Just like I noted with last week’s SotW, the way Nik Balog began the season suggested he would be demoted to Aberdeen once their season started in June. But unlike a 2nd round selection who’s considered one of the big club’s top 10 prospects, Balog is yet another of those players who eluded the eyes of most scouts and worked his way into the Orioles system as a non-drafted free agent. Unlike many of the others the Orioles picked up off the street, though, Balog has no Maryland ties; instead, the California native played his college ball for four years at the University of San Francisco.
Coming into the month of May, Balog was hitting just .214 and getting spot duty as the designated hitter and occasional backup to Christian Walker at first base. But Walker’s promotion to Frederick cleared the way for Nik to play every day and since May 4 he’s hit safely in all nine games he’s played, going 15-for-35 (.429) and raising his average all the way to a .286 mark. Included in that stretch was his first professional home run, hit Tuesday at Lakewood.
Perhaps it can be argued that the 23-year-old Balog is a little old for the SAL, but he certainly tore up a league perhaps not up to his level by hitting .376/0/10/.971 OPS in 28 games with the GCL Orioles last season. With those kinds of numbers, Delmarva seemed a more appropriate challenge than Aberdeen and Balog’s bat seems to be heating up with the weather.
Obviously there are areas where Balog needs to improve his game, particularly in drawing walks. But the left-handed hitter is now making his contribution to the Shorebirds lineup at a time when several of their best hitters are injured or promoted.
There’s no doubt Branden Kline would like to go to Baltimore and ply his baseball trade as a member of the Orioles, but his next step would be to go home.
Kline, who was drafted in the second round last year out of the University of Virginia, is a native of Frederick. He could have been thrust into a similar role out of high school as a high draft pick of the Boston Red Sox back in 2009, but now will work his way up the ladder facing a variety of Bosox prospects as their farm teams play in the same leagues as the Orioles’ do.
For a few starts in April, it looked like the next stop for Kline would be a return to Aberdeen, where he made an abbreviated debut last year by pitching just 12 innings in four starts, with no record and a pedestrian 4.50 ERA to show for it. But in his last start on Thursday, Kline mastered the Lexington Legends by spinning three-hit, one-run ball over six innings. Unfortunately, the bullpen couldn’t hold the lead provided to it so Branden got no decision.
The tough stretch of three previous starts, where Branden allowed 15 earned runs in just 13 1/3 innings, ballooned his ERA above the 6-run mark. It’s now down to 5.68 in five starts, with a 1-2 record, 12 walks and 17 strikeouts in 25 1/3 innings. Oddly enough, the two starts I have personally witnessed have seen Kline throw six innings of shutout ball followed up by last Thursday’s gem.
At only 21 years of age, there’s no doubt Kline can be a work in progress for a few years; then again he already has a tall order as the #8 ranked prospect in the Orioles chain. Obviously the expectations aren’t as high as they are for Kevin Gausman, who the Orioles took in the opening round of the same draft, but I’m certain Kline would like to be back in his hometown before season’s end. If he can string together a streak of quality starts like the two I’ve seen, that wish may come true.
A week or so ago, it looked like Torsten Boss could be one of those guys who plays here until the end of the first half but returns to Aberdeen for the second half to get more seasoning – surprising, because the Michigan State product was an 8th round pick last season. Naturally, being drafted that high is no guarantee of success but Torsten did well enough at Aberdeen to grab a two-game cup of coffee with Frederick near the tail end of last season.
But over the last few games, Boss has raised his average from .180 to .267 as he’s in the midst of a 14-for-36 tear over his last 10 games, a stretch where he clouted his first two home runs in a Delmarva uniform in back-to-back games at Savannah and Greenville. Those two games began a run of 8 RBI in his last six games, including the lone tally in last night’s 3-1 loss.
As I mentioned, Torsten made his debut with Aberdeen last season, hitting .257/5/27/.774 OPS in 57 games before going 1-for-7 in two August games for the Keys. But while he played exclusively at third base for the IronBirds, the 22-year-old Michigan native is now starting exclusively at second base with Delmarva. (Joel Hutter, his Aberdeen teammate who played shortstop there, is now manning third for the Shorebirds.)
There’s no doubt that versatility is the stock and trade of most major league players – as pitching staffs expand, those players who man the bench are well-served to be able to play several positions. Eventually it’s likely that Boss will have his turn around the infield and might even see duty in the outfield. But as long as Boss can keep improving his average and batting ability, a position will open up for him.
If you were to write a work of fiction featuring a baseball player, you might give the protagonist a name like Creede Simpson. But in the case of the Shorebirds, fiction is reality – although the numbers right now for the infielder may suggest a tall tale.
Indeed, the season is but 20 games old, but consider that Simpson is leading the team in RBI with 17 despite only playing in 16 games. Much of this is because Creede has been absolute money with runners in scoring position, hitting a sick .545 (12-for-22) in that instance. That number is even better than his overall average with runners on base, which is a paltry .536 (15-for-28).
Because he’s had more chances with runners on than without, Creede is the early candidate for a team Triple Crown with the top average (.389), most home runs (3 of the team’s 7 overall), and RBI (17). All this may be a pleasant surprise to the Orioles’ brass which only picked him in the 25th round after he played ball at his hometown SEC participant Auburn University. While the SEC is fairly well-regarded as a baseball conference, Auburn is generally an also-ran in the league.
Moreover, the 23-year-old Simpson had a mediocre debut at Aberdeen last year, hitting .234/5/28/.647 OPS for the IronBirds last season. But he advanced to Delmarva this spring nonetheless and has seized his opportunity with a fast start.
While it’s likely his stats will balance out somewhere in the end, the question as always is where that level will be. If it’s something along the line of .280/15/75/750 OPS that would be cause for celebration as the Orioles could have a diamond-in-the-rough prospect from a low-round pick. Sometimes truth really is stranger than fiction.
After the first two games of the Shorebirds season, Christian Walker was 0-for-4. Since then he’s hit in 12 straight games, running his average to the .354 mark and garnering himself Shorebird of the Week honors over a host of deserving players as the first-place Shorebirds have began the season 9-5.
On the young season Walker is tied for the team lead with 2 home runs and is third with 8 knocked in; meanwhile, the .908 OPS leads those who qualify for league honors.
This isn’t totally unexpected from the product of Limerick, Pennsylvania via the University of South Carolina. He was ranked among the top 20 Orioles prospects based on his high draft selection (4th round last year) and solid season at Aberdeen, where he hit .284/2/9 /.796 OPS in just 22 games. Obviously the Orioles are looking for many more games and at-bats out of this 22-year-old first baseman, who was also drafted by the Dodgers out of high school in 2009 as a 49th round selection.
