Archive for the ‘ Uncategorized ’ Category

Winter League Update (Baseball and Boomerangs Anyone?)

Good Afternoon Keys Fans!

The World Series shifts to New York tonight with the Royals holding a 2-0 series edge on the Mets. It sounds somewhat grim, but you have to remember New York’s 1986 World Title came after starting in an 0-2 hole to the Red Sox.

Plus, not every team has Thor on their pitching staff. The nickname bestowed on 23-year-0ld Noah Syndergaard, the Mets right-hander won his lone NLCS start, firing off 5.2 innings on one-run baseball against the Cubs. He struck out nine, while making abundant use of a high-90s fastball.

Syndergaard’s average fastball velocity on the season was 97.4 mph, tying him with Nathan Eovaldi of the Yankees for the top mark in the majors, but his counterpart tonight, Yordano Ventura, was not far behind. With an average heater of 96.8 mph (third-best) Ventura won 13 games in the regular season, but  hasn’t been fared as well in the postseason. In four playoff games he has a 5.09 ERA, leading to an .858 opponents OPS.

The Mets will need to tame former Carolina League standout Yordano "Ace" Ventura to avoid falling in an 0-3 WS hole.

The Mets will need to tame former Carolina League standout Yordano “Ace” Ventura to avoid falling in an 0-3 WS hole.

Some of you might remember Ventura as a member of the Wilmington Blue Rocks in 2012. Against the Keys that year, he went 2-1 with a 1.20 ERA in three games and held Frederick hitters to a .173 average. Not many tears were shed when he got promoted to Double-A.

Although there are no former Keys on the Mets or Royals, plenty Keys players are in staying active in Fall/Winter Leagues.

In the Arizona Fall League, Donnie Hart has pitched well in relief for the Peoria Javelinas, posting a 1.69 ERA in four relief appearances. Offensively, Adrian Marin has fared the best, batting .258 with a triple, two doubles, and four runs scored in eight games. The Keys shortstop this year, Marin has been seeing time at second and third for Peoria after serving as only DH or SS in each of the last 2 years with the orange and black.

Some of you may have heard that Dylan Bundy has been added to the Javelinas roster after missing a majority of the season with right shoulder tendinitis. According to the Baltimore Sun’s Dan Connolly, Bundy is expected to make his debut this upcoming Monday. As always we will have details in our weekly AFL updates, available on frederickkeys.com.

Moving to the land Down Under (cue Men at Work singalong) Derek Peterson, Anthony Caronia, Tad Gold and Matt Taylor are all pitching for the Perth Heat in the Australian Baseball League. Off to a 4-1 start, Perth has been led by Peterson at the plate. In five games, he is batting .389 (7-for-18) with a triple, a double and five RBIs. That included a 2-for-4 showing earlier today (remember it’s already Saturday in Australia). Taylor earned a save in his first appearance, throwing two clean innings and striking out three.

One of the Keys most reliable bullpen options, Matt Taylor registered a 1.35 ERA in 13 games with 2 saves.

One of the Keys most reliable bullpen options, Matt Taylor registered a 1.35 ERA in 13 games with 2 saves.

Caronia is currently batting .263, while Gold is hitting .125 (1-for-8) in three games. The ABL is in its sixth season and spans 45 games. The Australian Baseball League is made up of professional players from affiliated Minor League teams, as well as players from the Nippon Professional Baseball League (Japan), the Korean Baseball Organization and the Chinese Professional Baseball League, as well as professional players from Australia.

Moving to Keys news, our annual Toys for Tots Drive Kicks off this upcoming Monday! That’s right, we may be in Halloween mode right now, but once trick or treating is over it’s time to start thinking about Christmas!

A big reason for the season is finding ways to help others, and for those who donate a new, unwrapped toy, we’ll be giving out two Keys tickets to a 2016 game and two hats. Last year’s showing was outstanding, as Nymeo Field was the top collection point in Frederick County.

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To make your donation, visit the main office from 9-5 p.m Monday through Friday.

While we’re on the topic of gifts, if you are looking for a gift, Keys ticket plans make an excellent stocking stuffer! Plus ALL 2016 ticket plans come with a Manny Machado-Jonathan Schoop DOUBLE BOBBLEHEAD. This is an exclusive gift and will not be a giveaway item next year.

To purchase a ticket plan, fans can call the groups office at 301-815-9900.

That’s all for now folks! Happy Halloween!

Shake your Keys!

Geoff

Who Is Thomas Ian Nicholas and Why Drew Dosch Likes Memorial Day Baseball

Good Afternoon Keys Fans!

Another playoff doubleheader is upon us! Blue Jays and Royals followed by Cubs and Mets. There is a chance our World Series matchup could be set tonight, with Kansas City and New York each one win away from the high stakes medal round (trophy round if we want to get literal).

If the Blue Jays want to keep things alive, they’ll need a big performance from Marco Estrada, while the Cubs will be leaning on former Oriole Jason Hammel to keep their season alive. Although many of you will not remember, Hammel once donned a Frederick Keys uniform while rehabbing from right knee surgery in 2012. In his lone game, he pitched five shutout innings and struck out seven. After Kyle Hendricks (former Dartmouth teammate of Keys starter Mitch Horacek) rough outing last night, Joe Maddon and company wouldn’t mind that kind of effort from Hammel.

To improve the Cubs juju and counteract the curse of the Billy Goat, Thomas Ian Nicholas will be at Wrigley Field tonight. If the name isn’t ringing any bells (don’t worry it didn’t for me either) Nicholas played the role of Henry Rowengartner in “Rookie of the Year” and will be wearing a Rowengartner jersey.

Sounds like Cubs fans can breathe a little easier.

