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Keys get an MLB Rehabber, Plus a Recap from Yesterday

Lough Rehab

After a tough loss on opening night, the Keys have played better the past two games showing glimmers of potential. The bullpen, which struggled in the 13-0 defeat, has locked down on the Dash offense only allowing three earned runs (four total) and the offense has produced nine runs after managing only two hits Thursday night, including two home runs from first baseman Trey Mancini, the last two contests. The starting pitching thus far has been phenomenal only allowing three earned runs in 15 innings pitched which could be the strongest suit for the team.

Looking to continue this great play, Frederick will be receiving a Major League player, Baltimore Orioles outfielder David Lough, for a rehab assignment starting today. Lough will be bringing depth and experience for a few games which will help the Keys tremendously.

If the past two games show any indication of what the team will play like for the duration of the season, we could be seeing some playoff baseball come mid-September.

Today the Keys will send out Jarett Miller who is making his team debut and looking to continue the winning streak. Having pitched in the Carolina League last season with Lynchburg, Miller was 8-9 with a 4.04 ERA in 29 games. He will be countered by Winston-Salem hurler Tony Bucciferro, who was the Dash’s best pitcher last season going 7-10 with a 3.90 ERA in 21 appearances.

Down below is the game notes for today’s contest.

Sunday, Apr. 12, 2015 · Game #4 · Home Game #4

Frederick Keys (2-1) vs Winston-Salem Dash (1-2)

RHP Jarett Miller (0-0, –) vs. RHP Tony Bucciferro (0-0, –)

TAKE WHAT YOU’RE GIVEN: The Frederick Keys used two Winston-Salem errors in the third inning to seize control of the game, while the team received a strong start from Luis Gonzalez to top the Dash 6-3 on Saturday afternoon at Nymeo Field. Trey Mancini paced the offense, going 2-for-4 with two RBIs and his second longball in as many nights. On Sunday, the Keys will go for their first series win of the year.

BOOMER: Occasionally a nickname for Trey Mancini, the Keys first baseman has posted back-to-back multi-hit games. That includes a pair of home runs, both of which have come on the first pitch of an inning (he opened the sixth with a homer on Friday and then did the same thing in the second stanza on Saturday). Although all teams have only played three games, Mancini leads all of Advanced-A in longballs.

STARTING OFF STRONG: Over the last two days, the Keys have received strong starting pitching. On Friday night, David Hess earned a win in his Advanced-A debut tossing five innings of one-hit baseball en route to his first win, while Luis Gonzalez followed suit on Saturday. Having never pitched above Low-A in any of his five previous pro seasons, Gonzalez kept Dash hitters off balance over five frames. He gave up only one run on two hits and struck out four. All Keys starters have worked five innings so far and allowed two earned runs or less. The only issue has been walks, with Gonzalez, Hess and Mitch Horacek handing out nine free rides in 15 stanzas. Over the last two days though, the Dash are 3-for-18 with runners in scoring position and have left 18 on base.

MAKING THE ADJUSTMENT: After going 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position on Friday, the Keys went 5-for-9 with men at second and third on Saturday. The Keys did their best work in the third, when all three runners who reached scoring position came home. In the first three games, the Keys are batting .227 (5-for-22) with men closest to home, with Adrian Marin, Brenden Webb and Austin Wynns all going 1-for-2 in those spots.   

LOUGH BEGINS REHAB WITH KEYS: David Lough is set to begin a Major League rehab with the Keys on Sunday afternoon. He is scheduled to leadoff and play leftfield. Lough is rehabbing from a left hamstring injury. In 2014 with the Orioles, Lough hit .247 with four home runs and 16 RBIs over 112 games (a career-high). Additionally, Lough set personal MLB high-water marks in stolen bases (eight) and walks (15). No stranger to the Carolina League, Lough was originally selected by the Royals in the 11th round of the 2007 draft and played for the Wilmington Blue Rocks in 2009. In 65 games, he hit .320 with five home runs and 30 RBIs before a promotion to Double-A Northwest Arkansas. Not kind to Keys pitching during his time in the Carolina League, Lough hit .333 (6-for-18) with three runs scored in five games.

EARLY MOVEMENT: Before Friday’s game against the Dash, Keys reliever Ronan Pacheco was placed on the disabled list with a fractured hand. He was replaced on the roster by Nik Nowottnick who was transferred from Aberdeen. Growing up in Washington, D.C, Nowottnick split the 2014 campaign between Short-Season Aberdeen and Low-A Delmarva. Between the two stops, he went 3-2 with a 3.32 ERA over 21 games (all relief appearances).

2014 SEASON IN REVIEW: The Keys tied for third with the Wilmington Blue Rocks in the overall Carolina League North standings. Ending the year with a 65-72 record, the orange and black finished in fourth place in the first-half (32-35) and in third place in the second stanza. Despite posting a losing record after the all-star break, Frederick stayed in the playoff hunt until the penultimate day of the season. Taking on the eventual CL champions, the Potomac Nationals, Frederick dropped both ends of a doubleheader, while a Lynchburg win sealed the Keys fate. The 65 overall wins were the most the club had accrued since 2011, when then-manager Orlando Gomez led the club to an 80-59 record (the best in team history) and a Mills Cup title.

2014 TOP-PERFORMERS: At the plate, Michael Burgess proved to be one of the league’s toughest outs until a July promotion to Double-A Bowie. The CL’s “Player of the Month” for June, the Tampa native hit .315 in 83 games. Despite missing the last month-and-a-half of the season, he placed second in extra-base hits (51), fourth in doubles (32) and tied for fourth in home runs (15) and fifth in RBIs (68). Glynn Davis was also called up to Double-A Bowie, but had enough plate appearances to qualify for fourth in the league in batting average (.295). On the mound, Mark Blackmar had a fantastic season. Opening the year in the bullpen, the righty moved to the rotation in mid-May and flourished, ending the year 10-1 with a 3.18 ERA. He finished tied for second in wins and fifth in ERA before a late-season trade to the White Sox for Alejandro de Aza. Frederick native, Branden Kline, also had a nice 2014, going 8-6 with a 3.84 ERA with the Keys. A midseason all-star, he received a promotion to Double-A in August.

WHAT HOME COOKIN?: In 2014, the Keys did their best work away from Frederick. In games played on Stadium Drive, Frederick went just 29-38, the worst home mark in the CL North and the second-worst figure in the Carolina League (Carolina was 28-40). That included an 0-5 first-half start, a 3-9 April and a 1-10 second-half kickoff. In contrast, the Keys were a strong road team, going 36-34. Good for the third-best road record in the Carolina League, the 36 wins were the most road triumphs by a Keys team since 2005.

TAKE A CHANCE ON ME: Chance Sisco makes the jump to Advanced-A after claiming the 2014 South Atlantic League batting title. The Orioles top catching prospect according to Baseball America, Sisco set a single-season franchise record at Low-A Delmarva, batting .340 in 114 games with five homers and 63 RBIs. His best month came in June, when he hit .404 with 19 RBIs over 24 games and earned organizational “Player of the Month” honors. A SAL midseason and postseason all-star, Sisco was selected by the Orioles with the 61st overall pick in the 2013 draft. Only 20 years old, Sisco is the youngest player on the Keys active roster by almost five months.

WELCOME BACK ORLANDO!: After spending the last two seasons with the Rookie-Level GCL Orioles, the Keys all-time winningest manager, Orlando Gomez returns to Frederick in 2015. The 68-year-old begins his 51st season in professional baseball and 11th with the Orioles. The Keys manager from 2010-12, Gomez is the only skipper in club history to eclipse 200 wins. He is the last manager to lead Frederick to the playoffs and a Mills Cup title (2011). Since his departure, the Keys have not finished higher than third in any half of a season. His staff includes pitching coach Kennie Steenstra, hitting coach Paco Figueroa and infield coach Justin Viele.

PROSPECTING: This year’s Keys team features plenty of exciting players. Seven of the Orioles top 30 prospects according to Baseball America will begin the year at Nymeo Field, the most on any Baltimore farm club. Catcher Chance Sisco (No. 4) highlights this group, which also includes infielders Drew Dosch (No. 15), Adrian Marin (No. 21) and Trey Mancini (No. 30), outfielders Josh Hart (No. 25) and pitchers Jon Keller (No. 13) and David Hess (No. 20). Additionally, Sisco is ranked as the “best hitter for average” in the O’s minor league system and Dosch as having the best “strike zone discipline” according to the publication’s “best tools” survey.

FAMILIAR FACES: Frederick’s opening day roster includes 14 returning players. Brenden Webb (212 games) leads the way in games played for the orange and black, with Johnny Ruettiger (208) not far behind. Both have spent parts of three seasons in Frederick. Accounting for Jarett Miller and Ronan Pacheco, 16 Keys have Advanced-A experience.

TODAY’S OPPOSING PITCHER: Right-hander Tony Bucciferro makes his 2015 debut against the Keys on Sunday. Splitting time between Winston-Salem and Double-A Birmingham, he want 9-12 with a 4.14 ERA over 27 games (all starts). With the Dash, he went 7-10 with a 3.90 ERA in 21 appearances. Bucciferro tied for the league lead in complete games (two) and shutouts (one) and was fifth in the circuit in WHIP (1.20). Known for his pinpoint command, Bucciferro walked only 16 in 129.1 innings and walked only more than one on a single occasion (he gave out three free passes on July 14). Author of one of the league’s most dominant pitching performances last season, Bucciferro carried a no-hitter into the ninth inning against the Keys on July 20, before a Glynn Davis single broke it up with one out. A 14th round selection by Chicago out of Michigan State in 2012, Bucciferro throws a four-seam and two-seam fastball, a slider and a changeup.

It’s Hockey Day at the Ballpark!

Good Afternoon Keys Fans!

It’s time to drop the puck on Hockey Day! Former Washington Capital and 60-goal scorer, Dennis Maruk is in attendance so stop on by and say hello! He will also be signing autographs throughout the game. As one aside, best of luck to the Capitals on the final day of the NHL regular season. Fortunately, Maruk’s old team will be heading back to the playoffs, after posting the second-best record in the Metropolitan Division. As one final reminder, gates open at 1 p.m. and first pitch is at 2.

On Sunday, the Keys will conclude their first series of the season against Winston-Salem. Like on Saturday, gates will open at 1 p.m. and there will be plenty of fun. It’s the first Sunday Funday of the year presented by Heartfields Assisted Living at Frederick, and will include a pre-game catch in the outfield. Additionally, it is the first of three “Meet the Team Events” this season. From 1-1:30, fans are invited onto the field to meet their favorite Keys players and coaches and get autographs. There will also be a magnet schedule giveaway sponsored by Precision Heating and Cooling.

Finally, Sunday concludes our first Keys for Reading Weekend this year. So students from Frederick, Carroll, Loudoun and Clark counties bring in those signed bookmarks! Those that do will get a free ticket to that days’ game.

On Friday, the Keys earned their first win, defeating Winston-Salem 3-2. Both teams went a combined 0-for-18 with runners in scoring position, but the Keys got a couple of breaks on offense, great starting pitching from David Hess, one tremendous fielding play by Drew Dosch and gritty relief pitching from Dennis Torres and Jon Keller. All three pitchers were pitching on considerable rest, but found a way to minimize three Winston-Salem opportunities with the bases loaded (the Dash got only two runs in these spots all night).

For those that missed the game or want to go back and relive it, last night’s recap can be found here. Additionally here are a couple of highlights.

1. Mancini hits solo home run in 6th to put the Keys ahead 2-0:

2. Drew Dosch with a game-saving stop at third in the 9th:

3. Keller polishes off Trey Michaelczewski to wrap up the 3-2 win:

Additionally, here are a couple of interviews:

1. Opening Night chat with Keys manager Orlando Gomez:

2. Talk with Keys second baseman Jeff Kemp:

We’ll be adding more interviews on here throughout the season so stay tuned!

