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Keys Try to Buck a Two-Game Slide

Good Afternoon Keys Fans!

The Keys play the middle game of three against the Salem Red Sox on Tuesday night at LewisGale Field in Salem. Left-hander Mitch Horacek starts for the Keys and will be opposed by Salem southpaw Dedgar Jimenez.

First pitch is at 7:05 p.m and you can catch the broadcast on 1450 AM The Source starting at 6:50. Some notes are below.

Shake your Keys!

Geoff

Tuesday, April 12, 2016 · Game #6 · Road Game #6

Frederick Keys (2-3) vs. Salem Red Sox (3-2)

LHP Mitch Horacek (0-1, 5.40) vs. LHP Dedgar Jimenez (0-0, –)

                                                                                                                                                              

BENINTENDI PACES RED SOX TO WIN IN SERIES OPENER:  Andrew Benintendi drove in three runs and scored a fourth as the Salem Red Sox defeated the Frederick Keys 5-1 on Monday night at LewisGale Field. Ending the night 3-for-5, Benintendi paced a Salem offense which ended with 14 hits. Frederick got on the scoreboard first, after a Steve Wilkerson triple and an Aderlin Rodriguez RBI groundout. Salem grabbed the lead for good in the fifth following an RBI bounce out by Mauricio Duban and a single by Benintendi, before tacking on three more in the seventh. Two came on a Benintendi triple. Offensively, Frederick was limited to just one hit in the last five innings and none in their final four trips to bat.

TRYING TO SLOW DOWN SALEM:  On Monday, Keys pitching allowed a season-high 14 hits. This eclipsed the previous high-water mark of 11 last Friday at Myrtle Beach. In the game all but Nick Longhi came up with a hit, while the home team had two or more hits in each of their last four innings. Often jumping on pitches early in counts, Salem batters had 17 different at-bats of two pitches or less. Through five contests, the Red Sox lead the league in hitting (.296), hits (48) and are second in RBIs (22).

BIG INNING/OFFENSIVE LEADERS: In games this season, the Keys have been helped out by the big inning. Through five games, Frederick has turned in two different four innings, a three-run inning and a two run inning. Those four innings account for 62% of the team’s scoring this year. Individually, the Keys have been led by Cam Kneeland who ranks third in the CL in hitting (.417) and Jay Gonzalez (.400) who places seventh. Gonzalez is also tied for second in stolen bases (four) while Kneeland is second in on-base percentage (.588), tied for second in doubles (three) and fourth in slugging (.667). Aderlin Rodriguez is tied for second in RBIs (five) and fourth in total bases (12), while Jomar Reyes is second in runs scored (seven) and tied for second in walks (five).

LIGHTS, CAM, ACTION: Cam Kneeland enjoyed as good of a first series as any Keys player. In three games, the Massachusetts native hit .455 (5-for-11) with three doubles, two RBIs and a run scored. Currently he has a 1.255 OPS and has reached base nine times in 17 plate appearances. On Monday, he finished with three walks for the first time in his pro career. Entering his first Advanced-A season, Kneeland played 112 games for Low-A Delmarva in 2015 batting .267 with six home runs and 63 RBIs. He fared best in the second-half, batting .311 in 68 contests, more than 100 points higher than before the all-star break. This series promises to be a fun one for Kneeland, who grew up a Red Sox fan and attended UMass-Lowell.

SHORT HITTING STREAK CONCLUDES: Jomar Reyes concluded his mini four-game hitting streak on Monday, going 0-for-4 with a strikeout. In his first five Carolina League games, the Dominican is hitting .235 (4-for-17) with a triple, a double and five walks as well as a .409 on-base percentage. The Carolina League’s youngest player at 19 years and 52 days, Reyes is one of Minor League Baseball’s most exciting third base prospects. Despite just turning 19-years-old on February 20, the Dominican native is ranked as the No.9 third base prospect in the MiLB according to MLBPipeline.com and the No. 4 prospect in the Orioles system according to Baseball America. He is also regarded as the organization’s “top power hitter” and owner of the “best infield arm” according to BA’s “best tools survey.”

LONG STRETCH TO START: Thursday night marked the first of seven games the Keys will play away from home to open the year. After wrapping up this series against Myrtle Beach, Frederick will bus to Virginia to battle the Salem Red Sox before playing its home opener next Thursday. A month that features just one off day, the orange and black open the year with 18 consecutive games, before getting their first off day on April 25..

2015 IN REVIEW: The Keys finished third overall in the Carolina League North in 2015, with a 64-76 mark and identical 32-38 figures in the first and second halves. With a fourth place finish in the first half and a third place finish in the second half, the orange and black missed out on the Carolina League playoffs for the fourth straight season. Offensively, Frederick finished tied for fourth in hitting with a .252 average, while leading the circuit with 162 stolen bases and tying for second in triples with 36. Pitching proved problematic at times, with the Keys placing last with a 4.32 ERA (the only team with a mark above 3.77). Much of those struggles could be attributed to a league-high 540 walks (78 more than the next-closest team) which contributed to CL highs in home runs, runs and earned runs.

STAR WATCH: Reyes headlines a quartet of Keys players ranked among the top of the 30 in the Orioles system by Baseball America’s rankings. Following the Keys third baseman are Tanner Scott (No. 11), Jonah Heim (No. 15) and Josh Hart (No. 28). All four players are also listed among the O’s top 30 according to MLB Pipeline. Splitting 2015 between Short-Season Aberdeen and Delmarva, Scott went a combined 4-3 with a 3.83 ERA in 18 games (three starts) and struck out nearly 13 per nine innings (60 SO/42.1 IP). Baltimore’s No. 2 catching prospect, Heim played only 45 games last year due to a left foot injury, but managed to hit .258 with Delmarva in 36 first half games. During that time, 10 of his 32 hits went for extra bases. Hart returns to Frederick for the second straight year after hitting .255 with a home run and 28 RBIs in 104 games. The outfielder’s best asset was his speed, as he finished second among Orioles farmhands with 30 stolen bases.    

FAMILIAR FACES: The Frederick Keys opening day roster features 11 returning players. Of this group, Mitch Horacek, Jimmy Yacabonis, Austin Wynns and Anthony Caronia also suited up for the orange in black in either 2013 or 2014. To go along with some familiar faces, the Keys boast plenty of experience. Of the 25 players on the Keys roster, 16 have played at the Advanced-A level or higher. Among this group, Wynns, Chipper Smith and Aderlin Rodriguez have reached the Double-A level, while Caronia and Erick Salcedo have played at the Triple-A classification.

BASEBALL WITH BODIE: Keith Bodie takes over as the manager of the Frederick Keys in 2016, replacing Orlando Gomez. The Brooklyn native is the 21st manager in franchise history and comes to Frederick from Double-A Bowie, where he served as the Baysox hitting coach last year. A decorated minor league manager, Bodie has 18 years of MiLB managerial experience and boasts a .525 winning percentage (1223-1108). He has claimed nine division titles while managing as high as the Triple-A level. Bodie last served as a manager for the Double-A Corpus Christi Hooks in 2014, guiding them to a 73-67 record. In three season as the Astros Double-A leader, Bodie posted a 237-183 record and earned Texas League Manager of the Year honors in 2013. Some of his past pupils include Craig Biggio, Omar Vizquel and Zach Greinke.

SCOUTING THE RED SOX:  In 2015, Salem finished 66-73 overall, finishing last in the Carolina League South Division. After a good first half where the team placed second with a 38-32 mark, the second-half did not go as planned, with the Sox going 28-41. Head-to-head, the Keys and Red Sox split the 2015 season series (8-8). Among returners, Anthony Caronia fared the best, hitting .351 off Sox pitching in 12 games. So far in 2016, Salem is 2-2 while the Red Sox are tied for the league lead in hitting (.266) and are tied for the top mark in runs (20) and RBIs (18). Salem also posses the top three prospects in the Red Sox system according to Baseball America in Yoan Moncada (No.1), Rafael Devers (No. 2) and Andrew Benintendi (No. 3).

TODAY’S OPPOSING PITCHER:  Dedgar Jimenez makes his first Advanced-A start on Tuesday night. The left-hander is the second-youngest member of the Red Sox (trailing Rafael Devers who is 19) and is the eighth-youngest player in the Carolina League. Jimenez spent all of 2015 with Low-A Greenville where he went 9-9 with a 4.43 ERA in 23 starts. Finishing with a career-high 126 innings, the Venezuelan allowed 160 hits, walked 21 and struck out 64. Opponents batted .313 against him (right-handers hit .322). He allowed the most hits in the South Atlantic League, but did issue the second-fewest unintentional walks per nine innings among league starters (1.50). Jimenez was more effective before the all-star break (3.59 ERA) than after (5.03 ERA). His best month came in June, where he recorded a 2.73 ERA in five starts. In his career, Jimenez has exhibited good command, walking just 1.5 per nine innings (235.1 IP/38). Before joining Greenville, Jimenez was named the organization’s Latin Program Pitcher of the Year for two years straight. With the GCL Red Sox in 2014, Jimenez was 5-2 with a 3.28 ERA in 11 contests. Signed by Boston as an international free agent in July 2012, Jimenez is from Acarigua, VZ (not to be confused with Tacarigua, VZ, the hometown of Keys pitcher Ivan Hernandez which is located just over six hours to the east on the coast). Jimenez throws a fastball (four-seam and two-seam), a curveball and a changeup.

