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Guess Your Keys: Wednesday March 26, 2014

Happy Wednesday Keys Fans!

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

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

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

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

Bennett Parry

courtesy: milb.com

courtesy: milb.com

Vitals

Position: LHP

Age: 22

Height: 6-6

Weight: 225

More on Parry:

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

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

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

Torsten Boss

 

courtesy: monoblogue.us

courtesy: monoblogue.us

Vitals

Position: INF

Age: 23

Height: 6-0

Weight: 195

More on Boss:

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

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

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

Mark Blackmar

 

courtesy: monoblogue.us

courtesy: monoblogue.us

Vitals:

Position: RHP

Age: 21

Height: 6-3

Weight: 215

More on Blackmar:

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

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

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

Roderick Bernadina

 

courtesy: milb.com

courtesy: milb.com

Vitals:

Position: OF

Age: 21

Height: 5-10

Weight: 167

More on Bernadina:

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

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

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

Sander Beck

 

courtesy: orioles-nation.com

courtesy: orioles-nation.com

Vitals:

Position: RHP

Age: 23

Height: 6-3

Weight: 215

More on Beck:

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

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

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

Chance Sisco

 

Vitals:

Position: C

Age: 19

Height: 6-2

Weight: 190

More on Sisco:

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

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

Dylan Bundy

 

courtesy: sportsillustrated.cnn.com

courtesy: sportsillustrated.cnn.com

Vitals

Position: RHP

Age: 21

Height: 6-1

Weight: 195

More on Bundy:

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

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

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

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

Till next time. Shake your Keys!

Chris

Guess Your Keys: Monday, March 24, 2014

Hope you all had a great weekend.

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

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

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

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

Gene Escat

courtesy: milb.com

courtesy: milb.com

Vitals

Position: RHP

Age: 24

Height: 6-4

Weight: 190

More on Escat:

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

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

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

Matt Price

courtesy: Tim Jacobsen

courtesy: Tim Jacobsen

Vitals

Position: RHP

Age: 24

Height: 6-2

Weight: 215

More on Price:

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

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

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

Jason Esposito

courtesy: Tim Jacobsen

courtesy: Tim Jacobsen

Vitals

Position: 3B

Age: 23

Height: 6-2

Weight: 210

More on Esposito:

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

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

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

 

Parker Bridwell

 courtesy: orioles-nation.com

courtesy: orioles-nation.com

Vitals

Position: RHP

Age: 22

Height: 6-4

Weight: 186

More on Bridwell:

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

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

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

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

Till next time. Shake your Keys!

Chris

Guess Your Keys: Saturday, March 22, 2014

Happy Saturday Keys Fans!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Brady Wager

Courtesy: Tim Jacobsen

Courtesy: Tim Jacobsen

Vitals

Position: RHP

Age: 23

Height: 6-1

Weight: 205

More on Wager:

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

Joel Hutter 

courtesy: Joel Hutter

courtesy: Milb.com

Vitals

Position: INF

Age: 24

Height: 6-2

Weight: 205

More on Hutter:

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

Jimmy Yacabonis 

courtesy: CBS Philly

courtesy: CBS Philly

Vitals

Position: RHP

Age: 24

Height: 6-3

Weight: 195

More on Yacabonis:

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

Matt Hobgood 

orioles-nation.com

courtesy: orioles-nation.com

Vitals

Position: RHP

Age: 23

Height: 6-4

Weight: 245

More on Hobgood:

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

Juan Guzman 

Orioles-nation.com

courtesy: Orioles-nation.com

Vitals 

Position: RHP

Age: 23

Height: 6-4

Weight: 245

More on Guzman:

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

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

Geoff

Guess Your Keys: Friday, March 21

Happy Friday Keys Fans!

Who’s happy with their bracket? I know I’m not. Luckily I didn’t have Duke in my Final Four, but still a loss to Mercer has to practically kill most brackets. Warren Buffett is probably sitting in one of his many mansion just laughing at all the bracket that were entered in for his billion dollars.

Stepping away from College Basketball, the Major League Baseball season with begin tomorrow from Sydney, Australia. The Dodgers and Diamondbacks will play at the Sydney Cricket Grounds slated to begin at 7pm Sydney time, or 4am ET… and well, 1am PT. Good luck staying up to those die hard’s out west.

