Good Afternoon Keys Fans! Weezy Here!
- In the last two weeks the O’s have been hit by the injury bug, as three potential starters have gone down. First was catcher Matt Wieters as his recovery from Tommy John surgery hit a bit of a snag, followed by outfielder David Lough with both back spasm and a hamstring issue and finally with three time Gold Glove winning shortstop JJ Hardy straining a muscle in his shoulder. As I’ve posted about, there was a battle for roster spots, but with this rash of injuries it looks like Evereth Cabrera, Jimmy Paredes will all make the Opening Day roster. The next day is up for debate with Chris Davis returning to action once his suspension is completed.
- Orioles no. 4 prospect Zach Davies got the call in yesterday’s Grapefruit League game against the Rays. Manager Buck Showalter gave Davies the nod and instead sent lefty Wei-Yin Chen to throw in a minor league game.
- While lefty Brian Matusz may still find himself among the trade rumors, the reports to the Mets may quiet down some as they acquired a pair of lefties in Alex Torres and Jerry Blevins yesterday.
- The guys at Camden Chat have give their take on how the Orioles roster will shake out and The Baltimore Wire writer Nate Wardle has given his take as well.
Born: Dec. 5, 1991 in Washington, D.C.
College: Towson/Chesapeake College
Ht.: 6-4 Wt.: 195 Bats: R Throws: R
How Obtained: Signed as a non-drafted free agent on 7/30/13
Nowottnick split 2014 between Short-Season Aberdeen and Low-A Delmarva, posting a 3.32 ERA over 21 combined games. After a rocky June with the IronBirds, Nowottnick dominated the New York-Penn League in June. In six games he pitched to a 1.98 ERA, giving up just three runs in 13.2 innings. Promoted to the Shorebirds on August 14, the right-hander allowed three runs over his first two outings, before tossing 5.2 scoreless frames to end his season. A pitcher who relies heavily on the groundball Nowottnick finished with a groundout-to-airout ratio of better than 3:1 in last season.
Signed by the Orioles as an undrafted free agent out of Towson University, the 23-year-old went 4-4 with a 5.06 ERA with the Tigers, and helped lead the team to a CAA Championship as well as the team’s first NCAA tournament birth in 22 years. Nowottnick transferred to Towson after two years at Chesapeake Junior College, where he went 9-6.
An Orioles fan growing up, Nowottnick earned All-Bayside Conference honors at Colonel Richardson High School and helped lead his team to two conference championships.
Keys Probability: Medium
Born: July 7, 1988 in Licey al Medio, Dominican Republic
Ht.: 6-6 Wt.: 195 Bats: L Throws: L
How Obtained: Signed as a minor league free agent on 11/18/14
Pacheco split the 2014 season between the Braves organization and the independent ranks. After struggling at Double-A to start the year (10.80 ERA in nine games), the lefty was sent to Advanced-A Lynchburg on May 2. He posted a 4.59 ERA in 20 games, before being released on July 15. Pacheco finished the year with Fort Worth in the independent United Baseball League and did not allow a run over seven games (4.1 innings).
Originally signed by the Braves as a minor league free agent in 2008, Pacheco went a combined 3-2 with a 2.62 between Advanced-A and Double-A with the Braves in 2013 and was a midseason all-star. A lefty specialist, he held lefty batters to an .086 average (5-for-58).
Keys Probability: Medium
Born: Aug. 7, 1991 in San Diego, Calif.
College: Cal State Northridge
Ht.: 6-6 Wt.: 225 Bats: L Throws: L
How Obtained: 40th round pick by the Orioles in the 2011 draft
A pitcher that has kept hitters off balance since joining the Orioles, Parry recorded a 2.02 ERA over 22 games between Short-Season Aberdeen and Low-A Delmarva in 2014. Opening the year as a reliever with the Shorebirds, he was sent to the IronBirds to stretch out as a starter. At his best out of the bullpen, Parry registered a 1.29 ERA as a reliever over 11 first-half games with Delmarva.
Parry attended Cal State Northridge and Poway High School, whose alumni include the late Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn.
Born: Nov. 6, 1988 in Tempe, Ariz.
College: Texas Christian
Ht.: 5-11 Wt.: 185 Bats: B Throws: R
How Obtained: 38th round pick by the Orioles in the 2011 draft
Despite three trips to the disabled list, Pena saw his batting average jump 47 points in his second full year at Advanced-A. He also played solid defense, finishing with a .970 fielding percentage at second base, while he committed the second-fewest errors among CL second baseman with 80 games or more.
After a frustrating first-half at the plate, Pena turned things around after the All-Star break, batting .288 over 60 games. His best month came in August, when hit .309 to go along with 14 RBIs and 10 extra-base hits. That included a two-home run game on August 29 against Salem, where he registered four RBIs. Offensively, Pena’s best game with the Keys came on June 5, 2013, when he tied a franchise record with five hits against Potomac. He is one of only five players in club history to accomplish that feat.
A 38th round draft pick by the Orioles in 2011, Pena was a first team All-Mountain West Conference selection as a junior and senior. At 5-11, 185 pounds, he was originally selected by the Mets in the 40th round of the 2009 draft after he led Western Nevada Community College to the Junior College World Series. He hit .530 with eight home runs as a senior at Cactus Shadows High School.
Keys Probability: Medium
Born: March 21, 1992 in Garson, Ontario, Canada
College: Central Michigan
Ht: 6-9 Wt: 245 Bats: R Throws: R
How Obtained: 19th round pick by the Orioles in 2013 draft
One of seven Delmarva Shorebirds selected for the South Atlantic League All-Star game, Rheault was one of the club’s top bullpen arms before being called up to Frederick on August 22. In 34 appearances at Low-A, Rheault went 8-4 with a 2.82 ERA. Rheault’s season got off to a tremendous start, as he allowed just four earned runs in his first 24 innings (1.50). After the All-Star break, Rheault recorded a 2.29 ERA in 18 contests before being called up. With the Keys, the Canadian posted a 3.38 ERA in four games, but struggled with command walking five in 5.1 innings.
A 19th round selection out of Central Michigan in 2013, Rheault grew up in Canada, but played his final two years of high school in Michigan where his mom lived. In college, Rheault red-shirted his first season and was hot and cold when he saw the diamond in 2012-13. His first year he walked 8.63 per-nine innings, while the second year he was 1-4 with a 6.07 ERA.
Keys Probability: High
Talk tomorrow everybody! Shake your Keys!
Good Afternoon Keys Fans! Weezy here!
I’m in a glass case of emotion and going through withdrawal already after last night’s The Walking Dead finale. I won’t give any spoilers but know the extended episode was 90 minutes of what we’ve grown to like from Rick and Co. The timing of TWD ending is perfect. Instead of wondering what I’ll be doing on Sunday nights from now on, I know exactly what I’ll be doing. Yes fans,this was the LAST weekend without Keys action until September.
It’ll all start with single game tickets going on sale Friday, April 3. Life will return to Nymeo Field at Harry Grove Stadium Saturday with KeysFest from 11-2 p.m. Single game tickets will be on sale during the event. You can read all about it here. For those of you unable to attend, you don’t need to wait long. To play off the Stark house motto, “Baseball is coming”, and coming soon it is. Opening Day is Thursday, April 9 against the Winston-Salem Dash. Are you ready?
Now onto some Keys’ and O’s news from over the weekend
- Orioles prospect Pat Connaughton said he may not report to the Orioles at all this summer. This comes on the heels of Notre Dame giving Kentucky a near heart attack in the Elite Eight Saturday. The organization understands that Connaughton enjoys basketball and will allow him to pursue the NBA as well as participate in skills combines if he so chooses.
