Presenting: The Shorebird of the Week Hall of Fame Class of 2018

This past season the Baltimore Orioles finished third in the majors in one interesting category: number of players making their major league debut for the team during the season. Their 15 rookie players during the campaign placed them one behind the Los Angeles Angels and San Diego Padres, who both debuted 16 players.

So it logically follows that, for the first time in four years, all my inductees made their debuts as Oriole players. That run of 2012-14 inductees (a total of eight players who all stayed homegrown, with five of the eight coming in the first Dan Duquette season of 2012, two in 2013, and one in 2014) was memorable in that it brought us three Oriole icons of the last few years in Manny Machado, Jonathan Schoop, and Dylan Bundy. Making what turned out to be a full circle, the farm system Dan Duquette built was responsible for this year’s group of five inductees – guys who played with Delmarva in 2014, 2015, and 2016.

The optimism of an Opening Day win was quick to fade as losses and injuries mounted, so perhaps the best way to introduce this class would entail more than the date of their debut but also the team’s record at the time. We begin 59 games in with catcher Austin Wynns, who opened the class on June 5 after it became painfully apparent that a terrible 17-41 start and issues with starting catcher Caleb Joseph weren’t going away anytime soon. Wynns eventually backed up Joseph, getting into 42 Oriole games after initially spelling Joseph (82 games) and 2017 SotWHoF member Chance Sisco (63 games) through a tough 2018 season for both.

Fifteen days later, with the Orioles now 21-50, June 20 was the time for Steve Wilkerson to take his turn as the latest attempt for the Orioles to find the utility player to replace the departed Ryan Flaherty. But Wilkerson was barely in the flow of things, having had to serve a 50-game suspension to open the season, and it turned out he would only make it into 16 Oriole games and 43 all told as injuries took their toll, too. Steve even grabbed some AB’s in the Arizona Fall League, which added another 20 games to his total for 2018.

At 23-57 a little over a week later, June 29 marked the MLB debut of two Oriole pitchers, including onetime SotW Ryan Meisinger. Ryan ended up making 18 of his 50 appearances over the season with the Orioles, as the other 32 were split 21 with Norfolk and 11 with Bowie, where he began the season. His one ill-fated start would come into play for this Hall of Fame, as you’ll shortly see.

On August 10, the Orioles were 35-80 and had made their fire sale, shipping off three members of this Hall of Fame (Machado, Schoop, and Zach Britton) as well as three other veteran pitchers to acquire 15 (mostly) minor league players. One player who wasn’t sent away thanks to his 10-and-5 rights was Adam Jones, but he graciously stepped aside a few dozen yards to his left to allow for the big league debut of Cedric Mullins as he took over as everyday center fielder. Cedric got the most playing time out of this five-member class, appearing in 45 of the Orioles last 47 games.

Finally, on September 26 the 46-111 Orioles needed a starting pitcher to face Boston for the first game of a day-night doubleheader. They chose Ryan Meisinger, but his failure to complete even one inning left the door open for John Means to make his debut in that contest, his only appearance with the Orioles after logging a full season between Bowie and Norfolk. Means also became the first player not actually selected as a Shorebird of the Week to make this Hall of Fame – he was picked Shorebird of the Year in 2015 thanks to special accomplishments and a great body of work, similar to how Brenan Hanifee won this season despite not having a good enough single month to be selected as a Pitcher of the Month.

That, then, is the five-man Class of 2018 for the Shorebird of the Week Hall of Fame. So what do I think 2019 will look like?

We are now getting to the point where the well is running dry on the seasons where I had weekly winners. Certainly there are a few from the most recent such seasons in 2014-16 who still have a good chance to make the grade, with the oft-injured Hunter Harvey leading the 2014 crop. Others from that team who played in AAA last season include Drew Dosch, Mike Yastrzemski, Luis Gonzalez, and Dylan Rheault in the Giants’ organization. Mitch Horacek, who is now Colorado Rockies property, has reinvented himself in the bullpen at the AA level and continued his season in the Arizona Fall League. Except for Harvey, though, none of these players are on a 40-man roster.

My 2015 group is now pretty much tapped out, with only Matthew Grimes having reached AAA among active players. Still toiling in AA are dueling center fielders Ademar Rifaela and Jay Gonzalez, who is now in the Diamondbacks’ organization. Similarly, the most prominent prospects in the 2016 class are Ryan Mountcastle and Jesus Liranzo, who now pitches for the Pirates’ AAA club after two teams tried to sneak him through waivers.

Out of the rest, Ryan McKenna (who could be my first Shorebird of the Month to make the Show) isn’t one to sleep on, either, nor is pitcher Brendan Kline from way back in 2013. And there are still a handful of other graybeards kicking around the higher end of the minors like Adrian Marin (2013, and a minor league free agent), Wynston Sawyer (2012, a member of the Twins’ chain last season), Jarrett Martin (2011, now with the Oakland organization), and the unsinkable Garabez Rosa, my second-to-last active player from 2010 (the other being SotWHoF member Ty Kelly.)

