Happy Friday Keys Fans!
Who’s happy with their bracket? I know I’m not. Luckily I didn’t have Duke in my Final Four, but still a loss to Mercer has to practically kill most brackets. Warren Buffett is probably sitting in one of his many mansion just laughing at all the bracket that were entered in for his billion dollars.
Stepping away from College Basketball, the Major League Baseball season with begin tomorrow from Sydney, Australia. The Dodgers and Diamondbacks will play at the Sydney Cricket Grounds slated to begin at 7pm Sydney time, or 4am ET… and well, 1am PT. Good luck staying up to those die hard’s out west.
Some news from the Orioles front, Manny Machado has been cleared to continue his rehab assignment. The good news came following his follow-up appointment Thursday on his surgically repaired knee. Also Luis Ayala was at the O’s complex today to undergo a physical. A deal has not been made official yet, but when it does look for Ayala to begin the season somewhere in the minors. And speaking of the minors it seems like a good time for that thing you probably all are reading this post for, Guess Your Keys!
Yesterday Geoff gave you a little insight to today’s group, so without further a due I give you the Friday, March 21st edition.
More on Torres:
Torres spent his first full season at Low-A Delmarva, going 1-3 with a 3.22 ERA and one save over 25 games. Things got off to a rocky start for the Massachusetts native. Over his first six outings he went 0-2 with a 7.45 ERA. However, he turned things around over the final three months. After Torres allowed eight earned runs over 9.2 innings in April, he surrendered only eight runs over the final three months of the season, posting a 2.35 ERA over his final 35 innings. Right-handed hitters really struggled against Torres, collectively hitting .186 with only four extra-base hits.
The right-hander made his debut with the GCL Orioles in 2012. Drafted earlier that season by Baltimore in the 28th round out of UMass, Torres personifies an “against the odds” story. As a student at Central Catholic (MA) High School, Torres was cut from the baseball team all four years. Following graduation, he enrolled at UMass and decided to walk-on. Trying out at third base, he impressed Minutemen pitching coach Mike Sweeney was converted to pitcher. As a junior, he served as the team’s No. 1 starter going 4-4 with a 3.34 ERA over 12 starts. He tossed a team-best 89 innings, and helped lead his team to an Atlantic-10 tournament berth.
More on Yastrzemski:
The grandson of Hall of Famer and Red Sox legend Carl Yastrzemski, Michael begins his second season in the Orioles system. He spent all of 2013 with Short-Season Aberdeen. In 57 games, he hit .273 with three home runs and 25 RBIs. Named the organization’s Minor League Offensive Player of the month in July, Yastrzemski hit .337 with 12 RBIs and collected 31 hits. An outfielder who played both corners and saw time in centerfield, the lefty swinger also played in the New York-Penn League All-Star game.
Selected by the Red Sox in the 36th round of the 2009 draft out of St John’s Prep (MA), Yastrzemski elected to attend Vanderbilt University instead. There, he helped lead the Commodores to the 2011 College World Series. As a senior, he hit .322 earning a First Team All-SEC selection as well as Third Team All-American honors. Not a major power threat, Yastrzemski once homered off former Key (and O’s No. 2 prospect according to Baseball America) Kevin Gausman when the later was pitching for LSU. In addition to his grandfather, Yastrzemski’s father Mike was a former third-round pick by the Braves in 1984. He made it to Triple-A with the White Sox.
More on Chalas:
Used mostly as a starter in his first three professional seasons, Chalas made a smooth transition to the bullpen in 2013. He opened the season with Delmarva, and tallied a 3.24 ERA over 13 games. Tough against righties (.245) and lefties (.221), he held opponents to a combined .231 batting average before his promotion to Frederick on June 3.
With the Keys, Chalas proved to be an innings eater. In 22 appearances, the righty went two or more frames on 19 occasions, while he pitched three innings in each of his last seven games. It was a nice cap-off for Chalas, after he posed a 5.02 ERA in 24 games with Delmarva in 2012.
Signed as a 17-year-old, the righty started strong in the Orioles’ organization. He went 5-1 with a 1.72 ERA in the Dominican Summer League in 2010 and 5-3 with a 2.93 ERA in the Gulf Coast League in 2011.