- Tyler Wilson made a terrific final impression on Buck Showalter Saturday. Making his first spring start, the former Key retired 12 of the 13 batters he faced, allowing only a single to Carlos Beltran. After the game, Wilson was optioned to Triple-A Norfolk. Don’t be surprised if Saturday isn’t the last time you see the righty in an Orioles uniform this year. He enters this season as the Orioles no. 8 prospect according to MLB.com.
- Two members of last year’s Keys team were released this weekend by the Orioles. Matt Price and Zane Chavez both received word on Friday. Each spent parts of 2013-14 in Frederick. Good luck to Matt and Zane going forward.
- Orioles outfielder David Lough is opening the season on the DL, easing the roster crunch with spring training winding down. Lough was in a battle with Jimmy Paredes, Jonathan Schoop, Ryan Flaherty and Evereth Cabrera for the final spots on the Opening Day Roster. The injury strengthens Paredes chance of breaking camp in Baltimore. Paredes has had a good camp this year and showed why he belongs with the club on Saturday’s win.
Keys’ fans, I’ll still be around but now over to Geoff for another exciting round of everybody’s favorite office chair game show, Guess…Your….Keys!
Thanks Weezy! Alright folks, we are halfway through the 2015 installment of your favorite Keys parlor game. We’ll wrap up Guess your Keys by Thursday, before the Keys preliminary roster is announced. In the meantime, here are five more names to watch out for this year!
Born: May 31, 1991 in San Pedro de Macoris, Dominican Republic
Ht.: 5-10 Wt.: 159 Bats: R Throws: R
How Obtained: Signed as international free agent on 7/4/09
A well-known threat on the bases, Lorenzo finished third in the South Atlantic League in steals (42) in 2014. That mark represented a career-high for the Dominican and was tops among O’s minor leaguers. He also equaled his personal best for games played (126). Promoted to Frederick on August 29, Lorenzo played only one game before suffering a wrist injury which ended his season.
Signed by the Orioles in 2009 as an international free agent, Lorenzo spent parts of the last three seasons at Low-A Delmarva. In his previous two years with the Shorebirds he finished among the club’s top three in hits and games played, but both seasons he led the team in strikeouts.
Keys Probability: High
Born: April 10, 1990 in Thomonde, Haiti
Ht.: 6-0 Wt.: 200 Bats: R Throws: R
How Obtained: Signed as an international free agent on 6/4/08
Louico comes off his best year of full-season baseball. A pitched who has experienced command woes in the past, the right-hander posted his best walk-per-nine inning ratio since 2011 with the DSL Orioles. Still, free passes have been a problem in Louico’s career, with his career average at five per nine frames.
Signed as an international free agent in 2008, Louico has spent parts of his last two seasons at Low-A Delmarva. Used mostly as a starter from 2010-12, he has started only one game in the last two years.
Born: March 18, 1992 in Winter Haven, Fla.
College: Notre Dame
Ht.: 6-4 Wt.: 215 Bats: R Throws: R
How Obtained: 8th round pick by Orioles in 2013 draft
A midseason South Atlantic League All-Star, Mancini joined Frederick right after the All-Star break, hitting .251 over 69 games. On the year, he finished with 83 RBIs between his two stops, third-best among Orioles farmhands. Following a rough April where he batted only .245, Mancini hit .373 over 30 games in May to go along with 25 RBIs. With the Keys, the first baseman fared best in August, batting .276 with 14 RBIs in 30 games. In his Frederick debut, he tied his career-high with four RBIs.
Ranked the No. 30 prospect in the O’s system according to Baseball America, Mancini was named the Topps/Minor League “Player of the Year” in the New York-Penn League in 2013. With Aberdeen, Mancini set franchise records in batting average (.328) and hits (84).
Selected by Baltimore in the eighth round of the 2013 draft, Mancini led the Big East in hitting (.389) and total bases (138) during his junior year at Notre Dame and finished only three hits shy of .400. Named first team All-Big East, Mancini received conference mention all three years in South Bend.
Keys Probability: High
Born: March 8, 1994 in Miami, Fla.
High School: Gulliver Prep (FL)
Ht.: 5-10 Wt.: 165 Bats: R Throws: R
How Obtained: 3rd round pick by the Orioles in 2012 draft
The No. 21 prospect in the Orioles system according to Baseball America, Marin performed well defensively but was inconsistent at the plate during his first year with the Keys. In the field, the Miami native led all Carolina League shortstops in fielding percentage (.972) and putouts (179). At the plate, Marin hit .242 or worse in four out of five months. He fared best in May, batting .289 over 27 games. Marin was named Carolina League “Player of the Week” for the week of May 26-June 2 after recording seven doubles and pacing all of Advanced-A with 11 RBIs over six games.
After hitting .287 during his professional debut in 2012 with the GCL Orioles, Marin batted .265 over 108 games at Low-A Delmarva in 2013. At the plate he turned things on in the second-half. In his last 51 games he clubbed .275, while he finished second on the club in RBIs (48).
A third round pick by the Orioles out Gulliver Prep in 2012, Marin was committed to the University of Miami but was lured away by a reported $481,100 signing bonus.
Keys Probability: High
Born: Nov. 6, 1988 in Warwick, N.Y.
Ht.: 6-0 Wt.: 200 Bats: L Throws: R
How Obtained: Signed as a non-drafted free agent on 2/28/13
Nathans enjoyed a solid season with the Keys in 2014, hitting .271 over 90 games. Particularly good in the second-half, the former Fairfield product hit .280 over his final 45 games while splitting time between second, leftfield and DH. Batting anywhere from 2-9 in the order, Nathans hit .294 or better over three different months. In May, the 26-year-old batted .321 over 22 games.
Undrafted out of college, Nathans played two seasons of independent baseball before being signed by the Orioles in February 2013. Named the “Rookie of the Year” in the Can-Am League in 2012, Nathans hit .307 with 30 RBIs and 27 runs scored.
A two-sport star (baseball & soccer) at Fairfield, Nathans ranks as the schools all-time leader in hits (263), doubles (61) and triples (10). He played in all 193 games in his career and made 180 consecutive starts.
Keys Probability: Medium
That’s all folks! Talk tomorrow!
Shake your Keys!
Weezy and Geoff
Good Morning Keys Fans! Weezy here!
Like Geoff told you last week, I’m the Community Relations Assistant in my first year here with the Keys. Frederick’s been very kind to me thus far and I’m ready to kick the season. That said, Geoff didn’t let you know anything about me. I’m from Harrisonburg, VA. I’ve been in or around baseball since I was knee high whether it was playing or back of the stadium work in the Valley Baseball League with the Harrisonburg Turks. Its a wonderful league run by some amazing people. When the Keys are off go support your local team. Baseball really is a small world. My first day here meeting everyone, I learned Matt Miller, our Director of Group Sales, went to VBL games back in the day and our Director of Sponsorship and Geoff’s right hand man on the air, Doug Raftery, was an intern for one of the other teams. Seriously, its a small world.
Speaking of local sports teams though, onto some O’s and Keys news:
- After experiencing tendinitis in his elbow last week, the O’s expect catcher Matt Wieters to open the season on the DL. Part of his rehab will be with Double-A Bowie and your very own Frederick Keys.