The Keys Continue in Salem!

Good Afternoon Keys Fans!

The Frederick Keys continue their seven-game roadtrip on Monday night in Salem, as the team gets ready to play three against the Red Sox. Tanner Chleborad takes the mound for the Keys, while the right-hander will be opposed by fellow righty Ben Taylor.

First pitch is slated for 7:05 p.m and the broadcast starts at 6:50 p.m on 1450 AM The Source. Today’s notes are below!

Talk soon and shake your Keys!

Geoff

Monday, April 11, 2016 · Game #5 · Road Game #5

Frederick Keys (2-1) vs. Salem Red Sox (1-2)

                    RHP Tanner Chleborad (0-0, 0.00) vs. RHP Ben Taylor (0-0, –)                                                                                                                                                             

LATE RALLY NOT ENOUGH, KEYS SPLIT SERIES: The Frederick Keys put the tying and go-ahead runs on base in the top of the ninth, but the Myrtle Beach Pelicans were able to thwart a late rally by the orange and black to win 7-5 on Sunday at TicketReturn.com Field at Pelicans Park. With the setback, the Keys and Pelicans split the four-game affair. In the ninth, Frederick loaded the bases against Daury Torrez, prompting a Myrtle Beach pitching change. Pitching for the first time since 2014, Jose Rosario went to a full count against Jonah Heim, but the Keys catcher flied out to right to end the game. Frederick claimed the initial lead in the fourth, following a three-run homer by Austin Wynns. However the home team took the lead for good one inning later. After Myrtle Beach loaded the bases against Chipper Smith, Cael Brockmeyer walked to force in the first Pelicans run, before Shawon Dunston Jr. cleared the bases with a triple.

HELPED BY THE BIG INNING: In games this season, the Keys have been helped out by the big inning. Through four games, Frederick has turned in two different four innings, a three-run inning and a two run inning. Those four innings account for 65% of the team’s scoring this year. Currently, the orange and black are tied for first in the league with runs scored (along with Lynchburg, Salem and Potomac). Individually, the Keys have been led by Aderlin Rodriguez who paces the league in total bases (12) and is tied for the lead in hits (six), RBIs (four) and extra-base hits (three). Austin Wynns is also tied for the CL RBI lead, Jomar Reyes leads the league in runs scored (seven), while Cam Kneeland is tied for the lead in extra-base hits (three), and second in batting average (.455) and slugging percentage (.727).

LIGHTS, CAM, ACTION: Cam Kneeland enjoyed as good of a first series as any Keys player. In three games, the Massachusetts native hit .455 (5-for-11) with three doubles, two RBIs and a run scored. He has multi-hit efforts in consecutive games, to go with a .727 slugging percentage and a 1.266 OPS. In his first Advanced-A season, Kneeland played 112 games for Low-A Delmarva in 2015 batting .267 with six home runs and 63 RBIs. He fared best in the second-half, batting .311 in 68 contests, more than 100 points higher than before the all-star break. This series promises to be a fun one for Kneeland, who grew up a Red Sox fan and attended UMass-Lowell.

LONG STRETCH TO START: Thursday night marked the first of seven games the Keys will play away from home to open the year. After wrapping up this series against Myrtle Beach, Frederick will bus to Virginia to battle the Salem Red Sox before playing its home opener next Thursday. A month that features just one off day, the orange and black open the year with 18 consecutive games, before getting their first off day on April 25..

2015 IN REVIEW: The Keys finished third overall in the Carolina League North in 2015, with a 64-76 mark and identical 32-38 figures in the first and second halves. With a fourth place finish in the first half and a third place finish in the second half, the orange and black missed out on the Carolina League playoffs for the fourth straight season. Offensively, Frederick finished tied for fourth in hitting with a .252 average, while leading the circuit with 162 stolen bases and tying for second in triples with 36. Pitching proved problematic at times, with the Keys placing last with a 4.32 ERA (the only team with a mark above 3.77). Much of those struggles could be attributed to a league-high 540 walks (78 more than the next-closest team) which contributed to CL highs in home runs, runs and earned runs.

NOT NOMAR, JOMAR: Jomar Reyes makes his Keys debut in 2016 and is one of Minor League Baseball’s most exciting third base prospects. Despite just turning 19-years-old on February 20, the Dominican native is ranked as the No.9 third base prospect in the MiLB according to MLBPipeline.com and the No. 4 prospect in the Orioles system according to Baseball America. He is also regarded as the organization’s “top power hitter” and owner of the “best infield arm” according to BA’s “best tools survey.” A midseason South Atlantic League All-Star at Low-A Delmarva last season, Reyes hit .278 with five home runs and 44 RBIs in 84 games while missing time from June 15-July 25 with a thumb injury. Particularly good with runners in scoring position, the third baseman batted .304 with runners closest to home.

STAR WATCH: Reyes headlines a quartet of Keys players ranked among the top of the 30 in the Orioles system by Baseball America’s rankings. Following the Keys third baseman are Tanner Scott (No. 11), Jonah Heim (No. 15) and Josh Hart (No. 28). All four players are also listed among the O’s top 30 according to MLB Pipeline. Splitting 2015 between Short-Season Aberdeen and Delmarva, Scott went a combined 4-3 with a 3.83 ERA in 18 games (three starts) and struck out nearly 13 per nine innings (60 SO/42.1 IP). Baltimore’s No. 2 catching prospect, Heim played only 45 games last year due to a left foot injury, but managed to hit .258 with Delmarva in 36 first half games. During that time, 10 of his 32 hits went for extra bases. Hart returns to Frederick for the second straight year after hitting .255 with a home run and 28 RBIs in 104 games. The outfielder’s best asset was his speed, as he finished second among Orioles farmhands with 30 stolen bases.    

FAMILIAR FACES: The Frederick Keys opening day roster features 11 returning players. Of this group, Mitch Horacek, Jimmy Yacabonis, Austin Wynns and Anthony Caronia also suited up for the orange in black in either 2013 or 2014. To go along with some familiar faces, the Keys boast plenty of experience. Of the 25 players on the Keys roster, 16 have played at the Advanced-A level or higher. Among this group, Wynns, Chipper Smith and Aderlin Rodriguez have reached the Double-A level, while Caronia and Erick Salcedo have played at the Triple-A classification.

BASEBALL WITH BODIE: Keith Bodie takes over as the manager of the Frederick Keys in 2016, replacing Orlando Gomez. The Brooklyn native is the 21st manager in franchise history and comes to Frederick from Double-A Bowie, where he served as the Baysox hitting coach last year. A decorated minor league manager, Bodie has 18 years of MiLB managerial experience and boasts a .525 winning percentage (1223-1108). He has claimed nine division titles while managing as high as the Triple-A level. Bodie last served as a manager for the Double-A Corpus Christi Hooks in 2014, guiding them to a 73-67 record. In three season as the Astros Double-A leader, Bodie posted a 237-183 record and earned Texas League Manager of the Year honors in 2013. Some of his past pupils include Craig Biggio, Omar Vizquel and Zach Greinke.

SCOUTING THE RED SOX:  In 2015, Salem finished 66-73 overall, finishing last in the Carolina League South Division. After a good first half where the team placed second with a 38-32 mark, the second-half did not go as planned, with the Sox going 28-41. Head-to-head, the Keys and Red Sox split the 2015 season series (8-8). Among returners, Anthony Caronia fared the best, hitting .351 off Sox pitching in 12 games. So far in 2016, Salem is 2-2 while the Red Sox are tied for the league lead in hitting (.266) and are tied for the top mark in runs (20) and RBIs (18). Salem also posses the top three prospects in the Red Sox system according to Baseball America in Yoan Moncada (No.1), Rafael Devers (No. 2) and Andrew Benintendi (No. 3).

TODAY’S OPPOSING PITCHER:  Ben Taylor makes his Advanced-A debut on Monday night, after splitting 2015 between Short-Season Lowell and Low-A Greenville. Combined between the two stops, Taylor went 0-2 with a 3.11 ERA in 14 games (10 starts). He logged 55 innings, surrendered 51 hits, walked 17 and struck out 54. The bulks of his time came with Greenville, where he was 0-2 with a 3.40 ERA in 10 starts after a July 18 promotion. Right-handers batted only .200 against him. Selected by Boston in the seventh round of the 2015 draft, Taylor attended South Alabama and was named to the All-Sun Belt First Team as a senior. As a senior, he was 6-3 with a 1.48 ERA and led the team with seven saves. He allowed only 26 hits in 42.2 innings and struck out 68. Taylor transferred to South Alabama after beginning his career at Chattahoohee Valley Community College. A school that is currently in the NCAA Top 25 (and No.23 according to Baseball America) the Jaguars baseball team is 15-0 to start Sun Belt play and has won 13 consecutive home games. Alumni include David Freese, Juan Pierre and Luis Gonzalez. Taylor throws a fastball in the low-90s, a slider and a changeup.

