Archive for the ‘ Uncategorized ’ Category

The Promo Schedule is Out!

Good Evening Keys Fans!

Well all the waiting is over, the Keys 2015 promotional schedule is finally out!

promo schedule 640

More than 20 fireworks nights, three bobbleheads, Pat Sajak, the Cowboy Monkey Rodeo and the Soup Nazi are just a couple of highlights in what should be a fun-filled season. A complete write-up of the schedule can be found here while a video highlighting the top 10 promotions can be found here:

Anybody have any favorites? Personally, I’m pumped for Pat Sajak and Seinfeld Night. If he’s available, I’d love to have Sajak in the booth to call a half-inning of play-by-play on the radio. He’s pretty good at calling letters every night, but how does he do on balls and strikes? As a Seinfeld fanatic, I also can’t wait to ask the Soup Nazi a million questions about Schmoopie, Elaine and Newman’s obsession with JAM-BA-LAY-AAA soup. Maybe the soup master will even whip up some mulligatawny! (alright maybe I’m pushing it)

In other Keys promotional news, May 27 we’ll be celebrating “It’s ‘Snow Problem’ Night.”

Graphic

With all the snow storms that have ravaged New England, the Keys wanted to create a one-night oasis for our pals up north in Red Sox nation. Fans that cross below the Mason-Dixon line are PROMISED a snow-free evening, a fun giveaway, and a chance to see some talent that might be up at Fenway in a few years. Here is a little bit more information about the night.

We’ll keep you updated as we get closer to each theme day/giveaway so stay tuned to the blog as well as the Keys website and social media for more details!

A few other reminders:

-National Anthem auditions are on March 12 at the FSK Mall-Center Court from 5-8 p.m. All singers MUST pre-register by March 10. Celebrity judges from Key103 and 106.9 The Eagle will be on hand. More information about the night as well as registration forms can be found here.

And for those that might be a tad bashful? Remember if this guy can sing the anthem, ANYBODY can:

Yes, physical fitness is a point of emphasis for the upcoming season

Yes, physical fitness is a point of emphasis for the upcoming season….

-The Keys are looking for families to house Keys players. Those who are interested can fill out a housing questionnaire here.

On the baseball front, it may be old news, but the Keys coaching staff has been announced. Orlando Gomez, the Keys all-time winningest manager returns and will be joined by pitching coach Kennie Steenstra and hitting coach Paco Figueroa.

As many of you heard last week, former Keys southpaw Steven Brault was sent to the Pirates as the player to be named later in the Travis Snider deal. Although he pitched only three games for the Keys last year, Brault made a tremendous first impression, pitching to 0.55 ERA.

Best of luck to Steven with the Pirates. Not only was he a talented pitcher but a terrific guy. I had a chance to talk with him after his impressive debut against Carolina (W, 6IP, 1H, 0R) where we discussed throwing the sinker, his love of music and his two biggest fans:

Orioles minor league camp is right around the corner, but 38 players have have already gotten a head-start. These players will participate in workouts and will be available to help the Orioles in some major league exhibitions. You’ll probably recognize a few of the names.

That’s all for now. Stay tuned for more promotional news and the first edition of “Guess your Keys” in the next few days.

Shake ‘em!

Geoff

 


O’s Spring Training Roster with Plenty of Keys Connections

Good Morning Keys Fans!

The Orioles are NINE days away from pitchers and catchers reporting to Spring Training, and yesterday the club announced its list of spring training invites. Among the former Keys on the list are:

Tim Berry (40 man)

Zach Britton (40 man)

Dylan Bundy (40 man)

Oliver Drake (40-man)

Eddie Gamboa (40 man)

Kevin Gausman (40 man)

Brian Matusz (40 man)

Tyler Wilson (40 man)

Mike Wright (40 man)

Caleb Joseph (40 man)

Matt Wieters (40 man)

Manny Machado (40 man)

Jonathan Schoop (40 man)

Christian Walker (40 man)

Brian Ward (non-roster invitee)

Dariel Alvarez (non-roster invitee)

Nolan Reimold (non-roster invitee)

Perhaps one surprise player who did not receive an invite was Mike Yastrzemski. Even though he is not on the 40-man roster, the 24-year-old outfielder is coming off a strong 2014 where he hit .288 between three different levels. With the Keys, Yastrzemski batted .312 over 23 games. Without question, the highlight of that time came on July 5 at Lynchburg:

It was the first cycle by a Keys player since Jeff Fiorentino on May 2, 2005 at Winston-Salem, while his five hits tied a Frederick single-game record.

Despite not receiving an official invitation, I’d expect Yaz to still play in some MLB spring games. Especially when the O’s are traveling and need some bodies late in games (remember there are days when lots of the big name guys don’t travel).

Mike Yastrzemski gave the Keys an immediate spark when he arrived after the All-Star Break.

Mike Yastrzemski gave the Keys an immediate spark when he arrived after the All-Star Break.

