Archive for the ‘ Dailies ’ Category

Five for Friday: Potential Keys, reading for the weekend and other stuff

Buried beneath yesterday’s bosom-filled blog broadcast was a link to the second installment of The Frederick 40 Countdown, a series that takes look at 40 prospects who have the potential to wear a Keys uniform this season.

If you missed it, I understand, given the distracting photo directly above it.

The good news is part two of our countdown is the first of this week’s Five for Friday, a quintuplet of Keys-related information to carry you through the weekend.

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1. Frederick 40 Countdown: Part II – Nowak back for more hacks in 2013?

Among this week’s five potential Keys is Frederick’s 2012 leader in batting average and doubles, Jeremy Nowak (pictured above). Among the highlights of Nowak’s baseball career is his one season at Mount Olive College in North Carolina. Nowak was a one-year D-II monster, hitting .446, racking up 99 hits — including 17 homers — and driving in 81 runs for the Trojans. He started the season with a 35-game hitting streak and left his mark on the Mount Olive record book.

As for the rest of the bunch in part two:

Matt Bywater – A lefty who led the NCAA in complete games in 2010. Also had a strong mustache on picture day last season.

Parker Bridwell - Starred at a high school in Texas with teams nicknamed the Whitefaces. Don’t get offended, a whiteface is another name for the Hereford breed of cattle.

Devin Jones -  One of two Mississippi State athletes with his name during his time in Starkville. The potential 2013 Key played baseball, the other football. The baseball Jones was probably the better Bulldog as far as on-field performance goes.

Joe Oliveira – Named to the Johnny Bench Award Watch list three years while at the University of the Pacific.

By the way, part one of the countdown is here.

2. Some Keys-related reading

*MASN’s Steve Melewski has been all over the former-Keys beat in the last week. Three links to his stories are below, two on Kevin Gausman — O’s first-round pick last year and major pitching prospect — and one on Bobby Bundy — also a pitcher. Gausman had a brief stint with the Keys late in the season. He also came to the O’s Caravan event in Frederick in January. Here are the two Melewski stories on Gausman:

- Searching for a third plus pitch, Kevin Gausman just may have found one

- Kevin Gausman on his innings limit, high expectations and powdered donuts

Bundy, the brother of top-pitching prospect and 2012 Key Dylan Bundy, spent a large chunk of 2011 dominating hitters with the Keys. He’s coming off elbow surgery after a disappointing 2012. Here’s Melewski’s story:

- After surgery, Bobby Bundy looks to recapture the form he showed with Frederick

3. Meet Frank Key all over again

We just added a Frederick Keys video relic to the website. It’s called “Frederick Meets Frank Key” (YouTube link) and it’s worth watching. The comments about Frank Key’s knickers make the video.

4. Newsletter time

The newest Keys newsletter has been published. It is here.

5. Former Frederick Friday Contest

Head over to the Keys Facebook page this afternoon for another edition of our weekly Former Frederick Friday Contest. We post the picture, you guess who it is, if you’re the first to name that Key, your name will be entered into a drawing to win skybox tickets at Harry Grove Stadium this season. We’ll post a brief feature on the this week’s former Key on the blog on Monday.

As always, shake your Keys.

Frederick Flashback: The Kissing Bandit

ImageIn the name of St. Valentine, let’s go back to Harry Grove Stadium in 1991.

Pictured above is former Key Randy Berlin, about to receive a wet one from Morganna the Kissing Bandit.

Morganna Roberts, described in a 2003 Sports Illustrated article as a woman with “measurements like a first-place hockey record, 60-24-39,” is from Louisville, Ky., and by all accounts now — or lackthereof — lives a normal life. But for three decades, the busty Kentuckian became famous for running onto fields, courts and rinks to smooch lucky athletes.

Her first on-field caper came in 1971 at Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati, when she went for a jaunt across the infield to plant a kiss on all-time hits leader Pete Rose. She became a traveling sideshow at major league parks across the country, soon expanding her repertoire to include NBA and NHL arenas and minor league venues. In doing so, she compiled an impressive list of smooch-ees that includes George Brett (1979 All-Star game at the Kingdome in Seattle) Cal Ripken, Jr. (1988 at Camden Yards) and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (1989 before a Lakers-Rockets game).

So, 20 years after Morganna made her debut with Pete Rose, Sr., she came to Frederick to add Pete Rose, Jr. to her list. She got him, and Berlin’s kiss was just a bonus cherry on top of that romantic evening at the Grove.

The Kissing Bandit, who worked as an exotic dancer when she wasn’t storming fields and rushing athletes lips-first, hung up her kissing lipstick in 2000, according to this Seattle Post-Intelligencer article.

Here’s a Morganna highlight video, which opens with her Baltimore encounter with The Iron Man. A signed Morganna photo dug out of the Keys archives is below. Happy Valentines Day.Image

In non-kissing news:

*Part two of our Frederick 40 Countdown is up on FrederickKeys.com. This week’s five include the 2012 Keys’ leader in batting average and doubles and two highly-touted pitching prospects. Check it out by clicking here or on the link above.

*We’re going to start counting down the top 10 promotions of the upcoming season shortly. Stay tuned for that. What would you like to see at the Grove?

*50 days until opening night in Frederick.

Shake your Keys.

What’s that smell? It’s baseball.