The Keys Shoot for a Series Win

Good Afternoon Keys Fans!

The Keys wrap up their series with the Pelicans on Sunday at 3:05 p.m from TicketReturn.com Field at Pelicans Park. Left-hander Chipper Smith makes his Keys debut and will be opposed by right-hander Erick Leal.

Today’s notes are below, while you can catch the broadcast on 1450 AM The Source.

Shake your Keys!

Geoff

 

Sunday, April 10, 2016 · Game #4 · Road Game #4

Frederick Keys (2-1) vs. Myrtle Beach Pelicans (1-2)

LHP Chipper Smith (0-0, –) vs. RHP Erick Leal (0-0, –)

                                                                                                                                                              

KEYS BLANK BIRDS: The Frederick Keys used a big inning and outstanding pitching to earn a 6-0 shutout of the Myrtle Beach Pelicans on Saturday night at TicketReturn.com Field at Pelicans Park. In the game, the game the quartet of Matthew Grimes, Max Schuh, Ivan Hernandez and Jimmy Yacabonis combined to six-hit the home team as the Keys moved past the .500 mark for the first time in 2016. Frederick’s big inning was the first, as the team plated four and sent eight to bat. After a Steve Wilkerson sacrifice bunt scored Jay Gonzalez, Aderlin Rodriguez hit a titanic homer to left to make it 3-0. Later in the inning, Jomar Reyes tripled and scored on a wild pitch. Frederick added single markers in the third and fifth stanzas, but Myrtle Beach never responded, as Grimes earned his first CL win. The right-hander worked five innings, struck out seven and scattered four hits.

FIRING BLANKS: Frederick posted its first shutout of the season on Saturday, the club’s first since last August 25 at Potomac. In 2015, the orange and black earned eight shutout wins, the fewest by any CL team. Keys’ pitching has gone 10 innings without allowing a run and has a staff ERA of 2.77 through the first three games. Only Potomac (who has played one fewer game) has fared better, tallying a 1.00 ERA (18 IP/2ER).

RODRIGUEZ STAYS RED HOT: Aderlin Rodriguez has been the talk of the Grand Strand in his last two games. On Saturday, the Keys cleanup man went 3-for-5 with a two-run homer, a double, two RBIs and two runs scored. He finished a single shy of the cycle. Through his first three games, Rodriguez is batting .429 (6-for-14) with a homer, triple, double, four RBIs and three runs scored. He has an .857 slugging percentage and a 1.286 OPS. He leads the CL in hits and is tied for the lead in RBIs. Formerly a member of the Mets and Mariners organizations, Rodriguez was signed as a free agent this January. A former Mets prospect, the first baseman played in the Arizona Fall League in 2013 for Scottsdale, where he was teammates with Mets closer Jeurys Familia.

LONG STRETCH TO START: Thursday night marked the first of seven games the Keys will play away from home to open the year. After wrapping up this series against Myrtle Beach, Frederick will bus to Virginia to battle the Salem Red Sox before playing its home opener next Thursday. A month that features just one off day, the orange and black open the year with 18 consecutive games, before getting their first off day on April 25..

2015 IN REVIEW: The Keys finished third overall in the Carolina League North in 2015, with a 64-76 mark and identical 32-38 figures in the first and second halves. With a fourth place finish in the first half and a third place finish in the second half, the orange and black missed out on the Carolina League playoffs for the fourth straight season. Offensively, Frederick finished tied for fourth in hitting with a .252 average, while leading the circuit with 162 stolen bases and tying for second in triples with 36. Pitching proved problematic at times, with the Keys placing last with a 4.32 ERA (the only team with a mark above 3.77). Much of those struggles could be attributed to a league-high 540 walks (78 more than the next-closest team) which contributed to CL highs in home runs, runs and earned runs.

NOT NOMAR, JOMAR: Jomar Reyes makes his Keys debut in 2016 and is one of Minor League Baseball’s most exciting third base prospects. Despite just turning 19-years-old on February 20, the Dominican native is ranked as the No.9 third base prospect in the MiLB according to MLBPipeline.com and the No. 4 prospect in the Orioles system according to Baseball America. He is also regarded as the organization’s “top power hitter” and owner of the “best infield arm” according to BA’s “best tools survey.” A midseason South Atlantic League All-Star at Low-A Delmarva last season, Reyes hit .278 with five home runs and 44 RBIs in 84 games while missing time from June 15-July 25 with a thumb injury. Particularly good with runners in scoring position, the third baseman batted .304 with runners closest to home.

STAR WATCH: Reyes headlines a quartet of Keys players ranked among the top of the 30 in the Orioles system by Baseball America’s rankings. Following the Keys third baseman are Tanner Scott (No. 11), Jonah Heim (No. 15) and Josh Hart (No. 28). All four players are also listed among the O’s top 30 according to MLB Pipeline. Splitting 2015 between Short-Season Aberdeen and Delmarva, Scott went a combined 4-3 with a 3.83 ERA in 18 games (three starts) and struck out nearly 13 per nine innings (60 SO/42.1 IP). Baltimore’s No. 2 catching prospect, Heim played only 45 games last year due to a left foot injury, but managed to hit .258 with Delmarva in 36 first half games. During that time, 10 of his 32 hits went for extra bases. Hart returns to Frederick for the second straight year after hitting .255 with a home run and 28 RBIs in 104 games. The outfielder’s best asset was his speed, as he finished second among Orioles farmhands with 30 stolen bases.    

FAMILIAR FACES: The Frederick Keys opening day roster features 10 returning players. Of this group, Mitch Horacek, Jimmy Yacabonis, Austin Wynns and Anthony Caronia also suited up for the orange in black in either 2013 or 2014. To go along with some familiar faces, the Keys boast plenty of experience. Of the 25 players on the Keys roster, 16 have played at the Advanced-A level or higher. Among this group, Wynns, Chipper Smith and Aderlin Rodriguez have reached the Double-A level, while Caronia and Erick Salcedo have played at the Triple-A classification.

BASEBALL WITH BODIE: Keith Bodie takes over as the manager of the Frederick Keys in 2016, replacing Orlando Gomez. The Brooklyn native is the 21st manager in franchise history and comes to Frederick from Double-A Bowie, where he served as the Baysox hitting coach last year. A decorated minor league manager, Bodie has 18 years of MiLB managerial experience and boasts a .525 winning percentage (1223-1108). He has claimed nine division titles while managing as high as the Triple-A level. Bodie last served as a manager for the Double-A Corpus Christi Hooks in 2014, guiding them to a 73-67 record. In three season as the Astros Double-A leader, Bodie posted a 237-183 record and earned Texas League Manager of the Year honors in 2013. Some of his past pupils include Craig Biggio, Omar Vizquel and Zach Greinke.

ROUNDING OUT THE COACHING STAFF: Not the only newcomer on this year’s coaching staff, Erik Pappas takes over as the Keys hitting coach. This is the 49-year-old’s first year with the Orioles organization after spending the previous three seasons on the Cardinals minor league staff. He spent 2014-15 at Double-A Springfield. A former sixth overall pick by the California Angels in 1984, Pappas played three seasons in the Major Leagues. Kennie Steenstra embarks on his fourth straight season as Frederick’s pitching coach and fifth overall with the orange and black. His 12th overall on the Orioles MiLB staff, Steenstra pitched 11 minor league seasons for seven different organizations. He reached the Major Leagues in 1998, appearing in four games for the Cubs. Ramon Sambo joins the Keys as a field coach, his first year with the team. A 10-year minor league player, Sambo has six years of managerial experience with Orioles farm clubs. Brian Guzman begins his second season as the Keys trainer, while Chris Cecere enters his fifth as strength and conditioning coach.

SCOUTING THE PELICANS: Myrtle Beach enters 2016 as the defending Carolina League champions, the Birds first since 2000. The Pelicans won the title by sweeping Wilmington in the Mills Cup Championship Series. The Pelicans finished last season with an 81-57 record, the top overall mark in the CL. Head-to-head, Frederick and Myrtle Beach split the season series (8-8), while the Keys hit .259 off Birds pitching and recorded a 4.47 ERA. The Pelicans hit .279 against Keys arms and boasted a 3.42 ERA. Among returners, Josh Hart fared best, batting .291 with four stolen bases. Myrtle Beach played an exhibition game on Wednesday night, defeating Low-A Charleston (Yankees) 2-0 in the “Battle of the Beaches” a meeting of two teams separated by only 95 miles. In the contest, Jake Stinnett and Tommy Thorpe combined to strike out 15 while the River Dogs did not record a hit until the eighth inning.