One name to pay attention to who received a first-time invitation: Hunter Harvey. Viewed as frontline starter of future, Harvey is expected to headline the Keys starting rotation in 2015.

The entire Orioles Spring Training roster can be found here.

Elsewhere, MASN’s Steve Melewski had a good piece this morning about four homegrown arms on the club’s 40-man roster. All will be looking to prove themselves in spring training and ALL have former Keys ties. Melewski also profiled former Keys outfielder Glynn Davis and how he elevated his game in 2014. Davis ought to begin this year at Double-A Bowie.

I know I’ve said it in several posts already, but the O’s minor league coaching staff should be announced shortly. Here is a little more information about some new hires/promotions from MASN’s Roch Kubatko. As was mentioned here earlier, Luis Pujols will manage Aberdeen this year, an announcement which came from Dan Duquette at the Ironbirds Hot Stove Event:

Pujols to Aberdeen

Although many of you heard last week, it’s worth repeating since it’s the biggest news of the offseason. Last Thursday, the Keys entered into a naming rights partnership with Nymeo Federal Credit Union. Starting with this season, the ballpark will be known as “Nymeo Field at Harry Grove Stadium.” This is VERY exciting and will allow for the club to continue to invest in stadium improvements and the fan experience.

Nymeo FIXED 640x360

 

Two additional items:

Ever wanted to work for the Keys on gamedays? Well if you stop by the Stadium from 6-8 p.m. on February 24-25 you might get your chance! On those days, the Keys will be holding their annual job fair. A list of available positions can be found here.

The team is also looking for folks who might want to be host families for players. If you are interested, fill out the attached questionnaire here.

We’ll have much more news once spring training gets underway!

Shake your Keys!

Geoff

O’s FanFest is Less Than 24 Hours Away!!

Good Evening Keys Fans!

Orioles FanFest is less than 24 hours away and the anticipation is PALPABLE in the Keys Front Office. From 11 a.m.-6 p.m. staff will be on hand to answer all your questions about the upcoming season. There will be a prize wheel, youngsters can submit drawings for Keyote’s birthday invitation (we’ll supply the paper and crayons) while members from our group sales staff will be on hand to answer questions about tickets and flex packs. Fans will also be able to purchase plans. And you know what you get with your ticket plan?

BOBBLES

 

BOBBLEHEADS!!! That’s right folks, this year’s two bobbles have arrived and we will be bringing some to O’s Fest! So buy a plan and get a bobblehead. It’s really that simple. The 2015 bobbleheads of choice are Kevin Gausman and Zach Britton (if the picture wasn’t a total giveaway). And if you’re wondering, both players are scheduled to appear at O’s Fest and will be participating in autograph sessions (ticket required) so not only can you GET a bobblehead, but you could even get it SIGNED (if you have purchased a ticket to the autograph session). As the late Stuart Scott might say, “Booyah!!”

Gausman's resemblance to the bobblehead? Uncanny.

Gausman’s resemblance to the bobblehead? Uncanny.

Britton

Britton is right on target as well.

Additionally, we’ll be shooting videos throughout the day which will run during Keys games throughout the season, as well as some interviews. Stay tuned in the coming weeks!

Although I haven’t done any office polls, my guess is that nobody is more excited about O’s Fest than yours truly. One of my favorite winter memories as a child was going to Phillies FanFest (our family lives just outside of Philadelphia). You’d walk in and players and coaches would greet you with high-fives. You could take a tour around Veterans Stadium and absorb all the sights and smells (there were plenty of these), visit the batting cage, but the best part was the Q/A that took place in the Phillies clubhouse. Around 200 people would gather around a makeshift stage in front of the manager’s office, while the manager, general manager and several players talked and answered questions.

At one of these events I got to meet then-GM Ed Wade, who was nice enough to come out and talk to me one-on-one after I wasn’t called on during a Q/A (height might have been a factor I was probably 7 or 8). I’m sure memories of those good times will be coming back tomorrow.

In other news from this week:

-The Aberdeen IronBirds had their hot stove banquet last night. Former Key Caleb Joseph was one of the featured guests, as was Orioles GM Dan Duquette, and…..former Keys Manager Luis Pujols. Coaching staffs have not been announced yet, but Duquette did say that last year’s Keys manager will skipper the IronBirds in 2015. MASN’s Steve Melewski reported in December that the Keys all-time winningest manager Orlando Gomez will be returning in 2015 though nothing official has been announced.

-Orioles first baseman/outfielder Steve Pearce avoided arbitration with the Orioles by agreeing to a one-year, $3.7 million contract earlier. It’s quite a nice payday considering Pearce was making $540,000 last year.

-O’s minor league third baseman Austin Anderson has been suspended 50 games for use of amphetamines. It doesn’t seem likely Anderson will be a Key this year, but it’s still a tough blow considering he hit .307 at Aberdeen last year, his first professional season.

