June 2013

O’s draft review, part three

The Carolina League all-star break ends tomorrow and for Keys players, their break ended this afternoon. The team is back at Harry Grove Stadium for a late afternoon workout as they prepare for the start of the second half of the season.

The Keys’ second half begins tomorrow at 7 p.m. against Myrtle Beach at Harry Grove Stadium. But before we get back to focusing on this year’s team, let’s continue to look at likely future Keys with part three (picks 21-30) of our Orioles draft review. (Click for parts one and two.)

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*Orioles draft review, part three

  • Nicky Cunningham, RHP (Rd. 20, 609th Overall)- This 6-foot-2 righty from Arizona has a fastball that is consistent in the high 80s. He compliments it with a very nice slider has well and a decent change-up.  His freshman year he posted a 4.29 ERA in 35 appearances but only made 29 appearances in the following three seasons. He had a 5.72 ERA in 28 innings his senior year.
  • Levi Scott, 1B (Rd. 21, 639th Overall)- This past season at Howard College, Scott posted a .359 average, hit four homers, drove in 27 runs and scored 27 runs as well. The 6-foot-3 first baseman also did some pitching in high school and college, but his stuff is not good enough for the majors so the Orioles are looking to mold him into an infielder.
  • Jon Keller, RHP (Rd. 22, 669th Overall)- Keller helped the Tampa Spartans reach the D-II College World Series his junior season. That year he went 4-3 with a 4.19 ERA.  He did not give up a home run in 54 innings.  His 6-foot-5 stature allows him to create heat off of the mound pitching consistently between 90-94 MPH.  His secondary stuff needs work. He was ranked 295th in Baseball America’s Top 500.
  • Stefan Crichton, RHP (Rd. 23, 699th Overall)- In 2012, Crichton pitched 95 innings for Texas Christian and finished 9-2, struck out 53 and only gave up 36 earned runs. In his three years at TCU, he finished 19-8 with a 3.73 ERA. His fastball sits in the high eighties topping out at 89 MPH.
  • Jared Breen, SS (Rd. 24, 729th Overall)- He started in 63 of 64 games at Belmont his sophomore year. Breen hit .280 with 35 runs scored and 32 RBIs.  In 63 games he had 15 multi-hit games and nine multi RB games.  He the perfect leadoff guy and always finding a way to get on base.
  • Danny Ayers, LHP (Rd. 25, 759th Overall)- Ranked 177th in Baseball America’s Top 500, Ayers has a fast ball that consistently hits 94 MPH and it is paired with an excellent curveball that is in the upper 70s. His fastball has slowed down a little since the scouts first saw him play because he is working on his control and feel for the mound. He is committed to Western Michigan.
  • Layne Bruner, LHP (Rd. 26, 789th Overall)- His fast sits in the mid-80s but scouts are hoping his 6-foot-2, 170 pound build allows some run for growing and strength as he gets older and improves.  This Washington State commit like his composure on the mound and his above average curveball.
  • Donnie Hart, LHP (Rd. 27, 819th Overall)- In 2012, he appeared in 14 games, all out of the bullpen. He had scoreless outings in his first five appearances and eight of his first nine. He finished the year allowing batters to hit only .138 against him. His fastball sits around 86 MPH and throws a very good slider.
  • Robert Tyler, RHP (Rd. 28, 849th Overall)- He consistently throws between 90-93 MPH topping out at 95 MPH from time to time.  His curveball is not the best but he is still a raw player and needs a lot of improvement. Standing at 6-foot-5, he weighs in just under 200 pounds so there is room for improvement. The Georgia commit  has been one called one of the best pitchers in Georgia this past season leading his high school to their deepest playoff run in fifty years.
  • Conor Bierfeldt, OF (Rd. 29, 879th Overall)- Senior Co Captain Conor Biereldt was named 3rd Team All American while playing at Western Connecticut State University.  He batted .396 that season with 16 doubles, 9 home runs and 54 RBIs.

*In other Orioles draft news, the Birds have come to agreements with some of their top picks. First rounder Josh Hart has been signed, according to reports, including MASN’s Steve Melewski.

Our report on Hart, from part one of the draft review:

  • Josh Hart, OF (Rd. 1, 36th Overall)- Ranked 57th according to Baseball America’s Top 500, Hart is known for his ability to find the gaps in the field.  Not much of a power hitter, many scouts do not agree with his lack of lower body in his swing but nonetheless, he could be an excellent leadoff hitter.  The Georgia Tech signee’s speed not only helps on the bases but also defensively in the outfield as well.

