Frederick Keys Game Notes 4-29
Good Morning Keys Fans!
The Frederick Keys and Carolina Mudcats are set to play a doubleheader this morning (weather permitting). In game one, Brady Wager will face-off against CL ERA leader Ryan Merritt who comes in at 3-0 with a 0.37 ERA. In game two, Frederick native Branden Kline will tangle with Dartmouth graduate Cole Sulser. Kline sports the seventh-best ERA in the CL, and leads the league with 29 innings pitched.
Some game notes for this morning are below.
Tuesday, Apr. 29, 2014 · Game #24/25 · Home Game #13/#14
Frederick Keys (10-13) vs Carolina Mudcats (12-10)
G1: RHP Brady Wager (2-2, 7.11) vs. LHP Ryan Merritt (3-0, 0.37)
G2: RHP Branden Kline (1-1, 2.48) vs. RHP Cole Sulser (0-2, 3.22)
RAIN DANCE: The Frederick Keys and the Carolina Mudcats were rained out on Monday night. The two games will be made up as part of a Tuesday morning doubleheader starting at 11 a.m. It is the second morning twinbill Frederick has played this season. In the first one, Frederick took both games at Winston-Salem. One week ago, the team split its second doubleheader with Carolina.
TEE IT UP: The Frederick Keys used a five-run third, outstanding relief pitching by Mark Blackmar, and the hot bat of Manny Machado to defeat the Carolina Mudcats 10-3 on Sunday afternoon at Harry Grove Stadium. The five-run frame was the most profitable stanza of the season for the Keys, who also equaled their season-high total for hits in an inning (five). On the mound, Blackmar tossed a season-high 5.1 innings of one-run baseball, while Machado paced everyone at the plate, going 4-for-4 with two RBIs and three runs scored. Sunday’s win was the first at home against Carolina this season, after the Mudcats won the previous four matchups at the Grove.
MANNY MANIA: In his third day of an MLB rehab on Sunday, Manny Machado had his best day yet. Playing third base for the second straight day, the Miami native went 4-for-4 with two doubles, two RBIs and three runs scored. The four hits equaled the most by an individual in a Keys uniform this season, while it marked the second time in three games that Machado had recorded a pair of two-baggers in a contest. Over three games with the Keys, the 21-year-old hit .667 (8-for-12) with four doubles, a triple, two RBI, five runs scored and a stolen base. Machado started his rehab assignment in Frederick on Friday after undergoing offseason surgery on his left knee. An American League All-Star with Baltimore in 2013, the Florida native hit .283 with 14 home runs and 71 RBIs over 156 games with the O’s last season. Selected by Baltimore with the third overall pick in the 2010 draft, Machado was part of the 2011 Keys team that won the Mills Cup. The fourth title in team history, he was named series MVP after posting four RBIs in the series-clinching win.
EVERYBODY HITS: Frederick posted its second largest run output of the season on Sunday. The 10 runs were two-short of the club’s season-high on April 13, when the Keys notched 12 against Lynchburg. One big inning got the ball rolling, as the Keys scored half of their runs in the third inning. In the frame, 10 men came to bat, making it the third time all season the team had batted around in an inning. Frederick also sent nine men to bat in the sixth, leading to three runs. In total, eight of the nine starters recorded at least one hit, while Michael Burgess (three), Manny Machado (two) and Lucas Herbst (two) each drove in multiple runs.
BLACKJACK: Mark Blackmar gave the Keys valuable innings out of the bullpen on Saturday. Tossing 5.2 innings, the Texan allowed one run of five hits, walking one and striking out three. It was the longest outing by a Frederick bullpen-hand this season (eclipsing the four-inning stint by Miguel Chalas on April 14 against Lynchburg). Meanwhile, it was Blackmar’s longest outing since June 23, 2013, when he tossed six innings of three-run baseball as a member of Low-A Delmarva’s starting rotation. The right-hander currently leads all Keys relievers in innings pitched (17.2).
