Part III – 2011 Keys Season Preview

By Tim Murray

Welty.jpgThis is the third of a six-part series looking at the players who could possibly comprise the 2011 Frederick Keys. (Pictured Above – OF Ronnie Welty)

Nick Haughian – LHP

The Marysville, Washington native was drafted by the Orioles in the 9th round of the 2008 draft. Haughian attended the University of Washington where he amassed a career record of 12-13. He spent his freshman year in the Huskies bullpen but spent the majority of his sophomore and junior campaigns as a starter. As a junior, Haughian was 6-5 with a 3.76 ERA. He led the Huskies in complete games (3), shutouts (1), and strikeouts (107). His 107 strikeouts were also second best in the Pac-10 Conference.

Haughian spent the entire 2010 season in the South Atlantic League with the Delmarva Shorebirds. He spent most of the year coming out of the Shorebirds bullpen and finished second on the club with 30 relief appearances. On August 8, Haughian transitioned into a starting role. He made a total of five starts to finish out the year and compiled a 1-2 record with an ERA of 3.33. Over his three-year minor league career, Haughian has achieved more success as a starter than a reliever. In his 20 career starts, he is 6-7 with a 2.56 ERA.

Did You Know?

While at the University of Washington, Haughian was named Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week for the week of April 1-7, 2008, after he tossed a complete game, two-hit shutout in Washington’s 1-0 win over #18 Arizona. He struck out a career-high 15 batters and walked just three in the Husky’s victory.

Kenny Moreland – RHP

Signed as an undrafted free agent out of Christopher Newport University, Moreland started and finished the 2010 season in Frederick. He made nine starts and two relief appearances for the Keys before being transferred to Delmarva. On May 9th, Moreland threw seven scoreless innings as he helped guide Frederick to an 8-2 win over Wilmington. He struck out a career-high 10 Blue Rocks en route to his second victory of the season. Moreland made 16 starts with the Shorebirds in 2010 and tied Jesse Beal for the team-lead with seven wins. Most of his success came in his starts at Arthur W. Perdue Stadium. In 10 home starts, Moreland was 6-3 with a 2.66 ERA (1-4, 6.94 in six road starts). He returned to Frederick on August 29th and made two starts to close out the year.

Moreland had a stellar collegiate career at Division III Christopher Newport University in Newport News, Virginia. As a freshman, he posted a team-best 1.52 ERA and was selected as USA South’s Freshman Pitcher of the Year. He continued to flourish in his sophomore and junior seasons as he was selected All USA South both seasons but it was his senior campaign when he got on the national radar. In 2008, Moreland was 13-0 in 14 starts and had an ERA of 1.97. He threw six complete games, including two shutouts, and struck out 116. He set CNU records for career strikeouts and wins. He was selected as the ABCA Division III pitcher of the year, pitcher of the year, South Region Pitcher of the year, and USA South Pitcher of the year. In the fall of 2010, Moreland was one of 50 players named to the All-Decade team.

Did You Know?

Kenny Moreland is one of just three players to have his jersey number retired at Christopher Newport University. On the same day that Moreland’s #15 was retired, he threw a one-hit shutout for the Captains.

Justin Dalles – C

Drafted by the Orioles in the sixth round of the 2009 draft, Dalles has had his struggles at the plate in his first two professional seasons. Despite hitting .225 with the IronBirds in 2009, he finished third on the team with 21 runs batted in. Dalles got off to a great start in 2010 before missing over a month with an injury. He had hits in his first eight games and hit .370 over those games. In addition, he belted his first two career home runs in that span.

A native of Lake Worth, Florida, Dalles started his collegiate career at St. Petersburg Junior College. In his final season at St. Petersburg JC, he hit .387 with 13 homers and 70 RBI. He was named a NJCAA honorable mention All-American as well as named All-NJCAA Gulf District and All-FCCAA first team. Following his two seasons at St. Petersburg JC, Dalles played one season with the University of South Carolina. While with the Gamecocks he hit .324 with 15 home runs and 47 runs batted in and was named second-team All-SEC. Dalles was named to the NCAA All-Regional team after he went 11-for-19 with three HR and 10 RBI in the Greenville Regional in 2009. 

Did You Know?

Justin Dalles was drafted four times by four separate Major League franchises: 2006 – New York Mets (15th round), 2007 – St. Louis Cardinals (40th round), 2008 – Toronto Blue Jays (26th round), 2009 – Baltimore Orioles (6th round).

Michael Flacco – 1B

After graduating from Audubon (NJ) High School in 2005, Flacco’s next three years were limited due to back injuries. In 2009, injury-free, he put up big numbers at CCBC Catonsville. Flacco was named a third-team NJCAA All-American after he .399 with 14 home runs and 51 RBI for the Cardinals.