If I were to select the top 5 most likely out of that group, I would say Ryan Mountcastle is the most likely bet although he would probably not be first up. I could see a team like the Pirates take a chance on Jesus Liranzo (as he is on their 40-man roster) before Mountcastle makes his debut, but most of these guys seem like the September callup types, particularly Brendan Kline or Ryan McKenna. And there’s almost always a surprise in the bunch like a Scott Copeland, Michael Ohlman or Nicky Delmonico, guys whose star had fallen for a time and who ended up debuting with other organizations. My sleeper pick in that regard is Dylan Rheault.

That doesn’t mean we’ll have five in the Class of 2019, but I can see anywhere from 3 to 7 depending on how much new GM Mike Elias likes the players in his newly adopted organization. I keep saying this but at some point it will be true: we are running out of potential for large classes of six or more. I think that window shuts after 2019 if it’s not already closed, since the best team we had for prospects (2014) has little left on the shelf.

So simultaneous to this post coming online, the Shorebird of the Week Hall of Fame is again open for business.

Perhaps I will stoke up the hot stove in January with a thought experiment: since it now has 40 players, how would a SotWHoF roster do in a full season? Stay tuned.

 

Coming attractions

Thank goodness the election is over, notwithstanding events in Georgia and Florida. I even got around to tossing out the political mailings.

So now we get a little break, although there’s one recent piece of interesting Maryland political news: an announcement in the wake of the Fourth Circuit’s edict that Maryland redraw two of its Congressional districts to re-enfranchise Republican voters who were gerrymandered out of the Sixth Congressional District, a district that became much less compact and contiguous because Martin O’Malley and Maryland Democrats wanted to create a Congressional seat for onetime State Senator Rob “Gas Tax” Garagiola. To achieve that goal, they shifted the district southward to cover a large portion of Montgomery County – the fact that it covered Rob’s State Senate district was just a coinkydink, of course – excising Republican-rich swaths of Frederick and Carroll counties from the Sixth District and placing them in the MoCo-dominated Eighth Congressional District. By next March the districts are supposed to be redrawn, presumably back close to their pre-2012 configuration.

Seeing that, an opportunity has arose for my two-time monoblogue Accountability Project Legislator of the Year Neil Parrott to run from cover by forming an exploratory committee, perhaps doubling the mAP LoY delegation in Congress as he would presumably join Andy Harris in the House. Add to that, in an unrelated story, reigning and two-time mAP Top (Blue) Dog Jim Brochin trying to pay off campaign debt with a “bipartisan” fundraiser, and you can tell it’s the silly season of politics.

Aside from those above diversions, politics tends to slow down quite a bit. Sure, there may be an issue or two that emanates from the upcoming lame-duck session of Congress, but for the most part things are buttoned up during the holidays only to be ramped up as we return to normal after the new year.

As it works out, this post-election hiatus provides for me a chance to catch up on a couple other things. One (which is really sort of a navel-gazing set) is contemplating my annual Thanksgiving message for personal thanks and the “state of the blog” anniversary post as monoblogue becomes a teenager this year, with all the moodiness and angst to go with it – although the last couple years have foreshadowed that to a great degree.

The second is updating my Shorebird of the Week Hall of Fame. Fortunately or not, the early Thanksgiving gives me a little extra time to do it as I generally take the page down on that day so I can update it in time for the first Thursday in December, which falls a full two weeks after Thanksgiving this year. I have five players to add, but with a number of trades made I also have some photos to update. I can’t keep using the Zach Britton, Manny Machado, and Jonathan Schoop photos I’ve had for years because they’ve suited up elsewhere.

So I may not be posting much before Thanksgiving, in part because I also want to work on a different website: the one I’m creating for my book. (I’ve had the domain name for a few months now, so it’s time to make it active.) Maybe my anniversary here will also be the debut there.

It’s time for a few mental health days.

The Shorebird of the Week Hall of Fame Class of 2017

This is the ninth consecutive year I have added players to the SotWHoF, but this year’s crop was one of the more diverse in its history.

Last year I pleaded the case that:

I think 2017 may be a somewhat barren year. Sure, you could have the feelgood stories of longtime prospects like Garabez Rosa, Michael Ohlman, or Tim Berry finally breaking through, but if you look at the guys from 2012 and 2013 who are still hanging on no one jumps out at you.

