Where Are They Now? – The Championship Infield
After taking a look at where the pitching staff from the 2011 Championship team has gone since last year, it is time to focus on the infield.
Justin Dalles (C) – Dalles is currently one of the two catchers on the roster for the Keys this season along with Joe Oliveira. He started the year in Frederick, then went down to Low-A Delmarva only to return to Frederick a few weeks after that. So far this year, Dalles has a .249 average with two homers and nine RBI through 33 games. He spent 20 games with the Shorebirds, where he hit .329 with four homers and 12 RBI. Selected in the sixth round of the 2009 draft out of the University of South Carolina, Dalles was a part of the 2011 active playoff roster but did not register an at-bat.
Brian Ward (C) – Ward was the #1 catcher for the majority of the season last year for the Keys. Known more for his defensive skills, Ward hit .254 in the regular season last year with seven homers and 32 RBI. Brian did not play the first 50 games of the 2012 season due to a suspension, but has returned to the diamond with the Bowie Baysox, where he holds a .203 average with six RBI over 19 games. During the playoffs with Frederick in 2011, Ward hit .276 with a homer and three RBI.
Aaron Baker (1B) -Acquired from the Pirates last year in the trade that sent Derrick Lee to Pittsburgh, Baker is the top power-hitting prospect in the O’s organization. He started off the season slow in Frederick, but has been on fire as of late. Baker has earned player of the week honors for two straight weeks in the Carolina League. Currently hitting .265 with a league-leading 19 homers, Baker could be on his way to Double-A pretty soon. His 66 RBI’s add more to his case as well. Aaron spent time in Frederick (.386 avg, 2HR, 9RBI) and Bowie (.196 avg, 3 RBI) last season. During the Mills Cup run, Baker hit .226 with a homer and six RBI.
Mike Flacco (1B) – Flacco is also a member of the Keys team this year, but has spent some time in Double-A as well. Serving as both the first baseman and designated hitter, Flacco is hitting .232 this season with six homers and 23 RBI. Through 50 regular season games in 2011, Flacco had a .250 average with five homers and 22 RBI. He struggled during the playoffs last year, hitting just .074 with eight strikeouts.
Manny Machado (SS) – The Orioles #1 prospect spent the entire second half of the season with the Keys last year and currently plays short stop for the Baysox in Double-A. Manny was selected third overall in the 2010 draft and has played in the All-Star Futures Game the past two seasons. Last year with Frederick, he hit .245 with five homers and 26 RBI’s through 63 games. This year with Bowie, he is hitting .264 with seven homers and 48 RBI. As a 20-year old in the Eastern League, Machado is more than likely the future Baltimore short stop. Last year in the playoffs, Manny claimed the MVP Award for the championship series. He hit .344 in the postseason with a homer and nine RBI.
Michael Rooney (IF) -Currently a member of the Baysox, Rooney has also spent time this year with the Keys & Shorebirds. In 2012 with Frederick, Rooney hit just .136 in 34 games with six RBI. He has only played five games between Delmarva and Bowie, but is valuable because of his ability to play most of the infield positions. He only registered one at-bat last year in the playoffs. Rooney was drafted in the 30th round of the 2010 draft out of UNC Wilmington.
Jonathan Schoop (2B) – Schoop is currently playing for the Baysox alongside Manny Machado. Jonathan is undoubtedly the #2 infield prospect for the O’s and has started to heat up in Bowie. Schoop and Machado played as a duo last year for Frederick and have both since moved on to Double-A. Currently hitting .250 with eight homers and 30 RBI’s with the Baysox, Schoop is just 20 years old as well. This season, he was selected to the Eastern League All-Star team. Schoop was signed by the O’s as an undrafted free agent in 2008. Last year with Frederick, he hit .271 with five homers and 37 RBI’s. His playoff average was impressive as well, hitting .314 with a homer and four RBI en route to the Mills Cup title. Schoop and Machado represented the O’s last year in the Future’s Game.
Bobby Stevens (UT) – A fan favorite throughout his time with the Keys (2009-12), Stevens was picked up by the Braves after leaving the Orioles organization earlier this season. Bobby is currenly a member of the Carolina League though, playing for the Lynchburg Hillcats. As a member of the Keys this year, Bobby hit .276 with six homers and 16 RBI. Stevens saw some time in both Norfolk and Bowie this season before joining the Braves organization in Lynchburg. During the playoff run last year, Bobby hit .212 with four RBI. Stevens was selected in the 16th round of the 2008 draft. Bobby was very well-known for his community work with the Keys, helping kids with baseball camps, reading to kids with Keyote and volunteering for most anything that he could.
Tyler Townsend and Garabez Rosa were both inactive in the playoffs last year but still played with the team in 2011. Townsend has been bothered by hamstring injuries this season, but is on his way back to the diamond. Rosa currently plays short stop for the Keys.
Make sure to stay tuned for the final part of this championship special, where we take a look at the outfielders from last year’s Mills Cup team.