The Orioles announced the signing of second-round pick Chance Sisco today. From part one of the draft review:

  • Chance Sisco, C (Rd. 2, 61st Overall)- This former shortstop is new to catching but seems like it could be the right fit for him.  Sisco has shown a sub-2.0-second pop time though his accuracy was not the best. He was ranked 151st according to Baseball America’s Top 500. His sheer athleticism is shown in his soft hands behind the plate and ability to play in the field as well. This left-handed hitter has power but has a slight tendency to drift at the plate.

And Jim Callis, executive editor of Baseball America, on Sisco, in 140 characters or less:

For more on the O’s second-round selection, Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun spoke with Sisco about his signing.

The O’s first pick, Hunter Harvey is close to a deal as well, according to Melewski.

*Sgt. Slaughter will be at The Grove tomorrow for Fredneck night. Get your tickets here. A taste of tomorrow night’s festivities:

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Shake your Keys.

Eduardo Rodriguez’s experience at the California-Carolina League All-Star Game

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Courtesy of @eduardorod5

If there was any doubt about which league was superior this season, that was settled last night.

The Carolina League All-Stars pounded the California League All-Stars 12-2 in San Jose, Keys all-star Eduardo Rodriguez pitching a scoreless second inning, walking one and striking out one. Keys catcher Zane Chavez was in uniform representing Frederick, but couldn’t play due to an oblique strain.

A look at Rodriguez’s all-star experience, from his own twitter account:

*The game story from last night’s Carolina League beatdown.

*And an MiLB photo gallery from the festivities in San Jose.

*The Keys are back in town this weekend, opening up a three-game series with Myrtle Beach at 7 p.m. on Friday. Wrestling legend Sgt. Slaughter will be leading our annual Fredneck Games and there’s a good chance this will happen to one lucky/unlucky person at The Grove:

Get your tickets here and Shake your Keys.

All-Star Break Blog: Rodriguez and Chavez and more O’s draft review

Tonight in San Jose, Keys Zane Chavez and Eduardo Rodriguez will don the Carolina League All-Stars uniform as they take on the California League All-Stars. The oldest and youngest members of the Keys have both posted impressive first halves and were voted to the game by Carolina managers, front offices and members of the media.

The game starts at 10:35 Eastern Time. All your ASG info is here and if you have the MiLB.tv package, you can watch the game here.

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*A closer look at the Eduardo Rodriguez:

  • Tied for second in the Carolina League in wins (6), is third in innings pitched (78.1) and seventh in ERA (2.99). Has induced 10 groundball double plays this season.
  • Rated by Baseball America as the fifth-best prospect in Orioles organization and third-best pitching prospect behind 2012 Keys Dylan Bundy & Kevin Gausman.
  • Potentially could be the first Venezuelan player signed, developed and promoted to the majors by Baltimore. At age 20, Rodriguez is the youngest member of the Keys.
  • Has pitched at least six innings in 10 of his 13 starts.
  • Went 5-0 with a 2.23 ERA in May, holding batters to a .208 batting average. He was named Orioles Minor League Pitcher of the Month.
  • He carried a no-hit bid into the seventh inning on May 1 against Myrtle Beach, a game he won after allowing just three hits. Ashley Marshall talked to him after the game. An excerpt:

“This was the best outing of my career,” Rodriguez said. “I felt good today, awesome. I was throwing inside with my fastball and then on the outside corner, and I was working ahead.”

  • Watch Rodriguez fan Myrtle Beach’s Rougned Odor here.

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*A closer look at Zane Chavez:

  • In his first season of affiliated baseball, Chavez, 26, leads all Carolina League catchers in homers (4), RBIs (27), and is second in batting average (.268).
  • He took over as the everyday catcher for the Keys in mid-April, when Michael Ohlman went to the disabled list. In May, he hit .305 in 24 games, driving in 18 runs, walking 20 times and posting an OPS of .889.
  • A slow start to June (1-for-21) got worse when he strained his oblique last week and was placed on the DL. As a result, Chavez won’t play in the all-star game tonight, but he will be in the dugout in uniform.
  • That one hit was a big one, though, a walk-off homer on June 4 to beat Lynchburg in the 10th inning.

On Feb. 1, Chavez finally received what, it seemed, he had been working his entire life for. The Orioles purchased his contract and invited him to spring training in Sarasota, Fla. At last, he was going to get the chance to play for an affiliated team.

“If I was younger, I would have been bouncing off the walls. I got my shot!,” he said. “But I have been playing ball for so long and I’m a little bit older now. So, getting the call was really just the next step in my career.”

The first person Chavez called to share the news was his mother.

“She was ecstatic,” he said. “She took it way better than me. She was at work. I was like, ‘Mom, your

son is an Oriole now.’ She cried. She expressed more emotion than I did.”

  • Listen to a May 18 interview with Chavez below:
  • Watch Chavez go deep in Winston-Salem here and with a mustache here.