It turned out that I was pleasantly surprised with another class of six for the Hall this year, which includes the aforementioned Michael Ohlman. I got my first player from the 2015 Shorebirds right away with Stefan Crichton, went back-to-back days for the first time with Josh Hader and Jimmy Yacabonis, circled back to one of those guys from 2012 hanging on in Nicky Delmonico, and wrapped up with the guy I was most expecting to see – my first Shorebird of the Year to make it, Chance Sisco. Two players came from the 2012 Shorebirds (Ohlman and Delmonico), two from 2014 (Yacabonis and Sisco), and one apiece from 2013 (Hader) and 2015 (Crichton.)

Of this group of six, it’s telling that only half debuted with Baltimore. Michael Ohlman was shipped off to the St. Louis organization in a cash deal in 2015 and spent two seasons there before signing with the Blue Jays this year. Josh Hader was part of the Bud Norris trade with Houston in 2013, as he was plucked out of the Shorebirds’ starting rotation in that deal, and moved on to the Milwaukee organization in another trading-deadline trade in 2015. Nicky Delmonico was also part of the Brewers at one time, but the prospect we gave up for “K-Rod” Francisco Rodriguez in 2013 didn’t stay long due to some personal issues and the White Sox signed him off the street in 2015.

While the guys who debuted for the Orioles were mainly up-and-down (although Sisco showed promise in his limited duty) and Ohlman really didn’t stick long enough to make an impact, both Hader and Delmonico put up solid numbers and stayed in the bigs once they were brought up. Hader is being discussed as a potential starter for the Brewers and certainly Delmonico should be considered as a piece of a rebuilding White Sox franchise that recently got another Oriole refugee in catcher Wellington Castillo – a move that ironically will clear the way for Chance Sisco if the Orioles don’t pick up a veteran receiver in the offseason.

As for next year’s crop, I’m again bearish on the prospect of five or six in the class, but you just never know. A lot depends on how the Orioles do in the first half of the season with a number of key expiring contracts at season’s end: if they start out well and keep the team intact, some of the guys thought to have a chance to move up may stay in the minors until 2019. On the other hand, a cold start that puts them in the position of being sellers at the trading deadline may be the impetus to move some guys up who were heretofore blocked like Ryan Mountcastle or give young pitchers such as Hunter Harvey, Luis Gonzalez, Ryan Meisinger, or Jesus Liranzo a shot. Any of them, along with outfield prospects like Cedric Mullins, Ademar Rifaela, or non-SotW players Austin Hays and DJ Stewart, among many others, could also be the trade bait to pick up that last piece for a playoff run, too, meaning they may debut with a rebuilding team and not the Orioles.

But in the meantime it’s time to congratulate my six newest members of the Shorebird of the Week Hall of Fame, and with the posting of this article I will restore the SotWHoF page to public view.

The Shorebird of the Week Hall of Fame Class of 2016

For a short time this summer, I thought I was going to have a record class for the SotWHoF this season, but as it turned out it fell one short of the record seven, with six. But this season’s class is making a prediction I made a couple years ago on the Shorebird of the Week tracker page come true:

I think the 2014 (SotW) crop has the potential to match the 2008 SotW group in terms of guys who can make it. They just seem to have that air about them, and three of them made the jump to Frederick immediately after the All-Star game.

True to my prediction (and within the timeframe of 2 to 3 years typically elapsing after their selection as Shorebirds of the Week) there are three players I picked in 2014 among the five inductees this season. In order of their debuts, they were Steven Brault, Donnie Hart, and Trey Mancini. Parker Bridwell was only the second player from 2013 to advance to the Show, and Ty Kelly finally gave me one player from the 2010 SotW crop that made it – from a team that was sometimes nearly unbearable to watch. Meanwhile, Eddie Gamboa became the new record holder for longest wait, going over seven years before his debut.

As has become a trend over the last few years, we have watched as two players traded away for a quick lineup fix made it to the majors with other franchises. But while Brault was acquired by the Pirates in a trade with the Orioles, it took another trade, waivers, and free agency (along with a blazing hot start) to finally bring Kelly to the bigs, while Gamboa left as a minor league free agent. But Kelly was among a record five Hall of Fame members playing in the postseason this year (and the only one not suiting up for Baltimore.) However, none of them advanced past the wild card game and Zach Britton was a healthy scratch that could have been six.

Perhaps the one making the most impact of this season’s crop was Hart, who has been a solid LOOGY (left-handed one-out guy) for Baltimore. But none of the six made a great splash this season like some have in the past; luckily that’s not an indicator of future results.

I actually did rather well predicting some of the guys who made it this year, but I think 2017 may be a somewhat barren year. Sure, you could have the feelgood stories of longtime prospects like Garabez Rosa, Michael Ohlman, or Tim Berry finally breaking through, but if you look at the guys from 2012 and 2013 who are still hanging on no one jumps out at you. Former SotW players who participated in the Arizona Fall League included Adrian Marin from 2013, Jimmy Yacabonis and Austin Wynns from 2014, Stefan Crichton from 2015, and Jesus Liranzo from last season. (Liranzo was also the only SotW added to this winter’s 40 man roster.) None of them really made an impact in the AFL, though. The most likely person to be a 2017 class member could also be the first Shorebird of the Year to make it, 2014’s Chance Sisco.