Gameday at the Grove

Let it waft into your nostrils. The smell of freshly cut grass, broken-in leather, dirt, pine tar and sunflower seed spittle.

As of today, baseball begins in 2013.

Pitchers and catchers reported to big-league camp today in sunny, warm Florida and Arizona. It’s a sunny, crisp 46 degrees in Frederick.

In less than 53 days, the Keys open their season at Harry Grove Stadium against Salem. (A countdown to the 2013 Keys baseball season is here.) So, let’s get caught up on some off-season happenings with the Keys.

*The Orioles announced Frederick’s coaching staff for 2013 last month. Orlando Gomez, the Keys’ all-time winningest manager, will not be returning for his fourth season.  He’s headed down to Florida to lead the O’s rookie-ball Gulf Coast League team. Stepping into his shoes in Frederick is Ryan Minor, former Oriole and Delmarva Shorebirds manager. Minor managed low-A Delmarva in 2010, ’11 and ’12. He’ll be joined by pitching coach Kennie Steenstra, who held the same position in Frederick in 2009, and hitting coach Torre Tyson, who’s new to the O’s system.

*The full release on the Keys’ 2013 staff can be found on the Keys’ website.

*The Frederick News-Post’s Greg Swatek talked to Minor, who famously replaced Cal Ripken in the lineup when he ended his consecutive games streak, after he was announced as Keys manager. Read his story on the FNP’s website.

*The Orioles Caravan came to Frederick in January. Swatek was there for that event, too. Read his story from the event here. He also gave his take on the bigger-than-expected turnout on a rainy winter day on his FNP blog.  An excerpt from that post:

It wasn’t a horrible day by January weather standards. But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t without misery (rainy, cold, getting dark). Yet there were hundreds of people in line, waiting to get inside the recreation center almost an hour before the doors opened for an Orioles’ Caravan/FanFest event in Frederick.

Read the whole thing on his blog.

*Our 40-man countdown of prospective Keys for the 2013 season has begun. I’ve penned short bios of the first five, which are in no particular order. Check out The Frederick 40 Countdown: Part I. Seven more installments to come, typically on Thursday afternoons.

*Speaking of Thursdays, here is last week’s Keys newsletter. Get on the newsletter email list by signing up online.

*In case you haven’t heard, 2013 will be the Keys 25th anniversary season. In honor of the silver anniversary, we’ll be posting Keys history-related items in this space all season long.

*2012 Keys Brenden Webb and Allan de San Miguel and potential 2013 Key Michael Ohlman just played in the Australian Baseball League Championship Series. But we’ll get into that and a few other things later this week.

Shake your Keys.

Part III – 2011 Keys Season Preview

By Tim Murray


Welty.jpgThis is the third of a six-part series looking at the players who could possibly comprise the 2011 Frederick Keys. (Pictured Above – OF Ronnie Welty)

Nick Haughian – LHP

The Marysville, Washington native was drafted by the Orioles in the 9th round of the 2008 draft. Haughian attended the University of Washington where he amassed a career record of 12-13. He spent his freshman year in the Huskies bullpen but spent the majority of his sophomore and junior campaigns as a starter. As a junior, Haughian was 6-5 with a 3.76 ERA. He led the Huskies in complete games (3), shutouts (1), and strikeouts (107). His 107 strikeouts were also second best in the Pac-10 Conference.

Haughian spent the entire 2010 season in the South Atlantic League with the Delmarva Shorebirds. He spent most of the year coming out of the Shorebirds bullpen and finished second on the club with 30 relief appearances. On August 8, Haughian transitioned into a starting role. He made a total of five starts to finish out the year and compiled a 1-2 record with an ERA of 3.33. Over his three-year minor league career, Haughian has achieved more success as a starter than a reliever. In his 20 career starts, he is 6-7 with a 2.56 ERA.

Did You Know?

While at the University of Washington, Haughian was named Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week for the week of April 1-7, 2008, after he tossed a complete game, two-hit shutout in Washington’s 1-0 win over #18 Arizona. He struck out a career-high 15 batters and walked just three in the Husky’s victory.

Kenny Moreland – RHP

Signed as an undrafted free agent out of Christopher Newport University, Moreland started and finished the 2010 season in Frederick. He made nine starts and two relief appearances for the Keys before being transferred to Delmarva. On May 9th, Moreland threw seven scoreless innings as he helped guide Frederick to an 8-2 win over Wilmington. He struck out a career-high 10 Blue Rocks en route to his second victory of the season. Moreland made 16 starts with the Shorebirds in 2010 and tied Jesse Beal for the team-lead with seven wins. Most of his success came in his starts at Arthur W. Perdue Stadium. In 10 home starts, Moreland was 6-3 with a 2.66 ERA (1-4, 6.94 in six road starts). He returned to Frederick on August 29th and made two starts to close out the year.

Moreland had a stellar collegiate career at Division III Christopher Newport University in Newport News, Virginia. As a freshman, he posted a team-best 1.52 ERA and was selected as USA South’s Freshman Pitcher of the Year. He continued to flourish in his sophomore and junior seasons as he was selected All USA South both seasons but it was his senior campaign when he got on the national radar. In 2008, Moreland was 13-0 in 14 starts and had an ERA of 1.97. He threw six complete games, including two shutouts, and struck out 116. He set CNU records for career strikeouts and wins. He was selected as the ABCA Division III pitcher of the year, D3baseball.com pitcher of the year, South Region Pitcher of the year, and USA South Pitcher of the year. In the fall of 2010, Moreland was one of 50 players named to the D3baseball.com All-Decade team.