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*Orioles draft overview, part two

The O’s picked 41 players in this year’s first-year player draft, 14 high schoolers and 27 college players, a lot of whom will don the Keys jersey in the next several seasons. Jeff Kurkjian looks at Baltimore’s second 10 picks:

  • Austin Wynns, C (Rd. 10, 309th Overall)- He has been known as a blocking machine behind the plate and keeps the runners in check with his arm.  He is a below average hitter but solidly built at 6-foot-2 and 205 pounds.
  • Steven Brault, LHP (Rd. 11, 339th Overall)- Ranked 419th in Baseball America’s Top 500, Brault went 8-3, 2.63 with 103 strikeouts and 18 walks in just 79 innings while playing at Division II, Regis in Colorado.  His fastball sits around 88-90 MPH topping around 92. He also has a nice slider but needs to work on his change-up. Little known fact, Brault is also a vocal performance major so he can not only start a professional baseball game but he can sing the National Anthem before it.
  • Jake Bray, RHP (Rd. 12, 369th Overall)- At Feather River JC, Bray was the first baseman and closer for the team but the scouts see him more as a pitcher. His fastball sits around 92-94 MPH, topping out around 96 MPH. He also has a good change-up and a decent slider. He has always been a bullpen boy but the Orioles system will most likely get him a starting position and see how he does. Bray was ranked 288th in Baseball America’s Top 500.
  • Jimmy Yacabonis, RHP (Rd. 13, 399th Overall)- A junior from St. Joseph’s University, this 6-foot-3 relief pitcher originally from New Jersey broke the school record for saves with ten in one season.  He posted a 1-2 record with a 2.02 ERA in 35.2 innings and 26 appearances.
  • Mike Yastrzemski, OF (Rd. 14, 429th Overall)- Ranked 251st in Baseball America’s Top 500, the grandson of Hall of Famer, Carl Yastrzemski, Mike batted .402 in his senior year at Vanderbilt.  Yastrzemski  is one of the SEC’s top base runners and a very skilled an outfielder.
  • Tyler Walsh, SS (Rd. 15, 459th Overall)- The shortstop from Mater Dei HS in Evansville, Indiana is the first middle infielder the Orioles selected. He has committed to Belmont University in Nashville in November. The 6-foot-5 infielder had played all positions on the diamond and is very versatile.
  • Randolph Gassaway, 1B (Rd.16, 489th Overall)- The 6-foot-four first baseman just graduated from Riverwood High School in Atlanta, Georgia. He was chosen for the Rawlings All Americans and All Regions 2013 Southeast All Region 1st Team. He is a born power hitter and compliments it with his 6.65 time in the sixty.
  • Caleb Kellogg, RHP (Rd. 17, 519th Overall)- This Kentucky native standing at six-feet tall, both pitched and played in the outfield in high school. He then attended University of Louisiana in Lafayette and served as the team’s closers for two years. Opposing batters hit only .202 against him his sophomore year. He pitched 35.2 innings, struck out 41 batters and posted a 2.52 ERA.
  • Reed Reilly, RHP (Rd. 18, 549th Overall)- Ranked 191st in Baseball America’s Top 500, scouts have reported Reilly throwing as high as 95 MPH however he usually throws around 89-93 MPH. His secondary stuff is not that great according to scouts but his size and durability should allow him to learn and improve.
  • Dylan Rheault, RHP (Rd. 19, 579th Overall)- The Central Michigan sophomore broke out after his redshirt freshman year finishing with a 2-2 record with 44 strikeouts.  The 6-foot-9, 245-pound right-hander appeared in 15 games in 2013, starting in four, and was 1-4 with a 6.07 ERA in 40 innings of work.

*When the Keys start the second half of the season Friday night at The Grove against Myrtle Beach, Sgt. Slaughter will be here for our annual Fredneck Night. Get your tickets and get excited. Saturday is Scout Night and Sunday is pajama night.

But back to Sgt. Slaughter (I recommend turning the sound down):

*Shake your Keys.

All-Star Break blog: An overview of Baltimore’s 2013 draft, part one

Happy Carolina League All-Star break, everyone. The Keys start the second half of their season Friday night at home against Myrtle Beach. Over the next four days we’ll get into several different things on the blog — MLB draft overlook, Keys first-half wrap up, best moments of the first-half, maybe some first-half awards — including our intern Jeff Kurkjian’s overview of the Orioles draft picks. (And, yes, he is the son of that baseball-famous Kurkjian.)

