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Game Notes 4-5-14

Here are same game notes hot off the presses! Join me and Doug for the pregame at 5:45 p.m.

 

Geoff

NOT FIDEL or RAUL:Frederick took the lead in the top of the eighth on back-to-back doubles by Creede Simpson and Wynston Sawyer, but Lynchburg fought back for the win. In the ninth, the home team tied the game on a base-hit by Kyle Wren to force extra-innings. Frederick was then held off the board in the top of the 10th, while the Hillcats put the first two aboard against Matt Price in the home-half of the inning. The right-hander retired the next two men, but Jose Castro snuck a single inside the third base chalk to give the Hillcats a 6-5 win.

NOT QUITE DUCK HUNTING SEASON: Frederick and Lynchburg both had opportunities with runners in scoring position, but the two squads struggled to convert. The Keys finished just 3-for-11 with runners at second or third base, while the Hillcats went 4-for-19 and left 10 on base. Over the first two nights, the Keys are 6-for-21 with runners in scoring position.

WAR EAGLE!: Creede Simpson has adjusted nicely to the Carolina League so far. After spending all of 2013 at Low-A Delmarva, he is 4-for-10 to open the year. Tied for eighth in the Carolina League in hitting, three of Simpson’s four knocks have been doubles. He is tied for the CL Lead in two-baggers with Wilmington’s Zane Evans, while Simpson is also tied for second in RBIs (four). On Friday, the former Auburn Tiger finished 3-for-5 with two doubles, two RBIs and two runs scored. The three hits ties a career-high for Simpson, who last accomplished the feat on June 27 of last season at Greensboro.

KLINE TO START HOME OPENER: Branden Kline will start the home opener at Harry Grove Stadium when the Keys take on Carolina Tuesday night at 7:00 p.m. Although it will be the right-hander’s home debut, it will not be his first start in the Carolina League. On the mound opening night, Kline picked up the win, tossing five innings of one-run baseball. He allowed seven hits, but did not walk anyone and struck out four. A former standout at Governor Thomas Johnson High School, Kline posted a 0.51 ERA his senior year. Selected by Baltimore in the second round of the 2012 draft out of the University of Virginia, the right-hander is the highest drafted player in Frederick County history.

RELIEF YOU CAN DEPEND ON: Although Friday may not have gone as planned for Matt Price, the Keys bullpen has performed well over the first two nights. Over 9.2 innings, Frederick relievers have allowed three runs on nine hits. Jesse Beal was particularly impressive in game two of the series. Making his season debut, the 6-7 righty tossed three shutout innings of two-hit baseball.

WALK THIS WAY: Parker Bridwell struggled in his Carolina League debut. Tying a career-high with six walks, the native Texan lasted only four innings. He allowed four runs (three earned) on four hits and struck out three but did not factor into the decision. In 2013 with Low-A Delmarva, he went 8-9 with a 4.73 ERA.

2013 TOP-PERFORMERS: In 2013, the Keys finished last in hitting (.245) and pitching (4.43), but several players put together outstanding seasons. Michael Ohlman became the first Frederick player to win the Carolina League batting title since 2009, hitting .313. He also led the CL in slugging percentage (.524) and ended third in on-base percentage (.410). On the mound, Eduardo Rodriguez went 6-4 with a 2.85 ERA and earned a trip to the Sirius XM Futures Game, while fellow-lefty, Tim Berry, finished tied for the league lead in wins (11).

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 have played at the Advanced-A level.

BLAST FROM THE PAST: In addition to an excellent group of prospects, the Keys return 16 players. Many of those familiar faces are outfielders and relief pitchers. Brenden Webb, Trent Mummey and Torsten Boss have all spent time in with Frederick, while seven of the club’s eight bullpen hands (Jesse Beal, Matt Hobgood, Miguel Chalas, Matt Price, Lex Rutledge, Mychal Givens and Gene Escat) have also sported a Frederick uniform at some point.

2013 VS. LYNCHBURG: The 2013 season-series between Frederick and Lynchburg was often close. The Hillcats held a slim 10-9 advantage, while six of the 19 games were decided by a one run. Sammie Starr feasted off Lynchburg pitching, batting .323 with three doubles and six RBIs over 18 games.

TODAY’S OPPOSING PITCHER:Right-hander Wes Parsons makes the Saturday night start for Lynchburg and  is the No. 20 prospect in the Atlanta organization according to Baseball America. In his first professional season at Low-A Rome, Parsons went 7-7 with a 2.63 ERA over 19 starts. Joining the club in late May, the Tennessee native was nearly unhittable in the second-half. In 14 starts, he tallied a 2.02 ERA and scattered just 63 hits over 84.2 innings. On the season, he limited opponents to a .224 batting average and displayed excellent command. Over 109.2 total innings, he walked only 21. Signed by Atlanta as a non-drafted free agent in 2012, Parsons gave up baseball early in his high school career to focus on golf. By his junior year he returned to the hill and later pitched at Jackson State Community College. There, he missed the fall of his first semester due to a weightlifting accident, but made an immediate impact once the regular season got started. That success carried over to the summer collegiate Northwoods League, where Parsons pitched for the Thunder Bay Border Cats. Against top-college competition,  he posted a 2.61 ERA and tossed a scoreless inning in the league’s All-Star game, where he was clocked at 95mph. Although multiple teams showed interest, Parsons signed with the Braves for $200,000. Employing an easy delivery, the 6-5 righty pitches with a low-mid 90s fastball, a low-80s slider and a changeup that is developing.

Good Morning From The Best Western

Happy Saturday Keys Fans!

I hope everyone is doing well, and that you’re all enjoying KeysFest this afternoon at Harry Grove Stadium. Still plenty of time to get over and check it out, as the event runs until 2 p.m. And the best part is, the it’s  FREE!! So come on out and get excited for the start of the home schedule on Tuesday.