For those who missed it, former Key Jake Arrieta suffered the loss in game two, allowing four runs on four hits over five innings. Maddon opined Arrieta’s back-to-back sluggish starts come down to fatigue. Given Arrieta’s last outing put him on the brink of 250 innings and his previous high was 176.2, it’s not a surprise.

Moving to Keys news, have you heard about our double bobblehead? That’s right DOUBLE BOBBLEHEAD! Well if you haven’t here is the lowdown: fans who renew or buy a season ticket plan receive an EXCLUSIVE GIFT featuring the bouncing heads of Manny Machado and Jonathan Schoop.

This item WILL NOT and I repeat WILL NOT be a giveaway item in 2016. So if you want one, simply purchase a ticket plan. The kind folks over at our Groups Department can help you out, by calling 301-815-9900.

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Anyone who purchases a ticket plan for 2016 will receive a special double bobblehead.

Although Keys baseball might be far away, you can check out our weekly Arizona Fall League updates chronicling the play of several former players competing among the best in the minor leagues. Approximately 60% of all players who suit up in the AFL will eventually play in the big leagues.

Mike Yastrzemski enjoy a good first week in the AFL.

Mike Yastrzemski enjoy a good first week in the AFL.

Now it’s time for our countdown! Turning back the clock to Memorial Day weekend, we revisit May 24, when Drew Dosch did some big damage in the Hill City.

A back-and-forth battle that featured 18 combined runs and 28 total hits, the Keys held a 6-2 lead after 4.5 innings before a two-run Lynchburg fifth made it a two-run game.

Already with one RBI on his ledger already, Dosch picked up his second in the seventh with an RBI triple:

https://soundcloud.com/frederick-keys-radio/dosch-triple-makes-it-7-4

Not about to go quietly, the Hillcats responded with three unanswered runs to tie the game at seven. In the ninth, Eric Haase landed the decisive blow to send the game to extra innings:

https://soundcloud.com/frederick-keys-radio/5-24-15-haase-single-ties-game-in-the-ninth

Things wouldn’t stay tied for long though. With two outs, Lynchburg closer Casey Weathers went toe-to-toe with Dosch, who silenced the crowd:

https://soundcloud.com/frederick-keys-radio/5-24-15-haase-single-ties-game-in-the-ninth

In all, Dosch finished with six RBIs, a single-season team-high. Meanwhile it was the most by a Frederick player since August 6, 2008, when Chris Vinyard accomplished the feat against the Salem Avalanche.

And as an added bonus, the Keys held on for a 10-8 win.

Stay tuned for more of our countdown!

Shake your Keys,

Geoff

 

Double Bobbleheads and More of Our Countdown

Good Morning Keys Fans!

Well things are set in the NLCS and ALCS, with the Mets coming away with a 3-2 win last night over the Dodgers. New York takes on Chicago starting on Saturday, while the Royals and the Blue Jays clash. As long as you wear royal blue, you’ll be covered for the LCS.

Former Keys All-Star, Jake Arrieta, is scheduled to start game two for the Cubs. He looked human for a change on  Monday against the Cardinals, giving up four runs in 5.2 innings. Fortunately, the Chicago bats stepped up in an 8-6 win.

Kansas City and Toronto get underway from Kauffman Stadium tonight, with Marco Estrada facing off against Edison Volquez. After a breakout season, MASN’s Steve Melewski noted Estrada could be on the Orioles radar this offseason, with starting pitching looking like a major offseason priority. You may remember that Estrada carried a no-hitter into the eighth against the O’s in June.

Earlier today, Roch Kubatko had a look back at Jose Bautista’s very brief stay with the Orioles in 2004 (all of 16 games). Let’s just say Bautista then was not quite the player he is now…

On the Keys front, don’t forget to purchase your 2016 season tickets! Click the link to get a full menu of 2016 Ticket Plans while information about the popular 2016 Flex Pack is also available.

For those that purchase ticket plans, we have a special incentive this year: a DOUBLE BOBBLEHEAD featuring Manny Machado and Jonathan Schoop! You heard that correctly. Double your pleasure, double your fun. We should note, these double bobbleheads will NOT be a 2016 giveaway item and CAN ONLY BE ACQUIRED BY PURCHASING A TICKET PLAN. You can get in touch with our groups office by calling 301-815-9900.

machadohomerun67

Manny Machado and his good pal Jonathan Schoop will make up the double-play combination in this year’s “double bobblehead” an exclusive gift for fans who purchase a 2016 Keys ticket plan.

Our Keys Countdown rolls along with moment #6, and for the first time ever, the countdown is comprised of only one play.

It happened to be on Sportscenter, but yes only one play. On July 28, the Keys were in Zebulon for the first of three games against the Carolina Mudcats. Going to the bottom of the fourth, the orange and black held a 4-1 lead, though David Hess found himself in bit of a jam. Jacob Schrader and Carlos Franco coaxed walks to open the inning, while a single by Joey Meneses loaded the bases.

Hess struck out Sal Giardina and Joseph Odom, but still needed one more out. It appeared elusive as CL All-Star Johan Camargo lifted a ball down the right field line, but “Superman” came to the rescue:

Tad’s play was the #3 play on Sportscenter’s Top 10, a ball that even HE THOUGHT was going to drop.

In the words of Seinfeld’s Kenny Bania, “That’s Gold Jerry! Gold!” Although the catch saved a couple of runs, Carolina rallied back to win 7-4.

More of our countdown comes your way next week!

Shake your Keys!

Geoff

 

AFL Gets Underway, and Who Likes Walk-Offs?

Good Afternoon Keys Fans!

Talk about an exciting postseason already! Three of the four Division series will come down to a fifth game, while on Tuesday the Cubs clinched their FIRST POSTSEASON series at Wrigley Field. Mind-boggling but true.

Today, the ALCS will be finalized as the Rangers head back to Toronto, while Houston makes the journey to Kansas City. Former Keys infielder Tony Beasley (Rangers third base coach) and radio broadcaster Matt Hicks will be involved in game five for Texas. Enjoy it fellas.