-Travis Snider has joined the Orioles after a trade between Baltimore and Pittsburgh that sent Stephen Tarpley and a player-to-be-named later to the Pirates. To make room on the 40-man roster, former Key (and 2013 Carolina League batting champion) Michael Ohlman was designated for assignment. What this means, is that Ohlman is temporarily “in limbo.” He’s not on any roster at this point, and must pass through waivers (meaning another team could claim him). If he gets through, then he could potentially rejoin an Orioles minor league team. It’s a complicated process and a period of uncertainty for any player who goes through it.  Here is a little more information about how the process works.

That’s all folks! I look forward to seeing some of you at FanFest tomorrow!

Shake your Keys!

Geoff

 

Let’s Negotiate, Not Arbitrate!

Good Evening Keys Fans!

And a happy Friday to everyone. It’s been a busy week in both Orioles and Keys land. At Camden Yards, Orioles executives are working on deals with arbitration-eligible players, while manager Buck Showalter, pitching coach Dave Wallace and bullpen coach Dom Chiti recently wrapped up a three-day mini-camp in Sarasota. Many of the players involved on both fronts have Keys connections.

As far as arbitration goes, the Orioles have reached contract agreements with the following players for the 2015 season:

-Brian Matusz-$2.4 million to $3.2 million

-Matt Wieters-$7.7 million to 8.275 million

-Chris Davis-$10.3 million to $12 million

-Chris Tillman-$546,000 to $4.315 million

Tillman gets the biggest raise by far after going 13-6 with a 3.34 ERA over a career-high 34 starts. He’ll once again be expected to anchor the O’s rotation in 2015.

Meanwhile, former Keys pitcher Brian Matusz also received a nice pay bump, a figure that was $500,000 more than MLBTradeRumors.com thought he was going to get. Although he was overshadowed by Andrew Miller down the stretch, Matusz’s 3.48 ERA was a career-low in 2014, while he held lefties to a paltry .233 batting average.

A member of the Keys in 2009 (and briefly in 2011 due to injury), Brian Matusz is coming off a career season with the Orioles.

A member of the Keys in 2009 (and briefly in 2011 due to injury), Brian Matusz is coming off a career season with the Orioles.

 

MASN’s Roch Kubatko has a little more about Matusz here noting that he could be one of four lefties in the Orioles pen this season (Zach Britton, Wesley Wright and T.J. McFarland are other likely candidates).

Getting all those players signed before arbitration figures are announced/hearings get underway is a relief, but six players including Britton have still not signed. There’s no doubt the Orioles will do what they can to avoid arbitration hearings with each individual. During these proceedings, the team and the player submit salary figures and present their cases to a panel of indepedent arbitrators. It’s not fun for players, who are told by their clubs why they aren’t worthy of more money, and for executives who risk damaging the relationships they’ve built with the player/that player’s representation. Moreover, the arbitrator cannot divide the two figures he receives (meeting in the middle) he must take either the team’s figure or the player’s figure. Here is an article from Baseball Prospectus which explains a little more about salary arbitration.

Elsewhere, the Orioles wrapped up a three day mini-camp on Wednesday down in Sarasota.

Many with Keys connections were on hand including: Branden Kline, Parker Bridwell, Mychal Givens, Dylan Bundy, Jon Keller, Kevin Gausman, Oliver Drake, Eddie Gamboa and Mike Wright.

As the names suggest, the goal of the camp was to let the major league staff take a look at some of the minor league arms. Still, some position players were on hand, including Michael Burgess, Henry Urrutia, Matt Wieters and namely, Manny Machado. Here is a YouTube video of Machado running the bases. He is recovering from right knee surgery.

According to Kubatko, many players made good impressions, but Rule-5 pick Jason Garcia really seemed to impress. Remember, Garcia MUST stay on the O’s 25-man roster for the entire season or be offered back to the Red Sox (his original team).

On the Keys front, there is no additional news about club’s coaching staff, other than this report from MASN’s Steve Melewski noting that Orlando Gomez will be returning to Frederick in 2015 as manager.  Still, there is plenty of other news to report from the front office!

-National Anthem Tryouts-will take place on March 12 at the FSK Mall Center Court. More information about registration can be found here.

-Keys Fan Survey-Take five minutes to fill out this survey and you’ll be entered to win a Keys home or road jersey!

-Keys Job Fair-Want a fun seasonal job? The Keys job fair will take place Feb 24-25 from 6-8 p.m. More details and a list of positions available can be found here. Ovations Food Services will also be on hand to conduct interviews.

That’s all folks! Stay tuned for more updates in the coming weeks.

Shake your Keys!

Geoff

 

Interview MASN’s Steve Melewski Part 2

Good Afternoon Keys Fans!

The holiday season may be inching closer and closer, but for the Orioles the season has not been all about eggnog and mistletoe. Wesley Wright, a member of the Cubs bullpen this past season, has signed a contract with the O’s according to MASN’s Roch Kubatko. A one-year deal, the addition of Wright is no surprise with the departure of Andrew Miller to the Yankees and trade rumors regarding ex-Key Brian Matusz. Coming off one of his best seasons, Wright registered a 3.17 ERA over 58 games.

