Frederick Keys Game Notes 6-24-14

Hello Keys fans!

The Keys take to Harry Grove Stadium tonight looking to rebound from last night’s 9-3 loss to the Wilmington Blue Rocks. Tonight’s game is the last of a four-game set against the Blue Rocks. Righty Joe Van Meter, who is 2-0 when pitching at Harry Grove this season, takes the mound looking to end the Keys’ cold streak that includes four losses in five games.

We hope to see plenty of you out and shaking your keys at the Grove tonight!

Take a look below at some of the game notes for tonight’s matchup:

Tuesday, June 24, 2014 · Game #73 · Home Game #35

Frederick Keys (33-39/1-4) vs Wilmington Blue Rocks (36-37/3-2)

RHP Joe Van Meter (3-1, 4.54) vs. RHP Miguel Almonte (4-3, 4.48

NO LOCAL LOVE: Hagerstown native Christian Binford tossed 6.2 innings of three-run baseball, while the Wilmington Blue Rocks used seven extra-base hits to top the Frederick Keys 9-3 on Monday night at Harry Grove Stadium. It was Frederick’s fourth defeat in five games, and handed the team its second straight series defeat. In his second-half debut, Branden Kline allowed four runs over his first three innings, and lasted only 4.1 frames. Using balanced production from its lineup, the Blue Crew had four players tally mutli-hit games. Zane Evans led the charge going 3-for-4 with three runs scored and Cam Gallagher went 2-for-4 with three RBIs.  

 TOUGH TIMES: After winning five out of six to end the first-half, Frederick has dropped four out of five to begin the second stanza. The Keys need a win to avoid being swept for the first time since May 29, when the club dropped three straight at Lynchburg. This season, the orange have been swept at home once. That occurred on April 10, when Carolina rattled off three straight wins during the first homestand of the year. Over the Keys current rocky stretch, the pitching staff has struggled mightily, posting a 7.54 ERA (45.1 IP/38ER) while allowing 62 hits.

GETTING IN A WORKOUT: Branden Kline was tagged with his first loss since June 2, allowing four runs on six hits over 4.1 stanzas. Making his first regular season start in 10 days (Kline pitched one inning in the Carolina League-California League All-Star Game), the former Governor Thomas Johnson standout was challenged from the onset. Needing 32 pitches to escape the first, the righty surrendered a solo homer to centerfield on the fourth pitch of the game before needing 10 pitches to retire Jared Schlehuber. Later in the frame, Zane Evans earned a walk before scoring on a triple by Cody Stubbs. That set the tone for the game, as three of the first six Wilmington batters worked plate appearances of six pitches or longer. Over his last two starts, Kline has allowed nine runs over 8.1 frames, on 12 hits and six walks.

A LITTLE HELP:Over the last two games, the Keys have struggled with runners in scoring position. On Sunday, the team went 0-for-11 with men at second and third base, while he orange and black also left 10 stranded, the most runners the team had left behind since June 12. Monday presented fewer chances, but the club still went without a hit when putting runners closest to home (0-for-2). Over their last three contests, the Keys are a combined 1-for-20 with men in scoring position. A point of emphasis all season, the Keys are batting a collective .239 with men closest to home this season and only .197 with men in scoring position and two outs.

MOVING ON UP!: On Saturday night after the Keys game at Carolina, Mychal Givens received word that he had been promoted to the Double-A Bowie Baysox. The right-hander becomes the first member of the Keys to be promoted in 2014, and the first to climb the ladder since Johnny Ruettiger was called up to the Baysox last August 31. One of the league’s most dominant relief pitchers, Givens was 1-2 with a 3.24 ERA over 18 games with the orange and black. Utilizing a hard sinker and sweeping changeup, the Floridian held opponents to a paltry .147 batting average. The lowest batting average against for either a starter or reliever in the eight-team loop. In a corresponding move, the Keys received right-hander Dennis Torres from Low-A Delmarva. In 17 games with the Shorebirds he went 1-3 with a 3.31 ERA. He made his CL debut on Saturday, giving up two runs on five hits over two stanzas.

ALMANZAR JOINS KEYS ON MLB REHAB:On Sunday, the Orioles transferred infielder Michael Almanzar to the Frederick Keys as part of an MLB rehab assignment. In his first two games with the Keys, the 23-year-old is 1-for-7 with a double and two strikeouts. He served as the DH on Monday after playing six innings at third base on Sunday. Almanzar is the second MLB rehabber Frederick has housed this year, joining Manny Machado, who hit .667 with a triple, four doubles and two RBIs over three games with the Keys from April 25-27. Selected by Baltimore in the MLB phase of the Rule 5 draft last year from Boston, Almanzar has been rehabbing from a left knee injury.