Some news from the Orioles front, Manny Machado has been cleared to continue his rehab assignment. The good news came following his follow-up appointment Thursday on his surgically repaired knee. Also Luis Ayala was at the O’s complex today to undergo a physical. A deal has not been made official yet, but when it does look for Ayala to begin the season somewhere in the minors. And speaking of the minors it seems like a good time for that thing you probably all are reading this post for, Guess Your Keys!

Yesterday Geoff gave you a little insight to today’s group, so without further a due I give you the Friday, March 21st edition.

Dennis Torres

courtesy: flickr.com

courtesy: flickr.com

Vitals

Position: Pitcher

Age: 23

Height: 6-3

Weight: 200

More on Torres:

Torres spent his first full season at Low-A Delmarva, going 1-3 with a 3.22 ERA and one save over 25 games. Things got off to a rocky start for the Massachusetts native. Over his first six outings he went 0-2 with a 7.45 ERA. However, he turned things around over the final three months. After Torres allowed eight earned runs over 9.2 innings in April, he surrendered only eight runs over the final three months of the season, posting a 2.35 ERA over his final 35 innings. Right-handed hitters really struggled against Torres, collectively hitting .186 with only four extra-base hits.

The right-hander made his debut with the GCL Orioles in 2012. Drafted earlier that season by Baltimore in the 28th round out of UMass, 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 was converted to pitcher. As a junior, he served as the team’s No. 1 starter going 4-4 with a 3.34 ERA over 12 starts. He tossed a team-best 89 innings, and helped lead his team to an Atlantic-10 tournament berth.

Mike Yastrzemski

courtesy: milb.com

courtesy: milb.com

Vitals

Position: OF

Age: 23

Height: 6-0

Weight: 185

More on Yastrzemski:

The grandson of Hall of Famer and Red Sox legend Carl Yastrzemski, Michael begins his second season in the Orioles system. He spent all of 2013 with Short-Season Aberdeen. In 57 games, he hit .273 with three home runs and 25 RBIs. Named the organization’s Minor League Offensive Player of the month in July, Yastrzemski hit .337 with 12 RBIs and collected 31 hits. An outfielder who played both corners and saw time in centerfield, the lefty swinger also played in the New York-Penn League All-Star game.

Selected by the Red Sox in the 36th round of the 2009 draft out of St John’s Prep (MA), Yastrzemski elected to attend Vanderbilt University instead. There, he helped lead the Commodores to the 2011 College World Series. As a senior, he hit .322 earning a First Team All-SEC selection as well as Third Team All-American honors. Not a major power threat, Yastrzemski once homered off former Key (and O’s No. 2 prospect according to Baseball America) Kevin Gausman when the later was pitching for LSU. In addition to his grandfather, Yastrzemski’s father Mike was a former third-round pick by the Braves in 1984. He made it to Triple-A with the White Sox.

Miguel Chalas

Courtesy: Tim Jacobsen

Courtesy: Tim Jacobsen

Vitals

Position: Pitcher

Age: 21

Height: 5-11

Weight: 155

More on Chalas:

Used mostly as a starter in his first three professional seasons, Chalas made a smooth transition to the bullpen in 2013. He opened the season with Delmarva, and tallied a 3.24 ERA over 13 games. Tough against righties (.245) and lefties (.221), he held opponents to a combined .231 batting average before his promotion to Frederick on June 3.

With the Keys, Chalas proved to be an innings eater. In 22 appearances, the righty went two or more frames on 19 occasions, while he pitched three innings in each of his last seven games. It was a nice cap-off for Chalas, after he posed a 5.02 ERA in 24 games with Delmarva in 2012.

Signed as a 17-year-old, the righty started strong in the Orioles’ organization. He went 5-1 with a 1.72 ERA in the Dominican Summer League in 2010 and 5-3 with a 2.93 ERA in the Gulf Coast League in 2011.

Sammie Star

courtesy: Tim Jacobsen

courtesy: Tim Jacobsen

Vitals

Position: INF

Age: 25

Height: 5-7

Weight: 160

More on Starr:

Following 2012 where Starr made three stops at Orioles minor league outposts, the Canadian spent all of 2013 with the Keys. In addition to playing a career-high 115 games, he set personal-bests in hits (90), home runs (six), runs scored (44) and RBIs (45). Additionally, he posted 20 multi-hit games.

