Frederick Keys Game Notes 7-24-14
Good Afternoon Keys Fans!
The Keys go for a three-game road sweep of the Myrtle Beach Pelicans on Thursday night at TicketReturn.com Field. Parker Bridwell takes the mound for the Keys and will be opposed by Birds southpaw Luis Parra.
First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. and the broadcast can be heard on 1450 AM The Source. Some game notes are below.
Talk soon and shake your keys!
Thursday, July 24, 2014 · Game #100 · Road Game #54
Frederick Keys (48-51/16-16) vs Myrtle Beach Pelicans (61-41/17-17)
RHP Parker Bridwell (5-7, 4.08) vs. LHP Luis Parra (7-6, 5.35)
WHO SAYS THESE ARE THE DOG DAYS?: Jason Esposito slugged a pair of home runs, while the trio of Brady Wager, Jesse Beal and Lex Rutledge combined to three-hit Myrtle Beach for the second straight night, as the Frederick Keys scored a 10-2 victory over the Birds at TicketReturn.com Field. The win was the team’s 10th road triumph in its last 11 games away from home, while it allowed the Keys to register their second series win on the Grand Strand this year (the team took two out of three from June 6-8). Esposito gave the Keys a quick lead thanks to a three-run homer off Chad James in the top of the first. Frederick would score multiple runs in three different innings, highlighted by a four-run sixth, where the team benefited from three walks, two-hit by pitches, a wild pitch and an RBI single by Lucas Herbst. On the mound, Wager gave up only one earned run (two total) over six stanzas to garner his third win in four starts.
JASON, JASON, HE’S OUR MAN!: Jason Esposito had a night to remember on Wednesday. Ending the night 2-for-4, the former Vanderbilt product knocked two home runs in a game for the first time in his career, while he tied his career-high with four RBIs. This season, two members of the Keys have hit two home runs in a game. Former Key, Michael Burgess, was the other one to do it, when he hit a pair of deep flies on July 5 at Lynchburg. Following a rough June where Esposito hit only .205, the 24-year-old is hitting .347 in July with two homers, seven doubles, and 13 RBIs. Thanks to the recent surge, Esposito’s average has climbed to .254, the highest it has been since May 27.
PITCHING REIGNS SUPREME: One night after Dylan Bundy tossed six shutout innings, Brady Wager followed things up with a strong outing of his own. Tossing six innings of two-run baseball, the Arizona native registered his second win in as many starts, only the second time he has done that in his career. In four July starts, Wager is now 3-0 with a 4.15 ERA. Meanwhile, Jesse Beal and Lex Rutledge allowed only one combined hit through three innings of relief, giving the Keys their second three-hitter in as many nights. The two three-hit performances are tied for the second-fewest knocks allowed by Keys pitching in a game this year. Following an up-and-down June for the pitching staff, Keys arms have tallied a 3.74 ERA in July. During that time, the bullpen has been excellent, recording a 2.38 mark over 72 innings.
WHO NEEDS HOME GAMES?: Frederick’s run of road dominance continued on Wednesday night. Thanks to a 10-2 victory, the Keys picked up their 29th road win of the year, the second-most in the Carolina League. The club’s 29-24 road record is the second-best in the Carolina League (only Myrtle Beach has done better at 33-17) while the club has won each of its last five road series. In contrast, the Keys home 19-27 home record is by far the worst in the circuit, as the Keys are the only CL club which does not have 20 or more wins at home.
BUNDY EARNS FIRST WIN: After six post-Tommy John surgery starts, Dylan Bundy finally picked up a win in his seventh outing. Working a season-high six frames, the Oklahoma native walked two and struck out one and was highly efficient. With the exception of a 23-pitch fifth, the righty did not throw any more than 12 pitches in an individual inning. Thanks to the strong effort, Bundy earned his first win since August 28, 2012 when he was pitching for Double-A Bowie against Erie. Additionally, it was his longest start since August 20, 2012 when he was with the Baysox. In four starts with the Keys, the 21-year-old is 1-1 with a 6.11 ERA. Prior to joining Frederick, the righty made three rehab starts with Short-Season Aberdeen. Working five innings in each outing, Bundy went 0-1 with a 0.60 ERA. In 15 innings, he allowed only one run on 10 hits while he walked three and struck out 22. Opponents were hitting just .189 against him.
MOVING ON UP!!: Following Monday’s game, Michael Burgess and Glynn Davis received word they had been promoted to Double-A Bowie. The duo become the third and fourth members of the Keys to move to Double-A this season, joining Mychal Givens and Mike Yastrzemski. Sammie Starr was promoted to Triple-A Norfolk on June 27 and later transferred to Bowie, while Zane Chavez and Ashur Tolliver opened the year with the Baysox and have shuttled between Advanced-A and Double-A. For Burgess, Monday’s call-up marks a return to Double-A, as the Tampa native spent 2012 with the Cubs Double-A affiliate in Tennessee and 2013 with the Astros Double-A team in Corpus Christi. One of the league’s top offensive threats, Burgess hit .315 over 83 games to go along with 15 homers, 68RBIs, 32 doubles and four triples. At the time of his promotion, Burgess led the league in RBIs, doubles, slugging percentage (.579), extra-base hits (51), total bases (186) and intentional walks (four). He was tied for second in home runs and was third in batting average and hits (101). Burgess was named Carolina League Player of the Month for June and CL “Player of the Week” for June 9-15. Meanwhile, Davis gets his first crack at Double-A. A mid-season Carolina League All-Star, the 22-year-old hit .295 over 89 games. He heads to the Eastern League tied for the Carolina League lead in hits (104), while he was second in runs scored and tied for eighth in batting average (.295).