Another former Key, Jake Arrieta, was not quite Superman in game 3, but thanks to his offense, four earned runs in 5.2 innings on Monday was an afterthought. You can read more about the time Arrieta, Beasley and Hicks spent in Frederick by visiting here.

Although postseason baseball gets top-billing this time of year, Arizona Fall League baseball will get some love when the MLB postseason wraps up. Yesterday we looked at all the former Keys taking part in the AFL this year. Considered a “finishing school” for the game’s top prospects, the league runs for a little over a month and helps players prepare for higher-level professional baseball.

Sisco 11

Chance Sisco will be suiting up for the Peoria Javelinas in the Arizona Fall League.

Since there are only six teams in the league, Orioles prospects are mixed with players from the Braves, Reds, Padres and Mariners to make up this year’s Peoria Javelinas squad.

Yesterday the league got underway, and Peoria earned a 6-5 win over Surprise. Mike Yastrzemski went 1-for-2 with a home run and an RBI in the Javelinas win. Chance Sisco went 0-for-3 with a walk and three strikeouts, while Jon Keller pitched a scoreless inning in relief.

Meanwhile, pitcher O’s minor leaguer, Tanner Scott, has been  added to the Javelinas reports MASN’s Steve Melewski. A 21-year-old lefty, Scott split this season between Short-Season Aberdeen and Low-A Delmarva after being drafted out of Howard (Texas) Junior College in 2014. Given that the O’s like to challenge their prospects, it is not out of the question that Scott throws for the Keys in 2016.

Tanner Scott was a sixth round pick by the Orioles in 2014 out of Howard Junior College.

Tanner Scott was a sixth round pick by the Orioles in 2014 out of Howard Junior College.

We’ll provide weekly AFL updates on frederickkeys.com, as well as on our Twitter and Facebook platforms so stay tuned!

On the Orioles front, there has been little movement with the postseason only heating up. Still, MASN’s Roch Kubatko picked some questions out of his “mailbag” this morning to answer. He addresses queries on Chris Davis, Matt Wieters and the coaching staff. Worth a read.

Moving to Keys news, don’t forget, time is running out on this year’s game worn jersey auction! The bidding ends on Thursday at 5:00 p.m so don’t miss out! The jerseys up for bid include those worn by Kevin Gausman and Wei-Yin Chen during their stays in Frederick this year. So how do you bid? Just click here.

Also are you in need of a speaker for an upcoming meeting, event or class? Well don’t fear, the Frederick Keys Speakers Bureau has you covered! All visits are FREE of charge, while our talks are tailored to your groups particular interests. To book your talk visit here

Speakers Bureau MW

And now it’s time to continue the countdown! Walk-Offs were a common occurrence for the Keys in 2015, who had EIGHT TOTAL. That was FIVE MORE than 2014, while half of Frederick’s walk-offs came in April. We’ll have more about the first two walk-offs later on in the countdown, but numbers three and four will be addressed now

Both games ended in 4-3 Keys victories against the Blue Rocks, and both were of the come-from-behind variety.

In the first game on April 24, starters Matt Taylor and Luis Rico went toe-to-toe, with the southpaws turning in five shutout innings and six one-run innings respectively. After six frames, the Keys had a 1-0 edge thanks to a Jeff Kemp RBI single, but the Blue Crew answered with single markers in the seventh and eighth stanzas.

Needing a run to stay alive, Brenden Webb pinch-hit with the tying run at 3rd base in the ninth:

Wilmington answered quickly with an RBI single by Zane Evans, but once again the Keys managed to keep things alive thanks to singles by Drew Dosch, Austin Wynns and Adrian Marin:

Heading to the 11th, Tucker Nathans made a great play in right field to stymie another Rocks scoring chance, while the Keys capitalized against Andrew Edwards in the home-half of the inning. With two outs and Webb at second, Anthony Caronia came up to bat and sent everyone home happy:

One of the best extra-inning teams in the league, the Keys went 7-3 in games stretching past regulation this year.

The next day would go just nine innings, but provided just as dramatic a conclusion. After six innings, the Keys trailed 3-0, as Jakob Junis fired off six shutout inning of four-hit baseball. In the eighth though, Frederick rallied with two outs. Entering the game for Nick Green, Wilmington flamethrower Robinson Yambati walked Marin, before Dosch hitting a slicing line drive to left:

Trey Mancini then brought in the tying run:

Nik Nowottnick did his job in the ninth, while Austin Wynns provided the eventual dagger when the Keys returned to the plate:

It was just his second professional home run and gave the club a 9-1 start at Nymeo Field. We noted it numerous times on the broadcast this year, eight walk-off wins is an impressive feat, but perhaps more impressive was that EACH WALK-OFF CAME FROM A DIFFERENT PLAYER.

We’ll have more of our countdown shortly! Until then, don’t forget to make your jersey auction bids and shake your Keys!

Geoff

 

 

The Top 10 Countdown Rolls Along!

Good Afternoon Keys Fans!

Hope you all had a good afternoon and are enjoying some Monday postseason baseball! Houston and Texas are on the verge of making it an all-Lonestar State ALCS, while both NLDS sets are tied at one.

I’ll be paying close attention to game three between the Cubs and Cardinals tonight, as former Key Jake Arrieta makes his second postseason outing. For those who missed his performance in the NL Wildcard game against the Pirates, it was something to behold. A four-hit, complete game shutout, the Chicago ace struck out 11 and did not walk a batter.

To say, Arrieta’s teammates have confidence in him, would be an understatement the size of an ivy covered wall. Following the all-star break he went 12-1 with a 0.75 ERA in 15 starts. He has not been defeated since July 25, while he suffered only six losses all year (22-6, 1.77 ERA). One of those came to the Cardinals. Against St. Louis this year, Arrieta went 2-1 with a 2.42 ERA and held St. Louis hitters to a .229 average.