- With 11 of the 13 position spots on the opening day roster spoken for, Jonathan Schoop finds himself in an interesting battle. Schoop, Jimmy Paredes, Ryan Flaherty, and Everth Cabrera are battling for the starting second baseman job and utility infielder role. Each brings his own advantages. Schoop has incumbency at the position but barely crossed the Mendoza line last season. Flaherty fits more as a bench piece than a starter. As a LHH, he managed a .221/.288/.356 slash line last season in that role. Paredes is a good switch-hitter who can also play the outfield, but can struggle defensively at times. Cabrera was added this offseason in free agency and appears to make the roster in some fashion. The switch hitting veteran brings excellent speed to a team that tends to play station to station. Its important to note that Schoop, Flaherty and Cabrera all have options remaining while Paredes does not.
- Potential rotation members are in a battle as well. With six quality starters for five spots, manager Buck Showalter is open to the possibility of Kevin Gausman opening the season as part of the bullpen and as a spot starter.
- O’s minor league pitcher of the year Tyler Wilson is banging on the gates over on Eutaw Street this spring. Wilson will likely start this season in Norfolk, but with an injury or poor performance could force his way to Baltimore sooner rather than later.
- Top prospect Christian Walker has little left to prove in the minors. His option to AAA Norfolk last week wasn’t a testament of his ability, but about playing time. With Chris Davis and Steve Pearce both able to play first and produce at high levels, the Orioles don’t want to give Walker a reduced role with the parent club. As stated above, the Orioles have a number of contracts coming off the books at the end of 2015. Both Davis and Pearce have expiring contracts which may pave the way for Walker to have a shot at the starting job next year.
- One name Keys’ fans should pay attention to is Jomar Reyes. At only 17 Reyes excelled for the GCL Orioles and will probably start the year in Delmarva. MASN’s Steve Melewski has more here.
I’d like to thank everyone who came out for the national anthem auditions March 12. The turnout was amazing. There were so many talented individuals and groups, but some stuck out more than others. I was incognito for most of the event, enjoying every second I was there. If your name is listed in the results but haven’t gotten a phone call from the Keys’ staff yet, don’t fret! You should be receiving a call soon to set up which game you could perform at.
If yesterday is any indication, Spring has sprung. That means the best season of all is rapidly approaching. If you’ve had enough of this wintry weather and are as ready for baseball as I am, you can get a jump start on the season by attending Keysfest on Saturday, April 4th. There’ll be fun and games for the young and young at heart. Single game tickets go on sale April 3rd so this is a great way to beat the crowd and get your tickets early.
For those of you still in elementary and middle school or with kids in either, our Keys For Reading program is in full swing. I’ve been touring area schools with several of our other staff members and I’ve seen a good deal of enthusiasm in the schools about the program. Students in local counties should have received their bookmark in the last few weeks. Hang onto it! All a student has to do is read three books, record them on the bookmark and bring it to the box office here at Nymeo Field at Harry Grove Stadium on their specified weekend for a free ticket. Simple enough, right? There’s plenty going on both weekends for everyone to be happy.If you need to know more, each school’s reading specialist can answer your questions.
And now for everyone’s favorite office chair game show…..GUESS….YOUR….KEYS!
Born: July 10, 1993 in Tullahoma, Tenn.
College: Tennessee Tech
Ht: 6-2 Wt: 180 Bats: R Throws: R
How Obtained: 5th round pick by the Orioles in the 2014 draft
Hess made a strong impression during his first professional season. Taken in the fifth round of the 2014 draft out of Tennessee Tech, the right-hander posted a 3.24 ERA between Short-Season Aberdeen and Low-A Delmarva, while making 10 appearances (seven starts). Named a New York-Penn League All-Star, Hess did not allow any runs over 6.1 innings of relief with the IronBirds, while he gave up one or no runs in seven of his eight games.
Entering 2015, Hess is ranked the No. 20 prospect in the Orioles system according to Baseball America. One executive told the publication that Hess posses some similarities to O’s starter Bud Norris.
The third player selected by the Orioles in 2014, Hess was primarily a relief pitcher in college. As a junior, he started 16 games going 9-3 with a 3.24 ERA and tallying 104 strikeouts in 97.1 innings.
Keys Probability: High
Born: Aug. 3, 1990 in Glendale, Ariz.
High School: Norco (CA) High School
Ht.: 6-4 Wt.: 265 Bats: R Throws: R
How Obtained: 1st round pick by the Orioles in the 2009 draft
It was a tale of two halves for Hobgood in 2014. After pitching to a 3.18 ERA during his first 14 games of the season, the Californian struggled during his last 15 outings, posting a 5.50 ERA. During that second-half, opponents hit .274 against him, while he walked 20 and threw 10 wild pitches in 36 innings. Hobgood’s best month came in April, when he posted a 1.98 ERA over six contests. In May he missed 11 days due to right shoulder inflammation.
The Orioles fifth overall selection as the National Gatorade Player of the Year in 2009, Hobgood registered a 4.32 ERA between Delmarva and Frederick. He missed the entire 2012 season on account of rotator cuff surgery.
Keys Probability: Low
Born: Dec. 3, 1991 in Littleton, Colo.
Ht.: 6-5 Wt.: 185 Bats: L Throws: L
How Obtained: 9th round pick by the Orioles in the 2013 draft
One of the South Atlantic League’s top arms in 2014, Horacek was also among the top pitchers in the Orioles farm system last year. Averaging 9.9 strikeouts per nine innings, the lefty led the SAL in that category as well as total strikeouts (151). He also finished second among O’s farmhands in strikeouts and ninth in ERA (3.96).
Horacek was promoted to Frederick on August 30 for his final start of the year. Selected by the Orioles in the ninth round of the 2013 draft out of Dartmouth, the Big Green product enjoyed a fine debut season at Short-Season Aberdeen. Making 12 starts, Horacek led the league in WHIP (0.94) and finished 10th in ERA (2.78).
In his career at Dartmouth, Horacek went 13-7 with a 4.82 ERA over 27 games (25 starts). In his final college season he went 6-2 with a 2.20 ERA and had the second-best strikeout-to-walk ratio (4.2) in the Ivy League. Horacek was also drafted by Colorado in the 46th round of the 2010 draft but did not sign.
Keys Probability: High
Born: Feb. 28, 1990 in Davenport, Iowa
College: Dallas Baptist University
Ht.: 6-2 Wt.: 205 Bats: R Throws: R
How Obtained: 10th round pick by the Orioles in the 2012 draft
Hutter served in a utility role during his first year with the Keys in 2014. Playing all four infield positions, Hutter hit .226 over 61 games. His best month of the season came in June, when he batted .313 over 10 contests. In 2013, Hutter played for Low-A Delmarva, where he tied for the team lead in walks (53) and finished second on the club in doubles (22).
Drafted out of Dallas Baptist University in 2012, the 24-year-old spent his entire first year at Short-Season Aberdeen. Named the Ironbirds Most Valuable Player, he led the team in hits (63), RBIs (30) and doubles (16)
As a college player, Hutter began his career at Des Moines Area Community College before transferring to Dallas Baptist for his junior and senior seasons. In his final year with the Patriots, he hit .338 with a team-best 72 RBIs, and helped his club advance to the NCAA Super Regionals. For his efforts, Hutter was named a second-team All-American.
Keys Probability: High
Born: Aug. 8, 1992 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa
College: University of Tampa
Ht.: 6-5 Wt.: 206 Bats: R Throws: R
How Obtained: 22nd round pick by the Orioles in the 2013 draft
One of the Orioles top pitching prospects, Keller comes off a strong 2014. Promoted to Frederick on July 18, the hard-throwing righty was dominant at Low-A Delmarva. In 24 games (all in relief) Keller went 3-0 with a 1.59 ERA, while he was virtually unhittable in May and June. Pitching to a 0.47 ERA during the season’s second month, the Iowa native allowed just one run on seven hits in 19 innings. Just as good in June, Keller posted a 1.13 ERA and was named the organization’s “Pitcher of the Month.” With the Keys, he appeared in only two games before suffering a left intercostal strain which ended his season on July 31.