One attractive aspect of Wright is that he can get out both lefty (.242 AVG) and righty (.258) batters. The deal will become official once Wright passes a physical. His addition also fills up the 40-man roster.

On the Keys front, Jesse Beal has agreed to a minor league deal with the Orioles. A member of the Frederick bullpen each of the past two seasons, Beal went 2-1 with a 3.48 ERA over 23 games (5 starts). One of the club’s top bullpen arms, the D.C. native posted a 16.2 inning scoreless stretch at one point. What might have been most impressive, was Beal’s level of consistency despite spending nearly a month on the disabled list with a shoulder injury. He also missed the final two weeks of the year on account of a right elbow sprain.

Jesse Beal was the "real deal" out of the bullpen in 2014. He also provided help to a starting rotation that suffered injuries early on during the season.

Jesse Beal was the “real deal” out of the bullpen in 2014. He also provided help to a starting rotation that suffered injuries early on during the season.

Two other items on the Keys front. According to Steve Melewski of MASN (more of our interview in a moment) Orlando Gomez will be returning as Keys manager while Kubatko reports that former Key Howie Clark has been hired as hitting coach. None of this information is official yet, but if true, Gomez’s return would mark the homecoming of the winningest manager in club history. During his three-year tenure (2010-12) the Keys went 214-204, while he guided the 2011 team to a Mills Cup title.

Clark spent 1994 with the Keys, batting .267 with five home runs and 40 RBI. After an extended wait, he made his big league debut with the Orioles in 2002.

Although we didn’t discuss coaching staffs, Steve Melewski and I did cover a range of issues in Part 2 of our chat. Among the topics we discussed:

-How close did the Orioles come to losing Mychal Givens or Parker Bridwell in the Rule 5 Draft

-Who are Chance Sisco and Hunter Harvey and what type of an impact could they have at Frederick in 2015

-Who is one Orioles minor leaguer that could make a big impact in the big leagues sooner rather than later.

Thanks again to Steve for taking some time to talk. As always, his insights were top-notch.

Two final notes:

-Need a present for a friend or loved one this upcoming holiday season? Look no further than the 2015 Holiday Package! There are only two days left to order, so hit up a representative at 301-915-9900!

Holiday Plan

-And do you need a speaker for a future meeting or event? Check out the Frederick Keys Speakers Bureau! For no charge, we’ll come speak to your group and answer every last question you have about the Keys, minor league baseball, the player development process and much more!

Have a great day and shake your Keys!

Geoff

 

 

 

Interview with MASN’s Steve Melewski PART 1

Good Morning Keys Fans!

Hope everyone had a great weekend, and enjoyed Saturday’s holiday event. A HUGE thanks to those who donated toys to Toys for Tots. We were able to fill up 10 boxes, all of which which will go to underprivileged children on Christmas Day.

Keyote Clause was happy to see a lot of youngsters on Saturday. He can also report that Frederick in December is considerably warmer than the North Pole.

Keyote Clause was happy to see a lot of youngsters on Saturday. He can also report that Frederick in December is considerably warmer than the North Pole.

Be wary of avalanches, unless they support a good cause...

Be wary of avalanches, unless they support a good cause…

Among the other highlights were a coo-KEY contest, and a visit by Keyote Clause, who ventured down from the North Pole. All reports indicate that every child that came to visit him was on the “nice list” and should enjoy a great Christmas.

For those of you who are still shopping, I’d encourage you to check out our  2015 Holiday Package! It includes two great options to choose from, beginning at just $75. So hit up one of our account managers at 301-815-9900 and cross someone else off your shopping list! Flex packs and season tickets are also available and EVERY plan comes with either a Zach Britton or Kevin Gausman bobblehead!

Speaking of Kevin Gausman, former baseball executive Jim Duquette said during a hot stove event this weekend that Gausman will be an “impact pitcher” in 2015. Splitting time between Baltimore and the minor leagues, the righty posted a 3.57 ERA over 113.1 big league innings and allowed three runs or less in 16 of his 20 starts. No question Gausman impressed, but one of 2015’s early questions will be can Gausman keep the pace he set this past season. With more innings comes a certain comfort zone, but the reverse is that the dossier on Gausman is a bit thicker. He’ll need to keep making adjustments as hitters get more and more accustomed to him.

MASN’s Roch Kubatko also noted yesterday that former Key Glynn Davis drew some interest from Texas in last week’s Rule 5 draft. In the end, the Rangers didn’t feel comfortable taking a flier on Davis, who has just 26 games of Double-A experience.

A Carolina League All-Star, Glynn Davis hit a combined .299 between Frederick and Double-A Bowie in 2014. It was the  best season of his professional career.

A Carolina League All-Star, Glynn Davis hit a combined .299 between Frederick and Double-A Bowie in 2014. It was the best season of his professional career.