More on Starr:
Following 2012 where Starr made three stops at Orioles minor league outposts, the Canadian spent all of 2013 with the Keys. In addition to playing a career-high 115 games, he set personal-bests in hits (90), home runs (six), runs scored (44) and RBIs (45). Additionally, he posted 20 multi-hit games.
Starr’s best month came in April, where he hit .301 over 24 games. Over one-third of his RBIs came during that initial stretch, while he stroked six doubles as well. However over the next four months, Starr never hit above ,210. Standing 5-8, the shortstop/second baseman made cameos with the Keys in 2011 and 2012.
Grabbed by Baltimore in the 34th round of the 2010 draft out of the University of British Columbia, Starr was a four-year starter at shortstop for the Thunderbirds. As a senior, he hit .366 with 15 doubles and 41 RBIs and posted a .429 on-base percentage. As a sophomore he played for team Canada at the World University games.
Hope you all have a great weekend. Enjoy all the College Basketball and the Opening Series if you can stay awake.
Till next time. Shake your Keys!
Happy Thursday Keys Fans!
And happy bracketing. Mine has already taken a turn for the worse after Ohio State’s last second loss to Dayton. When the Flyers scored with three seconds left, I scared the daylights out of our office manager who feared I had suffered a heart attack. Searching for my dignity, I informed her it was just the March Madness monster.
My guess is there will be more of these moments over the next day or so, with the bulk of the office participating in a pool (and props to group sales manager Matt Miller for putting it together).
On the diamond, the madness has already started. It’s that time when big league rosters start to take shape, rotations get locked in, and guys on the bubble search for their…..
Thanks Luther Vandross.
Although it’s not as visible, the same thing is true in the minor leagues, as players anxiously await their opening day assignments.
And for that matter, all of us at the Keys want to know too! Well, today’s picks feature a couple of familiar faces in the outfield, a Texan who was tough to hit last year, and a first baseman who might have a little luck of the Irish in him.
More on Webb:
2013 was a challenging season for Webb, who hit .201 over 84 games. His main bugaboo was strikeouts. Over 293 at-bats, he went down on strikes 107 times. Webb also went into the offseason with a sour taste in his mouth, as he missed all of August due to a back injury.
Fortunately, there have been some encouraging signs this spring. On Wednesday, he hit a pair of home runs in an Advanced-A Spring Training game to lead Frederick to a 3-0 win.
Defensively, Webb has great athleticism and a strong arm, which allows him to play any outfield position (though he was primarily in right last year). He was selected by Baltimore after one season at Palomar Junior College in 2009.
More on Davis:
When Davis and Webb were roaming the outfield (with Davis in center and Webb in right) not many balls would hit the ground. However like his corner outfield mate, Davis was also bit by the injury bug last season. Out for a month with a hamstring injury, the bum wheel impacted the outfielder’s stolen base numbers. In 97 games, he swiped just 19 bags, a far cry from a career-best 37 the year prior. At the plate, it was also a trying year for Davis, who hit .234 and grounded into 13 twin-killings. With a winter to rest, he’ll look to get things back on track this year.
More on Fowler:
Fowler flew beneath the radar, but quietly put together an excellent season. Over 37 appearances out of the bullpen, the Texarkana, TX native registered a 2.57 ERA while leading all relievers with 73.2 innings pitched. One of the few Keys from last season with experience at the Triple-A level, Fowler made a cameo with the Norfolk Tides in 2012. He was drafted by Baltimore out of Texas Tech in 2011.
More on Mancini:
The future looks bright for Mancini, after an impressive display at Short-Season Aberdeen in 2013. Named the New York Penn’s League’s Topps/Minor League Player of the Year, the 22-year-old set franchise records in batting average (.328) and hits (84). He also finished fourth in the league in runs scored (43) and on-base percentage (.382).
Rated the No. 25 prospect in the Baltimore system according to Baseball America, Mancini’s season began at the University of Notre Dame. With the Golden Domers, he hit .389 and led the Big East in hitting. Only three hits more, and he would have batted .400.
That’s all for tonight. It’s hard to believe, but we’re almost halfway done with our countdown! Stay tuned tommorrow when we discuss a player with excellent baseball bloodlines and another who was cut from his high school baseball team EVERY YEAR, before turning heads in college. You won’t want to miss his incredible story.
Shake your Keys!