Originally an 11th round pick by the Mariners in 2010, Keller elected to attend college at Nebraska. After two seasons he transferred to the University of Tampa and led his team to the Division II College World Series, where he started and won the National Championship game. He enters 2015 rated as the No. 13 prospect in the Orioles system according to Baseball America.
Keys Probability: High
Born: March 23, 1990 in Bowie, Md.
Ht.: 6-1 Wt.: 200 Bats: R Throws: R
How Obtained: 33rd round pick by the Orioles in the 2013 draft
Kemp comes off his first full pro season at Low-A Delmarva. The Shorebirds leader in doubles (28) he also finished fourth on the club in hits (111), but was third in strikeouts (98). A player who was considerably better at home, Kemp hit .300 over 57 games at the friendly confines (compared to batting .205 in 51 road tilts). His best home game came on June 24, when he posted a season-high five hits against West Virginia (the most by a Shorebirds player in 2014).
With Delmarva, Kemp served in a utility role, playing a majority of the first-half at shortstop, while also seeing time at first, second and third after the All-Star break. In his first season with Aberdeen, Kemp played shortstop, second base and DH, hitting .240 in 48 games.
A two-time All-Big South selection at Radford, Kemp was named the Co-Big South “Preseason Player of the Year” as a redshirt senior. He led the league in home runs (10) and slugging percentage (.588) despite missing 12 games due to a rib injury.
Keys Probability: Medium/High
Born: Sept. 8, 1990 in Antilla, Cuba
Ht.: 6-2 Wt.: 210 Bats: R Throws: R
How Obtained: Signed as international free agent on 12/19/14
Leyva begins his professional career with the Orioles after being signed as an international free agent in December. He reportedly received a bonus of $180,000.
Scouted by Baltimore in the Dominican Republic, Leyva defected from Cuba in 2013 after playing for the Provincial of Holguin in the Cuban National Series. The outfielder joins a recent list of Cuban signees by the Orioles including Henry Urrutia and former Key Dariel Alvarez. Some scouts have drawn comparisons to Leyva and Alvarez.
Listed at 6-2, Leyva is viewed as having plus-power and is seen as a plus-fielder with average arm strength according to scouting reports.
Keys Probability: High
That’s all I have for you for now Keys’ fans. Enjoy your weekend and don’t forget to stay classy.
Shake your Keys,
Good Evening Keys Fans!
Hope your brackets are holding up alright and that you’re excited for an exhilarating weekend of hoops. My chances at bracket immortality died quicker than a Thanksgiving turkey. A shocking lost by Iowa State knocked out one of my Final Four teams. Baylor’s ouster only served to make things worse (though the sight of Georgia State’s head coach celebrating is one of the reason’s the tourney is so great). Throw in an overzealous Eastern Washington selection and two incorrect 8-9 picks and you’ve got a recipe for:
BRACKET ANNIHILATION. I could give my first day score, but my ego has taken enough of a beating. Suffice it to say, experts don’t matter. Tournament selection shows are nothing but talking heads in overpriced suits. Always go with your gut and hope the basketball gods are having a good day when you make your choices. Maybe next year they’ll be in a better mood.
One of the few selections I did get right (though it wasn’t a piece of cake) was Notre Dame over Northeastern. Orioles prospect, Pat Connaughton, finished the game with nine points. He is expected to rejoin the O’s after the NCAA tournament.
Moving from hoops back to baseball, I’d like to announce a new member of the “Unlocking the Keys” blog crew. Matt Wease is in his first year with the club and serves as the team’s Community Relations Assistant. “Weezy” as he has become known in the office, will add his two cents on Orioles and Keys news from time-to-time. So give him a nice welcome!
Today, he has a rundown of the latest baseball news:
- As for trade rumors, Mets Josh Eglin’s injury leaves their bullpen quite right handed heavy. The Mets, as well as several other unnamed teams, have checked in with Orioles GM Dan Duquette as to Matusz’s availability. A trade before the end of Spring Training seems doubtful as teams make cuts, but the possibility for in season remains there depending on how the O’s perform in the first few months of the season. Today, Matusz tossed four scoreless innings against the Red Sox.
- After his first game behind the plate without restrictions, Orioles catcher and former Key Matt Weiters experienced some tenderness in his right elbow and will be shut down for roughly a week. An X-ray came back negative, which is positive news for the club as it eases him back to game action following his Tommy John surgery last season.
- While Manny Machado has already shown to be a wizard with the glove but he is looking to get his running game off the ground. It is worth nothing that Machado has had a pair of season ending knee surgeries so the Orioles want him to proceed with caution. Machado is hitting .233/.258/.267 in 30 at bats in his first taste of action since injuring his knee on August 11.
Stay tuned for more from Matt in the coming weeks. On the Keys front, the result from the National Anthem auditions are in! If your name is listed, then a Keys representative will contact you about a date to sing. Thanks to everyone who participated. It was a fantastic turnout!
Also, KeysFest is right around the corner! Take a look at what the Keys have in store for the season and be the first to try out some fun new hot dog toppings coming to the Grove!
And now, it’s time for round three of “Guess your Keys” ! Here are four more names you might hear from in 2015:
Born: Sept. 6, 1990 in Fulsher, Texas
College: Texas State University
Ht.: 5-11 Wt.: 180 Bats: L Throws: L
How Obtained: 27th round pick by the Orioles in the 2013 draft
Hart made the jump to Low-A ball in 2014 and after a rocky start, proved capable in relief. Over his first five games, the Texan registered a 6.00 ERA before limiting opponents to just two runs and five hits in 11.1 innings in July (1.59). Ending the year with a 3.68 ERA, Hart held opponents to a .227 average and was particularly tough against lefties, who batted at a paltry .200 clip.
A 30th round pick by the Orioles in 2013, Hart’s professional career got off to a strong start at Short-Season Aberdeen. Dominant before the All-Star break, the lefty surrendered only one run in his first 14.2 innings (0.61) and did not allow any markers over his first five contests (8.1 innings). Hart led the IronBirds in saves (five) and appearances (19).
After pitching only 11.1 innings in his first two seasons at Texas State, Hart pitched in 41 games during his junior year, registering a 2.13 ERA over 42.1 stanzas. Over his last 18 appearances, he surrendered only four hits.
Keys Probability: High
Born: Oct. 2, 1994 in Lilburn, Ga.
High School: Parkview (GA) High School
Ht.: 6-2 Wt.: 180 Bats: L Throws: L
How Obtained: 1st round pick by the Orioles in 2013 draft
Hart showed promise during his first full professional season, despite several stints on the disabled list. He missed a little less than a week in April due to a sprained ankle, while he was out from May 28-July 5 after having arthroscopic surgery to repair a torn meniscus.
Hitting .255, the Georgian finished third on the team with 11 stolen bases. His best month came in May, when he batted .273 over 21 games and drove in 10. That included a 13-game hitting streak from April 29-May 16.
The No. 25 prospect in the Orioles system according to Baseball America, Hart was selected by the Orioles in the competitive balance round of the 2013 draft (37th overall). He received a reported $1.45 million signing bonus. In his first professional season, Hart hit a combined .218 between the GCL Orioles and Short-Season Aberdeen.
