March 2013

From independent ball to Frederick?

We got snowed out at the Grove yesterday. Time for a little post-snow-day catch-up:

*It’s that time of the week again: Let’s look at five more potential 2013 Keys.

The players that make up Part V of our Frederick 40 Countdown have at least one thing in common — they spent 2012 playing independent baseball. Highlighted this week on the blog might be the best of that bunch, Buddy Sosnoskie.

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Buddy Sosnoskie spent 2012 with the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks. His debut in affiliated baseball could come with the Keys.

Named preseason Division II Player of the Year by Baseball America before his senior season at Francis Marion, Sosnoskie played for the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks last season after going undrafted following his senior season, in which he hit .391 with 25 doubles, three triples, two home runs, 56 RBIs and 51 runs scored in 58 games.

His season with the RedHawks wasn’t too bad either, batting .339 with 18 doubles, two triples, two home runs, 31 RBIs, 35 runs scored and nine stolen bases in 53 games. That campaign led to Baseball America naming him the seventh-best prospect in independent baseball.

The O’s signed Sosnoskie, a left-handed outfielder, in November.

The rest of this week’s bunch:

Kyle Mertins – A former Sioux Falls Pheasant, he pitched one season at Cal State Fullerton, recording scoreless appearances in 21 of 25 games.

Chris Wade – This Windy City Thunderbolt shortstop reached advanced-A Jupiter with the Marlins’ organization in 2010.

Luis Pardo – He was the ace of the Trinidad Triggers’ staff, but a horrific start on his birthday (he allowed 14 earned runs in 2.1 innings) inflated his 7.81 ERA.

Marcel Prado – He worked out of the bullpen for the El Paso Diablos last season after being out of baseball in 2011. The big right-hander spent his winter pitching for the Bravos de Margarita in the Venezuelan Winter League, posting a 3.58 ERA in 27.2 innings pitched.

The full edition of The Frederick 40 Countdown: Part V is on the Keys’ website.

*Former Keys pitcher Richard Salazar had a rough go of it in Spain’s Wednesday exhibition with the Orioles. His line: 1.1 IP, 6 H, 5 ER, 2 BB, 1 SO, 1 HR.

*Another former Keys pitcher, John Mariotti, will start Italy’s WBC opener against Mexico at 3 p.m. Follow the game here. Read more about Salazar and Mariotti in Monday’s blog post.

*Here’s a story about 2011 Keys pitcher Oliver Drake working back from the shoulder surgery that ended his season in 2012.

*Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman are slated to pitch Saturday for the O’s. Bundy is going to start and Gausman will relieve him, according to Britt Ghiroli.

*Be sure to check back later today for our No. 2 promotion in our Top 10 countdown.

I will be on a plane to Memphis tomorrow. So, until next week, Shake your Keys.

Mahoney mashing for Marlins

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Currently in Miami Marlins spring training, Joe Mahoney played in parts of three season for the Keys.

In a perfect world, every Frederick Key that makes it to the major leagues would make it as an Oriole. Homegrown talent, from Harry Grove Stadium to Camden Yards.

But, an imperfect game by nature, baseball does not work that way.

A former Key now outside the organization, Joe Mahoney is making his case for an everyday job with the Marlins.

Mahoney, a Key for parts of three seasons, was claimed off waivers by Miami in November, and the former sixth-round pick of the O’s is already justifying that move. In five spring training games, Mahoney is 5-for-14 — that’s a .357 batting average — with two homers, a double and 5 RBIs.

Mahoney did most of his damage Saturday against the Mets, going deep twice and driving in four runs. Here’s video of his second home run, a three-run dinger:

http://mlb.mlb.com/video/play.jsp?content_id=25649891

Mahoney spent parts of three seasons with the Keys, playing 72 of his 82 games with Frederick in 2010. He hit nine home runs with the Keys that season, batted .299 and drove in 49 runs. Add his numbers with Double-A Bowie that season to those with the Keys and Mahoney slugged 18 homers, batted .307 and drove in 82 runs in 124 games.

That’s the type of power the Marlins hope Mahoney can rediscover after hitting just 21 home runs over the last two seasons with double-A Bowie and triple-A Norfolk. With Miami’s few options at first base, Mahoney could win himself a big-league job if he shows enough pop.

