Double-A Bowie field coach Josh Conway is part of a red-hot Baysox team that's seen many young prospects flourish throughout the last two months, especially on the mound.
The Baysox began the season 7-23 but are now 59-49 overall and sit in second place in the Eastern League's Western division second-half standings at 29-10. Bowie is 40-15 since June 1, with one of the team's shining moments coming from starting pitcher Michael Baumann July 16.
The right-handed pitcher threw a no-hitter against Harrisburg Senators, one of the highlights from a staff that's had six pitchers pitch at least 30 innings and post sub-3.00 ERAs this season. Baumann sports a 1.16 ERA and 0.72 WHIP in 38.2 innings since being promoted from High-A Frederick. Conway says he and the rest of the team are very pleased with the 2017 third-rounder's development this summer.
"He's really developed in using all his pitches, his curveball and changeup as well, getting good game reps with those pitches and really developing as a pitcher as a whole," Conway said on
Glenn Clark Radio
July 26. "The guy's got good stuff so he's going to go out there and compete each night and do a good job hopefully."
Although he's only appeared in three games, 2016 first-rounder Cody Sedlock is another pitcher who's found success in Bowie, striking out 15 while allowing only one hit in 11 innings after being called up in mid-July.
The right-hander struggled with injuries the previous two years in High-A ball, posting a 5.90 ERA in 2017 and a 7.97 ERA in 20.1 innings in 2018. He improved to the tune of a 2.36 ERA in 61 innings for Frederick this season before being called up.
"His changeup and his fastball work off, play off each other really well. They both have some good angle, a little deception," Conway said. "It just gives him the opportunity then to open up the breaking ball to really give him the chance to use all three of his pitches, to mix well and to keep guys off balance and give himself a chance to compete out there."
Conway attributes much of the team's pitching success to the players' willingness to listen to their coaches and push themselves when training. He says many of these pitching prospects are ready to move up to Triple-A Norfolk next season if they haven't already; in fact, lefty Bruce Zimmermann was recently promoted, and fellow lefties Zac Lowther and Alex Wells may be pushing for a promotion, too.
Conway expects Bowie's pitchers to continue to grow if they stay consistent with their work ethic.
"These guys are really putting in good work. They're all really prepared to go out each day. They're really invested in their own development," he said. "When you get guys who want to come to the ballpark and work hard and help themselves, it makes our life really easy."
Meanawhile, outfielder Yusniel Diaz is poised to move up the ranks as well. The headliner in the Orioles' return for star infielder Manny Machado last summer, Diaz struggled some to start the year before he missed time with a hamstring injury. Since his return to Bowie in early June, he's batting .270/.338/.513 in 213 plate appearances and helped jump-start the Baysox before
suffering an injury July 31
"He's doing a lot of things right, so as long as he keeps on that path and keeps working hard things will probably keep looking good for him," Conway said. "He's just a solid player all around."
Conway pitched three seasons at Coastal Carolina University and was drafted in the fourth round in 2012 by the Chicago Cubs. After injuries curtailed his career, Conway returned to Coastal Carolina to earn his degree. He got his first coaching experience as a student assistant to pitching coach Drew Thomas.
After he graduated, the Orioles gave him a call and he couldn't pass up the opportunity to stay around the game. He says he loves helping the young players grow and working under manager Buck Britton.
"[Britton] brings a ton of energy to the ballpark every day. He keeps it loose and I think you can see that in the reflection of the players. They're loose but they've got some good fire in them when they go out and play on the field. You know he has your back," Conway said. "These past couple years have been really good and I've landed in a good spot. Hopefully I can grow here and have a nice career here."
To hear more from Conway, listen to the full interview here:
Photo Credit: Bill Vaughan/Bowie Baysox