Since Walker is in his first full pro season it’s certain he will run into a slump before the season is out, but the Shorebirds would gladly take numbers in the 20 home run and 80 RBI range he’s projecting to at this early juncture. Since last year’s highly-touted first baseman Nicky Delmonico has moved across the diamond with his promotion to Frederick, we may only see Walker for part of the season if he continues this success. On the other hand, the Orioles seem to have a deeper minor league now, so Walker may not be rushed – unless he forces the decision with a 20- or 25-game hot streak.
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. A young 19-year-old shortstop from Miami and a high draft pick makes his initial splash at Delmarva to start the season. No, we are not rerunning the 2011 season and the player in question is not Manny Machado. But Adrian Marin is considered as one of the Orioles’ top prospects despite just a few scant months in professional baseball.
Marin actually made it to the Shorebirds at the tail end of the 2012 season, getting into six late-season contests and batting a respectable .286 (6-for-21) with a .634 OPS. This came after a solid season with the Gulf Coast League Orioles where Adrian hit .287/0/13/.698 OPS in 47 games. At just 19 years of age and listed at 165 pounds on a 6-foot frame, the power numbers may not yet come for Marin but the Gulliver Prep product seems to already know how to hit for average – with a 6-for-11 series recently concluded against Kannapolis Marin is off to a .368 start on 7-for-19, with a double and 2 RBI.
Marin, who was the Orioles’ 3rd round selection last year, has already played his way into the fringes of the top 10 of Baltimore prospects. Unlike the Shorebirds of the last two seasons, where highly-touted players like Dylan Bundy, Manny Machado, and Jonathan Schoop assumed lead roles of these squads only to see them suffer once these players left, this year’s crop features a host of players who are lesser-known – yet the increasing depth of the Baltimore organization as a whole may allow these players to develop at an appropriate pace to be useful Orioles someday.
And since the aforementioned Machado seems to be fitting into the Orioles’ plans at the hot corner rather than at short, it’s not too far-fetched to think that Marin could be the eventual solution up the middle. This season could go a long way in determining whether Marin was a solid third-rounder or an extreme reach behind initial picks Kevin Gausman and fellow Shorebird Branden Kline as the first high-schooler picked by the O’s.
Because I don’t have any statistics to see who the “hot” player is, or an all-around body of work to compare or contrast, I like to use my first Shorebird of the Week to highlight a player who is a compelling story. Mychal Givens is back with the Shorebirds for a fourth tour of duty, but this time he’s doing it from a new position. As you can see from the photos above, he’s trying to resurrect his career as a pitcher.
Givens was a second round pick by the Orioles in 2009, ironically picked by the team just behind another interesting Shorebird story to follow as Matt Hobgood tries to recover from shoulder surgery. But having a .225 career average with Delmarva isn’t good for advancing a career and once he completed a season where he hit just .243 in his third try with the Shorebirds the Orioles decided Mychal might have a better chance on the mound, where some scouts originally believed he could thrive out of high school.
So Mychal will be given a shot out of the Shorebirds’ bullpen for now. Having watched him on Tuesday night, it appears he has reasonable velocity and a somewhat deceptive sidearm-to-3/4 arm slot which could be difficult on hitters. Granting that a D-III group of college hitters is far different than the South Atlantic League, Mychal made quick work of Salisbury University in his one inning of work Tuesday night.
There’s no question Mychal may be a work in progress and there’s the chance he may actually begin the season back at extended spring training – as I write this, I do not have the “official” roster. But I believe the Orioles will give him at least an initial chance here, and who knows? Maybe someday Mychal will be the successor to Jim Johnson and make what looks like a dreadful 2009 draft class for the Orioles somewhat palatable.
Since it’s Super Bowl Sunday and the better part of my audience is going to be tuned into the game because the hometown Ravens are playing, I thought it a good time to clean out my e-mail box and join the celebration. (As a Lions and Browns fan, I’m watching for the commercials. Maybe someday I can have a rooting interest.)
Last week those of us in Maryland were subjected to the State of the State address by Governor O’Malley. In the footnoted version, it’s 14 pages of bilge and big government. The “official” Republican response by Delegate Andrew Serafini (the last 15 minutes here) seemed awfully tepid, so you knew others might have both barrels blazing.
Enter Change Maryland head Larry Hogan, who skewered O’Malley’s speech with a rhetorical spit:
Governor O’Malley’s slogan used to be ‘believe’ but that speech was pure make believe. The Governor continues to misuse facts to portray a false narrative of his administration’s legacy. Only Martin O’Malley could actually call a 30 percent increase in spending and a budget he has increased by $9 billion as making government smaller…The governor said he cut $8.3 billion but that’s just not true. He has increased spending every single year since he has been governor, a total of more than $9 billion. So his math is off by more than $17 billion.
He talked of making tough choices, but after 24 consecutive tax and fee hikes, the only tough choice he has to make is what can we possibly tax next?
Governor O’Malley said we have the worst traffic congestion in the nation. On this we agree. But he failed to tell you that he is the reason we are in this predicament because he diverted funds from the transportation trust fund to pay for other things, and then of what was left in the transportation budget, he only allocated a tiny amount to roads.
He talked about what he inherited. I was a cabinet secretary in the previous administration, and I can tell you that when we turned the keys over to the O’Malley administration, we had a billion dollar cash surplus in the bank, and the state was in the best fiscal shape it had been in decades.
Just six years later and by any objective measure, by any objective group, the state is in far worse shape than ever before. Businesses, jobs and taxpayers are fleeing our state in record numbers. We have fallen behind all the states in our region and most states across the country in nearly every economic indicator.
But Larry saved the best for last:
Unfortunately he checked out of this job some time ago, and is focused on his next one. His entire focus is about his national political aspirations and not about the needs of average hard-working Marylanders who continue to struggle.
I guess he means O’Malley’s future job as a consultant? Sure, he may run for the 2016 Presidential nomination and maybe try again four years later. But Maryland’s getting tired of his one-trick act.
While Hogan may or may not be running for governor, we know David Craig is. His reaction, in part:
Today Governor O’Malley offered a narrative about better choices in his State of the State Address. I share the Governor’s passion for better choices and a better Maryland. The Governor’s choices; however, have resulted in a higher tax burden for Maryland families and businesses, increased regulation, and a myriad of unfunded mandates passed on to local governments.
