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Frederick Keys Game Notes 8-22-14

Friday, August 22, 2014 · Game #125 · Road Game #67

Frederick Keys (58-66/26-31) vs Potomac Nationals (70-53/32-22)

RHP Sebastian Vader (2-4, 5.25) vs. LHP Matthew Spann (8-5, 4.43)

LEFTY LOCKDOWN: Southpaws Steven Brault and Lex Rutledge collaborated on a two-hit shutout of the Carolina Mudcats, as the Frederick Keys topped their Southern foe 5-0 on Thursday night at Five County Stadium. The win helped the orange and black avoid a three-game sweep, while a loss by Wilmington moved the Keys within 2.5 games of the Blue Rocks for the CL North wildcard spot. Making his Carolina League debut, Brault dazzled, tossing six shutout innings of one-hit baseball. He faced just one over the minimum through five innings and allowed only two baserunners. Rutledge gave up only one hit over three innings to pick up his third straight save. Frederick recorded single markers in the second in third on a solo homer by Brenden Webb and a double-play ball by Lucas Herbst. In the eighth, the Keys batted around, utilizing a sac-fly by Jason Esposito and four walks to score three additional times.

FIRING BLANKS: Thursday was Frederick’s eighth shutout win of the season and the club’s first in nearly a month. On July 22, the Keys blanked Myrtle Beach 4-0 on the Grand Strand, as Dylan Bundy earned his first win since coming back from Tommy John surgery. In that contest, Frederick used the same formula as it did on Thursday, as Bundy and Matt Hobgood issued only three combined hits. This season, the Keys shutout record (8-11) rates fifth, but the team has been held off the board more than any other club.

NOT A BAD FIRST IMPRESSION: Steven Brault excelled in his Advanced-A debut, tossing six shutout innings. The only hit he allowed was a single to James Roberts, while he was highly efficient, tossing just 74 pitches (48 strikes over the course of his outing). Going back to his final two starts with Low-A Delmarva, Brault has won three in-a-row, and has allowed just one run over his last 19 innings (0.47) on nine hits. Taking the rotation spot of Branden Kline (who was promoted to Double-A Bowie on Wednesday), Brault has been one the organization’s elite pitchers in 2014. Entering Friday, Brault paces all full-season O’s farmhands in ERA (2.91) and is tied for second in wins (10).

TWO-HIT MAGIC: Since the second game of last Wednesday’s doubleheader at Potomac, Keys pitchers have collaborated on three different two-hitters. Two of those have been of the nine-inning variety (both wins) while the back-end of a doubleheader last Tuesday at Frawley Stadium, the staff limited Wilmington to two hits over seven innings (it was a 1-0 Keys loss). The fewest hits allowed by Frederick pitchers in a game this year is one. Occurring on May 13, Parker Bridwell and Jesse Beal limited Potomac to just one knock, as Bridwell carried a no-hitter into the ninth inning.

POWER SURGE: Over their last seven games, the Keys have hit eight home runs. After Brenden Webb’s 10th home run in the second inning on Thursday, the club’s total is up to 80. That mark ranks second in the Carolina League (only Myrtle Beach at 102 has more) but is still well short of last year’s total (109). Since 2011, Frederick has hit 99 home runs or more in a season. Of the eight deep flies, two have come from Trey Mancini and Tucker Nathans. Mancini homered last Friday and Saturday, while Nathans went long last Saturday and Sunday. Making these home runs more destructive is that four of them have come with men on base.

MORE NEW FACES: Gene Escat was officially promoted to Double-A Bowie on Friday, becoming the second member of the orange and black to move up to the Eastern League in the last three days. On Wednesday, Branden Kline got called up, and made his debut against the Reading Phillies. Including Kline and Escat, nine Keys have been promoted to Double-A this year (Michael Burgess, Glynn Davis, Mychal Givens, Mike Yastrzemski, Zane Chavez, Sammie Starr and Ashur Tolliver were the others). In 31 games with Frederick, Escat went 2-5 with one save and a 3.49 ERA. Taking Escat’s place on the roster is Dylan Rheault, who moves up from Low-A Delmarva. In 34 games, the 6-9 right-hander went 8-4 with three saves and a 2.82 ERA. At the time of his promotion, he had not allowed any earned runs in August (10 IP).

GO JOHNNY GO!: Johnny Ruettiger has been in a groove at the plate over the last week. The former Arizona State Sun Devil has hit safely in six of his last seven games. During that time, he is batting .375 (12-for-32) with a home run, a double, six RBIs and four runs scored and has seen his batting average climb 68 points (.155 to .223). In four of the six games, Ruettiger has two hits or more, while on Wednesday, he posted a season-high three hits going 3-for-5, with a run scored and a stolen base.

HO-HUM: Mark Blackmar now leads all active Keys pitchers with eight wins thanks to seven more strong innings in the season finale against Salem. Handing out only two unearned runs, Blackmar cut his ERA from 3.21 to 3.02, the lowest it has been all season. He currently sits fifth in the CL in ERA, and sports the second-lowest mark for a right-hander. Undefeated as a starter, the Texan is 7-0 with a 2.53 ERA as a rotation-hand, while he has a 0.45 ERA in three August starts (20.0 IP/7R/1ER). Currently, he is second among all Orioles full-season farmhands in ERA.

BUNDY TO THE DL: Just before Thursday’s game against Wilmington, Dylan Bundy was placed on the seven-day disabled list with a right latissimus strain. Taking his spot on the roster was Branden Kline, who was received from Short-Season Aberdeen. In six starts with the orange and black, Bundy is 1-2 with a 4.78 ERA. In his last start 10 days ago, the Oklahoma native tossed 4.1 innings of shutout baseball against Carolina and struck out seven.

NAME THAT PUJOLS!: Luis Pujols becomes the 20th manager in Keys history, after spending 2013 as the skipper at Low-A Delmarva. He takes the reins from Ryan Minor, who went 61-78 in his lone season as Frederick’s head man. The cousin of Angels star, Albert Pujols, the 58-year-old has considerable experience as a player, manager and coach in the majors and minors. Since spending nine years as a big league catcher with Houston, Kansas City and Texas, Pujols has worked as a bench/first base coach for Montreal (1993-00) and San Francisco (2003-06), while he served as interim manager for the Detroit Tigers in 2002, after Phil Garner was fired six games into the season. He has also managed for Double-A affiliates in the Detroit and Houston systems.

TODAY’S OPPOSING PITCHER: Left-hander Matthew Spann makes his 20th appearance with the Nationals on Friday as well as his 15th start. His most recent outing came last Friday against Carolina. Working four innings, the southpaw allowed three runs on three hits while he walked three and struck out four in a no-decision. Prior to that contest, Spann had worked six innings in each of his two prior starts. A member of the rotation since late-May, Spann is 4-4 with a 4.85 ERA as a starter and 3-0 with one save to go along with a 2.03 ERA in five games as a relief pitcher. A pitcher who is still getting acclimated to Advanced-A, the lefty posted a 6.04 ERA in June and a 5.68 mark in July. Friday will be his fourth appearance against the Keys and his second start. Against the orange and black, Spann is 1-0 with a 3.38 ERA (10.2 IP/4R). He vultured the win in his lone start against Frederick, giving up four runs on seven hits over five innings. His counterpart in that start was tonight’s Keys starter Sebastian Vader. Spann began the year at Low-A Hagerstown, and recorded a 2-0 record and a 1.20 ERA over 20 relief appearances. In 15 innings, he gave up just two runs and 13 hits, while opponents hit .228 against him. Selected by the Rays in the 25th round of the 2010 MLB Draft out of Columbia Central High School (TN), Spann was acquired by Washington in late-August of 2013 as part of a trade which sent veteran MLB outfielder David DeJesus from Washington to Tampa Bay. Before joining Washington, Spann was 4-3 with a 2.87 ERA over 19 games for Low-A Bowling Green. He spent 2012 with Short-Season Hudson Valley. A native of Columbia, Tennessee, Spann’s hometown is known as the “Mule Capital of the World.” It is roughly one hour south of Nashville.

 

Frederick Keys Game Notes 8-21-14

Thursday, August 21, 2014 · Game #124 · Road Game #66

Frederick Keys (57-66/25-31) vs Carolina Mudcats (56-68/27-30)

LHP Steven Brault (0-0, –) vs. RHP Adam Plutko (3-8, 4.33)

MUDDIES GET THE LAST WORD: A Jerrud Sabourin walk in the bottom of the eighth forced home the go-ahead run, as the Carolina Mudcats overcame a four-run Frederick Keys seventh to win 6-5 on Wednesday night at Harry Grove Stadium. It was the Keys fourth straight loss to the Mudcats, while it pushed Frederick 3.5 games behind Wilmington for the second-half CL wildcard spot. After an RBI double by Eric Haase tied the game at five in the seventh, Carolina went on top for good in the eighth. Logan Vick gave the Mudcats a one-out baserunner, before Dennis Torres plunked Yhoxian Medina to put two on base. Yandy Diaz then hit a groundball to Jason Esposito at third. Looking like a double play ball, Esposito misplayed it to load the bags for Sabourin, who coaxed a five-pitch walk to bring home the eventual winning run.

CLOSE CALLS: Wednesday’s loss dropped the orange and black to 16-17 in one-run games this year. That mark puts the Keys in fourth place in the CL. Potomac owns the best record in games decided by a single marker at 29-11. This season, five of the 17 games between Frederick and Carolina have hinged on a single run, with the Muddies taking four of the five contests (even though Carolina has the second-worst record in one-run games in the league). Since the All-Star break, the Keys are .500 (6-6) in one-run contests.