Did You Know?

Kenny Moreland is one of just three players to have his jersey number retired at Christopher Newport University. On the same day that Moreland’s #15 was retired, he threw a one-hit shutout for the Captains.

Justin Dalles – C

Drafted by the Orioles in the sixth round of the 2009 draft, Dalles has had his struggles at the plate in his first two professional seasons. Despite hitting .225 with the IronBirds in 2009, he finished third on the team with 21 runs batted in. Dalles got off to a great start in 2010 before missing over a month with an injury. He had hits in his first eight games and hit .370 over those games. In addition, he belted his first two career home runs in that span.

A native of Lake Worth, Florida, Dalles started his collegiate career at St. Petersburg Junior College. In his final season at St. Petersburg JC, he hit .387 with 13 homers and 70 RBI. He was named a NJCAA honorable mention All-American as well as named All-NJCAA Gulf District and All-FCCAA first team. Following his two seasons at St. Petersburg JC, Dalles played one season with the University of South Carolina. While with the Gamecocks he hit .324 with 15 home runs and 47 runs batted in and was named second-team All-SEC. Dalles was named to the NCAA All-Regional team after he went 11-for-19 with three HR and 10 RBI in the Greenville Regional in 2009. 

Did You Know?

Justin Dalles was drafted four times by four separate Major League franchises: 2006 – New York Mets (15th round), 2007 – St. Louis Cardinals (40th round), 2008 – Toronto Blue Jays (26th round), 2009 – Baltimore Orioles (6th round).

Michael Flacco – 1B

After graduating from Audubon (NJ) High School in 2005, Flacco’s next three years were limited due to back injuries. In 2009, injury-free, he put up big numbers at CCBC Catonsville. Flacco was named a third-team NJCAA All-American after he .399 with 14 home runs and 51 RBI for the Cardinals.

The Orioles drafted Flacco in the 31st round of the 2009 draft and he began his professional career with the Bluefield Orioles in the Appalachian League. He split time at first and third base while in Bluefield and had a strong finish to his rookie campaign. Flacco hit .324 with nine extra base hits in the month of August. Last year, he started out the season in Aberdeen before finishing out the year with Delmarva. In his debut with the Shorebirds, Flacco went 3-for-3 against the Lakewood Blue Claws. He also finished out the 2010 season on a high note. Flacco ended the year on a seven-game hitting streak and went 3-for-4 in his final game of the season. 

Did You Know?

Michael Flacco is the younger brother of Baltimore Ravens starting quarterback, Joe Flacco. Joe was the 18th overall pick in the 2008 NFL draft out of the University of Delaware. Michael’s younger brother, John, is a wide receiver at Stanford University.

Buck Britton – INF

A native of Weatherford, Texas, Britton was selected by the Orioles in the 35th round of the 2008 draft. Britton spent his entire first pro season with the Bluefield Orioles. In 47 games, he finished up with a .289 batting average, third-best on the club. In 2009, Britton never spent more than 17 games with one team in the Orioles organization. In all, he played one game with Bowie, 13 with Frederick, three with Delmarva, and 17 with Aberdeen. Last year, Britton spent the majority of the season with Frederick where he was used in a multitude of roles. He started 32 games at first base, 18 at second, 31 at third, and 17 at DH. On July 10th, Britton hit a pinch-hit two-run homer off Carolina League Reliever of the Year, Cory Burns, which tied the game. Billy Rowell capped off that evening with a walk-off shot in the 11th inning.

Prior to his selection by the Orioles, Britton played two seasons at Lubbock Christian University after transferring from Stephen F. Austin University. Over his two seasons with the Chaps, Britton combined to hit .385 with 18 home runs and 97 RBI in 104 games. In the field, Britton was a Rawlings Gold Glove recipient after having a fielding percentage of 97.3%. He only committed six errors on the season and he broke a school record for consecutive games with an assist (30). 

Did You Know?

Buck is the older brother of Zach Britton, the #2 prospect in the Orioles organization according to Baseball America. Zach received the Jim Palmer Award in 2010, the Orioles Minor League Pitcher of the Year award.

Kieron Pope – OF

Pope was a big time high school prospect out of East Coweta High School and was drafted in the fourth round of the 2005 draft by the Orioles. As a junior, he helped lead the Indians to the 5-A Georgia State baseball title game. In his senior season, Pope was selected to the Louisville Slugger High School All-American team and committed to play baseball for the University of Georgia before signing with Baltimore.

Following a grueling leg injury that made him miss the entire 2009 season, Pope had a solid bounce back year in 2010. The Alvaton, Georgia native made his 2010 debut on May 23 with the Shorebirds and played a total of 76 games with Delmarva last year. Pope started 39 games in the Shorebirds’ outfield and 37 as the DH. His .250 batting average last year was the second-best hitting season in his career (.257 with Bluefield and Aberdeen in 2006). 

Did You Know?

Pope was the winner of the Moe Drabowsky Comeback Player of Year in the Baltimore Orioles minor league system in 2010.