The Rule 5 draft is one of the areas I covered with MASN’s Steve Melewski when I caught up with him on Saturday. Over lunch, Steve and I chatted about baseball, broadcasting and the Army-Navy game. You won’t find a more gracious guy, and one who is more knowledgeable about the Orioles. After we finished eating, he kindly granted my request for an interview. Part one of our talk will “air” today (you can find the soundcloud link below) and centers on the big league team. Among the topics we covered:

-Were you surprised the Orioles were not more active at the meetings?

-What does the loss of Nick Markakis really mean for the club?

-Will the O’s be less inclined to sign a “big name” rightfielder with Dariel Alvarez and Mike Yastrzemski knocking on the major league door?

-The role Buck Showalter has played in developing young talent

You may notice that during the interview Melky Cabrera is referenced. Obviously, he signed with the White Sox yesterday after Steve and I spoke. Part 2 of the interview will air on Wednesday, and will take a look at the Orioles minor league system and some “potential” members of the 2015 Keys.

Enjoy and shake your Keys!

Geoff

 

Winter Meetings Wrap/Could Keys be on the Move?

Good Morning Keys Fans!

The Winter Meetings have entered their final day, and the Orioles appear to be heading home without any big deals done. Any chance of Matt Kemp coming to  the O’s died when the Dodgers asked for Kevin Gausman or Dylan Bundy in return. Justin Upton talks also never gained traction. However as Dan Duquette remarked last night, the team is not about high profile free agents. Trades, the Rule 5 Draft (more about this in a minute), and building and maintaining the farm system are top priorities.

That doesn’t mean the Orioles haven’t looked at ways to address the departures of Nelson Cruz and former Key Nick Markakis. Delmon Young and his agent have been in talks with the Orioles, while Michael Morse and Nori Aoki could be candidates to join the Baltimore outfield. There was also a rumor about Yoenis Cespedes but that doesn’t seem likely at the moment.

Currently, the Orioles are looking at candidates to replace ex-Key Nick Markakis in rightfield.

Currently, the Orioles are looking at candidates to replace ex-Key Nick Markakis in rightfield.

If the O’s are going to act on Thursday, it will be a small-scale move. One need is at backup catcher with  Matt Wieters a question mark for opening day. The O’s have been connected to Sandy Leon, a catcher who has spent time with the Nationals over the last three years. It is possible Nick Hundley could be re-signed as well, but Hundley has made it clear he is looking for more time behind home plate.

Today’s Rule 5 Draft also presents room for activity. As we discussed in an earlier post, players are eligible for the Rule 5 draft who are not on their club’s 40-man roster and:

*were signed at 19 or older and have been in the organization for four years; or

* were signed at 18 or younger and have been in the organization for five years.

Three years ago, the Orioles got Ryan Flaherty via the Rule 5 draft and two years ago T.J. McFarland was acquired the same way. Last year, the club selected Michael Almanzar and Julio Borbon. Neither had any impact. Keys fans briefly saw Almanzar on a rehab assignment before he was designated for assignment, sent back to the Red Sox, and later acquired as a minor league free agent (get all that?).

Almanzar went just 2-for-17 in five games with the Keys

A former Red Sox farmhand, Michael Almanzar went just 2-for-17 in five games with the Keys

The bigger Rule 5 question for the Orioles could be who will they lose? By only adding Tyler Wilson and Mike Wright to the 40-man roster, it left Mychal Givens and Parker Bridwell exposed to the draft. Baseball America thinks Givens might be a Rule 5 pickup, but Jim Callis of MLB Pipeline told MASN’s Steve Melewski he thinks the Orioles will come away unscathed.

I tend to side with Callis. First of all, if Givens or any Orioles player is selected, that individual MUST remain on that club’s 25-man roster for the ENTIRE season. It’s an onerous stipulation and leads some teams not to participate in the Draft at all. Second, Givens has not pitched above Double-A, and has only two full seasons of professional mound time under his belt (he began his professional career as a shortstop). Moreover, his walk numbers are still quite high. At Bowie, he walked over eight per nine innings, while he averaged more than four walks per nine frames in Frederick. For more Rule 5 coverage, I recommend this piece by Melewski.

Some other writings of note:

-Melewski spoke with Orioles Scouting Director Gary Rajisch about next year’s draft and the Orioles farm system. A good chunk of the conversation centered around last year’s top pick, Brian Gonzalez. A left-handed pitcher, Gonzalez will probably spend this season at Low-A Delmarva, but is someone Keys fans can expect to pitch at the Grove in the future.

-Dan Duquette discussed the potential Major League impact former Keys Mike Yastrzemski and Dariel Alvarez could have in 2015

-I wasn’t a big Bill Nye the Science Guy growing up, but here is a video from Sports Science answering the often debated question: Is it faster to slide into first base or run through the bag?

Some Keys notes:

-This Saturday is the Keys Holiday Event! Keyote Clause will be on hand, there will be a coo-KEY contest, and merchandise will be on sale. It will also be the last day for Toys for Tots, so make sure to bring an unwrapped toy and get two free tickets and two hats!

Holiday Party

-2015 Holiday Packages are still available! And if you need a great stocking stuffer, we’ve got two great options to choose from.