KEEP THE BROOMS IN THE CLOSET: Frederick tries to avoid being swept for the seventh time this season on Thursday. Since the All-Star break, the Keys have been swept four times by four different teams (Wilmington, Winston-Salem, Potomac and Lynchburg). However, all four of those broomings have taken place at Harry Grove Stadium. This season, the Keys have been swept only once on the road-something accomplished by Lynchburg from May 27-29. Carolina swept the Keys from April 8-10.

POWER SURGE: Over their last six games, the Keys have hit seven home runs. After Steel Russell’s first professional home run in the fifth inning on Thursday, the club’s total is up to 79. That mark ranks second in the Carolina League (only Myrtle Beach at 101 has more) but is still well short of last year’s total (109). Since 2011, Frederick has hit 99 home runs or more in a season. Of the seven deep flies, two have come from Trey Mancini and Tucker Nathans. Mancini homered on Friday and Saturday, while Nathans went long on Saturday and hit another blast on Sunday. Making these home runs more destructive is that four of them have come with men on base.

AVOID THE BACKSLIDE: Oftentimes this season, Keys winning streaks have been followed by backslides. In the second-half, Frederick has enjoyed a season-best six-game winning streak (July 5-10) but it was followed by a four-game losing streak. This also occurred during the team’s most recent three-game winning streak (July 21-23). Following a win over Winston-Salem and two against Myrtle Beach, the team dropped six in-a-row to Lynchburg and Winston-Salem. The most extreme example though, came at onset of the second-half. Going into the All-Star break on a three-game streak, the Keys dropped eight of their first nine to open second-half play (that included a season-worst seven-game losing streak).

GO JOHNNY GO!: Johnny Ruettiger has been in a groove at the plate over the last week. The former Arizona State Sun Devil has hit safely in five of his last six games. During that time, he is batting .407 (11-for-27) with a home run, a double, six RBIs and four runs scored and has seen his batting average climb 69 points (.155 to .224).. In four of the six games, Ruettiger has two hits or more, while on Wednesday, he posted a season-high three hits going 3-for-5, with a run scored and a stolen base.

CALLED UP: On Wednesday, Branden Kline was officially called up to Double-A Bowie, becoming the eighth member of the Keys to advanced to the Eastern League in 2014 (Michael Burgess, Glynn Davis, Mychal Givens, Mike Yastrzemski, Zane Chavez, Sammie Starr and Ashur Tolliver were the others). Originally scheduled to pitch for the Keys last night, Kline made his Double-A debut instead against the Reading Phillies. Although he received the loss, Kline gave up just one run on three hits to go along with two walks and two strikeouts. Rated the No. 20 prospect in Orioles system according to Baseball America, Kline went 8-6 with a 3.84 ERA over 23 starts. At the time of his call-up, the Frederick native ranked ninth in ERA (3.84) and four among starters in walk/nine innings pitch ratio (2.27).

NEW FACES: Taking the place of Branden Kline in the Keys rotation is left-hander Steven Brault, who will make his Carolina League debut on Thursday. Rated the No. 14 prospect in the Orioles system according to Baseball America, the Californian joins Frederick from Low-A Delmarva. It is his first promotion to the Carolina League. One of the South Atlantic League’s top arms, Brault led the circuit in WHIP (1.04), was second in strikeouts (115) and batting average against (.227) and sixth in ERA (3.05). Two-thirds of Brault’s starts (14 of 21) also ranked as quality outings. Originally from El Cajon, CA, Brault was an 11th round selection by Baltimore out of Division II Regis (CO) University last season.

HO-HUM: Mark Blackmar now leads all active Keys pitchers with eight wins thanks to seven more strong innings in the season finale against Salem. Handing out only two unearned runs, Blackmar cut his ERA from 3.21 to 3.02, the lowest it has been all season. He currently sits fifth in the CL in ERA, and sports the second-lowest mark for a right-hander. Undefeated as a starter, the Texan is 7-0 with a 2.53 ERA as a rotation-hand, while he has a 0.45 ERA in three August starts (20.0 IP/7R/1ER). Currently, he paces all full-season Orioles farmhands in ERA as well.

BUNDY TO THE DL: Just before Thursday’s game against Wilmington, Dylan Bundy was placed on the seven-day disabled list with a right latissimus strain. Taking his spot on the roster was Branden Kline, who was received from Short-Season Aberdeen. In six starts with the orange and black, Bundy is 1-2 with a 4.78 ERA. In his last start 10 days ago, the Oklahoma native tossed 4.1 innings of shutout baseball against Carolina and struck out seven.

NAME THAT PUJOLS!: Luis Pujols becomes the 20th manager in Keys history, after spending 2013 as the skipper at Low-A Delmarva. He takes the reins from Ryan Minor, who went 61-78 in his lone season as Frederick’s head man. The cousin of Angels star, Albert Pujols, the 58-year-old has considerable experience as a player, manager and coach in the majors and minors. Since spending nine years as a big league catcher with Houston, Kansas City and Texas, Pujols has worked as a bench/first base coach for Montreal (1993-00) and San Francisco (2003-06), while he served as interim manager for the Detroit Tigers in 2002, after Phil Garner was fired six games into the season. He has also managed for Double-A affiliates in the Detroit and Houston systems.

TODAY’S OPPOSING PITCHER: Right-hander Adam Plutko makes his 26th start of the season and his 15th with Carolina on Thursday. Rated the No. 18 prospect in the Indians system according to Baseball America, the right-hander’s most recent outing came last Thursday at Myrtle Beach and was one of his best with the Mudcats. Despite suffering the loss, Plutko gave up just one run on two hits over seven innings to go along with a walk and four strikeouts. Provided no run support, the righty saw the Pelicans duo of Sam Wolff and Luis Parra limit his offense to just three hits in a 1-0 Pelicans win. It was the fourth time he had completed seven innings with the Muddies and dropped his ERA to 4.33. In three August starts, he is 0-3 with a 4.15 ERA In his first professional season, Plutko was promoted from Low-A Lake County on May 29. Over 10 starts with the Captains, the 22-year-old went 3-1 with a 3.93 ERA over 10 games. A strikeout machine, Plutko registered 66 punchouts in 52.2 stanzas. His best start came against Bowling Green on May 8, when the Californian tossed eight shutout innings and struck out 13 while scattering only three hits. At Lake County, he held opponents to a .241 batting average against. Selected by Cleveland in the 11th round of the 2013 draft out of UCLA, Plutko headlined the Bruins pitching staff last season, as he led the team to its first national championship. Named the “Most Outstanding Player” at the College World Series, Plutko received a reported $300,000 signing bonus (fourth-largest given to a member of the Indians draft class last year). Plutko found out he had been drafted by the Indians right before the Bruins NCAA Super Regional game against Cal State Fullerton. The righty was also drafted by the Astros in the sixth run out of high school but did not sign. A four-pitch pitcher, Plutko throws a fastball (87-91), a curveball, a slider and a changeup.

Frederick Keys Game Notes 8-20-14

Wednesday, August 20, 2014 · Game #123 · Road Game #65

Frederick Keys (57-65/25-30) vs Carolina Mudcats (55-68/26-30)

LHP Matt Taylor (5-2, 2.83) vs. RHP Dylan Baker (3-2, 5.27)

STREAK SNAPPED: The Carolina Mudcats halted the Frederick Keys four-game winning streak on Tuesday night, thanks to a terrific start from Carolina League wins leader Ryan Merritt and an early offensive surge. Aided by five walks from Parker Bridwell, the Mudcats jumped out to a 5-0 lead after two innings. Ex-Key Torsten Boss provided the initial blow, with a two-run ground rule double off the Texan. One inning later, Jerrud Sabourin stroked a three-run homer over the short porch in right. That was plenty for Merritt of support for Merritt, who gave up just one run on four hits over seven innings. Only one of those hits left the infield. Going back to the club’s last encounter in Frederick, the Mudcats have won three straight against the Keys, and own an 11-5 edge in the season series.   

WALK THIS WAY: On Tuesday, Frederick handed out 10 walks, one-shy of the club’s season-high. Parker Bridwell handed out five free tickets (one short of his career-high) while Brady Wager and Jimmy Yacabonis walked five over six innings of relief. The only game this year where the Keys have give away more free rides came on April 23, when the team walked 11 in a 21-6 defeat. The primary beneficiary of the Keys wildness was the Mudcats Yandy Diaz, who walked four times (tied for the most times an opponent batter has walked against Frederick this year) and scored a pair of runs. This season, the orange and black have walked 444 as a staff, second-most in the CL (Myrtle Beach leads the way with 521 free tickets).  

POWER SURGE: Over their last five games, the Keys have hit six home runs. That has moved the club’s yearly total to 78, a mark which ranks second in the Carolina League (only Myrtle Beach at 100 has more) but is still well short of last year’s total (109). Since 2011, Frederick has hit 99 home runs or more in a season. Of the six deep flies, two have come from Trey Mancini and Tucker Nathans. Mancini homered on Friday and Saturday, while Nathans went long on Saturday and hit another blast on Sunday. Making these home runs more destructive is that four of them have come with men on base.

AVOID THE BACKSLIDE: Oftentimes this season, Keys winning streaks have been followed by backslides. In the second-half, Frederick has enjoyed a season-best six-game winning streak (June 5-10) but it was followed by a four-game losing streak. This also occurred during the team’s most recent three-game winning streak (July 21-23). Following a win over Winston-Salem and two against Myrtle Beach, the team dropped six in-a-row to Lynchburg and Winston-Salem. The most extreme example though, came at onset of the second-half. Going into the All-Star break on a three-game streak, the Keys dropped eight of their first nine to open second-half play (that included a season-worst seven-game losing streak).