 UP, UP AND AWAY!: Lately, Frederick has been scoring runs via the home run ball. Monday marked the sixth time in seven games that the Keys had hit a longball after Jason Esposito slugged a solo shot in the seventh. Frederick is second in the Carolina League in homers with 46. Only Myrtle Beach (64) has hit more this season. Over their last seven games, the Keys have hit 13 home runs, with eight coming over the final two games of the first-half. Currently, Michael Burgess paces the Keys with 11 deep flies, and is tied for third in the CL in that department. The Floridian has homered in five of his last seven contests, and is one longball away from equaling his 2013 total at Double-A Corpus Christi.

NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK: Last Thursday, the Baltimore Orioles made a series of roster moves affecting the Keys. Frederick received outfielder Mike Yastrzemski, infielder Trey Mancini, and relief pitcher Jimmy Yacabonis from Low-A Delmarva. Meanwhile, the Keys transferred infielder Creede Simpson and outfielder Lucas Herbst to the Shorebirds. On Monday, the Orioles released right-handed reliever Matt Hauser. Yastrzemski, Mancini and Yacabonis were all members of the South Atlantic Northern Division All-Star squad. At the midway break, Yastrzemski was first in the league in total bases (143), second in runs (52), tied for second in slugging (.554) and extra-base hits (34) and third in hits (79), while he sported a .306 batting average to go along with 12 steals in 16 tries over 63 games. Mancini led the Shorebirds in hitting in the first half, batting .317 in 68 games (tied for 2nd-most in the SAL). The .317 mark was good for seventh-best overall, while he finished second in hits (85). Out of the bullpen, Yacabonis was 14 of 15 in save opportunities and registered a 1-1 mark to go along with a 1.07 ERA over 21games (25.1 IP). He did not allow a run over his first 19 outings (spanning 24 innings). On Saturday, Dennis Torres joined the club from Delmarva. A relief pitcher, the righty went 1-3 with a 3.31 ERA over 17 games to go along with three saves in three attempts.

ALL-STAR NOTES: Glynn Davis and Branden Kline each participated in the Carolina League-California League All-Star game on Tuesday night at Frawley Stadium in Wilmington Delaware. Batting sixth and making the start in centerfield, Davis went 0-for-2 with an RBI. He drove in the Carolina League’s first run with a groundout to short, after Jorge Alfaro tripled to begin the fifth. Kline tossed a scoreless eighth, needing just 16 pitches (10 strikes) to dispose of Chris Jacobs, Roberto Pena and Trevor Story in order. The California League earned a 3-2 win. Bakersfield’s Kyle Waldrop led the charge for the westcoasters, with an RBI single in the second and then a two-run blast off Wilmington’s Christian Binford in the fourth. Waldrop was named the Cal League’s MVP, while Kyle Wren took home Carolina League MVP honors going 2-for-3 with an RBI and a pair of steals.

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 Miguel Almonte makes his 13th start of the season for the Blue Rocks and is the No. 5 prospect in the Kansas City system according to Baseball America. His final first-half start came on June 10 at Winston-Salem. Tagged with the loss, Almonte pitched four innings and allowed four runs (one earned) on six hits. He walked one and struck out three. The start was cut short after four innings on account of elbow discomfort. A pitcher who prefers the strikeout, Almonte is fifth in the CL in strikeout/nine inning ratio (8.68). Only 21 years old, Almonte made the jump from the Dominican Summer League to Low-A Lexington in 2013. In 25 games, he went 6-9 with a 3.10 ERA over 130.2 innings pitched, and led all qualified league starters with 9.1 punchouts per nine innings. For his effort, Almonte was named to the Sirius/XM All-Star Futures Game. In the game, he tossed a perfect seventh inning and struck out the game’s No.1 prospect Byron Buxton. One of Almonte’s teammates on the World squad was former Key Eduardo Rodriguez, who earned the nod after going 6-3 with a 2.99 ERA for the orange and black. Signed by the Royals as an international free agent for $25,000 in 2010, Almonte is among the Royals latest crop of pitching talent from the Dominican Republic (which includes Kelvin Herrera and Yordano Ventura). Armed with the best changeup in the Kansas City farm system according to Baseball America, Almonte complements the offering with a 91-95 mph fastball (which can touch 97) and a curveball.

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