Keysfest Is Right Around the Corner
Fans Can Purchase Single-Game Tickets for 2014 Season
FREDERICK, Md. – The Frederick Keys are happy to announce that Keysfest will take place on Saturday, April 5 from 11-2 p.m. at Harry Grove Stadium. This fan-centered event is free of charge, and will include giveaways, food samplings and plenty of fun for all ages. Additionally, Keys faithful will have a chance to purchase single-game tickets for the 2014 campaign.
“Keysfest is an exciting way to kick off the season and show fans what they have to look forward to,” said Director of Marketing, Bridget McCabe. “The team’s 26th season is full of surprises, and we are excited to give everyone a sneak peak at what we have planned.”
This year’s event will be filled with plenty of activities. The Keys’ Giant Eagle Fun Zone will be open for free, while youngsters will have a chance to test out four new inflatables. Among them, are a giant new slide as well as a bounce house. Young fans can also take part in a coloring station, Face Paint by Vicki, a prize wheel and have their own baseball cards made. Plus, mascot Keyote will be on hand for a meet-and-greet.
Tours will be provided throughout the day, to give fans a behind-the-scenes look at Harry Grove Stadium. Families are also encouraged to bring their gloves, as there will be a catch in the outfield.
At the concessions stand, fans will have a chance to sample a diverse selection of food choices. Everyone who walks through the gates will receive a food voucher good for a free Esskay hot dog and soda. In addition to ballpark favorites, there will be an opportunity to test out delicious new offerings as well. Among this year’s additions, are grilled and friend chicken wraps along with an Asian chicken lettuce wrap.
Buffalo Wild Wings and Mt. Musser Kettle Corn will be be around to distribute samples, while other food and drink options (including wine and beer) will be available for purchase. Fans can also stock up on Keys merchandise, with a variety of sales scheduled to take place.
Those who have not stopped by the box office will have a chance to purchase individual game tickets for the 2014 season as well as ticket plans. Single-game tickets officially go on sale March 28.
Opening Day 2014 for the Frederick Keys is scheduled for Tuesday, April 8, when the Carolina Mudcats visit Harry Grove Stadium at 7:00 p.m. For ticket information, please call 301-815-9939 or visit frederickkeys.com.
Oh say, can you see, by the… oh Happy Hump Day Keys fans!
My apologies, just still in the process of getting the Star Spangled Banner out of my head. Last night at the FSK Mall we had a great turnout of some very talented fans vying for a spot this year to perform the National Anthem here at Harry Grove, and I want to wish them all the best of luck. As for me on the other hand, it’s time for a healthy dose of iTunes to set me straight.
Orioles opening day is rapidly approaching with something called “spring” as well. However nothing really “springy” has happened in the last few days, just cold weather and some snow. Luckily the teams are enjoying the warm Florida weather, but falling in their St. Patrick Day hats to the Tampa Bay Rays 7-4.
In other O’s news pitchers Dylan Bundy and Johan Santana continue their rehab assignments and threw off of a rehab mound today. Which can make a Keys fan think, where in the system will they start the season? Will either start with the Keys? We don’t know yet, however I do know that it’s a perfect time for another Guess Your Keys! Today we have a couple of infielders including a member of the 2013 club and an O’s top 20 prospect.
More on Marin:
Only 20 years old, Marin comes off a solid 2013 campaign with Low-A Delmarva. In his first full-season, he hit .265 and finished second on the Shorebirds with 48 RBI. Hitting out of the eight-hole for most of the season, Marin got more comfortable with South Atlantic League pitching in the second half. Over his final 51 games, the Miami native hit .275, while he added nearly 50 points to his slugging percentage. The one knack on Marin at the plate was on-base percentage (.310), attributed in large-part to strikeouts (99 K in 388 AB). Rated the 12th overall prospect in the Orioles system according to Baseball America, the same publication has also called Marin the “best defensive infielder” in the Baltimore farm system. Selected by the O’s in the third round of the 2012 draft out Gulliver Prep (FL), Marin originally committed to the University of Miami. However, he was lured away by a reported $481,100 signing bonus. Marin caught scouts’ attention during his senior season, when he homered off current Rangers prospect Joey Gallo in the National High School Invitational.
More on Mosby:
And no he’s related to a Ted Mosby for those “How I Met Your Mother” fans.
