Frederick Keys Game Notes 8-1-14

Good Evening Keys Fans!

Hope your Friday night has gotten started off on the right foot! Frederick begins a three-game series with Wilmington tonight at Frawley Stadium starting at 7:05 p.m.

The Keys send Branden Kline to the mound, while he will be countered by Blue Rocks lefty Brandon Finnegan, who was the Royals 1st round selection this season out of TCU. In 11 professional innings, he has still not allowed a run.

Doug Raftery has the call from the Riverfront starting at 6:50 p.m on 1450 AM The Source. Some game notes are attached below.

Shake your keys!

Geoff

Friday, August 1, 2014 · Game #107 · Road Game #58

Frederick Keys (49-57/17-22) vs Wilmington Blue Rocks (52-54/19-19)

RHP Branden Kline (6-5, 4.01) vs. LHP Brandon Finnegan (0-0, 0.00)

AGAINST THE ODDS:  In a game that featured multiple ties and lead changes, the Frederick Keys managed to pull ahead for good in the top of the ninth, scoring three times to defeat the Winston-Salem 9-7 on Thursday night at BB&T Ballpark. Down 7-6 entering their final at bats, the orange and black scored the final three runs of the game thanks to an RBI double by Trey Mancini, a throwing error by Dash pitcher Brandon Hardin and a second two-bagger by Jason Esposito. The loss ended a six-game losing streak, and helped Frederick earn a split of the season-series (10-10). Registering 11 hits on the game, the Keys received three-hit efforts came from Mancini, Esposito and Jerome Pena, while Dennis Torres earned the win in relief, despite being hit with his first blown save in the eighth. On Friday, the Keys try and snap a four-game losing streak to the Blue Rocks, who last swept the orange and black from June 22-24 at Harry Grove Stadium.

AVOIDING UNLUCKY NUMBER SEVEN: Thanks to a win on Thursday, the Keys snapped their second-longest losing streak of the season. Previously, the Keys dropped seven in-a-row from June 21-27 against Carolina, Wilmington and Winston-Salem. The team’s first win in eight days, the orange and black also avoided a three-game sweep and a return to a season-worst 10 games below .500 (a spot the team had not been in since July 4). A victory also ensured the Keys would not be swept in back-to-back series.

SEND IT IN JEROME!: Following a rough Wednesday where he struck out a season-high four times, Jerome Pena fared much better in the series finale. Ending the game 3-for-3, the former TCU Horned Frog tallied two doubles and a triple, drove in a pair of runs and scored four times. The four runs matched a career-high for Pena, who had not scored four times since August 8, 2011, when he was playing for the Orioles rookie-affiliate in the Gulf Coast League. Following a disappointing June where he hit .207 and was limited to only 10 games because of injury, Pena hit .293 over 27 contests in July. He stroked eight doubles and scored 16 runs.

IT’S DUCKHUNTING SEASON AGAIN: After going five games with only one hit with a runner in scoring position, the Keys got back on track Thursday. Entering the contest 1 for their last 33 with men at second and third base (which included 34 left on base) the team finished 5-for-13 in that department in their final game against the Dash. A point of emphasis all season, the Keys are batting .249 as a team with runners in scoring position. Hitting with runners at second and third and two outs has been especially problematic. This year, the Keys are batting .218 in those spots.

A TALL TASK: Thursday was only the fourth time all season where the Keys had won a game when trailing after eight innings. This season, Frederick is 4-42 in those spots, while Carolina League teams that trail after eight often do not live to tell the tale. The most wins any CL club has when their opponent has the lead through eight is five (Carolina and Wilmington) while the Keys are tied with Lynchburg for the third-most wins when playing from behind entering the ninth. Winston-Salem (0-44) and Salem (0-42) have not taken a game all year when trailing after eight innings.

MY KIND OF MONTH: Jason Esposito will be sad to watch the calendar flip to August. Finishing 3-for-5 on Thursday, the former Vanderbilt Commodore hit .354 over 26 games in August to go along with four home runs and 16 RBIs. It was a nice bounce back month for Esposito, who hit only .205 over 23 games in June. The 16 RBIs nearly equaled his combined total through June (18), while Esposito’s strong month at the plate moved his average to .263, the highest it has been since May 24.

BUNDY BLURBS: Coming off his first post-Tommy John surgery win (and first since August 28, 2012) Dylan Bundy struggled with command on Tuesday. Walking a career-high five batters, the 21-year-old eclipsed his previous high-water mark of four (also set on August 28, 2012). Lasting 4.1 innings, Bundy allowed two runs on five hits and struck out one. In five starts with the orange and black, the former first rounder is 1-2 with a 5.73 ERA, while he has walked 13 and struck only eight. 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 last 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.

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) joined the club after 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 Brandon Finnegan makes his fifth start of the season on Friday and his fourth against the Keys. The 17th overall pick by Kansas City in this year’s draft, Finnegan last pitched on Saturday against Winston-Salem. Tossing a season-high four innings, the lefty gave up only two hits while he walked one and struck out five. In four professional outings, Finnegan has not given up only three hits over 11 innings. He has struck out 11 and walked only one while opponents are hitting a combined .088 against him. Signed for a reported $2.2 million, Finnegan anchored the TCU pitching staff which advanced to the College World Series this season. Pitching one game in Omaha against the University of Virginia, Finnegan tossed eight innings and allowed only one run to the Cavaliers in a game UVA would win in 15 innings (tying the longest game in the 66-year history of the College World Series). Although the Horned Frogs were eventually eliminated, the native of Fort Worth was excellent all year long, going 9-3 with a 2.04 ERA to go along with 134 strikeouts in 105.2 innings pitched. He was named First-Team All-Big 12 as well as a Third Team All-American. In his career, Finnegan went 13-16 with a 2.77 ERA in three seasons at the school. A pitcher who compares himself to Detroit lefty David Price, Finnegan throws a mid-high 90s fastball, a slider and a changeup.

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