TODAY’S OPPOSING PITCHER: Erick Leal makes his first Carolina League start on Sunday, becoming the third straight Pelicans starter to make his Advanced-A debut. The right-hander spent all of last season at Low-A South Bend, going 10-8 with a 3.85 ERA in 23 games (22 starts) with the Cubs. Over 128.2 innings, he gave up 138 hits, walked 32 and struck out 86, while opponents batted .273 against him. Perhaps the highlight of his season came on August 4 when he threw nine hitless innings against Kane County. He was denied the seventh no-hitter in team history though, as the Cubs lost in 12 innings 1-0. At his best after the All-Star break, Leal went 4-4 with a .282 ERA and held opponents to a .234 average (in the first half his ERA was almost five, and opponents batted .312). Originally signed by the Diamondbacks as a free agent in 2011, Leal was traded to Cubs from the Diamondbacks along with right-hander Jesus Castillo for outfielder Tony Campana in February 2013. He is originally from Valencia, Venezuela, the same hometown as Keys shortstop Erick Salcedo.

Keys Back at it on Saturday Night From the Grand Strand

Good Afternoon Keys Fans!

The Keys are riding high after a 7-5 victory on the Grand Strand Friday night. In the game, the orange and black benefited from a four-run sixth where the team batted around against three different pitchers.

Tonight, right-hander Matthew Grimes makes his Advanced-A debut for Frederick. The Georgia Tech product enjoy a good first full season at Low-A Delmarva. He will be opposed by another pitcher making his Carolina League debut in Trevor Clifton.

First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m from the Grand Strand and the broadcast gets underway at 6:50 0n 1450 AM The Source. I’ll do my best to keep you company and not rub things in about the weather.

Shake your Keys!

Geoff

Saturday, April 9, 2016 · Game #3 · Road Game #3

Frederick Keys (1-1) vs. Myrtle Beach Pelicans (1-1)

RHP Matthew Grimes (0-0, –) vs. RHP Trevor Clifton (0-0, –)

                                                                                                                                                              

KEYS EARN FIRST WIN OF 2016: The Frederick Keys batted around in the sixth inning, scoring four times en route to a 7-5 win over the Myrtle Beach Pelicans on Friday night at TicketReturn.com Field at Pelicans Park. In the contest, the orange and black went 5-for-13 with runners in scoring position, while seven of the team’s nine starters came up with a hit. After an Anthony Caronia single tied the game in the fifth, the Keys burst through one inning later. After a Jay GonzalezSteve Wilkerson double steal, Aderlin Rodriguez crushed a two-run triple to center to make it 3-1. Jimmy Bosco added to the total with an RBI single, before Jomar Reyes scored on a wild pitch. Myrtle Beach scored the next three runs and pulled within one on two occasions, but could not bring home the tying run in the ninth.

A LITTLE HELP?: After going 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position on Thursday, the Keys finished 5-for-13 in that department Friday. As a team in 2015, the orange and black hit .248 with runners closest to home. That mark equaled the worst in the Carolina League (Winston-Salem also hit .248). Among Keys returners, Austin Wynns fared best, batting .273.

ANOTHER DAY AT THE OFFICE: Jay Gonzalez has gotten off to a hot start at the plate, going 4-for-8 with a triple, a double an RBI, two runs scored and seven total bases. In two games, he is tied for the top batting average in the Carolina League. Additionally, the Floridian has put his speed to good use, stealing a pair of bases. Promoted to Frederick on July 3 last year from Low-A Delmarva, Gonzalez hit a combined .268 and led all O’s farmhands with 34 steals.

LONG STRETCH TO START: Thursday night marked the first of seven games the Keys will play away from home to open the year. After wrapping up this series against Myrtle Beach, Frederick will bus to Virginia to battle the Salem Red Sox before playing its home opener next Thursday. A month that features just one off day, the orange and black open the year with 18 consecutive games, before getting their first off day on April 25..

2015 IN REVIEW: The Keys finished third overall in the Carolina League North in 2015, with a 64-76 mark and identical 32-38 figures in the first and second halves. With a fourth place finish in the first half and a third place finish in the second half, the orange and black missed out on the Carolina League playoffs for the fourth straight season. Offensively, Frederick finished tied for fourth in hitting with a .252 average, while leading the circuit with 162 stolen bases and tying for second in triples with 36. Pitching proved problematic at times, with the Keys placing last with a 4.32 ERA (the only team with a mark above 3.77). Much of those struggles could be attributed to a league-high 540 walks (78 more than the next-closest team) which contributed to CL highs in home runs, runs and earned runs.

NOT NOMAR, JOMAR: Jomar Reyes makes his Keys debut in 2016 and is one of Minor League Baseball’s most exciting third base prospects. Despite just turning 19-years-old on February 20, the Dominican native is ranked as the No.9 third base prospect in the MiLB according to MLBPipeline.com and the No. 4 prospect in the Orioles system according to Baseball America. He is also regarded as the organization’s “top power hitter” and owner of the “best infield arm” according to BA’s “best tools survey.” A midseason South Atlantic League All-Star at Low-A Delmarva last season, Reyes hit .278 with five home runs and 44 RBIs in 84 games while missing time from June 15-July 25 with a thumb injury. Particularly good with runners in scoring position, the third baseman batted .304 with runners closest to home.

STAR WATCH: Reyes headlines a quartet of Keys players ranked among the top of the 30 in the Orioles system by Baseball America’s rankings. Following the Keys third baseman are Tanner Scott (No. 11), Jonah Heim (No. 15) and Josh Hart (No. 28). All four players are also listed among the O’s top 30 according to MLB Pipeline. Splitting 2015 between Short-Season Aberdeen and Delmarva, Scott went a combined 4-3 with a 3.83 ERA in 18 games (three starts) and struck out nearly 13 per nine innings (60 SO/42.1 IP). Baltimore’s No. 2 catching prospect, Heim played only 45 games last year due to a left foot injury, but managed to hit .258 with Delmarva in 36 first half games. During that time, 10 of his 32 hits went for extra bases. Hart returns to Frederick for the second straight year after hitting .255 with a home run and 28 RBIs in 104 games. The outfielder’s best asset was his speed, as he finished second among Orioles farmhands with 30 stolen bases.    

FAMILIAR FACES: The Frederick Keys opening day roster features 10 returning players. Of this group, Mitch Horacek, Jimmy Yacabonis, Austin Wynns and Anthony Caronia also suited up for the orange in black in either 2013 or 2014. To go along with some familiar faces, the Keys boast plenty of experience. Of the 25 players on the Keys roster, 16 have played at the Advanced-A level or higher. Among this group, Wynns, Chipper Smith and Aderlin Rodriguez have reached the Double-A level, while Caronia and Erick Salcedo have played at the Triple-A classification.

BASEBALL WITH BODIE: Keith Bodie takes over as the manager of the Frederick Keys in 2016, replacing Orlando Gomez. The Brooklyn native is the 21st manager in franchise history and comes to Frederick from Double-A Bowie, where he served as the Baysox hitting coach last year. A decorated minor league manager, Bodie has 18 years of MiLB managerial experience and boasts a .525 winning percentage (1223-1108). He has claimed nine division titles while managing as high as the Triple-A level. Bodie last served as a manager for the Double-A Corpus Christi Hooks in 2014, guiding them to a 73-67 record. In three season as the Astros Double-A leader, Bodie posted a 237-183 record and earned Texas League Manager of the Year honors in 2013. Some of his past pupils include Craig Biggio, Omar Vizquel and Zach Greinke.

ROUNDING OUT THE COACHING STAFF: Not the only newcomer on this year’s coaching staff, Erik Pappas takes over as the Keys hitting coach. This is the 49-year-old’s first year with the Orioles organization after spending the previous three seasons on the Cardinals minor league staff. He spent 2014-15 at Double-A Springfield. A former sixth overall pick by the California Angels in 1984, Pappas played three seasons in the Major Leagues. Kennie Steenstra embarks on his fourth straight season as Frederick’s pitching coach and fifth overall with the orange and black. His 12th overall on the Orioles MiLB staff, Steenstra pitched 11 minor league seasons for seven different organizations. He reached the Major Leagues in 1998, appearing in four games for the Cubs. Ramon Sambo joins the Keys as a field coach, his first year with the team. A 10-year minor league player, Sambo has six years of managerial experience with Orioles farm clubs. Brian Guzman begins his second season as the Keys trainer, while Chris Cecere enters his fifth as strength and conditioning coach.

SCOUTING THE PELICANS: Myrtle Beach enters 2016 as the defending Carolina League champions, the Birds first since 2000. The Pelicans won the title by sweeping Wilmington in the Mills Cup Championship Series. The Pelicans finished last season with an 81-57 record, the top overall mark in the CL. Head-to-head, Frederick and Myrtle Beach split the season series (8-8), while the Keys hit .259 off Birds pitching and recorded a 4.47 ERA. The Pelicans hit .279 against Keys arms and boasted a 3.42 ERA. Among returners, Josh Hart fared best, batting .291 with four stolen bases. Myrtle Beach played an exhibition game on Wednesday night, defeating Low-A Charleston (Yankees) 2-0 in the “Battle of the Beaches” a meeting of two teams separated by only 95 miles. In the contest, Jake Stinnett and Tommy Thorpe combined to strike out 15 while the River Dogs did not record a hit until the eighth inning.