Here is a look at today’s Keys lineup:

1. LF Gregory Lorenzo

2. 2B Jeff Kemp

3. 3B Drew Dosch

4. 1B Trey Mancini

5. DH Chance Sisco

6. SS Adrian Marin

7. RF Brenden Webb

8. LF Tucker Nathans

9. C Austin Wins

Today’s game  notes are below! LHP Luis Gonzalez makes his Keys debut against RHP Robinson Leyer. Talk soon and shake your Keys!

Geoff

Saturday, Apr. 11, 2015 · Game #3 · Home Game #3

Frederick Keys (1-1) vs Winston-Salem Dash (1-1)

LHP Luis Gonzalez (0-0, –) vs. RHP Robinson Leyer (0-0, –)

SQUEAKING BY: Jon Keller worked around a no-out bases inning jam in the ninth inning on Friday night to hang on for a 3-2 win on at Nymeo Field at Harry Grove Stadium. The Dash had two chances with the bases loaded in their last three at-bats but scored only one time. The Keys also struggled with runners in scoring position, but snaked across three runs after a first inning error and wild pitch, a solo home run by Trey Mancini and a sac-fly by Brenden Webb, both coming in the sixth inning. In his Carolina League debut, David Hess held Winston-Salem to one hit over five shutout innings.

DUCKS LEFT ON THE POND: Hitting with runners in scoring position was not a strength of either team on Friday night. In the game, the Keys and the Dash combined to go 0-for-18 with runners at second or third base. Frederick finished the game 0-for-10 and left seven on base, while the Dash went 0-for-8 and left 10 stranded. In their first two games, the Keys are 0-for-13 with runners in scoring position and the Dash are 6-for-24.

A DEBUT TO REMEMBER: David Hess endured a bumpy first inning in his Carolina League debut, but quickly got back on track. In the first inning, Hess needed 25 pitches to escape a bases loaded jam, and only threw 12 strikes. From there, the righty shut down the Dash, facing only one over the minimum in his last four innings and setting down 14 of the last 15 batters he faced. Working five innings, Hess equaled his career-high for innings. He walked three and struck out three. A fifth round selection by the Orioles in the 2014 draft, the Tennessean is ranked as the Orioles No. 20 prospect according to Baseball America.

SLAMMING THE DOOR SHUT: It has been adventurous first two days for the Keys bullpen. Over seven innings, the relief corps has allowed 11 earned runs in eight innings (12.38 ERA) to go along with 12 walks. On Friday, the duo of Dennis Torres and Jon Keller allowed two runs in four innings to go along with four walks. Half of the Keys bullpen free passes belong to Jimmy Yacabonis, who issued six walks in one-plus innings on Thursday.

EARLY MOVEMENT: Before Friday’s game against the Dash, Keys reliever Ronan Pacheco was placed on the disabled list with a fractured hand. He was replaced on the roster by Nik Nowottnick who was transferred from Aberdeen. Growing up in Washington, D.C, Nowottnick split the 2014 campaign between Short-Season Aberdeen and Low-A Delmarva. Between the two stops, he went 3-2 with a 3.32 ERA over 21 games (all relief appearances).

2014 SEASON IN REVIEW: The Keys tied for third with the Wilmington Blue Rocks in the overall Carolina League North standings. Ending the year with a 65-72 record, the orange and black finished in fourth place in the first-half (32-35) and in third place in the second stanza. Despite posting a losing record after the all-star break, Frederick stayed in the playoff hunt until the penultimate day of the season. Taking on the eventual CL champions, the Potomac Nationals, Frederick dropped both ends of a doubleheader, while a Lynchburg win sealed the Keys fate. The 65 overall wins were the most the club had accrued since 2011, when then-manager Orlando Gomez led the club to an 80-59 record (the best in team history) and a Mills Cup title.

2014 TOP-PERFORMERS: At the plate, Michael Burgess proved to be one of the league’s toughest outs until a July promotion to Double-A Bowie. The CL’s “Player of the Month” for June, the Tampa native hit .315 in 83 games. Despite missing the last month-and-a-half of the season, he placed second in extra-base hits (51), fourth in doubles (32) and tied for fourth in home runs (15) and fifth in RBIs (68). Glynn Davis was also called up to Double-A Bowie, but had enough plate appearances to qualify for fourth in the league in batting average (.295). On the mound, Mark Blackmar had a fantastic season. Opening the year in the bullpen, the righty moved to the rotation in mid-May and flourished, ending the year 10-1 with a 3.18 ERA. He finished tied for second in wins and fifth in ERA before a late-season trade to the White Sox for Alejandro de Aza. Frederick native, Branden Kline, also had a nice 2014, going 8-6 with a 3.84 ERA with the Keys. A midseason all-star, he received a promotion to Double-A in August.

WHAT HOME COOKIN?: In 2014, the Keys did their best work away from Frederick. In games played on Stadium Drive, Frederick went just 29-38, the worst home mark in the CL North and the second-worst figure in the Carolina League (Carolina was 28-40). That included an 0-5 first-half start, a 3-9 April and a 1-10 second-half kickoff. In contrast, the Keys were a strong road team, going 36-34. Good for the third-best road record in the Carolina League, the 36 wins were the most road triumphs by a Keys team since 2005.

TAKE A CHANCE ON ME: Chance Sisco makes the jump to Advanced-A after claiming the 2014 South Atlantic League batting title. The Orioles top catching prospect according to Baseball America, Sisco set a single-season franchise record at Low-A Delmarva, batting .340 in 114 games with five homers and 63 RBIs. His best month came in June, when he hit .404 with 19 RBIs over 24 games and earned organizational “Player of the Month” honors. A SAL midseason and postseason all-star, Sisco was selected by the Orioles with the 61st overall pick in the 2013 draft. Only 20 years old, Sisco is the youngest player on the Keys active roster by almost five months.

WELCOME BACK ORLANDO!: After spending the last two seasons with the Rookie-Level GCL Orioles, the Keys all-time winningest manager, Orlando Gomez returns to Frederick in 2015. The 68-year-old begins his 51st season in professional baseball and 11th with the Orioles. The Keys manager from 2010-12, Gomez is the only skipper in club history to eclipse 200 wins. He is the last manager to lead Frederick to the playoffs and a Mills Cup title (2011). Since his departure, the Keys have not finished higher than third in any half of a season. His staff includes pitching coach Kennie Steenstra, hitting coach Paco Figueroa and infield coach Justin Viele.

PROSPECTING: This year’s Keys team features plenty of exciting players. Seven of the Orioles top 30 prospects according to Baseball America will begin the year at Nymeo Field, the most on any Baltimore farm club. Catcher Chance Sisco (No. 4) highlights this group, which also includes infielders Drew Dosch (No. 15), Adrian Marin (No. 21) and Trey Mancini (No. 30), outfielders Josh Hart (No. 25) and pitchers Jon Keller (No. 13) and David Hess (No. 20). Additionally, Sisco is ranked as the “best hitter for average” in the O’s minor league system and Dosch as having the best “strike zone discipline” according to the publication’s “best tools” survey.

FAMILIAR FACES: Frederick’s opening day roster includes 14 returning players. Brenden Webb (212 games) leads the way in games played for the orange and black, with Johnny Ruettiger (208) not far behind. Both have spent parts of three seasons in Frederick. Accounting for Jarett Miller and Ronan Pacheco, 16 Keys have Advanced-A experience.

SAME PARK WITH A TWIST: In February, the Keys announced a naming rights partnership with Nymeo Federal Credit Union. Beginning with the 2015 season, the Keys Ballpark will be known as “Nymeo Field at Harry Grove Stadium.” With approximately 23,000 members, Nymeo is a not-for-profit financial institution based in Frederick County, with branches in Montgomery and Prince Georges counties. The seven-year partnership will run through the club’s lease with the city of Frederick.

TODAY’S OPPOSING PITCHER: Right-hander Robinson Leyer makes his Carolina League debut on Saturday after spending all of 2014 at Low-A Kannapolis. In 25 games (all starts) for the Intimidators, the 22-yeayear-old went 5-9 with a 3.81 ERA over 134.2 innings pitched. His first year of full-season baseball, Leyer fared better in the first-half, tallying a 3.01 ERA over 13 games, compared to a 4.64 mark in the second-half. At Kannapolis he led his team in games started and innings pitcher and placed second in strikeouts (86). One of the league’s toughest arms in May and June, the Dominican recorded a 1.95 ERA in five May starts and a 1.16 ERA in five June outings. He did not allow any more than three runs in any of those trips. Signed by the White Sox as an international free agent in 2011, Leyer is the second member of his family to play for the Dash in as many years. In 2014, his brother, Euclides went 1-3 with a 4.53 ERA for Winston-Salem in 34 games. Euclides was selected by Cincinnati in the Triple-A phase of this past winter’s Rule 5 Draft.

 

 

Looking Back at Opening Night, Plus Tonight’s Game Notes!

Good Evening Keys Fans!

My name is James Rowe and I’m entering my first season with the Frederick Keys and my third overall in professional baseball after spending the 2014 season with the Tennessee Smokies and the Birmingham Barons in 2013. I was born and raised in Washington, DC and have been a baseball fan for as long as I can remember. Despite growing up in DC, I was raised a Chicago White Sox fan because of my father who hails from the south side of Chicago. I attended many Orioles games at Camden Yards where I idolized players like Cal Ripken Jr and Mike Bordick. When I played baseball back in my youth, I tried to emulate the defensive prowess of both Ripken and Bordick. I attended the Barrie School in Silver Spring, Maryland for high school and Guilford College in Greensboro, North Carolina where I got my degree in History. In college I broadcasted many sports, but most importantly I broadcasted baseball

My top five baseball moments:

5. Attending last season’s Southern League All-Star game

4. Attending the 2003 MLB All Star game in Chicago

3. Winning the 2013 Southern League Championship as a member of the Birmingham Barons front office

2. Attending the 2005 World Series in Chicago

1. Witnessing the White Sox win the World Series in 2005

 

4/9 Recap

Last night’s contest was an unfortunate start to the 2015 season for the Keys as they lost their season and home opener 13-0 to Carolina League foe, Winston-Salem Dash. Frederick starter Mitch Horacek, pitched brilliantly going five strong innings allowing two earned runs (four overall) on three hits while striking out eight and giving up three walks. Despite Horacek’s strong start, the offense was stifled all night as they were only able to muster two hits and not scoring any runs on Dash hurler James Dykstra and the rest of the Winston-Salem bullpen. The Key’s bullpen struggled in their four innings of work as they allowed nine earned runs on eight hits and giving up eight free passes.

The Dash’s offense packed quite a punch in last night’s contest as they scored 13 runs on 11 hits. Winston-Salem skipper Tim Esmay showed he was very aggressive on the basepaths as the Dash stole seven total bases and proved that his hitters were to be patient at the plate racking up 11 walks. Every player on Winston Salem’s roster scored at least once in the game. Dysktra proved to be stronger than Horacek as he pitched six innings not allowing a run on one hit and struck out three. His great effort was supported by the bullpen as Sean Hagen and Michael Ynoa combined for three innings allowing only a hit and giving up two walks.

The Keys look to righty David Hess (NR) to get Frederick back on track as he will be countered by Dash southpaw Jace Fry (NR) who will try to keep Winston-Salem undefeated.