Doug Raftery and myself wish we could be there, but we are both with the team in Lynchburg. After a great performance by Branden Kline on opening night, Parker Bridwell struggled, walking six over four innings. The offense picked him up, as the Keys took the lead in the top of the eighth, but Lynchburg was able to force extra innings after an RBI single by Kyle Wren in the home ninth. Going to extras, the Hillcats put two aboard in the 10th against Matt Price before Jose Castro singled home the winning run.

The Hillcats and Keys each had their chances, but neither side performed well with runners in scoring position. Frederick finished 3-for-11  while Lynchburg was 4-for-19 with 10 men left on base. Those numbers will need to improve, but they are little surprise over the first month, as hitters try and get their timing back, and get to know the league’s pitchers.

That being said, Creede Simpson has had no problems so far. In his first season with the Keys, the former Auburn Tiger is 4-for-10, and is tied for the CL lead with three doubles.

Simpson

On the pitching side, Jesse Beal looked terrific on Friday. First out the bullpen, he attacked the strike zone while tossing three innings of two-hit, no-run baseball. Former 1st rounder Matt Hobgood was also very sharp on opening night. In two shutout innings he struck out a pair and showcased a tight breaking ball.

While we’re on the topic of pitching, the BIG NEWS out Lynchburg today, and it is worthy of all caps: BRANDEN KLINE WILL START THE HOME OPENER ON TUESDAY NIGHT!!!! For Kline it will be his second start of the season, after allowing one run over five innings in the opener. Kline 1 640x360

Talking with Kline on the pregame show yesterday, he said he wasn’t expecting “too many” people at his first start. However, I’ll go out on a limb and say he’ll get a nice surprise on Tuesday. Who knows, maybe the righty will get an entire cheering section. I’ll even suggest  “Kline Krazies” as a possible section name. That being said, if you can do better, it might be worthy of an on-air mention. Doug and myself like creativity.

Alright folks, back to game-prepping. Make sure to tune into the broadcast tonight at 5:45 p.m. when Doug and myself will have the pregame show on 1450 AM The Source. First pitch is scheduled for 6: 05 p.m. Lefty Matt Taylor takes the mound for Frederick and Wes Parsons throws for Lynchburg.

Enjoy KeysFest and Shake Your Keys!

Geoff

 

 

It’s Gameday!!!

Good Afternoon Keys Fans,

In mere hours the 2014 season will get underway, when the Keys take on the Lynchburg Hillcats at City Stadium. Frederick native Branden Kline takes the ball, and makes his highly-anticipated Carolina League debut. First pitch is slated for 6:05 p.m. and our pregame coverage gets underway on 1450 AM The Source (as well as frederickkeys.com) at 5:45. Doug Raftery and myself will have a full preview of the game,  get the initial impressions of first-year Keys manager Luis Pujols, and rundown the starting lineups. So make sure and tune-in via computer, on your smart phone, or….on the radio.

A full-batch of game notes are below. Talk soon and shake your keys!

Geoff

Thursday, Apr. 3, 2014 · Game #1 · Road Game #1

Frederick Keys (0-0) at Lynchburg Hillcats (0-0)

RHP Branden Kline (0-0, –) vs. RHP Lucas Sims (0-0, –)

                                                                                                                                                               

TODAY’S GAME:Frederick kicks its 2014 season on the road against the Lynchburg Hillcats. The 2014 Keys feature 16 returning players, a former Major League manager, a host of prospects, as well as a Frederick native in Branden Kline, who makes the opening night start for the O’s Advanced-A affiliate. Frederick plays its first four games on the road, followed by a Monday off-day. The home opener is scheduled for Tuesday, April 8, when the Carolina Mudcats visit Harry Grove Stadium at 7 p.m.

2013 SEASON IN REVIEW: In 2013, the Keys finished last overall in the Carolina League Northern Division, posting a final mark of 61-78. After going 34-35 in the first-half, Frederick struggled down the backstretch, going just 27-43 over its final 70 games.

2013 TOP-PERFORMERS: Categorically, the Keys finished last in hitting (.245) and pitching (4.43), but several players put together outstanding seasons. Michael Ohlman became the first Frederick player to win the Carolina League batting title since 2009, hitting .313. He also led the CL in slugging percentage (.524) and ended third in on-base percentage (.410). On the mound, Eduardo Rodriguez went 6-4 with a 2.85 ERA and earned a trip to the Sirius XM Futures Game, while fellow-lefty, Tim Berry, finished tied for the league lead in wins (11).

HOME SWEET HOME: Few players get the opportunity to play for their hometown team, but Keys pitcher Branden Kline gets the chance in 2014. A standout pitcher at Governor Thomas Johnson High School, the righty pitched three seasons at the University of Virginia before being selected by Baltimore in the second round of the 2012 draft. By moving up the ladder from Low-A Delmarva, Kline becomes the fifth Frederick native to play for the Keys (Dell Ahalt, John Fowler, Brian Valichka and Joey Hammond were the others) and the most recent since 2008, when Valichka played four games for the team. Last year with the Shorebirds, Kline went 1-2 with a 5.86 ERA, but missed the majority of the season after suffering a right ankle/fibula fracture during a May conditioning drill.

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 have played at the Advanced-A level.

BLAST FROM THE PAST: In addition to an excellent group of prospects, the Keys return 16 players. Many of those familiar faces are outfielders and relief pitchers. Brenden Webb, Trent Mummey and Torsten Boss have all spent time in with Frederick, while seven of the club’s eight bullpen hands (Jesse Beal, Matt Hobgood, Miguel Chalas, Matt Price, Lex Rutledge, Mychal Givens and Gene Escat) have also sported a Frederick uniform at some point.

OPENING THINGS UP: The Keys have traditionally struggled in home openers. Since 1989, Frederick has gone 7-18 in its first game of the year. However, the team bucked the trend last season, thrashing Salem 11-1 at Harry Grove Stadium. Brenden Webb led the charge, going 4-for-5 with a home run, double and three RBIs. Hardly the only one involved offensively, Frederick pounded out 14 hits on the game.