Starr’s best month came in April, where he hit .301 over 24 games. Over one-third of his RBIs came during that initial stretch, while he stroked six doubles as well. However over the next four months, Starr never hit above ,210. Standing 5-8, the  shortstop/second baseman made cameos with the Keys in 2011 and 2012.

Grabbed by Baltimore in the 34th round of the 2010 draft out of the University of British Columbia, Starr was a four-year starter at shortstop for the Thunderbirds. As a senior, he hit .366 with 15 doubles and 41 RBIs and posted a .429 on-base percentage. As a sophomore he played for team Canada at the World University games.

Hope you all have a great weekend. Enjoy all the College Basketball and the Opening Series if you can stay awake.

Till next time. Shake your Keys!

Chris

Guess Your Keys: Thursday, March 20

Happy Thursday Keys Fans!

And happy bracketing. Mine has already taken a turn for the worse after Ohio State’s last second loss to Dayton. When the Flyers scored with three seconds left, I scared the daylights out of our office manager who feared I had suffered a heart attack. Searching for my dignity, I informed her it was just the  March Madness monster.

My guess is there will be  more of these moments over the next day or so, with the bulk of the office participating in a pool (and props to group sales manager Matt Miller for putting it together).

On the diamond, the madness has already started. It’s that time when big league rosters start to take shape, rotations get locked in, and guys on the bubble search for their…..

Thanks Luther Vandross.

Although it’s not as visible, the same thing is true in the minor leagues, as players anxiously await their opening day assignments.

And for that matter, all of us at the Keys want to know too! Well, today’s picks feature a couple of familiar faces in the outfield, a Texan who was tough to hit last year, and a first baseman who might have a little luck of the Irish in him.

Brenden Webb 

courtesy: Tim Jacobsen

courtesy: Tim Jacobsen

Vitals

Position: OF

Age: 24

Height: 6-1

Weight: 185

More on Webb:

2013 was a challenging season for Webb, who hit .201 over 84 games. His main bugaboo was strikeouts. Over 293 at-bats, he went down on strikes 107 times. Webb also went into the offseason with a sour taste in his mouth, as he missed all of August due to a back injury.

Fortunately, there have been some encouraging signs this spring. On Wednesday, he hit a pair of home runs in an Advanced-A Spring Training game to lead Frederick to a 3-0 win.

Defensively, Webb has great athleticism and a strong arm, which allows him to play any outfield position (though he was primarily in right last year). He was selected by Baltimore after one season at Palomar Junior College in 2009.

Glynn Davis 

courtesy: Tim Jacobsen

courtesy: Tim Jacobsen

Vitals

Position: OF

Age: 22

Height: 6-3

Weight: 170

More on Davis:

When Davis and Webb were roaming the outfield (with Davis in center and Webb in right) not many balls would hit the ground. However like his corner outfield mate, Davis was also bit by the injury bug last season. Out for a month with a hamstring injury, the bum wheel impacted the outfielder’s stolen base numbers. In 97 games, he swiped just 19 bags, a far cry from a career-best 37 the year prior. At the plate, it was also a trying year for Davis, who hit .234 and grounded into 13 twin-killings. With a winter to rest, he’ll look to get things back on track this year.

Zach Fowler

Courtesy: Tim Jacobsen

Courtesy: Tim Jacobsen

Vitals

Position: LHP

Age: 22

Height: 6-4

Weight: 205

More on Fowler:

Fowler flew beneath the radar, but quietly put together an excellent season. Over 37 appearances out of the bullpen, the Texarkana, TX native registered a 2.57 ERA while leading all relievers with 73.2 innings pitched. One of the few Keys from last season with experience at the Triple-A level, Fowler made a cameo with the Norfolk Tides in 2012. He was drafted by Baltimore out of Texas Tech in 2011.

Trey Mancini 

courtesy: Orioles-Nation.com

courtesy: Orioles-Nation.com

Vitals

Position: OF

Age: 22

Height: 6-4

Weight: 215

More on Mancini:

The future looks bright for Mancini, after an impressive display at Short-Season Aberdeen in 2013. Named the New York Penn’s League’s Topps/Minor League Player of the Year, the 22-year-old set franchise records in batting average (.328) and hits (84). He also finished fourth in the league in runs scored (43) and on-base percentage (.382).

Rated the No. 25 prospect in the Baltimore system according to Baseball America, Mancini’s season began at the University of Notre Dame. With the Golden Domers, he hit .389 and led the Big East in hitting. Only three hits more, and he would have batted .400.