The Orioles drafted Flacco in the 31st round of the 2009 draft and he began his professional career with the Bluefield Orioles in the Appalachian League. He split time at first and third base while in Bluefield and had a strong finish to his rookie campaign. Flacco hit .324 with nine extra base hits in the month of August. Last year, he started out the season in Aberdeen before finishing out the year with Delmarva. In his debut with the Shorebirds, Flacco went 3-for-3 against the Lakewood Blue Claws. He also finished out the 2010 season on a high note. Flacco ended the year on a seven-game hitting streak and went 3-for-4 in his final game of the season. 

Did You Know?

Michael Flacco is the younger brother of Baltimore Ravens starting quarterback, Joe Flacco. Joe was the 18th overall pick in the 2008 NFL draft out of the University of Delaware. Michael’s younger brother, John, is a wide receiver at Stanford University.

Buck Britton – INF

A native of Weatherford, Texas, Britton was selected by the Orioles in the 35th round of the 2008 draft. Britton spent his entire first pro season with the Bluefield Orioles. In 47 games, he finished up with a .289 batting average, third-best on the club. In 2009, Britton never spent more than 17 games with one team in the Orioles organization. In all, he played one game with Bowie, 13 with Frederick, three with Delmarva, and 17 with Aberdeen. Last year, Britton spent the majority of the season with Frederick where he was used in a multitude of roles. He started 32 games at first base, 18 at second, 31 at third, and 17 at DH. On July 10th, Britton hit a pinch-hit two-run homer off Carolina League Reliever of the Year, Cory Burns, which tied the game. Billy Rowell capped off that evening with a walk-off shot in the 11th inning.

Prior to his selection by the Orioles, Britton played two seasons at Lubbock Christian University after transferring from Stephen F. Austin University. Over his two seasons with the Chaps, Britton combined to hit .385 with 18 home runs and 97 RBI in 104 games. In the field, Britton was a Rawlings Gold Glove recipient after having a fielding percentage of 97.3%. He only committed six errors on the season and he broke a school record for consecutive games with an assist (30). 

Did You Know?

Buck is the older brother of Zach Britton, the #2 prospect in the Orioles organization according to Baseball America. Zach received the Jim Palmer Award in 2010, the Orioles Minor League Pitcher of the Year award.

Kieron Pope – OF

Pope was a big time high school prospect out of East Coweta High School and was drafted in the fourth round of the 2005 draft by the Orioles. As a junior, he helped lead the Indians to the 5-A Georgia State baseball title game. In his senior season, Pope was selected to the Louisville Slugger High School All-American team and committed to play baseball for the University of Georgia before signing with Baltimore.

Following a grueling leg injury that made him miss the entire 2009 season, Pope had a solid bounce back year in 2010. The Alvaton, Georgia native made his 2010 debut on May 23 with the Shorebirds and played a total of 76 games with Delmarva last year. Pope started 39 games in the Shorebirds’ outfield and 37 as the DH. His .250 batting average last year was the second-best hitting season in his career (.257 with Bluefield and Aberdeen in 2006). 

Did You Know?

Pope was the winner of the Moe Drabowsky Comeback Player of Year in the Baltimore Orioles minor league system in 2010.

Ronnie Welty – OF

The Orioles 20th round pick in 2008, played collegiately at Chandler-Gilbert Community College in Chandler, Arizona. In his two years there, Welty made First Team All-Conference and First Team All-Region both years. In 2007, he hit .354 with four home runs and 44 RBIs. In 2008, he led his team with a .429 batting average and nine home runs. He also led Chandler-Gilbert CC with 24 stolen bases.

Following two stellar seasons in Bluefield and Delmarva, respectively, Welty continued his success last year in Frederick. The Chandler, Arizona native led the Keys in batting average, home runs, doubles, and RBI. His 82 runs driven in were also third most in the Carolina League. Welty did struggle with strikeouts, however, as he set a new Frederick record with 159 K’s in 2010. Following the 2010 season in Frederick, Welty help guide the Perth Heat to the inaugural Australian Baseball League Championship. In 35 games in the land down under, Welty hit .309 with 10 homers and 24 RBI. Welty finished first in the ABL in HR/AB ratio (1/12.30), second in home runs, and third in slugging percentage.

Did You Know?

Welty has made five all-star teams since joining the Orioles organization in 2008: Bluefield ’08 (Appalachian League Postseason All-Star), Delmarva ’09 (South Atlantic League Mid-Season and Postseason All-Star), Frederick ’10 (Carolina League Mid-Season and Postseason All-Star).

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