Ronnie Welty – OF

The Orioles 20th round pick in 2008, played collegiately at Chandler-Gilbert Community College in Chandler, Arizona. In his two years there, Welty made First Team All-Conference and First Team All-Region both years. In 2007, he hit .354 with four home runs and 44 RBIs. In 2008, he led his team with a .429 batting average and nine home runs. He also led Chandler-Gilbert CC with 24 stolen bases.

Following two stellar seasons in Bluefield and Delmarva, respectively, Welty continued his success last year in Frederick. The Chandler, Arizona native led the Keys in batting average, home runs, doubles, and RBI. His 82 runs driven in were also third most in the Carolina League. Welty did struggle with strikeouts, however, as he set a new Frederick record with 159 K’s in 2010. Following the 2010 season in Frederick, Welty help guide the Perth Heat to the inaugural Australian Baseball League Championship. In 35 games in the land down under, Welty hit .309 with 10 homers and 24 RBI. Welty finished first in the ABL in HR/AB ratio (1/12.30), second in home runs, and third in slugging percentage.

Did You Know?

Welty has made five all-star teams since joining the Orioles organization in 2008: Bluefield ’08 (Appalachian League Postseason All-Star), Delmarva ’09 (South Atlantic League Mid-Season and Postseason All-Star), Frederick ’10 (Carolina League Mid-Season and Postseason All-Star).

KEYSFEST SET FOR APRIL 2ND

 

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 Frederick Keys News Release

KEYSFEST SET FOR APRIL 2ND

National Anthem auditions to take place during exciting day at Harry Grove Stadium

Frederick, MD – The Frederick Keys are pleased to announce the date for KeysFest 2011 at Harry Grove Stadium presented by Buffalo Wild Wings. The FREE event will take place on April 2nd from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. while National Anthem auditions will be held from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. on the field.

KeysFest will be packed with fun activities for all ages. Not only do single game tickets go on sale but there will be plenty of free food and great games for families to participate in all day. If you have any questions about KeysFest, please call 1-877-GO-KEYS or email info@frederickkeys.com.

KeysFest 2011 will unlock many great activities:

         National Anthem auditions from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m.

         Stadium tours

         Fun Zone will be open and FREE

         On-field games for fans (12pm)

         Catch on the field (12pm)

         Run the Bases (12pm)

         Keyote & Frank Key autograph table

         Jr. Keys Kids Club activity/coloring table

         Raffles & auctions for many great prizes

         Keys merchandise specials

         Face Painting & Balloon Animals

         Single game tickets will also be available for purchase starting at 9 a.m. on April 2nd

 

Food items include:

         Various free samples provided by Buffalo Wild Wings

         Free samples of Nick’s Sausages (Andouille Sausage and Pepper & Onion Sausage)

         Free samples of Pretzel Bites from J&J Pretzels

         Free samples of Mt. Musser Kettle Corn

         Free samples of Dietz & Watson Hot Dogs

         Free soda and popcorn to the first 500 fans through the gates

         Free Rita’s Ices to the first 200 fans (weather permitting)

         Dugout Dogs, Brewers Alley, and the Angus Grill will be selling food and beer

         The stadium store will be open for everyone to purchase Keys gear!

-http://www.frederickkeys.com-

Opening Day 2011 is Tuesday, April 12th when the Keys take on the Myrtle Beach Pelicans at 7 p.m. at Harry Grove Stadium. For information on ticket plans contact the Keys Group Offices at 301-815-9900 or via the web at frederickkeys.com.

Contact: Brandon Apter, 301-815-9919

 

Part II – 2011 Keys Season Preview

By Tim Murray
 
This is the second of a six-part series looking at the players who could possibly comprise the 2011 Frederick Keys.  (Pictured Above – 1B/OF Jacob Julius)

Jesse Beal – RHP

Selected by the Orioles in the 14th round of the 2008 draft, Beal had his best professional season last year in Delmarva. He finished the year with seven victories, which tied Kenny Moreland for the team-lead. Selected as a South Atlantic League All-Star, Beal walked just 23 batters in his 114.1 innings pitched. His 1.81 walk-to-innings pitched ratio was tied for fourth best in the South Atlantic League.

The Lorton, VA native originally committed to play collegiately at the University of Maryland before signing with the Orioles in the summer of 2008. Beal played his high school baseball at South County Secondary School and as a junior he went 8-4 with a 3.07 ERA. In one of his final games in high school career, he struck out 12 batters in a complete game against Madison High School in the first round of the AAA Northern Region Tournament.

Did You Know?

The Orioles gave Beal a signing bonus of $275,000, well above slot for a 14th round pick. The $275,000 signing bonus was the second-highest bonus any 14th round pick in 2008 received (Tyler Massey signed with Colorado for $525,000).

Matt Bywater – LHP

A native of Thousand Oaks, Calif., Bywater played his college baseball at Pepperdine University. Over his three years in Malibu, Bywater had a standout career with the Waves. As a freshman, he was selected to the All-West Coast Conference Freshman team. In his sophomore campaign, Bywater had the top ERA on the Waves’ staff and was a First Team All-WCC selection. Last year, he was a unanimous First Team All-WCC selection as he led Pepperdine in ERA and led the NCAA with four complete games. In his first start of the 2010 season, Bywater tossed a complete game shutout against the fourth-ranked team in the nation, Cal State Fullerton. He was named NCBWA National Pitcher of the Week following that start.