That’s all for tonight. It’s hard to believe, but we’re almost halfway done with our countdown! Stay tuned tommorrow when we discuss a player with excellent baseball bloodlines and another who was cut from his high school baseball team EVERY YEAR, before turning heads in college. You won’t want to miss his incredible story.

Shake your Keys!

Geoff

Keysfest is Right Around the Corner

Keysfest Is Right Around the Corner

Fans Can Purchase Single-Game Tickets for 2014 Season 

FREDERICK, Md. – The Frederick Keys are happy to announce that Keysfest will take place on Saturday, April 5 from 11-2 p.m. at Harry Grove Stadium. This fan-centered event is free of charge, and will include giveaways, food samplings and plenty of fun for all ages. Additionally, Keys faithful will have a chance to purchase single-game tickets for the 2014 campaign.

“Keysfest is an exciting way to kick off the season and show fans what they have to look forward to,” said Director of Marketing, Bridget McCabe. “The team’s 26th season is full of surprises, and we are excited to give everyone a sneak peak at what we have planned.”

This year’s event will be filled with plenty of activities. The Keys’ Giant Eagle Fun Zone will be open for free, while youngsters will have a chance to test out four new inflatables. Among them, are a giant new slide as well as a bounce house. Young fans can also take part in a coloring station, Face Paint by Vicki, a prize wheel and have their own baseball cards made. Plus, mascot Keyote will be on hand for a meet-and-greet.

Tours will be provided throughout the day, to give fans a behind-the-scenes look at Harry Grove Stadium. Families are also encouraged to bring their gloves, as there will be a catch in the outfield.

At the concessions stand, fans will have a chance to sample a diverse selection of food choices. Everyone who walks through the gates will receive a food voucher good for a free Esskay hot dog and soda. In addition to ballpark favorites, there will be an opportunity to test out delicious new offerings as well. Among this year’s additions, are grilled and friend chicken wraps along with an Asian chicken lettuce wrap.

Buffalo Wild Wings and Mt. Musser Kettle Corn will be be around to distribute samples, while other food and drink options (including wine and beer) will be available for purchase. Fans can also stock up on Keys merchandise, with a variety of sales scheduled to take place.

Those who have not stopped by the box office will have a chance to purchase individual game tickets for the 2014 season as well as ticket plans. Single-game tickets officially go on sale March 28.

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

Guess Your Keys: Wednesday, March 19

Oh say, can you see, by the… oh Happy Hump Day Keys fans!

My apologies, just still in the process of getting the Star Spangled Banner out of my head. Last night at the FSK Mall we had a great turnout of some very talented fans vying for a spot this year to perform the National Anthem here at Harry Grove, and I want to wish them all the best of luck. As for me on the other hand, it’s time for a healthy dose of iTunes to set me straight.

Orioles opening day is rapidly approaching with something called “spring” as well. However nothing really “springy” has happened in the last few days, just cold weather and some snow. Luckily the teams are enjoying the warm Florida weather, but falling in their St. Patrick Day hats to the Tampa Bay Rays 7-4.

In other O’s news pitchers Dylan Bundy and Johan Santana continue their rehab assignments and threw off of a rehab mound today. Which can make a Keys fan think, where in the system will they start the season? Will either start with the Keys? We don’t know yet, however I do know that it’s a perfect time for another Guess Your Keys! Today we have a couple of infielders including a member of the 2013 club and an O’s top 20 prospect.

Adrian Marin

courtesy: monoblogue.us

courtesy: monoblogue.us

Vitals:

Position: INF

Age: 20

Height: 5-10

Weight: 165

More on Marin:

Only 20 years old, Marin comes off a solid 2013 campaign with Low-A Delmarva. In his first full-season, he hit .265 and finished second on the Shorebirds with 48 RBI. Hitting out of the eight-hole for most of the season, Marin got more comfortable with South Atlantic League pitching in the second half. Over his final 51 games, the Miami native hit .275, while he added nearly 50 points to his slugging percentage. The one knack on Marin at the plate was on-base percentage (.310), attributed in large-part to strikeouts (99 K in 388 AB). Rated the 12th overall prospect in the Orioles system according to Baseball America, the same publication has also called Marin the “best defensive infielder” in the Baltimore farm system. Selected by the O’s in the third round of the 2012 draft out Gulliver Prep (FL), Marin originally committed to the University of Miami. However, he was lured away by a reported $481,100 signing bonus. Marin caught scouts’ attention during his senior season, when he homered off current Rangers prospect Joey Gallo in the National High School Invitational.