I would like to offer an alternative vision. We need to strive for the “Best Maryland”. The Best Maryland begins by government allowing individuals and business to lead in partnership with the State. We need to continue to improve our state, but not at the expense of the taxpayer.
We need to make pragmatic choices that balance our priorities and encourage private-sector growth and investment. The “Best Maryland” begins with an approach where our state is not dominated by one set of ideas and one set of leaders.
Is there really anything to that statement? Honestly, who wrote that?
At least with Delegates Susan Aumann and Kathy Szeliga, you have the scripted banter of a rebuttal. It’s worth pointing out that the wind turbines would be in the Atlantic Ocean, not Chesapeake Bay.
But the reaction to one portion of the State of the State address will be seen this coming Wednesday as Second Amendment supporters gather in Annapolis to protest the gun grabbing bill sponsored by Martin O’Malley. Those coming from the lower Eastern Shore to protest have an additional travel option. From the Wicomico Society of Patriots:
Things are heating up in Annapolis with two important hearings occurring on February 6th. The gun hearing will be held before the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee at 1:00 p.m. and Mike McDermott’s repeal (HB106) of the 2012 septic bill hearing will be held before the Environmental Matters Committee (House of Delegates) at 1:00 p.m.
If you would like to attend to testify on either of these issues or to protest, then you can drive up yourself or you can sign up to ride on a bus with other patriots.
Bus Option #1: Worcester Tea Party and Stop Agenda 21 are sponsoring a bus to go to Annapolis on Feb. 6th. The bus will leave WOC Park & Ride at 7:30am and Boscov’s in Salisbury at 8:15 am. Call 410 251 3585 or 410 430 7282 to reserve your seat. Also, you can email: www.worcestercountyteaparty.com or stopagenda21maryland.org for more information. Cost is $10.
Bus Option #2: Jamie Wink at Wink’s Gun Shop in Princess Anne is also sponsoring a bus to go to Annapolis. Please call Jamie at 443 783 3993 for more information about this bus trip. Cost is $20.
I think Jamie Wink would be a great monoblogue advertiser, how about you?
One important note about the proceedings:
If you are testifying: Please arrive as early as possible to sign in, the committee will take sign ins until about noon. You will be given 3 minutes to speak.
If you are submitting written testimony you must bring a copy for each of the Senators who sit on the committee (11 copies) and submit them to Committee staff before noon so they can make sure all of the Senators have the materials on their desks.
There are various parking garages in Annapolis, or you can park at the Naval Academy Stadium and ride the Annapolis Shuttle/Trolley to Lawyers Mall – The Senate Building is right across the Street.
Be prepared to spend the whole day here, whether you testify or not, what is important is that we are there in numbers to stand in opposition. We need thousands of gun owners.
They have all night. However, a little organization may be in order as those who rode the bus (and may have to return by a set time) should speak first. Also be aware that the committee chairs (Senator Brian Frosh and Delegate Maggie McIntosh) are probably going to be more of a stickler for rules and time limits from the pro-liberty side than from those wanting gun restrictions and more oppressive government.
More on SB281 from the National Association for Gun Rights:
Senate Bill 281 drastically broadens the definition of an assault weapon and constitutes one of the most outrageous assault weapon bans proposed in the country.
This bill classifies 15 different types of semi-automatic pistols as “assault weapons” as well as certain types of shotguns and rifles.
This means that if Senate Bill 281 passes these guns will be illegal to purchase or bring into the State of Maryland.
This 38-page bill also bans high-capacity magazines limiting ammunition magazines to 10 rounds.
If this bill becomes law, it criminalizes all citizens owning newly banned weapons unless they immediately register their guns with the State of Maryland.
Gun owners who don’t register their “banned” weapons would face up to 3 years in jail or a $5,000 dollar fine under O’Malley’s Gun Grab Bill.
Current law governing carry permits in Maryland makes it almost impossible to carry, yet this bill will make it even harder by requiring a new 16-hour handgun training course.
To purchase or rent a handgun, citizens will now have to pay roughly $400 dollars in fees, background checks, training courses, and finger-printing.
How many criminals will this make out of otherwise law-abiding citizens? Registration can be the first step toward confiscation.
I can almost guarantee you that a vote on SB281 (whether a floor vote or committee vote) will be part of the 2013 monoblogue Accountability Project.
But let’s not forget the federal level. I received this note from Heritage Action for America, which alerted me that they are “…looking to build a movement of conservative activists in these areas to hold Congress accountable.” I think I have enough readers all across the Shore who can fit the bill.
These readers (and many others) owe it to themselves to consider a piece by Bradlee Dean at The Brenner Brief. You probably remember Bradlee from his visit last October to the Wicomico Society of Patriots meeting, but in this case he’s speaking more about the idea of obedience to the state rather than to God, and how to reconcile the two.
Finally, the question on everyone’s mind: who will win the big game, the Ravens or 49ers? For the Move America Forward group and their troop care package competition, it’s a razor-thin margin after the 49ers jumped out to an early lead. We’ll see if the real Super Bowl follows the same pattern.
My prediction: Ravens, 30-28. Not that I much like it, but Baltimore’s shown a history of winning games they had no business winning – just ask Cleveland, Kansas City, San Diego, Denver, and New England (arguably Dallas, too.) A little karma the other way and they may have been 8-8.
But at the end I’m going to say what I have said for many years, beginning with ex-wife #1:
Me: Well, the Super Bowl is over, so you know what that means…
Spousal unit: What?
Me: (in a rising voice): Only seven days until PITCHERS AND CATCHERS REPORT!! (Nine for Orioles fans.)
Bring on the baseball season, baby. My Tigers have some unfinished business to take care of. (Sorry, Orioles. Your time will come.)
We interrupt the boring winter Hot Stove League routine to bring back a Thursday evening Shorebirds post. Once again I take the time to announce my SotWHoF page will be reopening at the conclusion of this post, as it will be updated with five new honorees.
Unlike last year, all five of these men made their debut with the Orioles. However, player movement being what it is I’ve already learned one will be starting over with a new organization next spring. That information is already in his 2012 summary, which I will continue to update from time to time until the opening of spring training next year.
Without further ado, here is the Shorebird of the Week Hall of Fame Class of 2012, in order of major league debut:
- Xavier Avery, who debuted May 13;
- Joe Mahoney, whose first game was July 7;
- Manny Machado, whose long-awaited first big league game was August 9;
- Dylan Bundy, the boy wonder pitching prospect who debuted September 23;
- L.J. Hoes, who waited two weeks after his recall to finally step into a game September 25.