In fact, here’s a Miami Herald story saying just that. From the story by Manny Navarro:

Now 26, Mahoney feels like he’s starting to mature as a hitter. He said he learned a lot from former Orioles teammates Derrek Lee, Nick Johnson and Chris Davis in his three previous springs with Baltimore and has learned quite a bit now working with new Marlins hitting coach Tino Martinez.

“I’ve always kind of had it,” Mahoney said of the power. “But now is when I’m really starting to learn pitch selection and letting it translate into games. I’m trying to be an all-around player, be a good hitter who hits for average, drive runners in.”

A 2007 draft pick, Mahoney was called up to the Orioles briefly in 2012, going 0-for-4 in two games. Whether he gets a chance to improve on his major-league numbers to start this season will likely depend on how he finishes spring training following his hot start.

A sign that Mahoney’s opportunity is real — the fantasy baseball community is talking about him.

*2010 and 2011 Key Jonathan Schoop has one hit in the World Baseball Classic — a line-drive home run that almost ended the life of a woman knitting in the left-field stands. He recorded it yesterday against Australia. Watch:

*That bomb helped eliminate Australia and former Key Allan de San Miguel from the WBC in a 4-1 Netherlands victory.

*Richard Salazar, a four-season former Key, will start for Spain in tomorrow’s exhibition against the Orioles, according to MASN’s Roch Kubatko.

*Read about all of the former Keys in the WBC in yesterday’s blog post.

*Some notes from Roch Kubatko on O’s minor laegue camp.

*A nice gesture to the troops by the BayBears.

*Looks like we’re going to get snowquestered tonight and tomorrow.

*Just one month before opening night at the Grove.

Shake your Keys.

Five for Monday: Keys in the World Baseball Classic (Updated)

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Former Key Jonathan Schoop is one of six former Frederick players currently playing in the World Baseball Classic.

For those who check this space regularly, you probably noticed I didn’t end last week with the usual Five for Friday post. So, let’s do it now, leading off with what was posted Friday, the day the 2013 World Baseball Classic began.

1. Bumbry’s British baseball experience

Steve Bumbry, a Key in 2011 and 2012, spent the end of last September in Germany playing with Great Britain the World Baseball Classic qualifying round. I talked to Bumbry and his mother, who was born in Wales, about a week and a half ago about their experiences overseas. An excerpt from the story is below:

Steve Bumbry had never even been to Europe before.

But there he was last September in Regensburg, Germany, he and a few others on the steps of the Bavarian town’s historic cathedral, belting out Britain’s national anthem “God Save the Queen.”

“Oh, God. Yeah, that happened,” said Bumbry, recalling his rookie initiation with Great Britain’s World Baseball Classic team the night before the Brits’ first WBC qualifier. “We were in the Cathedral square, and we’re (singing) on the steps of this cathedral and people are sitting outside cafes eating, drinking and whatever.”

A Frederick Key in 2011 and 2012, Bumbry batted third and played right field for Great Britain in its three qualifying games at Regensburg’s Armin-Wolf Stadium. The Brits blew out the Czech Republic in their second game, but fell to Canada and Germany and were eliminated from the tournament.

While Bumbry’s on-field performance – he tallied just one hit in nine at-bats ­– wasn’t very memorable, he said his entire experience overseas, from playing baseball on that stage to connecting with a part of his heritage, was unforgettable.

If you want to keep reading, the full story is here.

2. Former Keys in the WBC

(Correction: An earlier version of this post stated there were six former Keys in the WBC. My apologies to Richard Salazar and Danny Figueroa.)

By my count and that of a few more veteran Keys employees, there are right former Frederick Keys playing in the World Baseball Classic this month, representing the Netherlands, Australia, Spain, Italy, Canada and the United States. They are:

Jonathan Schoop, 2B (NED) – The Orioles’ top positional prospect is a native of Curacao and batted second while playing second base for the Dutch (1-1) in their first two games. Schoop played 83 games for the Keys in 2010 and 2011 and is hitless with one walk in WBC play. He hit .271 with 37 RBIs in 77 games with the Keys in 2011.

*Here’s an MiLB article on Schoop and the Netherlands.

Allan de San Miguel, C (AUS) – This 2012 Key is a native of Bentley, Australia. He caught the Aussies’ (0-2) second game against Korea (a 6-0 loss), batted ninth and went 0-for-3. As a Key, San Miguel hit .260 with two home runs and 17 RBIs in 30 games.

