Game Notes 4-6-14
Almost ready for Baseball at Calvin Falwell Field! Keys go for split of the four game series. Attached are some game notes for the day:
WALK-OFF WOES (PART 2):For the second time in as many nights, Lynchburg won in walk-off fashion against the Keys. This time is was Kyle Wren’s turn to play hero. With the game tied 3-3 in the top of the ninth, Jose Peraza singled with one out. He successfully stole second, and scored on a base knock to center by Wren. On Friday night, Jose Castro crushed the Keys hopes at an extra-inning win, with a single down the third base line in the bottom of the 10th.
HANDING OUT FREE RIDES: On Saturday, the Keys were done in by late-inning walks. Making his season-debut, Gene Escat struggled to command the strike zone, walking three and hitting a man over 1.1 innings. Two of those free passes led to runs, while the hit-by-pitch also led to a seventh inning score. Walks were occasionally a problem for the former Fresno State Bulldog in 2013. Over 57.1 innings with Frederick, Escat issued 25 free tickets.
TAYLOR ON THE ATTACK: Making his Advanced-A debut, Matt Taylor turned in the best outing by a Frederick starter so far. Despite receiving a no-decision, the lefty effectively used his sinker and changeup to hold the Hillcats to just three hits over six innings. Walking three and striking out two, he did not allow a base hit until the fourth inning. A former fifth round pick by Baltimore in 2011, Saturday marked the second straight season that Taylor did not allow a run in his first start. Last season against Hagerstown, he tossed four shutout innings in his debut, while he recorded a 1.62 ERA over the first month of the 2013 campaign.
DOUBLE YOUR PLEASURE: For the third time in as many nights, Creede Simpson finished a game with at least one double. Facing Hillcats reliever Eric Pfisterer, the former Auburn Tiger doubled off the top of the leftfield wall, just missing a home run. Unfortunately, Simpson’s one two-bagger was not enough to grab the CL doubles lead for himself. Wilmington’s Zane Evans also finished with a two-base hit, to keep the duo tied with four apiece. Still, it has been an excellent start for Simpson. Over his first three games he is batting .385 (5-for-13) with four doubles and four RBIs. On Friday, he tied a career-high with three hits.
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.
BULLPEN BLUES: Although the Keys bullpen got off to a solid start (8IP/1R/4H), things have gone off course since. Over the last four innings, Keys relievers have allowed six runs on 12 hits and handed out four walks.
START YOUR ENGINES: Adrian Marin got off to tough start, but on Saturday night, he received a confidence-boost. After going 1-for-8 over his first two games, Marin went 2-for-4 last night with a triple, an RBI and a run scored. The Orioles No. 12 prospect according to Baseball America (and tops on the Keys roster), this is Marin’s first year in the Carolina League. Last season at Low-A Delmarva, he hit .265 over 108 games.
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 Jarrett Miller makes the Sunday start for Lynchburg. The 24-year-old begins his second season in the Carolina League after posting a 9-8 record and a 3.73 ERA over 30 games (25 starts) with the Hillcats last season. Miller finished fifth in the CL in strikeouts (122) and fourth in innings pitched (147.0), but occasionally struggled with command, as he also ended third-overall in walks (63). The righty spent 2011-12 with Low-A Rome. Selected by Atlanta in the 21st round of the 2011 draft out of UNC-Greensboro, Miller went 4-2 with a 4.08 ERA in 28 games (four starts) as a junior. Miller tries to become the first Spartans pitcher to reach the Major Leagues since Brian Moehler, who made his big league debut with Detroit in 1996, and pitched 14 years with the Tigers, Reds, Astros and Marlins. Miller throws a low-mid 90s fastball, a curve, a slider and a changeup.