Mike is not your average third baseman. In past years he’s seen each view from the defensive side playing each infield position, but has seen more nowadays from the both corner infield positions. 2013 proved to be challenging season for Mosby, as a strained oblique and a quadriceps injury limited him to 46 games. The majority of those (38) were played with the Keys. In his second stint with Frederick, Mosby hit .278 with five home runs and 20 RBIs. Predominantly a third baseman in his first season at Advanced-A, Mosby spent the majority of last season at first, while also seeing time at second and third. Defensively, Mosby made considerable improvement in 2013. After committing 19 errors in 82 games in 2012, he made only two defensive miscues in 38 games last season. The Kentucky native made the jump to Frederick in 2012. In 82 games with the Keys, he hit .234 with four homers and 34 RBIs. Prior to joining the team, he had never hit above .230 in rookie ball. Drafted by the Orioles out of Wabash Valley College in Illinois in the 14th round of the 2010 draft, Mosby dominated in junior college. He hit .451 with 18 home runs, 82 RBI and stole 19 bases as a sophomore before being selected by the O’s in the 14th round of the 2010 draft.
We will have more for you tomorrow. Shake your keys!
Good Evening Keys Fans!
And happy Tuesday! Tonight we’ll hear some of the best voices in the area, as judges from Key103 and members of the Frederick Keys Staff listen to individuals who would like to sing our nation’s anthem at a game this year. The performances run from 5-8 p.m. at FSK Mall, so if you’re in the area, swing on by. As for those trying out, break a leg!
On the Orioles front, manager Buck Showalter announced that Chris Tillman will be the opening day starter. He’ll toe the bump on March 31 when the team hosts the Red Sox. Not surprisingly, Ubaldo Jimenez will serve as the O’s No. 2 man.
Down on the farm, MASN’s Steve Melewski put out a full report on Monday’s minor league action in the Grapefruit League. Frederick lost 7-0 in it’s game on St. Patty’s Day, but Matt Hobgood and Mychal Givens each pitched well. Givens is definitely a candidate to spend time in the Frederick bullpen this season. Rated the organization’s #23 prospect according to Baseball America, the righty began his career as a shortstop before switching to the mound last season. Over 28 games, he went 2-3 with a 4.22 ERA.
One final note on Givens: if he were to be assigned to Frederick, it would not be his first time in a Keys uniform. He played in one game with the Keys in September 2010, going 2-for-4 with an RBI and two runs scored.
We’ll resume Guess Your Keys tommorrow afternoon, but tonight we wanted to take a step back and review the 2013 season. Although the team struggled at times, many players took a step forward in their careers. Here is a full look-back:
Frederick ended the first-half one game under .500, but second half struggles saw the Keys finish in last place for the second straight season. The 2011 Carolina League champs went 34-35 in the first half and a league-worst 27-43 in the second stanza to finish a combined 61-78 on the year. In the mix for a playoff spot at the end of May, the Keys stumbled down the backstretch of the first half, dropping seven of their final eight games heading into the All-Star Break. Struggles resumed in the second half, as the team was plagued by promotions and injuries. As a result, the Keys finished in the bottom-third in most offensive and pitching categories. Under the guidance of first-year manager Luis Pujols, Frederick hopes to turn the page in 2014, and advance to postseason play for the 11th time in franchise history.
As a team, the Keys finished last in the Carolina League in hitting, batting .245 collectively. However, the club knew a thing or two about hitting the longball. In 2013, the Keys clubbed 109 dingers, second-most in the CL. More than 60% of those came at Harry Grove Stadium (69), as the team made healthy use of the ballpark’s friendly dimensions. Individually, the Keys were paced by Carolina League batting champion Michael Ohlman. Over 100 games, the power-hitting catcher hit .313, paced the Keys in slugging percentage (.524) and closed third overall in on-base percentage (.410). Outfielder Johnny Ruettiger used his excellent speed to create chaos on the basepaths. Joining the club in late-April, the Illinois native finished third in the league in stolen bases (43). In addition to shattering his own career-high (his previous best was 16 in 2012), his total was the seventh-most all-time by a Frederick player.