2013 VS. LYNCHBURG: The 2013 season-series between Frederick and Lynchburg was often close. The Hillcats held a slim 10-9 advantage, while six of the 19 games were decided by a one run. Sammie Starr feasted off Lynchburg pitching, batting .323 with three doubles and six RBIs over 18 games.

TODAY’S OPPOSING PITCHER: The No. 1 overall prospect in the Atlanta farm system according to Baseball America, Lucas Sims makes his Carolina League debut after a stellar 2013 season at Low-A Rome. In 28 games for the Braves (18 starts), the Lawrenceville, GA native went 12-4 with a 2.62 ERA. In the process, he finished second in the South Atlantic League in wins and ERA, fourth in strikeouts (134), and held opponents to a league-low .203 batting average. For his efforts, the right-hander was named the Braves’ Minor League pitcher of the Year. Only 19 years old (he will turn 20 on May 10), Sims was on a strict innings limit last year, and pitched out of the bullpen until late May. Selected by Atlanta in the first round (21st overall) of the 2012 draft, the righty signed with the Braves for a reported $1.65 million rather than attend Clemson University. A Braves fan as a kid, Sims cites John Smoltz as his favorite player growing up. He features a 93-95 mph fastball, a mid-70s curveball, and a changeup.

Keys to Watch 2014

That day is almost upon us Keys Fans!

Opening Day for the Frederick Keys is only one day away! The Keys will take on the Lynchburg Hillcats with the first pitch from Calvin Falwell Field at 6:05pm. You can listen to the game on 1450 AM The Source with Geoff Arnold and Doug Raftery on the call, coverage will begin at 5:45pm.

For the Keys it will be Frederick native Branden Kline on the mound against the Atlanta Braves No.1 prospect RHP Lucas Sims. Kline, who was drafted out of Virginia in the second round of the 2012 draft by the Orioles, is coming off a shortened 2013 season with Delmarva where he was injured during conditioning drills last May having to undergo surgery to repair a broken right ankle. Kline’s numbers at the end of the year were 1-2 in seven starts with a 5.86 ERA in 35.1 innings striking out 32 batters.

courtesy: masnsports.com

courtesy: masnsports.com

Yesterday at the Grove the Keys had their media day with reporters on hand to see this years 2014 squad. It was a successful day with the sun shining and the players getting a look at the stadium before practice and getting their pictures taken for the season. In this years squad there are some notable names for fans to look out for who are not named Branden Kline.

Keys to Watch 2014:

Adrian Marin SS:

courtesy: Tim Jacobsen

courtesy: Tim Jacobsen

First on the list is the Orioles No. 12 prospect according to Baseball America. Marin, a shortstop from Miami, shows an advanced feel for the game and had a solid 2013 season at the age of 19. He was the everyday shortstop for Delmarva and batted .265 with 19 doubles and 48 RBIs. His defense is well ahead of his offense, but his bat should continue to develop. Marin also possesses a strong baseball IQ and shows solid fundamentals and the ability to carry out bat-handling tasks such as bunting, serving the ball to the opposite field and executing hit-and-runs. As the shortstop for the Keys this year Marin is a top player for fans to keep an eye on in Frederick and in the future in the majors.

Mychal Givens RHP:

courtesy: Tim Jacobsen

courtesy: Tim Jacobsen

Mychal Givens makes the list with the fact that this is only his second season as a professional pitcher. Givens was drafted in the second round of the 2009 draft by the Orioles with the potential to develop into a strong, athletic shortstop who could grow into some power. However he was unable to develop as a hitter batting just .247 in three seasons, mostly in low Class-A Delmarva. In high school Givens had experience as a pitcher so the O’s moved him to the mound in 2013. After some minor problems early on in the season the former shortstop threw 42.2 innings with a 4.22 ERA and a record of 2-3 from the bullpen. The righty throws from the low three-quarters slot using an upper-80s fastball that reached 92 later in the year with heavy sink. He also throws a slider hard in the 84-86 mph range and a change up that is progressing well. Entering only his second full season as a pitcher Givens could move quickly now that he’s made the conversion.

Glynn Davis OF:

courtesy: Tim Jacobsen

courtesy: Tim Jacobsen

Davis a nondrafted free agent in August 2010, was a member of the 2013 Keys team. A clear plus-plus runner, Davis was troubled by a hamstring injury that limited his stolen base numbers last year. Playing in only 97 games in 2013 the outfielder hit .234 with 17 doubles, and only stole 19 bases. It was 18 seals short of his total in 2012 where he split time between Delmarva and Frederick stealing a total of 37 bases (29 in Delmarva and 8 in Frederick). Davis, looking to stay healthy, could be the speedster that the Keys need this year to on the base paths to score runs in 2014.

There are plenty more Keys players to keep an eye on this year, but its better left for you the fans to come out and see for yourself. It will be interesting to see what the 2014 season will have in store for Frederick. As for now the season begins tomorrow in Lynchburg so tune in and listen to Geoff and Doug on 1450 AM The Source.

It’s time of the year fans to Shake your Keys!

Chris

The 2014 Keys Roster Is Out!!!

Meet the Team (1)
FREDERICK, MD. – The Frederick Keys are pleased to announce their preliminary roster for the 2014 season. This year’s group is headlined by 16 returning players, five of the Orioles top-30 prospects according to Baseball America, as well as a local star who played at Thomas Johnson High School. First-year manager Luis Pujols captains this dynamic group when the Keys open their season on Thursday, April 3, at Lynchburg.

Frederick native, Branden Kline, highlights the Keys talented roster. Rated the Orioles number 20 prospect, Kline missed the majority of the 2013 season due to an ankle injury. Over 35.1 innings at Low-A Delmarva, the right-hander went 1-2 with a 5.86 ERA over seven games. He returned to action in October, pitching in 10 games with the Surprise Saguaros of the Arizona Fall League.

