Part I – 2011 Keys Season Preview

 By Tim Murray
This is the first of a six-part series looking at the players who could possibly comprise the 2011 Frederick Keys. (Picture Above – LHP Cole McCurry)

Brian Conley – OF

Drafted by the Orioles in the 17th round of the 2008 draft, Conley made his professional debut with the Bluefield Orioles in the Appalachian League. In his second game with the “baby birds,” Conley belted his first career home run against the Elizabethton Twins. Last year, he began the season in the South Atlantic League with the Delmarva Shorebirds. Conley was named the starting right fielder for the Sally League All-Star game and led Delmarva in walks (70) despite playing in just 95 games. On August 14, Conley was promoted to Frederick where he finished out the season playing in 16 games for the Keys. He is rated as having the best eye at the plate in the Orioles system by Baseball America.

A native of Gaithersburg, MD, Conley grew up less than 25 miles away from Harry Grove Stadium. He went to Quince Orchard High School where he was named Montgomery County Player of the Year in his senior season. Following high school, Conley was a four-year starter at Towson University. In his final season at Towson, he was named second-team All-Colonial Athletic Association. He was tops on the Tigers in batting average (.352), runs batted in (65), and hits (76). Conley is currently third in Towson history in career home runs (36) and games played (208).

Did You Know?

When Baltimore drafted Conley in 2008, he was just the 12th player to be drafted out of Towson and the first since 2005.

Matt Hobgood – RHP

The Norco, California native was drafted as the fifth overall pick by the Orioles in the 2009 draft. Hobgood had an unbelievable high school career while at Norco High School. Over his junior and senior seasons, he compiled a record of 21-1 while hitting 40 homers. In his senior season, Hobgood joined an elite group that includes the likes of Alex Rodriguez, Zach Grienke, and Gary Sheffield, when he was named the 2009 Gatorade National Baseball Player of the Year. As a senior, he went 11-1 with a 0.92 ERA with 101 strikeouts to 26 walks over 68.1 innings pitched.

After signing with the Orioles for $2.42 million, Hobgood made eight starts in 2009 with the Bluefield Orioles. On August 13, he notched his first professional win after he tossed five scoreless innings against the Princeton Rays. Last season, Hobgood started 21 games with Delmarva and compiled a 3.25 ERA at Arthur H. Perdue Stadium. In his final start of the 2010 campaign, he threw five shutout innings against the Augusta GreenJackets. Riddled by injuries in his young career, Hobgood may not start the season on time due to a strained rotator cuff.

Did You Know?

While at Norco High School, Hobgood was a teammate with Minnesota Vikings RB Toby Gerhart, on both the baseball and football teams.

Cole McCurry – LHP

A native of Asheville, North Carolina, McCurry was drafted by the Orioles in the 43rd round of the 2007 draft. McCurry spent two seasons with Surry (NC) Community College before playing a season with Tennessee Wesleyan College. Following his final year with Surry CC, he was drafted to the Atlanta Braves in the 31st round of the 2005 draft. At Tennessee Wesleyan, he went 13-0 with a 3.59 ERA in 2007. McCurry was named honorable mention NAIA All-American and first team All Appalachian Athletic Conference.

McCurry spent all of the 2009 season in the South Atlantic League with the Delmarva Shorebirds. Despite having a losing record (6-9), he finished fifth in the league in ERA (2.71) and strikeouts (145). Last year, McCurry started the season in the Keys rotation. He moved to the bullpen on May 23 and dominated the Kinston Indians in first relief appearance of the year. Over six innings, McCurry struck out a season-high eight batters and allowed just one hit and no runs to score. In 18 relief appearances, he went 3-3 with two saves and an ERA of 3.40. As a starter, McCurry was 2-3 with a 4.89 ERA.

Did You Know?

Despite pitching just 95.2 innings in 2010, McCurry finished only four strikeouts behind Ryan O’Shea for the team-lead in strikeouts for the year. O’Shea tossed a team-high 140.2 innings with Frederick last season.

