Frederick Keys Game Notes 6-9-14

Hello Keys fans!

The Keys are back at Harry Grove Stadium following a six-game road trip that featured three game sets against the Salem Red Sox and the Myrtle Beach Pelicans. Frederick went 3-3 on the trip, taking one from Salem and two of three from the Pelicans.

The Keys send righty Parker Bridwell to the mound to square off against William Cuevas, the beneficiary of a late rotation change by Salem.

Below are some of the game notes for tonight’s matchup!

 

Monday, June 9, 2014 · Game #62 · Home Game #26

Frederick Keys (27-34) vs Salem Red Sox (30-32)

RHP Parker Bridwell (2-6, 4.98) vs. RHP Simon Mercedes (2-5, 4.06)

TOO LITTLE TOO LATE:The Frederick Keys mounted a ninth inning rally thanks to back-to-back homers by Zane Chavez and Brenden Webb, but a three-run first by Myrtle Beach as well as six shutout innings by Sam Wolff was too much to overcome, as the Keys fell 7-4 on Sunday night at TicketReturn.com Field. With the loss, the Keys are within a game of elimination from the first-half Northern Division playoff race. Should the Keys lose or Potomac win on Monday, Frederick’s playoff chances would be over. Brady Wager received a rude greeting in the bottom of the first, as a two-run double by Nick Vickerson and an RBI single by Christopher Bostick made it 3-0 Pelicans. That would be plenty of support for Wolff, who allowed only one hit through the first five innings en route to his sixth Carolina League win.

SCORELESS STREAK SNAPPED:An RBI single by Christopher Bostick in the bottom of the first on Sunday snapped a string of 20.2 innings where Keys pitching had not allowed a run. Beginning in the sixth inning of Thursday night’s regularly scheduled game at Salem, Frederick blanked Myrtle Beach 6-0 on Friday night before earning a 1-0 win in 10 innings on Saturday. The 20.2 frames ranks as the longest scoreless innings streak by Frederick pitching this season. Additionally, the shutout wins on Friday and Saturday marked the first time all year that the orange and black had blanked an opponent on back-to-back days.

MIKE CHECK 1,2,3: Since returning from Aberdeen last Tuesday, Michael Burgess has hit safely in five of his last six games. During that time, he is batting .409 (9-for-22) with a home run, two triples, two doubles, four RBIs and six runs scored. The hot stretch has bumped his batting average from .281 to .297, the highest it has been all season. The boost can be largely attributed to a four-hit night on Friday, where the outfielder went 4-for-5 with a homer, triple, three RBIs and three runs scored. It was his first four-hit effort since July 8, 2010, when he was a member of the Potomac Nationals, playing against the Frederick Keys. Meanwhile, it was the second time that Burgess had come one hit away from a cycle in a game this year. On May 18 at Winston-Salem, the Floridian came within a triple of the cycle. Burgess is second in the Carolina League in slugging percentage (.500) and is tied for fourth in RBIs (37).

FORE!!: In addition to recording back-to-back shutout victories for the first time during their trip to Myrtle Beach, the Keys also tallied back-to-back home runs in a game for the first time. Zane Chavez and Brenden Webb did the trick on Sunday night against Pelicans lefty Sam Stafford, accounting for all three runs in the top of the ninth. Prior to Sunday, Frederick had not hit back-to-back longballs since August 20, 2012 when Jeremy Nowak and Steve Bumbry did it against Wilmington.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS: Frederick has struggled mightily in series openers this year. In 2014, the orange and black are just 5-13 in the first game of a series, while the Keys have lost 11 of their last 13 series openers. Recently, the Keys have gotten things off on the right foot though, posting a win in the first game of the series on two of the last three occasions.

WALK THIS WAY: Keys third baseman Jason Esposito has walked just five times in 213 plate appearances this season, but two of them came on Sunday night. It was the first time Esposito had walked twice in a game since April 23, 2013. Four of Esposito’s five walks came during the recent six-game roadtrip, while two of them came at critical moments within the last five games. On Thursday, the former Vanderbilt Commodore earned a base on balls in the 12th inning in the suspended game continuation, and he ended up scoring the go-ahead run. Then on Saturday, Esposito walked with one out against Jose Leclerc and was the only run of the game after he tagged up from third on a sacrifice fly from Pedro Perez.

SWING AND A MISS: The trio of Branden Kline, Mychal Givens, and Matt Price struck out a combined 17 Myrtle Beach Pelicans on Saturday night, the highest amount this season for the keys staff. They whiffed 14 against the Carolina Mudcats at Harry Grove Stadium on April 9. It was the most times Myrtle Beach has struck out this season as well, as their previous high was 15 against Wilmington on April 8.

NO MORE BULLPEN BLUES?: After two tough months, the Keys bullpen may have turned it around through the first week of June. Relievers recorded a 4.40 ERA in April and 4.95 ERA in 30 games in May, but have only allowed eight runs in 26.2 innings through June (2.70 ERA). In the two games against Myrtle Beach, Keys relievers have thrown a combined 5.1 scoreless innings with seven strikeouts and two hits against.

HEY NOW YOU’RE AN ALL-STAR: On Wednesday afternoon, it was announced that Glynn Davis and Matt Taylor had been named to the Carolina League All-Star team. It marks the first time in their professional careers that the duo had been named to an all-star team. On Tuesday, June 17, the Carolina League All Stars will play the California League All-Stars in the two leagues annual clash. The No. 29 prospect in the Orioles system according to Baseball America, Davis enters Wednesday’s action with the fourth-best batting average in the Carolina League (.313). He ranks second in hits (65), runs scored (46) and is third in doubles (16). The Baltimore native also paces the Keys with 19 multi-hit games. Although Taylor was named to the All-Star squad, he will not play in the game due to injury. Still, the Georgian has impressed this season, going 5-1 with a 1.94 ERA in eight games. He is second in the league in ERA and is tied for second in wins. This year’s Carolina League All-Star team will be managed by Blue Rocks skipper Darryl Kennedy, while Wilmington’s Steve Luebber will serve as pitching coach.

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 Simon Mercedes makes his 12th appearance of the season his seventh start and his second appearance against the Keys. Rated the No. 24 prospect in the Red Sox system according to Baseball America, Mercedes last pitched against Frederick on June 4, but lasted only 3.2 frames. During that time he gave up four runs (three earned) on four hits. He struck out four but also walked four, which was one short of a season-high. A pitcher that has been tough to hit at times, Mercedes is holding opponents to a .232 batting average, and lefties are batting just .172 against him. He also averages nearly a strikeout per nine innings (44.1 IP/43 SO). Mercedes opened the year as a piggyback starter, before moving into the rotation on May 12 at Wilmington. Dominant in that outing, the righty allowed only one earned run in five innings and struck out a season-high seven. Mercedes jumped to Advanced-A from Short-Season Lowell. In 13 games with the Spinners last season (three starts), the Dominican went 2-2 with a 3.13 ERA. There he was also used as a piggyback starter, and led the club in innings pitched (63) and strikeouts (57). Signed by the Red Sox for a reported $800,000 bonus in March 2012, the 22-year-old had agreed to a $400,000 deal with the Giants in 2011, but a background investigation by Major League Baseball showed inconsistencies with Mercedes’ documentation. The deal was voided, and MLB declared Mercedes ineligible for one year. A pitcher that can reach the high 90s with his fastball, the righty throws a fastball, a curveball and a changeup.

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