Lineups

Winston-Salem Lineup

1. CF Adam Engel

2. 2B Jake Peter

3. 3B Trey Michalzewski

4. 1B Keon Barnum

5. LF Nick Basto

6. DH Chris Jacobs

7. C Omar Narvaez

8. SS Cleuluis Rodon

9. RF Keenyn Walker

 

Frederick Lineup

1. CF Josh Hart

2. 2B Jeff Kemp

3. 3B Drew Dosch

4. 1B Trey Mancini

5. C Chance Sisco

6. SS Adrian Marin

7. RF Brenden Webb

8. DH Johnny Ruettiger

9. LF Gregory Lorenzo

Here are today’s game notes:

TODAY’S GAME: The Winston-Salem Dash used a seven-run seventh inning and six shutout innings of one-hit baseball by James Dykstra en route to a 13-0 romp of the Frederick Keys on Thursday night at Nymeo Field. Limited to two total hits on the game, the Keys only had seven  baserunners on the night. Walks and stolen bases were also problematic. In the game, the Dash stole seven times, with Adam Engel racking up three. On the mound, Frederick pitching combined to walk 11. Seven of those free rides came between the sixth and seventh innings, while Jimmy Yacabonis walked a career-high six batters in one-plus frames.

MORE OPENING DAY NOTES:  Thursday’s 13-0 defeat was the Keys worst loss since April 23, 2014, when the club fell to the Myrtle Beach Pelicans 21-6. The seven stolen bases by the Dash on opening night eclipsed last year’s season-high by a Keys opponent. On two occasions last year, a team stole six bases against the orange and black. Additionally, the seven steals are the most by Winston-Salem since August 24, 2012. The two hits were the fewest the Keys had posted in a game since August 24 of last season at Potomac, and were the fewest at home since July 20, 2014, In that game. Dash starter, Tony Bucciferro, carried a no-hitter into the ninth inning and allowed only one hit. Following back-to-back wins on opening day in 2013-14, the Keys suffered their worst loss to begin a season in franchise history.

BATS QUIET UNDER BRIGHT LIGHTS: Opposing starters have carved up Keys hitters in the last two home openers. On Thursday, James Dykstra gave up only a single to Brenden Webb in six shutout innings, permitted only two baserunners (one via error) and retired the final eight men he faced. Still it was a better result than in 2014, when Frederick took on Dylan Baker. Making his Carolina League debut, he retired 18 Keys in a row, before leaving due to pitch count. Around the rest of the Carolina League, the two hits were not the fewest by a CL team last night. Facing Salem righties Jake Dahlstrand and Joe Gunkel, the Carolina Mudcats were no-hit over seven innings (the game was called due to rain). It was the 11th no-hitter in Red Sox history, and the first since July 17, 2013, when the trio of Henry Owens, Matty Ott and Matt Price no-hit the Keys.

2014 SEASON IN REVIEW: The Keys tied for third with the Wilmington Blue Rocks in the overall Carolina League North standings. Ending the year with a 65-72 record, the orange and black finished in fourth place in the first-half (32-35) and in third place in the second stanza. Despite posting a losing record after the all-star break, Frederick stayed in the playoff hunt until the penultimate day of the season. Taking on the eventual CL champions, the Potomac Nationals, Frederick dropped both ends of a doubleheader, while a Lynchburg win sealed the Keys fate. The 65 overall wins were the most the club had accrued since 2011, when then-manager Orlando Gomez led the club to an 80-59 record (the best in team history) and a Mills Cup title.

2014 TOP-PERFORMERS: At the plate, Michael Burgess proved to be one of the league’s toughest outs until a July promotion to Double-A Bowie. The CL’s “Player of the Month” for June, the Tampa native hit .315 in 83 games. Despite missing the last month-and-a-half of the season, he placed second in extra-base hits (51), fourth in doubles (32) and tied for fourth in home runs (15) and fifth in RBIs (68). Glynn Davis was also called up to Double-A Bowie, but had enough plate appearances to qualify for fourth in the league in batting average (.295). On the mound, Mark Blackmar had a fantastic season. Opening the year in the bullpen, the righty moved to the rotation in mid-May and flourished, ending the year 10-1 with a 3.18 ERA. He finished tied for second in wins and fifth in ERA before a late-season trade to the White Sox for Alejandro de Aza. Frederick native, Branden Kline, also had a nice 2014, going 8-6 with a 3.84 ERA with the Keys. A midseason all-star, he received a promotion to Double-A in August.

WHAT HOME COOKIN?: In 2014, the Keys did their best work away from Frederick. In games played on Stadium Drive, Frederick went just 29-38, the worst home mark in the CL North and the second-worst figure in the Carolina League (Carolina was 28-40). That included an 0-5 first-half start, a 3-9 April and a 1-10 second-half kickoff. In contrast, the Keys were a strong road team, going 36-34. Good for the third-best road record in the Carolina League, the 36 wins were the most road triumphs by a Keys team since 2005.

TAKE A CHANCE ON ME: Chance Sisco makes the jump to Advanced-A after claiming the 2014 South Atlantic League batting title. The Orioles top catching prospect according to Baseball America, Sisco set a single-season franchise record at Low-A Delmarva, batting .340 in 114 games with five homers and 63 RBIs. His best month came in June, when he hit .404 with 19 RBIs over 24 games and earned organizational “Player of the Month” honors. A SAL midseason and postseason all-star, Sisco was selected by the Orioles with the 61st overall pick in the 2013 draft. Only 20 years old, Sisco is the youngest player on the Keys active roster by almost five months.

WELCOME BACK ORLANDO!: After spending the last two seasons with the Rookie-Level GCL Orioles, the Keys all-time winningest manager, Orlando Gomez returns to Frederick in 2015. The 68-year-old begins his 51st season in professional baseball and 11th with the Orioles. The Keys manager from 2010-12, Gomez is the only skipper in club history to eclipse 200 wins. He is the last manager to lead Frederick to the playoffs and a Mills Cup title (2011). Since his departure, the Keys have not finished higher than third in any half of a season. His staff includes pitching coach Kennie Steenstra, hitting coach Paco Figueroa and infield coach Justin Viele.

PROSPECTING: This year’s Keys team features plenty of exciting players. Seven of the Orioles top 30 prospects according to Baseball America will begin the year at Nymeo Field, the most on any Baltimore farm club. Catcher Chance Sisco (No. 4) highlights this group, which also includes infielders Drew Dosch (No. 15), Adrian Marin (No. 21) and Trey Mancini (No. 30), outfielders Josh Hart (No. 25) and pitchers Jon Keller (No. 13) and David Hess (No. 20). Additionally, Sisco is ranked as the “best hitter for average” in the O’s minor league system and Dosch as having the best “strike zone discipline” according to the publication’s “best tools” survey.

FAMILIAR FACES: Frederick’s opening day roster includes 14 returning players. Brenden Webb (212 games) leads the way in games played for the orange and black, with Johnny Ruettiger (208) not far behind. Both have spent parts of three seasons in Frederick. Accounting for Jarett Miller and Ronan Pacheco, 16 Keys have Advanced-A experience.

SAME PARK WITH A TWIST: In February, the Keys announced a naming rights partnership with Nymeo Federal Credit Union. Beginning with the 2015 season, the Keys Ballpark will be known as “Nymeo Field at Harry Grove Stadium.” With approximately 23,000 members, Nymeo is a not-for-profit financial institution based in Frederick County, with branches in Montgomery and Prince Georges counties. The seven-year partnership will run through the club’s lease with the city of Frederick.

TODAY’S OPPOSING PITCHER: Left-hander Jace Fry makes his Carolina League debut on Friday and is the No. 25 prospect in the White Sox system according to Baseball America. Selected by Chicago in the third round of the 2013 draft out of Oregon State, Fry went 1-0 with a 2.79 ERA in seven games for Advanced-Rookie Great Falls a year ago. Fry has never made a professional start, and never pitched more than two innings with the Voyagers last year. Originally selected in the ninth round of the 2011 draft by Oakland, Fry elected to attend OSU instead. After thriving as a freshman (2.45 ERA), he was forced to undergo Tommy John surgery in June 2012. After pitching only 7.2 innings as a sophomore he rebounded as a junior, going 11-2 with a 1.80 ERA. He held opponents to a .190 batting average and pitched a no-hitter against Northern Illinois en route to being named PAC-12 “Pitcher of the Year” (the first OSU pitcher to win the award since 1999). A lefty who is not overpowering, Fry works off of a sinker-slider combination and sits at 90-92 mph with his fastball. He also throws a curveball and a slider.

Shake your Keys!

James

Happy Keys Opening Day!

Good Afternoon Keys Fans!

Well the moment is finally here! The Keys will kickoff their 2015 campaign tonight against the Winston-Salem Dash starting at 7:00 p.m. Don’t forget to pick up a Mystery Ball when you come in through the gates. There are more than 100 baseballs available, signed by Keys players and coaches, members of the Orioles and other MLB and MiLB stars, as well as a number of other sports stars. They will go fast, so get there quick!

Tonight is the first of seven games, the orange and black will play at home and their are plenty of fun promotions this weekend. Highlighting the list is an appearance by former Capitals center and 60-goal scorer Dennis Maruk. Gametime is at 2 p.m. and gates open one hour prior.

Hockey Day

LHP Mitch Horacek gets the ball for the Keys tonight. This is his second Carolina League start, after he pitched on the second-to-last day of the 2014 campaign. Greg Swatek of the Frederick News-Post wrote a terrific piece that examines Horacek both on and off the field.

Catcher Chance Sisco highlights this year’s roster, and is ranked as the top catching prospect in the Orioles system according to Baseball America. Including Sisco, the Keys opening day roster features seven of the O’s top 30 prospects.

Here is a look at tonight’s starting lineup:

1. CF Josh Hart

2. 2B Jeff Kemp

3. 3B Drew Dosch

4. 1B Trey Mancini

5. C Chance Sisco

6. SS Adrian Marin

7. RF Brenden Webb

8. DH Johnny Ruettiger

9. LF Gregory Lorenzo

LHP Mitch Horacek

Our first batch of game notes are below. Talk soon and shake your Keys!

Geoff

Thursday, Apr. 9, 2015 · Game #1 · Home Game #1

Frederick Keys (0-0) vs Winston-Salem Dash (0-0)

LHP Mitch Horacek (0-0, –) vs. RHP James Dykstra (0-0, –)

TODAY’S GAME: The Keys kickoff their 2015 campaign against the Winston-Salem Dash on Thursday night at the recently renamed Nymeo Field at Harry Grove Stadium. It is the first of four games against Winston-Salem, with the series concluding on Sunday. On Monday, Frederick begins the back-end of its seven-game homestand with three games against the Lynchburg Hillcats (now a Cleveland Indians affiliate) before a seven-game roadtrip to Wilmington and Lynchburg. In the month of April, the Keys will play a balanced home/road schedule with 11 games taking place in Frederick and 10 at other venues.

2014 SEASON IN REVIEW: The Keys tied for third with the Wilmington Blue Rocks in the overall Carolina League North standings. Ending the year with a 65-72 record, the orange and black finished in fourth place in the first-half (32-35) and in third place in the second stanza. Despite posting a losing record after the all-star break, Frederick stayed in the playoff hunt until the penultimate day of the season. Taking on the eventual CL champions, the Potomac Nationals, Frederick dropped both ends of a doubleheader, while a Lynchburg win sealed the Keys fate. The 65 overall wins were the most the club had accrued since 2011, when then-manager Orlando Gomez led the club to an 80-59 record (the best in team history) and a Mills Cup title.

2014 TOP-PERFORMERS: At the plate, Michael Burgess proved to be one of the league’s toughest outs until a July promotion to Double-A Bowie. The CL’s “Player of the Month” for June, the Tampa native hit .315 in 83 games. Despite missing the last month-and-a-half of the season, he placed second in extra-base hits (51), fourth in doubles (32) and tied for fourth in home runs (15) and fifth in RBIs (68). Glynn Davis was also called up to Double-A Bowie, but had enough plate appearances to qualify for fourth in the league in batting average (.295). On the mound, Mark Blackmar had a fantastic season. Opening the year in the bullpen, the righty moved to the rotation in mid-May and flourished, ending the year 10-1 with a 3.18 ERA. He finished tied for second in wins and fifth in ERA before a late-season trade to the White Sox for Alejandro de Aza. Frederick native, Branden Kline, also had a nice 2014, going 8-6 with a 3.84 ERA with the Keys. A midseason all-star, he received a promotion to Double-A in August.