Dale Mollenhauer – INF

Originally drafted by the Chicago White Sox in 17th round of the 2007 draft, Mollenhauer was selected by the Orioles in the AAA phase of the Rule 5 draft this past offseason. He spent parts of two seasons in the Carolina League with Winston-Salem but spent the entire 2010 campaign in the Southern League with the Birmingham Barons. While with the Barons, Mollenhauer led the team with 17 stolen bases.

The Gibsonia, PA native, played his collegiate baseball at East Carolina University. Prior to playing for the Pirates, Mollenhauer was drafted in the 24th round by the Orioles out of Pine-Richland High School. In his first season at ECU, he was named to the Conference USA All-freshman team. As a sophomore, he was one of just two Pirates to start all 59 games and in his final year at East Carolina, Mollenhauer was named second-team All C-USA while leading the Pirates with a .329 batting average.

Did You Know?

In 22 career games against the Keys, Mollenhauer batted .304. He hit .311 in 13 games played at Harry Grove Stadium.

Brian Ward – C

From Huntington Beach, CA, Ward finished his college career at NAIA powerhouse Lewis-Clark State in Idaho. In his first season at Lewis-Clark State, Ward helped guide the Warriors to their 16th NAIA National Championship and was named MVP of the 2008 NAIA World Series. In five games, he went 12-for-27 with three home runs and eight runs batted in. In his two seasons at Lewis-Clark State, the Warriors went a combinded 98-22 including a mark of 58-7 in their 2008 National Championship season. Prior to LCSC, Ward played at Eastern Oklahoma and Golden West Junior College.

Signed as an undrafted free agent by the Orioles in 2009, Ward began his professional career with the Aberdeen Ironbirds. As the 2009 campaign progressed, Ward’s bat came to life. In his first 20 games with Aberdeen, Ward hit .206 while in his final 16 games, he hit .318 for the Ironbirds. Last season, he was the starting catcher in Frederick making 82 starts behind the plate. Ward struggled at the plate in the regular season but flourished in the postseason. In just three playoff games, he had six runs batted in and belted a grand slam in game one of the North Division Championship Series against the Potomac Nationals. The Keys lone playoff win in 2010 was a 10-9 victory in game one of the NDCS.

Did You Know?

In Ward’s two seasons at Lewis Clark State, the Warriors were 5-1 against Division I opponents (Gonzaga University: 3-0, University of Washington: 2-1).

Tyler Townsend – 1B

The Florida International product was drafted in the third round by the Orioles in 2009 and was the first collegiate player taken by Baltimore in that draft. Townsend’s third round selection is the second highest in school history to Josh Banks, who was drafted in the second round of the 2003 draft by the Toronto Blue Jays. Townsend was one of the top collegiate players in the nation in 2009 as he batted .426 with 24 home runs, 77 RBIs, and 182 total bases. The 77 RBIs and 182 total bases were both FIU single-season records. His 24 HRs and .426 batting average were second best in school history. Townsend also set the career record for RBIs with 164. Townsend was a First Team All-American by Louisville Slugger, First Team All-Sun Belt, and First Team South Central All-Region in 2009.

After his first professional season was hampered by injuries, the Lewes, DE native began to hit his stride in 2010. In 30 games with Delmarva, Townsend hit .342 with three homers, 12 doubles, and 26 RBI. Prior to his promotion to Frederick on July 24, he drove in 10 runs in his final three games with the Shorebirds. Upon his arrival in Frederick, Townsend quickly was placed on the disabled list with a hamstring injury. Once off the DL, he had a very strong finish to the 2010 regular season. Townsend was named Carolina League Player of the Week in consecutive weeks (August 23-29, August 30-September 5). He was one of just three players in 2010 to be named CL Player of the Week in consecutive weeks.

Did You Know?

In 2006-07, Townsend was a member of the Sun Belt Commissioner’s List for maintaining a GPA above 3.5 for the entire school year.

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