Nicky Delmonico missed time early on with a concussion, but led the team with 13 home runs (a feat he accomplished in just 61 games). The lefty-swinger would be traded to Milwaukee in late-July for Brewers relief pitcher Francisco Rodriguez, as the Orioles tried to bolster their bullpen for the stretch run. The tenure of Christian Walker also proved to be shorter than most Frederick fans would have preferred. Rewarded for an excellent all-around season, the ex-South Carolina Gamecock was promoted to Double-A after 55 games with the Keys. During that time, Walker hit .288 with eight homers, 35 RBI and 17 doubles. For the year, he hit a combined .300 during stays at Delmarva, Frederick and Bowie. Travis Adair had the longest hitting streak of the year, picking up a base-hit in each of his last 18 games, while former independent league standout Zane Chavez was also a pleasant surprise. Joining the Baltimore organization after four years in non-affiliated baseball, the journeyman catcher hit .295 in 75 games and was named a mid-season all-star.
Although Frederick finished last in team-ERA (posting a 4.43 mark as a staff), several Keys arms enjoyed breakout seasons. Chief among them was Eduardo Rodriguez. Calm and collected, the 20-year-old went 6-4 with a 2.85 ERA in 14 starts en route to being named to the Carolina League All-Star Team and the Sirius/XM All-Star Futures Game. Unhittable in the month of May, Rodriguez went 5-0 with 2.23 ERA and hold opponents to a .208 bating average.
Tim Berry was another southpaw who provided consistent results. In his second Carolina League tour, Berry led the club in wins (11) and starts (27) while working a team-high 152 innings. The 11 victories was also tied for most in the CL, and moved Berry into the top five all-time in Keys history. Out of the bullpen, Marcel Prado registered a 2.30 ERA in 21 games before a June 3 promotion to Double-A Bowie. Finishing with six saves in eight tries, Prado was brutal against right-handed hitters, holding them to a combined .207 batting average. Meanwhile, Zach Fowler handled lefties with aplomb, ending the year with a 2.57 ERA and a career-best 73.2 innings pitched.
THE OHLMAN EFFECT
The 2013 campaign was a special season for Michael Ohlman. Coming off a difficult 2012 where he missed time following a car accident and a drug violation, the Keys catcher rebounded with his best season as a professional. His .313 batting average made him the first Frederick batting champion since 2009 (when Robert Widlansky hit .340) while the catcher picked up additional accolades along the way. Named to the postseason all-star squad, he also earned Carolina League “Player of the Week” honors on two occasions. Consistent with his approach, Ohlman hit below .270 only one month out of the season and was an equal-opportunity destroyer at the dish. He punished lefties to a .364 clip, but did well against righties too, batting .302. For his efforts, he was added to the Orioles 40-man roster in November.
Ohlman likely won’t make this year’s edition of Guess Your Keys, but the 2014 club should have plenty of talent. We’ll have more details tommorrow, when the highly talented Chris Colletti makes his Unlocking the Keys Blog debut. I’m sure you’ll enjoy his insights.
Talk again soon and shake your keys!
Happy Weekend Keys Fans!
Hope you are enjoying all the conference tournament basketball madness. A number of us in the office went out to lunch this afternoon to take in some of the games, while enjoying some tasty barbecue. As we were sitting there, it dawned on me that this is one of the best times of the year. The NCAA Tournament is on the horizon, spring training is at the midway mark, and in a very short time, the Keys will be back on the diamond.
Before we get to the Friday Edition of Guess Your Keys, some news and notes:
- Former Key and Orioles top pitching prospect Dylan Bundy has been optioned to Double-A Bowie
- O’s rotation candidate (and another former Key) Zach Britton says he prefers to start, but is okay coming out of the bullpen
- And in Keys news, the team put out a list of Mattress Warehouse Club theme nights and weekly specials yesterday. Scroll down one blog post and check them out! Believe me, you’ll want your calendar handy.
Alright, it’s time for today’s edition of Guess Your Keys! It’s very simple. Those of us at the Unlocking the Keys blog have put together a list of 40 players that we believe may grace the hollowed grounds of Harry Grove Stadium. Then when the team’s regular season roster comes out, we’ll see how many we picked correctly.
Tonight’s terrific tandem includes a hard throwing southpaw and a hero from the “Loveliest Village on the Plains.”