CALLED UP: On Wednesday, Branden Kline was officially called up to Double-A Bowie, becoming the eighth member of the Keys to advanced to the Eastern League in 2014 (Michael Burgess, Glynn Davis, Mychal Givens, Mike Yastrzemski, Zane Chavez, Sammie Starr and Ashur Tolliver were the others). It is Kline’s first promotion to Double-A. Rated the No. 20 prospect in Orioles system according to Baseball America, Kline went 8-6 with a 3.84 ERA over 23 starts. At the time of his call-up, the Frederick native ranked ninth in ERA (3.84) and four among starters in walk/nine innings pitch ratio (2.27).

HO-HUM: Mark Blackmar now leads all active Keys pitchers with eight wins thanks to seven more strong innings in the season finale against Salem. Handing out only two unearned runs, Blackmar cut his ERA from 3.21 to 3.02, the lowest it has been all season. He currently sits sixth in the CL in ERA, and sports the third-lowest mark for a right-hander. Undefeated as a starter, the Texan is 7-0 with a 2.53 ERA as a rotation-hand, while he has a 0.45 ERA in three August starts (20.0 IP/7R/1ER). Currently, he paces all full-season Orioles farmhands in ERA as well.

NATHANS FAMOUS: Tucker Nathans has registered multiple hits in three of his last five games. Over that stretch, he is batting .473 (9-for-19) with two homers, a double, four RBIs and four runs scored. In the process, Nathans has seen his average climb from .256 to .270, the third-highest it has been all year, and the farthest north it has been since April 4 (second day of the season) when Nathans was hitting .300. Equally effective from both sides of the plate, he is hitting .269 against lefties and .271 against righties, while over 14 games in August, he is hitting .340.

GO JOHNNY GO!: Johnny Ruettiger has been one of the team’s top run producers over the last week. On Thursday and Friday, he tied his career-high with three RBIs, while he has driven in 11 in his first 23 games with the orange and black. Thanks to a three-hit effort in the series opener against the Hillcats he is 8 for his last 22 with a homer, six RBIs and three runs scored, to move his batting average from .155 to .204. On Tuesday, he was one of three players who finished with two hits, as Ruettiger, Nathans and Esposito accounted for six of the team’s seven knocks.

BUNDY TO THE DL: Just before Thursday’s game against Wilmington, Dylan Bundy was placed on the seven-day disabled list with a right latissimus strain. Taking his spot on the roster was Branden Kline, who was received from Short-Season Aberdeen. In six starts with the orange and black, Bundy is 1-2 with a 4.78 ERA. In his last start 10 days ago, the Oklahoma native tossed 4.1 innings of shutout baseball against Carolina and struck out seven.

NAME THAT PUJOLS!: Luis Pujols becomes the 20th manager in Keys history, after spending 2013 as the skipper at Low-A Delmarva. He takes the reins from Ryan Minor, who went 61-78 in his lone season as Frederick’s head man. The cousin of Angels star, Albert Pujols, the 58-year-old has considerable experience as a player, manager and coach in the majors and minors. Since spending nine years as a big league catcher with Houston, Kansas City and Texas, Pujols has worked as a bench/first base coach for Montreal (1993-00) and San Francisco (2003-06), while he served as interim manager for the Detroit Tigers in 2002, after Phil Garner was fired six games into the season. He has also managed for Double-A affiliates in the Detroit and Houston systems.

TODAY’S OPPOSING PITCHER: Right-hander Dylan Baker makes his seventh Carolina League start and his third against the Keys. His most recent outing came last Wednesday at Myrtle Beach. Picking up the win, Baker tossed 5.1 innings, surrendering four runs on five hits. He walked three and struck out five. It was the Alaskan’s second straight victory, after defeating the Keys six days before. In that start on August 7, he gave up two runs on five hits over six innings. In two contests against the orange and black, the righty is 2-0 with a 1.50 ERA (12 IP/2R). Taking the Carolina League by storm, the 22-year-old retired all 18 Keys he faced in his Carolina League debut, an outing where he sat between 98-101 mph on the radar gun. However in his next start at Potomac, Baker never took the mound, as he fractured his right ankle while taking the field on April 3.  The injury cost him more than 3.5 months. The right-hander spent all of 2013 at Low-A Lake County righty allowed only 124 hits, while in the second-half he was nearly untouchable, going 5-1 with a 2.93 ERA in 15 games. Baker made his professional debut with the AZL Indians in 2012, ending 0-1 with a 4.13 ERA. A virtual unknown from Juneau, AL, the 22-year-old went undrafted out of Douglas High School. Following graduation, he moved to Tacoma (WA) Community College, and compiled a 3-3 record and a 3.47 ERA. Staying only one season, Baker’s stock soared when he transferred to Western Nevada Community College for his sophomore year. There, pitching coach Jeremy Beard helped the right-hander increase his velocity by tweaking his mechanics and introducing him to a new long toss program. Armed with better command and more effective secondary pitches as well, the results were immediate. Putting together the best season in WNC history, Baker went 13-0 with a 1.91 ERA to go along with 126 strikeouts in 84.2 innings. Named the Scenic West Athletic Conference Pitcher of the Year, Baker was selected by Cleveland in the fifth round of the 2012 draft, making him the highest selection in WNC history. He also just missed becoming the highest drafted player in Alaska history (Brian Montalbo was selected by Atlanta in the fourth round of the 2000 draft). Baker throws a mid-90s fastball, a slider, a curveball and a changeup.

Frederick Keys Game Notes 8-19-14

Tuesday, August 19, 2014 · Game #122 · Road Game #64

Frederick Keys (57-64/25-29) vs Carolina Mudcats (54-68/25-30)

RHP Parker Bridwell (5-9, 4.51) vs. LHP Ryan Merritt (12-3, 2.55)

BREAK OUT THE BROOMS!: Mark Blackmar tossed seven innings for the second straight start, while the Frederick Keys used two three-run innings to top the Lynchburg Hillcats 7-2 on Sunday afternoon at Harry Grove Stadium. The win gave the orange and black the three-game sweep, and moved the club within 2.5 games of Lynchburg for the CL North wildcard spot. Frederick has now claimed four straight games, going back to Thursday night. Blackmar was superb for the fourth straight Sunday. Scattering five hits, the righty allowed only two unearned runs to pick up his eighth win of the year. Offensively, five of the club’s seven runs came via the homer. Joel Hutter provided the decisive blow in the third, with a three-run shot off Lynchburg lefty Blair Walters. In the eighth, Tucker Nathans added a two-run shot.

SWEEP COMPLETE: On Sunday, the Keys earned their fourth sweep of the season and their second at home. Prior to Sunday, the Keys had earned a three-game sweep at Winston-Salem (April 16-17) and a four-game sweep (July 7-10) and a two-game sweep (June 10-11) of Salem. The only other home sweep was the two-game sweep of the Red Sox (the third game of the set was cancelled due to rain). Thanks to Sunday’s sweep, the team extended its winning streak to four games, tying the club’s second-longest winning streak of the year (the longest streak lasted six games from July 5-10).

POWER SURGE: Over their last four games, the Keys have hit six home runs. That has moved the club’s yearly total to 78, a mark which ranks second in the Carolina League (only Myrtle Beach at 100 has more) but is still well short of last year’s total (109). Since 2011, Frederick has hit 99 home runs or more in a season. Of the six deep flies, two have come from Trey Mancini and Tucker Nathans. Mancini homered on Friday and Saturday, while Nathans went long on Saturday and hit another blast on Sunday. Making these home runs more destructive is that four of them have come with men on base.

HO-HUM: Mark Blackmar pulled into a tie for the team wins lead with Branden Kline (eight) thanks to seven more strong innings in the season finale against Salem. Handing out only two unearned runs, Blackmar cut his ERA from 3.21 to 3.02, the lowest it has been all season. He currently sits sixth in the CL in ERA, and sports the third-lowest mark for a right-hander. Undefeated as a starter, the Texan is 7-0 with a 2.53 ERA as a rotation-hand, while he has a 0.45 ERA in three August starts (20.0 IP/7R/1ER). Currently, he paces all full-season Orioles farmhands in ERA as well.

NATHANS FAMOUS: Tucker Nathans registered his fourth three-hit game of the year on Sunday and his second in four contests. Over that stretch, he is batting .467 (7-for-15) with two homers, a double, four RBIs and two runs scored. In the process, Nathans has seen his average climb from .256 to .267, the third-highest it has been all year, and the farthest north it has been since April 4 (second day of the season) when Nathans was hitting .300. Equally effective from both sides of the plate, he is hitting .267 against lefties and righties, while over 13 games in August, he is hitting .326.

GO JOHNNY GO!: Johnny Ruettiger has been one of the team’s top run producers over the last week. On Thursday and Friday, he tied his career-high with three RBIs, while he has driven in 11 in his first 22 games with the orange and black. Thanks to a three-hit effort in the series opener against the Hillcats he is 6 for his last 18 with a homer, six RBIs and two runs scored, to move his batting average from .155 to .200.

MULTI-HIT MAN: Jerome Pena has tallied multiple hits in three straight games, going 2-for-4 on Friday-Sunday against Lynchburg. The strong homestand at the plate moved his average up 12 points (.246 to .258), while it marks the first time all season that he has registered three straight games of two hits or more. Last season, Pena recorded multiple hits in three straight games on two separate occasions. He has done it six times in his career, while he has recorded multiple hits in four straight games twice. Both instances came when he was playing for the GCL O’s in 2011 (with the last time coming August 17-23 of that year).

SCORELESS STREAK SNAPPED: Wynston Sawyer’s sac-fly in the fourth inning on Thursday ended a string of 20 scoreless innings for the Keys. Held off the scoreboard in both games of their doubleheader on Wednesday, the run was the Keys first since the fifth inning on Sunday, when Sawyer recorded a two-run single of Yender Caramo. The 20 innings marks the Keys longest scoring drought of the year. Frederick’s previous high without a run scored was 17.2 innings, which stretched from July 27-30 against Lynchburg and Winston-Salem.