WHAT HOME COOKIN?: In 2014, the Keys did their best work away from Frederick. In games played on Stadium Drive, Frederick went just 29-38, the worst home mark in the CL North and the second-worst figure in the Carolina League (Carolina was 28-40). That included an 0-5 first-half start, a 3-9 April and a 1-10 second-half kickoff. In contrast, the Keys were a strong road team, going 36-34. Good for the third-best road record in the Carolina League, the 36 wins were the most road triumphs by a Keys team since 2005.

TAKE A CHANCE ON ME: Chance Sisco makes the jump to Advanced-A after claiming the 2014 South Atlantic League batting title. The Orioles top catching prospect according to Baseball America, Sisco set a single-season franchise record at Low-A Delmarva, batting .340 in 114 games with five homers and 63 RBIs. His best month came in June, when he hit .404 with 19 RBIs over 24 games and earned organizational “Player of the Month” honors. A SAL midseason and postseason all-star, Sisco was selected by the Orioles with the 61st overall pick in the 2013 draft. Only 20 years old, Sisco is the youngest player on the Keys active roster by almost five months.

WELCOME BACK ORLANDO!: After spending the last two seasons with the Rookie-Level GCL Orioles, the Keys all-time winningest manager, Orlando Gomez returns to Frederick in 2015. The 68-year-old begins his 51st season in professional baseball and 11th with the Orioles. The Keys manager from 2010-12, Gomez is the only skipper in club history to eclipse 200 wins. He is the last manager to lead Frederick to the playoffs and a Mills Cup title (2011). Since his departure, the Keys have not finished higher than third in any half of a season. His staff includes pitching coach Kennie Steenstra, hitting coach Paco Figueroa and infield coach Justin Viele.

PROSPECTING: This year’s Keys team features plenty of exciting players. Seven of the Orioles top 30 prospects according to Baseball America will begin the year at Nymeo Field, the most on any Baltimore farm club. Catcher Chance Sisco (No. 4) highlights this group, which also includes infielders Drew Dosch (No. 15), Adrian Marin (No. 21) and Trey Mancini (No. 30), outfielders Josh Hart (No. 25) and pitchers Jon Keller (No. 13) and David Hess (No. 20). Additionally, Sisco is ranked as the “best hitter for average” in the O’s minor league system and Dosch as having the best “strike zone discipline” according to the publication’s “best tools” survey.

FAMILIAR FACES: Frederick’s opening day roster includes 14 returning players. Brenden Webb (212 games) leads the way in games played for the orange and black, with Johnny Ruettiger (208) not far behind. Both have spent parts of three seasons in Frederick. Accounting for Jarett Miller and Ronan Pacheco, 16 Keys have Advanced-A experience.

SAME PARK WITH A TWIST: In February, the Keys announced a naming rights partnership with Nymeo Federal Credit Union. Beginning with the 2015 season, the Keys Ballpark will be known as “Nymeo Field at Harry Grove Stadium.” With approximately 23,000 members, Nymeo is a not-for-profit financial institution based in Frederick County, with branches in Montgomery and Prince Georges counties. The seven-year partnership will run through the club’s lease with the city of Frederick.

OPENING THINGS UP: The Keys have traditionally struggled in season openers. Since 1989, Frederick has gone 8-18 in its first game of the year. However, the team has bucked the trend of late, winning three of its last four openers. Kicking off 2014 at Lynchburg, the Keys led the entire game, using a two-run first and a three-run third to win 6-2. Branden Kline earned his first CL win, tossing five innings of one-run ball. In 2013, the Keys rocked Salem 11-1 at home. 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.

TODAY’S OPPOSING PITCHER: James Dykstra makes the opening start for the Dash. Ranked as the No. 25 prospect in the White Sox system according to Baseball America, the right-hander split his first full professional season between Low-A Kannapolis and Winston-Salem. In 25 games (all starts) he went 9-11 with a 3.43 ERA over 152.1 frames. Promoted to the Dash on July 15, Dykstra went 3-3 with a 4.89 ERA over nine contests. After he began his time in the Triad with quality starts in three of his first four outings (he had a 3.05 ERA in July), Dykstra struggled down the stretch, pitching to a 6.06 mark in August (32.2 IP/25R/22ER). Regarded as having the “best control” among White Sox minor leaguers, the 24-year-old has averaged only 1.2 walks per nine innings as a professional. His walk-rate last season ranked second among all qualified minor league starters. At Kannapolis he gave out just 10 free tickets in 99 innings and in Winston-Salem only six in 53.1 stanzas. After not winning a game in six relief appearances with Rookie-Great Falls in 2013, Dykstra tallied his first pro victory in style. Pitching for Kannapolis, he took a perfect game into the sixth inning against Hickory, surrendering only two hits in 6.2 innings. A sixth round selection by Chicago in the 2013 draft out of Cal State San Marcos, the Californian began his college career at Yavapai (AZ) Junior College in 2010. An outfielder who converted to pitcher, Dykstra transferred to LSU the following spring, registering a 5.48 ERA in only 23 innings of work (he was teammates with former Key and current Orioles Kevin Gausman). With playing time limited, he moved to Cal State San Marcos, an NAIA school 30 miles outside his native San Diego. There, he refined his off-speed stuff with pitching coach Pat Hause. After recording a 2.89 ERA in 2012, he set single-season school records for wins, ERA, strikeouts and complete games. His older brother is Tampa Bay Rays prospect Allan Dykstra, who made his MLB debut against the Orioles on Wednesday night, replacing an injured James Loney at first. The younger Dykstra throws a fastball (88-92 mph), a changeup and a curveball.

Last Day of Guess Your Keys is Here!

Good Afternoon Keys Faithful! Weezy here!

We have another new member to the team here. Chaz Packan is a fifth year intern with the Keys organization this year and will be contributing as a media intern. He’ll be a valuable asset, giving Orioles and Keys updates as well as writing profiles on current and former Keys for our Gameday playbills. Wish him well and we hope you enjoy his contributions.

After yesterday’s slow news day, there is a bit to chew on so let’s dive in.

  • First for the Orioles. With their Opening Day Monday, lots of focus is falling on Chris Tillman. After an eight strikeout spring training final tune up, Tillman is slated to put the right foot forward in Tampa Bay. The Baltimore Wire took a close look at Tillman this morning on why he was the best choice for the job.
  • In former Keys’ news, The Baltimore Wire also took a look at the importance of a strong closer, specifically Zach Britton’s break out 2014 season. According to them, Britton’s success could make or break the O’s this year.
  • After telling Boston Radio he was going to at least look into his future in basketball, Notre Dame standout basketball player and Orioles prospect Pat Connaughton told O’s director of player development Brian Graham he’s taking it day to day on his future. No decision seems imminent on if he’ll play in the NBA or when he will join the O’s MiLB affiliates.
  • Looking to the near future for the O’s, Birds Watcher profiled a pair that could make their way to Eutaw street sooner rather than later. The two pitchers impressed this spring with Davies picking up four strikeouts over 3.1 innings of one run ball.

KeysFest 15I hope nobody has forgotten that Keysfest is Saturday! Gates will open at 11 am and the fun won’t stop until 2 pm. First Saturday downtown doesn’t start until 3 so there aren’t any excuses to miss out. Single game tickets will be available at the box office so take a look at the upcoming promotions and get yours before you get left out. I hope to see all of you there. For a full rundown of Keysfest, click here.

Opening night is ONE WEEK away. That is cause for some serious celebrations. There will be plenty going on that night. For starters, the Mystery Ball fundraiser for the Keys Care charity will begin when the gates open at 6 pm. There’s already 80+ balls ready but they’ll go quick. My suggestion, queue up early if you want to get one. If I got one, I’d be more than overjoyed for either Doc Gooden or Frank Beamer. Like I said yesterday, there’s a good mix of athletes available. Don’t miss your chance on this or to help your community.

Alright Keys fans, time for the “Final Five” (Final Four has a better ring to it, I know) in Guess….Your…Keys! The next time we chat, the roster will be OFFICIAL!

Here is our last batch of prognostications:

Austin Urban

Urban

RHP

Born: July 8, 1992 in Johnstown, Pa.

College: Des Moines Area Community College

Ht.: 6-2 Wt.: 185 Bats: L Throws: R

How Obtained: Signed as a minor league free agent on 5/10/13

Urban opened the 2014 season as a starter at Low-A Delmarva, but spent the bulk of the season as a reliever. He fared much better out of the bullpen, registering a 3.09 ERA, compared to his 5.18 mark as a starter. One of Delmarva’s toughest arms in the second-half, Urban registered a 1.42 ERA over 14 games, before going on the disabled list in mid-August and seeing his year come to an end.

Originally selected by the Orioles out of Richland (PA) High School in 2010, Urban elected to attend Des Moines Community College instead. There, he went 6-4 with a 3.80 ERA and was picked by the Cubs in the 41st round of the 2011 draft. Signing at the end of the summer, Urban reported to the Cubs, but suffered a back injury which cause him to miss the 2012 season. Released by Chicago, Urban signed with the Orioles in May 2013, after hitting 94 mph during a workout attended by several Major League scouts.

Keys Probability: High

 

Sebastian Vader

Vader388

RHP

Born: June 3, 1992 in San Diego, Calif.

High School: San Marcos (CA) High School

Ht.: 6-2 Wt.: 174 Bats: R Throws: R

How Obtained: 18th round pick by the Orioles in the 2010 draft

Vader tossed a career-high 130 innings in 2014, while splitting the season between Frederick and Low-A Delmarva. One of the Shorebirds seven All-Star selections, Vader went 7-3 with a 3.26 ERA before the All-Star break. At the time of his selection, he led the league in victories (which included six straight from April 26-May 27). Promoted to the Keys on July 1, things got off to a rocky start for Vader, who walked 13 in his first 18 innings and finished July with an 8.50 ERA. He turned the page in August, rattling off four straight quality starts to complete the month with a 2.17 ERA. In each of his last five outings Vader allowed two runs or less.

Selected by the Orioles in the 18th round of the 2010 draft, Vader attended San Marcos High School, the same alma mater of former Keys pitcher and O’s prospect Tim Berry.

Keys Probability: High

 

Brady Wager

Wager12

RHP

Born: Nov. 17, 1990 in Globe, Ariz.

College: Grand Canyon University

Ht.: 6-1 Wt.: 205 Bats: R Throws: R

How Obtained: 9th round pick by the Orioles in the 2012 draft

Wager experienced ups and downs during his first full season at Frederick. The righty posted the highest ERA of his career (5.32), finished second on the club in walks (50), and opponents hit a  career-best .295 against him. Part of those struggles were due to the home run ball, with Wager surrendering 11 last season. However, things improved in August with a move to the bullpen. In five relief appearances he tallied a 2.57 ERA to go along with a 2.25 mark during the season’s penultimate month.

In his first stint with the Keys in 2013, the righty went 3-10 and finished fourth in the CL in loses. The last Key to record a nine-inning complete game shutout, Wager accomplished the feat on August 3, 2013 at Carolina.

A ninth round selection by the Orioles in 2012 out of Grand Canyon University, Wager led the Pacific West Conference in strikeouts (84) as a junior and tied for fourth in wins. He was a two-time second team All-Conference selection. Wager was originally selected by Tampa Bay in the 27th round of the 2009 Draft out of Globe (AZ) High School, but did not sign.

Keys Probability: High

 

Austin Wynns

C

Wynns

Born: Dec. 10, 1990 in Poway, Calif.

College: Fresno State

Ht.: 6-2 Wt.: 210 Bats: R Throws: R

How Obtained: 10th round pick by the Orioles in the 2013 draft

Wynns fared well during his first full pro season. Spending most of the year at Low-A Delmarva, the catcher hit .252 over 85 games. His best month of the season came in July when he hit .343 over 19 contests to go along with 11 RBIs. Solid behind the plate, Wynns posted a .995 fielding percentage and committed only three errors in 62 games.