2013 club: Frederick/Delmarva
More on Rutledge:
Although Rutledge checks in at only 5-11, he has a POWERFUL arm. According to Baseball America, the lefty hit 98 mph while pitching in the Cape Cod League. That cannon, plus an outstanding freshman season at Samford, contributed to the Orioles taking Rutledge with their sixth round pick in the 2012 draft. Used predominantly as a reliever since turning pro, the Mississippi native has been dominant at times. With Delmarva last season, he went 4-3 with a 1.45 ERA and struck out 45 in 43.1 innings. However, he struggled a bit more with the Keys, allowing 11 runs over 12.2 innings (7.82 ERA) in a late-season stint with the club. The only knock on Rutledge has been occasional struggles with command (39 BB in 79.1 pro innings). But if he can harness his stuff, he could be a deadly weapon late in games.
2013 club: Delmarva
More on Simpson:
One of Auburn baseball’s folk heroes, Simpson is best known for his go-ahead home run in the 2010 NCAA Regionals which helped the Tigers stay alive against another band of Tigers from Clemson:
Not bad for being down in the count 1-2 and on the brink of elimination. As far as Simpson’s professional exploits go, he spent all of 2013 at Low-A Delmarva and appeared all over the diamond. Not counting the games where he served as DH, Simpson played five different positions in 2013. At the plate, he got off to a terrific start, batting .316 over his first 23 games, but in May he was sidelined by an injury which led him to miss more than a month. Trying to get back in the swing of things, he finished the season with a .248 average to go along with nine homers (tied for the team-lead).
Enjoy the weekend and selection Sunday. And of course, shake your keys!
NIGHTLY SPECIALS IN MATTRESS WAREHOUSE CLUB ANNOUNCED
Keys Offer Affordable Deals and Rollout Special New Menus
FREDERICK, Md. – The Frederick Keys are proud to announce an exciting weekly menu selection coming to the Mattress Warehouse Club-the team’s upscale, climate-controlled restaurant-for the 2014 season. In addition to the return of fan-favorite specials, Keys faithful can also look forward to a fresh Hump Day menu as well as a host of specialty nights throughout the season.
Things get off to an exciting start with Taco Tuesdays. From the time gates open until one hour into the game, fans can help themselves to a fully-stocked taco bar as well as chips & salsa, fiesta salad and much more.
Thirsty Thursdays also present plenty of options. Besides getting to choose from a stocked menu which includes chicken wings and chef’s choice sliders, patrons will receive four beer tokens, which they can use to sample Flying Dog and Brewer’s Alley selections on tap.
Some of the new features this season include a brand new, mouth-watering, Hump Day Menu. Equipped with a baked potato bar, Cajun cheddar stuffed burgers, Esskay all-beef hotdogs, plus cookies and brownie treats, fans will also receive four beer tokens for the night.
Meanwhile, Friday’s Surf and Turf Menu receives an upgrade. To go along with baked salmon, a lightly seasoned New York Strip steak joins the list of offerings, giving fans another tasty option. Sundays rotate between a mid-day brunch for 2 p.m. games and a Sunday Night Fever menu for 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. starts.
This year’s calendar includes periodic specialty nights as well. Among the highlights, are Flying Dog Beer Pairings on April 23 and August 26 and a Brewer’s Alley Beer Pairing on May 21. The team has also put together fresh menus for Girls Night Out (May 30), Christmas in July (July 25) and Salute to the Orioles Night (July 26).
For more information about this year’s Mattress Warehouse Club offerings, fans can visit frederickkeys.com or contact an account manager at 301-815-9900.
Opening Day 2014 for the Frederick Keys is scheduled for Tuesday, April 8, when the Carolina Mudcats visit Harry Grove Stadium at 7:00 p.m. For ticket information, please call 301-815-9939 or visit frederickkeys.com.
Good Evening Keys Fans!!
Today has already been a terrific sports day. One of my favorite events, the ACC Tournament officially kicked off in Greensboro, N.C., while my rooting interest, the Wake Forest Demon Deacons successfully advanced out of the opening round (scoring an 81-69 victory over Notre Dame). Although I did not go to school there, I developed a passion for the Deacs after working three years on the team’s radio broadcast. As an added bonus, I can now gloat in the face of my broadcast partner Doug Raftery (who supports the Golden Domers) for at least the next 18 hours or so.
The other big event (at least in the minds of us minor league baseball junkies) was the start of minor league spring training games. I know it was a welcome respite for many of the players, who’ve been playing intrasquad games and participating in drills since the start of camp. We’ll pass along any updates we get, especially in regards to potential/former Keys.