NEWCOMERS: Taking the roster spots of Burgess and Davis are Johnny Ruettiger and Chih-Hsien Chang who both come down from Double-A Bowie. In 61 games with the Baysox this season, Ruettiger was batting .282 with a triple, six doubles and eight stolen bases. No stranger to the Keys, the former Arizona State product hit .246 over 106 games with the orange and black last season, while he stole 43 bases, a career-high, and the seventh-most by a Keys player all-time. Chiang struggled with the Baysox, hitting .219 with three home runs and 20 RBIs. This is the first time that he has been at the Advanced-A level since 2009, when he was a member of the Salem Red Sox. Originally signed by Boston as an international free agent out of Taiwan in 2005, the outfielder spent all of 2013 with the Rangers Double-A club in Frisco. There, he hit .263 over 124 games, led the club in doubles (36) and placed second in hits (125). Chiang has also spent time with the Mariners organization, advancing as high as Triple-A Tacoma in 2012.
NO RELATION TO TOM: Wynston Sawyer saw his 27-game on-base streak end on Sunday night after going 0-for-3. The longest active swing entering Sunday, the Californian failed to reach base for the first time since May 20, when he finished 0-for-3 against Myrtle Beach. Sawyer’s streak wraps up as the second-longest on-base streak in the league this year. Only Salem’s Carson Blair (28) reached in more games. Over the 27 contests, Sawyer hit .259 with one homer, six RBIs, four doubles and 15 walks.
KELLER MAKES DEBUT: On Monday, Jon Keller made his Advanced-A debut. Tossing 2.1 innings, the hard-throwing righty allowed one run on three hits while he struck out five and walked three. Both the five strike outs and the three walks went down as season-highs. Promoted to Frederick from Low-A Delmarva last Thursday, he takes the roster spot of Matt Price, who was placed on the disabled list on Wednesday. In 24 relief appearances, Keller went 3-0 with a 1.59 ERA and tallied five saves in eight opportunities. Over 56.2 stanzas, he gave up just 39 hits, walked 14 and struck out 66. Rated the No. 17 prospect in the Orioles system according to Baseball America, the 21-year-old limited opponents to a .192 average, the fourth-lowest mark by a South Atlantic League reliever. Drafted by Baltimore in the 22nd round of the 2013 MLB Draft out of the University of Tampa, Keller helped lead the Spartans to the 2013 Division II College World Series.
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) and Branden Kline (20). Jon Keller (17) and Trey Mancini (25) have joined the club since the All-Star break, while Mychal Givens (23) and Glynn Davis (29) opened the year with the Keys but were promoted in the second-half. 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 Luis Parra makes his 20th appearance of the year and his 18th start of the season on Thursday. Parra last pitched on Saturday against Carolina and is coming off the worst start of his career. Over 4.1 innings, he allowed 11 runs on 10 hits while giving up three home runs. He walked three and struck out two. The 11 runs, 10 hits and three homers were all career-worsts for Parra, who saw his ERA spike from 4.60 to 5.35. In July, Parra’s ERA is 9.78, while he leads the league in home runs allowed (13) and earned runs allowed (63). In four starts against the Keys this season, Parra is 0-1 with a 4.30 ERA, though one of his best outings came against Frederick on June 7, when he tossed eight shutout innings of three-hit baseball. He received a no-decision though, as the Pelicans fell 1-0. Parra opened the season in a piggybacking role with fellow lefty Andrew Faulkner. As a starter, Para is 6-6 with a 5.49 ERA (100.0IP/61ER) and is 1-0 with a 3.00 ERA as a reliever (6IP/2ER). The 22-year-old split 2013 between Myrtle Beach and Low-A Hickory. In 20 games (all starts) Parra went a combined 5-6 with a 2.68 ERA, while he went 0-2 with a 3.71 ERA as a member of the Pelicans and delivered a quality start in three of his five outings with the Birds. He received a promotion to Advanced-A on August 6. With Low-A Hickory, Parra collaborated with Ryan Bores, Keone Kella and Alex Claudio on a seven-inning no-hitter, the Crawdads first in four seasons. Parra was the starting pitcher, working three no-hit innings. The no-no came against Low-A Delmarva, and came on the heels of a C.J. Edwards complete game one-hitter. Signed as a non-drafted free agent in 2008, Para hails from Altamira, Dominican Republic, the same hometown as Mets starting pitcher Bartolo Colon.