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

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