The other Baseball America top 30 prospects on Frederick’s roster include shortstop Adrian Marin (12), right-handed starting pitcher Parker Bridwell (19), right-handed reliever Mychal Givens (23), and outfielder Glynn Davis (29). Marin and Davis have each been recognized for possessing the “best-tools” among Baltimore prospects. For the last three seasons, Davis has been tabbed the organization’s “fastest baserunner” while Marin was recognized as the “best defensive infielder” for the second straight season.

Frederick’s rotation contains a nice balance of youth and experience. In addition to Kline, Bridwell helps anchor the group after spending the last two full seasons at Delmarva. With the Shorebirds, the 22-year-old led all Baltimore farmhands with 144 strikeouts, while he finished 8-9 with 4.73 ERA. Brady Wager returns to Frederick, after making 15 Carolina League starts in 2013. Promoted to the Keys in early June, the Arizona native experienced both highs and lows in his first year at Advanced-A, going 3-10 with a 5.23 ERA.

Newcomers Matt Taylor and Joe Van Meter round things out. A fifth round pick of the Orioles in 2011, the left-handed Taylor posted the 12th-best ERA in the South Atlantic League (3.77) last season as a member of the Shorebirds rotation. Van Meter joins the Orioles farm system after spending the last four years with Texas and Tampa Bay affiliates. No stranger to the Carolina League, he went 3-4 with a 3.62 ERA as a member of the Myrtle Beach Pelicans last year.

Of the Keys eight bullpen-hands, seven have previously spent time in a Frederick uniform. Jesse Beal and Gene Escat pitched in 40 and 41 games respectively last year, while former first round pick Matt Hobgood returns after splitting last season between Low-A and Advanced-A. Promoted to the Keys last June, Miguel Chalas prepares for his first full season in the Carolina League, as does southpaw Lex Rutledge, who pitched nine games out of the bullpen in 2013. Matt Price completes the list of familiar faces. The former University of South Carolina standout ended last season strong with the Keys, allowing only one earned run over his final 10.2 innings.

Mychal Givens played one game with Frederick in 2010 as a position player, but returns as a relief pitcher. Clocked in the mid-90s during his high school days, the right-hander went 2-3 with a 4.22 ERA in his first pro season on the hill. The only reliever yet to wear a Keys jersey, right-hander Mark Blackmar joins the club after splitting last season between the rotation and bullpen at Delmarva.

On the infield, Marin joins the Keys after hitting .265 at Low-A last year. A player who developed at the plate as the season progressed, the shortstop hit .275 over his final 51 games. He will be joined up the middle by Sammie Starr. After making stops at three minor league outposts in 2012, the Canadian spent all of last season with the Keys batting .216 over 115 games. Jason Esposito returns after manning both corner infield spots a season ago, while Tucker Nathans provides plenty of flexibility, after seeing time at second, third, short, as well as time in the outfield in 2013. Joel Hutter, Creede Simpson and Michael Mosby complete the team’s infield.

Last year’s Delmarva catching tandem of Wynston Sawyer and Steel Russell move up to the Carolina League. The primary backstop with the Shorebirds the last two seasons, Sawyer has already worked with many of the pitchers on this year’s staff. Russell serves as the backup, and is the son of current Orioles bench coach John Russell.

In the outfield, Davis gears up for his fourth season at Harry Grove Stadium. After a hamstring injury at the beginning of last season, the Keys outfielder never hit his stride, batting .234 over 97 games. Brenden Webb and Trent Mummey also try for rebound seasons, after being sidelined by injuries a year ago. Newcomers to the outfield include Torsten Boss and Michael Burgess. Boss moves up from Low-A Delmarva, while Burgess comes to the Baltimore system from the Astros. In 2013 with Double-A Corpus Christi, he hit .203 in 98 games.

Keys players and coaches will be made available to the media for interviews and photographs during the Keys’ Media Day on Tuesday, April 1, from 2-3 p.m. at Harry Grove Stadium. All credentialed media are invited to attend. To obtain a press pass, please contact Geoff Arnold at garnold@frederickkeys.com.

Opening Day 2014 for the Frederick Keys is scheduled for Tuesday, April 8, when the Carolina Mudcats visit Harry Grove Stadium at 7:00 p.m. For ticket information, please call 301-815-9939 or visit frederickkeys.com.

Guess Your Keys: Friday, March 28, 2014

Happy Friday Fans!

Spring Training is coming to a close with the O’s having their final workouts tomorrow. After that the players will be heading back north to their designated teams and we could know as early as today which players will begin the season here in Frederick.

Some more news with the Orioles, outfielder Nolan Reimold will begin the season on the 15-day DL. It isn’t a new injury or even a setback, the team is trying to make the move to put Reimold back in the field. The team however already has a healthy 25-man roster.

Nelson Cruz had a scary moment last night, taking an Alex Cobb pitch to the helmet. Cruz seemed to be fine after the CT scan came back clean last night, but he will be checked out again today by the team.

Today fans, is our final Guess Your Keys for this season. We have a special player that we wanted to keep separate from the pack. After all this Oriole prospect is a Frederick native.

Branden Kline:

courtesy: milb.com

courtesy: milb.com

Vitals:

Position: RHP

Age: 22

Height: 6-3

Weight: 185

More on Kline:

A Frederick native, Kline was selected Orioles in the second round of the 2012 first-year player draft, becoming the highest-drafted player in the county’s history. Dominant during his days at Governor Thomas Johnson High School, the righty posted a 0.51 ERA during his senior year.