Called up to Frederick on August 28, the 24-year-old hit .214 in five games with the Keys. He finished with three RBIs in his debut to equal a season-high.

A 10th round selection by the Orioles out of Fresno State in 2013, Wynns was a New York-Penn League All-Star while playing for Aberdeen. He recorded a 10-game hitting streak from July 18-31 and batted .304 during that month. In his four years at Fresno State, Wynns hit .286 to go along with 40 doubles and five home runs. His best year came as a sophomore when he hit .326.

Keys Probability: High

 

Jimmy Yacabonis

Yacabonis

RHP

Born: March 21, 1992 in Matawan, N.J.

College: St. Joseph’s University

Ht.: 6-3 Wt.: 195 Bats: R Throws: R

How Obtained: 13th round pick by the Orioles in the 2013 draft

Yacabonis was a South Atlantic League midseason All-Star, and was arguably the most dominant reliever in the league during the first-half. Tallying a 1.07 ERA, the Garden State native did not allow a run in his first 19 appearances out of the bullpen (spanning 24 innings). He also registered 14 saves, third-most by a SAL bullpen-hand in 2014. Promoted to Frederick at the All-Star break, Yacabonis struggled to adjust to the Carolina League, finishing with an 8.58 ERA over 17 games. Walks were the big problem, with the righty handing out 28 free passes in 28.1 innings. Selected by Baltimore in the 13th round of the 2013 draft, Yacabonis was named a New York-Penn League All-Star during his first pro season. With Aberdeen, he went 3-1 with a 1.52 ERA.

Selected out of St Joseph’s University, Yacabonis set the all-time school record for saves in a season (10) as a junior. Over 26 appearances (35.2 IP), he went 1-2 with a 2.02 ERA. In the process, he earned second team All-Atlantic 10 and All-Philadelphia Baseball Big 5 honors.

Keys Probability: High

Talk tommorrow Keys Fans!

Shake your Keys,

Weezy

 

Ready For Round 7? Ok, GO!

Good Afternoon and Happy April Fools Day Keys Fans! Weezy aka the biggest fool around is here yet again!

O’s news is scarce with MLB Opening Day less than a week away. In the big story for the day, the club announced Chris Tillman will be the starter for the Monday season kick off against the Tampa Bay Rays.

Get hyped, stoked, amped, psyched, excited and pumped because the season is only EIGHT DAYS AWAY. If that isn’t enough to get you excited, how about free tickets? Wear it and winYes Keys fans, there is a way YOU could get to a Keys game for free! Our Wear It and Win promo is BACK this year. I’ve given out a few tickets so far this month and I want to give away even more. You never know where we might pop up so be on the lookout and rock you Keys gear when you’re out and about.

Wear it and Win isn’t the only way to amble into Nymeo Field at Harry Grove StadiumKFR NEWSLETTER without opening up your wallet. Our Keys For Reading program is for elementary and middle school students in nearby counties. It’s simple, each student was given a bookmark with three blanks on it. All it takes is that student reading three books, filing out the bookmark with those titles and bringing the bookmark to the box office to the right of the main gates. Students who return the completed bookmark are eligible for a free ticket on their county’s designated weekend.

Kids 12 and under are also eligible to join the Junior Keys Club for the 2015 season. It isn’t too late to join! There’s no 2015 JR KEYS CLUB PUNCH CARDcost to join so it is all to your benefit to sign up. Membership benefits include FREE tickets, FREE kids hot dogs, FREE fun zone rides, a FREE string backpack, invitations to special Jr Keys Club events and much more. Sign up today to get all these great perks at no cost!

With the season nearing, single game tickets go on sale KeysFest 15THIS FRIDAY, April 3, so be sure to check out the promotion schedule and choose your games wisely. Saturday, the front gates will open for Keysfest 2015. Fans are invited to this FREE event to check out what’s new around the stadium, try out some of the new concessions offerings and get some single game tickets while you’re here. Keysfest will run from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Boys and girls both young and young at heart are more than welcome to attend.

Keys fans, If you can’t make it to the game each night, and with 70 games not in Frederick that might be the case, Source 1450you can catch EVERY game live on 1450 AM The Source. Geoff Arnold and Doug Raftery call the action and co-host a weekly Saturday afternoon show at 1:05 called Keys Corner. The weekly talk show will feature Keys news as well as player and coach interviews. Stay tuned to 1450 AM The Source for all things Keys. And if you’re on the go? Get your Keys fix by downloading the FREE TuneIn radio app for your smartphone, tablet or android or by visiting frederickkeys.com.

Keys Opening Night is Thursday, April 9 at 7 pm against the White Sox affiliate Winston-Salem Dash. Fans will have the opportunity to participate in the annual Keys Care charity Mystery Ball fundraiser again this year. They go fast so getting to Nymeo Field at Harry Grove Stadium as close to 6 p.m. when they go on sale might be to your benefit. Current and former Keys members will be in the mix along with stars from other organizations such as Hanley Ramirez and Ryan Howard. As well as other sports and entertainment starts like Frank Beamer, Kasey Kahne and Mountain Man. This is not something you’re going to want to miss out on. Each ball will be $10 with all proceeds going to Keys Care. Special ticket packages are available for purchase from the box office. Magnet Keys schedules will be given away for each game of the opening series so get them while they’re hot!

In the last little bit of news, Keys fans need to get their skates and sticks ready as hockey night is Saturday, April 11. Caps legend Dennis Maruk will be on hand for autographs and to meet fans. First pitch is at 2 p.m. and gates open at 1 p.m.

Now, it’s time for the second-to-last round of Guess….Your….Keys! Only 10 names to go….

Here are the next five:

Steel Russell

Russell282

C

Born: Sept. 5, 1990 in Windmoore, PA

College: Midland College/Ohio State

Ht.: 6-0 Wt.: 192 Bats: L Throws: R

How Obtained: 32nd round pick by the Orioles in the 2012 draft

The son of former Pirates manager and current Orioles bench coach John Russell, the 24-year-old appeared in 25 games with the Keys last season. Out nearly two months due to a fractured right thumb, Russell hit .181 with one homer and three RBIs. He played only 12 games in the second-half. In August he missed nearly a week due to a back sprain.

Russell’s best game with the Keys came on April 13 against Lynchburg, when he went 4-for-4 with a double and three runs scored. The four knocks and three runs scored set new career-highs for the Pennsylvania native.

Taken by Baltimore in the 32nd round of the 2012 draft, Russell found out he had been drafted by the O’s while sitting in the visiting clubhouse at Fenway Park. Besides his dad, one of the first people to   congratulate him was Baltimore manager Buck Showalter. Russell was selected out of Midland (TX) College, after transferring from Ohio State.

Keys Probability: Medium

 

Creede Simpson

Simpson392

UTL

Born: Sept 2, 1989 in Auburn, Ala.

College: Auburn University/Northwest Florida State College

Ht.: 6-2 Wt.: 185 Bats: R Throws: R

How Obtained: 25th round pick by the Orioles in the 2012 draft

Simpson begins his fourth professional season after splitting 2014 between Frederick and Low-A Delmarva. Playing a career-high 122 games he hit a combined .261, though he fared much better with the Shorebirds. Sent down to Delmarva at the All-Star break, Simpson batted .302 with four homers and 29 RBIs compared to his .214 average in 58 games with the Keys. Simpson’s success at Delmarva mirrored his 2013 season, when he led the team in RBIs and finished tied for most home runs.

Baltimore drafted the utility man with its 25th round selection in 2012. In three years at Auburn University, he hit .292 with 44 doubles,11 home runs and 88 RBIs. A member of Tigers baseball lore, Simpson’s defining moment came as a junior. Trailing Clemson 9-8 in the NCAA Regionals in the top of the ninth, and batting with a 1-2 count and two outs, Simpson hit a three-run homer to keep his team’s season alive. Before moving to the plains, Simpson spent a year at Northwest Florida State College. Drafted by the Yankees in the 45th round out of high school he did not sign.

Keys Probability: High

 

Chance Sisco

Sisco

C

Born: Feb. 24, 1995 in Corona, Calif.

High School: Santiago (CA) High School

Ht.: 6-2 Wt.: 190 Bats: L Throws: R

How Obtained: 2nd round pick by the Orioles in 2013

Sisco’s first full professional season was a major success. Playing in 114 games, the 20-year-old set a Delmarva franchise record batting .340. The South Atlantic League batting champion, Sisco also paced the league in on-base percentage. A SAL midseason and postseason All-Star, the backstop hit .404 in June with 19 RBIs in 24 games en route to being named the organization’s “Player of the Month.” From June 30-July 18 he recorded an 18-game hitting streak, the longest by a Shorebirds player since 2005.

A catcher who is still learning his trade, Sisco was primarily a pitcher, third baseman and shortstop at Santiago High School until his senior season. That February, things changed after he participated in a Major League Scouting Bureau workout. In his final year of high school ball, Sisco did not commit an error behind the plate, and threw out 15 would-be basestealers. Offensively, he hit .467 and posted a .747 slugging percentage. He committed to play college baseball at Oregon before deciding to go pro. The 61st overall pick in the 2013 draft, Sisco signed for a reported $785,000.

Keys Probability: High

 

Matt Taylor

Taylor 2

LHP

Born: April 1, 1991 in Atlanta, Ga.

College: Middle Georgia College/Alabama

Ht.: 6-2 Wt.: 185 Bats: R Throws: L

How Obtained: 5th round pick by the Orioles in the 2011 draft

Taylor earned his first professional All-Star selection in 2014, when he received midseason accolades. One of the CL’s top arms in the first-half, he posted a 1.94 ERA over his first eight starts and was tied for the league lead in wins, before suffering a herniated disc in his back that kept him out from May 20-August 8. After rest and a rehab assignment, Taylor struggled in his last five starts with Frederick, going 1-1 with an 8.47 ERA.

A standout pitcher at Columbus (GA) High School, Taylor posted a career record of 30-5 on the mound. He was drafted by Pittsburgh after going 14-1 with a 0.89 ERA his senior year, but did not sign. Choosing to attend the University of Alabama instead, the 22-year-old was used only marginally as a relief pitcher and outfielder, and transferred to Middle Georgia College after the 2010 season. There, he pitched a team-high 81 innings, going 7-5 with a 3.31 ERA while striking out 128 and walking only 29. Selected by Baltimore in the fifth round of the 2011 draft, he signed for a reported $160,000.

Keys Probability: High

 

Dennis Torres

Torres

RHP

Born: May 17, 1990 in Lawrence, Mass.

College: UMass

Ht.: 6-3 Wt.: 200 Bats: R Throws: R

How Obtained: 28th round pick by the Orioles in the 2012 draft

Torres split the 2014 season between Frederick and Low-A Delmarva, where he went a combined 3-5 with a 3.50 ERA over 36 games (two starts). Promoted to the Keys on June 21, the Massachusetts native served as the club’s de-facto closer in the second-half going 6-for-7 in save chances. He also saved three games for the Shorebirds, and finished fifth among Orioles farmhands in the category. A reliever who provided quality and quantity, Torres pitched three innings or more on 11 different occasions between his two stops. With the Keys, he threw best in July, tallying a 1.53 ERA over six games.

The right-hander made his debut with the GCL Orioles in 2012. Drafted earlier that season by Baltimore in the 28th round, Torres personifies an “against the odds” story. As a student at Central Catholic (MA) High School, Torres was cut from the baseball team all four years. Following graduation, he enrolled at UMass and decided to walk-on. Trying out at third base, he impressed Minutemen pitching coach Mike Sweeney, and was converted to a pitcher. As a junior, he served as the team’s No. 1 starter going 4-4 with a 3.34 ERA over 12 games. In addition to tossing a team-best 89 innings, Torres helped lead his team to an Atlantic-10 tournament berth.