Keys Probability: High
Born: Dec. 9, 1994 in Catawba, N.C.
High School: Bandys (NC) High School
Ht.: 6-4 Wt.: 178 Bats: R Throws: R
How Obtained: 1st round pick by the Orioles in the 2013 draft
Rated as the No. 2 prospect in the Orioles system according to Baseball America, Harvey pitched well during his first full professional season. Logging 87.2 innings, Harvey was named a midseason SAL All-Star and finished the season 7-5 with a 3.18 ERA. He also pitched in the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game. Dominant in May, Harvey registered a 1.30 ERA over five starts and was named the organization’s “Pitcher of the Month.” He was shutdown in July after suffering a flexor mass strain.
In his first pro season, Harvey went 0-1 with a 1.78 ERA between the GCL Orioles and the Short-Season Aberdeen Ironbirds. He struck out 33 in his first 25.1 innings, while walking only six. Harvey was especially good on September 7, when he threw five no-hit innings in a playoff game at Tri-City.
Selected with the 22nd overall pick in the 2013 draft, Harvey went 8-0 with a 0.38 ERA during his senior year at Bandys High School in Catawba, N.C. He struck out 116 in 54.2 innings.
Born: July 28, 1991 in Tacarigua, Venezuela
Ht.: 6-2 Wt.: 234 Bats: R Throws: R
How Obtained: Signed as a non-drafted free agent on 7/28/91
Hernandez made his first stop in Frederick in 2014, surrendering three earned runs over five innings during a late-season call-up. Prior to his promotion in late-August, Hernandez threw well in relief for Short-Season Aberdeen.
The hard-throwing righty made a strong case for a promotion after tallying a 1.69 ERA in his final five games with the IronBirds. He limited right-handed hitters to a .218 average.
Signed as an international free agent by the Orioles in 2009, Hernandez pitched exclusively out of the bullpen last season after working as both a starter and reliever during his first four seasons. His first year stateside came in 2011 with the GCL Orioles, before he missed the entire 2012 season due to injury. Hernandez returned in late-June 2013, pitching nine games for the GCL O’s.
Keys Probability: Medium/High
Enjoy the weekend everybody! And remember baseball is just 20 days away!
Shake your Keys,
Happy St. Patrick’s Day Keys Fans!
I hope you are all enjoying some fun times, green clothes and good beer (please drink your Guinness responsibly if you’re of age).
I forgot my green (had a 5:45 a.m. wake up call to give a rotary talk, so that’s my excuse) but at least some Orioles players remembered:
Orioles came up a run short again the Twins, falling 10-9 in Sarasota earlier today. Give the club some credit though, battling back from a 10-3 hole. Steve Clevenger led the way with three RBIs, including a two-run double in the eighth which brought the Orioles within a run.
On a positive note, former Key Matt Wieters caught six innings today and was able to throw to any base without any restrictions. It was the first time he’d been been at full speed in a game in nine months. The Twins did not test him out on the basepaths.
Although getting back behind the plate is very encouraging, his slump at the plate is a bit disconcerting. After going 0-for-3 today, he is now 0-for-23 on the spring. Hopefully he’ll get something to start falling soon. Dariel Alvarez finished today with an RBI.
A few quick Keys notes before we get to round 2 of Guess your Keys!
-Former Keys pitcher Dylan Bundy and first baseman Christian Walker were optioned to minor league camp yesterday. Additionally Hunter Harvey, considered a strong candidate to start with the Keys, was also reassigned to the minors. Only 20 years old, Harvey made a very strong impression on Buck Showalter writes CSN Washington’s Rich Dubroff. If he is indeed assigned to Frederick, get your tickets fast.
-Minor league spring training games start tomorrow! MASN’s Steve Melewski reports that David Hess will get the start for the Keys team (stay tuned for more about Hess in a later edition of Guess your Keys).
-Keys Fest is scheduled for April 4 from 11-2 p.m. at Nymeo Field. The event is free of charge and will be a ton of fun for the whole family. Read more about what you can expect to see here.
-Think your basketball knowledge is better than Keys GM Dave Ziedelis? (gotta warn you, he knows his stuff). Regardless, sign up for the club’s sixth annual NCAA Bracket Challenge! Entry information can be found by visiting frederickkeys.com.
And after a slight delay, it’s time for round 2 of Guess…Your…Keys! The parlor game where we evaluate potential Keys players in 2015. As a reminder, probability listings are based on evaluations by the Unlocking the Keys blog crew, and are not based on inside information. Here are five more individuals who may be sporting a Frederick uniform at some point this year:
Born: May 22, 1991 in Orlando, Fla.
College: UCF/University of Tampa
Ht.: 6-1 Wt: 170 Bats: L Throws: R
How Obtained: 27th round pick by Orioles in the 2012 draft
Caronia comes off the best season of his professional career, one where he hit .364 at Low-A Delmarva. Limited to 53 games, the Floridian missed nearly two months after being struck in the face with a pitch on April 12.
A member of the Keys for part of the 2013 season, Caronia struggled in 13 games, batting .179 (5-for-28) and striking out nine times. He fared considerably better at Delmarva, hitting .289 over 45 contests. Caronia finished 2013 with a combined .271 average.
Active in the community, Caronia received the Elrod Hendricks Award in 2013, an organization-wide honor which recognizes excellence in community service. Selected by the Orioles in the 27th round of the 2012 draft, the infielder played his college baseball at the University of Tampa and the State College of Florida.
Keys Probability: Medium
Born: Jan. 6, 1993 in Arlington, Mass.
College: Notre Dame
Ht.: 6-5 Wt.: 215 Bats: R Throws: R
How Obtained: 4th round pick by the Orioles in the 2014 Draft
Best-known for his basketball exploits at Notre Dame, Connaughton was selected by the Orioles in the fourth round of the 2014 draft and received a reported $428,100 signing bonus. After spending two weeks in Florida working on his pitching mechanics, Connaughton reported to Short-Season Aberdeen. In six games (four starts) with the Ironbirds, the right-hander went 0-1 with a 2.51 ERA. He struck out 10 and walked only three in 14.1 frames. His time with the IronBirds was cut short so he could participate in a foreign tour of Italy with the Irish basketball team.
Rated the No. 11 prospect in the Orioles system by Baseball America entering the 2015 season, Connaughton was originally drafted by the Padres in the 38th round of the 2011 draft out of St. John’s Prep (MA) but did not sign. Choosing to attend Notre Dame, Connaughton was dominant over three seasons . In 32 games (30 starts) he went 11-11 with a 3.03 ERA over 154.2 innings.
Connaughton became the 56th player in Irish basketball history to reach 1,000 points. He was an All-ACC Honorable Mention 2013-14.
Keys Probability: Medium
Check out this article on Connaughton who might be thinking about more than just baseball at the moment.
Born: Oct. 2, 1991 in Hamburg, N.Y.
College: Canisius College
Ht.: 6-5 Wt.: 208 Bats: R Throws: R
How Obtained: 40th round pick by Orioles in the 2013 draft
Cortright enters his third season with the Orioles after splitting 2014 between Short-Season Aberdeen and Low-A Delmarva. Working exclusively out of the bullpen, Cortright went a combined 1-4 with a 3.27 ERA over 23 games. Making his Low-A debut in July, the righty kept South Atlantic League hitters off-balance in his first month (2.45 ERA) before enduring some struggles in August (5.19 ERA).
One of the GCL Orioles top arms in 2013, Cortright tied for fourth in the league in wins (five) while leading his club in victories, innings pitched (40.2) and strikeouts (29). He won four consecutive starts from July 15-August 2.