Obviously the big stories among that quintet were those of Machado and Bundy. Manny achieved the quickest rise from SotW to the major leagues by doing so in less than 16 months – until Dylan Bundy topped that by achieving HoF status in the same season he was selected. Given the fact the top picks in the 2012 draft either skipped over Delmarva or are considered some distance away from Baltimore as longer-term prospects, it could be another several years before another wunderkind turns that trick. The last non-rehab player to get from Delmarva to the big leagues in the same season was Jim Hoey in 2006, so it’s a rare feat indeed.
Yet because Machado and Bundy were considered pretty much can’t-miss prospects, and based on the fact the Orioles may finally be at a point in their existence where they’re not considered a rebuilding team, it seems like the Hall of Fame Class of 2013 may be a lot smaller. Consider this: of the five SotWHoF inductees this season only two played in more than two games, so you can see that a team in a pennant race is much more difficult to crack. At this point, only Manny Machado would be considered a likely everyday starter in 2013, with Dylan Bundy given an outside chance to make the starting rotation. Avery and Hoes are figured as perhaps a year away.
Last year I used the twin gauges of who was placed on the 40-man roster at season’s end and who participated in the Arizona Fall League as predictors of who would be in the Class of 2012. It turned out that Joe Mahoney was there in both cases, and Avery played in the AFL in 2011. However, Oliver Drake missed most of the 2012 season with injuries and was removed from the 40-man roster, while AFL participants Sean Gleason only got as far as Norfolk and Cole McCurry went to the Atlanta Braves organization after a short stint with the Tides.
Since season’s end, former Shorebirds of the Week pitcher Zach Clark and infielder Jonathan Schoop have been added to the Orioles’ 40-man roster; meanwhile, those sent to the Arizona Fall League by the Orioles mainly skipped Delmarva on their way up the ladder or weren’t here long enough to be tapped as a Shorebird of the Week. (Schoop and Hoes played in this year’s AFL, though.) So the Class of 2013 may be a sparse one, with perhaps just one or two players.
But there are a couple others who could get a debut next year, with the most notable name being infielder Ty Kelly, who was here in 2010-11 but starred across two higher levels this season. Whatever the case, as I select a new crew of 2013 hopefuls many of those who came before will still be pursuing the dream of playing in the major leagues. I anticipate that in December of next year I will have several more worthy entries into the Shorebird of the Week Hall of Fame.
As has been the case over the last several years this series of Shorebirds-related posts will wrap up with this fan’s perspective. Henceforth until next spring I’ll go back to regular political programming on Thursdays, for the most part – it looks like I will have four in the Shorebird of the Week Hall of Fame Class of 2012 (Xavier Avery, Joe Mahoney, Manny Machado, and now L.J. Hoes.) I’ll do the induction post and update on present members around the first of December.
If you look strictly at attendance and not at the onfield product, the team had a great year this season. For the first time since 2002, the Shorebirds exceeded the 230,000 mark in attendance, breaking a bit away from residing in a narrow band between 210,000 and 230,000 by collecting 231,194 fans. This turns out to be an increase of nearly 20,000 over last year’s franchise-worst attendance of 211,993. But how did they succeed when the team was even worse?
Honestly, there are probably fewer than five out of a hundred fans who care about how good the team is. I’ll admit I’m a sucker and I would go even if they were 0-140. But I also would like to see us make the playoffs more than once a decade or so – unfortunately, that is mainly up to the Orioles and how well they draft and provide minor league talent for Delmarva.
I suspect the reason we did so well insofar as attendance goes – besides the fact we had generally dry weather and got all 70 openings in – was this young phenom named Dylan Bundy. When you look at the crowds he brought in and compare them to the usual early-season weeknight attendance, I would venture to say his four home starts added around 4,500 to our total attendance. Add in the extra 500 or so I would presume Brian Roberts drew in his rehab stint and it’s a nice round 5,000 bonus for the ‘Birds. Toss in the extra date and another 3,000 and that explains part of the increase.
But while we never know what kind of players we’ll get, the ballpark experience can be controlled, and obviously more people were satisfied enough to come out. Of course, there are a number of things I’ve had on my wish list for years: a new videoboard to replace the old one which is more than twenty years old, a CCTV system so one can watch the action while standing in certain concession lines (or the restroom), and someone to bring back the real Thirsty Thursday tradition of live postgame concerts.
But there is another suggestion I have which may make advance planning a little more of a headache for the team but may draw more people because of its flexibility.
A couple years back I was required for various reasons to cut back from being a full-season ticket holder to a half-season one. As part of the package I was (presumably) forced to select my list of 35 games before the season started – even though I renewed fairly late in the game, it was still a wild guess as to which games I could attend. I knew there were a few games I’d miss due to meetings or other items on my calendar; meanwhile Kim had no-go dates on her part as well. On the other side, there were promotions where we wanted to make sure we had our ticket.
The problem is that things change in life. A date which looked good over the winter didn’t always pan out in reality because something came up. One example: back in the early spring when I renewed I didn’t know my parents and daughter would visit during a particular homestand so those were three games I skipped.
The solution I would suggest comes from something I recall from years ago. The company my dad once worked for used to have season passes to the Toledo Mud Hens, which came in a book of 70 vouchers (one for each game.) But the vouchers were undated, so in theory I could use several one day and skip a few games if I desired. (Generally I was the only one requesting them; toward the end of the season they just gave the book to my dad. I think I went to the last fifteen games or so in a row that year.) Nor were these tied to a specific seat, so one day I could sit right behind the Mud Hens’ dugout while another day I might have decided to go behind the plate under the press box at the old Ned Skeldon Stadium.
While I like sitting in Section 111, I’m not tied to “my” seat anymore – as it turned out we had to move around a bit this season. I think having that sort of flexibility would be enticing to people who didn’t want a season ticket package but wanted to go to perhaps 12 to 35 games. Maybe a small premium can be attached to the regular price for this convenience, but even if the price is the same I think more packages could be sold for the best available seat.
There were a couple things which I thought were done right in 2012 as well. Whoever had the idea of adding the Chicken Fry Fry concession stand and the craft beers is a genius. The CFF stand added some pizzazz to a fairly staid, stale palette of menu options and made it more easily available than trucking all the way up to the third level or hoping the Angus stand was open. And of course, adding local beer is always a good thing.
Also, what could have turned into a disaster was saved by finding a good onfield host in a pinch. I’m sorry, but the original guy who started the season was pretty bad. Thank goodness Eric Sichau stepped in and once he grew into the job did pretty well, all things considered.