Michael Mosby:

courtesy: Tim Jacobson

courtesy: Tim Jacobson

Vitals

Position: 3B

Age: 24

Height: 5-11

Weight: 190

More on Mosby:

And no he’s related to a Ted Mosby for those “How I Met Your Mother” fans.

Mike is not your average third baseman. In past years he’s seen each view from the defensive side playing each infield position, but has seen more nowadays from the both corner infield positions. 2013 proved to be challenging season for Mosby, as a strained oblique and a quadriceps injury limited him to 46 games. The majority of those (38) were played with the Keys. In his second stint with Frederick, Mosby hit .278 with five home runs and 20 RBIs. Predominantly a third baseman in his first season at Advanced-A, Mosby spent the majority of last season at first, while also seeing time at second and third. Defensively, Mosby made considerable improvement in 2013. After committing 19 errors in 82 games in 2012, he made only two defensive miscues in 38 games last season. The Kentucky native made the jump to Frederick in 2012. In 82 games with the Keys, he hit .234 with four homers and 34 RBIs. Prior to joining the team, he had never hit above .230 in rookie ball. Drafted by the Orioles out of Wabash Valley College in Illinois in the 14th round of the 2010 draft, Mosby dominated in junior college.  He hit .451 with 18 home runs, 82 RBI and stole 19 bases as a sophomore before being selected by the O’s in the 14th round of the 2010 draft.

We will have more for you tomorrow. Shake your keys!

Chris

A look back at 2013

Good Evening Keys Fans!

And happy Tuesday! Tonight we’ll hear some of the best voices in the area, as judges from Key103 and members of the Frederick Keys Staff listen to individuals who would like to sing our nation’s anthem at a game this year. The performances run from 5-8 p.m. at FSK Mall, so if you’re in the area, swing on by. As for those trying out, break a leg!

On the Orioles front, manager Buck Showalter announced that Chris Tillman will be  the opening day starter. He’ll toe the bump on March 31 when the team hosts the Red Sox. Not surprisingly, Ubaldo Jimenez will serve as the O’s No. 2 man.

Down on the farm, MASN’s Steve Melewski put out a full report on Monday’s minor league action in the Grapefruit League. Frederick lost 7-0 in it’s game on St. Patty’s Day, but Matt Hobgood and Mychal Givens each pitched well. Givens is definitely a candidate to spend time in the Frederick bullpen this season. Rated the organization’s #23 prospect according to Baseball America, the righty began his career as a shortstop before switching to the mound last season. Over 28 games, he went 2-3 with a 4.22 ERA.

One final note on Givens: if he were to be assigned to Frederick, it would not be his first time in a Keys uniform. He played in one game with the Keys in September 2010, going 2-for-4 with an RBI and two runs scored.

courtesy: Orioles-nation.com

courtesy: Orioles-nation.com

We’ll resume Guess Your Keys tommorrow afternoon, but tonight we wanted to take a step back and review the 2013 season. Although the team struggled at times, many players took a step forward in their careers. Here is a full look-back:

Frederick ended the first-half one game under .500, but second half struggles saw the Keys finish in last place for the second straight season. The 2011 Carolina League champs went 34-35 in the first half and a league-worst 27-43 in the second stanza to finish a combined 61-78 on the year. In the mix for a playoff spot at the end of May, the Keys stumbled down the backstretch of the first half, dropping seven of their final eight games heading into the All-Star Break. Struggles resumed in the second half, as the team was plagued by promotions and injuries. As a result, the Keys finished in the bottom-third in most offensive and pitching categories. Under the guidance of first-year manager Luis Pujols, Frederick hopes to turn the page in 2014, and advance to postseason play for the 11th time in franchise history.

KEYS OFFENSE

As a team, the Keys finished last in the Carolina League in hitting, batting .245 collectively. However, the club knew a thing or two about hitting the longball. In 2013, the Keys clubbed 109 dingers,      second-most in the CL. More than 60% of those came at Harry Grove Stadium (69), as the team made healthy use of the ballpark’s friendly dimensions. Individually, the Keys were paced by Carolina League batting champion Michael Ohlman. Over 100 games, the power-hitting catcher hit .313, paced the Keys in slugging percentage (.524) and closed third overall in on-base percentage (.410). Outfielder Johnny Ruettiger used his excellent speed to create chaos on the basepaths. Joining the club in late-April, the Illinois native finished third in the league in stolen bases (43). In addition to shattering his own career-high (his previous best was 16 in 2012), his total was the seventh-most  all-time by a Frederick player.