TODAY’S OPPOSING PITCHER: Trevor Clifton makes his Advanced-A debut on Saturday night, the second straight night where a Pelicans starter has made his first Carolina League outing, Only 20 years old, the right-hander is ranked at the No. 18 prospect in the Cubs system according to Baseball America and the No. 21 prospect based on the MLB.com rankings. Clifton pitched all of last season at Low-A South Bend, going 8-10 with a 3.98 ERA in 23 games (22 starts). Across 108. 2 innings, Clifton walked 47, struck out 103 and help opponents to a .230 average. After going 2-6 with a 4.88 ERA in his first 12 Midwest League games, the Tennessee native went 6-4 with a 3.26 ERA after the all-star break. He pitched 2014 at Short-Season Boise, going 4-2 with a 3.69 ERA. Drafted by Chicago in the 12th round of the 2013 draft out of Heritage High School (TN) , Clifton was third-team All-American as a senior, striking out 79 batters in 39.2 frames. Featuring a fastball that reached 93 mph in high school, Clifton was a member of the 16U Team USA and ranked as the No. 4 prospect in Tennessee. Before signing with the Cubs, Clifton was committed to pitch at Kentucky, in spite of growing up in Maryville, TN, 30 miles south of Knoxville (home of the Tennessee Vols). He throws a fastball, curveball and changeup.

The Keys Search for their First Win on Friday

Good Afternoon Keys Fans!

The Keys suffered a 5-2 setback in their season opener at Myrtle Beach, but look to bounce back on Friday night on the Grand Strand. Left-hander John Means makes the start for the orange and black. He ended the season with the Keys, firing off a quality start against Winston-Salem in his final 2015 outing. Means’ opposition will be Zach Hedges who makes his Advanced-A debut after spending 2015 with Low-A South Bend.

First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m from TicketReturn.com Field at Pelicans Park and today’s batch of game notes are below. Tonight’s broadcast can be heard on 1450 AM The Source starting at 6:50 p.m as well as on the TuneIn radio app.

Talk soon and shake your Keys!

Geoff

 

 Friday, April 8, 2016 · Game #2 · Road Game #2

Frederick Keys (0-1) vs. Myrtle Beach Pelicans (1-0)

LHP John Means (0-0, –) vs. RHP Zach Hedges (0-0, –)

KEYS FALL IN OPENER: The Frederick Keys dropped their season opener to the Myrtle Beach Pelicans by a 5-2 count on Thursday night at TicketReturn.com Field at Pelicans Park. It marked the second straight season, the orange and black had dropped a season opener. Myrtle Beach cracked the scoreboard in the home second against Mitch Horacek. A one-out Jeffrey Baez double put a pair in scoring position for Gioskar Amaya, who stroked an RBI single and later scored after a wild pitch and an error. Yasiel Balaguert made it 3-0 Myrtle with an infield single in the third, before the Keys scored their first marker in the fifth. Following a single by Tad Gold, Jay Gonzalez tripled his teammate home to make it a two-run game. However the Pelicans countered with two more in the home-fifth, while the visitors managed just one more run the rest of the way. Despite the outcome, Keys relievers threw extremely well, with Tanner Scott and Tanner Chleborad retiring all nine they faced.

LONG STRETCH TO START: Thursday night marked the first of seven games the Keys will play away from home to open the year. After wrapping up this series against Myrtle Beach, Frederick will bus to Virginia to battle the Salem Red Sox before playing its home opener next Thursday. A month that features just one off day, the orange and black open the year with 18 consecutive games, before getting their first off day on April 25.

GONZALEZ OPENS STRONG: Jay Gonzalez played well offensively in his first game of 2016. Hitting out of the leadoff spot, the Floridian went 2-for-4 with an RBI triple, while he also came up with a diving catch in leftfield. It was his 10th career multi-hit game at the Advanced-A level. Promoted to Frederick on July 3 last year from Low-A Delmarva, Gonzalez hit a combined .268 and led all O’s farmhands with 34 steals.

 2015 IN REVIEW: The Keys finished third overall in the Carolina League North in 2015, with a 64-76 mark and identical 32-38 figures in the first and second halves. With a fourth place finish in the first half and a third place finish in the second half, the orange and black missed out on the Carolina League playoffs for the fourth straight season. Offensively, Frederick finished tied for fourth in hitting with a .252 average, while leading the circuit with 162 stolen bases and tying for second in triples with 36. Pitching proved problematic at times, with the Keys placing last with a 4.32 ERA (the only team with a mark above 3.77). Much of those struggles could be attributed to a league-high 540 walks (78 more than the next-closest team) which contributed to CL highs in home runs, runs and earned runs.

NOT NOMAR, JOMAR: Jomar Reyes makes his Keys debut in 2016 and is one of Minor League Baseball’s most exciting third base prospects. Despite just turning 19-years-old on February 20, the Dominican native is ranked as the No.9 third base prospect in the MiLB according to MLBPipeline.com and the No. 4 prospect in the Orioles system according to Baseball America. He is also regarded as the organization’s “top power hitter” and owner of the “best infield arm” according to BA’s “best tools survey.” A midseason South Atlantic League All-Star at Low-A Delmarva last season, Reyes hit .278 with five home runs and 44 RBIs in 84 games while missing time from June 15-July 25 with a thumb injury. Particularly good with runners in scoring position, the third baseman batted .304 with runners closest to home.

STAR WATCH: Reyes headlines a quartet of Keys players ranked among the top of the 30 in the Orioles system by Baseball America’s rankings. Following the Keys third baseman are Tanner Scott (No. 11), Jonah Heim (No. 15) and Josh Hart (No. 28). All four players are also listed among the O’s top 30 according to MLB Pipeline. Splitting 2015 between Short-Season Aberdeen and Delmarva, Scott went a combined 4-3 with a 3.83 ERA in 18 games (three starts) and struck out nearly 13 per nine innings (60 SO/42.1 IP). Baltimore’s No. 2 catching prospect, Heim played only 45 games last year due to a left foot injury, but managed to hit .258 with Delmarva in 36 first half games. During that time, 10 of his 32 hits went for extra bases. Hart returns to Frederick for the second straight year after hitting .255 with a home run and 28 RBIs in 104 games. The outfielder’s best asset was his speed, as he finished second among Orioles farmhands with 30 stolen bases.    

FAMILIAR FACES: The Frederick Keys opening day roster features 10 returning players. Of this group, Mitch Horacek, Jimmy Yacabonis, Austin Wynns and Anthony Caronia also suited up for the orange in black in either 2013 or 2014. To go along with some familiar faces, the Keys boast plenty of experience. Of the 25 players on the Keys roster, 16 have played at the Advanced-A level or higher. Among this group, Wynns, Chipper Smith and Aderlin Rodriguez have reached the Double-A level, while Caronia and Erick Salcedo have played at the Triple-A classification.

 BASEBALL WITH BODIE: Keith Bodie takes over as the manager of the Frederick Keys in 2016, replacing Orlando Gomez. The Brooklyn native is the 21st manager in franchise history and comes to Frederick from Double-A Bowie, where he served as the Baysox hitting coach last year. A decorated minor league manager, Bodie has 18 years of MiLB managerial experience and boasts a .525 winning percentage (1223-1108). He has claimed nine division titles while managing as high as the Triple-A level. Bodie last served as a manager for the Double-A Corpus Christi Hooks in 2014, guiding them to a 73-67 record. In three season as the Astros Double-A leader, Bodie posted a 237-183 record and earned Texas League Manager of the Year honors in 2013. Some of his past pupils include Craig Biggio, Omar Vizquel and Zach Greinke.

ROUNDING OUT THE COACHING STAFF: Not the only newcomer on this year’s coaching staff, Erik Pappas takes over as the Keys hitting coach. This is the 49-year-old’s first year with the Orioles organization after spending the previous three seasons on the Cardinals minor league staff. He spent 2014-15 at Double-A Springfield. A former sixth overall pick by the California Angels in 1984, Pappas played three seasons in the Major Leagues. Kennie Steenstra embarks on his fourth straight season as Frederick’s pitching coach and fifth overall with the orange and black. His 12th overall on the Orioles MiLB staff, Steenstra pitched 11 minor league seasons for seven different organizations. He reached the Major Leagues in 1998, appearing in four games for the Cubs. Ramon Sambo joins the Keys as a field coach, his first year with the team. A 10-year minor league player, Sambo has six years of managerial experience with Orioles farm clubs. Brian Guzman begins his second season as the Keys trainer, while Chris Cecere enters his fifth as strength and conditioning coach.