*Schoop and San Miguel’s countries square off at 11:30 this morning.

Paco Figueroa, 2B (ESP) – Now in the Philadelphia organization, Figueroa played 90 games in Frederick in 2006, hitting .284 and stealing 20 bases (though he was caught stealing 13 times). Figueroa’s twin brother, Danny, played center field for the Keys in 2008. Spain’s first game is Friday against Puerto Rico.

Danny Figueroa, OF (ESP) – The other Figueroa brother patrolled center field for the Keys in 2008, stealing 33 bases in 104 games while batting .239. Selected by the Orioles in the 2005 MLB draft, he was released in 2011 after two seasons in double-A Bowie.

Richard Salazar, P (ESP) – A member of the Keys for parts of four seasons, Salazar has been playing independent baseball since 2008. He pitched in 100 games with the Keys over the 2003, 2005, 2006 and 2007 seasons, finishing with a 7-6 record and a 4.09 ERA. He threw 171.2 innings and struck out 141 batters in his Keys career.

John Mariotti, P (ITA) – No longer in affiliated baseball, Mariotti played for the Keys briefly in 2008 and for all of the 2010 season. In 2010, his last season in the Orioles’ organization, he finished with a 3-6 record, three saves and a 4.08 ERA in 21 games. He played for independent team Les Capitales de Quebec the last two seasons. Italy’s first game is Thursday against Mexico.

*For those of you who read French, here’s an article from Les Capitales announcing Mariotti making the Italian roster.

Adam Loewen, OF (CAN) – A left-handed pitcher drafted by the Orioles with the fourth overall pick of the 2002 MLB draft, Loewen spent all of 2005 with the Keys. He started 27 games and made one relief appearance that year, finishing 10-8 with a 4.12 ERA and 146 strikeouts in 142 innings. The following March, Loewen started Canada’s 8-6 victory over the U.S. in the first World Baseball Classic. A stress fracture in his left elbow ended his pitching career in 2008 after reaching the majors the prior two seasons and Loewen made the transition to the outfield. He made his major league debut as an outfielder in 2011 with Toronto. Canada’s first game is Friday against Italy.

*I wrote about Loewen’s recent encounter with O’s prospect and former Key Kevin Gausman a week ago.

David Hernandez, P (USA) – Originally on the Mexican roster before he was ruled a generation too far removed from a native-born ancestor to play for Mexico, the 2007 Frederick Key was added to the American roster to replace Cleveland Indians reliever Chris Perez. Now a key cog in the back-end of Arizona’s bullpen, Hernandez started 27 games and made one relief appearance for the Keys, going 7-11 with a 4.95 ERA while striking out 168 batters in 145.1 innings pitched. The U.S. plays its first game Friday against Mexico.

3. Shaking past 1,000 views

Are you tired of Harlem Shake videos? Good, I didn’t think so.

In honor of passing 1,000 views on YouTube, here is our Harlem Shake video once again. Harlem Shake your Keys.

4. Newsletter

Last week’s Keys newsletter is here.

5. On the links

*2012 Key and baseball’s top-pitching prospect Dylan Bundy was scheduled to pitch Sunday, but was held back because of groin spasms, according to Britt Ghiroli.

*2000 Key Brian Roberts is on fire. Another big spring training game Sunday for the O’s second baseman.

*Steve Melewski has 10 questions for O’s fans, three of which directly involve former Keys.

*Also, here are Melewski’s top 10 current O’s. How many do you think are former Keys?

*Just like at Harry Grove Stadium, no smoking at Camden Yards.

*31 days until opening night at the Grove.

Shake your Keys.

Through WBC, Bumbry gets to Welsh roots

By Mike Mueller
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After spending the end of the 2012 season with the Keys, Steve Bumbry flew to Germany to play for Great Britain in the World Baseball Classic qualifying rounds.

Steve Bumbry had never even been to Europe before.

But there he was last September in Regensburg, Germany, he and a few others on the steps of the Bavarian town’s historic cathedral, belting out Britain’s national anthem “God Save the Queen.”

“Oh, God. Yeah, that happened,” said Bumbry, recalling his rookie initiation with Great Britain’s World Baseball Classic team the night before the Brits’ first WBC qualifier. “We were in the Cathedral square, and we’re (singing) on the steps of this cathedral and people are sitting outside cafes eating, drinking and whatever.”