The Orioles drafted the Pepperdine product in the seventh round of the 2010 draft. Bywater inked a signing bonus with Orioles of $195,000 but he will make his professional debut in the 2011 season. Bywater was the 124th player out Pepperdine to be drafted and was the third Wave to be selected by the Orioles.

Did You Know?

Bywater graduated from Thousand Oaks High School in 2007. Actors Kurt Russell and Michael Richards both attended Thousand Oaks High School.

Oliver Drake – RHP

Drake was drafted by the Orioles in the 43rd round of the 2008 draft out of the Naval Academy. He became just the fourth player in school history to be drafted in the MLB First-Year player draft. In his two seasons with the Midshipmen, he amassed a record of 9-6 with an ERA of 3.48. In his sophomore season, Drake led the Mids with six wins, 80.1 innings pitched, and three complete games. He also led the Patriot League with 78 strikeouts. Drake was named to the Patriot League All-Tournament Team in 2008.

The Gardner, Mass. native spent the entire 2010 season in Frederick. Drake finished second on the club with a 128 innings pitched and had the top strikeout-to-walk ratio (100-37) on the team. Following the 2010 campaign, Drake was selected to play in the Arizona Fall League where he made six starts for the Scottsdale Scorpions.

Did You Know?

Drake attended the prestigious prep school, Northfield Mount Hermon, for high school. In addition to lettering four times in baseball, he also lettered three times in hockey while at Northfield Mount Hermon.

Garabez Rosa – SS

The Orioles signed Rosa in November of 2006 as a 16-year-old out of Cotui, Dominican Republic. In his first professional season in the United States, Rosa finished third in the Gulf Coast League with a batting average of .330. In his final 19 games with the GCL Orioles, Rosa hit .370 with six doubles and 15 RBI.

Last season, Rosa spent the year in the South Atlantic League with the Delmarva Shorebirds. He was one of three players that represented the Shorebirds at South Atlantic League All-Star game (Brian Conley & Jesse Beal). Rosa tied Kieron Pope for the second-most RBI (44) on the team and was finished second on the team with 114 hits. Rosa did have his struggles in the field, however, as he finished with the most errors (46) in the Sally League.

Did You Know?

In 2008, Rosa combined to hit .322 with the Aberdeen IronBirds and the GCL Orioles. His .322 batting average was third best in the Orioles minor league system that year only behind Matt Wieters (.355) and Lou Montanez (.335).

Jacob Julius – 1B/OF

Selected by the Baltimore Orioles in the 33rd round of the 2007 draft out of the University of Arkansas, Julius had a breakout season with Frederick in 2010. In his fourth professional season, the New Albany, IN native set new career highs in almost every offensive category including batting average, doubles, RBI, and home runs. He finished the season hitting .285 with 15 doubles, 12 home runs and 50 RBIs.

Julius started his college career at Spalding University before finishing up with Arkansas. In his freshman season at Spalding, Julius helped guide the Golden Eagles to an appearance in the NAIA World Series. In his lone season at Arkansas, Julius hit .309 with five homers and 21 RBI for the Razorbacks.

Did You Know?

Julius was honored with three awards in 2010 for his extensive community service while with the Keys: the Elrod Hendricks Prize (outstanding community service in the Orioles system), the Steve Bechler Memorial Spirit Award (Frederick Keys community service award), and the Matt Minker Community Service Award (the community service award for the Carolina League).

Steven Bumbry – OF

A native of Cockeysville, MD, Bumbry played collegiately at Virginia Tech. He played three seasons with the Hokies and had a career batting average of .275 while in Blacksburg. In his junior season, Bumbry led Virginia Tech with 10 homeruns and was second on the team with nine stolen bases. He also tied for the team-lead in triples with three.

Bumbry was drafted by the Orioles in the 12th round of the 2009 draft and spent his first professional season with the Aberdeen IronBirds. Last season, Bumbry spent the year with Delmarva in the South Atlantic League. He led the Shorebirds with nine triples and finished tied for second in the Sally League in triples. In addition, he finished second on the team in batting average and third in doubles.

Did You Know?

Steve is the son of former Oriole, Al Bumbry. Al played 13 of his 14 Major League seasons with the Orioles and was apart of the 1979 team that lost to Pittsburgh in the World Series and the 1983 World Series Champions, the last Baltimore club to win the World Series. Al was an all-star in 1980 and was named the American League Rookie of the Year in 1973.

Part I – 2011 Keys Season Preview

 By Tim Murray
 
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This is the first of a six-part series looking at the players who could possibly comprise the 2011 Frederick Keys. (Picture Above – LHP Cole McCurry)

Brian Conley – OF

Drafted by the Orioles in the 17th round of the 2008 draft, Conley made his professional debut with the Bluefield Orioles in the Appalachian League. In his second game with the “baby birds,” Conley belted his first career home run against the Elizabethton Twins. Last year, he began the season in the South Atlantic League with the Delmarva Shorebirds. Conley was named the starting right fielder for the Sally League All-Star game and led Delmarva in walks (70) despite playing in just 95 games. On August 14, Conley was promoted to Frederick where he finished out the season playing in 16 games for the Keys. He is rated as having the best eye at the plate in the Orioles system by Baseball America.