Keys Probability: Medium/High

Talk tomorrow Keys fans! Shake your Keys!

Weezy

Roster Crunches and Round 6 of Guess Your Keys

Good Afternoon Keys Fans! Weezy Here!

Today’s the day all of us armchair GMs can get their fix. This year’s installment of MLB The Show goes on sale TODAY. Not quite sure what all the features will be tweaked this year but I hope they added a little more to the franchise mode. I’ve completely dominated it the last three years and I’d like some sort of challenge. My nine-time defending world champions are getting bored. I guess I’ll have to make it an even decade before I grab the new one.
In the real MLB with less than a week until games that count begin, rosters are starting to take on their final shape and my what a difference one day makes. Here’s the latest for the Orioles and Keys:
  • In the last two weeks the O’s have been hit by the injury bug, as three potential starters have gone down. First was catcher Matt Wieters as his recovery from Tommy John surgery hit a bit of a snag, followed by outfielder David Lough with both back spasm and a hamstring issue and finally with three time Gold Glove winning shortstop JJ Hardy straining a muscle in his shoulder. As I’ve posted about, there was a battle for roster spots, but with this rash of injuries it looks like Evereth Cabrera, Jimmy Paredes will all make the Opening Day roster. The next day is up for debate with Chris Davis returning to action once his suspension is completed.
  • Orioles no. 4 prospect Zach Davies got the call in yesterday’s Grapefruit League game against the Rays. Manager Buck Showalter gave Davies the nod and instead sent lefty Wei-Yin Chen to throw in a minor league game.
  • While lefty Brian Matusz may still find himself among the trade rumors, the reports to the Mets may quiet down some as they acquired a pair of lefties in Alex Torres and Jerry Blevins yesterday.
  • The guys at Camden Chat have give their take on how the Orioles roster will shake out and The Baltimore Wire writer Nate Wardle has given his take as well.
Just a few reminders Keys’ fans. Single game tickets go on sale THIS Friday. They can be purchased at the box office to the right of the main gate at Nymeo Field at Harry Grove Stadium or on the Keys’ website. Take a look at the promotional schedule and plan for when you’ll make your way to NFHGS. Saturday, the gates open up for Keysfest from 11-2. You can read all about it here.KeysFest 15
Additionally, fans who come on opening night can purchase a mystery ball when they pass through the gates! All baseballs are $10 and have been signed by a myriad of Orioles, Keys and other MLB, NHL, and entertainment stars. Want to know some of the players you could win? Check out our release here.
And now for what you’ve been waiting for, everybody’s favorite office chair game, Guess…Your….Keys!  Here are your next five possible candidates to wear a Keys uniform this year:
Nik Nowottnick

Nowottnick_Nik

RHP

Born: Dec. 5, 1991 in Washington, D.C.

College: Towson/Chesapeake College

Ht.: 6-4 Wt.: 195 Bats: R Throws: R

How Obtained: Signed as a non-drafted free agent on 7/30/13

Nowottnick split 2014 between Short-Season Aberdeen and Low-A Delmarva, posting a 3.32 ERA over 21 combined games. After a rocky June with the IronBirds, Nowottnick dominated the New York-Penn League in June. In six games he pitched to a 1.98 ERA, giving up just three runs in 13.2 innings. Promoted to the Shorebirds on August 14, the right-hander allowed three runs over his first two outings, before tossing 5.2 scoreless frames to end his season. A pitcher who relies heavily on the groundball Nowottnick finished with a groundout-to-airout ratio of better than 3:1 in last season.

Signed by the Orioles as an undrafted free agent out of Towson University, the 23-year-old went 4-4 with a 5.06 ERA with the Tigers, and helped lead the team to a CAA Championship as well as the team’s first NCAA tournament birth in 22 years. Nowottnick transferred to Towson after two years at Chesapeake Junior College, where he went 9-6.

An Orioles fan growing up, Nowottnick earned All-Bayside Conference honors at Colonel Richardson High School and helped lead his team to two conference championships.

Keys Probability: Medium

Ronan Pacheco

Pacheco

LHP

Born: July 7, 1988 in Licey al Medio, Dominican Republic

College: N/A

Ht.: 6-6 Wt.: 195 Bats: L Throws: L

How Obtained: Signed as a minor league free agent on 11/18/14

Pacheco split the 2014 season between the Braves organization and the independent ranks. After struggling at Double-A to start the year (10.80 ERA in nine games), the lefty was sent to Advanced-A Lynchburg on May 2. He posted a 4.59 ERA in 20 games, before being released on July 15. Pacheco finished the year with Fort Worth in the independent United Baseball League and did not allow a run over seven games (4.1 innings).

Originally signed by the Braves as a minor league free agent in 2008, Pacheco went a combined 3-2 with a 2.62 between Advanced-A and Double-A with the Braves in 2013 and was a midseason all-star. A lefty specialist, he held lefty batters to an .086 average (5-for-58).

Keys Probability: Medium 

Bennett Parry

Bennett Parry

LHP

Born: Aug. 7, 1991 in San Diego, Calif.

College: Cal State Northridge

Ht.: 6-6 Wt.: 225 Bats: L Throws: L

How Obtained: 40th round pick by the Orioles in the 2011 draft

A pitcher that has kept hitters off balance since joining the Orioles, Parry recorded a 2.02 ERA over 22 games between Short-Season Aberdeen and Low-A Delmarva in 2014. Opening the year as a reliever with the Shorebirds, he was sent to the IronBirds to stretch out as a starter. At his best out of the bullpen, Parry registered a 1.29 ERA as a reliever over 11 first-half games with Delmarva.

Parry attended Cal State Northridge and Poway High School, whose alumni include the late Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn.

Jerome Pena

Pena194

INF

Born: Nov. 6, 1988 in Tempe, Ariz.

College: Texas Christian

Ht.: 5-11 Wt.: 185 Bats: B Throws: R

How Obtained: 38th round pick by the Orioles in the 2011 draft

Despite three trips to the disabled list, Pena saw his batting average jump 47 points in his second full year at Advanced-A. He also played solid defense, finishing with a .970 fielding percentage at second base, while he committed the second-fewest errors among CL second baseman with 80 games or more.

After a frustrating first-half at the plate, Pena turned things around after the All-Star break, batting .288 over 60 games. His best month came in August, when hit .309 to go along with 14 RBIs and 10 extra-base hits. That included a two-home run game on August 29 against Salem, where he registered four RBIs. Offensively, Pena’s best game with the Keys came on June 5, 2013, when he tied a franchise record with five hits against Potomac. He is one of only five players in club history to accomplish that feat.

A 38th round draft pick by the Orioles in 2011, Pena was a first team All-Mountain West Conference selection as a junior and senior.  At 5-11, 185 pounds, he was originally selected by the Mets in the 40th round of the 2009 draft after he led Western Nevada Community College to the Junior College World Series. He hit .530 with eight home runs as a senior at Cactus Shadows High School.

Keys Probability: Medium

Dylan Rheault

RHP

Rheault

Born: March 21, 1992 in Garson, Ontario, Canada

College: Central Michigan

Ht: 6-9 Wt: 245 Bats: R Throws: R

How Obtained: 19th round pick by the Orioles in 2013 draft

One of seven Delmarva Shorebirds selected for the South Atlantic League All-Star game, Rheault was one of the club’s top bullpen arms before being called up to Frederick on August 22. In 34 appearances at Low-A, Rheault went 8-4 with a 2.82 ERA. Rheault’s season got off to a tremendous start, as he allowed just four earned runs in his first 24 innings (1.50). After the All-Star break, Rheault recorded a 2.29 ERA in 18 contests before being called up. With the Keys, the Canadian posted a 3.38 ERA in four games, but struggled with command walking five in 5.1 innings.

A 19th round selection out of Central Michigan in 2013, Rheault grew up in Canada, but played his final two years of high school in Michigan where his mom lived. In college, Rheault red-shirted his first season and was hot and cold when he saw the diamond in 2012-13. His first year he walked 8.63 per-nine innings, while the second year he was 1-4 with a 6.07 ERA.

Keys Probability: High 

Talk tomorrow everybody! Shake your Keys!

Weezy

 

Connaughton’s Future and Guess Your Keys Round 5

Good Afternoon Keys Fans! Weezy here!

I’m in a glass case of emotion and going through withdrawal already after last night’s The Walking Dead finale. I won’t give any spoilers but know the extended episode was 90 minutes of what we’ve grown to like from Rick and Co. The timing of TWD ending is perfect. Instead of wondering what I’ll be doing on Sunday nights from now on, I know exactly what I’ll be doing. Yes fans,this was the LAST weekend without Keys action until September.

It’ll all start with single game tickets going on sale Friday, April 3. Life will return to Nymeo Field at Harry Grove Stadium Saturday with KeysFest from 11-2 p.m. Single game tickets will be on sale during the event. You can read all about it here. For those of you unable to attend, you don’t need to wait long. To play off the Stark house motto, “Baseball is coming”, and coming soon it is. Opening Day is Thursday, April 9 against the Winston-Salem Dash. Are you ready?

Now onto some Keys’ and O’s news from over the weekend

  • Orioles prospect Pat Connaughton said he may not report to the Orioles at all this summer. This comes on the heels of Notre Dame giving Kentucky a near heart attack in the Elite Eight Saturday. The organization understands that Connaughton enjoys basketball and will allow him to pursue the NBA as well as participate in skills combines if he so chooses.
  •  Tyler Wilson made a terrific final impression on Buck Showalter Saturday. Making his first spring start, the former Key retired 12 of the 13 batters he faced, allowing only a single to Carlos Beltran. After the game, Wilson was optioned to Triple-A Norfolk. Don’t be surprised if Saturday isn’t the last time you see the righty in an Orioles uniform this year. He enters this season as the Orioles no. 8 prospect according to MLB.com.
  • Two members of last year’s Keys team were released this weekend by the Orioles. Matt Price and Zane Chavez both received word on Friday. Each spent parts of 2013-14 in Frederick. Good luck to Matt and Zane going forward.
  • Orioles outfielder David Lough is opening the season on the DL, easing the roster crunch with spring training winding down. Lough was in a battle with Jimmy Paredes, Jonathan Schoop, Ryan Flaherty and Evereth Cabrera for the final spots on the Opening Day Roster. The injury strengthens Paredes chance of breaking camp in Baltimore. Paredes has had a good camp this year and showed why he belongs with the club on Saturday’s win.

Keys’ fans, I’ll still be around but now over to Geoff for another exciting round of everybody’s favorite office chair game show, Guess…Your….Keys!

Thanks Weezy!  Alright folks, we are halfway through the 2015 installment of your favorite Keys parlor game. We’ll wrap up Guess your Keys by Thursday, before the Keys preliminary roster is announced. In the meantime, here are five more names to watch out for this year!

Gregory Lorenzo

 

Lorenzo

OF

 Born: May 31, 1991 in San Pedro de Macoris, Dominican Republic

College: N/A

Ht.: 5-10 Wt.: 159 Bats: R Throws: R

How Obtained: Signed as international free agent on 7/4/09

A well-known threat on the bases, Lorenzo finished third in the South Atlantic League in steals (42) in 2014. That mark represented a career-high for the Dominican and was tops among O’s minor leaguers. He also equaled his personal best for games played (126). Promoted to Frederick on August 29, Lorenzo played only one game before suffering a wrist injury which ended his season.

Signed by the Orioles in 2009 as an international free agent, Lorenzo spent parts of the last three seasons at Low-A Delmarva. In his previous two years with the Shorebirds he finished among the club’s top three in hits and games played, but both seasons he led the team in strikeouts.