SCOUTING THE PELICANS: Myrtle Beach enters 2016 as the defending Carolina League champions, the Birds first since 2000. The Pelicans won the title by sweeping Wilmington in the Mills Cup Championship Series. The Pelicans finished last season with an 81-57 record, the top overall mark in the CL. Head-to-head, Frederick and Myrtle Beach split the season series (8-8), while the Keys hit .259 off Birds pitching and recorded a 4.47 ERA. The Pelicans hit .279 against Keys arms and boasted a 3.42 ERA. Among returners, Josh Hart fared best, batting .291 with four stolen bases. Myrtle Beach played an exhibition game on Wednesday night, defeating Low-A Charleston (Yankees) 2-0 in the “Battle of the Beaches” a meeting of two teams separated by only 95 miles. In the contest, Jake Stinnett and Tommy Thorpe combined to strike out 15 while the River Dogs did not record a hit until the eighth inning.

TODAY’S OPPOSING PITCHER: Zach Hedges makes his Advanced-A debut on Friday after spending all of 2015 at Low-A South Bend. In 23 games (all starts) he went 8-8 with a 4.16 ERA. Logging 132 innings, Hedges allowed 133 hits, walked 36 and struck out 80. Opponents hit .260 against him. The 23-year-old fared best in the middle of the season, going 3-1 with a 2.56 ERA over a seven start stretch from June-early July. Hedges began his professional career with Rookie Mesa after being drafted by Chicago in the 26th round of the 2014 draft. In his first pro season he was 2-1 with a 1.37 ERA in 12 relief outings. The right-hander attended Division II Azusa Pacific University (located 26 miles northeast of Los Angeles). As a junior, Hedges led all starters with a 2.74 ERA in 85.1 innings. He had a strikeout to walk ratio of nearly 3:1 (it is 2.7: 1 in the pros). Originally from Glendora, CA, Hedges enjoys cooking in his spare time. He throws a fastball, slider, curve and change.

OPENING DAY IS HERE!

Happy Opening Day Everyone!

It’s finally time for baseball! The Keys embark on their 28th season as an organization tonight, as the club takes on the Myrtle Beach on the Grand Strand.

For those of you who are new, my name is Geoff Arnold and I am the radio broadcaster for the Keys, as well as the team’s Public Relations Manager. Along with my partner Doug Raftery, we travel with the team throughout the season and call all 140 games on radio. We will also be posting daily game notes, articles, videos and other nuggets in this space as the season progresses.

Tonight the Keys go for their third straight opening day road win. Although the Keys fell in their home opener to Winston-Salem last year, the team has claimed back-to-back openers away from the friendly confines. The latest of which came in 2014, when the Keys topped Lynchburg 6-2. Frederick native Branden Kline picked up his first CL win that night, while both Doug and I called our first game as Keys announcers. Man doesn’t time fly by.

Left-hander Mitch Horacek makes the start for the Keys and will be opposed by Pelicans right-hander Jonathan Martinez. Both Horacek and Martinez were CL all-stars last year, while Martinez led the league in ERA.

To catch all the action tonight you can listen locally on 1450 AM The Source or you can visit frederickkeys.com. Click on the multimedia tab and you’ll be directed to a spot where you can listen live. The game is also available by visiting WTHU 1450 AM on the TuneIn radio app. And no matter how you want to listen, it’s free!

We will also have updates on our Facebook and Twitter pages (@frederickkeys). Meanwhile if you have a question for either Doug or myself, you can follow us @dougraftery and @geoffontheair. He may have more followers, but my handle is cooler.

Speaking of Doug, you can catch the latest edition of the Keys Corner which posted this morning! To access click here. Doug runs down this year’s roster and has a chat with Keys GM Dave Ziedelis about the team’s first homestand (which is one week away!)

Today’s batch of game notes are below. I look forward to talking to everyone tonight!

Shake your Keys!

Geoff

Thursday, April 7, 2016 · Game #1 · Road Game #1

Frederick Keys (0-0) vs. Myrtle Beach Pelicans (0-0)

                           LHP Mitch Horacek (0-0, –) vs. RHP Jonathan Martinez (0-0, –)                                                                                                                                                    

LET’S GET STARTED!: The Frederick Keys kickoff the 2016 season on Thursday night against the Myrtle Beach Pelicans, Frederick’s 28th as an organization. First pitch is slated for 7:05 p.m from TicketReturn.com Field at Pelicans Park and marks the first of seven road games to open the year. Frederick will play its first four contests in Myrtle Beach, before traveling to Salem for the last three. The orange and black begin home play one week from tonight against Lynchburg. April promises to be an exhausting stretch for the Keys, as the club will play 18 straight games to open the year before receiving an off-day on April 25-the only off-day scheduled this month.

2015 IN REVIEW: The Keys finished third overall in the Carolina League North in 2015, with a 64-76 mark and identical 32-38 figures in the first and second halves. With a fourth place finish in the first half and a third place finish in the second half, the orange and black missed out on the Carolina League playoffs for the fourth straight season. Offensively, Frederick finished tied for fourth in hitting with a .252 average, while leading the circuit with 162 stolen bases and tying for second in triples with 36. Pitching proved problematic at times, with the Keys placing last with a 4.32 ERA (the only team with a mark above 3.77). Much of those struggles could be attributed to a league-high 540 walks (78 more than the next-closest team) which contributed to CL highs in home runs, runs and earned runs.

NOT NOMAR, JOMAR: Jomar Reyes makes his Keys debut in 2016 and is one of Minor League Baseball’s most exciting third base prospects. Despite just turning 19-years-old on February 20, the Dominican native is ranked as the No.9 third base prospect in the MiLB according to MLBPipeline.com and the No. 4 prospect in the Orioles system according to Baseball America. He is also regarded as the organization’s “top power hitter” and owner of the “best infield arm” according to BA’s “best tools survey.” A midseason South Atlantic League All-Star at Low-A Delmarva last season, Reyes hit .278 with five home runs and 44 RBIs in 84 games while missing time from June 15-July 25 with a thumb injury. Particularly good with runners in scoring position, the third baseman batted .304 with runners closest to home.

STAR WATCH: Reyes headlines a quartet of Keys players ranked among the top of the 30 in the Orioles system by Baseball America’s rankings. Following the Keys third baseman are Tanner Scott (No. 11), Jonah Heim (No. 15) and Josh Hart (No. 28). All four players are also listed among the O’s top 30 according to MLB Pipeline. Splitting 2015 between Short-Season Aberdeen and Delmarva, Scott went a combined 4-3 with a 3.83 ERA in 18 games (three starts) and struck out nearly 13 per nine innings (60 SO/42.1 IP). Baltimore’s No. 2 catching prospect, Heim played only 45 games last year due to a left foot injury, but managed to hit .258 with Delmarva in 36 first half games. During that time, 10 of his 32 hits went for extra bases. Hart returns to Frederick for the second straight year after hitting .255 with a home run and 28 RBIs in 104 games. The outfielder’s best asset was his speed, as he finished second among Orioles farmhands with 30 stolen bases.    

FAMILIAR FACES: The Frederick Keys will feature 14 returning players to open the 2016 season. Of this group, Mitch Horacek, Jimmy Yacabonis, Wynston Sawyer, Austin Wynns and Anthony Caronia also suited up for the orange in black in either 2013 or 2014. To go along with some familiar faces, the Keys boast plenty of experience. Of the 28 players on the team’s break camp roster, 19 have played at the Advanced-A level or higher. Among this group, Wynns, Chipper Smith and Aderlin Rodriguez have reached the Double-A level, while Caronia and Erick Salcedo have played at the Triple-A classification.

BASEBALL WITH BODIE: Keith Bodie takes over as the manager of the Frederick Keys in 2016, replacing Orlando Gomez. The Brooklyn native is the 21st manager in franchise history and comes to Frederick from Double-A Bowie, where he served as the Baysox hitting coach last year. A decorated minor league manager, Bodie has 18 years of MiLB managerial experience and boasts a .525 winning percentage (1223-1108). He has claimed nine division titles while managing as high as the Triple-A level. Bodie last served as a manager for the Double-A Corpus Christi Hooks in 2014, guiding them to a 73-67 record. In three season as the Astros Double-A leader, Bodie posted a 237-183 record and earned Texas League Manager of the Year honors in 2013. Some of his past pupils include Craig Biggio, Omar Vizquel and Zach Greinke.

ROUNDING OUT THE COACHING STAFF: Not the only newcomer on this year’s coaching staff, Erik Pappas takes over as the Keys hitting coach. This is the 49-year-old’s first year with the Orioles organization after spending the previous three seasons on the Cardinals minor league staff. He spent 2014-15 at Double-A Springfield. A former sixth overall pick by the California Angels in 1984, Pappas played three seasons in the Major Leagues. Kennie Steenstra embarks on his fourth straight season as Frederick’s pitching coach and fifth overall with the orange and black. His 12th overall on the Orioles MiLB staff, Steenstra pitched 11 minor league seasons for seven different organizations. He reached the Major Leagues in 1998, appearing in four games for the Cubs. Ramon Sambo joins the Keys as a field coach, his first year with the team. A 10-year minor league player, Sambo has six years of managerial experience with Orioles farm clubs. Brian Guzman begins his second season as the Keys trainer, while Chris Cecere enters his fifth as strength and conditioning coach.