A native of Gaithersburg, MD, Conley grew up less than 25 miles away from Harry Grove Stadium. He went to Quince Orchard High School where he was named Montgomery County Player of the Year in his senior season. Following high school, Conley was a four-year starter at Towson University. In his final season at Towson, he was named second-team All-Colonial Athletic Association. He was tops on the Tigers in batting average (.352), runs batted in (65), and hits (76). Conley is currently third in Towson history in career home runs (36) and games played (208).

Did You Know?

When Baltimore drafted Conley in 2008, he was just the 12th player to be drafted out of Towson and the first since 2005.

Matt Hobgood – RHP

The Norco, California native was drafted as the fifth overall pick by the Orioles in the 2009 draft. Hobgood had an unbelievable high school career while at Norco High School. Over his junior and senior seasons, he compiled a record of 21-1 while hitting 40 homers. In his senior season, Hobgood joined an elite group that includes the likes of Alex Rodriguez, Zach Grienke, and Gary Sheffield, when he was named the 2009 Gatorade National Baseball Player of the Year. As a senior, he went 11-1 with a 0.92 ERA with 101 strikeouts to 26 walks over 68.1 innings pitched.

After signing with the Orioles for $2.42 million, Hobgood made eight starts in 2009 with the Bluefield Orioles. On August 13, he notched his first professional win after he tossed five scoreless innings against the Princeton Rays. Last season, Hobgood started 21 games with Delmarva and compiled a 3.25 ERA at Arthur H. Perdue Stadium. In his final start of the 2010 campaign, he threw five shutout innings against the Augusta GreenJackets. Riddled by injuries in his young career, Hobgood may not start the season on time due to a strained rotator cuff.

Did You Know?

While at Norco High School, Hobgood was a teammate with Minnesota Vikings RB Toby Gerhart, on both the baseball and football teams.

Cole McCurry – LHP

A native of Asheville, North Carolina, McCurry was drafted by the Orioles in the 43rd round of the 2007 draft. McCurry spent two seasons with Surry (NC) Community College before playing a season with Tennessee Wesleyan College. Following his final year with Surry CC, he was drafted to the Atlanta Braves in the 31st round of the 2005 draft. At Tennessee Wesleyan, he went 13-0 with a 3.59 ERA in 2007. McCurry was named honorable mention NAIA All-American and first team All Appalachian Athletic Conference.

McCurry spent all of the 2009 season in the South Atlantic League with the Delmarva Shorebirds. Despite having a losing record (6-9), he finished fifth in the league in ERA (2.71) and strikeouts (145). Last year, McCurry started the season in the Keys rotation. He moved to the bullpen on May 23 and dominated the Kinston Indians in first relief appearance of the year. Over six innings, McCurry struck out a season-high eight batters and allowed just one hit and no runs to score. In 18 relief appearances, he went 3-3 with two saves and an ERA of 3.40. As a starter, McCurry was 2-3 with a 4.89 ERA.

Did You Know?

Despite pitching just 95.2 innings in 2010, McCurry finished only four strikeouts behind Ryan O’Shea for the team-lead in strikeouts for the year. O’Shea tossed a team-high 140.2 innings with Frederick last season.

Dale Mollenhauer – INF

Originally drafted by the Chicago White Sox in 17th round of the 2007 draft, Mollenhauer was selected by the Orioles in the AAA phase of the Rule 5 draft this past offseason. He spent parts of two seasons in the Carolina League with Winston-Salem but spent the entire 2010 campaign in the Southern League with the Birmingham Barons. While with the Barons, Mollenhauer led the team with 17 stolen bases.

The Gibsonia, PA native, played his collegiate baseball at East Carolina University. Prior to playing for the Pirates, Mollenhauer was drafted in the 24th round by the Orioles out of Pine-Richland High School. In his first season at ECU, he was named to the Conference USA All-freshman team. As a sophomore, he was one of just two Pirates to start all 59 games and in his final year at East Carolina, Mollenhauer was named second-team All C-USA while leading the Pirates with a .329 batting average.

Did You Know?

In 22 career games against the Keys, Mollenhauer batted .304. He hit .311 in 13 games played at Harry Grove Stadium.

Brian Ward – C

From Huntington Beach, CA, Ward finished his college career at NAIA powerhouse Lewis-Clark State in Idaho. In his first season at Lewis-Clark State, Ward helped guide the Warriors to their 16th NAIA National Championship and was named MVP of the 2008 NAIA World Series. In five games, he went 12-for-27 with three home runs and eight runs batted in. In his two seasons at Lewis-Clark State, the Warriors went a combinded 98-22 including a mark of 58-7 in their 2008 National Championship season. Prior to LCSC, Ward played at Eastern Oklahoma and Golden West Junior College.

Signed as an undrafted free agent by the Orioles in 2009, Ward began his professional career with the Aberdeen Ironbirds. As the 2009 campaign progressed, Ward’s bat came to life. In his first 20 games with Aberdeen, Ward hit .206 while in his final 16 games, he hit .318 for the Ironbirds. Last season, he was the starting catcher in Frederick making 82 starts behind the plate. Ward struggled at the plate in the regular season but flourished in the postseason. In just three playoff games, he had six runs batted in and belted a grand slam in game one of the North Division Championship Series against the Potomac Nationals. The Keys lone playoff win in 2010 was a 10-9 victory in game one of the NDCS.

Did You Know?

In Ward’s two seasons at Lewis Clark State, the Warriors were 5-1 against Division I opponents (Gonzaga University: 3-0, University of Washington: 2-1).