Arrieta 640

Arrieta posted a 2.87 ERA as a member of the Keys in 2008. That year he was a Midseason and Postseason CL All-Star, while he pitched for Team USA in the Futures Game and Team USA in the Summer Olympics.

Although Arrieta is the signature name, he is not the only individual with Keys-ties taking part in the postseason. Former infielder Tony Beasley (1990-91) serves as the Rangers third base coach, while Matt Hicks (1989-94) Frederick’s first radio voice, is calling all of the action on the Rangers Radio Network.

Here is a cool article about Hicks that ran in the Frederick News Post a few years back.

In other news, the Arizona Fall League officially kicks off tomorrow. Keys players from both this year’s club and last year’s will be participating. That list includes: LHP Donnie Hart, RHP Jon Keller, C Chance Sisco, SS Adrian Marin and OF Mike Yastrzemski. All will be playing for the Peoria Javelinas, a team consisting of Orioles, Braves, Reds, Dodgers and Mariners farmhands.

We will be posting weekly AFL updates beginning next Monday on frederickkeys.com, so stay tuned!

Meantime, the accolades keep coming for Trey Mancini who was named a Top 20 prospect in the Carolina League and the Eastern League according to Baseball America. Chance Sisco was also a top 20 CL prospect.

Finally, are you in need of a Christmas present for a baseball fan in your house? Well you can check out our game worn jersey auction! Make sure to bid fast as the final day to act is on Thursday, with the auction closing at 5 p.m. Among the jerseys up for bid are ones worn by Kevin Gausman and Wei-Yin Chen.

Alright fans it’s time to continue our top 10 countdown of the year’s best moments! Moment #8 sends us to Wilmington on July 15 for an unusual quasi-doubleheader. In the First State one week prior, the Keys and Blue Rocks were stopped after 3.5 innings due to rain. Ahead 7-1 at the time, the orange and black suffered a 15-10 defeat after a 10-run Wilmington seventh (Frederick’s roughest inning since 2006).

Fortunately the Keys turned the page quickly. Following a two-run double by Cody Stubbs in the fourth to make it 2-1, the visitors tied the game in the seventh thanks to Anthony Caronia:

The last scheduled inning of the game, Jimmy Yacabonis got a speedy bottom of the seventh to send the game to extra innings.

Yacabonis and Donnie Hart provided lockdown relief, working six combined innings of shutout baseball to force an 11th inning. With bullpen arms running low and both sides running on empty (the game was approaching midnight, and the front-end of the doubleheader was scheduled for 5:05 p.m) Tad Gold broke the deadlock following a pair of two-out walks:

Adrian Marin added an insurance run to make it a 5-2 Keys lead, before Cody Wheeler took care of business in the ninth:

Don’t be surprised if you hear from Tad Gold again in our top 10 countdown, and make sure to stay tuned for more great moments this week!

Shake your Keys!

Geoff

 

Looking Back on Jonathan Schoop’s Return to Frederick

Good Afternoon Keys Fans!

Today our top 10 countdown rolls along as we look back at one of five Orioles players to suit up for the Keys, and the impact he made for the short time he was here. Before we get to the details and the highlights, a few items:

-Had a chance to fill out the Keys year end survey? Click here to let us know what you liked/did not like about the 2015 season. We’ll then use this information to help us make decisions for the 2016 campaign. It doesn’t take long, and by participating you’ll be entered to win a VERY COOL Keys prize pack!

-In case you missed it, NINE different ex-Keys made their big league debuts this season. Can you name them all? Well if you can’t, don’t beat yourself up. It is why we have this this article to get you caught up to speed.  The nine MLB debuts marks the third-most in team history, while it runs the list of Keys to the Majors up to 142

-Need a speaker for an upcoming meeting, event or class? Well look no further than our Frederick Keys Speakers Bureau! All visits are FREE of charge, while our talks are tailored to your groups interests. In the past we have visited everything from rotaries and Kiwanis clubs to high school and college classes. Hope to see you soon!

Speakers Bureau MW

On the Orioles front, the Birds were rained out on Tuesday night and will play a doubleheader today starting at 4:05 p.m. Miguel Gonzalez and former Key Kevin Gausman start for the Orioles while Marcus Stroman and R.A Dickey throw for the Blue Jays. Toronto’s magic number to clinch the AL East is now one following a Red Sox win over the Yankees last night.

Although the Orioles are out of the playoffs, the team will still try and finish over .500 and claim third place in the AL East. To eclipse .500, the team will need to run the table against the Jays and Yankees, no easy feat. Currently, the O’s are in fourth place, one half-game behind Boston.

Missing out on the playoffs certainly stings after a 2014 season to remember. Former Key Zach Britton looks back at the season in an article by MASN’s Steve Melewski and examines the future. We also posted this article earlier in which former Frederick catcher Matt Wieters discusses his pending free agency.

Two final notes, Frederick native (and newly minted 24-year-old) Branden Kline had to leave an instructional league game early yesterday due to elbow tightness. He will be seeing Dr. James Andrews, though Roch Kubatko reports that Kline will likely need Tommy John surgery. On a more positive note, Dylan Bundy is making progress in his recovery from a right shoulder strain. The former Keys pitcher tweeted out the following yesterday:

Alright it’s time to continue the countdown! As we mentioned above, five different O’s played or rehabbed with the Keys this season. One of those was Jonathan Schoop, who joined the team for a pair of games (July 2-3) right before the Fourth of July.

Even though the stay was short, he’d leave his mark. At the time, the addition of Schoop was a big boost given the team’s struggles offensively. Entering the second baseman’s first rehab game, Frederick had been shutout in back-to-back contests, while the day before Schoop joined the Keys, the orange and black were nearly no-hit.