BUNDY TO THE DL: Just before Thursday’s game against Wilmington, Dylan Bundy was placed on the seven-day disabled list with a right latissimus strain. Taking his spot on the roster was Branden Kline, who was received from Short-Season Aberdeen. In six starts with the orange and black, Bundy is 1-2 with a 4.78 ERA. In his last start 10 days ago, the Oklahoma native tossed 4.1 innings of shutout baseball against Carolina and struck out seven.

NAME THAT PUJOLS!: Luis Pujols becomes the 20th manager in Keys history, after spending 2013 as the skipper at Low-A Delmarva. He takes the reins from Ryan Minor, who went 61-78 in his lone season as Frederick’s head man. The cousin of Angels star, Albert Pujols, the 58-year-old has considerable experience as a player, manager and coach in the majors and minors. Since spending nine years as a big league catcher with Houston, Kansas City and Texas, Pujols has worked as a bench/first base coach for Montreal (1993-00) and San Francisco (2003-06), while he served as interim manager for the Detroit Tigers in 2002, after Phil Garner was fired six games into the season. He has also managed for Double-A affiliates in the Detroit and Houston systems.

TODAY’S OPPOSING PITCHER: Left-hander Ryan Merritt makes his 23rd start of the season on Tuesday and his third against the Keys. The Carolina League leader in wins (12), Merritt’s latest victory came last Wednesday at Myrtle Beach. Tossing seven innings, he gave up two runs (one earned) on five hits to go along with five strikeouts and no walks. The starting pitcher for the CL in the Carolina League-California League All-Star Game, Merritt is third in ERA (2.55) and has displayed superb command (113 SO/24 BB). Currently, he leads the league in innings pitched (141.1) is second in batting average against (.201), WHIP (0.93) and fifth in strikeouts (113). The author of the CL’s first complete game this season, Merritt tossed seven innings of one-run baseball against Frederick on April 21. Pitching the second game of a doubleheader, the lefty allowed one unearned run on four hits over seven stanzas. He struck out four and did not walk a batter. Against the Keys he is 2-0 with a 1.38 ERA (13IP/3R/2ER) in two starts. Merritt made a cameo with the Mudcats in 2013, posting a 5.00 ERA (9IP/5ER) over two late-August starts. He spent the bulk of his year at Low-A Lake County, where he went 6-9 with a 3.42 ERA over 24 games (23 starts). His ERA was the fourth-best among Indians farmhands. Utilizing pinpoint command, Merritt walked only 18 over 126.1 innings, the second fewest in the Midwest League last year. Closing out the year strong, the Texan allowed only 14 earned runs over his final 53.2 frames. Selected by Cleveland in the 16th round of the 2011 draft, Merritt was taken out of McLennan Community College. There, he posted a 1.23 ERA and struck out 88 over 88 innings. A second-team All-State selection out of Celina High School (TX), he tallied a 0.98 ERA and hit .455. A three-pitch pitcher, Merritt throws an upper-80s fastball, a curveball and a changeup.

Frederick Keys Game Notes 8-17-14

Good afternoon Keys fans!

Frederick topped Lynchburg for the second time in a row last night thanks to Sebastian Vader’s six-inning performance in which he allowed only one run off two hits, walking three and striking out four. Dennis Torres replaced Vader in the seventh inning and delivered three innings of perfect relief.

Home runs from Tucker Nathans and Trey Mancini, in the fourth and sixth innings respectively, led what was another solid night at the plate for the Keys. Frederick recorded 11 hits, at least one from each member of the starting lineup.

The Keys take to Harry Grove Stadium early today, looking to close out a three-game series sweep against the Lynchburg Hillcats. RHP Mark Blackmar, who is 7-1 on the season, gets the start for the Keys today against Lynchburg lefty Blair Walters, who is 4-0. This would be the Keys first series sweep since their July 7-10 series against the Salem Red Sox.

Below are the game notes for today’s outing:

Sunday, August 17, 2014 · Game #121 · Home Game #58

Frederick Keys (56-64/24-29) vs Lynchburg Hillcats (62-62/28-26)

RHP Mark Blackmar (7-1, 3.21) vs. LHP Blair Walters (4-0, 2.79)

LANDING THE EARLY TKO: The duo of Sebastian Vader and Dennis Torres held the Lynchburg Hillcats to only two hits, while the Frederick Keys used a pair of home runs to earn a 6-1 victory on Saturday night at Harry Grove Stadium. Playing in front of the third-largest crowd of the season (9,013), the Keys extended their winning streak to three, and are now within 3.5 games of Lynchburg for the CL North wildcard spot. On the mound, Sebastian Vader tossed his third straight quality start, handing out just two hits over six innings, while Dennis Torres faced the minimum over three innings to garner his sixth save. Tucker Nathans and Trey Mancini each hit home runs and Jerome Pena drove in a pair to pace the offense.

 IT’S CALLED A (HOME) WINNING STREAK: With a win on Saturday, the Keys picked up their third straight home wins for the first time in the second-half. Coming into the game, Frederick was 6-18 at the Grove in the second-half, while the club had not won three straight home tilts since June 13-15. A team that has fared better on the road (their 17 second-half road wins pace the CL North) the Keys seven home wins since the All-Star break are the fewest in the circuit. A problem all season, Frederick it 23-34 in home games and 33-30 in road tilts.

MR RELIABLE: Mark Blackmar takes the mound on Sunday and is coming off an outstanding performance last Sunday. Facing Wilmington, the righty carried a no-hitter into the seventh before Raul Mondesi hit a seventh inning homer with one outs. This year, two Keys pitchers have carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning or later. Parker Bridwell was the first to do it, holding the Potomac Nationals hitless until the ninth inning on May 13. Only two outs away, the Texan surrendered a single to Tony Renda to break things up. Giving up only two hits, Blackmar tied a career-high for innings pitched. The seven innings equaled his output on July 27 against Lynchburg, and marked the second time in three starts that he had lasted seven frames. On the afternoon, he allowed only one run on two hits, walked one and struck out three. In the process, Blackmar earned his seventh win, currently the second-most on the team. One of the circuit’s biggest surprises, he is sixth in ERA (3.21).

GO JOHNNY GO!: On Saturday, Johnny Ruettiger extended his mini hitting streak to three with a first inning single. Finishing 1-for-5, the Keys outfielder has been one of the team’s top run producers over the last five days. On Thursday and Friday, he tied his career-high with three RBIs, while he has driven in 11 in his first 21 games with the orange and black. Thanks to a three-hit effort in the series opener against the Hillcats he is 6 for his last 14 with a homer, six RBIs and two runs scored, to move his batting average from .155 to .200.

SCORELESS STREAK SNAPPED: Wynston Sawyer’s sac-fly in the fourth inning on Thursday ended a string of 20 scoreless innings for the Keys. Held off the scoreboard in both games of their doubleheader on Wednesday, the run was the Keys first since the fifth inning on Sunday, when Sawyer recorded a two-run single of Yender Caramo. The 20 innings marks the Keys longest scoring drought of the year. Frederick’s previous high without a run scored was 17.2 innings, which stretched from July 27-30 against Lynchburg and Winston-Salem.

MAKING A SNOW MAN: Branden Kline became the first Keys pitcher to reach eight wins on Thursday night thanks to 5.1 innings of one-run baseball. He walked two and struck out four. With the victory, Kline takes solo possession of the team wins lead. He came into the game tied with Mark Blackmar (7-1). A pitcher who has been difficult on the road all year, the right-hander is 7-0 away from the friendly confines and sports a 2.79 ERA.

BUNDY TO THE DL: Just before Thursday’s game against Wilmington, Dylan Bundy was placed on the seven-day disabled list with a right latissimus strain. Taking his spot on the roster was Branden Kline, who was received from Short-Season Aberdeen. In six starts with the orange and black, Bundy is 1-2 with a 4.78 ERA. In his last start 10 days ago, the Oklahoma native tossed 4.1 innings of shutout baseball against Carolina and struck out seven.

JASON, JASON, HE’S OUR MAN: Although the calendar has flipped to August, Jason Esposito has maintained the torrid pace he set in July. After hitting .354 with four homers and 16 RBIs last month, the former Vanderbilt Commodore is batting .327 (17-for-52) over his first 14 August tilts to go along with a home run, six doubles and seven RBIs. He has multiple hits in five of his last 11 games (and seven of his last 15 tilts). During that time, he has seen his batting average climb 13 pts (.258 to .271).

 NAME THAT PUJOLS!: Luis Pujols becomes the 20th manager in Keys history, after spending 2013 as the skipper at Low-A Delmarva. He takes the reins from Ryan Minor, who went 61-78 in his lone season as Frederick’s head man. The cousin of Angels star, Albert Pujols, the 58-year-old has considerable experience as a player, manager and coach in the majors and minors. Since spending nine years as a big league catcher with Houston, Kansas City and Texas, Pujols has worked as a bench/first base coach for Montreal (1993-00) and San Francisco (2003-06), while he served as interim manager for the Detroit Tigers in 2002, after Phil Garner was fired six games into the season. He has also managed for Double-A affiliates in the Detroit and Houston systems.

PROSPECTING: This year’s Keys team does not lack for talent. Frederick’s Opening Day roster features five of Baltimore’s Top 30 prospects according to Baseball America. Pitcher Dylan Bundy (1) and shortstop Adrian Marin (12) highlight the list and are joined by right-handed pitchers Parker Bridwell (19) and Branden Kline (20). Jon Keller (17) and Trey Mancini (25) joined the club after the All-Star break, while Mychal Givens (23) and Glynn Davis (29) opened the year with the Keys but were promoted in the second-half. Of the five players, only Givens (one game in 2010) and Davis played at the Advanced-A level prior to 2014.