And going forward I’m a little bearish on the prospects that I will have another class with as many as six in it, as the players over the last two years don’t seem to have the same prospect cache as those from 2014. So this class of six may be the last really large one.

Yet the process may not be done with this past season after all. I am thinking about a less stressful alternative to weekly honors, with the thought of perhaps going to a monthly award with the prospect of repeating during a season (so the monthly honoree in April could repeat in May.) It may also expand to a position player and pitcher, based on merit, and if I decide to do this it would begin the first Thursday in May for the April player and pitcher so honored.

But in the meantime it’s time to congratulate my six newest members of the Shorebird of the Week Hall of Fame, and with the posting of this article I will restore the SotWHoF page to public view.

Update, February 20, 2017. The best-laid plans of mice and men. I had Eddie Gamboa’s name on the list as I fixed the SotWHoF page but some edit must have wiped it out. He waited seven years to make it, though, so what was another two months?

The Shorebird of the Week Hall of Fame Class of 2015

A somewhat new adage in major league baseball is that you buy the bats (through free agency) and grow the arms (in your minor league system.) In 2015, five former Shorebirds of the Week made it to The Show in the latter fashion. Just two of those five, though, did so as members of the Orioles.

Beginning on May 2nd, when Scott Copeland made his debut with Toronto, the summer brought several others in relatively rapid succession: Oliver Drake on May 23 for the Orioles, Eduardo Rodriguez on May 28 for the Boston Red Sox, and Mychal Givens on June 24 for the Orioles. Finally, after being traded there from Baltimore in a deadline deal, Zach Davies debuted September 2 for the Milwaukee Brewers, who acquired him in exchange for outfielder Gerardo Parra.

Their paths to the big leagues were as different as their debuts.

Scott Copeland was signed off the street by Toronto in 2012 after the Orioles released him at mid-season from Frederick. While it’s likely they saw him as organizational depth. Copeland continued to slowly climb the ladder all the way to the top at the ripe old age of 27. Perhaps it was a reward for loyalty since Copeland was granted free agency twice by Toronto after the 2012 and 2014 seasons.

Oliver Drake was also a late bloomer, being picked as a Shorebird of the Week way back in 2009 and debuting at the age of 28. After losing a season due to injury, Drake looked like a guy who was stuck at Bowie until they tried him as a closer in 2013. He then became a dominant ninth-inning guy for Bowie in 2014 and Norfolk this year, often making the shuttle between Norfolk and Baltimore.

Eduardo Rodriguez was the price Baltimore paid in July 2014 to rent Andrew Miller for a couple months. Miller moved on to the Yankees for 2015, but Rodriguez stayed with the Red Sox the rest of the way after his promotion. How many rookies won 10 games in barely half a season with a last-place club? I daresay not many. The Orioles might be kicking themselves for awhile about that deal.

It’s well-known that Mychal Givens began his career as a shortstop, and in his first go-rounds with Delmarva we found out he was unremarkable at the plate. The potential was seen the fourth season he appeared here, which was Mychal’s first as a pitcher in 2013. Once he worked off the rust and learned to take advantage of his rather unique delivery, Givens moved up the system quickly as a relief pitcher.

Finally, depending on what happens with Parra, Baltimore also may regret trading away Zach Davies, who looked pretty sharp in a half-dozen September starts – particularly the last two. Granted, this was with a team playing out the string in a division where they were one of the two punching bags (of the five teams Zach faced, Pittsburgh gave him by far the most trouble) but he held his own against the Cubs and beat up on the bad teams.

Those are the five going in this year, so who are good bets for 2016?

Out of the recent Shorebird crop, perhaps the best bets at an Orioles debut are a few players who were selected in 2014: Jon Keller, Trey Mancini, and Chance Sisco. Of these three, Mancini seems by far the surest selection. Another former SotW, Parker Bridwell, is now on the 40-man roster.

But there are a handful of players who now toil elsewhere who could make it to the top of the heap next year. St. Louis has onetime catching prospect Mike Ohlman, Pittsburgh has pitcher Steven Brault (also a 2014 pick), and Milwaukee picked up pitcher and Maryland native Josh Hader in a trade with Houston at the deadline. Nicky Delmonico of the Chicago White Sox and Gabriel Lino of the Phillies have longer odds, as does veteran minor leaguer Ty Kelly.