Looking to snap a 22-inning scoreless stretch, the Keys were held to only two hits over their first six innings, as P-Nats right-hander Reynaldo Lopez allowed only two base runners and struck out six during that time.

Things changed in the seventh though, as a two-run double by Conor Bierfeldt temporarily tied the game and ended a 28.2 inning scoreless stretch (the longest such drought of the year).

Potomac regained the lead in the eighth, but the Keys would take control for good in the home-half of the inning, as Schoop leveled the game once again:

Two batters later, Chance Sisco singled, before Jeff Kemp came through with a go-ahead RBI double:

Cody Wheeler closed things out from there to hand the Keys a 4-3 win. In his two games in Frederick, Schoop went 3-for-9 with a home run and two runs scored. Since the all-star break with the Orioles, Schoop is batting .279 with 10 home runs and 29 RBIs. A nice cog in the O’s order, 29 of Schoop’s 82 hits have gone for extra-bases this year. Not your typical second baseman, that’s for sure.

Stay tuned for more of our countdown in the coming days!

Shake your Keys,

Geoff

 

 

 

The O’s Playoff Hopes End, But the The Top 10 Countdown Begins!

Good Afternoon Keys Fans!

Hope all of you are enjoying your Tuesday so far. And if you’re not? Well we’re about to make it better. Today we kickoff our 2015 Top 10 moments of the season countdown! Over the next few weeks we’ll rundown our favorite moments of the year.

While you follow along, we invite YOU to share your favorite moment/s from the Keys 2015 season! It could be something you saw in a game, promotion at the park, theme night or anything else you enjoyed. Let us know, we’d love to hear about it!

Before we get the countdown rolling, a couple of items:

  • Have you heard about the team’s new online store? Well if you haven’t check it out by visiting here. From polos to pullovers to coozies and bottle openers we’ve got you covered! Plus the ordering is nice and easy.

Store

  • Had a chance to check out the Keys 2016 schedule? Click on this link to print off a copy (there is a schedule link) and to get an in-depth look at next season. The home opener is on Friday April 14 at 7:00 p.m against Lynchburg while the home-slate concludes on Labor Day (September 5 against Wilmington)

2016 Schedule

  • We are asking fans for ideas on promotions, giveaways and other fun things to do in 2016. To leave a suggestion visit our Facebook and Twitter pages to leave a note!

On the baseball front, the inevitable came to pass for the Orioles last night, who were eliminated from playoff contention. Entering Monday with an elimination number of two, Baltimore lost to Toronto before Houston edged Seattle 3-2 to seal the O’s fate.

While some might say the wheels started coming off in late-July when the Yankees pulled a three-game sweep, MASN’s Steve Melewski does make a good point that on August 19, the Orioles were still only five games out of first. The real slide started the next day, with a 15-2 loss to the Twins. That began a stretch of 15 losses in 18 games. Regardless of when the end started, the O’s will try and run the table to finish the year over .500.

A more pressing matter is trying to lock up members of the O’s coaching staff for next season. Most are without contracts for next season, including pitching coach Dave Wallace, bench coach John Russell (dad of Keys backstop Steel Russell) and hitting coach Scott Coolbaugh among others. MASN’s Roch Kubatko noted in the article above that Wallace could be a highly targeted free agent if Baltimore does not sign him to a new deal.

One final note, don’t forget to vote to vote for Manny Machado in the Esurance MLB Awards! The former Key has been nominated for Best Everyday Player, Best Defensive Player and best Breakout Player. To cast your ballot visit here.

Alright everybody, it’s time for the countdown to start! We’ll kick things off at Pfitzner Stadium on May 8 against Potomac. It was a packed night at the Pfitz, as Lucas Giolito prepared to make his Advanced-A debut.

Typically, minor league pitchers debuts at a new level are met with little to no fanfare, but Giolito was a bit of an exception. The starting pitcher for Team USA in the Futures Game this year, the right-hander was ranked as Minor League Baseball’s No. 1 pitching prospect according to Baseball America’s midseason rankings and the top overall prospect according to MLB.com.

Regardless of rankings, Keys players knew about Giolito’s ability and his reputation. And while the Californian showed glimpses of those skills in his CL debut, the orange and black made sure it would not go according to plan.

Potomac grabbed a 2-0 lead in the 2nd, thanks to a Drew Ward home run and a Stephen Perez RBI single. However the Keys answered in the third, batting around while scoring four times.

Tucker Nathans came up with the first big blow:

Following a third straight single, Drew Dosch tied the game with an RBI groundout before Trey Mancini put Frederick on top:

Two batters later, Adrian Marin completed the scoring to put the Keys up 4-2. The Nationals responded with the next two runs to even the game going into the fifth. Entering the game, Giolito was on a soft-pitch count of 75, a mark which he hit after four innings. Still, P-Nats manager, Tripp Keister, elected to keep Giolito in, hoping the prized young arm could get a quick fifth inning.

A one-out double by Brenden Webb ruined that thought and Justin Thomas was brought in. Once again Marin came through, driving in Giolito’s inherited property:

Over 4.1 innings, Giolito gave up five runs on eight hits to go with two walks and five strikeouts. He ended up as the losing pitcher, as Anthony Caronia added an RBI double to put the Keys on top for good. At the time it was only Giolito’s fourth loss in 33 professional starts.

Austin Wynns and Jeff Kemp added RBIs to give the Keys important insurance runs in the seventh and eighth innings to wrap up the team’s 8-7 victory.

Later in the year, Giolito would get a modicum of revenge against Frederick, firing off seven hitless innings on July 1 in a near-no hitter by the P-Nats. Still, May 8 belonged to the Keys, who put up 15 hits and turned in one of their best showings of the season with runners in scoring position (6-for-15).