– Need a speaker for a meeting, event, assembly, career day, etc..? Then look into the Frederick Keys Speakers Bureau! All talks are tailored to YOUR interests, and the best part? IT’S FREE!

Last but not least, everyone should mark July 26, 2015 on their calendars. Not only will it be a Sunday Funday, but it will be the FIRST EVER Keys media softball game! The event is part of “Anchorman Night” and some media members are already chomping at the bit!

See you on Saturday for the Holiday Event!

Shake your Keys,

Geoff

 

Happy Thanksgiving!

Good Evening Keys Fans!

I know we’re less than 48 hours away from Turkey Day, but I wanted to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving. The Keys offices will be closed tonight for the holiday, as we all will head home to spend time with family and friends. I know a lot of us in minor league baseball cherish these times because family time comes at a premium during the baseball season. That being said, it’s the reason why I am very thankful for my work family. Co-workers in minor league baseball are really like family members, given how much time they spend together. Sure you want to kill each other from time-to-time, but as most families go, that’s par for the course.

When I look back on my first season here, all I’ll be thinking about are the great memories of this year’s staff. From the Alive at Fives, to post-game trailor shenanigans, and much more, it was a fun year. I can’t wait to see what the next one brings.

Keys Staff Alive at Five

 

A couple of the other things I’m thankful for:

-This year’s Keys coaching staff. Every manager and coach looks at the radio guy a little bit different. Some love him, some hate him, some are indifferent towards him. This year’s staff was terrific, though I’ll give a special shout out to Keys hitting coach Torre Tyson and pitching coach Kennie Steenstra.

Torre Torre always kept me on my toes, and was a ton of fun to work with.

Torre Torre always kept me on my toes, and was a ton of fun to work with. And for my money, one of the best interviews in all of minor league baseball. 

Kennie Steenstra's love of all things Seinfeld made us an instant match. And although this picture doesn't show it, nobody wears an Orioles pullover better.

Kennie Steenstra’s love of all things Seinfeld made us an instant match. And although this picture doesn’t show it, nobody wears an Orioles pullover better.

 

These guys were professional, kept things loose, and were always fun to be around. It didn’t matter if we were on a six-game winning streak or a six-game losing streak, they were the same guys day in and day out. When you’ve got coaches like that, the dog days of summer feel a heck of a lot shorter.

Plus when both guys back you in a pitching competition against strength and conditioning coach Chris Cecere (when both know you are horribly out of shape), that’s love folks.

-To my fellow marketing staff members Bridget McCabe and Christine Roy. Our marketing staff is very close and I’d gladly take a bullet for either one of them (if we can stay away from vital organs that would be great though). In all seriousness, both have made my transition to Frederick a million times smoother, while both constantly keep me on my toes (besides being talented marketing pros, both are very good at playing practical jokes).

-To my broadcasting partner Doug Raftery. Better known as my work wife. We bicker like a married couple at times, but at the end of the day it’s all out of love. I said it on the final day of the season, a great broadcast partner can make a tiny little booth feel like a penthouse suite. It certainly felt that way this season, and I’m sure it will feel even bigger in 2015.

-To my real family. The support of my parents Jamie and Sandra and my young sister Susy and younger brother Matthew means the world to me. I’m not the easiest son, and I miss WAY too much time with them especially during the summer. There a lot of great families out there, but I’d take my own over just about anyone’s.

-Last but not least: to YOU the fans. Without you, we do not exist. Having been to every Carolina League park, and many throughout the rest of the minor leagues, I do not know of a more loving and passionate fan base.

And with that, wherever you go and whoever you’re with have a great Thanksgiving.

Shake your Keys.

Geoff

Former Keys to the 40-man Roster, Unlocking the Mystery of the Rule 5 Draft

Good Evening Keys Fans!

Well it may not be baseball season, but it certainly is “Hot Stove” season. That time of year where baseball pangs are satiated with roster moves, major and minor league transactions and plenty of speculation. The later has already ramped up with the Winter Meetings only weeks away.

Some of the Orioles recent moves (and non-moves) have involved plenty of former Keys.

Last night, Tyler Wilson (’12-13 Keys) and Mike Wright (’12 Keys) were both added to the Orioles 40-man roster, protecting both individuals from the Rule 5 Draft (we’ll explore this mysterious draft further in a moment). Both candidates were very deserving, and it was little surprise both were protected.

Tyler Wilson posted a 3.67 ERA between Double-A and Triple-A last season and was the organization's Pitcher of the Year.

Tyler Wilson posted a 3.67 ERA between Double-A and Triple-A last season and was the organization’s Minor League Pitcher of the Year.

Wilson’s addition to the Orioles 40-man roster was a virtual slam dunk after winning the organization’s Jim Palmer award this season, an honor that goes to the Orioles top minor league pitcher. In 166.2 inning pitched, he led all Baltimore farmhands in wins (14), strikeouts (157) and finished seventh in ERA (3.67). In 12 Triple-A starts, opposing hitters struggled mightily, batting just .239 against him. Wilson last pitched for the Keys in 2013, going 1-1 with a 4.48 ERA in 11 starts.