They may be joining a longer list of players, which is closing in on the size of a big league roster. Because of that, it’s going to take a few extra days to make needed changes and pare down a Hall of Fame page that’s otherwise over 10,000 words. As I lean on Baseball-Reference heavily to compile the information, it’s going to become my go-to page for statistics. Just like the real Hall of Fame, I think compiling a brief summary of the player’s career may be a better way to go, but it will take a few days to get there.

So that’s a wrap of this year’s honorees. It’s the biggest class since 2011, but the first class where more players made debuts with other teams than with Baltimore. Given Dan Duquette’s lack of fear of trading prospects at the deadline having entrants debut with other teams may become the norm.

The midseason review 2015

If you follow my Shorebird of the Week feature, or any of my other Shorebird coverage, you likely recall that just before the season I tried to predict who would make up the team’s roster this season. I was hoping to beat my mark from last season, and I suspect the rash of new players added over the last month will help my percentage.

Early on I lost 2 of my 25 players as infielder Federico Castagnini and pitcher Augey Bill were released. I checked to see if they latched on with any of the independent league teams and apparently they have not, so I presume they have called it a career. As for the others on my list, here’s where they are. (Bold denotes they have been a Shorebird of the Week.)

Pitchers who have spent time with Delmarva include Tanner Chleborad (who made one start before going on the DL in April), Stefan Crichton, Dariel Delgado (who was promoted to Frederick briefly in late May and returned a couple weeks ago), Brian Gonzalez, Ivan Hernandez (just brought up from extended spring), John Means, Nik Nowattnick (sent to Frederick early on), and Max Schuh (also a June callup.)

As for the other hurlers: Augey Bill was released, Keegan Ghidotti and Kevin Grendell are with Aberdeen, and David Hess and Austin Urban were both promoted to Frederick to begin the season. Out of 13 pitchers, 8 have played here and potentially 4 others could – Urban is pitching well enough, though, that I don’t see him back this year.

Moving behind the plate I got both correct – Jonah Heim and Alex Murphy split catching duties for a time until both were hurt. I also correctly tabbed Tanner Murphy as the third catcher. The latter Murphy, though, was reassigned to Aberdeen June 9 but is not on their active roster. Now I’m up to 10 for 15.

On the infield, it’s a mixed bag. The only consistent Delmarva player of the six I named is Jomar Reyes. Austin Anderson has resided on our restricted and disabled lists all season, while Ronarsy Ledesma has had spot duty with the Shorebirds before being sent down to Aberdeen. We just added Derek Peterson to the roster this month as well.

Going the other way, unfortunately, are both Castagnini and Hector Veloz, who was released from Aberdeen’s roster last week. That gives me 3 of 6, with the chance at a fourth later this season. 13 for 21.

Finally, in the outfield I was correct on Jay Gonzalez, T.J. Oleschuk (as of earlier this month), and Riley Palmer – although Palmer has mainly played first base rather than the outfield. Oswill Lartiguez has begun the season with Aberdeen.

This means that, out of 25 players, I have 16 correct and the potential for up to 6 more if they play well (or poorly) enough.  I’m finding out, though, that baseball is an inexact science.

Going into this season I thought my Shorebird of the Week Hall of Fame would have one more lean year before many of the crop of good players from 2014 start to break through. Instead, I have three already enrolled in the Class of 2015, and who would have bet on Scott Copeland to be the first when he debuted for Toronto in early May? Within a week later that month, I had the second and third: Oliver Drake for the Orioles and Eduardo Rodriguez for Boston. There’s a chance for a fourth if Mychal Givens gets into a game while with the Orioles, and Eddie Gamboa also spent time with the team.

So I have a lot to watch for in the second half. Hard to believe we are midway through another year, isn’t it?

The Shorebird of the Week Hall of Fame Class of 2014

Once again we interrupt our off-season slumber by the hot stove to bring you what will be the smallest class of inductees to the Shorebird of the Week Hall of Fame since 2010, when Brandon Snyder was my only addition as the third member added. Appropriately enough, Christian Walker wears his SotWHoF rank on his back, as he is number 18 for both the Orioles and the membership roll.

Walker was almost an accidental addition to the SotWHoF. I figured his outstanding minor league season would give him an opportunity at some point, but he didn’t have to be added to the 40-man roster this year, the Orioles were in a pennant race, and first base is a relative position of strength for the club. And while he was added to the postseason “taxi squad” working out in Sarasota just in case, I suspected it was more of a nod of appreciation for a great season, one which showed he was almost ready and perhaps ticketed for a 2015 debut. Chris Davis’s suspension for violating league policy, though, opened up the door for Walker’s advancement and as you will see since the SotWHoF page has been updated, he took a little bit of advantage.

The class could have been two if events had turned out just a little differently. Tim Berry was recalled by the Orioles on June 6 as “just in case’ bullpen help but did not see any action before being sent back down to Bowie the next day. He didn’t get a September callup, though, because he went on the disabled list in August.