Impressed, Boston selected Kline in the sixth round of the 2009 draft, but the long-limbed righty chose to pitch at the University of Virginia rather than jump to the professional ranks. He spent his first two years in college working out of the bullpen, serving as the Cavaliers closer in 2011. One year later, he moved to the rotation and went 6-3 in 72 innings pitched, striking out 76 and walking 31. During one stretch, he struck out 40 batters in 34 innings, while allowing only 19 hits and eight walks during that span.

Touted as the Orioles 20th overall prospect according to Baseball America, Kline missed the majority of the 2013 season after injuring his right ankle during a conditioning drill. He underwent season-ending surgery in May, logging only 35.1 innings with Low-A Delmarva. He went 1-2 with a 5.86 ERA. Kline returned to action in October, pitching in 10 games for the Surprise Saguaros of the Arizona Fall League.

The season is so close you can almost taste it! I for one can’t wait!

Have a great weekend fans and, Shake Your Key!

Chris

Out and About? You May be a Candidate for Keys Tickets!!!

Good Evening Keys Fans!

Your favorite Geoff with a G checking-in. Spring training is winding down, and in the next couple of days, we’ll officially know the identities of this year’s Keys. That’s because in EXACTLY ONE WEEK, the team will play its season opener at Lynchburg!   For those looking ahead, first pitch is slated for 6:05 p.m, while our pregame coverage starts 15 minutes before first pitch.

To say that Doug Raftery and myself are excited to get back in the booth would be the understatement of the year. While testing out our radio equipment on Monday night, we even contemplated doing a mock broadcast of a high school game tommorrow afternoon at the Grove. Although mother nature will likely crush that notion (with rain likely in the morning), you can bet we’ll be ready and raring to go come next Thursday.

Once again, all 140 broadcasts this season will air on 1450 AM The Source, as well as online. So make plans to be near a computer, mobile device, or…even a radio.

We will have our final installment of Guess Your Keys tommorrow, but to tide you over, a couple of player personnel notes:

According to MASN’s Steve Melewski, several former Keys have been released. Among those who did not make it out of spring training:

-Connor Narron

- Eric Beaulac

- Aaron Baker

-Zach Fowler

Additionally, some on our “Guess Your Keys” list have also been let go:

-Juan Guzman

-Sander Beck

Perhaps the biggest surprise was Fowler. Although he was a little older for the Carolina League (24), he still put up solid numbers, going 3-4 with a 2.57 ERA in 37 games.

Courtesy: Tim Jacobsen

Courtesy: Tim Jacobsen

Unfortunately, details tend to be scarce when it comes to minor league spring training transactions. However Melewski has a few extra details Here and Here

Moving to Keys news, today the team announced a very cool (and honestly quite easy) way to get FREE tickets this year. Called “Wear it and Win” this promotion rewards fans all season long who are spotted sporting Keys apparel.

So if you’ve got your Keys jersey on? Bingo! Keys hat? Ring it up! Pullover? BOOK IT!

Alright, I’m getting into broadcaster mode right now. In all seriousness though, you never know where we could be!

As one of the golden ticket givers, I WOULD LOVE to see some retro Keys gear.

Like 1993 retro:

keys 1993

An on-air shout-out may even be warranted.

Okay friends, that’s all for tonight. Tune in tommorrow when we wrap up the week with the last edition of Guess Your Keys!

Shake ‘em!

Geoff

Guess Your Keys: Wednesday March 26, 2014

Happy Wednesday Keys Fans!

The snow has melted off the field and we should be in the clear for Keys Opening Day, which is only 13 days away! Things are really staring to pick up here and we look forward to another great season here at The Grove. Within the last couple of days we have been busy continuing to get things ready for the season and getting those highly anticipated pocket schedules out in the area and finalizing some events this season. We have added NHL Day on April 12th for the 2p.m. game. Come out to the field and meet Washington Capitals Alumni Alan May and Craig Laughlin. The Caps mascot Slapshot will also be in attendance. Gates open at 1p.m.

On the O’s front, Baltimore on a split squad day defeated the Boston Red Sox 5-4. Miguel Gonzalez recorded the win with offensive help from recently announced backup catcher Steve Clevenger, who hit a solo home run in the second. Second baseman Jemile Weeks stated his cause for the starting second base position by going 2-5 from the lead off spot.

The other half of the Orioles split squad will play tonight at 7:05p.m. Chris Tillman will be on the bump against David Price and the Tampa Bay Rays from Charlotte Sports Park.

In today’s edition of Guess Your Keys we have a total of seven players who could be in Frederick to start the year, including an early season rehab assignment. Rosters should be coming out soon so it’s time to finish our list as quickly as we can.

Bennett Parry

courtesy: milb.com

courtesy: milb.com

Vitals

Position: LHP

Age: 22

Height: 6-6

Weight: 225

More on Parry:

A towering presence at 6-6, Parry has been a pleasant surprise for the Orioles organization. Taken in the 40th round of the 2011 draft, the southpaw posted a 3.49 ERA over 16 games with Low-A Delmarva last season. Working as both a starter and reliever, Parry went 2-1 with a 3.14 ERA as a starter and 0-1 with a 4.41 mark as a bullpen-hand. Tough to handle in July, he registered a 2.89 ERA over five games.

The California native spent 2012 with the GCL Orioles and Short-Season Aberdeen. Combined, he went 1-4 with a 2.70 ERA. Utilizing long limbs and a three-quarter arm slot, Parry has proven difficult to hit. He held South Atlantic League hitters to a .248 batting average last season, while he held opponents to a .219 clip the year prior.

Parry played his college baseball at Cal State Northridge after attending Poway High School. Known for its strong baseball tradition, Poway produced Hall-of-Famer Tony Gwynn and three-time MLB All-Star Gary Templeton.

Torsten Boss

 

courtesy: monoblogue.us

courtesy: monoblogue.us

Vitals

Position: INF

Age: 23

Height: 6-0

Weight: 195

More on Boss:

Selected by the Orioles in the eighth round of the 2012 draft, Boss spent the entire 2013 season with Low-A Delmarva. Over 106 games, he ranked third on the team in RBI (45) and doubles (21), while he finished with 10 multi-RBI games. That includes a season-best six RBI effort on May 12 at Hagerstown.