Nicky Delmonico missed time early on with a concussion, but led the team with 13 home runs (a feat he accomplished in just 61 games). The lefty-swinger would be traded to Milwaukee in late-July for Brewers relief pitcher Francisco Rodriguez, as the Orioles tried to bolster their bullpen for the stretch run. The tenure of Christian Walker also proved to be shorter than most Frederick fans would have preferred. Rewarded for an excellent all-around season, the  ex-South Carolina Gamecock was promoted to Double-A after 55 games with the Keys. During that time, Walker hit .288 with eight homers, 35 RBI and 17 doubles. For the year, he hit a combined .300 during stays at Delmarva, Frederick and Bowie. Travis Adair had the longest hitting streak of the year, picking up a base-hit in each of his last 18 games, while former independent league standout Zane Chavez was also a pleasant surprise. Joining the Baltimore organization after four years in non-affiliated baseball, the journeyman catcher hit .295 in 75 games and was named a mid-season all-star.

KEYS PITCHING

Although Frederick finished last in team-ERA (posting a 4.43 mark as a staff), several Keys arms enjoyed breakout seasons. Chief among them was Eduardo Rodriguez. Calm and collected, the  20-year-old went 6-4 with a 2.85 ERA in 14 starts en route to being named to the Carolina League All-Star Team and the Sirius/XM All-Star Futures Game. Unhittable in the month of May, Rodriguez went 5-0 with 2.23 ERA and hold opponents to a .208 bating average.

Tim Berry was another  southpaw who provided consistent results. In his second Carolina League tour, Berry led the club in wins (11) and starts (27) while working a team-high 152 innings. The 11 victories was also tied for most in the CL, and moved Berry into the top five all-time in Keys history. Out of the bullpen, Marcel Prado registered a 2.30 ERA in 21 games before a June 3 promotion to Double-A Bowie. Finishing with six saves in eight tries, Prado was brutal against right-handed hitters, holding them to a combined .207 batting average. Meanwhile, Zach Fowler handled lefties with aplomb, ending the year with a 2.57 ERA and a career-best 73.2 innings pitched.

THE OHLMAN EFFECT

The 2013 campaign was a special season for Michael Ohlman. Coming off a difficult 2012 where he missed time following a car accident and a drug violation, the Keys catcher rebounded with his best season as a professional. His .313 batting average made him the first Frederick batting champion since 2009 (when Robert Widlansky hit .340) while the catcher picked up additional accolades along the way. Named to the postseason all-star squad, he also earned Carolina League “Player of the Week” honors on two occasions. Consistent with his approach, Ohlman hit below .270 only one month out of the season and was an equal-opportunity destroyer at the dish. He punished lefties to a .364 clip, but did well against righties too, batting .302. For his efforts, he was added to the Orioles 40-man roster in November.

Ohlman likely won’t make this year’s edition of Guess Your Keys, but the 2014 club should have plenty of talent. We’ll have more details tommorrow, when the highly talented Chris Colletti makes his Unlocking the Keys Blog debut. I’m sure you’ll enjoy his insights.

Talk again soon and shake your keys!

Geoff

Guess Your Keys: Friday, March 14

Happy Weekend Keys Fans!

Hope you are enjoying all the conference tournament basketball madness. A number of us in the office went out to lunch this afternoon to take in some of the games, while enjoying some tasty barbecue. As we were sitting there, it dawned on me that this is one of the best times of the year. The NCAA Tournament is on the horizon, spring training is at the midway mark, and in a very short time, the Keys will be back on the diamond.

Before we get to the Friday Edition of Guess Your Keys, some news and notes:

  • Former Key and Orioles top pitching prospect Dylan Bundy has been optioned to Double-A Bowie
  • O’s rotation candidate (and another former Key) Zach Britton says he prefers to start, but is okay coming out of the bullpen
  • And in Keys news, the team put out a list of Mattress Warehouse Club theme nights and weekly specials yesterday. Scroll down one blog post and check them out! Believe me, you’ll want your calendar handy.