Stay tuned for more of our countdown in the coming days and don’t forget to share your favorite moments of the 2015 season!

Shake your Keys!

Geoff

Keys Top 10 Countdown Begins! (Sort of)

Good Afternoon Keys Fans!

Well it’s offseason time in Keys Land, but it’s hardly time where staff members are putting their feet up. Next week, members of the club will be heading to Minor League Baseball’s annual Promotional Seminar in Columbus, OH. Among other things, it serves as a forum for teams to gather ideas for possible promotions and events for the next season.

Still, it is just one avenue the Keys use to make calls on theme nights, giveaways, promotions and appearances for the next year. We also like to enlist the support of YOU the fans to tell us what you want to see at the ballpark! To participate, visit our Facebook and Twitter pages and leave a suggestion!

Suggestion Box

Plus, don’t forget to fill out the team’s annual end of the season survey! It takes only minutes and by participating you’ll be entered to win a great Keys prize pack!

We are also happy to report that the Keys NEW ONLINE STORE is now open!  So if you’re looking for a birthday present, a Christmas gift (yes it’s okay to begin thinking about it) or just realize that you’re running low on Keys swag, click here and you’ll be taken care of.

On the baseball front, HUGE congratulations to former Keys manager Pete Mackanin on being named the Phillies permanent manager for 2016. Named the interim skipper of the team on June 26, Mackanin has done a tremendous job under very challenging circumstances.

Former Keys manager Pete Mackanin has earned his first full-time big league managing job with the Philadelphia Phillies. He'll lead the club in 2016.

Former Keys manager Pete Mackanin has earned his first full-time big league managing job with the Philadelphia Phillies. He’ll lead the club in 2016.

Although he was in Frederick for only one season, Mackanin’s 1993 club was a good one, posting a 78-62 record. That year the orange and black advanced to postseason play for the second time in club history. Since then, he has been named the Sporting News’ Minor League Manager of the Year, served as an interim manager for three MLB teams (including the Phillies) and has worked on a handful of big league coaching staffs.

However, until Tuesday, Mackanin had never been a full-time big league skipper. In the history of Keys baseball, only one other Frederick skipper has gone on to be a full-time MLB manager. Can you name him? The answer is in the attached article above, and no, 2014 Keys boss Luis Pujols is not the correct answer.

Some other baseball news and notes:

-After a short rest, many former and future Keys are participating in the fall Instructional League. A chance for players to hone their skills, one of those participating is former Frederick pitcher Dylan Bundy, who is rehabbing from a shoulder injury

-In total nine different ex-Keys made their Major League debuts in 2015. It is the third-most in franchise history.

-One of those to make a debut, Zach Davies, earned his second MLB win on Wednesday thanks to six shutout innings against the Cubs

-Former Key Matt Wieters hit a go-ahead homer to lift the Orioles past the Nationals on Thursday and keep Baltimore’s playoff hopes alive. The win also wrapped up a three-game sweep

-Finally, it is Major League tradition, that all rookies must be dressed up and paraded around in some ridiculous costumes before year’s end. Well on Thursday, the O’s had some fun with their rookies (and a couple were former Keys…)

You can also read more about it here.

Now without further or do, it is that time of year again! Top 10 Keys moments! Sort of. Let me explain.

Next week, we’ll kick off the official top 10 countdown of the season’s top moments, but today we’ll throw in one of those memorable ones that didn’t quite make the cut.

Even though it was a mid-week game in May, in Lynchburg, the May 12 ballgame was one that I will never forget. Stranger than strange. Quackier than Daffy Duck. If there wasn’t a full moon that night, there should have been.

The end result was a 6-5 Keys win, but after the 1st inning it sure didn’t seem that way.

Even though the orange and black possessed a 2-0 lead after half an inning, the Hillcats came storming back for five runs. All came on home run balls off David Hess. Clint Frazier tied the game with a two-run shot, Paul Hendrix then followed suit three batters later, before Joe Sever capped off Lynchburg’s electric first inning.

Not even close. But as the Keys learned all year, make mistakes with elevated fastballs to Lynchburg? Liftoff.

Although City Stadium seemed like a miniature airport for 20 minutes, the game was far from decided. Held off the board in the second, Tucker Nathans triggered a three-run third inning to move the contest back to even terms:

Tucker Nathans finished the night 3-for-4  with a home run, an RBI and three runs scored.

Tucker Nathans finished the night 3-for-4 with a home run, an RBI and three runs scored.

One frame later, the visitors regained the lead on a Jeff Kemp RBI double.

On most nights, this comeback would have been the big story. Not this time. Following five runs on five Hillcats hits in the first. The Lynchburg bats went…DEAD. Hess bounced back, retiring the final 13 batters he faced, while the duo of Austin Urban and Cody Wheeler combined on SEVEN HITLESS INNINGS. Yes you read that correctly. After a nightmarish start, Keys pitching DOMINATED the rest of the way.

In the ninth, Mike Papi would finally get a bloop single, but Cody Wheeler wrapped things up from there:

When I asked Hess about the start afterwards he said it was the strangest one he’d ever been apart of. Just before his promotion to Bowie, I asked him the same question, and the answer remained the same.

It just goes to show that you never know what you’ll see when you walk into the ballpark on a given night. The game is a living mystery novel. From Chapter 1 to 140 you never know what twists you’ll get.

More of our countdown next week! Until that time, pass along your suggestions for 2016 and shake your keys!

Geoff

 

 

 

Good Luck to the Baysox!

Good Afternoon Keys Fans!

The Keys season might be over, but the Double-A Bowie Baysox are still going strong! On Saturday night, the club wrapped up the Eastern League’s Western Division to head to the championship series for the first time in the club’s 23-year history. In the clinching game, former Key David Hess was masterful, giving up only one hit over seven innings in a 3-0 shutout win over the Altoona Curve.