Tyler Townsend – 1B

The Florida International product was drafted in the third round by the Orioles in 2009 and was the first collegiate player taken by Baltimore in that draft. Townsend’s third round selection is the second highest in school history to Josh Banks, who was drafted in the second round of the 2003 draft by the Toronto Blue Jays. Townsend was one of the top collegiate players in the nation in 2009 as he batted .426 with 24 home runs, 77 RBIs, and 182 total bases. The 77 RBIs and 182 total bases were both FIU single-season records. His 24 HRs and .426 batting average were second best in school history. Townsend also set the career record for RBIs with 164. Townsend was a First Team All-American by Louisville Slugger, First Team All-Sun Belt, and First Team South Central All-Region in 2009.

After his first professional season was hampered by injuries, the Lewes, DE native began to hit his stride in 2010. In 30 games with Delmarva, Townsend hit .342 with three homers, 12 doubles, and 26 RBI. Prior to his promotion to Frederick on July 24, he drove in 10 runs in his final three games with the Shorebirds. Upon his arrival in Frederick, Townsend quickly was placed on the disabled list with a hamstring injury. Once off the DL, he had a very strong finish to the 2010 regular season. Townsend was named Carolina League Player of the Week in consecutive weeks (August 23-29, August 30-September 5). He was one of just three players in 2010 to be named CL Player of the Week in consecutive weeks.

Did You Know?

In 2006-07, Townsend was a member of the Sun Belt Commissioner’s List for maintaining a GPA above 3.5 for the entire school year.

This Is Our Home

 

An Open Letter to Our Keys Family

 

Hello Keys Fans,

 

This letter is written to inform you of our current lease for Harry Grove Stadium with the City of Frederick.

 

Over the last ten months through current lease negotiations, the Frederick Keys have wanted nothing more than to make a long-term commitment to the City of Frederick in the way of a long-term lease. We have pushed for this in each of our last three negotiations with the City of Frederick (2007, 2009 and 2011) but the City of Frederick has pushed for a short-term lease. In fact twice during the fall we believed we had reached an understanding on the terms of a long-term lease with the City of Frederick only to have the City take a step back.

 

In the past few weeks the Keys have signed a lease to keep the team in Frederick through the end of the 2011 season. The City of Frederick has decided however to issue a Request for Proposal that will open the stadium lease up for bids for future occupancy.

 

We are an affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles meaning that all of our players are scouted, drafted and signed by the Orioles with Frederick a step in the ladder towards their big league dream. Since this is our territory, we are the only affiliated baseball team that may apply. The only other baseball teams that can submit an RFP would be that of an independent league which would not be affiliated with a major league organization.

 

This is our home.

 

The Frederick Keys have been a local passion as an Orioles affiliate here since 1989. In that time more than 100 players have gone from the Keys into the major leagues. We want nothing more than to see 100 more come through the ranks over the next two decades.

 

Below are some facts about our lease with the City of Frederick for Harry Grove Stadium and the impact Keys baseball makes on our area.

 

  • In the eight-team Carolina League the City of Frederick currently has a very favorable lease for a landlord.  The Frederick Keys currently pay the second highest rent in the league. The Frederick Keys are one of just two teams in the league who pay a ten percent admission tax. The Frederick Keys are one of four teams in our league that pays all of our stadium’s utilities.

 

  • The Frederick Keys have taken on over $1.6 million in stadium expenses from The City of Frederick in the last four years. These include the expenses of stadium maintenance and repairs, field expenses, utilities, relating operational staff expenses, and our own lease-holder improvements.

 

  • The Frederick Keys generate over $10 million in annual economic impact to Frederick which includes out-of-county attendee spending, team and players spending, facility spending, concessionaire spending, and non-baseball events.

 

  • The Frederick Keys pay nearly $500,000 annually in combined City/County/State taxes to include admission & amusement, sales & use, and withholding taxes.

 

  • The Frederick Keys community involvement is valued at nearly $400,000 annually which includes donations, appearances, ticket fundraisers, marketing opportunities, and various other programs and events.

 

  • The Frederick Keys are the highest drawing minor league baseball team in the State of Maryland drawing nearly 300,000 fans a year to Harry Grove Stadium. The Keys have never finished lower than third in league attendance in the 22-year history of the franchise.

 

At this time we ask our Keys family to reach out and contact our local officials to let them know you want Keys baseball to stay for future generations.

 

Mayor

Randy McClement      rmcclement@cityoffrederick.com      301-600-1380

 

Board of Aldermen

Shelley Aloi                saloi@cityoffrederick.com                 301-600-1632

Carol Krimm               ckrimm@cityoffrederick.com             301-600-1863

Michael O’Connor      moconnor@cityoffrederick.com         301-600-1386

Kelly Russell               krussell@cityoffrederick.com             301-600-2966

Karen Young              kyoung@cityoffrederick.com             301-600-1382

 

We promise to make the 2011 season a special one. Our ticket prices have stayed the same for a decade, our promotional schedule will be fresh and we will be debuting many new programs to make an evening at Harry Grove Stadium even more enjoyable for this upcoming summer. We look forward to 2011 and the many years beyond that we will share together here in our home- Frederick.