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*Orioles draft overview, part one

The O’s picked 41 players in this year’s first-year player draft, 14 high schoolers and 27 college players, a lot of whom will don the Keys jersey in the next several seasons. A look at Baltimore’s first 10 picks:

  • Hunter Harvey, RHP (Rd. 1, 22nd Overall)- The first pick chosen by the Orioles was ranked 33rd according to Baseball America’s Top 500 draft prospects.  The son of former major league closer, Bryan Harvey, this six-foot-three pitcher from Catawba, NC, has a quick fastball (90-94 mph) but a breaking ball that needs improving.
  • Josh Hart, OF (Rd. 1, 36th Overall)- Ranked 57th according to Baseball America’s Top 500, Hart is known for his ability to find the gaps in the field.  Not much of a power hitter, many scouts do not agree with his lack of lower body in his swing but nonetheless, he could be an excellent leadoff hitter.  The Georgia Tech signee’s speed not only helps on the bases but also defensively in the outfield as well.
  • Chance Sisco, C (Rd. 2, 61st Overall)- This former shortstop is new to catching but seems like it could be the right fit for him.  Sisco has shown a sub-2.0-second pop time though his accuracy was not the best. He was ranked 151st according to Baseball America’s Top 500. His sheer athleticism is shown in his soft hands behind the plate and ability to play in the field as well. This left-handed hitter has power but has a slight tendency to drift at the plate.
  • Stephen Tapley, LHP (Rd. 3, 98th Overall)- Ranked 123rd in Baseball America’s Top 500, Tarpley was drafted in the eighth round by the Cleveland Indians last year but decided to attend Southern Carolina instead.  This lefty has a fastball that tops at 92 mph (usually 88-90 mph) and also throws a curveball, slider and changeup.
  • Jonah Heim, C (Rd. 4, 129th Overall)- Ranked 170th in Baseball America’s Top 500, this six-foot-five catcher Amherst Central High School in New York is a switch hitting power hitter.  He has to work on the quickness of his feet and his approach from the right side of the plate.  He is currently committed to Michigan State.
  • Travis Seabrooke, LHP (Rd. 5, 159th Overall)- This six-foot-five lefty is one of the youngest players in the draft this year; he will be eighteen in September.  His fastball is in the high eighties but needs to work on his secondary pitches. He is committed to Boston College.
  • Alex Murphy, C (Rd. 6, 189th Overall)- Murphy graduated from Calvert Hall College High School in Towson, Maryland this year and is committed to Wake Forest. He was born in Monrovia, MD and has grown up a Baltimore Orioles fan. Murphy was drafted as a catcher, but it does not seem like he will stay there for long. He is an experienced third baseman and his speed allows to play anywhere in the outfield as well.
  • Drew Dosch, 3B (Rd. 7, 219th Overall)- Ranked 131st in Baseball America’s Top 500, Dosch played for Youngstown State but shined in the Cape Cod League batting .326 with 21 extra-base hits in 44 games.  He does not seem fit to be able to play third base in majors because he is unable throw from multiple angles. If he moves to LF or 1B, he will need to produce more power from those positions.
  • Trey Mancini, 1B (Rd. 8, 249th Overall)- He simply has raw power in the batter’s box. Mancini, a left-handed first baseman but right-handed batter, has improved his strike zone discipline at Notre Dame but still has below-average speed.  The Orioles are really investing in his bat but and his size, standing set six-foot-five inches and weighing in at 205 pounds. He was ranked 230th in Baseball America’s Top 500.
  • Mitch Horacek, LHP (Rd. 9, 279th Overall)- Unranked in Baseball America’s Top 500, this Dartmouth starter went 6-2, 2.20 with 42 strikeouts and only ten walks in 45 innings. He has a fastball in the low 90’s topping out at 92 with pretty good secondary pitches and has a lot of durability on the mound.

*Believe it or not, we’re halfway through the Carolina League season. The Keys wrapped up their first half with an 9-8 loss to Potomac Sunday afternoon in front a big Father’s day crowd of 7,618 The Grove.

Read what happened here and listen to our highlight of the game below:

Jerome Pena gets his sixth straight hit dating back to Saturday, a 2-run homer

The weekend didn’t treat the Keys particularly well, losing three of four, but it was a great weekend for attendance. The Grove hosted 25,165 folks Friday, Saturday and Sunday, the biggest weekend for the Keys in nine years. Saturday’s crowd of 9,294 was the biggest of the year. The view from center field:

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*It was certainly a crazy weekend at the stadium. You could say things have calmed down today. Here’s a behind-the-scenes look of The Grove on day one of the break in six seconds:

*2008 Key Jake Arrieta’s getting another look with the O’s tonight, starting their game against the Tigers. Here’s a look at Arrieta from the Baltimore Sun.

*When the Keys start the second half of the season Friday night at The Grove against Myrtle Beach, Sgt. Slaughter will be here for our annual Fredneck Night. Get your tickets and get excited.