As always, the staff was very good. I thought the PlayBall magazines were well put-together this season, too. And since Bret Lasky is the guy who constructs them (and was recognized for his accomplishments) I should point out that we’re quite blessed to have a team which broadcasts all 140 games, home and away. There are a few teams in the league who don’t have full coverage, but we do.
Really, aside from a few hassles here and there with the ticketing department based on ticket exchanges (hence, my suggestion) this year was an enjoyable one. Unfortunately, we have 29 weeks until baseball returns – but when it does, look for that first Shorebird of the Week on April 4, 2013.
For the third season in a row the Delmarva Shorebirds were the worst team record-wise in the South Atlantic League. Just as we thought it couldn’t get worse after last season’s 55-85 debacle (which left us tied for the basement with Charleston) we plummeted even further to a 52-86 record. That’s three years in a row we’ve exceeded 80 losses, which had only happened once prior in the Shorebirds’ 17-season history (1999.) At least after that disastrous campaign, the Shorebirds won the league title in 2000 – but no such good fortune has more recently found its way to a team which has gone 7 seasons without even a playoff berth.
Once again, we can pretty much point to an offense which finished last in the league in batting average at .240, along with scouring the bottom in several other categories:
- The .240 overall average was last, although it was only so by a fraction of a point behind Augusta, which also hit .240 as a club.
- We were 12th of 14 in runs, scoring 567 times. Bear in mind the league’s best team scored 812, although only three teams exceeded 700 (or 5 runs per game.)
- We were also 12th in hits, but stayed out of the basement by just three base knocks.
- In doubles, we ranked 12th once again – but we were some distance ahead of the last-place Augusta team in that department.
- We were six behind the league’s next-worst team, finishing last with just 18 triples.
- Augusta also held us up in home runs; otherwise our 67 taters were only good for 13th place.
- The same goes for total bases, where we were 13th.
- The one offensive category where we performed well was drawing walks, where our 507 free passes ranked fourth in the league (and only one was intentional, which was last.)
- We were in the middle of the pack in striking out, finishing with the 8th most Ks.
- The Shorebirds were 11th in steals with 130 bags swiped, but I would argue they were the shrewdest baserunners since they were caught just 39 times. That was among the best ratios in the league.
- Mainly due to walks, our on-base percentage ranked 10th of 14.
- On the other hand, our slugging percentage and OPS were next-to-last as Augusta held us up again.
All in all, the numbers and rankings were very similar to last year’s punchless offense.
Pitching was better but still pedestrian, with an ERA ranked ninth among the 14 SAL squads. If not for the Dylan Bundy effect of 30 shutout innings, we would have slipped a spot or two. But a 4.36 overall ERA placed us ninth.
Other team pitching numbers reflect an average to slightly below staff overall:
- While we had the third-most complete games in the league (just 4) we had the fewest shutouts with two.
- Without a true closer in the bullpen (or many leads to protect) we were last in the league with 27 saves. One pitcher from 2011 (David Walters) had more than this year’s team did.
- We allowed the eighth-fewest hits, with 1184.
- Unfortunately, those people seemed to score more as we gave up the fifth-most runs with an even 700. (That’s just over five per game.) We allowed only the 7th highest number of earned runs, though – that differential of 125 runs was second-worst in the league, one behind West Virginia.
- It follows, by the way, that we committed the second-most errors in the league, ahead of only West Virginia.
- While we were near the bottom in home runs hit, we allowed the ninth-most with 89.
- We plunked the third-highest number of batters and allowed the fourth-highest number of walks. But we had the third-fewest strikeouts in the league, even with Dylan Bundy.
- With all that, our WHIP of 1.43 was just 12th.
While a successful crop of Shorebirds moved up in 2011 to Frederick and won a league title (and now have Bowie in the Eastern League playoffs) we’re not seeing a lot of help from the lower levels of the Orioles system. Like Delmarva, Aberdeen finished with their league’s worst record (28-48) and the Gulf Coast League Orioles were last in their division at 25-35. Even the Dominican Summer League Orioles team was under .500 at 34-36.
The trend of poor records continues with Frederick, which ended up missing the Carolina League playoffs and finishing with the loop’s worst record at 62-77. Better news was found with Bowie, a playoff team at 78-64, and Norfolk, which finished just 5 games off the International League wildcard at 74-70. Both of those teams struggled early but found their stride later on with help from some former Shorebirds.
But the other purpose of this post is to provide the wrap on how the 22 players who were selected as Shorebird of the Week fared for the year and pick a Shorebird of the Year. We start way back on what was supposed to be Opening Day in April, but turned out to be a pre-season pick by one day as Game 1 was rained out.
April 5: Glynn Davis
My first SotW pick of the year was a mainstay in center field throughout the first 2/3 of the year before bouncing back and forth between Frederick and Delmarva at season’s end. For the Shorebirds, Davis ended up playing in 101 games, hitting .252/0/25/.644 OPS here while in Frederick his numbers were very similar: .256/0/4/.651 OPS in 22 games. Between the two teams he stole 37 bases as well. I see no reason why Glynn couldn’t start at Frederick next year since it seems he adjusted well to that level; obviously the question for him going forward is whether he can tack on enough points to the batting average and on-base percentage to make up for the lack of power. But there is a role for a speed guy in center field that Davis can fill.
April 12: Sammie Starr
A fan favorite, Sammie set out to prove you don’t need to be an imposing physical specimen to play solid baseball. While the batting average was a little bit lacking, Sammie showed a little bit of power and certainly was a versatile player for Delmarva; he played 56 games at second base, 39 at shortstop, and 10 at third base during 2012. With all that moving around, perhaps it’s not surprising that Sammie hit .238/4/41/.673 OPS for the season here. At season’s end Starr was rewarded with two cups of coffee: two games at Frederick where he went 1-for-4 and one game with the Norfolk Tides where Starr was hitless in four at-bats. He also earned the distinction of setting an International League record by being the 75th player used by Norfolk during the season (and was given uniform #75).
Unfortunately, that seems to be the type of move the Orioles make with a player who’s nearing the end of his playing career. Sammie was one of the older Shorebirds, turning 24 at the end of May, and he’s competing for space with a number of more highly-heralded players up the chain as a 34th round pick. I would be pleasantly surprised to see him make Frederick next year but unless he has a breakout .270 or .280 type season I think that may be all for him, if he even gets that far. Then again, Sammie has already defied a lot of odds so why not?