A 40th round selection by the Orioles in the 2013 draft, Cortright set a MAAC conference record for innings pitched at Canisius when he logged 115.2 innings during his junior year (that included five complete games). A first team all-conference selection, the highlight of Cortright’s season came during the first round of the MAAC Championship, when he tossed a nine-inning one-hitter.
Keys Probability: High
Born: June 24, 1992 in Canal Winchester, Ohio
College: Youngstown State University
Ht.: 6-2 Wt.: 200 Bats: L Throws: R
How Obtained: 7th round pick by the Orioles in the 2013 Draft
Dosch comes off a strong professional debut at Low-A Delmarva. The Ohio native tied for third in the South Atlantic League in hits (157) and finished seventh in the league in hitting (.340). Only teammate and league batting champion, Chance Sisco, fared better at the plate. Named a midseason All-Star, Dosch torched SAL pitching in July, hitting .364 with 15 RBIs in 27 games. For his efforts, Dosch was named the organization’s “Player of the Month.”
Entering 2015, the infielder ranks No. 15 on Baseball America’s list of top 30 Orioles prospects. He is also regarded as having the best “strike zone discipline” in the organization according to the publication’s “best tools” survey.
Selected by the Orioles in the seventh round of the 2013 draft, Dosch did not play his first year after having surgery to repair a torn ACL. A first team All-Horizon League selection and a second team Academic All-American as a junior, Dosch led the league with a .434 on-base percentage and finished in the top five in batting average (.338), runs (40), hits (68), slugging percentage (.488) and doubles (15).
Keys Probability: High
Born: Jan. 17, 1992 in Mao, Dominican Republic
Ht.: 6-2 Wt.: 170 Bats: L Throws: L
How Obtained: Signed as a minor league free agent on 7/18/13
Signed by the Orioles as a free agent in July 2013, Gonzalez logged a career-high 76 innings at Low-A Delmarva. Outstanding in the month of July, the southpaw was the organization’s “Pitcher of the Month” after going 4-0 with a 1.65 ERA (27.1 IP/5ER) over five starts. That included victories in three straight outings from July 3-17 and a 20.1 inning scoreless streak. Joining the Shorebirds during the second month of the season, Gonzalez pitched to a 2.30 ERA in May, a 2.95 ERA in June and a 1.65 ERA in July before struggling mightily in August. In his last four games (all loses) the Dominican surrendered 26 runs in 15 innings (15.60 ERA) and never got past the fifth inning in any start.
Originally property of the Phillies, Gonzalez advanced as high as Short-Season Williamsport in 2012, going 0-3 with a 4.62 ERA over 16 games.
Keys Probability: High
Stay tuned for more of Guess your Keys soon! Happy St. Patty’s Day!
Happy Friday Keys Fans!
Well after a snow-filled Thursday, it’s time conclude Friday with Frederick’s favorite parlor game….Guess….Your….Keys! Sadly, Johnny Gilbert from Jeopardy was not available for the dramatic introductory voiceover. Nonetheless, as your host, I can tell you it’s great to be back for another year.
For those of you new to this game, don’t fret, it’s rather simple. Over the next four weeks, we will be guessing who will be on this year’s Keys roster. In total, we will be throwing out 40 names. Some may begin their seasons at the Grove, while others may be wearing Keys gear come June, July or August. That’s the reason we throw 40 names on our list. Minor league rosters are very fluid, with injuries, promotions, demotions and releases the norm. A large list will allow everyone to see the big picture.
Now, a little horn-tooting if you will allow (if not just scroll down). Some of you may be wondering, how accurate was the 2014 version of Guess Your Keys? After some quick tabulations, we are proud to report that 75% of the players who made our list ultimately played in Frederick. Not too bad, but not showing off either. We were in the “meaty part of the curve” as George Costanza might say.
Had Hunter Harvey not suffered a flexor mass strain, that percentage may have been slightly higher (some predicted he would have played in Frederick by year’s end if not for the injury). As for the others, most were released in spring training. This year, we’re hoping to break the 80% barrier.
Guessing rosters is a rather inexact science, and for those wondering, no, we have not bugged the offices of Dan Duquette, Brian Graham, Kent Qualls or any other members of the Orioles player development staff. Instead, it’s the Keys media braintrust which makes the close calls.
So, without further ado, I give you players 1-4 on our list. As one final disclaimer, players contained are not in any way ranked from “most likely to least likely” to play for the Keys or vice versa. We will however identify each individual’s chances of playing in Frederick as high, medium or low at the end of each bio. For organizational purposes, players are listed alphabetically.
Born: June 18, 1992 in Sorrento, Fla.
College: Ole Miss
Ht.: 5-11 Wt.: 190 Bats: L Throws: R
How Obtained: 9th round pick by the Orioles in the 2014 draft
In his first professional season, Anderson hit .307 over 49 games at Short-Season Aberdeen. The IronBirds leading hitter, the 22-year-old would have finished fourth in the New York-Penn League in batting average, but did not have enough plate appearances to qualify. He also led the team in on-base percentage (.354) and OPS (.758) and finished tied for the club lead in doubles (12).
A First Team All-SEC selection and Third Team All-American, Anderson was drafted by the Orioles in the ninth round of the 2014 draft out of Ole Miss. As a senior, he hit .323 with five home runs and 41 RBIs in 69 games.
Originally from Sorrento, FL, Anderson was suspended for 50 games in January after testing positive for an amphetamine, in violation of the Minor League drug program.
Keys probability: low
Born: July 12, 1990 in Washington, D.C.
High School: South County Secondary School (VA)
Ht.: 6-7 Wt.: 217 Bats: B Throws: R
How Obtained: 14th round pick by the Orioles in the 2008 draft
Beal split the season between the Keys starting rotation and the bullpen, posting the lowest ERA of his career. His starting and relief splits were fairly similar, with the righty posting a 3.60 ERA over five starts and a 3.42 ERA in 18 relief outings. It was the first time he had been used as a starter since the 2010 season.
Despite a solid season, Beal’s innings load was somewhat limited to two stints on the disabled list. Out from May 29-June 26 due to a shoulder injury, the 24-year-old saw his season come to a close on August 18 due to a right elbow sprain.
A labrum injury caused Beal to miss the entire 2011 campaign, while it ended his 2010 season. In 2008, Beal was drafted by the Orioles in the 14th round out of South County Secondary School in Virginia. As a junior, he went 8-4 with a 3.07 ERA and in one of his final high school games, he struck out 12 batters. Committed to pitch at the University of Maryland, Beal chose to sign with the Orioles, receiving a $275,000 signing bonus. His brother, Evan, currently pitches for the Royals organization.
Keys probability: low
Born: April 2, 1991 in Brookfield, Conn.
College: Western Connecticut State University
Ht.: 6-2 Wt.: 220 Bats: R Throws: R
How Obtained: 29th round pick by the Orioles in the 2013 draft
One of Delmarva’s leaders in games played, Bierfeldt struggled during his first stint at Low-A. Finishing with a .196 average, Left-handed pitching proved especially problematic for the Nutmeg State native. Hitting .096 against southpaws, Bierfeldt went just 10-for-108 with 32 strikeouts. In total, Bierfeldt struck out 107 times in 397 at-bats, second-most on the Shorebirds.
Originally selected by the Orioles in the 29th round of the 2013 draft, Bierfeldt enjoyed a terrific 2013 season. One of the New York-Penn League’s top power threats, the outfielder led the circuit in slugging percentage (.511) and finished second in home runs (12), total bases (118) and extra-base hits (30). The 12 home runs tied an IronBirds franchise record, while he was named the “Topps New-York Penn League Player of the Month” for August.