How does a Slaughter Cannon sound to you?!?!:

Shake your Keys.

Keys Baseball: Father’s Day Edition

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Eduardo Rodriguez to start for the Keys on Father’s Day

After ten innings at Harry Grove Stadium last night, the Frederick Keys could not pull off the win against the Potomac Nationals. Despite a bottom of the ninth comeback to tie the score at six, Frederick could not respond to the P-Nats four runs in the top of the tenth inning and ultimately lost 10-9 in ten innings.

Jerome Pena went 5-6 last night with a double, three runs scored and a RBI.  Delvi Cid also had a big game with three hits and two runs scored in addition to a big RBI double in the bottom of the eighth to give the Keys the lead.

*If you missed the Frederick News-Post’s coverage of last night’s game, you can read Joe Dyton’s article here. Manager Ryan Minor talked to Dyton after the game about Fredericks ability to rally back after a P-Nats run-filled inning.

“(Rallying back) is one of those things you have to do, you can’t just give in, you have to get quality at-bats and these guys have been doing that all year. We have to keep our head up and continue to work and get better.”

The Keys will face the P-Nats again today at 2 pm to finish out this five game series.  Eduardo Rodriguez will start today for Frederick in the final game before the All-Star break. He has been a rock for the Keys this season with six wins and three losses in 12 starts.  His ERA is just under three (2.99) and is 3-2 this season while at pitching at Harry Grove Stadium.

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Be sure to keep an eye out for the designated hitter, Christian Walker, who had three big RBI’s in last night’s game. Walker is batting .303 this season and will be hitting clean-up in today’s lineup.

Robbie Ray (5-2, 2.22) will be pitching for the P-Nats. He was ranked tenth amongst Washington Nationals’ prospects by MLB.com at the beginning of this season.

*You can find all the information for tonight’s game information in the games notes below.

*Be sure to come out to Harry Grove Stadium today for our Father’s Day and Sunday Funday celebration! If you purchased a Father’s Day First Pitch Package, please arrive as early as you can! Gates open at 1PM and we will get the first pitches going shortly after that. The Keys for Reading Parade will take place at 1:30.

Saturday Night Baseball, Jimmy Buffett and Luau

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Zach Davies hopes to ride the momentum from last night’s 9-4 victory over the P-Nats

There’s really is no better combination.  The Keys split yesterday’s doubleheader with the P-Nats. Frederick got shut out in the first game 4-0 but scored nine runs in the second game to beat Potomac 9-4.  Delvi Cid hit a two-run bomb over the left field wall in the bottom of the fourth inning.

The win over the P-Nats ended their four-game winning streak and stopped the Keys’ five game skid.

*In case you missed Adam Vencill’s Frederick News-Post story last night, you can read it here. Vencill had the opportunity to talk to Keys starters, Nicky Delmonico and Michael Ohlman about their rather strange post game superstitions. If one of them has a bad game, they go home and vacuum their entire house. Ohlman explains:

“I didn’t have the best day at the plate yesterday but I come back and go 1-for-2 in the second game with a home run, I’ve got the vacuum to thank for that, the Bissell.”

Zach Davies will get the start for this Keys this evening.  Davies (4-3, 3.82) is 2-0 at home this season in five games started. Third baseman, Nicky Delmonico, had two hits including a home run in last night’s so be sure to keep an eye out for him hitting in the third spot in tonight’s lineup.

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Manager Ryan Minor’s lineup for tonight’s game

Today’s starting shortstop, Sammie Starr, sat down with our Intern, Jeff Kurkjian, and talked about Frederick’s composure in the clubhouse going into the final games before the break.

Blake Schwartz will start for the Potomac Nationals. Schwartz was five wins and two losses this season in nine games started.  He was selected by the Washington Nationals in the 17th round of the 2012 First-Year Player Draft out of Oklahoma City University.

You can find all the information for tonight’s game information in the games notes below.

*Be sure to come out to Harry Grove Stadium tonight for the annual Jimmy Buffett Luau Night.  We have a special menu set up for tonight’s game including pulled pork BBQ and chicken kabobs!! See you at the park.

*Former Keys player, Manny Machado, is leading the charge for the Baltimore Orioles. Read David Schoenfield’s article on ESPN.com here that explains Machado’s hitting tendencies and how he may end the season the American League double’s leader.

A Friday evening doubleheader with the P-Nats: fireworks, tote bags, an unveiling and ranch dressing

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Tim Berry looks to snap Frederick’s four-game losing skid and continue his strong start to June this evening.

Last night’s 8-0 shutout loss to Potomac ended the Keys’ first-half division-title hopes, halting my #drivefor5 hashtag before it even got going. Oh well.