But Berry is a good candidate to finally make it to the Show in 2015. Normally I take a stab at predicting who would be in the next class based on the players who make it to the 40-man roster and/or are assigned to the Arizona Fall League. SotW players in the former category include Oliver Drake, Eduardo Rodriguez (traded for Andrew Miller in July and now on Boston’s 40-man roster), and Ty Kelly (a 2010 SotW and veteran minor leaguer who was elevated to the Cardinals’ 40-man roster after a trade from Seattle) while AFL participants were Garabez Rosa, Michael Ohlman (also on 40-man), Zach Davies, Mychal Givens, and Parker Bridwell. However, Givens and Bridwell were left unprotected on the 40-man roster and could be snatched up in the Rule 5 draft next week. Another SotW who was high on the Dodgers’ prospect list last season, pitcher Jarret Martin, was recently outrighted off the 40-man by Los Angeles.

Out of all those players I suspect that those with the best chance of success would be Berry, Rodriguez, and maybe Drake. I can see a class returned to three or four players with some of the prospects moving up to the AA and AAA levels making a debut in 2015.

On the other end of the spectrum, there are now players who were added to the SotWHoF who have apparently called it a career or had other setbacks. Joe Mahoney made it official at mid-season after not being able to find a willing team during the off-season, while Ryan Adams, Matt Angle, Zach Clark, and Kyle Hudson were released from their organizations during the season. The same may be true of Brad Bergesen, although my understanding was that his 2013 season was cut short by injury. The injury bug also got Brandon Snyder and cost David Hernandez all of 2014, with his rehab extending into 2015. Many of those players are now looking for jobs as minor league free agents, particularly those in the large SotWHoF Class of 2011.

Because of that, Bergesen and Mahoney have had their photos removed just so I can denote active and inactive players. It’s one change I’m making to the Hall of Fame, which is getting to be quite the long page with nearly 20 inductees.

Finally, I’m going to try again what I did last season and attempt to predict 25 players who will play for the Shorebirds sometime in 2015. Out of 25 players I projected, 15 spent some time with the Shorebirds in 2014, although three came on board later in the season. Of the other ten, three did not play (they were released during spring training and did not sign), one played at the rookie-ball level for another organization, one went to the independent leagues, two played for Aberdeen all season, and three advanced past Delmarva to Frederick. So we’ll see if I can be a better prognosticator in 2015.

With that, the Shorebird of the Week Hall of Fame page is restored and updated to reflect the 2014 season. Here’s hoping 2015 brings a lot of new inductions and some Hall of Fame-worthy players to Delmarva to begin the cycle anew.

A monoblogue year in review

Having a holiday schedule based on Wednesday holidays seems to play havoc with the news cycle, as there’s not much going on with Maryland politics right now. By the time the holiday hangover is done, it’s the weekend.

So over the next four days I’m going to provide for you a look back and look forward. As part of that, tonight’s post will be the look back, with some of the highlights of my political coverage – and a couple other items tossed in for fun as well. This is the first time I’ve tried this, so I’ll see how it goes.

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The year began, as it always does, in January. As will be the case even moreso this year, political fundraising was in the news as there was a surprise leader in the gubernatorial money race on the GOP side. Another highlight of the month was a spirited and enlightening discussion of state issues at the Wicomico Society of Patriots meeting – something all too infrequent this year, unfortunately.

But the highlight of the month was my two-part coverage of the Turning the Tides conference in Annapolis. which had a plethora of good speakers and discussion. It was so good I had to post separately on the morning and afternoon events.

In February my attention was turned to several topics, particularly providing coverage of the financing and the events surrounding the Salisbury municipal elections, for which the primary was February 26th. A key issue brought up was a state mandate for the city to help pay for cleanup of Chesapeake Bay, to the tune of $19 million a year.

Another state mandate took center stage in February, as the Wicomico County Council held a Tier Map forum to find out citizens weren’t exactly enamored with the idea. As part of that I read from my written testimony on a Tier Map repeal bill, which wasn’t the only testimony I wrote – I also put in my two cents on the gun grab bill.

We also found out that month that the Maryland GOP would get new leadership following the resignation of Chair Alex Mooney.

March found me continuing my coverage of the Salisbury city elections, but only backing one candidate. More important were local developments on the state level, where the Second Amendment was a hot topic for a local townhall meeting and our county’s Lincoln Day Dinner.

But the highlight for me, by far, was my day at CPAC. That turned out to be a two-part set of posts.

As the area began to wake up from a winter slumber in April, so did the political world as it turned from the General Assembly session to the 2014 campaign. The Salisbury city elections went as expected, so I turned my attention to the race for state party chair. Interim Chair Diana Waterman ran a campaign which was at times embroiled in some controversy, but prevailed on enough supporters to make it through the lengthy grind of campaign forums (including one in Cambridge on the eve of the state convention) and win the remainder of Alex Mooney’s unexpired term. But even the convention itself had its share of ups and downs, particularly a chaotic ending and a rebuff to new media.