OPENING DAY NOTES: In opening day games, the Keys have a 9-18 record. Last year’s lid opener did not go as planned, as the orange and black fell to Winston-Salem 13-0 at Nymeo Field. In that contest, the Dash were led by a seven-run seventh inning, while the Keys mustered just two hits all game. It was the club’s worst opening day setback in franchise history and ended a two-game win streak in season openers. Despite last year’s finish, the Keys have taken each of their last two openers played on the road, with the most recent one coming in 2014, when Frederick topped Lynchburg 6-2. The 2016 season marks just the second time in franchise history the orange and black have opened a season against Myrtle Beach (1999). That year, the Pelicans roughed up O’s top pitching prospect Matt Riley en route to an 8-0 win.

SCOUTING THE PELICANS: Myrtle Beach enters 2016 as the defending Carolina League champions, the Birds first since 2000. The Pelicans won the title by sweeping Wilmington in the Mills Cup Championship Series. The Pelicans finished last season with an 81-57 record, the top overall mark in the CL. Head-to-head, Frederick and Myrtle Beach split the season series (8-8), while the Keys hit .259 off Birds pitching and recorded a 4.47 ERA. The Pelicans hit .279 against Keys arms and boasted a 3.42 ERA. Among returners, Josh Hart fared best, batting .291 with four stolen bases. Myrtle Beach played an exhibition game on Wednesday night, defeating Low-A Charleston (Yankees) 2-0 in the “Battle of the Beaches” a meeting of two teams separated by only 95 miles. In the contest, Jake Stinnett and Tommy Thorpe combined to strike out 15 while the River Dogs did not record a hit until the eighth inning.

TODAY’S OPPOSING PITCHER: Right-hander Jonathan Martinez makes the opening night start for the Pelicans, his second season on the Grand Strand. A Carolina League all-star, the right-hander went 9-2 with a 2.56 ERA in 23 games (21 starts) during the regular season. Logging a career-high 116 innings, he allowed only 82 hits and walked only 27. His first year at Advanced-A, the right-hander led the loop in ERA, WHIP (0.94), opponents batting average (.199) and baserunners per nine innings among starting pitchers (8.92). He pitched particularly well to close out the year, recording 19 consecutive scoreless innings to end the regular season, and giving up just one run in his final 31 frames. Among Cubs farmhands, the righty placed second in ERA. Martinez faced the Keys twice and won both times, going 2-0 with a 3.27 ERA (11 IP/4ER). Hitters batted a collective .205 against him.  Acquired by the Cubs on July 28, 2014, Martinez was acquired from the Dodgers as a player to be named later in the Darwin Barney trade. He advanced as high as Low-A with Los Angeles. Signed by the Dodgers in May 2011, Martinez debuted with the DSL Dodgers as a 17-year-old. He hails from Maracay, Venezuela, the same hometown of Jose Altuve and Miguel Cabrera. Martinez throws a four-seam fastball (89-91), sinker (86-89), slider (77-83) and changeup (78-84).

Remembering Ramon Ramirez

Good Afternoon Keys Fans,

On Sunday morning, the Keys and the Orioles received word about the tragic passing of Ramon Ramirez, a utility infielder who finished the 2015 season in Frederick. Only 23 years old, Ramirez was killed in a motorcycle accident after leaving a softball game in his hometown of La Romana.

Orioles Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations, Dan Duquette, issued the following statement:

“Our entire organization is deeply saddened by the sudden and tragic death of Ramon Ramirez,” Baltimore’s Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations Dan Duquette said in a statement. “As a member of the Orioles organization, Ramon worked tirelessly to make the most of his opportunity to play professional baseball. Our thoughts are with his family, friends, teammates and coaches as we mourn this unimaginable loss.”

Ramon Ramirez was killed in a motorcycle accident on Saturday night in the Dominican Republic.

Ramon Ramirez was killed in a motorcycle accident on Saturday night in the Dominican Republic.

Signed by the Orioles as a non-drafted free agent in 2014, he split his 2015 season between Frederick, Aberdeen and the GCL Orioles, batting .143 in 23 combined games.

Although only seven of those came with the orange and black (including the team’s season finale on Labor Day against Winston-Salem) Ramirez left a strong impression on manager Orlando Gomez and his Keys teammates.

In an article by Tyler Maun of MiLB.com, Gomez praised the professionalism and strong work ethic of Ramirez:

“To be honest with you, I think he was the kind of example of how to work,” said Orlando Gomez, Ramirez’s manager at Frederick last season. “He loved to work every day. Through [batting practice], he takes ground balls at second, third, short, turning double plays. He was very enthusiastic. Every day, he was ready to play. When he didn’t play, he was there watching the game, and I liked him because his attitude and the way he handled himself was very professional.”

These sentiments were shared by Ramon’s teammates:

Countless others took to social media to remember “Ram Ram” as he was affectionately known. Although I didn’t have as many interactions with Ramon as his coaches and teammates, what I’ll remember the most was the incredible work ethic Gomez spoke of. Every day was a chance to get better. If you watched batting practice, Ramon was in constant motion. Getting reps at third, short and second base, he wanted to be prepared when his name was called.

Personally, I enjoyed watching him take ground balls at third the most, as it gave him the best chance to show off his rocket of an arm. Off the field, he was quiet and reserved but usually had a smile on his face. He was doing what he loved, and you could tell.

For myself and the rest of the Keys organization, we’ll be praying for Ramon’s family, friends, teammates and coaches during this difficult time.

Shake your Keys,

Geoff

 

 

 

Keys Announce Coaching Staff and a Chat with Tad Gold

Good Morning Keys Fans!

And happy New Year! After a nice break, I hope your emails are less clogged, your to-do lists a little shorter and your resolutions (or at least one) still intact. There’s no doubt 2016 has plenty of good stuff waiting for all of us.

One news item I know many of you were interested in was word about this year’s coaching staff. Clarity was provided on Tuesday, as the Orioles announced Keith Bodie as the new manager of the Frederick Keys. He will be joined by another newcomer in Erik Pappas. A former big league catcher, outfielder and first baseman, the Chicago native comes to the Orioles after two years as the Cardinals Double-A hitting coach.

Three faces will remain the same. Kennie Steenstra returns as the Keys pitching coach, Brian Guzman reprises his role as the team’s trainer, while Chris Cecere stays on as strength and conditioning coach.

Coaching Staff for Blog

Some of you have wondered about Orlando Gomez and Paco Figueroa. Orlando remains with the Orioles, and will be mentoring some of the organization’s top young prospects in the Gulf Coast League. As for Paco, he is now a minor league hitting coordinator for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Both were awesome to work with and will be missed.

For a full listing of Orioles Minor League coach assignments click here.

Bodie becomes the 21st manager in Keys history, after he spent last season as the hitting coach at Double-A Bowie. A veteran minor league manager, Bodie has led teams from Class A to AAA, compiling an impressive record of 1,223-1,108 (.525).

The last time Bodie managed was 2014, when he skippered the Astros Double-A team in Corpus Christi. He had winning records in all three of his seasons with the Hooks, while if you go back a little farther, Bodie has been over .500 in 12 of his 18 years as a manager. That’s an encouraging sign, considering the Keys have not been to the playoffs since 2011.

Obviously those chances will improve if Frederick can get a healthy Hunter Harvey on its roster. This week, Harvey participated in the Orioles minicamp featuring some of the organization’s top minor league pitchers. He throw a bullpen session on Wednesday, and is on track for spring training, declaring himself 100% healthy. Ex-Key Dylan Bundy also appeared in good shape, throwing alongside Harvey.

Courtesy: Roch Kubatko MASN

Courtesy: Roch Kubatko MASN

 

Among others at the minicamp were former Keys Chris Lee and Parker Bridwell. Jon Meoli from the Baltimore Sun discussed how several mechanical changes Lee made in Frederick turned him into a serious prospect. A lot of the credit goes to Kennie Steenstra, who explained Lee’s rapid growth in the article.

Bridwell is now healthy after being shut down due to elbow tightness, but after a PRP injection is also ready for spring training.

Other Keys are getting preparing by playing some winter league games. Among them is Tad Gold, who is suiting up for the Perth Heat in the Australian Baseball League.

Comprised of native Aussies and “imports” from the United States, the ABL is made up of six teams with a schedule of 45 games.

On Wednesday morning (or Wednesday night his time) Tad and I did an extended interview about his time in the land down under. In our chat, the Martha’s Vineyard native elaborated on his time with Perth, how pro ball in Australia differs from that in the United States and what it is like to live with a baby (not his) as well as a few Keys teammates.

Our complete conversation is available here:

We will be working to do interviews with several more Keys players/coaching staff members each week before spring training so stay tuned!