While we are on the topic of spring training, one injury note out of big league camp. Former Key, Matt Wieters, will sit out the next few games due to a right ankle sprain, after rounding third base awkwardly during Tuesday’s Grapefruit League contest. Wieters says it’s nothing major, and ought to return in a few days.
So who can the Keys expect to be behind the plate this season? Well, we’ve got a couple of guesses:
2013 club: Delmarva
More on Sawyer:
Sawyer has spent each of the last two seasons at Delmarva. With the Shorebirds, he was predominantly a catcher, but also saw some time at first base. At the plate, Sawyer hit .238, but posted a career-high 18 doubles, and showed good plate discipline drawing a personal-best 42 walks. Behind the plate, he committed four errors in 80 games and threw out 28% of all would-be basestealers. Originally committed to play college baseball at UC-Riverside, Sawyer elected to go pro after being selected by Baltimore in the eighth round of the 2010 draft.
William “Steel” Russell
2013 club: Delmarva
More on Russell:
The son of former Pirates manager and current Orioles bench coach John Russell, Steel hit .236 over 42 games with Low-A Delmarva in 2013. While he excelled offensively at the onset (.306 batting average during his first month) infrequent use in the second-half caused him to hit just .136 over his final 23 games. Defensively, he made six errors and threw out 25% of runners who tried to steal off him. Russell’s draft day story is a memorable one. Taken by Baltimore in the 32nd round of the 2012 draft, Russell was in the visiting clubhouse at Fenway Park when he got the call he had been taken by the Orioles. There, he was congratulated by his dad, as well as O’s manager Buck Showalter. Not a bad way to celebrate.
We’ll unveil the name of one other possible backstop later on in our countdown.
Talk soon and shake your keys!!
Happy Tuesday Keys Fans,
And welcome to another edition of Guess Your Keys!! The critically acclaimed show where we peer into our crystal ball and try to pin down a roster for this year’s Frederick Keys.
First of all, thanks to everyone who has spent a couple of minutes to read our posts on a daily basis. Thanks to your support, we have not been stripped of our keyboards just yet.
Before getting to some news, I’d be remiss if I didn’t comment on the baseball-friendly weather today. It couldn’t have been nicer. I was pleasantly surprised when I started to sweat with my winter coat on, leading me to shed it for an afternoon walk around the ballpark. And while I’m not sure what I’d deem a “Chamber of Commerce” day in March around the friendly confines (mostly because I’ve been in town a month), I’d say today was pretty close:
Sights like these help you remember that opening day is only 23 days away.
In the meantime, we’ll head s0uth to Sarasota, FL, where MLB spring training games are in session and minor league contests are set to kickoff tommorrow.
In today’s game against the Red Sox, the Orioles came up short by a run (6-5). Michael Almanzar tried to spark a comeback effort with a two-run double in the bottom of the ninth, but Boston scored two runs in the seventh and one in the eighth off Alfredo Aceves to hang on for the victory.
As we approach the middle of March, players start to get shifted from Major League camp to minor league camp. That way players who are not in consideration for roster spots can get there work in, while everyday big leaguers can also get into a consistent routine.
No doubt former Keys Michael Ohlman and Tim Berry have bright futures, but both were transferred to minor league camp and assigned to Double-A Bowie yesterday.
Buck Showalter was particularly impressed with Berry, who was protected on the 40-man roster this winter.
One other former Key we’ve been following is Jonathan Schoop, who is very much in consideration for the O’s starting second base job. Entering Grapefruit League play today, he was hitting .529 (9-for-17) with four extra-base hits and five RBIs. Jemile Weeks and Ryan Flaherty are also competing for the job, in what is truly a wide open race. As Showalter has been quick to remind reporters, all three players have minor league options remaining.
Now that we’ve told you about possible second base candidates for the O’s, who could be seeing time at the keystone for the Keys? Well, one name might sound familiar:
2013 club: Frederick
More on Pena:
A member of the Keys each of the last two seasons, the former TCU Horned Frog hit .222 over 120 games with Frederick last season. A player who hit more for average rather than power his first two seasons, Pena added some pop in 2013. He finished with a career-best 11 home runs to go along with 21 doubles and 52 RBI. Defensively, Pena was solid as well, committing only 11 errors while playing 117 games in the field. Originally taken by the Mets in the 40th round of the 2009 draft, he elected to play a couple years of college ball before Baltimore called his number two years later.