Mike Wright joins the Orioles 40-man roster following a fantastic finish to his 2014 season.

Mike Wright joins the Orioles 40-man roster following a fantastic finish to his 2014 season.

Earlier this season, I had a chance to interview Carolina Mudcats pitching coach and longtime MLB pitcher Steve Karsay. Towards the end of our chat, he said that as a player you are often judged by how you finish a season. Mike Wright’s 4.61 ERA may not sound sexy, but the way he ended the year was something to behold. In his final seven starts with Norfolk he registered a 0.95 ERA, while in his final 29.2 innings he gave up just ONE RUN.

The highlight of that magical finish came against the Durham Bulls on August 21, when he was one out away from a no-hitter.

That hit may have stung at the time, but my guess is he’ll take inclusion on the 4o-man roster over a minor league no-no. This morning, MASN’s Steve Melewski talked with Wright about his strong finish among other topics.

Although some thought that the Orioles might add more than just Wright and Wilson to the 40-man roster, the club only decided to add two, leaving the O’s with three open roster spots. Parker Bridwell and Mychal Givens (both members of this year’s team) were rumored to be in the mix for 40-man spots, but neither was added. MASN’s Roch Kubatko viewed Bridwell being left out as particularly “surprising.” In the article general manager Dan Duquette provides some reasoning.

So what does it mean that Bridwell and Givens were left off the 40-man roster? For now, nothing. However it could mean something in the couple of weeks.

That’s right folks, a veiled reference was just made to the Rule 5 Draft. Although it sounds nebulous, complicated and a touch frightening, fret not my faithful friends, it isn’t.

The goal of the Rule 5 draft is to prevent teams from stockpiling their minor league systems. So who is eligible ?

Players are eligible for selection in the Rule 5 draft who are not on their major league organization’s 40-man roster and:

* were signed at 19 or older and have been in the organization for four years; or

* were signed at 18 or younger and have been in the organization for five years.

 

The Rule 5 draft lacks the pomp and circumstance of the First Year Player Draft. It occurs on the final day of the Winter Meetings, and some teams don't even make a selection

The Rule 5 draft lacks the pomp and circumstance of the First Year Player Draft. It occurs on the final day of the Winter Meetings, and some teams don’t even make a selection.

As the disclaimer lays out, if you are on your team’s 40-man roster, you CANNOT be selected in the Rule 5 draft.

Thursday was the deadline for 40-man roster additions, so this year’s Rule 5 pool is set. Here is how the draft works:

-Draft order is based on win-loss record, going in reverse order (worst team picks first)

-Any team without any spots left on their 40-man roster CANNOT participate

-A player selected in the Rule 5 draft MUST be added to the selecting team’s 25-man roster, and must remain on the roster for the ENTIRE season. The selected player also must be active for at least 90 days. If he is optioned to the minors or designated for assignment (taken off the 40-man roster) he must be offered back to his original team for $25,000. If the player spends all season on the 25-man roster, he can then be optioned to the minors or designated for assignment.

– A team that selects a player in the Rule 5 draft pays the team that player was originally part of $50,000

There are also Double-A and Triple-A phases of the Rule 5 draft, that work along similar lines.

Teams are not required to make picks in the Rule 5 draft, and reason #3 above details why some teams elect not to. Keeping a player all season long on a 25-man roster can be a great burden. A complete list of Orioles farmhands eligible for the Rule 5 draft can be found  here. You’ll probably recognize a few of the names.

Three more Keys/Orioles notes:

– MAJOR congrats to former Key Oliver Drake on signing a big league contract

– Earlier this afternoon, the Orioles signed several players to minor league deals.

– Former Keys outfielder Xavier Avery (aka X-Man) has signed a minor league contract with the Tigers.

Last but not least, two Keys notes:

Holiday Party

-The Keys annual Holiday Event is on December 13 from 10 a.m.-1 p.m.! Should be a blast, with Keyote Clause and plenty of holiday cheer. AND…if you bring an unwrapped toy for Toys for Tots, you’ll receive two Keys tickets and two hats!

-On Thursday, the Frederick Keys Speakers Bureau was launched! This provides an opportunity for civic groups, businesses, schools and other organizations to have a member of the Keys come and talk at their meeting, event or outing. And the great thing about it? IT’S FREE!!! All talks are tailored to your group’s interests, and can be set up around your group’s schedule. To set up a speech, visit here.

Speakers Bureau MW

Have a good weekend and shake your keys!

Geoff

 

Fall League Comes to An End

Good Evening Keys Fans!

And a happy Friday to everyone! I hope you all have the space heaters turned up as we move into mid-November. After some occasional warm days over the last few weeks, it figures to get a little cooler this weekend. So make sure if you are headed out to bundle up!

