Frederick Keys Game Notes 8-9-14

Saturday, August 9, 2014 · Game #114 · Home Game #54

Frederick Keys (52-61/20-26) vs Wilmington Blue Rocks (54-59/21-24)

RHP Sebastian Vader (1-4, 7.13) vs. RHP Johnny Walter (5-1, 3.86)

SPARKMAN SIZZLES, ROCKS TAKE OPENER: Glenn Sparkman struck out a career-high 10 batters over 6.1 innings, while the Wilmington Blue Rocks tallied multiple runs in three different frames to defeat the Frederick Keys 8-1 on Friday night at Harry Grove Stadium. It was the Keys third straight loss, and moves the club back to nine games below .500 for the season (52-61). Currently, Frederick is seven games behind Potomac in the second-half CL North race, and 4.5 behind Lynchburg for the wild card spot (if the P-Nats win both halves it would go to the wildcard winner). Activated from the disabled list Friday afternoon, Matt Taylor surrendered a three-run homer to Zane Evans in the first, while the Blue Crew plated three more in the seventh on a triple by Raul Mondesi and RBI singles by Bubba Starling and Cody Stubbs. Mondesi added a two-run homer in the ninth to complete the scoring. The Keys were held to six hits on the night, with two-thirds coming from Adrian Marin and Jason Esposito. Marin accounted for the only Keys run, a solo homer to right off Sparkman in the sixth.   

BIG INNING BLUES: Over the Keys last two homestands, the team has often been burned by one bad inning. In their last seven home tilts, the orange and black have seen their opponent bat around in an inning six times, while on nine occasions Frederick has been snake-bit by an individual inning of three or more runs. As a result, the Keys have dropped six of their last seven home games. The Keys are just 4-17 in second-half home games, the worst second-half home record of any CL club. Additionally, the Keys have the worst overall home record in the circuit at 20-33. In 2013, Frederick also struggled mightily at home, going 13-23 in second-half home games and 29-40 in home games for the year (the CL’s worst home record last year).

WHERE’S THE LEATHER?: After committing three errors on Wednesday, the club committed two more in Thursday’s contest. Both came on the same play, and ultimately gave Carolina a win in the series finale. Over the last three nights, seven of the 25 runs scored by the Keys opponent have been unearned markers. This season when the Keys commit two or more errors in a game, the club is just 7-16. Despite some problems in the field over the last few days, the orange and black pace the Carolina League in fielding percentage (.978) and have made the second-fewest errors in the CL. Only Wilmington (91) has made less. All other six Carolina League teams have committed 100 errors or more.

TAYLOR TAKES THE HILL: After spending more than two months on the disabled list with a back injury, Matt Taylor made his first Carolina League start in almost two months on Friday night. Tossing 3.1 innings, the lefty gave up three runs on seven hits, walked one and struck out two. He was tagged with only his second CL loss of the year, and allowed his first homer, a three-run shot to Zane Evans in the first. Placed on the disabled list on May 20 due to a back injury, the Georgian made two rehab appearances with the GCL Orioles, where he went 1-1 with a 6.14 ERA. Taylor’s most recent outing came last Monday against the Red Sox GCL affiliate. In 3.1 innings he allowed four runs on four hits and struck out three. One of the Carolina League’s most dominant pitchers in the first-half, the southpaw went 5-1 with a 1.94 ERA over eight games and was named to the Carolina League All-Star team.

NOT THE NICEST NEIGHBORS: This season, the Keys have struggled against intra-division rivals, going 16-28 against fellow Northern clubs. Frederick has a losing record against all three of its fellow division rivals, while the orange and black have been swept at least once by Wilmington, Potomac and Lynchburg. The Keys are only 6-15 against northern teams at Harry Grove Stadium, and just 6-9 against Wilmington in 2014.

THE FEW, THE PROUD, THE MARIN: Thanks to a first inning single, Adrian Marin was able to extend his hitting streak to a season-high seven games. During that time he is batting .357 (10-for-28) with a homer, three doubles, seven RBIs and five runs scored, while he has seen his batting average jump from .236 to .245. The Florida native tries to close the year strong after hitting just .242 over 23 games in July and only .184 in June.

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.

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 .385 (10-for-26) over his first seven August tilts to go along with a home run, two doubles and six RBIs. He has multiple hits in three of his last four games (and five of his last eight tilts). During that time, he has seen his batting average climb 13 pts (.258 to .271).

NEWCOMERS: Johnny Ruettiger and Chih-Hsien Chang took the roster spots of Glynn Davis and Michael Burgess who were promoted to Double-A Bowie on July 22.. 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 Johnny Walter makes his 25th appearance of the year and the first start of his professional career. His most recent outing came on Wednesday against Myrtle Beach, giving up just one hit over an inning of work. This season, Walter has not thrown more than 4.1 innings in a game. A pitcher who has enjoyed the friendly confines of Frawley Stadium, he is 3-0 with 1.76 tally at home and 2-1 with a 7.88 mark in road games. Of the 20 runs he has allowed, 14 have been surrendered on the road. Walter missed roughly a month with a strained abdominal muscle. Originally a 29th round draft pick of the Royals in 2012, the New Jersey native split last season between Rookie-Idaho Falls and Low-A Lexington. Dominant with the Legends, Walter posted a 1.01 ERA in 18 games, giving up only three runs in 26.2 innings to go along with 31 strikeouts and four walks. He attended Penn State, the same alma mater as his parents. Walter is expect to be followed by left-hander Tripp Davis, who was promoted from Lexington on Wednesday. In 16 games (two starts) he went 2-2 with a 4.95 ERA. Much better as a reliever, he was 2-0 with a 3.97 ERA after going 0-2 with a 8.38 ERA as a reliever. He made a cameo with the Blue Rocks last season, going 0-1 with a 4.50 ERA after beginning his professional career at Rookie-Surprise. Signed as a non-drafted free agent last June, Davis attended NJIT where he was the school’s all-time wins leader.

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