 

Dave Ziedelis

Frederick Keys General Manager

 

Takin Care of Business: Orioles Fan Fest

For many people, the weekends are to enjoy time off after a long week of school or work. For us working in baseball, some offseason weekends are spent at events in the area to promote the team in different ways. This weekend was a very special event, 2011 Orioles Fan Fest. All staff had to attend for a two hour shift.

The preparation for Fan Fest was well underway last week as fliers were printed and schedules were packed. Everything was ready to go on Friday night for the event. The early bird shift, before the fans entered the convention center in Baltimore, was from 8-10 to set up the table and to make things look good. I arrived with two other from the Keys staff around 10. The three of us made a frosty walk from the parking lot to the Baltimore Convention Center through groups of O’s fans everywhere. The first shift with fan interaction started at 10am. For the Keys, Fan Fest is used to interact with Orioles fans from all over to talk baseball, sell ticket plans and to support the major league affilate. People of all ages attended fan fest as players addressed the crowd, long lines formed for free giveaways and mascots roamed the floors. One of the Fan Fest highlights for us was while Keyote was mingling with fans.

Two guys in their mid-20s came through the entrance to Fan Fest to find Keyote walking around. They went nuts and started shaking their keys. “Oh my god! It’s Keyote, I can’t believe it!!!,” they screamed. One of them unzipped his jacket halfway and pulled out a Keys baseball with the logo from 10 years ago on it. “Dude! Keyote, you need to sign this ball man! Do it man!” Keyote got the ball to sign and throughout this whole encounter, these guys were dancing, shaking their keys and everything. After Keyote signed the ball, the other guy took out a collector’s baseball cube. “Keyote, put the ball in the cube!” Keyote put his signed ball in the cube and they closed it and held it to the skies like it was the holy grail. After they finished worshipping the autograph, the first guy looked at Keyote and said, “Keyote, can you shove this cube in my chest?” Flustered with what to do, Keyote took the cube with his signed ball and put it against the guy’s chest. Right when it touched him, he acted as if the ball was jumpstarting his heart. It was an absolutely absurd moment but showed the passion that some people have for Keyote and the Keys. Keyote’s escort, Adam Pohl (Dir. of Marketing & Public Relations), told them he would have loved to have gotten this whole thing on video and they looked at him and said “Dude, it’s all up here,” as they pointed to their heads.

Keyote was a huge hit. He took many pictures and signed a lot of memorabilia. He even makes an appearance in the Baltimore Sun Fan Fest Highlight video which can be found by clicking here!

While some of the Keys staff was busy at the table, Branden McGee (Asst. GM) and Paul Denillo (Creative Production Manager), were in the media area talking to former Keys players including Brian Matusz, Matt Wieters and others. The interview session included a “This or That” section where the players decided between two options of specific questions. The video is currently being made and should be live on the Keys website by the end of the week!

O’s Fan Fest this year was definitely a success for the Keys and an even bigger success for the Orioles who are working to become healthy competition in the stacked AL East. With a fan base this large and hungry for a winning team, it is only a matter of time before Baltimore becomes one of the powerhouses in baseball again.

A Wintry Wonderland

It’s about that time of year when baseball fans itch for the beginning of spring training. Countdowns begin to emerge for the reporting dates for pitchers and catchers and of course, the first game of the spring. While many fans eagerly await the excitment of spring baseball, those who work within the minor league system are preparing for another season filled with wacky promotions, long work days and the fun, family atmosphere involved with it all.

My name is Brandon Apter and I am the Promotions Manager for the Frederick Keys, Advanced ‘A’ Affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles. I started working here in November this past year after working two seasons in minor league baseball prior. I am hoping that this blog gives not only Keys fans a chance to see how we operate, but for baseball fans everywhere. I will be posting every few days about how community appearances work in the offseason, updates as players arrive, and the craziness of a game day when they arrive. This time of the year is known to be a slow time but January is when everything picks up for this industry

The weather here in the northeast is kind to kids. Snow = no school for most here in Maryland but it is just another day at work for everyone here. Outgoing sales calls, incoming donation requests and sponsorships are in full swing at this time of year. For myself, planning a lot of community appearances takes up a lot of time. The Keys are in the midst of kicking off another year of the Keys for Reading Program which covers schools in Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia. Students who participate receive a bookmark and have to read four books within a two month period. When they turn in their bookmark with the completed books listed, they receive a free ticket to a game here at Harry Grove Stadium. My job along with Marketing Assistant, Bridget McCabe, is to travel to these schools with our mascot, Keyote, to get kids excited about baseball and most importantly, reading. This part of minor league baseball is one many people do not see. Community outreach and getting out there to get kids more amped to read is a very rewarding process for all involved.

These appearances are highlighted by us going to these schools and telling the students about this program and then having our mascot act out the book “Casey at the Bat” for them. It shows kids that reading can be fun and if you use your imagination, it can be used to achieve many things. One of the biggest rewards of going to these schools is seeing that you are indeed making a difference to the younger generation.

The Keys for Reading program is only one aspect of community outreach that we do and as we do them, I hope to inform everyone on how they work. One of the best parts of working in baseball is the reward of seeing a kid smiling at his first game and the satisfaction of the fans. I want to show you how all of that is done!

Stay tuned for more posts in the coming weeks!….Oh, only 75 days until Opening Day here at Harry Grove Stadium! Keyote is ready, are you?

Frederick Keys Video: Is it April Yet?

-Brandon

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