But, despite the absence of a race for the Carolina League North crown, this is still a big weekend at the Grove. It’s starts tonight, Going Green Night, with a 5 p.m. doubleheader against the P-Nats,

*As for last night’s game, here’s Greg Swatek’s story in the Frederick News-Post in case you missed it this morning. He asked Keys manager Ryan Minor about the potential let-down that could follow last night’s loss, given that these final four games of the first half are essentially about playing for pride. Minor’s response:

“We’ll see the true character of the kids in situations like this,” he said. “We’ll see the guys that want to play and the guys who are just here. We still have ballgames to play. You still have to prepare yourself. You still have to be ready. You shouldn’t have to have someone refocus you all of the time.”

*There weren’t many Keys’ highlights last night. Thus, the final out of the game, clinching Potomac’s division title, was the highlight of the evening:

*As for tonight’s games, Tim Berry starts game one for the Keys, followed by Trent Howard in game two. Berry is 2-0 with a 2.77 ERA in two June starts and Howard tossed four scoreless innings in a doubleheader at Potomac last Saturday. Berry won game one.

The P-Nats will throw Taylor Hill, who threw six shutout innings against the Keys on Sunday, in game one. And for whatever reason (maybe the P-Nats’ staff is moving slow after last night’s celebration), game two’s starter has yet to be announced.

All the info you need for tonight’s game (except for that second starter) are in tonight’s game notes:

*Tonight’s game one lineup for the Keys: Image

*Coverage starts at 4:30, tune in on 1450 AM The Source or WTHU.org for all the Keys action.

*Other happenings at The Grove tonight:

There will be a tote bag giveaway presented by On The Mark and Sport&Health to the first 1,000 fans in the gates, which open at 4 p.m. It’s a good-looking tote:

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If you bring a bag of household goods to the stadium to donate to Goodwill tonight, we’ll give you a free general admission ticket. Limit four per family. Nothing beats free.

Around 6 p.m., we’ll have an official unveiling of a marker commemorating the national anthem’s union with baseball, as part of Author and Anthem Reunited, the ceremonies celebrating the arrival of Francis Scott Key’s original manuscript of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” We’ll also be raising a 15-star flag, which became the official American Flag in 1795. The 14th and 15th stars were added to symbolize the admission of Vermont and Kentucky into the Union.

Tonight’s the first night of Frederick County’s Keys for Reading weekend, too. Bring your bookmarks to the ballpark for some baseball.

We’ll also have these after game two:

And, as you exit, you’ll be handed one, two or several Hidden Valley ranch dressing samples. We’re giving away 6,000 tonight and tomorrow. Who loves ranch dressing?

Get your tickets and Shake your Keys.

The drive for five starts tonight, No peanuts, Rudy highlights and some extras

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Nicky Delmonico and the Keys need to win five in a row to win the Carolina League North. Their win-streak has to start tonight.

Now that I’m back from taking the tarp off the field, how about a blog post before we enter the final series of first half? (Yes, it looks as though the skies will be kind tonight and there will be baseball played at Harry Grove Stadium.)

The Keys open a four-day, five-game series with Potomac tonight, trailing the P-Nats by five games for first-place in the Carolina League North. Lynchburg is a game ahead of the Keys.

Thus, for the Keys to win the first-half in the North and earn a playoff berth two things need to happen:

  1. Frederick takes all five from P-Nats this weekend
  2. Lynchburg drops one game in their five-game series against Salem

So on peanut-free night at The Grove, it’s time for the Keys to start a winning-streak.

*How did we get here? Well, the Keys just got swept at Myrtle Beach to conclude a 1-5 road swing. Here’s a recap from last night’s game, a 5-1 loss, on FrederickKeys.com.

*Tonight there will be no peanuts in any way, shape or form at Harry Grove Stadium and Brady Wager makes his second Carolina League start. He struggled against the P-Nats on Saturday, but has a chance at redemption tonight. A.J. Cole, who dominated the Keys on Saturday (6 IP, 11 K, and just one run), starts for the P-Nats.

No peanuts and hopefully no P-Nats’ win.

*The Keys placed Travis Adair on the DL today with a knee injury and Anthony Caronia took his place on the roster.

*More info on tonight’s game in the game notes:

KEYS STARTER: RHP Brady Wager (0-0, 11.25)

  • Made his first Carolina League start in game one of Saturday’s doubleheader at Potomac and struggled, allowing five runs in four innings. Left-handers did most of the damage, going 4-8 with a double and 3 RBIs.
  • Posted a 2-3 record with a 4.33 ERA in nine starts with Class-A Delmarva before his promotion on June 4, which followed his worst start of the season on May 30: 6.2 IP, 15 H, 8 ER.
  • Drafted by the Orioles in the ninth round of the 2012 draft out of Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, Ariz. Highest drafted player from GCU since 2003, when the Montreal Expos selected RHP David Perrin in the third round.
  • Led the Pacific West Conference in strikeouts (78 in 84 IP), won seven games and posted a 3.45 ERA in 2012, his last season at Grand Canyon.