At Western Connecticut, Bierfeldt became the first player in school history to be named an All-American twice, while he was the first player in Little East Conference History to be named “Player of the Year” in back-to-back seasons (2012-13).
Keys probability: medium
Born: March 11, 1991 in Firestone, Colo.
Ht.: 6-5 Wt.: 220 Bats: R Throws: R
How Obtained: 37th round pick by the Orioles in the 2012 draft
Bleeker split time between Short-Season Aberdeen going a combined 1-2 with a 2.78 ERA over 19 games. His strikeout-to-walk ratio was better than 9:1, as he registered 37 strikeouts and walked only four. At Delmarva, Bleeker did not issue a free pass in 12.1 innings.
A two-way player at Arkansas, Bleeker began his professional career in the outfield. In 14 games for the GCL O’s in 2012, he hit .238 with two RBIs while playing RF, CF and DH. The following season he moved to the mound full-time.
As a member of the Razorbacks, Bleeker did not pitch and got only 15 at-bats as a freshman in 2010. He transferred to Howard College in the fall and hit 97 mph during fall practice. A two-way player at Howard, Bleeker posted a 2.84 ERA on the mound and hit .318 in 31 games. Drafted by the Nationals in the 37th round, he did not sign, returning to Arkansas. Drafted in the same round the following year by the O’s, Bleeker pitched only two games with the Hogs. Playing mostly outfield, he hit .250 with six homers and 23 RBIs as he helped his team reach the College World Series.
Keys probability: high
Stay tuned next week when Edition 2 of Guess Your Keys comes out!
In other news, the Keys “Wear it and Win” promotion is back for year two. Here’s how it works: any staff member who spots a fan wearing club apparel will receive a ticket voucher for a Sunday-Thursday game in 2015. So break out your vintage Keys gear!
Among the items I would like to see:
So show us what you’ve got Keys nation!
Talk next week and shake your keys!
Good Evening Keys Fans!
Well all the waiting is over, the Keys 2015 promotional schedule is finally out!
More than 20 fireworks nights, three bobbleheads, Pat Sajak, the Cowboy Monkey Rodeo and the Soup Nazi are just a couple of highlights in what should be a fun-filled season. A complete write-up of the schedule can be found here while a video highlighting the top 10 promotions can be found here:
Anybody have any favorites? Personally, I’m pumped for Pat Sajak and Seinfeld Night. If he’s available, I’d love to have Sajak in the booth to call a half-inning of play-by-play on the radio. He’s pretty good at calling letters every night, but how does he do on balls and strikes? As a Seinfeld fanatic, I also can’t wait to ask the Soup Nazi a million questions about Schmoopie, Elaine and Newman’s obsession with JAM-BA-LAY-AAA soup. Maybe the soup master will even whip up some mulligatawny! (alright maybe I’m pushing it)
In other Keys promotional news, May 27 we’ll be celebrating “It’s ‘Snow Problem’ Night.”
With all the snow storms that have ravaged New England, the Keys wanted to create a one-night oasis for our pals up north in Red Sox nation. Fans that cross below the Mason-Dixon line are PROMISED a snow-free evening, a fun giveaway, and a chance to see some talent that might be up at Fenway in a few years. Here is a little bit more information about the night.
We’ll keep you updated as we get closer to each theme day/giveaway so stay tuned to the blog as well as the Keys website and social media for more details!
A few other reminders:
-National Anthem auditions are on March 12 at the FSK Mall-Center Court from 5-8 p.m. All singers MUST pre-register by March 10. Celebrity judges from Key103 and 106.9 The Eagle will be on hand. More information about the night as well as registration forms can be found here.
And for those that might be a tad bashful? Remember if this guy can sing the anthem, ANYBODY can:
-The Keys are looking for families to house Keys players. Those who are interested can fill out a housing questionnaire here.
On the baseball front, it may be old news, but the Keys coaching staff has been announced. Orlando Gomez, the Keys all-time winningest manager returns and will be joined by pitching coach Kennie Steenstra and hitting coach Paco Figueroa.
As many of you heard last week, former Keys southpaw Steven Brault was sent to the Pirates as the player to be named later in the Travis Snider deal. Although he pitched only three games for the Keys last year, Brault made a tremendous first impression, pitching to 0.55 ERA.
Best of luck to Steven with the Pirates. Not only was he a talented pitcher but a terrific guy. I had a chance to talk with him after his impressive debut against Carolina (W, 6IP, 1H, 0R) where we discussed throwing the sinker, his love of music and his two biggest fans:
Orioles minor league camp is right around the corner, but 38 players have have already gotten a head-start. These players will participate in workouts and will be available to help the Orioles in some major league exhibitions. You’ll probably recognize a few of the names.
That’s all for now. Stay tuned for more promotional news and the first edition of “Guess your Keys” in the next few days.
Good Morning Keys Fans!
The Orioles are NINE days away from pitchers and catchers reporting to Spring Training, and yesterday the club announced its list of spring training invites. Among the former Keys on the list are:
Tim Berry (40 man)
Zach Britton (40 man)
Dylan Bundy (40 man)
Oliver Drake (40-man)
Eddie Gamboa (40 man)
Kevin Gausman (40 man)
Brian Matusz (40 man)
Tyler Wilson (40 man)
Mike Wright (40 man)
Caleb Joseph (40 man)
Matt Wieters (40 man)
Manny Machado (40 man)
Jonathan Schoop (40 man)
Christian Walker (40 man)
Brian Ward (non-roster invitee)
Dariel Alvarez (non-roster invitee)
Nolan Reimold (non-roster invitee)
Perhaps one surprise player who did not receive an invite was Mike Yastrzemski. Even though he is not on the 40-man roster, the 24-year-old outfielder is coming off a strong 2014 where he hit .288 between three different levels. With the Keys, Yastrzemski batted .312 over 23 games. Without question, the highlight of that time came on July 5 at Lynchburg:
It was the first cycle by a Keys player since Jeff Fiorentino on May 2, 2005 at Winston-Salem, while his five hits tied a Frederick single-game record.
Despite not receiving an official invitation, I’d expect Yaz to still play in some MLB spring games. Especially when the O’s are traveling and need some bodies late in games (remember there are days when lots of the big name guys don’t travel).
One name to pay attention to who received a first-time invitation: Hunter Harvey. Viewed as frontline starter of future, Harvey is expected to headline the Keys starting rotation in 2015.
The entire Orioles Spring Training roster can be found here.
Elsewhere, MASN’s Steve Melewski had a good piece this morning about four homegrown arms on the club’s 40-man roster. All will be looking to prove themselves in spring training and ALL have former Keys ties. Melewski also profiled former Keys outfielder Glynn Davis and how he elevated his game in 2014. Davis ought to begin this year at Double-A Bowie.
I know I’ve said it in several posts already, but the O’s minor league coaching staff should be announced shortly. Here is a little more information about some new hires/promotions from MASN’s Roch Kubatko. As was mentioned here earlier, Luis Pujols will manage Aberdeen this year, an announcement which came from Dan Duquette at the Ironbirds Hot Stove Event:
Although many of you heard last week, it’s worth repeating since it’s the biggest news of the offseason. Last Thursday, the Keys entered into a naming rights partnership with Nymeo Federal Credit Union. Starting with this season, the ballpark will be known as “Nymeo Field at Harry Grove Stadium.” This is VERY exciting and will allow for the club to continue to invest in stadium improvements and the fan experience.
