Frederick Keys Game Notes 8-7-14

Hello Keys fans!

The Keys and the Carolina Mudcats close out their three-game series tonight at Harry Grove Stadium with the series locked up at one game a a piece. Carolina took last night’s game by a score of  11-3. The Mudcats did the majority of their damage in the fifth inning, scoring six runs. Adrian Marin and Jason Esposito provided bright spots for Frederick, each recording two hits and an RBI.

RHP Branden Kline takes the mound for Frederick against Carolina righty, Dylan Baker. Baker pitched opening night against the Keys, tossing a perfect six innings prior to being pulled due to pitch count.

Come on out tonight and shake your keys!

Here are the notes for tonight’s game:

Thursday, August 7, 2014 · Game #112 · Home Game #52

Frederick Keys (52-59/20-24) vs Carolina Mudcats (51-61/22-23)

RHP Branden Kline (5-7, 4.20) vs. RHP Dylan Baker (1-2, 5.63)

FLIPPING THE SCRIPT: Coming off a decisive win on Tuesday night, the Frederick Keys saw the Carolina Mudcats turn the tables on Wednesday. Utilizing a six-run fifth, 14 hits and three Keys errors, the visitors posted an 11-3 win at the Grove to force a Thursday rubber match. Eight of the nine Mudcats starters finished with at least one hit while LeVon Washington and Yhoxian Medina each tallied three RBIs. Carolina did a bulk of its damage in the fifth and sixth innings, scoring nine runs off Parker Bridwell and Miguel Chalas. In those two innings, the Mudcats sent 18 men to bat. To avoid a loss in the season series, the Keys must win each of the last four head-to-head battles.

 NOT OUR KIND OF GUY: Although Mudcats starter Dylan Baker has made only four Carolina League starts this year, the Frederick Keys remember him well. Pitching against the orange and black on opening night, the Alaskan retired all 18 members of the Keys he faced, before exiting after six innings due to pitch count. That was Baker’s only first-half start, as he suffered a broken ankle while taking the mound for his second outing against Potomac. In four games with the Mudcats this year, he is 1-2 with a 5.63 ERA.

WHERE’S THE LEATHER?: On Wednesday, the Keys committed three errors including two during a six-run Carolina fifth. The three errors were tied for the second-most the club had committed in a game all season. Frederick’s high for the season is four, which came on July 25 against Lynchburg (when the team made three errors during a six-run Lynchburg first). As a result of the three errors last night, five of the Muddies 11 runs were unearned. Currently, the orange and black are tied with Wilmington for the Carolina League in fielding percentage (.978) and have made the second-fewest errors in the CL.

MUDDY TALES: Although Frederick has fared well against the CL South this season, Carolina has been the lone exception. The Keys are just 5-9 against the Mudcats this season, the only south team that Frederick is below .500 against. In the first-half, the Muddies took six of the nine meetings (two games were also cancelled) while Carolina took the only series between these two clubs in the second-half. Against Carolina, Frederick is batting only .243 and the pitching staff has a 5.01 ERA. Conversely, the Mudcats are hitting .285 against the Keys and the pitching staff has a 3.44 ERA. LeVon Washington has torched Keys pitching, hitting .591 (13-for-22) with two homers, two doubles and six RBIs. On the mound, Shawn Morimando was all but unhittable, going 4-0 with a 1.09 ERA against the Keys, but has been promoted to Double-A. This season, the Keys are 2-5 against Carolina at Harry Grove Stadium.

 CALL HIM THE K MAN: After making five starts on the road, Dylan Bundy did not disappoint in his Frederick homecoming on Tuesday. Working into the fifth inning, the Oklahoma native did not allow a run while he scattered five hits. The seven strikeouts were tied for the second-most he had registered in a post-Tommy John start, and were two shy of a career-high. Entering Tuesday’s action, Bundy had struck out only eight combined over his previous five starts with Frederick. Limited to only 75 pitches, Bundy was highly efficient through two frames (24 pitches) but saw his pitch count skyrocket due to one very long at-bat in the third. Facing Yhoxian Medina, the righty needed 14 pitches to set down the Muddies leadoff batter. Still, the successful start cut Bundy’s ERA by nearly a point (5.73 to 4.78). He is 1-2 in six starts with the Keys and has allowed 14 runs in 26.1 innings to go along with 13 walks and 15 strikeouts.

 MEET OUR NEW SECRET WEAPON: Brady Wager made his first relief appearance as a member of the Keys on Sunday, and was rewarded with his sixth win, establishing a new career-high. Coming on in the seventh for Mark Blackmar, Wager tossed two scoreless innings, scattered two hits and struck out two. It was his first relief appearance since July 12, 2012, when he was a member of the GCL Orioles, and only the fourth of his career (56 games/52 starts).

JASON, JASON, HE’S OUR MAN: Although the calendar has flipped to August, Jason Esposito has maintained the torrid pace he set in July. After hitting .354 with four homers and 16 RBIs last month, the former Vanderbilt Commodore is batting .444 (8-for-18) over his first five August tilts to go along with a home run, two doubles and six RBIs. On Wednesday, he recorded his second straight multi-hit effort going 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI. Esposito has tallied multiple hits in four of his last six games, and during that time he has seen his batting average climb 14 pts (.258 to .272).

MOVING ON UP!!: On July 22, 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. 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: Right-hander Dylan Baker makes his fifth Carolina League start and his second against the Keys. In his most recent start last Friday against Potomac, Baker allowed three runs (one earned) on five hits over 3.2 innings in a loss at Potomac. Only his fourth Carolina League start, Baker missed more than 3.5 months after breaking his ankle in April. The right-hander spent all of 2013 at Low-A Lake County righty allowed only 124 hits, while in the second-half he was nearly untouchable, going 5-1 with a 2.93 ERA in 15 games. Baker made his professional debut with the AZL Indians in 2012, ending 0-1 with a 4.13 ERA. A virtual unknown from Juneau, AL, the 22-year-old went undrafted out of Douglas High School. Following graduation, he moved to Tacoma (WA) Community College, and compiled a 3-3 record and a 3.47 ERA. Staying only one season, Baker’s stock soared when he transferred to Western Nevada Community College for his sophomore year. There, pitching coach Jeremy Beard helped the right-hander increase his velocity by tweaking his mechanics and introducing him to a new long toss program. Armed with better command and more effective secondary pitches as well, the results were immediate. Putting together the best season in WNC history, Baker went 13-0 with a 1.91 ERA to go along with 126 strikeouts in 84.2 innings. Named the Scenic West Athletic Conference Pitcher of the Year, Baker was selected by Cleveland in the fifth round of the 2012 draft, making him the highest selection in WNC history. He also just missed becoming the highest drafted player in Alaska history (Brian Montalbo was selected by Atlanta in the fourth round of the 2000 draft). Baker throws a mid-90s fastball, a slider, a curveball and a changeup

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