Other honors: Sammie was selected by the Shorebirds Fan Club as their second-half Player of the Half.
April 19: Dylan Bundy
If you were to point out a possible factor in the Shorebirds having their best attendance since 2002 I would say it was the extra hundreds who attended every time Dylan made a home start. And he rarely failed to amaze, whether it was retiring the first 26 SAL batters he faced until Hagerstown’s Billy Burns drew a walk off him in his home debut, or going 30 innings over 8 starts without allowing an earned run. It was inevitable Bundy would be promoted, and he was after his May 20th start.
Between all three levels Dylan was 9-3 in 23 starts, allowing just 67 hits in 103 2/3 innings, striking out 119 and walking just 28. While he couldn’t keep up the microscopic 0.23 WHIP he compiled here at Delmarva, he has a 1.32 WHIP in his 3 Bowie starts. That’s perhaps a little better than league average, and bear in mind here’s a 19-year-old who is in his first professional season pitching against guys who may have tasted the big leagues. It would shock me more if Dylan didn’t make an Orioles debut in 2013 than it would to find him as the #3 or #4 starter next season out of spring training. Dylan is easily my Prospect of the Year.
April 26: John Ruettiger
Here was a Shorebird who made his debut late in the 2011 season and played well enough to get on the map insofar as Orioles’ prospects are concerned. John parlayed that good finish into an even more sensational start and was gone to Frederick after hitting .305 while swiping 10 bases in 26 games here. Although he also played briefly at Bowie (.240/0/1/.585 OPS in 9 games) Ruettiger was also impressive with Frederick, getting that first pro home run out of the way and hitting .274 with the Keys. With 16 steals in his 64 games there, John ended up with 28 on the season.
Depending on how he does in spring training, Ruettiger could break camp with the Baysox or – similarly to this year – play briefly at Frederick before departing for the Eastern League on a more long-term basis. The .284 lifetime hitter should continue to move up the ladder, although the competition will be more difficult considering the Orioles have a surplus of good, young outfielders at the high end of the chain.
May 3: Trent Howard
I picked Trent just in time, as he was off to Frederick before his week as SotW was up. A good 2-0, 1.93 start in 6 games here, though, turned into more pedestrian numbers with the Keys: 4-10 with a 4.83 ERA in 21 games, 18 of them starts. In particular, Howard became prone to giving up the longball, allowing 15 home runs with the Keys. Otherwise, his numbers were relatively comparable, with a good strikeout:walk ratio of 16:7 here becoming 70:26 with Frederick. More hits allowed raised his WHIP from 1.20 here to 1.35 in the Carolina League.
Still, it’s not a stretch to believe that Trent will be part of an 2013 Frederick rotation which will likely sport several others from Delmarva.
May 10: Nicky Delmonico
Perhaps the most highly-touted prospect on the Shorebirds not named Bundy, Nicky was the team’s lone All-Star selection and earned it over the first half. But the wear and tear of an entire season of pro ball along with a balky knee may have sapped him toward the end, as he faded from a .262/6/43/.778 OPS at the All-Star break to a .249/11/54/.762 OPS final mark in 95 games. He only hit .218 after the All-Star Game.
Assuming he’s healthy, though, it’s possible the Orioles could push him ahead to Frederick. While the average wasn’t there, Nicky was beginning to find more of a power stroke toward the end and he could be a force to be reckoned with for either the Shorebirds or Keys – or both.
Other honors: Nicky was an SAL All-Star, the Shorebird Fan Club’s first half Player of the Half, and Mountaire’s Most Valuable Player.
May 17: Gabriel Lino
Obviously it was a tale of two cities for Lino: after he played 56 games for us, hitting .218/4/18/.622 OPS, Gabriel was involved in the trade with the Philadelphia Phillies for DH Jim Thome. Starting in July, he was now part of the enemy Lakewood BlueClaws, where he hit .227/3/14/.682 OPS in 37 games.
Given the fact I don’t know the catching depth of the Philadelphia organization, I can’t say for sure whether we will see Gabriel or not when Lakewood comes to town in 2013. If he were still with the Orioles, I would say another season at this level wouldn’t hurt since Lino will still be 19 on Opening Day next year. Then again, perhaps that’s why the Phillies wanted him.
May 24: Mychal Givens
After playing overseas last offseason, the former 2nd round draft pick may have felt he had something to prove this year with the Shorebirds. Givens hit .243/2/27/.635 OPS in 100 games, but came on toward the end of the year to salvage a decent campaign – he was only hitting .231 at the end of July. One area where he showed vast improvement was his batting eye, as Givens walked 39 times while striking out 49 – compare that to 35 Ks and 11 walks in 210 at-bats last season (when he hit .195 with Delmarva.)
There are some guys who have things click into place two to three years into their pro career. Considering this was Mychal’s third chance at Delmarva (7 games in 2010 and 57 in 2011) perhaps he should have done better. The Orioles will have a longer leash for Givens considering their investment, but if he does no better with the Shorebirds next year that may be the end. But if Mychal does like John Ruettiger did and carries a fine finish over into 2013, he may finally break through and look like a player who warranted a second-round pick.
May 31: Eduardo Rodriguez
One of several fine young (under 20) starting pitchers to grace the Shorebirds’ staff this season, Eduardo’s 5-7 record belied a solid campaign. In 22 games and starts, Rodriguez had a nice 3.70 ERA and a 73:30 strikeout:walk ratio, leading to a 1.24 WHIP. (His final start was a poor one; it actually jumped his ERA from 3.23 to 3.70.)
They took things quite easy with Eduardo, never pushing him past 5 innings. And with the six-man rotation the Shorebirds used it kept his arm relatively fresh and set him up for something closer to 120-140 innings next season. I wouldn’t be surprised if he didn’t debut with Frederick, but he may be ticketed for there after a few starts with the Shorebirds as well. He was actually promoted to Frederick in the waning days of the season but didn’t appear with the Keys.
June 7: Connor Narron
Connor spent the entire season with Delmarva, and while his batting line of .232/10/58/.633 OPS may not be all that impressive, it still represents his best professional season by far. As a regular player Narron has gone from .164 to .211 to .232 over three seasons, and he’s a former fifth-round pick who’s the son of a big leaguer. He’ll get chances.
Besides the fact he drew the team’s lone intentional walk this year, it’s worth noting that Narron was the team RBI leader with 58 and finished behind Brendan Webb and Nicky Delmonico for the team home run lead (each had 11.) Since Narron essentially repeated a level between 2010 and 2011 I wouldn’t be surprised if he doesn’t do the same next year here. It would be nice to have a threat to hit 20 or more home runs and as Connor develops that’s in the realm of possibility.