Two additional items:
Ever wanted to work for the Keys on gamedays? Well if you stop by the Stadium from 6-8 p.m. on February 24-25 you might get your chance! On those days, the Keys will be holding their annual job fair. A list of available positions can be found here.
The team is also looking for folks who might want to be host families for players. If you are interested, fill out the attached questionnaire here.
We’ll have much more news once spring training gets underway!
Shake your Keys!
Good Evening Keys Fans!
Orioles FanFest is less than 24 hours away and the anticipation is PALPABLE in the Keys Front Office. From 11 a.m.-6 p.m. staff will be on hand to answer all your questions about the upcoming season. There will be a prize wheel, youngsters can submit drawings for Keyote’s birthday invitation (we’ll supply the paper and crayons) while members from our group sales staff will be on hand to answer questions about tickets and flex packs. Fans will also be able to purchase plans. And you know what you get with your ticket plan?
BOBBLEHEADS!!! That’s right folks, this year’s two bobbles have arrived and we will be bringing some to O’s Fest! So buy a plan and get a bobblehead. It’s really that simple. The 2015 bobbleheads of choice are Kevin Gausman and Zach Britton (if the picture wasn’t a total giveaway). And if you’re wondering, both players are scheduled to appear at O’s Fest and will be participating in autograph sessions (ticket required) so not only can you GET a bobblehead, but you could even get it SIGNED (if you have purchased a ticket to the autograph session). As the late Stuart Scott might say, “Booyah!!”
Additionally, we’ll be shooting videos throughout the day which will run during Keys games throughout the season, as well as some interviews. Stay tuned in the coming weeks!
Although I haven’t done any office polls, my guess is that nobody is more excited about O’s Fest than yours truly. One of my favorite winter memories as a child was going to Phillies FanFest (our family lives just outside of Philadelphia). You’d walk in and players and coaches would greet you with high-fives. You could take a tour around Veterans Stadium and absorb all the sights and smells (there were plenty of these), visit the batting cage, but the best part was the Q/A that took place in the Phillies clubhouse. Around 200 people would gather around a makeshift stage in front of the manager’s office, while the manager, general manager and several players talked and answered questions.
At one of these events I got to meet then-GM Ed Wade, who was nice enough to come out and talk to me one-on-one after I wasn’t called on during a Q/A (height might have been a factor I was probably 7 or 8). I’m sure memories of those good times will be coming back tomorrow.
In other news from this week:
-The Aberdeen IronBirds had their hot stove banquet last night. Former Key Caleb Joseph was one of the featured guests, as was Orioles GM Dan Duquette, and…..former Keys Manager Luis Pujols. Coaching staffs have not been announced yet, but Duquette did say that last year’s Keys manager will skipper the IronBirds in 2015. MASN’s Steve Melewski reported in December that the Keys all-time winningest manager Orlando Gomez will be returning in 2015 though nothing official has been announced.
-Orioles first baseman/outfielder Steve Pearce avoided arbitration with the Orioles by agreeing to a one-year, $3.7 million contract earlier. It’s quite a nice payday considering Pearce was making $540,000 last year.
-O’s minor league third baseman Austin Anderson has been suspended 50 games for use of amphetamines. It doesn’t seem likely Anderson will be a Key this year, but it’s still a tough blow considering he hit .307 at Aberdeen last year, his first professional season.
-Travis Snider has joined the Orioles after a trade between Baltimore and Pittsburgh that sent Stephen Tarpley and a player-to-be-named later to the Pirates. To make room on the 40-man roster, former Key (and 2013 Carolina League batting champion) Michael Ohlman was designated for assignment. What this means, is that Ohlman is temporarily “in limbo.” He’s not on any roster at this point, and must pass through waivers (meaning another team could claim him). If he gets through, then he could potentially rejoin an Orioles minor league team. It’s a complicated process and a period of uncertainty for any player who goes through it. Here is a little more information about how the process works.
That’s all folks! I look forward to seeing some of you at FanFest tomorrow!
Shake your Keys!
Good Evening Keys Fans!
And a happy Friday to everyone. It’s been a busy week in both Orioles and Keys land. At Camden Yards, Orioles executives are working on deals with arbitration-eligible players, while manager Buck Showalter, pitching coach Dave Wallace and bullpen coach Dom Chiti recently wrapped up a three-day mini-camp in Sarasota. Many of the players involved on both fronts have Keys connections.
As far as arbitration goes, the Orioles have reached contract agreements with the following players for the 2015 season:
-Brian Matusz-$2.4 million to $3.2 million
-Matt Wieters-$7.7 million to 8.275 million
-Chris Davis-$10.3 million to $12 million
-Chris Tillman-$546,000 to $4.315 million
Tillman gets the biggest raise by far after going 13-6 with a 3.34 ERA over a career-high 34 starts. He’ll once again be expected to anchor the O’s rotation in 2015.
Meanwhile, former Keys pitcher Brian Matusz also received a nice pay bump, a figure that was $500,000 more than MLBTradeRumors.com thought he was going to get. Although he was overshadowed by Andrew Miller down the stretch, Matusz’s 3.48 ERA was a career-low in 2014, while he held lefties to a paltry .233 batting average.
MASN’s Roch Kubatko has a little more about Matusz here noting that he could be one of four lefties in the Orioles pen this season (Zach Britton, Wesley Wright and T.J. McFarland are other likely candidates).
Getting all those players signed before arbitration figures are announced/hearings get underway is a relief, but six players including Britton have still not signed. There’s no doubt the Orioles will do what they can to avoid arbitration hearings with each individual. During these proceedings, the team and the player submit salary figures and present their cases to a panel of indepedent arbitrators. It’s not fun for players, who are told by their clubs why they aren’t worthy of more money, and for executives who risk damaging the relationships they’ve built with the player/that player’s representation. Moreover, the arbitrator cannot divide the two figures he receives (meeting in the middle) he must take either the team’s figure or the player’s figure. Here is an article from Baseball Prospectus which explains a little more about salary arbitration.
Elsewhere, the Orioles wrapped up a three day mini-camp on Wednesday down in Sarasota.
Many with Keys connections were on hand including: Branden Kline, Parker Bridwell, Mychal Givens, Dylan Bundy, Jon Keller, Kevin Gausman, Oliver Drake, Eddie Gamboa and Mike Wright.
As the names suggest, the goal of the camp was to let the major league staff take a look at some of the minor league arms. Still, some position players were on hand, including Michael Burgess, Henry Urrutia, Matt Wieters and namely, Manny Machado. Here is a YouTube video of Machado running the bases. He is recovering from right knee surgery.
According to Kubatko, many players made good impressions, but Rule-5 pick Jason Garcia really seemed to impress. Remember, Garcia MUST stay on the O’s 25-man roster for the entire season or be offered back to the Red Sox (his original team).
On the Keys front, there is no additional news about club’s coaching staff, other than this report from MASN’s Steve Melewski noting that Orlando Gomez will be returning to Frederick in 2015 as manager. Still, there is plenty of other news to report from the front office!
-National Anthem Tryouts-will take place on March 12 at the FSK Mall Center Court. More information about registration can be found here.
-Keys Fan Survey-Take five minutes to fill out this survey and you’ll be entered to win a Keys home or road jersey!
-Keys Job Fair-Want a fun seasonal job? The Keys job fair will take place Feb 24-25 from 6-8 p.m. More details and a list of positions available can be found here. Ovations Food Services will also be on hand to conduct interviews.
That’s all folks! Stay tuned for more updates in the coming weeks.
Shake your Keys!