While that was happening, the 2014 election was beginning to take shape, with familiar names both trying their luck again and trying for a promotion. Others had interesting endorsements as feathers in the cap.

But it wasn’t all political in April. The outdoor season began with two local mainstays: Pork in the Park and the Salisbury Festival. I also found out I was immortalized on video thanks to Peter Ingemi, better known as DaTechGuy.

Those things political slowed down in May, with just a little reactionary cleanup to the state convention to begin the month, along with other reaction to the recently-completed General Assembly session. In its wake we also had turnover in Maryland House of Delegates GOP leadership.

But one prospective candidate for governor announced other intentions, leaving another to confirm what we knew all along.

On the fun side, I enjoyed Salisbury’s Third Friday celebration with some friends and stopped by to see them at another barbecue festival, too.

June began with a visit from gubernatorial candidate David Craig, who stopped by Salisbury and in the process gave me an interview. And while he didn’t make a formal tour, fellow Republican Ron George made sure to fill me in on his announcement and establish tax cutting bonafides. We also picked up a Republican candidate for an important local seat and found out political correctness pays in the Maryland business world.

A local doctor gave us his perspective on Obamacare and our area celebrated the chicken in June, too. I also learned of a special honor only a handful of political websites received.

As is often the case, our wallets became a little lighter in July. In the aftermath, we found out who David Craig picked as a running mate and welcomed both of them to our Wicomico County Republican Club meeting. I also talked about another who was amassing a support base but hadn’t made definite 2014 plans at the time.

On the other side of the coin, we found the Democratic field was pressing farther away from the center, a place the GOP was trying to court with the carrot of primary voting. Meanwhile, the political event of the summer occurred in Crisfield, and I was there.

There were some interesting developments in the new media world as well – a plea for help, a shakeup in local internet radio, and my annual monoblogue Accountability Project all came down in July.

The big news in August was the resignation of State Senator E.J. Pipkin, and the battle to succeed him. And while one gubernatorial candidate dropped out, another made his intentions formal and stopped by our Wicomico County Republican Club meeting as well. Even Ron George stopped by our fair county, although I missed him.

It seemed like the gubernatorial campaign got into full swing in September – Charles Lollar announced in an unusual location, the Brown/Ulman Democratic team came here looking for money, Ron George tangled with Texas governor Rick Perry and showed up to make it three Wicomico County Republican Club meetings in a row with a gubernatorial candidate, and Doug Gansler decided to drop by, too. On the other side, Michael Steele took a pass. I also talked about what Larry Hogan might do to fill out the puzzle.

Those up the Shore made news, too. Steve Hershey was the survivor who was appointed State Senator, and I attended the First District Bull Roast for the first time. I’ve been to many Wicomico County Republican Club Crab Feasts, but this year’s was very successful indeed.

September also brought the close of our local baseball season. As is tradition I reviewed the season, both to select a Shorebird of the Year and hopefully improve the fan experience.

October was a month I began considering my choice in the gubernatorial race. That became more difficult as Larry Hogan took an unusual trip for a businessman and Charles Lollar’s campaign worked on self-immolation, while Doug Gansler needed his own damage control.

I also had the thought of going back to the future in Maryland, but a heavy dose of my political involvement came with the tradtional closing events to our tourist season, the Good Beer Festival and Autumn Wine Festival.

Most of November was spent anticipating the Maryland GOP Fall Convention; in fact, many were sure of an impending announcement. Honestly, both may have fallen into the category of “dud.” But all was not lost, as the month gave me the chance to expound on manufacturing and share some interesting polling data.

Finally we come to December. While the month is a long runup to the Christmas holiday, I got the chance to again expound on manufacturing and come up with another radical idea for change. We also got more proof that our state government is up for sale and those who are running for governor place too much stock in internet polling. My choice is still up in the air, even after compiling an 11-part dossier on the Republicans currently in the race.

Locally, we found a good candidate to unseat a long-time incumbent who has long ago outlived his political usefulness. And the incumbent will need to watch his back because Maryland Legislative Watch will be back again to keep an eye on him and his cohorts. I’ll be volunteering for a second year,

And while I weighed in on the latest national diversion from the dreary record of our President and his party, I maintained two December traditions, remarking on eight years of monoblogue and days later inducting two new players into the Shorebird of the Week Hall of Fame.

You know, it was fun going down memory lane for 2013. But tomorrow it will be time to look forward, beginning with the local level.

The Shorebird of the Week Hall of Fame Class of 2013

As is now the tradition of the first Thursday in December, 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 tonight with two new inductees.