LAST APPEARANCE FOR WAGER:

DATE

OPP

RES

DEC

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

6/8

@POT

L

ND

4.0

6

5

5

2

5

NATIONALS STARTER: RHP A.J. Cole (3-2, 4.62)

  • Beat the Keys in game two of Saturday’s doubleheader at Potomac, striking out 11 over six innings while allowing one run. Has won last his last two starts.
  • Rated as the No. 3 prospect in the Oakland organization prior to the 2013 season, according to Baseball America.
  • Originally drafted by the Nationals in the fourth round of the 2010 MLB Draft. One of four players traded to Oakland in exchange for Gio Gonzalez prior to the 2012 season. Returned to Washington this offseason as part of three-way trade that sent OF Michael Morse to Seattle.

KEYNOTES:

FIVE IN A ROW: The Keys’ only chance of winning the first-half Carolina League North crown and securing a playoff berth entails taking all five games of this series from Potomac. They also need a loss from Lynchburg, which is a game in front of Frederick in the standings, at some point this weekend. Anything less and the P-Nats will almost certainly be celebrating a first-half title at Harry Grove Stadium this weekend.

WAGER ME THIS: Keys starter Brady Wager recorded more outs by fly ball and line drive than he did by grounders in his first Carolina League start. That’s not this recipe for success. In Delmarva, Wager recorded more than three times as many groundouts as he did air outs, and with the exception of his first and last starts for the Shorebirds, pitched well. Ground balls will likely be the key to his success.

POWER OUTAGE: The Keys’ offense lost its momentum in Myrtle Beach, posting just six runs and 13 hits in the three-game sweep. Coming back home might help, as Frederick slugs nearly 50 points higher and has homered nine more times in eight fewer games at The Grove.

*Johnny Ruettiger moved back into the leadoff spot last night a picked up a couple hits and stole two bases. He was the bright spot in a dismal series at Myrtle Beach. Two of his highlights:

Rudy’s two-RBI single on Tuesday

Rudy’s diving catch on Monday

*The Star-Spangled Banner’s original manuscript and its author will be reunited this weekend and the Keys will be part of the historical fanfare. Francis Scott Key’s original manuscript arrives in Frederick tomorrow and around 6 p.m., the official unveiling of a historical marker in front of Harry Grove Stadium will take place. The Keys will also be flying a 15-star U.S. flag at The Grove for the remainder of the year starting tomorrow. More details are in this Frederick News-Post article.

*For a little extra Keys luck, former Key Will Startup’s pregame ritual from the 2011 season, when the Keys last won Mills Cup:

Shake your Keys.

Rounding the Bases with Chaz Packan — Christian Walker Q&A

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Frederick Keys first baseman Christian Walker

On Tuesday, June 4 Chaz Packan sat down with Keys first baseman Christian Walker for a “Keys Q & A” for this week’s edition of Rounding the Bases.

CP: How do you feel about playing for the Frederick Keys?

CW: I am pretty happy. We have been playing well, been swinging the bat well, I have been working with (hitting coach Torre) Tyson in the cage. You know, as a first baseman things are expected out of me offensively and I want to help the team anyway I can.

CP: What are your earliest memories of baseball?

CW: I have been playing baseball for as long as I can remember. Throwing and hitting a baseball with my dad, those have to be my earliest memories.

CP: Who did you look up to in the major leagues as your role model?

CW: Scott Rolen was my favorite player having grown up a Phillies fan when he was with the Phillies earlier in his career.

CP: Describe how it felt playing college baseball at South Carolina and winning the College World Series in Omaha.

CW:  It was awesome. Best three years of my life. It was a tough decision coming out of high school, whether I wanted to play in college or sign, but I have no regrets.

—————-

* After a two-day break courtesy of Mother nature, the Keys take on Potomac in a road doubleheader tonight. Frederick trails the P-Nats by two games in the Carolina League North. Potomac gets a boost from its big-league club, who sent them starter Ross Detwiler, making a rehab start in game one. Some game notes:

KEYS GAME ONE STARTER: RHP Brady Wager (Has not pitched)

  • Posted a 2-3 record with a 4.33 ERA in nine starts with Class-A Delmarva before his promotion on June 4, which followed his worst start of the season on May 30: 6.2 IP, 15 H, 8 ER.
  • Prior to his last start with the Shorebirds, Wager had gone 2-2 with a 3.42 ERA and held batters to a .229 average against.
  • Drafted by the Orioles in the ninth round of the 2012 draft out of Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, Ariz.