Things are a lot warmer in Glendale, AZ, the home of the Arizona Fall League’s Glendale Desert Dogs. However, all seven of the former Keys on the Desert Dogs roster are headed home after the season concluded on Thursday. Glendale and Mesa played to an 11 inning tie in the ‘Dogs finale. Both sides ended with four runs, 10 hits and two errors.

Thanks to a 2-for-5 day at the plate, Garabez Rosa ended his AFL slate with a .308 batting average and Ashur Tolliver tossed a perfect inning to finish with a 2.70 ERA.

Here are the final numbers for all the former Keys in the AFL:

Position Players

Jason Esposito- 23G, .253 AVG, 1 HR, 12 RBI, 2-3B, 2-2B, 6R

Michael Ohlman-12G, .244 AVG, 1 HR, 2RBI, 2-2B, 3R

Garabez Rosa-21G, .308 AVG, 3HR, 11 RBI, 3-2B, 13R

Jason Esposito had a two-run triple in the ninth inning of Tuesday's game to lead Glendale to a 5-4 win.

Jason Esposito had a two-run triple in the ninth inning of Tuesday’s game to lead Glendale to a 5-4 win.

Pitchers

Zach Davies-7G/7GS, 3-0, 1.75 ERA, 25.2 IP, 18H, 5R, 10 BB, 23 SO, 1.09 WHIP

Mychal Givens-10G, 0-2, 3.09 ERA, 11.2 IP, 12H, 6R/4ER, 8 BB, 8 SO

Parker Bridwell- 8G, 0-1, 7.94 ERA, 11.1 IP, 9H, 11R/10ER, 8 BB, 9 SO

Ashur Tolliver-4G, 0-0, 2.70 ERA, 3.1 IP, 3H, 1R, 2 SO

A couple of notes behind the final numbers:

-Davies posted the top ERA among AFL starting pitchers. He finished fourth in strikeouts and fifth in innings pitched. He was also fifth in WHIP among starting pitchers who made six starts or more. Dominant over his last five outings, Davies allowed just 1 run in his final 21 innings (0.43 ERA). That included a 15.1 inning scoreless stretch from October 13-November 4.

Zach Davies was among the top pitchers in the Arizona Fall League.

Zach Davies was among the top pitchers in the Arizona Fall League.

-Although Bridwell’s final ERA was 7.94, six of the 10 runs he allowed came on November 5, over just 0.1 of an inning. Take that one appearance out of the mix, and the Texan’s ERA would have been a very respectable 3.27.

-Esposito finished his Fall League season on a high note, going 5-for-16 (.313) with a triple, five RBIs and two runs scored over his final four games. That included a game-winning two-run three-bagger in the ninth inning of Wednesday’s game against Salt River.

-Rosa finished fourth on the Desert Dogs in batting average.

The Fall League championship game will be tomorrow afternoon at 11:00 a.m. between Peoria (AFL West Champs) and Salt River (AFL East Champs). Although Glendale finished in last in the West division (14-15), they ended only a game behind Peoria in the division race.

On the Major League front, Tommy Hunter is among the MLB players participating in the Japan series. Although Hunter’s lone appearance on Wednesday was uneventful (1 IP, 2H, 0R), things took an interesting turn on the trip to Osaka.

Elsewhere on the Orioles front, some news about former Keys Nick Markakis, Matt Wieters and Zach Britton:

-After negotiations started off slow with Markakis, things have started to pick up. Markakis has said he wants to remain an Oriole.

-Following “Tommy John” surgery on June 17, Wieters got a check-up from Dr. James Andrews on Wednesday. Andrews was pleased with Wieters rehab, meaning the O’s catcher may be ready for opening day.

– Britton is among those up for up for a 2014 “Gibby Award” (in case you were wondering, Gibby stands for Greatness in Baseball Yearly Awards). Britton is up for “Breakout Pitcher of the Year”, Nelson Cruz for “Hitter of the Year”, Andrew Miller for “Setup Man of the Year”, J.J. Hardy for “Defensive Player of the Year” while Buck Showalter and Dan Duquette are up for “Manager of the Year” and “Executive of the Year” respectively. Several Orioles plays are in the “Must C” category as well. Click here to vote.

On the Keys front, there are several terrific ways to get into the holiday season!

Looking for a Christmas present for a friend or loved one? Well we got ya covered:

Holiday Package

Yes friends, it’s called the holiday package. For more information check out the 2015 Holiday Package flyer.

And when you get done purchasing? Feel free to jump for joy that you got some Christmas shopping done:

You just might wanna check to make sure nobody is around (unless you can really break it down like Carlton).

FYI you can also purchase a Keys ticket plan by visiting here. ALL plans come with a Kevin Gausman or Zach Britton bobblehead!

 

Second is through our TurKey competition. Simply create your own turkey hand and tell us what you’re most thankful for. The most creative one will win a prize.

Turkey

Last but not least, get involved with the Keys Toys for Tots Drive! Every new toy comes with two Keys tickets and hats. The drive runs until December 13.

Have a good weekend and shake your keys!

Geoff

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