June 14: Matt Bywater
Matt wasn’t here long in this tour of duty with Delmarva, but what he did in that month was impressive – 17 1/3 innings of 8-hit ball, walking five while fanning nine for an 0.75 WHIP. We were the sandwich stop for Matt between two stints with Frederick, where he finished 1-2 with a 5.67 ERA and 1.54 WHIP in 46 innings. But the garnish was a late-season start with Bowie where Bywater shut out Harrisburg on 2 hits over 5 innings. So I would guess Matt is beyond Delmarva; he’ll sink or swim as a pitcher with Frederick considering he turns 24 next season.
June 21: Devin Jones
It turned out to be a season almost neatly split in half for Jones, who was promoted in mid-July to Frederick after posting a 2.65 ERA, 51 strikeouts, and a 1.10 WHIP in 54 1/3 Delmarva innings exclusively as a reliever. The only bad stat: a 1-6 record.
But when Devin went to Frederick he was inserted into their starting rotation and spun a fine 7-1 record in 9 starts, with an equally fine 2.80 ERA – but only 29 punchouts in 54 2/3 innings. All told it was an excellent season for Devin, who showed his versatility on the mound and probably gave to Orioles no reason to send him back here. Presumably he will be back in Frederick, although there’s the outside chance he could see Bowie. It would be quite a jump, but guys who walk only 23 in 109 innings have a fair chance of making it.
June 28: Miguel Chalas
Miguel was one of the few pitchers who spent the entire season at Delmarva, and he led the team in victories with nine. But he had seven shots at that elusive tenth win and went 0-3 with a 5.71 ERA in those starts – that led him to his final pitching line of 9-8 with a 5.02 ERA and 1.51 WHIP. Perhaps his worst enemy was hits allowed, as he allowed a team-most 128 hits in 113 innings. I can see him being on the cusp of either promotion or retention with Delmarva, because he faded in the stretch and at just 20 years of age another year of SAL experience wouldn’t hurt him.
July 5: Brenden Webb
In his second tour of duty with the Shorebirds (after a full season here in 2011) Brenden improved in every meaningful offensive category despite missing the last month of the season due to his promotion to Frederick. For the Shorebirds he hit .251/11/48 with an outstanding .878 OPS fueled by a team-leading .422 on-base percentage. (The .457 slugging percentage also led the team among qualifiers.) His 87 walks were second in the SAL, with only league MVP Matthew Skole of Hagerstown having more.
Nor did Webb really slow down at Frederick, hitting .270/3/13 with a stellar .882 OPS in 23 games. Combined with the fact he’s compiled 30 outfield assists over the last two seasons, Brendan has the chance to be an up-and-coming outfield prospect in the Orioles system if he continues this trend.
July 12: Zach Davies
Another in the stable of good-looking young pitchers, Zach was one of three Shorebirds to make their pro debut with the team this year (Dylan Bundy and Nicky Delmonico were the others.) While he was by far the most unheralded of the trio, Zach put together a nice season: 5-7 with a 3.86 ERA in a co-team leading 114 1/3 innings. Considering he wasn’t among the starters at the beginning of the season, though, the fact he led the team in innings pitched meant he gave the team more innings per start – often Davies would put together a quality six- or even seven-inning start. Zach also led the team with 91 strikeouts.
Maybe the only worrisome stat is allowing 46 walks, but Davies had fairly consistent numbers whether starting or in relief, and throughout the year. He was a steady presence on the staff and probably deserves a promotion despite his young age (he’ll be 20 next February.)
July 19: Zach Fowler
While the 2012 Shorebirds didn’t possess a true closer, Fowler tied for the team lead in games finished with 14 and picked up 2 saves. He pitched well enough here (a 3.18 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, and 42:13 strikeout to walk ratio in 45 1/3 innings) to get a chance to pitch for both Frederick and Norfolk – ironically both of his pitching victories came out of his three appearances with the Tides, where he allowed four earned runs and nine hits in eight innings.
Fowler didn’t fare as well with the Keys, going 0-1 with a 6.55 ERA in seven appearances covering 11 innings. He biggest problem there was allowing 17 hits in those 11 innings. But because it was a small sample size, he may get another shot at Frederick to begin 2013. Another factor is his age: at 24 next spring, he would probably be a little old for Delmarva, so Zach is one of those guys who may be an odd man out at the end of spring with a poor performance.
July 26: Wynston Sawyer
Sawyer hit 10 points below his career average coming into 2012 – it was easy to calculate because Wynston hit .231 in both his previous professional seasons. But considering Sawyer nearly evenly split duties between catcher (40 games) and first base (35 games) his versatility somewhat makes up for his subpar offensive numbers (.221/2/49/.608 OPS.)
It would almost certainly be to his benefit for Wynston to repeat at Delmarva since he was the easiest catcher of those who played the position regularly to steal on. It may be that playing behind the dish isn’t Sawyer’s destiny but if it’s not he will have to improve on his offensive performance. Delmarva will probably be the place Wynston sorts it out.
August 2: Michael Ohlman
Michael made lemonade out of the lemons he was presented this season. After a car accident sidelined him out of spring training, Ohlman got back into action in mid-June by opening with the Gulf Coast League Orioles and hitting .276 in 8 games. On his return to Delmarva, Ohlman gave the team some much-needed offensive punch by hitting .304/2/28/.868 OPS in 51 games.
Meanwhile, after serving as strictly a designated hitter for his first month back, Ohlman worked his way back into the backstop rotation and played 14 games behind the plate. Overall, it was a successful return from adversity for Michael and something to build on for 2013. My guess is that he’s ticketed for Frederick.
August 9: Roderick Bernadina
At first Roderick skipped over Delmarva because he was promoted from Aberdeen (where he hit .259/0/14/.631 OPS in 30 games) to Frederick, where he struggled to finish 1-for-13 in four games. That short detour may have eliminated a future slump, though, because upon his arrival in Delmarva Roderick started hot and parlayed that beginning into hitting .298/2/12/ .765 OPS in 31 Delmarva games. Bernadina slumped at the end, though, breaking an 0-for-13 string with a pair of hits in the season finale.
Still, this was Roderick’s best season as a professional and it wouldn’t surprise me to see him as a player counted on to provide offense for the 2013 Shorebirds based on his month of playing here.