Alright, it’s time for today’s edition of Guess Your Keys! It’s very simple. Those of us at the Unlocking the Keys blog have put together a list of 40 players that we believe may grace the hollowed grounds of Harry Grove Stadium. Then when the team’s regular season roster comes out, we’ll see how many we picked correctly.

Tonight’s terrific tandem includes a hard throwing southpaw and a hero from the “Loveliest Village on the Plains.”

Lex Rutledge  

courtesy: Tim Jacobsen

courtesy: Tim Jacobsen

Vitals

Position: LHP

Age: 22

Height: 5-11

Weight: 190

2013 club: Frederick/Delmarva

More on Rutledge:

Although Rutledge checks in at only 5-11, he has a POWERFUL arm. According to Baseball America, the lefty hit 98 mph while pitching in the Cape Cod League. That cannon, plus an outstanding freshman season at Samford, contributed to the Orioles taking Rutledge with their sixth round pick in the 2012 draft. Used predominantly as a reliever since turning pro, the Mississippi native has been dominant at times. With Delmarva last season, he went 4-3 with a 1.45 ERA and struck out 45 in 43.1 innings. However, he struggled a bit more with the Keys, allowing 11 runs over 12.2 innings (7.82 ERA) in a late-season stint with the club. The only knock on Rutledge has been occasional struggles with command (39 BB in 79.1 pro innings). But if he can harness his stuff, he could be a deadly weapon late in games.

Creede Simpson

Simpson

courtesy: Delmarvanow.com

Vitals

Position: INF/OF

Age: 24

Height: 6-2

Weight: 185

2013 club: Delmarva

More on Simpson:

One of Auburn baseball’s folk heroes, Simpson is best known for his go-ahead home run in the 2010 NCAA Regionals which helped the Tigers stay alive against another band of Tigers from Clemson:

Not bad for being down in the count 1-2 and on the brink of elimination. As far as Simpson’s professional exploits go, he spent all of 2013 at Low-A Delmarva and appeared all over the diamond. Not counting the games where he served as DH, Simpson played five different positions in 2013. At the plate, he got off to a terrific start, batting .316 over his first 23 games, but in May he was sidelined by an injury which led him to miss more than a month. Trying to get back in the swing of things, he finished the season with a .248 average to go along with nine homers (tied for the team-lead).

Enjoy the weekend and selection Sunday. And of course, shake your keys!

Geoff

Keys Announce Nightly Mattress Warehouse Club Specials

NIGHTLY SPECIALS IN MATTRESS WAREHOUSE CLUB ANNOUNCED

Keys Offer Affordable Deals and Rollout Special New Menus

 

FREDERICK, Md. – The Frederick Keys are proud to announce an exciting weekly menu selection coming to the Mattress Warehouse Club-the team’s upscale, climate-controlled restaurant-for the 2014 season. In addition to the return of fan-favorite specials, Keys faithful can also look forward to a fresh Hump Day menu as well as a host of specialty nights throughout the season.

Things get off to an exciting start with Taco Tuesdays. From the time gates open until one hour into the game, fans can help themselves to a fully-stocked taco bar as well as chips & salsa, fiesta salad and much more.

Thirsty Thursdays also present plenty of options. Besides getting to choose from a stocked menu which includes chicken wings and chef’s choice sliders, patrons will receive four beer tokens, which they can use to sample Flying Dog and Brewer’s Alley selections on tap.

Some of the new features this season include a brand new, mouth-watering, Hump Day Menu. Equipped with a baked potato bar, Cajun cheddar stuffed burgers, Esskay all-beef hotdogs, plus cookies and brownie treats, fans will also receive four beer tokens for the night.

Meanwhile, Friday’s Surf and Turf Menu receives an upgrade. To go along with baked salmon, a lightly seasoned New York Strip steak joins the list of offerings, giving fans another tasty option. Sundays rotate between a mid-day brunch for 2 p.m. games and a Sunday Night Fever menu for 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. starts.

This year’s calendar includes periodic specialty nights as well. Among the highlights, are Flying Dog Beer Pairings on April 23 and August 26 and a Brewer’s Alley Beer Pairing on May 21. The team has also put together fresh menus for Girls Night Out (May 30), Christmas in July (July 25) and Salute to the Orioles Night (July 26).

For more information about this year’s Mattress Warehouse Club offerings, fans can visit frederickkeys.com or contact an account manager at 301-815-9900.

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

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