OUT OF THE DARKNESS, INTO THE LIGHT: Glynn Davis endeda three-game hitless stretch on Sunday, going 1-for-2 with three runs and three walks.Hitless in his previous 16 at-bats (stretching back to Wednesday), Davis snapped the skid in the third with a single to left. Although the recent slump has cut his batting average from .414 to .349, the Baltimore native is still third in Carolina League in hitting. He is also third in hits (30) and second in runs scored (19).
SOUTHPAW STRUGGLES: For the second straight day, the Keys could not diagnose a left-handed starting pitcher. Facing Shawn Morimando, the Frederick was limited to one run on two hits over 6.2 frames. This season, the club is only 1-5 when facing a lefty starter, while the Keys are hitting just .233 off southpaws this year. Morimando has been particularly difficult to crack. The No. 22 prospect in the Indians system according to Baseball America, the lefty is 3-0 with a 0.48 ERA (18.2IP/3R/1ER) against the Keys in 2014. Tonight the team sees southpaw Ryan Merritt for a second time. He paces the Carolina League with a 0.37 ERA, and tossed a seven-inning complete game (7IP/R/0ER) against the Keys one week ago.
I WANNA BE LIKE MIKE!:After getting off to a slow start, Michael Burgess has been red-hot over the last week and a half. The Keys outfielder has hit safely in five straight, as well as in nine of his last 10 games, to jolt his average from .209 to .274 (the highest it has been all season). A force in the middle of the order, 10 of Burgess’ 23 hits have gone for extra-bases. Currently, the Tampa native leads the team in homers (three), doubles (seven), and RBIs (14).
JASON, JASON, HE’S OUR MAN!: Jason Esposito has been swinging a hot bat over the last week. The former Vanderbilt Commodore has hit safely in his last 10 games, raising his batting average from .194-.260. The 10-game streak is tied for the third longest by a player in the Carolina League this season, as the Connecticut native trails only Glynn Davis (11 games) and Erik Gonzalez (16). Esposito has also been sharp at third. He currently leads all Carolina League third baseman in fielding percentage (1.000), and has successfully executed all 50 chances that have come his way.
WEBB TO THE DL: Last Tuesday, Brenden Webb was placed on the seven-day disabled list with a right shoulder sprain. The move is retroactive to April 21. Over 15 games, Webb is batting .283 with one home run, eight RBIs and four doubles.
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 played at the Advanced-A level prior to 2014.
TODAY’S OPPOSING PITCHER: Left-hander Ryan Merritt makes his fifth start for Carolina this season, and his second against the Keys. The Carolina League’s ERA leader (0.37), the 22-year-old has surrendered only one earned run (two in total) over 24.1 innings. During that time, he has held opponents to a league-low .165 average, and has a WHIP of 0.82. The author of the CL’s only complete game this season, it came in his last start against Frederick on April 21. Pitching the second game of a doubleheader, the lefty allowed one unearned run on four hits over seven innings. He struck out four and did not walk a batter. Merritt made a cameo with the Mudcats in 2013, posting a 5.00 ERA (9IP/5ER) over two late-August starts. He spent the bulk of his year at Low-A Lake County, where he went 6-9 with a 3.42 ERA over 24 games (23 starts). His ERA was the fourth-best among Indians farmhands. Utilizing pinpoint command, Merritt walked only 18 over 126.1 innings, the second fewest in the Midwest League last year. Closing out the year strong, the Texan allowed only 14 earned runs over his final 53.2 frames. Selected by Cleveland in the 16th round of the 2011 draft, Merritt was taken out of McLennan Community College. There, he posted a 1.23 ERA and struck out 88 over 88 innings. A second-team All-State selection out of Celina High School (TX), he tallied a 0.98 ERA and hit .455. A three-pitch pitcher, Merritt throws an upper-80s fastball, a curveball and a changeup.