KEYS GAME TWO STARTER: LHP Trent Howard (3-0, 1.45)

  • Has started two games this season and has not been part of a decision, while posting a 3.86 ERA over a combined seven innings.
  • In relief, has allowed just 2 ER in 24 IP, a 0.75 ERA, and has 26 strikeouts.

NATIONALS GAME ONE STARTER: LHP Ross Detwiler (HNP)

  • Making first rehab start since injuring his right oblique on May 16.
  • Posted 2-4 record, 2.76 ERA in eight starts before injury
  • Is 10-10 with 4.86 in Potomac career; last pitched for P-Nats on rehab in ‘09

NATIONALS GAME TWO STARTER: RHP A.J. Cole (2-2, 4.92)

  • Struck out eight and earned his second win in his last start, June 2 against Lynchburg. He allowed four runs on six hits in 5.1 innings and fanned eight.
  • Rated as the No. 3 prospect in the Oakland organization prior to the 2013 season, according to Baseball America.
  • Originally drafted by the Nationals in the fourth round ’10. One of four traded to Oakland in exchange for Gio Gonzalez prior to the ‘12 season. Returned to Nationals in offseason as part of deal that sent Michael Morse to Seattle.

KEYNOTES:

WHAT’S YOUR WAGER?: With Keys game one starter Brady Wager on the hill, bet on groundballs. With Class-A Delmarva, Wager recorded 3.33 times as many outs by ground as he did by air in nine starts. In addition, he’s only allowed one home run, which came in his last start with Delmarva.

WHAT’S AT STAKE: The Keys and Nationals will play each other eight times in their final eleven games of the first half, with first place in the North and a playoff berth on the line. The first-place P-Nats, winners of eight in a row and 11 of their last 12, hold a two-game lead on the Keys and a 3.5 game lead on Lynchburg.

OFF TO SAN JOSE: Keys Pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez and catcher Zane Chavez were named Carolina League All-Stars Friday and will fly to San Jose, Calif., to play in the 2013 California-Carolina All-Star Game on Tuesday, June 18. Rodriguez (6-2, 2.94) leads the Carolina League in innings pitched (70.1), is tied for the league lead in wins and is ninth in ERA. Chavez, a left-handed hitter, leads all catchers in on-base percentage (.384) and walks (30). He’s batting .279 with four homers, a team-high 27 RBIs and a team-high 13 doubles. Rodriguez, 20, is the youngest member of the Keys and Chavez, 26, is the oldest.

Chavez, Rodriguez named All-Stars

Amidst all this rainy weather today came some good news for a pair of Keys — left-handed pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez and catcher Zane Chavez have been named Carolina League All-Stars.

The pair will travel to San Jose to represent the Carolina League as they take on the California League All-Stars in the 17th annual California-Carolina League All-Star Game on June 18.

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*Why Rodriguez is an all-star:

  • Has posted a 6-2 record and a 2.94 ERA through 11 starts this season, his first at the Advanced-A level. 
  •  A left-handed pitcher from Venezuela, Rodriguez hit his stride in May, going 5-0 with a 2.23 ERA in six starts and holding opponents to .208 batting average against. 
  • His six wins are tied for the Carolina League lead, his ERA ranks ninth-best and he leads the league in innings pitched, having tossed 70.1 to date. 
  • Rated No. 3 by MLB.com and No. 5 by Baseball America among Baltimore Orioles prospects, Rodriguez has thrown at least six innings in 10 starts and has completed seven innings six times this season. And at age 20, Rodriguez is the youngest player on Frederick’s roster.

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*Why Chavez is an all-star:

  • Batting .279 with 13 doubles, four home runs, 27 RBIs, 30 walks and a .384 on-base percentage.A native of San Diego, Calif., the left-handed hitting Chavez played four seasons of independent baseball before signing with the Orioles in February. 
  • He ranks fourth in the Carolina League in on-base percentage and leads all catchers in that category and in walks. The oldest member of the Keys, Chavez, 26, also leads his team in doubles and RBIs. 
  • He batted .305, drove in 18 runs, slugged .463 and had OBP of .424 in 24 games in May.
  • Defensively, Chavez ranks third in the Carolina League in stopping base stealers, throwing them out over 34 percent of the time.

*The rest of the Carolina League All-Stars are here.

*The California League All-Star roster is here.

*Other all-star game information is here.

*After getting rained out last night at home, the Keys have been rained out again tonight in Potomac. They’ll play a doubleheader tomorrow at 5:05 p.m.

*This series is an important one, as the Keys are chasing the P-Nats for first place in the Carolina League North. Take a look at the standings. Frederick and Potomac will play each other eight times in the next nine days to conclude the first half of the season.

Shake your Keys.

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