TODAY’S OPPOSING PITCHER: Left-hander Blair Walters makes sixth appearance on Sunday and his fifth start. Earning the win in his last outing on Tuesday, the southpaw tossed six innings of two-run baseball at Winston-Salem. He scattered six hits, walked one and struck out three. All four of his Carolina League starts have been quality outings, while he has won four of his five games pitched. Walters lone start against the Keys came on July 25. Over seven innings he gave up just one run on three hits and struck out a season-high seven. Prior to that game, he had made one start against the Keys in his career, when he was with the White Sox organization in 2012. In Winston-Salem, he allowed four runs in six innings and was handed the loss. Signed by Atlanta on July 15, the lefty was playing for the Independent Joliet Slammers before the Braves picked him up. Walters was originally selected by the White Sox in the 11th round of the 2011 First-Year Player Draft out of the University of Hawaii, where he went 9-3 with a 5.49 ERA in 50 relief appearances over two seasons. In 2011, his first year of professional baseball, he led the Pioneer League in wins (9-0), ranked fourth in ERA (4.03) and fifth in opponents’ batting average (.257) and was named Pioneer League Pitcher of the Year. In July of 2012, he was acquired by the Houston Astros from the Chicago White Sox along with RHP Matt Heidenreich and RHP Chris Devenski in exchange for RHP Brett Myers. In March of this year, he was released by the Astros after a combined 7.18 ERA with High-A Lancaster and Triple-A Oklahoma City (one game). He pitched with the Joliet Slammers of the Independent Frontier League this season until the Braves signed him, and had earned an All-Star nod by pitching to a 2.74 ERA in 75 2/3 innings. He allowed just 59 hits and struck out 54. Walters throws a 89-92 mph fastball with good sinking action, a breaking ball with slider/cutter action, and a changeup.

Frederick Keys Game Notes 8-16-14

Saturday, August 16, 2014 · Game #120 · Home Game #57

Frederick Keys (55-64/23-29) vs Lynchburg Hillcats (62-61/28-25)

RHP Sebastian Vader (1-4, 6.00) vs. RHP Jarrett Miller (8-7, 3.82)

HANGING TOUGH: The Frederick Keys sent eight men to bat in the bottom of the eighth to rally back and defeat the Lynchburg Hillcats 8-7 on Friday night at Harry Grove Stadium. It was the team’s second win in as many nights and helped the Keys snap a three-game losing streak to the Hillcats. Down by a run entering the inning, the orange and black loaded the bases against Navery Moore. From there, Johnny Ruettiger tied the game with his third RBI single of the night and Trey Mancini coaxed a four-pitch walk to put the Keys up for good. Ruettiger and Mancini accounted for seven of the eight RBIs, while Jesse Beal picked up the win despite suffering his first blown save of the year.

IT’S CALLED A (HOME) WINNING STREAK: With a win on Friday, the Keys picked up back-to-back home wins for the first time in the second-half. Coming into the game, Frederick was 5-18 at the Grove in the second-half, while the club had not won consecutive home games since June 14-15. A team that has fared better on the road (their 17 second-half road wins pace the CL North) the Keys six home wins since the All-Star break are the fewest in the circuit. Wilmington (9-15) is the only other club without at least 10 second-half home wins. A problem all season, Frederick it 22-34 in home games and 33-30 in road tilts.

CLOSE CALLS: With a win on Friday night, the Keys improved to 16-16 in one-run games this season. That mark is fourth-best in the Carolina League, as the team trails only Potomac (26-11), Lynchburg (25-18) and Salem (17-15). Since the All-Star break, Frederick is 6-5 in games hinging on a single run. This season, the Keys and Hillcats have played six one-run games, but until last night, all five had gone Lynchburg’s way.

BOOMER: Trey Mancini tied his career-high with four RBIs on Friday. Going 1-for-4, the former Notre Dame product slugged a three-run homer in the sixth which wiped away a three-run deficit. Mancini recorded his first four RBI game on June 19-his Carolina League debut-going 2-for-5 with a homer and a double. Including his time with Low-A Delmarva, Mancini has hit nine home runs this season, while he is batting .280 over 13 games in August.

GO JOHNNY GO!: For the second straight night, Johnny Ruettiger tied his career-high with three RBIs. Finishing 3-for-4, all three of the RBIs he recorded came off singles. On Thursday at Wilmington, the former Arizona State Sun Devil went 2-for-5 with a single and a homer to snap a string of 14 hitless at-bats. In his last four games, Ruettiger has seven RBIs (he has 11 total in 20 games with the Keys). Additionally on Friday, he tied his season-high with three hits. He posted three hits three times with Double-A Bowie this season, most recently on July 5.

SCORELESS STREAK SNAPPED: Wynston Sawyer’s sac-fly in the fourth inning on Thursday ended a string of 20 scoreless innings for the Keys. Held off the scoreboard in both games of their doubleheader on Wednesday, the run was the Keys first since the fifth inning on Sunday, when Sawyer recorded a two-run single of Yender Caramo. The 20 innings marks the Keys longest scoring drought of the year. Frederick’s previous high without a run scored was 17.2 innings, which stretched from July 27-30 against Lynchburg and Winston-Salem.

MAKING A SNOW MAN: Branden Kline became the first Keys pitcher to reach eight wins on Thursday night thanks to 5.1 innings of one-run baseball. He walked two and struck out four. With the victory, Kline takes solo possession of the team wins lead. He came into the game tied with Mark Blackmar (7-1). A pitcher who has been difficult on the road all year, the right-hander is 7-0 away from the friendly confines and sports a 2.79 ERA.

BUNDY TO THE DL: Just before Thursday’s game against Wilmington, Dylan Bundy was placed on the seven-day disabled list with a right latissimus strain. Taking his spot on the roster was Branden Kline, who was received from Short-Season Aberdeen. In six starts with the orange and black, Bundy is 1-2 with a 4.78 ERA. In his last start 10 days ago, the Oklahoma native tossed 4.1 innings of shutout baseball against Carolina and struck out seven.

NORTHERN EXPOSURE: Intra-division competition for the Keys has often been problematic. Against Wilmington, Lynchburg and Potomac, Frederick is just 19-31, while the orange and black do not have a winning record against any CL North club. Frederick is the only team without at least 20 wins against divisional competition. This season, 24 of the Keys 31 losses in northern play have come to Wilmington and Lynchburg. The Keys have been defeated by each team 12 times, though Frederick has a worse winning percentage against the Hillcats (6-12).

JASON, JASON, HE’S OUR MAN: Although the calendar has flipped to August, Jason Esposito has maintained the torrid pace he set in July. After hitting .354 with four homers and 16 RBIs last month, the former Vanderbilt Commodore is batting .333 (16-for-48) over his first 13 August tilts to go along with a home run, six doubles and seven RBIs. He has multiple hits in five of his last 10 games (and seven of his last 14 tilts). During that time, he has seen his batting average climb 13 pts (.258 to .271).

NAME THAT PUJOLS!: Luis Pujols becomes the 20th manager in Keys history, after spending 2013 as the skipper at Low-A Delmarva. He takes the reins from Ryan Minor, who went 61-78 in his lone season as Frederick’s head man. The cousin of Angels star, Albert Pujols, the 58-year-old has considerable experience as a player, manager and coach in the majors and minors. Since spending nine years as a big league catcher with Houston, Kansas City and Texas, Pujols has worked as a bench/first base coach for Montreal (1993-00) and San Francisco (2003-06), while he served as interim manager for the Detroit Tigers in 2002, after Phil Garner was fired six games into the season. He has also managed for Double-A affiliates in the Detroit and Houston systems.

PROSPECTING: This year’s Keys team does not lack for talent. Frederick’s Opening Day roster features five of Baltimore’s Top 30 prospects according to Baseball America. Pitcher Dylan Bundy (1) and shortstop Adrian Marin (12) highlight the list and are joined by right-handed pitchers Parker Bridwell (19) and Branden Kline (20). Jon Keller (17) and Trey Mancini (25) joined the club after the All-Star break, while Mychal Givens (23) and Glynn Davis (29) opened the year with the Keys but were promoted in the second-half. Of the five players, only Givens (one game in 2010) and Davis played at the Advanced-A level prior to 2014.

TODAY’S OPPOSING PITCHER: Jarrett Miller makes his 26th appearance of the year and his 25th start. His most recent start came last Sunday against Winston-Salem. Over six innings, he allowed one run on five hits in a no-decision. A winner in four of his last six starts, Miller has also registered six quality starts in his last seven trips to the mound. Currently 10th in the CL in ERA (3.82), Miller will become just the second pitcher in the league to make his 25th start on Saturday. He is third in innings pitched (132.0) and fourth in strikeouts (111). Coming off a terrific July (2.79 ERA), the righty is 5-1 with a 3.08 ERA in the second-half. Against the Keys this year, he is 1-0 with a 3.00 ERA. This is Miller’s second year in the Carolina League, after the righty went 9-8 with a 3.73 ERA over 30 games (25 starts) last season. He finished fifth in the CL in strikeouts (122) and fourth in innings pitched (147.0), but occasionally struggled with command, as he ended third-overall in walks (63). Although his walk/nine inning ratio has improved this season (3.3), in his career, Miller averages 4.1 free tickets per nine innings. The right-hander spent all of 2011-12 with Low-A Rome. Selected by Atlanta in the 21st round out of UNC-Greensboro, Miller went 4-2 with a 4.08 ERA in 28 games (four starts) as a junior. He is trying to become the first Spartans pitcher to reach the Major Leagues since Brian Moehler, who made his big league debut with Detroit in 1996, and pitched 14 years with the Tigers, Reds, Astros and Marlins. Miller throws a low-mid 90s fastball, a curve, a slider and a changeup. He hails from Easley, South Carolina which is the home of the Big League World Series. Big League is a section of Little League for 15-18 males. Easley will hosted its 14th Big League World Series in July.

