February 2014

Guess your Keys: Friday, February 28

Hello Keys Fans!

You made it to Friday. Now with the weekend on the horizon, we’ll try and make your day go a little faster with….

ROUND 1 OF GUESS YOUR KEYS!!!

I know, it sounds like a game show that all the networks passed on. But for our purposes, it’s a pretty fitting title. Over the next few weeks we’ll unveil a list of 40 possible Frederick Keys for the 2014 season. Then when the opening day roster comes out, we’ll see how we did. Now, the question some of you might be asking: I thought a Carolina League roster could only consist of 25 guys, why list 40?

First off, we like to give ourselves some wiggle room. While the MLB roster is mostly set, minor league rosters are a little tougher to pin down. Second, we want to prepare Keys fans for the entire season as best we can. As many minor league baseball fans know, just because a player starts on your roster, there’s no guarantee he will FINISH on your roster. Injuries, promotions, trades and the like tend to disrupt continuity.

Now before we begin, one disclaimer:

We HAVE NOT wiretapped the offices of Orioles Executive Vice President  Dan Duquette or Director of Player Development Brian Graham. We’d like to keep the FBI on our good side. Instead, our crack staff of experts here at the Unlocking the Keys blog have worked to compile the list.

So without further or due, it’s time to unveil the first two players we expect to grace Harry Grove Stadium at some point this season. We’ll begin with one member of the 2013 Frederick Keys:

JESSE BEAL

Courtesy: Orioles-Nation.com

Courtesy: Orioles-Nation.com

Vitals 

Position: RHP

Age: 23

Height: 6-7

Weight: 217

2013 club: Frederick

More on Beal:

After missing all of 2011 on account of right labrum surgery, Beal returned to form in 2013 with the Keys. He pitched in a career-high 40 games, logging a 4.71 ERA over 40 games pitched. The higher ERA was due in large part to extreme home-road splits. In 20 games at other Carolina League parks, the 6-7 righty tallied a 3.35 ERA compared to a 6.17 ERA at hitter-friendly Harry Grove Stadium. Still, Beal’s progress out of the bullpen was encouraging. His August was terrific (9G, 1-1, 3.46 ERA), while he worked two or more innings in 24 of his outings. That’s versatility that any manager can appreciate. Armed with excellent command (his strikeout-walk ratio was almost 3:1 last season), Beal’s fastball sits in the low-mid 90s, while he features a sharp 11-5 curveball.

HUNTER HARVEY

Observernewsonline,com

Observernewsonline.com

Vitals 

Position: RHP

Age: 19

Height: 6-4

Weight: 178

2013 club: GCL Orioles/Aberdeen

More on Harvey:

Considered one of the jewels of the Orioles minor league system, Harvey made a strong impression in his first professional season. Selected by Baltimore with the 22nd overall pick in last year’s draft out of Bandy H.S. (NC), the 19-year-old went 0-1 with a 1.78 over eight starts between the GCL Orioles and the Short-Season Aberdeen Ironbirds. Equipped with a fastball that has touched 97 mph, Harvey often overwhelmed his opposition. In 25.1 innings, the righty struck out 33 and held opponents to a .223 batting average. He also walked only six over that stretch. Not too shabby.

Rated the No. 4 prospect in the Orioles system by Baseball America, scouts have given Harvey high marks for his maturity, despite being less than a year removed from high school. Described by Aberdeen’s manager Matt Merullo as a pitcher “who looks like he’s 14, but pitches like he is about 34″, Harvey’s poise can be traced to strong baseball bloodlines. Father, Bryan, was a two-time MLB All-Star and saved 177 games over a nine-year career with the Angels and Marlins, while older brother Kris was a former Pirates and Marlins farmhand. Both ought to be invaluable resources for the youngest Harvey, as he begins his trek to the majors.

Without any full-season experience under his belt, Harvey is expected to begin the season at Low-A Delmarva, but some such as MASN’s Steve Melewski, believe a promotion to Frederick could come in the second half: http://www.masnsports.com/steve_melewski/2013/10/a-take-on-the-orioles-minor-leagues-pitcher-hunter-harvey.html

We hope you enjoyed the inaugural edition of “Guess Your Keys.” Episode two will come your way early next week. In the meantime, enjoy the O’s spring training opener this afternoon! The team will make the 45-minute trek up to Port Charlotte to take on the Rays at 1:05. Chris Tillman makes the start, while former Key Zach Britton is expected to throw second.

Talk soon,

Geoff

Frank Who?

Very few supplemental first round picks make waves during their first spring training.

Josh Hart is a bit of an exception.

On Monday afternoon, Oriole-great Frank Robinson paid a visit to Sarasota, Fla to visit with the team. However, when Baltimore’s manager Buck Showalter introduced the 19-year-old to Robinson, Hart had no idea who the Hall of Famer was.

As the son of a high school principal, it should come as no surprise that Showalter told Hart to complete a one-page report on Robinson. Nor should it come as a shock the story garnered national exposure:

Courtesy: AP

Courtesy: AP

If I were Hart, I would have been mortified. After all, his report probably included some of the following about Robinson:

-1982 Hall of Fame Inductee

- #22 on Sporting News List of 100 Greatest Baseball Players

- Finalist for Major League Baseball All-Century Team

-Two-time MVP and World Series MVP in 1966

-9th all-time in home runs (fourth-most at the time of his retirement)

- First African-American to serve as a manager in Major League History

Robinson with the Orioles courtesy: Biography

Robinson with the Orioles
courtesy: Biography

You get the drift. It’s information most baseball fans are aware of. But the reality is, some professional baseball players didn’t grow up as huge baseball fans. The vast majority played multiple sports through high school, and idolized NFL or NBA stars as kids. Some, even got to live out their dreams in multiple pro sports:

Russell Wilson Courtesy: seahawks.com

Russell Wilson
Courtesy: seahawks.com

John Elway courtesy: SI.Com

John Elway
courtesy: SI.Com

Okay, if you’re a Super Bowl winning quarterback I understand why you might gravitate towards football over baseball (Wilson was drafted by the Rockies and selected in the 2013 Rule 5 draft by the Rangers, while Elway played a summer in the Yankees farm-system, FYI).