A Frederick Key in 2011 and 2012, Bumbry batted third and played right field for Great Britain in its three qualifying games at Regensburg’s Armin-Wolf Stadium. The Brits blew out the Czech Republic in their second game, but fell to Canada and Germany and were eliminated from the tournament.

While Bumbry’s on-field performance – he tallied just one hit in nine at-bats ­– wasn’t very memorable, he said his entire experience overseas, from playing baseball on that stage to connecting with a part of his heritage, was unforgettable.

Bumbry, whose mother was born in Wales, sent his information to the British Baseball Federation last spring after learning Great Britain was looking for players. The son of former Orioles outfielder Al Bumbry, he learned he made Britain’s WBC team in July and flew to Germany with a handful of other stateside teammates a few days in advance of their first game, the tournament opener against Canada.

Among his first assignments upon arrival – memorize Britain’s anthem.

“They told us about (singing at the cathedral) the first day,” said Bumbry. “All us Americans had to write down the words on a piece of paper and walk around with it so we’d know it.”

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Steve Bumbry (left, foreground) and his Great Britain teammates practiced on a soccer field near Armin-Wolf Stadium in Regensburg, Germany. / Photo courtesy of Carol Clements.

In many ways, playing in Regensburg was just like playing in an American ballpark, said Bumbry, adding, “once you step between the lines, it’s the same game.” But there were some reminders that he was playing on a diamond in Europe in international competition.

Among them were the practices on a soccer field, the extra stands brought in for the tournament at the small park and the national anthems of different countries before games. The German announcers’ strike calls of “ein,” “svei” and “drei” were dead giveaways, too, said Bumbry’s mom Carol Clements.

Clements and Bumbry’s dad both came overseas to watch him play, and after Britain was eliminated, Bumbry and his mom stayed overseas for a few more weeks. Clements had never been back to Europe since leaving her native Cardiff, Wales, with her mother at a very young age.

The daughter of a U.S. soldier and a Wren – a member of the women’s branch of the Royal Navy – that met during World War II, Clements and her mother came to America on famous ocean liner The Queen Mary. Decades after making that voyage, Bumbry’s trip to Germany gave her and her son a chance to reconnect with their Welsh heritage.

“We made an excursion over to Wales and found the house where I lived for a period of time,” said Clements. “It was a homecoming for me and it was great for him to get to his roots.”

They also visited historic Otley Hall in Suffolk, England, home of the Gosnold family lineage, of which Bumbry and his mom are a part.

“I’ve been fortunate to play for (the) Baltimore (organization) and have my family in the area and see a few of my games, but really, at the end of the day, when you take the cleats off and go home, good day or bad day, family will always be there,” said Bumbry. “To get the opportunity to show my mom the place she was born, the heritage and to learn about the family, it’s something I’ll never forget.”

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Steve Bumbry at the plate for Great Britain against Canada on Sept. 20 in Regensburg, Germany.

In 64 games with the Keys in 2012, Bumbry hit .245, belted seven home runs, drove in 32 runs, stole 12 bases and finished with an on-base percentage of .337. After his trip to Europe, he spent most of the off-season in Arizona, training for 2013.

In November, Bumbry went to Australia to play with the Perth Heat in the Australian Baseball League, but after about a month and half Down Under, flew back to states after suffering from “shoulder fatigue,” he said.

“I think my body needed a little break,” said Bumbry. “Now I feel better than ever. I’m ready to go.”

Currently, Bumbry is preparing for Orioles minor league spring training in Sarasota, Fla. Players are scheduled to report this weekend.

Bumbry said he’s been encouraged by his British teammates to come play for Great Britain in European tournaments. There’s some red tape he’ll have to get through for that to happen – he’ll need to take the necessary steps to get a British passport – but he and his mom would like to see him don the British colors again.

“Oh, absolutely. I thought it was a nice experience,” said Clements, adding that Bumbry is “in no way is renouncing his (American) citizenship” in possibly attaining dual citizenship. “It was cool, for the parents as well as the kids.”

When asked if he wanted to play for Britain in the future, Bumbry replied, “I’d love to.”

“It represents my family, my grandparents who never got to see me play professionally,” he said. “I always keep that in the back of my mind when I put the red and blue on. It’s more than just uniform for me.”

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