Frederick Keys Game Notes 8-15-14

Good evening Keys fans!

Frederick won 4-1  last night in the final game of their three-game set with the Wilmington Blue Rocks. The Keys took the lead with a three-run fourth inning behind RBI’s from Wynston Sawyer and John Ruettiger. Ruettiger, who finished 2-5 with 3 RBI’s on the night, homered in the sixth inning to extend the Frederick lead to 4-1. Branden Kline allowed only one run in 5.1 innings pitched, striking out four and walking two. 3.2 innings of scoreless relief from Miguel Chalas and Dennis Torres clinched the Frederick victory.

The Keys take to Harry Grove Stadium tonight against the Lynchburg Hillcats to begin a three-game series that will mark the end of the teams’ regular season series. Frederick is 5-12 against the Hillcats this season, their last win coming in Lynchburg on July 6.

LHP Matt Taylor gets the nod for the Keys tonight, making his second start in Frederick after a rehab stint in the Gulf Coast League following a back injury. Taylor got the start last week against Wilmington, giving up three runs off of seven hits in 3.1 innings of action. Lynchburg righty Cody Scarpetta gets the start for the Hillcats tonight.

Here’s a look at the game notes for tonight’s matchup:

Friday, August 15, 2014 · Game #119 · Home Game #56

Frederick Keys (54-64/22-29) vs Lynchburg Hillcats (62-60/28-24)

LHP Matt Taylor (5-2, 2.36) vs. RHP Cody Scarpetta (3-6, 4.25)

BOUNCE BACK: The Frederick Keys used a big fourth inning and strong pitching from Branden Kline, Miguel Chalas and Dennis Torres to top the Wilmington Blue Rocks 4-1 on Thursday night at Frawley Stadium. With the win, the Keys were able to avoid a three-game sweep. Shutout in both ends of a doubleheader on Wednesday, the Keys tallied 12 hits, while four members of the starting lineup finished with two knocks or more. Frederick did the brunt of its damage in the fourth inning, sending all nine to bat against the duo of Johnny Walter and Andrew Edwards. Wynston Sawyer brought home the first Keys run with a sac-fly to right. That made it 1-1 after Raul Mondesi opened the scoring with an RBI double in the home-third. Following the sac-fly by Sawyer, Brenden Webb (single) and Jerome Pena (walk) reached to load the bases. Johnny Ruettiger followed with a two-run single to left to put the Keys on top for good. In the sixth, Ruettiger also hit his first home run of the year. On the mound, Branden Kline allowed one run over 5.1 innings to pick up the win. Chalas and Torres closed the door with 3.2 innings of shutout relief.

AVOIDING THE SWEEP: Thanks to a win in the season finale, the Keys avoided being swept for the seventh time. Since the All-Star break, the Keys have been swept four times by four different teams (Wilmington, Winston-Salem, Potomac and Lynchburg). However, all four of those broomings have taken place at Harry Grove Stadium. This season, the Keys have been swept only once on the road-something accomplished by Lynchburg from May 27-29.

SCORELESS STREAK SNAPPED: Wynston Sawyer’s sac-fly in the fourth inning on Thursday ended a string of 20 scoreless innings for the Keys. Held off the scoreboard in both games of their doubleheader on Wednesday, the run was the Keys first since the fifth inning on Sunday, when Sawyer recorded a two-run single of Yender Caramo. The 20 innings marks the Keys longest scoring drought of the year. Frederick’s previous high without a run scored was 17.2 innings, which stretched from July 27-30 against Lynchburg and Winston-Salem.

GO JOHNNY GO!: Johnny Ruettiger tied his career-high with three RBIs on Thursday night, thanks to a two-run single and a solo homer. Ending the night 2-for-5, the former Arizona State Sun Devil also snapped a string of 14 at-bats without recording a hit. Although the outfielder is batting just .171 over 19 games with the Keys, he has recorded three RBIs in a game on two occasions. On July 24, he established a new career-high for runs batted in, when he finished 2-for-5 with a triple at Myrtle Beach.

MAKING A SNOW MAN: Branden Kline became the first Keys pitcher to reach eight wins on Thursday night thanks to 5.1 innings of one-run baseball. He walked two and struck out four. With the victory, Kline takes solo possession of the team wins lead. He came into the game tied with Mark Blackmar (7-1). A pitcher who has been difficult on the road all year, the right-hander is 7-0 away from the friendly confines and sports a 2.79 ERA.

BUNDY TO THE DL: Just before Thursday’s game against Wilmington, Dylan Bundy was placed on the seven-day disabled list with a right latissimus strain. Taking his spot on the roster was Branden Kline, who was received from Short-Season Aberdeen. In six starts with the orange and black, Bundy is 1-2 with a 4.78 ERA. In his last start 10 days ago, the Oklahoma native tossed 4.1 innings of shutout baseball against Carolina and struck out seven.

NORTHERN EXPOSURE: Intra-division competition for the Keys has often been problematic. Against Wilmington, Lynchburg and Potomac, Frederick is just 18-31, while the orange and black do not have a winning record against any CL North club. Frederick is the only team without at least 20 wins against divisional competition. This season, 24 of the Keys 31 losses in northern play have come to Wilmington and Lynchburg. The Keys have been defeated by each team 12 times, though Frederick has a worse winning percentage against the Hillcats (5-12).

THE FEW, THE PROUD, THE MARIN: Adrian Marin’s season-high eight game hitting streak came to an end on Thursday. Over the eight-game jaunt, he hit .375 (12-for-32) with two homers, four doubles, eight RBIs and six runs scored, while he saw his batting average jump from .236 to .248. During the streak, Marin also tallied four two-hit games. After hitting .242 over 23 games in July, the Miami native has looked good in August, batting .308 over 10 games. His best month of the season was May, when he hit .289 over 27 games, and won Carolina League “Player of the Week” for May 26-June 2.

JASON, JASON, HE’S OUR MAN: Although the calendar has flipped to August, Jason Esposito has maintained the torrid pace he set in July. After hitting .354 with four homers and 16 RBIs last month, the former Vanderbilt Commodore is batting .364 (16-for-44) over his first 12 August tilts to go along with a home run, six doubles and seven RBIs. He has multiple hits in five of his last nine games (and seven of his last 13 tilts). During that time, he has seen his batting average climb 16 pts (.258 to .274).

 NAME THAT PUJOLS!: Luis Pujols becomes the 20th manager in Keys history, after spending 2013 as the skipper at Low-A Delmarva. He takes the reins from Ryan Minor, who went 61-78 in his lone season as Frederick’s head man. The cousin of Angels star, Albert Pujols, the 58-year-old has considerable experience as a player, manager and coach in the majors and minors. Since spending nine years as a big league catcher with Houston, Kansas City and Texas, Pujols has worked as a bench/first base coach for Montreal (1993-00) and San Francisco (2003-06), while he served as interim manager for the Detroit Tigers in 2002, after Phil Garner was fired six games into the season. He has also managed for Double-A affiliates in the Detroit and Houston systems.

PROSPECTING: This year’s Keys team does not lack for talent. Frederick’s Opening Day roster features five of Baltimore’s Top 30 prospects according to Baseball America. Pitcher Dylan Bundy (1) and shortstop Adrian Marin (12) highlight the list and are joined by right-handed pitchers Parker Bridwell (19) and Branden Kline (20). Jon Keller (17) and Trey Mancini (25) joined the club after the All-Star break, while Mychal Givens (23) and Glynn Davis (29) opened the year with the Keys but were promoted in the second-half. Of the five players, only Givens (one game in 2010) and Davis played at the Advanced-A level prior to 2014.

TODAY’S OPPOSING PITCHER: Right-hander Cody Scarpetta makes his 11th start of the season on Friday and his second against the Keys. His most recent outing came last Thursday at Salem. Tagged with the loss, the righty allowed four runs on four hits over 3.1 innings. He walked two, struck out two and gave up a homer. Scarpetta has received the loss in two of his last three games, while he has struggled in his first two August outings. In two games, he is 0-2 with a 13.50 ERA (6IP/9R). His only start against the Keys came on July 27, where he allowed one run on three hits over six innings in a no-decision. Signed by the Braves as a free agent on June 9, Scarpetta’s best outing came on June 27, when the Illinois native combined with Benito Pruneda to pitch back-to-back no-hitters. The night prior, Lucas Sims and Alex Wilson combined on a no-hitter against the Wilmington Blue Rocks. Scarpetta’s performance helped earn him Carolina League “Pitcher of the Week” honors. Prior to joining the Braves, Scarpetta was playing for the Lancaster Barnstormers in the independent Atlantic League, where he went 0-2 with a 5.13 ERA. Originally selected by the Brewers in the 11th round of the 2007 draft, Scarpetta spent all of 2013 with Milwaukee’s Advanced-A affiliate, Brevard County. Pitching 12 games (11 starts) he went 0-5 with a 7.15 ERA. He made his debut on June 2, after missing all of 2012 due to “Tommy John” surgery. Not the only member of his family to play professional baseball, Scarpetta’s dad, Dan, pitched in the Brewers organization for seven years, making it as high as Triple-A

The Keys Second-to-Last Homestand Starts Tonight!

Good Afternoon Keys Fans!

It’s the second-to-last homestand of the year, and it should be a ton of fun. One of the wildest promotions of the year comes to the Grove on Saturday night, while on the field the Keys try and stay in the hunt for a CL North playoff spot.

In case you missed it, some notes from the last three days on the road:

-The big news item that everyone was wondering about: Dylan Bundy has been placed on the Keys disabled list with a right latisimus strain. As a result, he did not make his scheduled start on Wednesday against Wilmington.