Before we go, I wanted to let everyone know that Keys staff will be participating in the MSP Polar Bear Plunge on Friday, January 29. All proceeds go to Special Olympics Maryland, while you can contribute to the Keys fundraising efforts by visiting here. Since we sent out our press release yesterday, MSP has updated its plunge total to $610,888. That’s a lot of great work for a great cause.

Once again happy new year and shake your Keys!

Geoff

Wrapping up the Year with Keys GM Dave Ziedelis and Christmas List Ideas

Good Afternoon Keys Fans!

Hope everyone is getting into the holiday spirit with Christmas roughly one week away. If you’re done with your shopping, give yourself a gold star. If you’re like me and haven’t gotten started, don’t fret, there’s time. You just have to be decisive when making your rounds (without fighting other shoppers of course).

In today’s blog, we’ll put a bow around 2015. For those who did not know, the Keys offices will close starting tomorrow at 5 pm and will not reopen until Monday, January 4 at 9 am. That means if you want to purchase your Keys holiday packages you need to get moving!

Full details about the 2016 Holiday Package are available by clicking on the link, but here’s a quick summary:

Holiday Package

  • Option 1-Mattress Warehouse Club Package-2 tickets to Christmas in July game, Keys holiday ornament, FIREWORKS
  • Option 2-Flex Pack Package-1 Flex Pack, Keys holiday ornament, AND….a Manny Machado/Jonathan Schoop DOUBLE BOBBLEHEAD!!!

Anyone want to guess which option I’d pick? And for those wondering, here is a look at the double bobblehead:

No extra charge for the special handshake BTW..

No extra charge for the special handshake BTW..

As one final reminder, these bobbleheads WILL NOT be a 2016 Keys giveaway item. To get one, you’ll need to purchase a Keys ticket plan. So hit up our groups office at 301-815-9900. They’ll take good care of you.

If you’re in need of additional shopping ideas, you can peruse the Keys online store by clicking here. Hats, polos, t-shirts, hoodies, whatever you need, it’s there.

This past weekend it was cool to see the occasional Keys hat at Orioles Fest. Plenty of former and future Keys were also in attendance, and MASN’s Steve Melewski spoke to a few for his latest blog.

Meanwhile, Melewski helped Baseball America put together it’s list of  top 10 Orioles prospects going into 2016. Six had Keys ties while one or two could begin the year at Nymeo Field. For those who follow the Keys and Orioles minor leagues intently, I highly recommend reviewing the transcript from Steve’s live chat on Monday via BA’s website.

Added to the O's 40-man roster in November, Chris Lee was ranked No. 6 overall.

Added to the O’s 40-man roster in November, Chris Lee was ranked No. 6 overall.

Dylan Bundy ranked No. 1 for the fifth straight year, but he’ll need to make the Orioles roster or be exposed to waivers. He has no minor league options remaining.

I don’t want to get too far into 2016 though. Before saying so long to the year that was, let’s take one more look back at 2015. To provide some insight/analysis I turned to Keys GM Dave Ziedelis. Among our discussion topics: attendance, the Keys new naming rights partnership with Nymeo, Nickelodeon Night (with Rugrats uniforms), and guest appearances.

Personally, my favorite thing about this year was Nickelodeon Night. Complete with fun in-game promotions, Rugrats videos and unbelievable uniforms (pickle pants and all) it might rank as the coolest thing I’ve ever seen on a baseball field. Here are some photos from the evening:

IMG_6239IMG_6251
IMG_6409Christine Roy (Keys Promotions Manager) and Bridget McCabe (Keys Marketing Director) deserve a ton of credit for making it happen.

Some other highlights from this past season in no particular order:

-A stadium naming rights partnership

– Fourth-highest attendance in club history

– Top attendance in Advanced-A baseball (spanning 30 teams across the Carolina, California and Florida State Leagues)

– 17 player promotions to Double-A or Triple-A and nine alumni reaching the majors

-An appearance by America’s favorite game show host and one of television’s top guest stars EVER (yes I am referring to Pat Sajak and the Soup Nazi).

-Some of minor league baseball’s best specialty jerseys EVER

-An Orioles Minor League Player of the Year

And those are just some of the big ones. What were some of your favorite memories from the year? Let us know on Facebook and Twitter.

Happy Holidays and talk in 2016!

Geoff

 

 

Winter Is the Theme Folks (Specifically Meetings and Leagues)

Good Afternoon Keys Fans!

We’re going to stick with “winter” as today’s blog theme. And while this may not sound shocking, we’re going to be examining the winter meetings and the winter leagues (show of hands if you’re confused). I know, it’s a pretty simple concept.

This year’s winter meetings are in Nashville, and plenty of Orioles reporter are on hand. One of those is MASN’s Steve Melewski, who spoke with Orioles Director of Player Development Brian Graham on Tuesday. The two discussed Dylan Bundy, Hunter Harvey and Jomar Reyes.

As many of you know, Bundy is out of minor league options and must make the Orioles roster out of spring training. It seems likely the former Key would pitch in relief, but O’s skipper Buck Showalter avoided specifics during an interview with MLB Network Radio:

Nice save by Showalter. Keys fans won’t be seeing Bundy this upcoming season (unless it’s on a rehab assignment) but Hunter Harvey and Jomar Reyes are both possibilities, with Reyes a lock to start the year at Nymeo Field. Only 18 years old at the moment (he will turn 19 on February 20) Reyes has tremendous raw power and moves well for 6-3, 230. He is working out in the Dominican after breaking a left hamate bone during instructional league.

Harvey did not pitch anywhere this year due to elbow issues (he last threw in a game in July 2014). Following a platelet-rich plasma injection in May, the righty was shut down again during instructional league (also killing any chances of him appearing in the Arizona Fall League). Nonetheless, Graham is encouraged by Harvey’s progress, and expects to see him at a January mini-camp in Sarasota.

Does Harvey start the year in Frederick? It’s tough to say at this point, given that he hasn’t pitched in a real game in quite some time. With Delmarva his numbers were good, as he went 7-5 with a 3.18 ERA in 17 starts and was selected for the Futures Game. My guess is if he stays healthy and performs well in spring training, he gets the bump to Frederick.

According to Melewski, Reyes as well as Tanner Scott and Chance Sisco have been brought up in Orioles trade talks. Let’s just say I don’t have this Kevin McAlister look on my face:

Kevin McAlisterTo get in the conversation for some big trade pieces, you need to give something up and the trio of Scott, Sisco and Reyes are three of the best in the Orioles system. For those of you who don’t know Scott, he split time between Short-Season and Low-A this year, going a combined 4-3 with a 3.83 ERA. From there, he was assigned to the Arizona Fall League where he dazzled scouts with a fastball reaching up to triple digits (he went 0-1 with a 2.08 ERA in 8 games FYI). He was also named to the AFL’s Top Prospect Team.

The hope is not to lose Scott (since left-handers with 100 mph heat do not grow on trees) but we should note that his walk numbers are high (5.1 BB/9IP) and his time in the AFL was limited to just 8 innings. If he doesn’t go anywhere, my guess is he’ll be suiting up for the Keys in 2016.

Chris Davis still hasn’t made on decision, with ESPN’s Buster Olney reporting that the Orioles have offered 7 years and around $150 million. Obviously the team hopes that Davis takes the offer, but the club has spoken to Justin Upton as well. He may not have Davis power, but he is still one of the top outfielders on the market. Additionally, MASN’s Roch Kubatko points out that Upton is somewhat local (coming from Virginia) and is friends with Adam Jones, two factors which could help.

It may not be the avenue to replace Chris Davis, but the Orioles will probably make at least one selection in the Rule 5 draft on Thursday. Players are eligible for the Rule 5 draft if:

they are not on their 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.

Melewski spoke with Baseball America’s JJ Cooper about potential targets for the Orioles who have the No. 15 pick. Remember any player selected in the Rule 5 draft must spend the ENTIRE season in the majors or be offered back to his original club. In the past the Orioles have been helped out by Rule 5 picks such as Ryan Flaherty and T.J McFarland, so it can be a useful avenue.

Outside of the Winter Meetings, former Keys pitcher and knuckleballer, Eddie Gamboa, is tearing it up for the Mayos de Navojoa in the Mexican Pacific League.  Over 10 starts he is 4-1 with a 2.59 ERA. The MPL’s leader in innings pitched (66) he ranks third in ERA. Gene Escat (2013-14 Keys) is also on the team.

Eddie Gamboa spent all of 2015 with Triple-A Norfolk and has revitalized his career by throwing the knuckleball.

Eddie Gamboa spent all of 2015 with Triple-A Norfolk and has revitalized his career by throwing the knuckleball.

Meanwhile, Garabez Rosa ranks third in the Dominican Winter League in batting average (.351) and fourth in on-base percentage (.403) for the Gigantes del Cibao.

That’s all folks! Keep following for more hot stove news, plus don’t forget to join us at O’s Fest this weekend at the Baltimore Convention Center!

The event runs from 11am-6pm, while we’ll have a table set up where fans can get more information about the 2016 season.

Shake your Keys!

Geoff

 

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