After being drafted in 2012, Boss spent the majority of his first professional season with short-season Aberdeen. However he got a two-game taste of life at Advanced-A. In seven at-bats he finished with one hit and a run scored.

Rated the 15th-best prospect in the Orioles’ system by Baseball America in 2012, Boss, 23, received All-Big Ten honors in all three of his seasons at Michigan State, wrapping up his career with a .337 batting average, a .425 on-base percentage, 18 homers, 143 RBIs and 40 doubles. He is the highest-drafted Spartan third baseman since first-rounder Steve Garvey in 1968. Boss also owns the high school record in Michigan for most career triples (28).

Mark Blackmar

 

courtesy: monoblogue.us

courtesy: monoblogue.us

Vitals:

Position: RHP

Age: 21

Height: 6-3

Weight: 215

More on Blackmar:

A former Texas 5A Player of the Year in high school, Blackmar has spent time as both a starter and reliever since being drafted by the Orioles. In 24 games with Low-A Delmarva in 2013, he went 4-9 with a 5.53 ERA. That higher earned run average can be attributed to first-half struggles. Used exclusively as a starter, he went 0-5 with a 7.34 ERA in his first nine games.

After a pair of second-half starts, Blackmar transitioned to the bullpen in July. Looking more comfortable, he went 3-4 with a 3.62 ERA as a reliever, while he allowed only five earned runs over his final 18.2 innings.

Drafted by Baltimore in the 16th round of the 2011 draft out of Temple Junior College, Blackmar did not allow a run over his first 18 professional innings. In his first season with the GCL Orioles, he went 3-0 with a 0.00 ERA over 10 games (17.2 IP/0R). Born in Corpus Christi, TX, he is the son of professional golfer Phil Blackmar. The elder Blackmar played on the PGA Tour from 1985-2000, and is now on the Champions Tour.

Roderick Bernadina

 

courtesy: milb.com

courtesy: milb.com

Vitals:

Position: OF

Age: 21

Height: 5-10

Weight: 167

More on Bernadina:

Bernadina begins his fifth season in the Orioles season, after spending all of 2013 with Low-A Delmarva. He finished second on the team in stolen bases (12) and finished one swipe short of his career-high.

Although he never advanced to the Carolina League last season, Bernadina made a four-game cameo in a Keys uniform in 2012. In 13 at-bats, he registered just one hit – a grand slam. That eighth-inning blast helped lead Frederick to a 10-5 victory at Wilmington on July 23. Afterwards, he was transferred back to Delmarva, where he finished with a .298 batting average.

Signed by the Orioles just before his 17th birthday, Bernadina, 21, was rated the #22 prospect in the Orioles system following the 2011 season by Baseball America. His older brother, Roger, has six seasons of MLB service time with Washington and Philadelphia.  In 2013, the elder Bernadina hit a combined .181 over 112 games between the Nationals and Phillies.

Sander Beck

 

courtesy: orioles-nation.com

courtesy: orioles-nation.com

Vitals:

Position: RHP

Age: 23

Height: 6-3

Weight: 215

More on Beck:

Beck was dominant in limited action with low-A Delmarva in 2013. Over 14 games, he posted a 2.61 ERA, while he allowed only two earned runs over his first 10 contests.

The 6-3 right-hander was dominant in his first professional season with Short-Season Aberdeen. He led the Ironbirds in strikeouts (59), while he held opponents to a .177 batting average, the 4th-lowest mark in the New York-Penn League.

Drafted by the Orioles in the 33rd round of the 2011 MLB draft, Beck signed with Baltimore as a non-drafted free agent following his senior season at Maryland. Originally from Millersville, MD, Beck played for four seasons for the Terps, the last three primarily as a starter. As a senior, he went 6-2 record with a 2.87 ERA.

Chance Sisco

 

Vitals:

Position: C

Age: 19

Height: 6-2

Weight: 190

More on Sisco:

In 2013, the Orioles selected three catchers in the first six rounds of the draft. Viewed as the prized possession of the group, Sisco signed for $785,000 after being taken 61st overall. He played 33 games in his first professional season, spending the bulk of his time with the GCL Orioles. Starting with Baltimore’s Rookie-affiliate he hit .371 with four doubles and 11 RBIs. Sisco also showed good discipline, earning 17 walks.

A catcher who is still learning his trade, Sisco was primarily a pitcher, third baseman, and shortstop at Santiago (CA) High School until his senior season. That February, scouts took notice of Sisco after a Major League Scouting Bureau workout. In his final year of high school ball, he did not commit an error behind the plate and threw out 15 would-be basestealers. At the plate, Sisco hit .467 and posted a .747 slugging percentage. Listed as Baltimore’s No. 10 prospect according to Baseball America, the lefty swinger committed to play college baseball at Oregon before deciding to go pro.

Dylan Bundy

 

courtesy: sportsillustrated.cnn.com

courtesy: sportsillustrated.cnn.com

Vitals

Position: RHP

Age: 21

Height: 6-1

Weight: 195

More on Bundy:

The No. 1 overall prospect in the Orioles system and one of the top pitching prospects in the game, Bundy missed all of 2013 on account of Tommy John surgery. Performed by Dr. James Andrews last June, the right-hander was shutdown in March with elbow soreness. At the start of spring training, the Orioles projected Bundy would be stretched out and ready to pitch in the majors if necessary, by June or July.

Selected by the Orioles with the fourth overall selection in the 2011 draft, Bundy received a $4 million signing bonus and proved to be worth every penny in 2012. Pitching at three different levels of the minors, the hard-throwing righty went 9-3 with a 2.08 ERA. Of his 21 minor league starts, 12 came with Frederick, where he went 6-3 with a 2.84 ERA.

