs the prospect catcher would hit in 2023 as the 18-year-old would put himself on high notice with a stellar first season of affiliated baseball. In 83 games with Delmarva, Basallo slugged 12 home runs with 60 RBI while generating an OPS of .887. The young backstop also showcased tremendous defensive ability as he threw out 36 base stealers, gunning down nearly 50% of attempts against him. Right before his 19th birthday in early August, he was promoted to Aberdeen where he hit 8 more home runs in 27 High-A games. His season would continue to Double-A Bowie as played out the final week of the regular season with the Baysox. He began the season as the No. 12 prospect for the Orioles, but by season’s end, he was ranked No. 5 in Baltimore’s system by MLB Pipeline while also jumping to No. 46 in the overall Top-100 prospect after not being ranked to start the season.

The Orioles added to their already deep farm system in July when they acquired 19 players through the MLB Draft, 11 of them would make their way to Delmarva including their top draft selection, Enrique Bradfield Jr. The speedster from Vanderbilt quickly made his presence known as he stole 20 bases in 17 games with the Shorebirds, with one of his most notable performances coming on August 13 against the Carolina Mudcats where he stole 4 bases, the most by any Delmarva player in a single-game this season.

Second-round draft choice, Mac Horvath, also impressed by batting .308 in 14 Single-A games with the Shorebirds collecting a total of 6 extra-base hits. Matthew Etzel who was picked in the tenth round out of Southern Mississippi also provided a significant impact immediately as he hit a home run in his first at-bat with the Shorebirds versus Carolina on August 8 and that would be just the beginning of an unbelievable series as he went on to have one of the best performances of the season in the final game of the week against the Mudcats as he drove home six runs, with four of them coming home on a go-ahead, grand-slam in the fifth inning in an 8-4 victory.

The Shorebirds would finish the regular season 56-74, but despite a tough overall record, the season produced several memorable moments. In addition, many of the top, young prospects wore a Delmarva uniform in 2023 and they showcased why the future is bright in the Charm City as more talent is set to make its way through the Delmarva peninsula on their way to Camden Yards in 2024.