-Parker Bridwell tossed the second complete game of his career, and the second by a Frederick pitcher this season (Brady Wager tossed a five-inning complete game earlier this year). It marked the first time Bridwell had gone the distance since July 21, 2012. Although he gave up only three hits, Wilmington lefty Sean Manaea was even better, giving up just two knocks in a complete-game shutout

-Frederick dropped both ends of a doubleheader via shutout on Wednesday, the first time the club had been shutout in back-to-back games since  June 13-14 of last season, when the Potomac Nationals blanked the Keys in back-to-back nights. The second game ended in bizarre fashion, as the Blue Rocks won on a strikeout wild pitch. During tonight’s pregame show on 1450 AM The Source, Keys hitting coach Torre Tyson will talk about where it ranks on his list of strange endings (pregame coverage starts at 6:45).

-Frederick native Branden Kline became the first Keys pitcher to reach eight wins. He worked 5.1 innings last night, giving up one run on six hits.

-Johnny Ruettiger ended an 0-for-14 slump on Thursday thanks to a two-run single in the fourth. That was the big blow in the Keys three-run inning, where everyone came to bat. Ruettiger also knocked a homer later in the game, his first of the season (taking into account his time with (Double-A Bowie and Frederick)

-Tucker Nathans tallied his third three-hit game of the year on Thursday. Going 3-for-4, the former Fairfield star also ended with a double and a run scored

This next series is HUGE, as Lynchburg and Potomac both lost last night (the Nationals dropped both ends of a doubleheader to Salem). Frederick has only three games left against the Hillcats this year. Currently the Keys are 5.5 games behind Lynchburg and Potomac who are tied for first in the CL North second-half standings.

So plenty at stake, but the Keys are not the only show at the Grove this weekend. There are a number of terrific promotions on the docket starting tonight!

We’ll kick things off with Going Green Night! The first 1,000 fans through the gates will receive a Keys Reusable bag presented by TransIT and Francis Scott Key Mall. Gates open at 6 p.m. First pitch is at 7, while afterwards there will be fireworks presented by FSK Mall and TransIT.

One last note for tonight, anyone who brings a donation for Goodwill will receive a ticket voucher for the game. So if you’ve got something lying around the house you want to get rid of bring it! And get a free ticket to the game.

Personally, Saturday is one of my favorite days of the year as these guys will be making an appearance:

That’s a piece done by ESPN on one of the wildest attractions that you will ever see: The Cowboy Monkey rodeo!

It’s a little hard to describe, but here goes: Monkeys dressed as cowboys, riding dogs like they were horses, all the while herding sheep.

In other words it is something you need to see to be able to believe. Tim “Wild Thang” Lepard as at the helm of Team Ghostriders so don’t miss out! First pitch is at 6 p.m, while afterwards there will be fireworks courtesy Precision Heating and Cooling

Team Ghostriders

One more fun fact about the Cowboy Monkey Rodeo: The owner, Tim Lepard comes from the same hometown as Keys pitcher Lex Rutledge-Tupelo, Mississippi

Lex Rutledge

On Sunday we close things out with Meet the Team, so if you have longed for the chance to meet your favorite Key? Come on out! The meet and greet starts one hour before game time (2 p.m.). It’s all part of Sunday Funday, presented by Heartfields of Frederick. It’s also summer reading day presented by Nymeo.

Before departing one last note: Keys catcher Steel Russell has been nominated for Moniker Madness! This contests takes place every year and highlights the best names in all of minor league baseball. So give Steel a vote by visiting  here. Currently, Russell is in fourth place! He trails only Nik Nowottnick, Brooks Pounders and….Jose Jose….No misprints folks. Voting concludes on August, 28!

Hope to see you at the Grove over the next few days!

Shake your keys!

Geoff

 

Frederick Keys Game Notes 8-14-14

Thursday, August 14, 2014 · Game #118 · Road Game #63

Frederick Keys (53-64/21-29) vs Wilmington Blue Rocks (57-60/24-25)

RHP Branden Kline (7-6, 3.93) vs. RHP Johnny Walter (5-1, 3.81)

SHUTDOWN: The Frederick Keys were shutout in both ends of a doubleheader on Wednesday night, falling to the Wilmington Blue Rocks 4-0 in game one and 1-0 in game two. It was the first time all season that the orange and black had been shutout in back-to-back games, while it pushed the team to a season-worst 11 games below .500. Sean Manaea dazzled in the first contest, tossing the first complete game shutout by a Blue Rocks pitcher this season. Scattering only two hits, the lefty struck out seven and never threw any more than six pitches to an individual batter all game. Glenn Sparkman was equally as effective in the nightcap. Over six innings, he surrendered only one hit, while the Blue Rocks won on a walk-off strikeout/wild pitch which scored Ramon Torres from third. The Keys try and avoid the three-game sweep on Thursday in the final match-up between the two clubs in 2014.

TOO MANY GOOSEEGGS: With the pair of shutout defeats on Wednesday, the Keys have now been blanked 11 times in 2014. The 11 shutout losses are the most in the Carolina League, and give the Keys two more than the next closest team (Winston-Salem has been held off the board nine times this year). Meanwhile, the pair of shutout wins pushed the Blue Rocks yearly total to 15-the most in the circuit. The pair of losses on Wednesday marked the first time that Frederick had been shutout in back-to-back games since June 13-14, 2013, when the Keys fell to Potomac 8-0 and 4-0 in consecutive games.

WHERE DID THE BATS GO?: After pounding out 12 hits in a 5-2 win over Wilmington on Sunday, Frederick was held to two hits in back-to-back games. The two hits are tied for the third-fewest number of hits the Keys have recorded in a game all season. On July 20, the team posted only one hit against Winston-Salem’s Tony Bucciferro, who carried a no-hitter into the ninth. Additionally, the Myrtle Beach duo of Chi Chi Gonzalez and Jose Leclerc combined to one-hit the Keys on May 20. In that game, Gonzalez carried a no-hitter into the seventh, before Michael Burgess broke it up.

AVOIDING THE SWEEP: Frederick tries to avoid being swept for the seventh time this season on Thursday night. Since the All-Star break, the Keys have been swept four times by four different teams (Wilmington, Winston-Salem, Potomac and Lynchburg). However, all four of those broomings have taken  place at Harry Grove Stadium. This season, the Keys have been swept only once on the road-something accomplished by Lynchburg from May 27-29. Wilmington took three straight against Frederick from June 22-24.

NORTHERN EXPOSURE: Intra-division competition for the Keys has often been problematic. Against Wilmington, Lynchburg and Potomac, Frederick is just 17-31, while the orange and black do not have a winning record against any CL North club. Frederick is the only team without at least 20 wins against divisional competition. This season, 24 of the Keys 31 losses in northern play have come to Wilmington and Lynchburg. The Keys have been defeated by each team 12 times, though Frederick has a worse winning percentage against the Hillcats (5-12). With the loss in Wednesday’s doubleheader, the club has dropped four of the last five series it has played against a CL North team.

TOUGH LUCK LOSER: Parker Bridwell put together the second complete game by a Frederick Keys pitcher on Wednesday. Tossing game one of the doubleheader, the Texan allowed four runs over six innings to go along with two walks and nine strikeouts (tied a season-high). Although he gave up just three hits, two were home runs, both two-run shots to Raul Mondesi and Fred Ford. It was Bridwell’s first complete game since July 21, 2012, when he was pitching at Low-A Delmarva.

THE FEW, THE PROUD, THE MARIN: Adrian Marin’s season-high eight game hitting streak came to an end on Thursday. Over the eight-game jaunt, he hit .375 (12-for-32) with two homers, four doubles, eight RBIs and six runs scored, while he saw his batting average jump from .236 to .248. During the streak, Marin also tallied four two-hit games. After hitting .242 over 23 games in July, the Miami native has looked good in August, batting .353 over nine games. His best month of the season was May, when he hit .289 over 27 games, and won Carolina League “Player of the Week” for May 26-June 2.

JASON, JASON, HE’S OUR MAN: Although the calendar has flipped to August, Jason Esposito has maintained the torrid pace he set in July. After hitting .354 with four homers and 16 RBIs last month, the former Vanderbilt Commodore is batting .359 (14-for-39) over his first nine August tilts to go along with a home run, four doubles and seven RBIs. He has multiple hits in four of his last eight games (and six of his last 12 tilts). During that time, he has seen his batting average climb 15 pts (.258 to .273).

NAME THAT PUJOLS!: Luis Pujols becomes the 20th manager in Keys history, after spending 2013 as the skipper at Low-A Delmarva. He takes the reins from Ryan Minor, who went 61-78 in his lone season as Frederick’s head man. The cousin of Angels star, Albert Pujols, the 58-year-old has considerable experience as a player, manager and coach in the majors and minors. Since spending nine years as a big league catcher with Houston, Kansas City and Texas, Pujols has worked as a bench/first base coach for Montreal (1993-00) and San Francisco (2003-06), while he served as interim manager for the Detroit Tigers in 2002, after Phil Garner was fired six games into the season. He has also managed for Double-A affiliates in the Detroit and Houston systems.

PROSPECTING: This year’s Keys team does not lack for talent. Frederick’s Opening Day roster features five of Baltimore’s Top 30 prospects according to Baseball America. Pitcher Dylan Bundy (1) and shortstop Adrian Marin (12) highlight the list and are joined by right-handed pitchers Parker Bridwell (19) and Branden Kline (20). Jon Keller (17) and Trey Mancini (25) joined the club after the All-Star break, while Mychal Givens (23) and Glynn Davis (29) opened the year with the Keys but were promoted in the second-half. Of the five players, only Givens (one game in 2010) and Davis played at the Advanced-A level prior to 2014.