Still, if you’re going to play baseball, a working knowledge of the all-time greats isn’t asking a lot. Especially, when a host of them have come from your own franchise.  As O’s manager Buck Showalter put it on ESPN’s Mike & Mike in the Morning:

“It’s important that we realize there were some people that paved the way to have that strong fan base, the people that live and die with everything the Orioles do.”

A lesson Hart learned over the course of his assignment. If you’re wondering, his report earned an “A-plus” from the Orioles skipper.

Now that he’s hit the books, Hart will try and open some eyes on the field. Over 36 games with the GCL Orioles and Short-Season Aberdeen Ironbirds in 2013, he hit .218 with nine RBIs and 11 stolen bases.  Rated the No. 13 prospect in the Baltimore system by Baseball America, Hart profiles as a speed guy at the top of the lineup. But with plenty to learn, he’s likely a year away from Frederick at least.

That being said, the Keys can expect a talented group in 2014. Over the next few weeks, we’ll have our predictions, as we continue the countdown towards opening day.

Talk soon, and shake your keys!

Geoff

Turning the Lock: A Glance into the 2014 Frederick Keys

Good Afternoon Keys Fans!!!

There may still be snow on the ground in Frederick, but in 44 days, the Keys will play their first game of the season against the Lynchburg Hillcats at historic Falwell Field. It’s a lovely thought isn’t it? In the meantime, I’m sure many of you are keeping track of all the developments down at Orioles Spring Training in Sarasota. It figures to be an exciting year for the O’s, but it ought to be a banner year for the Keys as well. And as we get closer to the season, we’ll give you the inside skinny on possible Keys players, updates from camp, as well as 2014 Keys promotions and lots more! But before we get to all that, some introductions:

First off, my name is Geoff Arnold, and I am the new Broadcasting and Public Relations Manager for the Keys. I serve as one of the team’s radio voices, and work as the primary liasion to the media. This is my first year in Frederick, but my second in the Carolina League. Last year, I served as the Assistant Director of Broadcasting and Media Relations for the Wilmington Blue Rocks, Advanced-A affiliate of the Kansas City Royals. In short, I couldn’t have asked for a better indoctrination into the Carolina League. Wilmington’s fanbase was super-passionate, while the front office staff was top-notch.

As an added plus, the Blue Rocks were only a short-ride up I-95 from my hometown of Berwyn, PA. Berwyn is a suburb of Philadelphia and is roughly 15 minutes from Valley Forge (or the King of Prussia Mall if that makes things easier). And yes, for better or worse, richer or poorer, I am a Philadelphia sports fan. I’ve been crushed so many times by the Phillies, Eagles, Flyers and Sixers, but at the end of the day, I still love them. In particular the Phillies. My family has had season tickets for over 30 years.

Speaking of family, all are baseball FANATICS. My dad coached pretty much every one of my little league teams growing up. My mom coached my sister’s teams, while my brother and sister both played collegiately for a time. I on the other hand, played high school baseball, before switching to baseball umpiring. It was a great way to make money in college, while it provided me with my first “real” job after graduation. Before moving into the broadcast booth, I umpired in the Gulf Coast League in 2011. So if you call out “hey blue, you stink!!!” during a Keys game and see me jerk my head around? Instinctual reaction.

But that’s enough about me. This season, I’ll be joined by two other awesome guys on the blog.  I’ll start with the Garden State’s favorite son. My main man Doug Raftery, who will be my partner on Keys broadcasts this year:

DOUG RAFTERY

My name is Doug and I’m a 23-year-old from Brick, NJ, also known as “America’s Safest City” in 2006 by the Morgan Quitno survey. My house is also partly made of brick, which makes the town name that much better.

I attended Hood College just down the road and graduated with a Communication Arts degree in 2012. While there, I had the opportunity to play collegiate soccer around some knee injuries, and was President of the Student Government Association my senior year.

I’m a big ‘quote’ guy, and my favorite is “You must have long-term goals to keep you from being frustrated by short-term failures” by Charles C. Noble.

My family is extremely important to me, as my mom, Patty, and dad, Ron, still live in Brick right on the jersey shore. My sister, who is four years older than me, is in the process of getting her PhD from the University of South Carolina. She is recently engaged to my new brother-in-law David, and I can’t wait until the wedding in 2015!

I can’t wait to interact with the fans this season while on air and at the stadium! Talk to everybody soon.

CHRIS COLLETTI

Hello Keys fans! My name is Chris Colletti, the Marketing Assistant for this coming season. I along with the others here will help with this season’s blog and just wanted to give you an introduction to myself. I am a 2013 graduate from SUNY Cortland in Central New York with a major in Sport Management. As a native of Buffalo, New York I am a lover of three things: Music, Wings, and Sports. Last year I worked with the Buffalo Bisons, the Triple-A affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays, and I can’t wait to bring my experiences to the table here in Frederick. I look forward to meeting you all here at the stadium and I hope you enjoy the baseball this year as well as the events we are planning for you this season. Go Keys!

And there you have it. The talented trio (or duo depending on how you look at it). We look forward to bringing you Keys coverage throughout the season, and we’ll be in touch soon!

Shake your Keys!

Geoff, Doug and Chris

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