2013 club: Frederick/Aberdeen/Delmarva
More on Rennie:
The youngest player in the Carolina League at the time of his debut on May 30, the San Diego native won’t turn 20 until April 26. By then, he may have made a couple of starts for the Keys. Splitting time at three levels, Rennie went 1-2 with a 5.56 ERA in three outings (two starts) with Frederick. However, most of his work came with Delmarva, where he posted a 4-5 mark and a 3.91 ERA. A player who hit his stride at the end of last season, the righty posted a 2.18 ERA over his final six appearances with the Shorebirds. A bully on the mound as a senior at Torrey Pines (CA) High School, Rennie went 9-1 with a 0.89 ERA. Offered a scholarship to Ball State, he signed with the Orioles instead after being selected in the 16th round of the 2012 draft.
And there you go. After yesterday’s post and our pilot episode, we now have a “gang of six.” Stay tuned, we’ll have plenty more names over the coming weeks.
Get outside and shake your keys!
Hello Keys Fans!
Hope you’ve made it through Monday in one piece, and that you managed to catch some of the Orioles game against the Pirates. After four decisive wins where the O’s mounted 44 combined runs, today’s contest was a bit of a white-knuckler.
Up by a run in the bottom of the ninth, Chase d’Arnaud singled for the Buccos to put the tying run on base. However, former Key “Steady Eddie” Gamboa picked off d’Arnaud at first, struck out Robert Andino and got Junior Sosa to fly out to help Baltimore hang on for a 7-6 triumph.
An outing like that is a huge confidence-boost for someone like Gamboa. A career minor leaguer, the 29-year-old wants to make a good impression in front of Buck Showalter and pitching coach Dave Wallace. But it also serves as validation. Last season, Gamboa made the decision to experiment with baseball’s most temperamental pitch: the knuckleball. Now fully committed to it, he is closer to the major leagues than ever. No question he’s a guy that you root for.
Speaking of guys to root for, you’re all probably wondering what Keys will I be cheering on in 2014? Well, today marks the return of Maryland’s favorite parlor game. After more than a week-long hiatus, we’re happy to bring you episode 2 of…. GUESS…. YOUR…. KEYS!!!!! (insert thunderous applause and tacky “Price is Right” type music in the background).
For those of you new to the game, here’s how it works. Over the next three weeks, we’ll be handicapping the Keys roster, picking out 40 players who are most likely to be wearing a Frederick uniform this year. Then when the club is announced, we’ll see how we did.
I’ll also repeat my earlier disclaimer: no wiretaps have been ordered, no bugs installed, and no hostages have been taken from Orioles management. Instead, the highly trained baseball minds at the Unlocking the Keys blog are spearheading the effort.
I also want to clarify that this list is NOT ORDERED. While Jesse Beal and Hunter Harvey were the first two names thrown out, those two individuals are not seen as “most likely” or “least likely” to spend time with the Keys. It’s simply where we started.
So keeping that in mind, it’s time to roll out two more names:
2013 club: Delmarva
More on Taylor:
Despite finishing with 13 losses (fourth-most in the SAL), Taylor put together a solid season in the Shorebirds starting rotation. He finished with the league’s 12th best ERA (3.77) and finished fourth in innings pitched (138.1). Brutal against left-handed hitters, he held opponents from the left-side to a .193 batting average. Armed with a two-seam fastball between 90-94 mph and a sharp slider, the lefty was selected by Baltimore in the fifth round of the 2011 draft out of Middle Georgia College. Transferring from the University of Alabama, Taylor went 7-5 with a 3.21 ERA and struck out 128 while walking only 29.
2013 club: Delmarva
More on Lorenzo:
Signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2009, Lorenzo played his first full-season of pro ball in 2013. With Low-A Delmarva, he hit .241 with 2 HR 41 RBI to go along with 18 doubles. When he got on base, Lorenzo used his speed to create chaos. In 140 games, he stole a career-best 40 bags. It was the most by a member of the Shorebirds since 1999. Rated the #29 prospect in the O’s system by Baseball America in 2013, Lorenzo’s main bugaboo was strikeouts last season. In 489 at-bats he went down 152 times via the K. Those numbers plus his on-base percentage (.281) need to improve as he climbs the ladder.
That’s all for tonight folks. But make sure and stay tuned for episode 3!
shake your keys!