Game Notes 6-2-14

Happy Monday Keys fans!

Now two days into June, the weather isn’t all that’s heating up in Frederick; your Keys have won three straight and will take to Harry Grove Stadium tonight to vie for their first four-game home winnings streak since May of 2011. Tonight marks the end of their series against the Wilmington Blue Rocks in which the Keys have showcased lights-out pitching on way to their three consecutive victories. Mark Blackmar was on the mound last night, pitching six innings and allowing only one run, lead the Frederick victory. Branden Kline takes the mound tonight looking to keep the streak alive. Read more about the Keys pitching in the game notes below.

The recent Keys success can’t all be attributed to pitching; shortstop Adrian Marin won the Carolina League “Player of the Week” award this past week. Marin has posted three multi-RBI performances in his last six contests. He is the second Frederick player to win a weekly award this season.

Below are some of the game notes for tonight’s game.

Hope to see plenty of you out at the Grove tonight!

Monday, June 2, 2014 · Game #55 · Home Game #26

Frederick Keys (24-30) vs Wilmington Blue Rocks (27-28)

RHP Branden Kline (3-1, 3.41) vs. RHP Glenn Sparkman (2-1, 1.67)

DON’T STOP NOW BOYS!: The Frederick Keys used one big inning, as well as excellent starting pitching from Mark Blackmar to claim a 4-1 victory on Sunday afternoon at Harry Grove Stadium. It was the Keys third straight triumph, and secured a series victory for the orange and black. After leaving five stranded through the first three frames, Frederick got to Wilmington lefty Sean Manaea with two outs in the fourth. After Creede Simpson doubled to lead-off the inning, Sam Kimmel drove him home with a soft single to right. Sammie Starr was then hit by a pitch, to send up Brenden Webb, who singled home Kimmel. Tucker Nathans completed the scoring with the fourth base knock of the inning. On the mound, Blackmar put together his best start of the season, tossing six innings of one-run baseball.

LET’S GO STREAKING!: Winners of their last three games, the Keys are on their second-longest winning streak of the year. From April 16-18, Frederick took four straight against Winston-Salem and Carolina, while Sunday marked the first time since April 5-7, 2013 that the orange and black had won three straight home games. On Monday, the Keys play for their second sweep of the season and their first four-game brooming of another club since May 27-29, 2011 when Frederick claimed four straight against Salem. Frederick’s last four-game sweep at home came two weeks before that, when Orlando Gomez’s club claimed four straight against Wilmington.

ROTATION RULES: Frederick’s run of outstanding starting pitching continued on Sunday afternoon. This time it was Mark Blackmar’s turn.  Making his fourth start of the season, the Texas native put forth his best effort of the year. Working six innings, the righty gave up only one run on six hits, struck out four and did not walk a batter. It was Blackmar’s longest start since June 23, 2013, when he was pitching for Low-A Delmarva.  Frederick pitchers have now put together four straight quality outings, the most in succession by the rotation this year. Brady Wager got the ball rolling on Thursday afternoon with six innings of two-run baseball, while Parker Bridwell and Joe Van Meter followed with seven frames of one-run and two-run baseball respectively. Branden Kline tries to make it five straight on Monday night, and is the club leader in quality starts (five).

ONE GAME AWAY: Zane Chavez saw his 10-game hitting streak conclude on Sunday afternoon, after going 0-for-4 with a strikeout. Coming up one game short of his career-high 11-gamer last season, the Californian hit .405 (15-for-37) with three doubles, four RBIs, and five runs scored during the swing which ran from May 6-31. The length of the streak can be attributed to Chavez’s promotion to Double-A Bowie on May 8. He returned to the club on May 22. This season, only Jason Esposito (12) and Glynn Davis (11) have put together longer streaks.

HOIST THE HARDWARE: Adrian Marin was named the Carolina League’s “Player of the Week” for the period from May 26-June 2. It is the first time the Miami native has earned a player of the week honor in his pro career, while he becomes the second member of the Keys to receive a weekly award in 2014. In mid-May, Parker Bridwell was named the Carolina League “Pitcher of the Week” after throwing a near no-hitter against Potomac. Owner of three mutli-RBI games in last six contests, Marin led all of Advanced-A in runs batted in last week, posted the second-most among Orioles farmhands (Delmarva’s Trey Mancini recorded 12), while his 11 RBIs were tied for the sixth-most in all of minor league baseball. Mark Minicozzi of Triple-A Fresno and Brad Snyder of Triple-A Round Rock also finished with 11, while Frank Schwindel of Low-A Lexington paced all the minors with 16. Thanks to the 11 RBIs output, Marin has more than doubled his season output. Over his past six games, he is batting .429 (9-for-21) while eight of his nine hits have gone for extra-bases (seven doubles and one homer).

NOT THE BAND: Creede Simpson posted his fourth three-hit effort of the year on Sunday, going 3-for-3 with two doubles, two runs scored and a stolen base. He reached in all four of his plate appearances, as he was also hit by a pitch in the bottom of the seventh. The former Auburn Tiger has now hit safely in his last three games, while he is batting .545 over the homestand (6-for-11) with two doubles, two RBIs and four runs scored. A player who has enjoyed the friendly confines of Harry Grove Stadium, Simpson is hitting .329 in 20 games at home, compared to batting just .143 on the road.

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 Glenn Sparkman makes his 14th appearance of the season and his third start. After posting a 2.28 ERA in 11 games as a reliever, the right-hander the first start of his professional career on May 21 against Carolina. Pitching in the second game of a doubleheader, the righty tossed 3.2 scoreless innings, scattered three hits and struck out six. After the game, Blue Rocks manager Darryl Kennedy announced that he would be keeping Sparkman in the rotation while also turning to him in piggyback situations. The Ganado, TX native still has not allowed a run as a starter after tossing a season-high five frames at Carolina on May 27. During that time he did not allow a run, gave up three hits and struck out four. Selected by the Royals in the 20th round of the 2013 draft out of Wharton County Junior College, Sparkman spent all of last season at Rookie-Idaho Falls. In 20 relief appearances, he was 1-0 with a pair of saves and a 1.72 ERA. In 36.2 frames, he surrendered only 25 hits, walked 10 and struck out 47, while he held opponents to a .194 batting average. A standout pitcher for three seasons at Wharton County Junior College, Sparkman went 5-5 with a 2.80 in his final season to go along with 63 strikeouts on 83.2 frames. Besides earning a degree in Agriculture, Sparkman saw his velocity tick up during his time playing at the Texas JUCO level. Described by pitching coach Stephen Flora as “a little chubby and a little soft” when he arrived, the righty saw his velocity jump from the mid-80s to the low-90s thanks to a refined workout regimen and throwing program. To convince the Royals to draft him, Sparkman and his mom drove from their home in Ganado to Kanas City (roughly 12:30 hours) to throw a bullpen session. Sparkman throws a fastball, a slider and a changeup.

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