Called up to the Orioles in late-September 2012, Bundy allowed one hit over 1.2 innings. He was the first prep player from his draft class to reach the major leagues, besting 2013 NL Rookie of the Year winner Jose Fernandez.

That will do it for this edition of Guess Your Keys, check in tomorrow as Geoff will be back to finish it up with a local prospect to round out our guesses for the 2014 season.

Till next time. Shake your Keys!

Chris

Guess Your Keys: Monday, March 24, 2014

Hope you all had a great weekend.

But don’t have the Monday blues baseball fans, only a week before the Major League Baseball season begins… again.

With March 31st just around the corner teams are finalizing their rosters through cuts and trades. In news from camp the O’s made a deal with the Detroit Tigers sending infielder Alex Gonzalez to Detroit for utility man Steve Lombardozzi. The deal comes on the heels of the Tigers loosing shortstop Jose Iglesias possibly for the entire 2014 season. With the veteran Gonzalez the Tigers will have a proven shortstop to fill the void left by Iglesias. As for the O’s they get a useful utility player who could easily make the 25-man roster.

Yesterday Buck Showalter made it official that third baseman Manny Machado will begin the season on the 15-day DL. Ryan Flaherty will be the likely choice to start the season in the hot corner. With the Machado news, it does open up the chance for former Key Jonathan Schoop to make the Opening Day roster. Schoop could even potentially take the starting second baseman spot if he’s able to beat out Jemile Weeks. We will see how it all unfolds this final week of Grapefruit League ball, but for now we still are in questions on who will be in a Keys uniform.

In today’s edition of Guess Your Keys we have a corner infielder and three pitchers including a top prospect for the O’s who last year put up a stat that Delmarva hasn’t seen since 2009.

Gene Escat

courtesy: milb.com

courtesy: milb.com

Vitals

Position: RHP

Age: 24

Height: 6-4

Weight: 190

More on Escat:

Escat left Fresno State in 2012 with 100 strikeouts in 104.2 innings, a 9-2 record and a College World Series Championship. The Orioles drafted the Bulldogs’ right-handed reliever in the 23rd round of the 2012 draft and sent him to short-season Aberdeen.

In 2013, Escat reached Frederick and was a workhorse out of the bullpen. He led the Keys with 41 appearances, putting him just outside the top five in the Carolina League. Numbers-wise, the season was a mixed bag for Escat. The righty ended the season with a 5.65 ERA, but that was largely due to a challenging May, where he recorded an 8.40 ERA over eight outings (15IP/14ER). He split 2012 between Short-Season Aberdeen and Low-A Delmarva.

Escat was a freshman on the 2008 Fresno State team that won the CWS, making 11 appearances and starting one game that year. A native of Oahu, HI, he lettered in baseball, basketball and water polo for four years at his high school in Hanford, CA.

Matt Price

courtesy: Tim Jacobsen

courtesy: Tim Jacobsen

Vitals

Position: RHP

Age: 24

Height: 6-2

Weight: 215

More on Price:

Price made his professional debut in 2013, splitting time between Frederick an Low-A Delmarva. After posting a 2.70 ERA with the Shorebirds to open the season, the 6-2 right-hander was promoted to the Keys in early June. Over 25 games, he went 2-2 with a 5.40 ERA. A player that hit his stride at the end of the season, Price allowed only one earned run over his final 10.2 innings while he walked one and struck out 10.

A fixture in the bullpen during South Carolina’s back-to-back College World Series victories in 2010 and 2011, the Orioles drafted the Gamecocks’ right-hander in the seventh round of the 2012 draft. The 22-year-old saved 43 games for South Carolina in his final three seasons after missing most of the 2009 campaign with a broken right wrist.

Price was drafted in the sixth round of the 2011 draft by Arizona, but returned for his junior year, helping the Gamecocks back to the College World Series final for the third straight year. For his career at South Carolina, he struck out 267 batters in 212.1 innings and recorded a 2.76 ERA.A three-time All-Southeastern Conference selection, he was named an All-American in 2011 and was selected to the freshman All-America team in 2010. As a senior in high school, he recorded a 7-4 record and a 0.40 ERA.

Jason Esposito

courtesy: Tim Jacobsen

courtesy: Tim Jacobsen

Vitals

Position: 3B

Age: 23

Height: 6-2

Weight: 210

More on Esposito:

Esposito struggled to find his groove with the Keys in 2013. Splitting time between first and third base, the Vanderbilt product hit .222 over 100 games and committed 22 errors. At the plate he did most of his work in bunches, finishing with multiple hits in 18 games.

The Orioles’ second-round pick in 2011, he signed for $600,000. Esposito played his first pro season at low-A Delmarva in 2012, hitting .209 over 123 games for the Shorebirds.

Originally drafted by Kansas City in the seventh round out of Amity Regional High School in 2008, Esposito turned down a reported $1.5 million deal to go to Vanderbilt. In his final season with the Commodores, he hit .340 with 22 doubles, nine homers and 59 RBIs in 66 games. A closer in high school, Esposito’s fastball touched 90 mph on the radar gun.

 

Parker Bridwell

 courtesy: orioles-nation.com

courtesy: orioles-nation.com

Vitals

Position: RHP

Age: 22

Height: 6-4

Weight: 186

More on Bridwell:

Rated the #19 prospect in the Orioles system by Baseball America, Bridwell comes off an up-and-down 2013 campaign, where he went 8-9 with a 4.73 ERA at Low-A Delmarva. After a difficult May where he went 0-4 with a 7.78 ERA, the 6-4 righty bounced back with a solid June. In five games, Bridwell went 3-0 with a 3.77 ERA. At his best from June 16-22, he allowed only one run over 14.2 innings, while he struck out 17.

