Frederick Keys Game Notes 5-25

Good Morning Keys Fans!

The Keys and the Blue Rocks play the third of four games on Sunday afternoon. First pitch is slated for 1:35 as the Keys try and avoid their fourth straight loss.

First pitch is slated for 1:35 p.m., and some game notes are below.

Talk soon and shake your keys!

Geoff

Sunday, May 25, 2014 · Game #47 · Road Game #25

Frederick Keys (20-26) vs Wilmington Blue Rocks (24-23)

RHP Parker Bridwell (1-6, 5.47) vs. RHP Christian Binford (3-2, 2.35)

STUBBING YOUR TOE: Cody Stubbs was a one-man wrecking crew on Saturday night. Ending with five RBIs, Wilmington’s first baseman triggered a four-run Blue Rocks fourth, as the Frederick Keys dropped their third straight game, 8-4 at Frawley Stadium. One of the best offensive performances of the year against the Keys, Stubbs went 3-for-4 with five RBIs. That included a two-run double in the second and a three-run homer in the third. This season, only Myrtle Beach’s Joey Gallo has recorded more RBIs off of Frederick pitching in a game (on April 23 he tallied six RBIs via three home runs). Saturday’s loss moves Frederick to six games below .500 for the first time all season, while the Keys are 3.5 games behind Potomac and Wilmington who are tied for first in the Carolina League Northern Division.

MOVING OFF THE TRACKS: Frederick is in the midst of its second-longest losing streak of the season. The club’s longest slide went from April 8-12, when the orange and black lost five straight to Carolina and Lynchburg. Since that time, the Keys have not dropped any more than two in a row until Saturday. A team that has normally fared well on the road this season, the Keys have lost each of their last three road tilts going back to last Sunday at Winston-Salem.

HIT AROUND: Brady Wager allowed only one run over seven innings in his lone start at Frawley Stadium in 2013, however his first outing in 2014 against the Blue Crew was not as smooth. Pitching for the first time in nearly two weeks (Wager was scratched from his start last Saturday at Winston-Salem), the righty surrendered seven runs on seven hits. He walked one and struck out three. The seven runs were the second-most Wager had allowed in a game all season, however only three of them were earned. Prior to Cody Stubbs’ three-run homer in the fourth, Adrian Marin committed a two-out error which enabled a run to score. Since the defensive miscue would have ended the inning, none of the four runs in the third were charged to the Arizona native. Over his last two outings, the Arizona native is 0-2 and has allowed 12 runs (eight earned) on 17 knocks over nine frames.

READY FOR BUSINESS: Jason Esposito got quite a workout at third base on Saturday. Over nine innings, the former Vanderbilt Commodore recorded eight putouts, while he recorded every out in the bottom of the third. The top defensive third baseman in the Carolina League, Esposito has handled 121 total chances and made only one error. That came in the series opener on Friday night, and snapped a string of 42 straight games (dating back to 2013) where the Connecticut native did not make an error. One of the anchors of the Keys defense this season, Frederick is tied for the league-lead in fielding percentage (.978) with Wilmington (.978).

CLOSE CALLS: Lately, the Keys have played a number of nailbiters. Five of the club’s last six games have come down to one or two runs, while Saturday’s defeat ended a string of three straight one-run affairs. Frederick’s last one-run win came on Wednesday night against Myrtle Beach, when the Keys won 5-4 thanks to a three-run sixth, and an unearned run in the seventh. Less than 24 hours later, the Pelicans answered back with a 4-3 win, as Preston Beck’s two-run homer in the eighth inning off Lex Rutledge proved to be the decisive blow. On the season, Frederick is 5-10 in one-run games, the worst mark in the Carolina League. That can be partially attributed to the Keys dropping their first five one-run games of the year. Salem owns the best record in one-run tilts in the CL (8-2/.800).

STILL KNOCKIN: Tucker Nathans will be sad to see the month of May come to an end. After hitting only .148 in April, the New York native is batting .367 over the season’s second month. During that time he has gone 22-for-60 with four doubles, seven RBIs and six runs scored. A majority of that damage came during a five-game hitting streak (which ended Tuesday), where the former Fairfield star went 10-for-20 with three doubles, five RBIs and two runs scored. Nathans has recorded multiple hits in three of his last four games, to raise his batting average to .257, the highest it has been since April 4 (the second game of the year).

MOVING AND SHAKING: Frederick’s roster has gotten a bit of a shakeup over the last few days. On Saturday, Michael Burgess was transferred to Aberdeen, while Pedro Perez was received from the Ironbirds. Before Thursday’s morning game, Sammie Starr rejoined the Keys from Aberdeen and Zane Chavez returned from Double-A Bowie. Meanwhile, Perez was transferred to Aberdeen, while Lucas Herbst was also sent to the Ironbirds. On Friday, one additional roster move was announced, as lefty reliever Ashur Tolliver joined the Keys from Aberdeen, and Lex Rutledge was transferred.

TAYLOR TO THE DL: On Monday left-hander Matt Taylor was placed on the seven-day disabled list retroactive to May 19. One of the Carolina League’s top starting pitchers this season, the Georgian rates second in ERA (1.94) and is tied for second in wins (five). Winner of three straight starts, Taylor’s most recent triumph came last Wednesday against Potomac, when he allowed five runs over five innings.

ON THE WAY HOME: Although Glynn Davis is only 3 for his last 20 at the plate, the Keys centerfielder still ranks among the Carolina League’s top offensive performers. Third in the league in batting average (.320), Davis’ most valuable asset has been his ability to get on base and score runs. Over his last 18 contests, the speedster has scored 15 runs. In the process it has moved his season-tally up to 38, second-most in the Carolina League (he trails only Myrtle Beach’s Joey Gallo who has 44). He has at least one hit in 33 of the 44 games he has played this season, while he leads the team in multi-hit games (17).

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:Right-hander Christian Binford makes his ninth Carolina League start and his first against the Frederick Keys. Rated the No. 10 prospect in the Royals system according to Baseball America, the Hagerstown, MD native picked up his third win of the year on Tuesday. Facing Carolina, the right-hander allowed two runs on six hits over 5.2 innings, he struck out eight, but tied his season-high with three walks allowed. A pitcher whose control has been rated as the best in the Kansas City farm system by Baseball America, Binford is fourth in the Carolina League in WHIP (1.04), while he is limiting opponents to a .217 batting average (.225 left/.212 right) the fifth-lowest mark in the eight-team circuit. A pitcher who has been outstanding over both months of the season, Binford has a 2.19 ERA in the month of May, and has given up only six runs in 24.2 innings pitched. The right-hander was also dominant at Low-A Lexington in 2013. Named the Lexington Pitcher of the Year as well as a South Atlantic League All-Star, Binford was 8-7 with a 2.67 ERA to go along with 130 strikeouts and just 25 walks over 135 frames. His ERA was third-best in the SAL, while he placed fifth in WHIP (1.14) and sixth in strikeouts. Binford spent 2012 at Rookie-Burlington, after being selected by Kansas City in the 30th round of the 2011 draft. He received a well over-slot bonus of $575,000 which swayed him from attending the University of Virginia (if he attended he would have been teammates with Branden Kline). As a high school senior at Mercersburg (PA) Academy, Binford posted a 0.64 ERA in 55 frames. As a sophomore he underwent Tommy John Surgery. Not a hard thrower, Binford used his 6 foot 7 frame to create a good downhill angle on his pitches. He throws a 88-93 mph fastball, a slider, curveball and changeup.

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