Game Notes 4-5-14

Here are same game notes hot off the presses! Join me and Doug for the pregame at 5:45 p.m.



NOT FIDEL or RAUL:Frederick took the lead in the top of the eighth on back-to-back doubles by Creede Simpson and Wynston Sawyer, but Lynchburg fought back for the win. In the ninth, the home team tied the game on a base-hit by Kyle Wren to force extra-innings. Frederick was then held off the board in the top of the 10th, while the Hillcats put the first two aboard against Matt Price in the home-half of the inning. The right-hander retired the next two men, but Jose Castro snuck a single inside the third base chalk to give the Hillcats a 6-5 win.

NOT QUITE DUCK HUNTING SEASON: Frederick and Lynchburg both had opportunities with runners in scoring position, but the two squads struggled to convert. The Keys finished just 3-for-11 with runners at second or third base, while the Hillcats went 4-for-19 and left 10 on base. Over the first two nights, the Keys are 6-for-21 with runners in scoring position.

WAR EAGLE!: Creede Simpson has adjusted nicely to the Carolina League so far. After spending all of 2013 at Low-A Delmarva, he is 4-for-10 to open the year. Tied for eighth in the Carolina League in hitting, three of Simpson’s four knocks have been doubles. He is tied for the CL Lead in two-baggers with Wilmington’s Zane Evans, while Simpson is also tied for second in RBIs (four). On Friday, the former Auburn Tiger finished 3-for-5 with two doubles, two RBIs and two runs scored. The three hits ties a career-high for Simpson, who last accomplished the feat on June 27 of last season at Greensboro.

KLINE TO START HOME OPENER: Branden Kline will start the home opener at Harry Grove Stadium when the Keys take on Carolina Tuesday night at 7:00 p.m. Although it will be the right-hander’s home debut, it will not be his first start in the Carolina League. On the mound opening night, Kline picked up the win, tossing five innings of one-run baseball. He allowed seven hits, but did not walk anyone and struck out four. A former standout at Governor Thomas Johnson High School, Kline posted a 0.51 ERA his senior year. Selected by Baltimore in the second round of the 2012 draft out of the University of Virginia, the right-hander is the highest drafted player in Frederick County history.

RELIEF YOU CAN DEPEND ON: Although Friday may not have gone as planned for Matt Price, the Keys bullpen has performed well over the first two nights. Over 9.2 innings, Frederick relievers have allowed three runs on nine hits. Jesse Beal was particularly impressive in game two of the series. Making his season debut, the 6-7 righty tossed three shutout innings of two-hit baseball.

WALK THIS WAY: Parker Bridwell struggled in his Carolina League debut. Tying a career-high with six walks, the native Texan lasted only four innings. He allowed four runs (three earned) on four hits and struck out three but did not factor into the decision. In 2013 with Low-A Delmarva, he went 8-9 with a 4.73 ERA.

2013 TOP-PERFORMERS: In 2013, the Keys finished last in hitting (.245) and pitching (4.43), but several players put together outstanding seasons. Michael Ohlman became the first Frederick player to win the Carolina League batting title since 2009, hitting .313. He also led the CL in slugging percentage (.524) and ended third in on-base percentage (.410). On the mound, Eduardo Rodriguez went 6-4 with a 2.85 ERA and earned a trip to the Sirius XM Futures Game, while fellow-lefty, Tim Berry, finished tied for the league lead in wins (11).

NAME THAT PUJOLS!: Luis Pujols becomes the 20th manager in Keys history, after spending 2013 as the skipper at Low-A Delmarva. He takes the reins from Ryan Minor, who went 61-78 in his lone season as Frederick’s head man. The cousin of Angels star, Albert Pujols, the 58-year-old has considerable experience as a player, manager and coach in the majors and minors. Since spending nine years as a big league catcher with Houston, Kansas City and Texas, Pujols has worked as a bench/first base coach for Montreal (1993-00) and San Francisco (2003-06), while he served as interim manager for the Detroit Tigers in 2002, after Phil Garner was fired six games into the season. He has also managed for Double-A affiliates in the Detroit and Houston systems.

PROSPECTING: This year’s Keys team does not lack for talent. Frederick’s Opening Day roster features five of Baltimore’s Top 30 prospects according to Baseball America. Shortstop Adrian Marin (12) highlights the list and is joined by right-handed pitchers Parker Bridwell (19), Branden Kline (20) and Mychal Givens (23). Glynn Davis (29) rounds out the group. Of the five players, only Givens (one game in 2010) and Davis have played at the Advanced-A level.

BLAST FROM THE PAST: In addition to an excellent group of prospects, the Keys return 16 players. Many of those familiar faces are outfielders and relief pitchers. Brenden Webb, Trent Mummey and Torsten Boss have all spent time in with Frederick, while seven of the club’s eight bullpen hands (Jesse Beal, Matt Hobgood, Miguel Chalas, Matt Price, Lex Rutledge, Mychal Givens and Gene Escat) have also sported a Frederick uniform at some point.

2013 VS. LYNCHBURG: The 2013 season-series between Frederick and Lynchburg was often close. The Hillcats held a slim 10-9 advantage, while six of the 19 games were decided by a one run. Sammie Starr feasted off Lynchburg pitching, batting .323 with three doubles and six RBIs over 18 games.

TODAY’S OPPOSING PITCHER:Right-hander Wes Parsons makes the Saturday night start for Lynchburg and  is the No. 20 prospect in the Atlanta organization according to Baseball America. In his first professional season at Low-A Rome, Parsons went 7-7 with a 2.63 ERA over 19 starts. Joining the club in late May, the Tennessee native was nearly unhittable in the second-half. In 14 starts, he tallied a 2.02 ERA and scattered just 63 hits over 84.2 innings. On the season, he limited opponents to a .224 batting average and displayed excellent command. Over 109.2 total innings, he walked only 21. Signed by Atlanta as a non-drafted free agent in 2012, Parsons gave up baseball early in his high school career to focus on golf. By his junior year he returned to the hill and later pitched at Jackson State Community College. There, he missed the fall of his first semester due to a weightlifting accident, but made an immediate impact once the regular season got started. That success carried over to the summer collegiate Northwoods League, where Parsons pitched for the Thunder Bay Border Cats. Against top-college competition,  he posted a 2.61 ERA and tossed a scoreless inning in the league’s All-Star game, where he was clocked at 95mph. Although multiple teams showed interest, Parsons signed with the Braves for $200,000. Employing an easy delivery, the 6-5 righty pitches with a low-mid 90s fastball, a low-80s slider and a changeup that is developing.

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