Armed with a three-pitch repertoire including a fastball that can reach the mid-nineties, Bridwell finished second in the South Atlantic League with 144 strikeouts. It was the most by a Shorebirds pitcher since 2009. A proven workhorse, he led the league in innings pitched (142.2) in 2013, while he finished tied for the SAL lead (114.1) in 2012. He also spent part of 2011 with the Shorebirds.

After garnering the interest of colleges as a quarterback and forgoing a commitment to Texas Tech, Bridwell signed with the Orioles out of his Hereford High School (TX) in 2010 after being selected in the ninth-round of the draft. As a senior, he finished with a 7-2 record on the mound, posting a 2.26 ERA with 106 strikeouts in 65 innings. A three-sport star, he also threw for 2,669 yards and 24 touchdowns and averaged 12.1 points and 6.3 rebounds during his senior year.

That will do it for today’s edition of Guess Your Keys.

Till next time. Shake your Keys!

Chris

Guess Your Keys: Saturday, March 22, 2014

Happy Saturday Keys Fans!

It’s with great pleasure that we present a special weekend edition of Guess Your Keys!!! In LESS THAN TWO WEEKS, the Keys will kick of their season against the Lynchburg Hillcats, while in EXACTLY two weeks Keysfest will take place!!! The event runs from 11-2 p.m. on April 5 at Harry Grove Stadium and will feature a plethora of fun activities, food samplings and more! And what’s even better, is that the event is FREE!! So make sure and join us two Saturdays from now.

As for today, the O’s and the Rays played to a 3-3 tie in Port Charlotte. Some might subscribe to the old adage that a tie is like “kissing your sister”, but I think Buck Showalter and Dave Wallace might not be complaining after the performance of Ubaldo Jimenez. After allowing a two-run homer to James Loney in the first inning, the righty fired blanks over his next five frames. He exited after six innings of five-hit baseball, while the two-run homer was the only damage done. For those in the AL East, I’d start taking notes.

On the minor league front, a a number of cuts were made on Friday. The two biggest names were Jack Cust and Matt LaPorta, both players with extended big league time, who were in camp on minor league deals.

Meanwhile, former Key Julio Rodriguez  was also red-tagged. Once a highly-regarded Phillies prospect, the Puerto Rican went 0-3 with a 10.13 ERA in four starts with Frederick.

Almost every player development person will tell you that these calls aren’t easy. But at the end of the day, it’s the law of numbers. The Orioles only have so many minor league roster spots.

As always, the Keys have 25 slots. And while we’re still not sure who will be filling them yet, here are a couple more guesses:

Brady Wager

Courtesy: Tim Jacobsen

Courtesy: Tim Jacobsen

Vitals

Position: RHP

Age: 23

Height: 6-1

Weight: 205

More on Wager:

Wager split 2013 between Frederick and Low-A Delmarva posting a 4.89 ERA over 140 innings. With the Keys, he experienced both highs on lows. The highs: Wager was responsible for Frederick’s only complete-game shutout of the season, when he four-hit Carolina on August 3. Now the lows: in 15 starts, the righty suffered 10 defeats, fourth-most in the league. Although wins and losses are oftentimes not great barometers of success, Wager will need to find a way to get out left-handed hitters more effectively (in the CL that group hit .291 against him).

Joel Hutter 

courtesy: Joel Hutter

courtesy: Milb.com

Vitals

Position: INF

Age: 24

Height: 6-2

Weight: 205

More on Hutter:

Coming off his first full-season, Hutter hit .230 in 120 games with Low-A Delmarva. Those numbers were due in large part to a tough second-half, where he hit just .214 over his final 63 games. Still, Hutter did show a good batting-eye at the plate, earning 53 free passes on the year (tied for the club lead). With an entire season under his belt, the Iowa native will try and return to his 2012 form, when he was named Aberdeen’s Most Valuable Player.

Jimmy Yacabonis 

courtesy: CBS Philly

courtesy: CBS Philly

Vitals

Position: RHP

Age: 24

Height: 6-3

Weight: 195

More on Yacabonis:

The former St. Joseph’s closer looked right at home in his first professional season. Drafted by Baltimore in the 13th round last year, Yacabonis went 3-1 with a 1.52 ERA over 18 games.  Impressive for sure, but the way he got started was even more jaw-dropping. Over his first 21 innings, Yacabonis allowed only ONE EARNED RUN. His numbers against Atlantic-10 competition weren’t bad either, as he tallied a 2.02 ERA en route to being named second-team all-conference (I bet even Keys GM Dave Ziedelis, a Temple University grad, would approve).

Matt Hobgood 

orioles-nation.com

courtesy: orioles-nation.com

Vitals

Position: RHP

Age: 23

Height: 6-4

Weight: 245

More on Hobgood:

After rotator cuff surgery cost him all of 2012, Hobgood returned to action in 2013. Splitting the year between Frederick and Low-A Delmarva he went 9-4 with a 4.32 ERA. Once a starter, the 6-4 righty pitched all but one game out of the bullpen last season. With the Keys, he went 2-1 with a 5.58 ERA. One unusual note about Hobgood: his numbers were REMARKABLY better at hitter-friendly Harry Grove (2.93 ERA/15.1 IP) compared to his numbers at all other Carolina League venues (8.22 ERA/15.1 IP).

Juan Guzman 

Orioles-nation.com

courtesy: Orioles-nation.com

Vitals 

Position: RHP

Age: 23

Height: 6-4

Weight: 245

More on Guzman:

Entering his fifth professional season, Guzman spent all of 2013 at Low-A Delmarva, going 6-6 with a 4.70 ERA. The six victories was tied for third-best on the Shorebirds, while he tossed 111 innings. Signed by Baltimore as an international free agent in 2010, Guzman hails from the baseball-rich town of San Pedro de Macoris in the Dominican Republic. Among those who grew up there: Robinson Cano, Alfonso Soriano, and Johnny Cueto (just to name a few…).

That’s all for tonight! Enjoy the rest of your Saturday and shake your keys!

Geoff

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