For those of you who were not able to attend, here is the call of the final out from Baysox broadcaster (and former voice of the Keys) Adam Pohl:

Tonight, the Baysox begin play for an Eastern League title against the Reading Fightin Phils. The best-of-five series kicks off tonight in Reading at 7:05 p.m. For those who aren’t traveling, you can listen to the broadcast on Wnav.com or Baysox.com. The dulcet tones of Adam Pohl will bring you the play-by-play.

Over the division series, Quincy Latimore was outstanding for Bowie, batting .471 (8-for-17) with three home runs, eight RBIs and two doubles across four games.

Mike Yastrzemski also enjoyed a strong series, hitting .500 (7-for-14) in his four games, with two home runs, five RBIs, a triple, two doubles and four runs scored. Earlier today, MASN’s Steve Melewski spoke with Yastrzemski about his season, the Baysox pursuit of a title and playing in the Arizona Fall League in October.

Only a member of the Keys for 23 games in 2014, Mike Yastrzemski left his mark batting .312 and hitting for the cycle.

Only a member of the Keys for 23 games in 2014, Mike Yastrzemski left his mark batting .312 and hitting for the cycle.

 

 

On the mound, Hess may have stolen the show in the clinching game, but Chris Lee delivered a quality outing in game three to earn a victory. Tossing six innings, he allowed two runs on six hits.

What a season it has been for Lee. Start with the Astros Low-A team in Quad Cities, post a mediocre 4.11 ERA, get sent to the Orioles for two international bonus slots in May, start off slow in the Carolina League, make several mechanical changes, utterly dominate the league in July, get promoted to Double-A, post an ERA of 3.00 to finish the year and now have a chance to pitch for a Double-A title.

Lee registered a 1.75 ERA over 6 games in July

Lee registered a 1.75 ERA over 6 games in July with the Keys.

It may not be a Hallmark movie, but it’s still impressive. Lee will pitch game three of the Eastern League Championship Series when things shift to Bowie, while Hess will get the ball in game four in the series goes that long. Here are two interviews I did with Hess and Lee before each received a call-up to Double-A.

Bowie takes on a Reading team which bested Binghamton 3-0. The Double-A affiliate of the Phillies (Fightin Phils is a pretty big giveaway, but just so nobody gets confused) Reading posted the best record in the Eastern League during the regular season (80-61) and is helped by a potent offense. The second-best hitting team in the league, the Fightin Phils led the EL in home runs (101), RBIs (616) and runs scored (665).

Triple-A Norfolk put up a good fight in the Governor’s Cup semifinals, but fell to Columbus last night 3-2. Former Keys Tyler Wilson and Pedro Beato each earned wins for the Tides.

Now that the Tides season is over, some members of the team could be recalled to the Orioles writes MASN’s Roch Kubatko. Possible candidates include past Keys Christian Walker, Oliver Drake and Tyler Wilson.

On the Keys front, keep an eye on social media tomorrow! The team will be releasing its 2016 regular season schedule. We will also have more information available on frederickkeys.com. Just so everyone is aware, this schedule does not include promotions or ticket information yet. All of that will be available at a later date.

Right now, we are asking fans to participate in a year-end survey. It doesn’t take long and fans who fill out the quick questionnaire will be entered to win a great Keys prize pack! To participate, click here.

In other news, congrats to Keys groundskeeper Mike Soper who was named the Carolina League’s Sports Turf Manager of the Year! Mike does a phenomenal job and it’s great to see him get recognized for the tireless amount of work he puts in.

Soper 640

Lastly, the 2016 season was one to remember, as the team posted its fourth-highest attendance figure in club history. It was the club’s best mark since 1994, as 328,789 fans attended a game this year. That was also the top attendance across Advanced-A baseball, which spans 30 teams across the Carolina, California and Florida State Leagues.

Obviously, none of that would be possible without outstanding support from you the fans. None are better in minor league baseball.

The season may be over, but we’ll be talking each week here on the Unlocking the Keys Blog. We’ll have a season in review, top 10 moments of the season, interviews and much more as we move into the winter time. And if there is anything you really want to hear about? Don’t hesitate to send us a message on social media.

Talk soon and shake your keys!

Geoff

 

One Last Game..

Good Afternoon Keys Fans!

The Frederick Keys wrap up their regular season this afternoon at 2:00 p.m from Nymeo Field. It has been a ton of fun and when hope you all have enjoyed the season as much as we have.

Today, Left-hander Mitch Horacek starts for the Keys against Dash righty Spencer Adams. You can catch all the action on 1450 AM The Source and frederickkeys.com, while if you are at the game you’ll have a chance to win some great prizes, including a Matt Wieters autographed bat and a Manny Machado signed jersey.

Today’s lineup and notes are below.

Shake your Keys!

Geoff

LINEUP

  1. CF Jay Gonzalez
  2. 2B Tanner Witt
  3. DH Dariel Alvarez
  4. 1B Yaisel Mederos
  5. LF Tad Gold
  6. RF Conor Bierfeldt
  7. 3B Anthony Caronia
  8. C Stuart Levy
  9. SS Ramon Ramirez

LHP Mitch Horacek

Monday, September 7, 2015 · Game #140 · Home Game #70

Frederick Keys (64-75/32-37) vs Winston-Salem Dash (74-63/44-23)

LHP Mitch Horacek (7-16, 4.64) vs. RHP Spencer Adams (2-0, 2.70)

NINTH INNING RALLY FALLS SHORT: The Frederick Keys loaded the bases in the bottom of the ninth inning, but failed to score as the Winston-Salem Dash snuck away with a 1-0 win on Sunday night at Nymeo Field. A pitcher’s duel the entire way, the two sides combined on just seven hits while going 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position. In the ninth, Josh Hart opened the inning with a single off James Dykstra, but was thrown out trying to steal second. Jay Gonzalez then walked after an eight-pitch plate appearance, before moving to second on a groundout by Dariel Alvarez. Needing one more out, Dykstra barely missed on a 3-2 pitch to Wynston Sawyer to keep the game alive for Yaisel Mederos. He reached on an error by shortstop Cleuluis Rondon to pack the bags, but Adrian Marin grounded out to end the game. Keys starter, John Means took the hard-luck loss, giving up just one run on two hits in six innings. The Dash’s lone run came on a wild pitch that scored Omar Narvaez from third.