August 16: Eric Wooten
Eric came out of nowhere (well, two weeks in the Gulf Coast League where he wasn’t scored upon in 14 innings) to be a valuable pitcher for Delmarva down the stretch. Amassing 39 innings for the Shorebirds as a long reliever and spot starter (two starts), Eric gave up 37 hits but only 6 walks while striking out 30. By the numbers, he finished 2-3 with a 3.46 ERA.
I think there’s a chance Wooten starts at Frederick but more likely he will make his full-season debut here next year.
August 23: Greg Lorenzo
Another player who started the season in the Gulf Coast League, Greg managed to hit .300 across three levels: .316 in 25 games at the GCL level, .317 in 9 games at Aberdeen, and .333 in 19 games with the Shorebirds (24-for-72.) That’s a vast improvement from the .232 mark he posted in 48 GCL contests last season.
While he doesn’t have a great deal of power (15 extra-base hits in 189 at-bats overall) he can steal a base (16 this season, including six with the Shorebirds.) I would anticipate Greg also making his full-season debut here next year.
August 30: Bobby Wilkins
My comeback kid of the year, Bobby was out of baseball in 2011 and bounced around a lot this season. Beginning with Aberdeen on June 21, he jumped to make one appearance with Delmarva June 24, found time to go to Frederick for one game on July 3, returned to Aberdeen until July 27, then finally settled in with the Shorebirds for the last month.
After all that, he pitched well for the Shorebirds, only allowing earned runs in one of his nine appearances (he allowed one unearned run on three occasions.) Overall with Delmarva Bobby pitched 11 1/3 innings, allowing seven hits and three walks while striking out four for a 1.59 ERA and 0.88 WHIP.
It’s fair to say that Bobby is in the same category as an undrafted free agent, and as I said in my SotW profile he’s probably looked at as organizational depth moreso than anything. Since he’s already turned 23 and been waived by one organization, the chances are he either has to make Delmarva next year or find another team. Even if he makes it there will be a pretty short leash on Bobby.
So now I have reviewed the 22 Shorebirds of the Week and have to pick a Shorebird of the Year.
As it was last year, there were guys who could have easily won had they stayed all year – Dylan Bundy is a no-brainer, but had John Ruettiger, Justin Dalles, or Trent Howard continued on their starts and not been promoted they had a chance. The opposite is true for end-of-season guys like Michael Ohlman, Roderick Bernadina, or Greg Lorenzo – an earlier promotion to Delmarva may have given them the honor. Mikey Planeta also could have won, but he was injured before I could give him an unprecedented third Shorebird of the Week title.
In reality, though, the decision boiled down to five players. Two pitchers – Eduardo Rodriguez and Zach Davies – overshadowed the rest by having solid and consistent seasons. Among position players, the most solid cases could be made for Glynn Davis, Nicky Delmonico, and Brenden Webb.
With a lot of good – but not great – players to choose from, one has to look at intangibles. Delmonico was the team’s lone All-Star but he really didn’t have a good second half and then was injured.
Both pitchers had good seasons, with Rodriguez having just a little bit better of a campaign than Davies overall. But neither were near the top of the league in any particular category.
Glynn Davis is a good story as a Maryland native and undrafted free agent, but he tailed off near the end as well.
On the other hand, Brendan Webb had a season where he improved as time went on, played solid defense in right field, and was a catalyst for the team’s offense in a number of different and varied ways, whether through the power of a team-leading 11 home runs, speed of 18 stolen bases (second to Davis’s 29), or guile of simply getting on base. As I noted above, Webb was second in the league in walks to the league’s MVP and it’s worth pointing out he got on base a team-leading 42.2% of the time.
Because of all those areas where he excelled, I decided Brendan Webb was the best choice for Shorebird of the Year.
So there you have it, another year in the books. It took me a lot longer to put this together than I thought (so I missed my usual 7 p.m. deadline) but that’s a lot of information to relate from a 138-game season.
On April 4 I start worrying about the 2013 version. Enjoy the rest of baseball season, and remember: football season doesn’t begin until the World Series is over.
There have been a few seasons where my first Shorebird of the Week has been a comeback story where I’ve rooted for their success. In 2012 I’ll close with one.
After spring training in 2010, the once-promising career of Bobby Wilkins looked to be over. The onetime sixth-round pick out of Valhalla High School in El Cajon, California was released at the tender age of 20 – this despite a solid 2009 season (3-1, 1.73 ERA and a WHIP of 0.98 across two levels) which included 8 shutout innings in four appearances at rookie-level Spokane. (In the Orioles organization that would be equivalent to a stint at Aberdeen.) Perhaps the Rangers weren’t impressed that he spent three seasons getting through the Arizona Rookie League after being drafted in 2007, a league which annually receives its share of raw high school and imported talent to be evaluated.
But Bobby found a job pitching for the Kalamazoo Kings in the independent Frontier League. Unfortunately, he didn’t fare all that well there, going 1-3 with an 8.61 ERA and 1.94 WHIP for the league-worst franchise. The Kings expired after the 2010 season and it seemed like Bobby’s career would, too.
Now I don’t know who persuaded Bobby to give it another shot after not pitching professionally in 2011, but the Orioles picked Wilkins up off the scrap heap and sent him to Aberdeen, where he pitched decently enough (1-1, 4.66 ERA with a 1.66 WHIP) to merit a single Delmarva appearance in late June (1 scoreless inning with a walk) and quick trip to Frederick in early July (two hits and an unearned run in two innings, with a pair of strikeouts) before being sent here for good on August 1.
Since then Bobby has provided effective outings for the Shorebirds, piling up seven appearances where he’s allowed seven hits and two earned runs in 9 1/3 innings. So we may not have seen the last of Bobby in a Delmarva uniform or in the Orioles’ organization. Batters are only hitting .175 off him so far, even though he’s not known as a strikeout pitcher. He’s doing something pretty well and with every inning pitched Bobby is getting back into a groove.
Of course, whether the season’s end with Delmarva will provide a third and possibly final coda to Bobby’s pitching career remains to be seen – at this point he’s probably looked at more as organizational depth than as a prospect. But he’s been given a chance, and many players have made their comebacks through the ranks of independent baseball (current Oriole Lew Ford is one, as he was playing in the Atlantic League earlier this summer after last playing in the big leagues in 2007.) And at just 23 years old as of last week, he’s not all that far behind developmentally despite the layoff.
Those last two or three appearances down the stretch – in what many on the outside would consider meaningless games – can be the difference-makers in a player’s career. As Booby has learned the hard way, numbers which may look good don’t always save the day.
Next week I will announce my Shorebird of the Year as well as review the season.