TODAY’S OPPOSING PITCHER: Right-hander Johnny Walter makes his 26th appearance of the year and  his second professional start. His most recent outing came on Saturday against the Keys. Tossing three innings, the righty allowed one run on four hits. The lone run came on a homer to Adrian Marin. Thursday will be Walters sixth appearance against the Keys. Over five games (one start) he is 1-0 with a 6.00 ERA (12 IP/8R). This season he has not thrown more than 4.1 innings in a game. A pitcher who has enjoyed the friendly confines of Frawley Stadium, Walters is 3-0 with 1.76 tally at home and 2-1 with a 7.11 mark in road games. Of the 21 runs he has allowed, 15 have been surrendered on the road. Walters missed just under a month with a strained abdominal muscle in the first-half, spending time on the D.L from April 8-May 4. Originally a 29th  round draft pick of the Royals in 2012, the New Jersey native split last season between Rookie-Idaho Falls and Low-A Lexington. Dominant with the Legends, Walter posted a 1.01 ERA in 18 games, giving up only three runs in 26.2 innings to go along with 31 strikeouts and four walks. He attended Penn State, and was named Third-Team All Big 10 as a sophomore. Not the only member of his family to go to spend time in Happy Valley, his father John played football from 1982-85, while his mother Bonnie was a field hockey player from 1982-86. A three-pitch pitcher, Walter throws a fastball, curveball and changeup.

Frederick Keys Game Notes 8-13-14

Good Afternoon Keys Fans!

After the Keys and the Blue Rocks were rained out on Tuesday night, the two sides will play a doubleheader on Wednesday starting at 5:05 p.m. Parker Bridwell takes the mound in game one while Brady Wager gets the ball for game two. Left-hander Sean Manaea makes the game one start for the Blue Rocks. In game two, Carolina League ERA leader, Glenn Sparkman will take the mound.

Both broadcasts can be heard on 1450 AM The Source. The pregame show starts at 4:50.

Some notes are below. Chat soon and shake your keys!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014 · Game #116/#117 · Road Game #61/#62

Frederick Keys (53-62/21-27) vs Wilmington Blue Rocks (55-60/22-25)

 RHP Parker Bridwell (5-8, 4.44) vs. LHP Sean Manaea (4-8, 3.49)

RAIN, RAIN, GO AWAY: The Keys and the Wilmington Blue Rocks were washed out on Tuesday night. Both games have been rescheduled as part of a Wednesday night doubleheader, with the first contest getting underway at 5:05 p.m. Tuesday’s rainout provided the Keys with a pseudo off-day after the team received its second-to-last scheduled off-day on Monday. Counting Wednesday, the orange and black will play three doubleheaders over the final three weeks of the season.

KEYS AVOID SWEEP: Mark Blackmar carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning, while the Frederick Keys scored in four of their first five trips to bat, to earn a 5-2 victory over the Wilmington Blue Rocks on Sunday afternoon at Harry Grove Stadium. The win snapped a four-game losing streak, and helped the Keys avoid a three-game losing streak. Blackmar faced the minimum through six, and retired the first batter of the seventh, before Raul Mondesi wrecked the no-hitter and the shutout with a solo homer to right. Still, the Rocks offense could not keep pace with the Keys in the finale. Pounding out 12 hits, Frederick got tremendous production from the bottom-third of its order, as Wynston Sawyer, Joel Hutter and Lucas Herbst each tallied two hits. Meanwhile, Trey Mancini came within a triple of the cycle.

THINKING NO-NO: On Sunday, Mark Blackmar became the second Keys pitcher in 2014 to carry a no-hitter into the seventh inning or later. Parker Bridwell was the first to do it, holding the Potomac Nationals hitless until the ninth inning on May 13. Only two outs away, the Texan surrendered a single to Tony Renda to break things up. Although Raul Mondesi broke up Blackmar’s bid, the right-hander’s 15th start was still marvelous. Giving up only two hits, Blackmar tied a career-high for innings pitched. The seven innings equaled his output on July 27 against Lynchburg, and marked the second time in three starts that Blackmar had lasted seven frames. On the afternoon, he allowed only one run on two hits, walked one and struck out three. In the process, he earned his seventh win, the most by a Keys pitcher. One of the circuit’s biggest surprises, he is eighth in ERA (3.21).

ON THE ROAD AGAIN: After a six-game homestand, Frederick begins its second-to-last roadtrip of the year on Tuesday. Only three games in length, the team will return to Harry Grove Stadium on Friday for a three-game series with Lynchburg, before embarking on its final journey of the season. Six games in length, the orange and black will conclude their roadtrip with three games at Carolina and four at Potomac. Owner of the third-best road record in the league, the Keys are 32-28 away from home. In contrast, the Keys are 21-34 at home, the worst mark in the CL. Those troubles have been magnified in the second-half, as the Keys are just 5-18 in second-half home tilts (their road record is 16-9).

BACK ON TRACK: Coming off a challenging July, Trey Mancini has gotten back on track in August. Over  nine games, he is batting .306 with a home run, three doubles and three RBIs. Excellent in Sunday’s finale, the former Notre Dame standout came only a triple short of the cycle, ending 3-for-4 with a home run, a double, an RBI and three runs scored. He has tallied back-to-back multi-hit games, and has two or more knocks in three of his last four contests. During that time he is 7-for-17 with a homer, two doubles, two RBIs and three runs scored, while his batting average has climbed from .236 to .251.

NOT THE NICEST NEIGHBORS: This season, the Keys have struggled against intra-division rivals, going 17-29 against fellow Northern clubs. Frederick has a losing record against all three of its fellow division rivals, while the orange and black have been swept at least once by Wilmington, Potomac and Lynchburg. The Keys are only 7-16 against northern teams at Harry Grove Stadium, and just 7-10 against Wilmington in 2014.

THE FEW, THE PROUD, THE MARIN: Thanks to a first inning home run, Adrian Marin was able to extend his hitting streak to a season-high eight games on Saturday. During that time he is batting .375 (12-for-32) with two homers, four doubles, eight RBIs and six runs scored, while he has seen his batting average jump from .236 to .248. The Florida native tries to close the year strong after hitting just .242 over 23 games in July and only .184 in June.

JASON, JASON, HE’S OUR MAN: Although the calendar has flipped to August, Jason Esposito has maintained the torrid pace he set in July. After hitting .354 with four homers and 16 RBIs last month, the former Vanderbilt Commodore is batting .382 (13-for-34) over his first nine August tilts to go along with a home run, four doubles and seven RBIs. He has multiple hits in four of his last six games (and six of his last 10 tilts). During that time, he has seen his batting average climb 15 pts (.258 to .273). It is the highest Esposito’s average has been since May 18 (when he was hitting .276).

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

NAME THAT PUJOLS!: Luis Pujols becomes the 20th manager in Keys history, after spending 2013 as the skipper at Low-A Delmarva. He takes the reins from Ryan Minor, who went 61-78 in his lone season as Frederick’s head man. The cousin of Angels star, Albert Pujols, the 58-year-old has considerable experience as a player, manager and coach in the majors and minors. Since spending nine years as a big league catcher with Houston, Kansas City and Texas, Pujols has worked as a bench/first base coach for Montreal (1993-00) and San Francisco (2003-06), while he served as interim manager for the Detroit Tigers in 2002, after Phil Garner was fired six games into the season. He has also managed for Double-A affiliates in the Detroit and Houston systems.

PROSPECTING: This year’s Keys team does not lack for talent. Frederick’s Opening Day roster features five of Baltimore’s Top 30 prospects according to Baseball America. Shortstop Adrian Marin (12) highlights the list and is joined by right-handed pitchers Parker Bridwell (19) and Branden Kline (20). Jon Keller (17) and Trey Mancini (25) joined the club after the All-Star break, while Mychal Givens (23) and Glynn Davis (29) opened the year with the Keys but were promoted in the second-half. Of the five players, only Givens (one game in 2010) and Davis played at the Advanced-A level prior to 2014.

TODAY’S OPPOSING PITCHER: Left-hander Sean Manaea makes his 22nd start of the year and his fourth against the Keys. He is the No. 6 prospect in the Royals system according to Baseball America, and is the top Royals left-handed pitching prospect. His most recent outing came against Myrtle Beach last Thursday. Tossing 5.2 innings, the southpaw was hit with the loss, allowing five runs (one earned) on five hits to go along with two walks and five strikeouts. In the game, Manaea received little help from his defense, which committed a season-high five errors on the game. Against the orange and black this year, Manaea is 1-2 with a 2.20 ERA. Facing the Keys at Frawley Stadium on August 2, the lefty tossed a career-high 7.1 innings of shutout baseball and surrendered only four hits. Currently ninth in the Carolina League in ERA (3.49), Manaea also paces the CL in strikeouts (114) and SO/9IP ratio (10.76). He is the only starter in the league who averages 10 or more strikeouts per nine innings. After an up-and-down first-half, the former Indiana State product has dazzled in the second-half. In his first 12 starts, he was 2-5 with a 4.84 ERA, while since the All-Star break he is 2-3 with a 2.11 mark. Excellent in July, Manaea went 1-0 with a 1.59 ERA. In his first professional season, the Indiana native was selected in the competitive balance round of the 2013 draft (34th overall) and received a 3.55 million dollar signing bonus, the second-highest bonus ever given to a player not selected in the first round. Considered a top-five pick after dominating in the Cape Cod League in 2012, Manaea hurt his hip while pitching in a game at the Metrodome for Indiana State. To compensate for the pain, he changed his delivery causing a drop in velocity. It also caused his draft stock to plummet, allowing the Royals to swoop in. Manaea missed all of last season as he recovered from labrum surgery on his hip. A three-pitch pitcher, the 22-year-old throws a low-mid 90s fastball, an above-average slider and a changeup.

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