Keys Probability: High

Williams Louico 

RHP

Williams Louico 

Born: April 10, 1990 in Thomonde, Haiti

College: N/A

Ht.: 6-0 Wt.: 200 Bats: R Throws: R

How Obtained: Signed as an international free agent on 6/4/08

Louico comes off his best year of full-season baseball. A pitched who has experienced command woes in the past, the right-hander posted his best walk-per-nine inning ratio since 2011 with the DSL Orioles. Still, free passes have been a problem in Louico’s career, with his career average at five per nine frames.

Signed as an international free agent in 2008, Louico has spent parts of his last two seasons at Low-A Delmarva. Used mostly as a starter from 2010-12, he has started only one game in the last two years.

Probability: Medium

Trey Mancini

1B

Mancini343

 Born: March 18, 1992 in Winter Haven, Fla.

 College: Notre Dame

Ht.: 6-4 Wt.: 215 Bats: R Throws: R

 How Obtained: 8th round pick by Orioles in 2013 draft

A midseason South Atlantic League All-Star, Mancini joined Frederick right after the All-Star break, hitting .251 over 69 games. On the year, he finished with 83 RBIs between his two stops, third-best among Orioles farmhands. Following a rough April where he batted only .245, Mancini hit .373 over 30 games in May to go along with 25 RBIs. With the Keys, the first baseman fared best in August, batting .276 with 14 RBIs in 30 games. In his Frederick debut, he tied his career-high with four RBIs.

Ranked the No. 30 prospect in the O’s system according to Baseball America, Mancini was named  the Topps/Minor League “Player of the Year” in the New York-Penn League in 2013. With Aberdeen, Mancini set franchise records in batting average (.328) and hits (84).

Selected by Baltimore in the eighth round of the 2013 draft, Mancini led the Big East in hitting (.389) and total bases (138) during his junior year at Notre Dame and finished only three hits shy of .400. Named first team  All-Big East, Mancini received conference mention all three years in South Bend.

Keys Probability: High

Adrian Marin

INF

Marin215

Born: March 8, 1994 in Miami, Fla.

High School: Gulliver Prep (FL)

Ht.: 5-10 Wt.: 165 Bats: R Throws: R

How Obtained: 3rd round pick by the Orioles in 2012 draft

The No. 21 prospect in the Orioles system according to Baseball America, Marin performed well defensively but was inconsistent at the plate during his first year with the Keys. In the field, the Miami native led all Carolina League shortstops in fielding percentage (.972) and putouts (179). At the plate, Marin hit .242 or worse in four out of five months. He fared best in May, batting .289 over 27 games. Marin was named Carolina League “Player of the Week” for the week of May 26-June 2 after recording seven doubles and pacing all of Advanced-A with 11 RBIs over six games.

After hitting .287 during his professional debut in 2012 with the GCL Orioles, Marin batted .265 over 108 games at Low-A Delmarva in 2013. At the plate he turned things on in the second-half. In his last 51 games he clubbed .275, while he finished second on the club in RBIs (48).

A third round pick by the Orioles out Gulliver Prep in 2012, Marin was committed to the University of Miami but was lured away by a  reported $481,100 signing bonus.

Keys Probability: High

Tucker Nathans

UTL

Nathans122

 Born: Nov. 6, 1988 in Warwick, N.Y.

College: Fairfield

Ht.: 6-0 Wt.: 200 Bats: L Throws: R

 How Obtained: Signed as a non-drafted free agent on 2/28/13

Nathans enjoyed a solid season with the Keys in 2014, hitting .271 over 90 games. Particularly good in the second-half, the former Fairfield product hit .280 over his final 45 games while splitting time between second, leftfield and DH. Batting anywhere from 2-9 in the order, Nathans hit .294 or better over three different months. In May, the 26-year-old batted .321 over 22 games.

Undrafted out of college, Nathans played two seasons of independent baseball before being signed by the Orioles in February 2013. Named the “Rookie of the Year” in the Can-Am League in 2012, Nathans hit .307 with 30 RBIs and 27 runs scored.

A two-sport star (baseball & soccer) at Fairfield, Nathans ranks as the schools all-time leader in hits (263), doubles (61) and triples (10). He played in all 193 games in his career and made 180 consecutive starts.

Keys Probability: Medium 

That’s all folks! Talk tomorrow!

Shake your Keys!

Weezy and Geoff

Guess Your Keys Round 4

Good Morning Keys Fans! Weezy here!

Like Geoff told you last week, I’m the Community Relations Assistant in my first year here with the Keys. Frederick’s been very kind to me thus far and I’m ready to kick the season. That said, Geoff didn’t let you know anything about me. I’m from Harrisonburg, VA. I’ve been in or around baseball since I was knee high whether it was playing or back of the stadium work in the Valley Baseball League with the Harrisonburg Turks. Its a wonderful league run by some amazing people. When the Keys are off go support your local team. Baseball really is a small world. My first day here meeting everyone, I learned Matt Miller, our Director of Group Sales, went to VBL games back in the day and our Director of Sponsorship and Geoff’s right hand man on the air, Doug Raftery, was an intern for one of the other teams. Seriously, its a small world.

The year after I was done playing we won it all. Still a great moment with my dad.

The year after I was done playing we won it all. Still a great moment with my dad.

Speaking of local sports teams though, onto some O’s and Keys news:

  • After experiencing tendinitis in his elbow last week, the O’s expect catcher Matt Wieters to open the season on the DL. Part of his rehab will be with Double-A Bowie and your very own Frederick Keys.
  • With 11 of the 13 position spots on the opening day roster spoken for, Jonathan Schoop finds himself in an interesting battle. Schoop, Jimmy Paredes, Ryan Flaherty, and Everth Cabrera are battling for the starting second baseman job and utility infielder role. Each brings his own advantages. Schoop has incumbency at the position but barely crossed the Mendoza line last season. Flaherty fits more as a bench piece than a starter. As a LHH, he managed a .221/.288/.356 slash line last season in that role. Paredes is a good switch-hitter who can also play the outfield, but can struggle defensively at times. Cabrera was added this offseason in free agency and appears to make the roster in some fashion. The switch hitting veteran brings excellent speed to a team that tends to play station to station. Its important to note that Schoop, Flaherty and Cabrera all have options remaining while Paredes does not.
  • Potential rotation members are in a battle as well. With six quality starters for five spots, manager Buck Showalter is open to the possibility of Kevin Gausman opening the season as part of the bullpen and as a spot starter.
  • O’s minor league pitcher of the year Tyler Wilson is banging on the gates over on Eutaw Street this spring. Wilson will likely start this season in Norfolk, but with an injury or poor performance could force his way to Baltimore sooner rather than later.
  • Top prospect Christian Walker has little left to prove in the minors. His option to AAA Norfolk last week wasn’t a testament of his ability, but about playing time. With Chris Davis and Steve Pearce both able to play first and produce at high levels, the Orioles don’t want to give Walker a reduced role with the parent club. As stated above, the Orioles have a number of contracts coming off the books at the end of 2015. Both Davis and Pearce have expiring contracts which may pave the way for Walker to have a shot at the starting job next year.
  • One name Keys’ fans should pay attention to is Jomar Reyes. At only 17 Reyes excelled for the GCL Orioles and will probably start the year in Delmarva. MASN’s Steve Melewski has more here.
NA keyote

Even Keyote was on hand to maintain order (metaphorically speaking).

I’d like to thank everyone who came out for the national anthem auditions March 12. The turnout was amazing. There were so many talented individuals and groups, but some stuck out more than others. I was incognito for most of the event, enjoying every second I was there. If your name is listed in the results but haven’t gotten a phone call from the Keys’ staff yet, don’t fret! You should be receiving a call soon to set up which game you could perform at.

If yesterday is any indication, Spring has sprung. That means the best season of all is rapidly approaching. If you’ve had enough KeysFest 15of this wintry weather and are as ready for baseball as I am, you can get a jump start on the season by attending Keysfest on Saturday, April 4th. There’ll be fun and games for the young and young at heart. Single game tickets go on sale April 3rd so this is a great way to beat the crowd and get your tickets early.

For those of you still in elementary and middle school or with kids in either, our Keys For Reading program is in full swing. KFR NEWSLETTERI’ve been touring area schools with several of our other staff members and I’ve seen a good deal of enthusiasm in the schools about the program. Students in local counties should have received their bookmark in the last few weeks. Hang onto it! All a student has to do is read three books, record them on the bookmark and bring it to the box office here at Nymeo Field at Harry Grove Stadium on their specified weekend for a free ticket. Simple enough, right? There’s plenty going on both weekends for everyone to be happy.If you need to know more, each school’s reading specialist can answer your questions.

And now for everyone’s favorite office chair game show…..GUESS….YOUR….KEYS!

David HessHessRHP

Born: July 10, 1993 in Tullahoma, Tenn.

 College: Tennessee Tech

 Ht: 6-2 Wt: 180 Bats: Throws: R

 How Obtained: 5th round pick by the Orioles in the 2014 draft

Hess made a strong impression during his first professional season. Taken in the fifth round of the 2014 draft out of Tennessee Tech, the right-hander posted a 3.24 ERA between Short-Season Aberdeen and Low-A Delmarva, while making 10 appearances (seven starts). Named a New York-Penn League All-Star, Hess did not allow any runs over 6.1 innings of relief with the IronBirds, while he gave up one or no runs in seven of his eight games.

Entering 2015, Hess is ranked the No. 20 prospect in the Orioles system according to Baseball America. One executive told the publication that Hess posses some similarities to O’s starter Bud Norris.

The third player selected by the Orioles in 2014, Hess was primarily a relief pitcher in college. As a junior, he started 16 games going 9-3 with a 3.24 ERA and tallying 104 strikeouts in  97.1 innings.

Keys Probability: High

Matt Hobgood

Hobgood (6)

RHP

Born: Aug. 3, 1990 in Glendale, Ariz.
High School: Norco (CA) High School
Ht.: 6-4 Wt.: 265 Bats: R Throws: R

How Obtained: 1st round pick by the Orioles in the 2009 draft

It was a tale of two halves for Hobgood in 2014. After pitching to a 3.18 ERA during his first 14 games of the season, the Californian struggled during his last 15 outings, posting a 5.50 ERA. During that second-half, opponents hit .274 against him, while he walked 20 and threw 10 wild pitches in 36 innings. Hobgood’s best month came in April, when he posted a 1.98 ERA over six contests. In May he missed 11 days due to right shoulder inflammation.

The Orioles fifth overall selection as the National Gatorade Player of the Year in 2009, Hobgood registered a 4.32 ERA between Delmarva and Frederick. He missed the entire 2012 season on  account of rotator cuff surgery.

Keys Probability: Low

Mitch Horacek

Horacek

LHP

 Born: Dec. 3, 1991 in Littleton, Colo.
College: Dartmouth
Ht.: 6-5 Wt.: 185 Bats: L Throws: L

 How Obtained: 9th round pick by the Orioles in the 2013 draft

One of the South Atlantic League’s top arms in 2014, Horacek was also among the top pitchers in the Orioles farm system last year. Averaging 9.9 strikeouts per nine innings, the lefty led the SAL in that category as well as total strikeouts (151). He also finished second among O’s farmhands in strikeouts and ninth in ERA (3.96).

Horacek was promoted to Frederick on August 30 for his final start of the year. Selected by the Orioles in the ninth round of the 2013 draft out of Dartmouth, the Big Green product enjoyed a fine debut season at Short-Season Aberdeen. Making 12 starts, Horacek led the league in WHIP (0.94) and finished 10th in ERA (2.78).

In his career at Dartmouth, Horacek went 13-7 with a 4.82 ERA over 27 games (25 starts). In his final college season he went 6-2 with a 2.20 ERA and had the second-best strikeout-to-walk ratio (4.2) in the Ivy League. Horacek was also drafted by Colorado in the 46th round of the 2010 draft but did not sign.