CLOSE CALLS: Sunday marked the Keys 43rd one-run game of the year, the second-most in the Carolina League behind Myrtle Beach (21-25). In those games, the orange and black are 24-19, giving them the third-best winning percentage in the circuit. However, Winston-Salem holds the top mark in the CL at 24-14. The Dash also held the top shutout record in the eight-team loop (15-7) while the Keys 8-12 figure is second-worst. In spite of the team’s shutout winning percentage, Wilmington (20) and Carolina (13) have each been blanked more while Myrtle also has 12 shutout losses.   

IT ALL COMES DOWN TO THIS: Frederick concludes its regular season on Monday, with the team looking to equal its win total from the 2014 season (65). The orange and black will also try to avoid falling more than 11 games below .500 for the first time since September 2, 2013, when the Keys concluded their regular season 17 games below sea-level (61-78). A victory would also give Frederick a winning home record for the first time since 2011, when the team went 45-28.

TIME TO LET THE HORSES OUT OF THE BARN: This homestand, the Keys have been aggressive on the basepaths, registering 14 steals in their last five games. On Saturday, Frederick stole four bases, while on Wednesday the team came up with a season-high five. Most of those steals have been concentrated in a few hands, with Josh Hart and Adrian Marin each swiping four bases and Jay Gonzalez pocketing three. Frederick leads the Carolina League with 161 stolen bases this year, nine more than the next two closest team (Salem). Meanwhile, Gonzalez (34-counting his time at Low-A Delmarva) Hart (30) and Marin (25) ranked 1-3 among Orioles farmhands in steals.

ALVAREZ OPTIONED TO KEYS: On Wednesday night, Dariel Alvarez was optioned to the Frederick Keys from the Baltimore Orioles. A member of the Keys in 2013, Alvarez went 2-for-4 on Sunday and is 5-for-15 with a triple and a double in his four games with the Keys this year. He becomes the fourth player with Orioles to suit up for Frederick in 2015, joining Wei-Yin Chen (optioned) as well as Jonathan Schoop, Kevin Gausman and David Lough (rehab assignments). Making his Orioles debut last Friday, Alvarez was hitting .250 (3-for-12) with a double. Prior to his call-up to Baltimore, he was hitting .275 with 16 homers and 72 RBIs in 130 games for Triple-A Norfolk. He was an International League all-star and won the Triple-A Home Run Derby.

THE WHEELS ON THE BUS GO ROUND AND ROUND: On Friday, Cody Wheeler became the 17th Keys player to receive a promotion when he was moved up to Triple-A Norfolk. He becomes the second Frederick player to bypass Double-A this season and the third to receive a call-up this week. Donnie Hart (Thursday) and David Hess (Tuesday) were both promoted to Double-A Bowie. The Keys lone postseason all-star, Wheeler went 5-1 with 17 saves and a 2.79 ERA in 42 games. At the time he was called up, the lefty was tops in the CL in saves and games finished (35) while he was tied for the league lead in appearances.

THAT’S ALL FOLKS: The Keys were eliminated from playoff contention last Tuesday following a loss to Carolina. It marked the fourth straight season the Keys had been knocked out of contention. Entering Tuesday night with an elimination number of one, Frederick would have needed seven straight wins and seven straight Lynchburg losses to force a one-game playoff. In spite of a loss to the Salem, the Hillcats clinched a playoff berth for the fourth consecutive year. They will meet Wilmington in the North Division Championship Series. .

AGAINST WINSTON-SALEM: The season-series is even at 10-10 following the Dash’s win on Sunday. On Thursday, Winston-Salem clinched the second-half CL South Division title (the team’s first since 2012). Frederick holds a .250 team batting average against the Dash, while the pitching staff owns a 3.91 ERA. Winston-Salem is batting .234 against the Keys but boast a 3.11 ERA as a staff. Individually, Tad Gold (.333/7-for-21) leads the way at the plate, while the Dash are paced by Eddy Alvarez (.455/5-for-11) and Keon Barnum (.306/22-for-72).

TODAY’S OPPOSING PITCHER: Right-hander Spencer Adams makes his 24th overall start this season and his fifth with the Dash. Combined between Winston-Salem and Low-A Kannapolis he is 11-5 with a 3.14 ERA. With the Dash he is 2-1 with a 2.70 ERA over four starts. Adams’ most recent outing came last Wednesday at Wilmington. Receiving a no-decision, he allowed one run on five hits in seven innings. He walked three and struck out five. This will be his second time facing the Keys. In his first go-round, he tossed six innings of two-run baseball on August 27 to earn the win. He struck out four and did not walk a batter. Promoted to Winston-Salem on July 19, Adams went 9-5 with a 3.24 ERA at Kannapolis and was 12th in the SAL in ERA at the time he was moved up. Entering the year ranked as the No. 3 prospect in the White Sox system according to Baseball America, Adams was selected by Chicago in the second round of the 2014 draft out of White County High School. Just 19 years old, the right-hander went 3-3 with a 3.67 ERA with the AZL White Sox after signing. He posted a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 14.8 and struck out nearly 13 batters per nine innings. Adams was committed to the University of Georgia out of White County (GA) High School but elected to go pro. He throws a fastball, a slider and a changeup.

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