Keys Probability: High

Joel Hutter

Hutter383

INF

 Born: Feb. 28, 1990 in Davenport, Iowa
College: Dallas Baptist University
Ht.: 6-2 Wt.: 205 Bats: R Throws: R

 How Obtained: 10th round pick by the Orioles in the 2012 draft

Hutter served in a utility role during his first year with the Keys in 2014. Playing all four infield positions, Hutter hit .226 over 61 games. His best month of the season came in June, when he batted .313 over 10 contests. In 2013, Hutter played for Low-A Delmarva, where he tied for the team lead in walks (53) and finished second on the club in doubles (22).

Drafted out of Dallas Baptist University in 2012, the 24-year-old spent his entire first year at Short-Season Aberdeen. Named the Ironbirds Most Valuable Player, he led the team in hits (63), RBIs (30) and doubles (16)

As a college player, Hutter began his career at Des Moines Area Community College before transferring to Dallas Baptist for his junior and senior seasons. In his final year with the Patriots, he hit .338 with a team-best 72 RBIs, and helped his club advance to the NCAA Super Regionals. For his efforts, Hutter was named a second-team All-American.

Keys Probability: High

Jon Keller

Keller

RHP

 Born: Aug. 8, 1992 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa
College: University of Tampa
Ht.: 6-5 Wt.: 206 Bats: R Throws: R

 How Obtained: 22nd round pick by the Orioles in the 2013 draft

One of the Orioles top pitching prospects, Keller comes off a strong 2014. Promoted to Frederick on July 18, the hard-throwing righty was dominant at Low-A Delmarva. In 24 games (all in relief) Keller went 3-0 with a 1.59 ERA, while he was virtually unhittable in May and June. Pitching to a 0.47 ERA during the season’s second month, the Iowa native allowed just one run on seven hits in 19 innings. Just as good in June, Keller posted a 1.13 ERA and was named the organization’s “Pitcher of the Month.” With the Keys, he appeared in only two games before suffering a left intercostal strain which ended his season on July 31.

Originally an 11th round pick by the Mariners in 2010, Keller elected to attend college at Nebraska. After two seasons he transferred to the University of Tampa and led his team to the  Division II College World Series, where he started and won the National Championship game. He enters 2015 rated as the No. 13 prospect in the Orioles system according to Baseball America.

Keys Probability: High

Jeff Kemp

Jeff Kemp

INF

   Born: March 23, 1990 in Bowie, Md.
College: Radford

   Ht.: 6-1 Wt.: 200 Bats: R Throws: R

   How Obtained: 33rd round pick by the Orioles in the 2013 draft

Kemp comes off his first full pro season at Low-A Delmarva. The Shorebirds leader in doubles (28) he also finished fourth on the club in hits (111), but was third in strikeouts (98). A player who was considerably better at home, Kemp hit .300 over 57 games at the friendly confines (compared to batting .205 in 51 road tilts). His best home game came on June 24, when he posted a season-high five hits against West Virginia (the most by a Shorebirds player in 2014).

With Delmarva, Kemp served in a utility role, playing a majority of the first-half at shortstop, while also seeing time at first, second and third after the All-Star break. In his first season with Aberdeen, Kemp played shortstop, second base and DH, hitting .240 in 48 games.

A two-time All-Big South selection at Radford, Kemp was named the Co-Big South “Preseason Player of the Year” as a redshirt senior. He led the league in home runs (10) and slugging percentage (.588) despite missing 12 games due to a rib injury.

Keys Probability: Medium/High

Elier Leyva

Leyva

OF

  Born: Sept. 8, 1990 in Antilla, Cuba
College: N/A
Ht.: 6-2 Wt.: 210 Bats: R Throws: R

  How Obtained: Signed as international free agent on 12/19/14

Leyva begins his professional career with the Orioles after being signed as an international free agent in December. He reportedly received a bonus of $180,000.

Scouted by Baltimore in the Dominican Republic, Leyva defected from Cuba in 2013 after playing for the Provincial of Holguin in the Cuban National Series. The outfielder joins a recent list of Cuban signees by the Orioles including Henry Urrutia and former Key Dariel Alvarez. Some scouts have drawn comparisons to Leyva and Alvarez.

Listed at 6-2, Leyva is viewed as having plus-power and is seen as a plus-fielder with average arm strength according to scouting reports.

Keys Probability: High

That’s all I have for you for now Keys’ fans. Enjoy your weekend and don’t forget to stay classy.

Shake your Keys,

Weezy

The Newest Member of the Team/Guess Your Keys Rd. 3

Good Evening Keys Fans!

Hope your brackets are holding up alright and that you’re excited for an exhilarating weekend of hoops. My chances at bracket immortality died quicker than a Thanksgiving turkey. A shocking lost by Iowa State knocked out one of my Final Four teams. Baylor’s ouster only served to make things worse (though the sight of Georgia State’s head coach celebrating is one of the reason’s the tourney is so great). Throw in an overzealous Eastern Washington selection and two incorrect 8-9 picks and you’ve got a recipe for:

BRACKET ANNIHILATION. I could give my first day score, but my ego has taken enough of a beating. Suffice it to say, experts don’t matter. Tournament selection shows are nothing but talking heads in overpriced suits. Always go with your gut and hope the basketball gods are having a good day when you make your choices. Maybe next year they’ll be in a better mood.

One of the few selections I did get right (though it wasn’t a piece of cake) was Notre Dame over Northeastern. Orioles prospect, Pat Connaughton, finished the game with nine points. He is expected to rejoin the O’s after the NCAA tournament.

Pat Connaughton and teammates celebrate Notre Dame's 1st ACC Tournament Championship.

Pat Connaughton and teammates celebrate Notre Dame’s 1st ACC Tournament Championship.

Moving from hoops back to baseball, I’d like to announce a new member of the “Unlocking the Keys” blog crew. Matt Wease is in his first year with the club and serves as the team’s Community Relations Assistant. “Weezy” as he has become known in the office, will add his two cents on Orioles and Keys news from time-to-time. So give him a nice welcome!

Today, he has a rundown of the latest baseball news:

  • As for trade rumors, Mets Josh Eglin’s injury leaves their bullpen quite right handed heavy. The Mets, as well as several other unnamed teams, have checked in with Orioles GM Dan Duquette as to Matusz’s availability. A trade before the end of Spring Training seems doubtful as teams make cuts, but the possibility for in season remains there depending on how the O’s perform in the first few months of the season. Today, Matusz tossed four scoreless innings against the Red Sox.
  • After his first game behind the plate without restrictions, Orioles catcher and former Key Matt Weiters experienced some tenderness in his right elbow and will be shut down for roughly a week. An X-ray came back negative, which is positive news for the club as it eases him back to game action following his Tommy John surgery last season.
  • While Manny Machado has already shown to be a wizard with the glove but he is looking to get his running game off the ground. It is worth nothing that Machado has had a pair of season ending knee surgeries so the Orioles want him to proceed with caution. Machado is hitting .233/.258/.267 in 30 at bats in his first taste of action since injuring his knee on August 11.

Stay tuned for more from Matt in the coming weeks. On the Keys front, the result from the National Anthem auditions are in! If your name is listed, then a Keys representative will contact you about a date to sing. Thanks to everyone who participated. It was a fantastic turnout!

Also, KeysFest is right around the corner! Take a look at what the Keys have in store for the season and be the first to try out some fun new hot dog toppings coming to the Grove!

KeysFest 15

And now, it’s time for round three of “Guess your Keys” ! Here are four more names you might hear from in 2015:

Donnie Hart

Donnie Hart

LHP

Born: Sept. 6, 1990 in Fulsher, Texas
College: Texas State University
Ht.: 5-11 Wt.: 180 Bats: L Throws: L

How Obtained: 27th round pick by the Orioles in the 2013 draft

Hart made the jump to Low-A ball in 2014 and after a rocky start, proved capable in relief. Over his first five games, the Texan registered a 6.00 ERA before limiting opponents to just two runs and five hits in 11.1 innings in July (1.59). Ending the year with a 3.68 ERA, Hart held opponents to a .227 average and was particularly tough against lefties, who batted at a paltry .200 clip.

A 30th round pick by the Orioles in 2013, Hart’s professional career got off to a strong start at Short-Season Aberdeen. Dominant before the All-Star break, the lefty surrendered only one run in his first 14.2 innings (0.61) and did not allow any markers over his first five contests (8.1 innings). Hart led the IronBirds in saves (five) and appearances (19).

After pitching only 11.1 innings in his first two seasons at Texas State, Hart pitched in 41 games during his junior year, registering a 2.13 ERA over 42.1 stanzas. Over his last 18 appearances, he surrendered only four hits.

Keys Probability: High

 

Josh Hart

Josh Hart

OF

Born: Oct. 2, 1994 in Lilburn, Ga.
High School: Parkview (GA) High School
Ht.: 6-2 Wt.: 180 Bats: L Throws: L

How Obtained: 1st round pick by the Orioles in 2013 draft

Hart showed promise during his first full professional season, despite several stints on the disabled list. He missed a little less than a week in April due to a sprained ankle, while he was out from May 28-July 5 after having arthroscopic surgery to repair a torn meniscus.

Hitting .255, the Georgian finished third on the team with 11 stolen bases. His best month came in May, when he batted .273 over 21 games and drove in 10. That included a 13-game hitting streak from April 29-May 16.

The No. 25 prospect in the Orioles system according to Baseball America, Hart was selected by the Orioles in the competitive balance round of the 2013 draft (37th overall). He received a reported $1.45 million signing bonus. In his first professional season, Hart hit a combined .218 between the GCL Orioles and Short-Season Aberdeen.

Keys Probability: High

 

Hunter Harvey

Hunter Harvey

RHP

 Born: Dec. 9, 1994 in Catawba, N.C.
High School: Bandys (NC) High School
Ht.: 6-4 Wt.: 178 Bats: R Throws: R

 How Obtained: 1st round pick by the Orioles in the 2013 draft

Rated as the No. 2 prospect in the Orioles system according to Baseball America, Harvey pitched well during his first full professional season. Logging 87.2 innings, Harvey was named a midseason SAL All-Star and finished the season 7-5 with a 3.18 ERA. He also pitched in the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game. Dominant in May, Harvey registered a 1.30 ERA over five starts and was named the organization’s “Pitcher of the Month.” He was shutdown in July after suffering a flexor mass strain.    

In his first pro season, Harvey went 0-1 with a 1.78 ERA between the GCL Orioles and the Short-Season Aberdeen Ironbirds. He struck out 33 in his first 25.1 innings, while walking only six. Harvey was especially good on September 7, when he threw five no-hit innings in a playoff game at Tri-City.

Selected with the 22nd overall pick in the 2013 draft, Harvey went 8-0 with a 0.38 ERA during his senior year at Bandys High School in Catawba, N.C. He struck out 116 in 54.2 innings.

 

Ivan Hernandez

Hernandez

RHP

 Born: July 28, 1991 in Tacarigua, Venezuela
College: N/A
Ht.: 6-2 Wt.: 234 Bats: R Throws: R

 How Obtained: Signed as a non-drafted free agent on 7/28/91

Hernandez made his first stop in Frederick in 2014, surrendering three earned runs over five innings during a late-season call-up. Prior to his promotion in late-August, Hernandez threw well in relief for Short-Season Aberdeen.

The hard-throwing righty made a strong case for a promotion after tallying a 1.69 ERA in his final five games with the IronBirds. He limited right-handed hitters to a .218 average.

Signed as an international free agent by the Orioles in 2009, Hernandez pitched exclusively out of the bullpen last season after working as both a starter and reliever during his first four seasons. His first year stateside came in 2011 with the GCL Orioles, before he missed the entire 2012 season due to injury. Hernandez returned in late-June 2013, pitching nine games for the GCL O’s.

Keys Probability: Medium/High

Enjoy the weekend everybody! And remember baseball is just 20 days away!

Shake your Keys,

Geoff

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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