I predicted last year this might be a small class, figuring that players who were can’t-miss prospects from recent drafts had already made their debuts while the other prospects from Delmarva were concentrated at the advanced-A and AA levels as 2012 closed. My prediction was borne out as the two Shorebirds of the Week who were added to the 40-man roster during the 2012-13 offseason were the two who got to The Show.

In order of major league debut, the two honorees are:

  • Zach Clark, who debuted (and made his only appearance) May 1, and
  • Jonathan Schoop, who played five games after his September 25 debut – the last five games of the season.

In terms of actual impact by a particular class, this was the leanest crop of prospects ever. Even in 2010, when I had Brandon Snyder as my sole inductee, he played in ten games. Combined, my pair this year played in six.

But that doesn’t necessarily serve as a predictor of future results. Clark, who is now a student at Knuckleball U. with master teacher Phil Niekro, could conceivably use that pitch to stay in the big leagues well after the age of 40 (he turned 30 in July.) Meanwhile, Schoop could end up being the successor to Brian Roberts in Baltimore, showing some signs of brilliance at a tender age. Considering what has become of the Class of 2011, which had seven members but only one full-time major-leaguer just two years later (four of the seven did not play in the big leagues in 2013, and one didn’t play at all) it’s anyone’s guess how this small cadre will do as the seasons progress.

As is often the case, I like to use the twin predictors of those who are added to a team’s 40 man roster and/or participate in the Arizona Fall League as a gauge of the following year’s class. So the list of possibilities on the 40-man roster front are Tim Berry, Eddie Gamboa, and Michael Ohlman, all added to the Orioles roster – although Gamboa was just as quickly removed – along with Jarret Martin of the Los Angeles Dodgers. (Martin was sent to the Dodgers in a trade for Dana Eveland in late 2011.) Berry, Ohlman, and Martin also played in the Arizona Fall League, with Berry having the best numbers. Ohlman was a “taxi squad” player who could only see limited action and Martin was ineffective in 13 appearances.

However, since only Martin has (briefly) played above the high-A level it’s not likely we’ll see any of them play in the majors during 2014.

Out of the remaining Oriole AFL participants, only Branden Kline and Eduardo Rodriguez were selected as Shorebirds of the Week. Based on his 2013 season and polish shown in the AFL I would think Rodriguez has the best chance of making it to The Show next year. (He did not need to be added to the 40-man roster for protection.) Kline is coming off an injury-riddled 2013 and may well be Delmarva-bound again in 2014. He was added to the AFL roster more for the purpose of getting some innings in, not necessarily as a hot prospect.

There are some other players who I think have an outside chance of making it next year: pitchers Jacob Pettit, Oliver Drake, and Sean Gleason, outfielder John Ruttinger, first baseman Christian Walker, and utility players Garabez Rosa and Ty Kelly. Kelly was sent to the Mariners organization in a midseason trade, so he could suit up for Seattle by season’s end. For some in this group, they’re approaching the end of their opportunity as they advance in age – it would be another Zach Clark-style story if they made it.

I suspect when all is said and done there will be another small class next season, on the order of two to three players. It’s hard to predict the out years but I suspect 2015 and 2016 may see another bumper crop.

In the meantime it will also be interesting to see how many of the enshrined players who didn’t make it to the big league level in 2013 make it back next year. Some careers already seem to be in decline, but there are others who could be surprises next season. It’s simply fun to watch as well as select the future possibilities who start out as Shorebirds of the Week.

Finally, I’m going to try something new, an idea which was suggested to me at the end of the season. Sometime around the start of spring training I’m going to try and predict the ten most likely new faces on the Shorebirds. It will be fun to see how it plays out, and may be the bulk of my choices next summer.

After all, we are only seventeen weeks away from the return of Shorebird of the Week. I just hope there’s an exhibition game for pictures because we start out with a week on the road – otherwise my first two picks may be from 2013 photos. Yet they could be the future Hall of Famers.

The Tracker update

As longtime fans of my website know, the occasion of the South Atlantic League All-Star break was my chance to update fans of my Shorebird of the Week feature on the fortunes of the over 100 players selected as such over the seven seasons I have carried it. At this time last year, however, I debuted the SotW Tracker page, which made the information available at the click of a menu item at the top of my website. (It’s the SOTW Tracker item on the gray menu bar above.) Every few weeks during the season I take a half-hour or so and keep the page updated with the latest on the players who are still active.

Because of that, I really didn’t need to do a long summary page. But I thought it was interesting to do a statistical breakdown of those who remain – for example, out of 134 players I selected between the 2006 and 2012 seasons, 65 are still active as players in various leagues and levels and 38 of them are still property of the Orioles. By season, it breaks down as follows:

  • 2006: 6 of 22 active, with one in the major leagues, two at AAA, one at AA, one in independent league baseball, and one playing in Japan. None remain property of the Orioles.
  • 2007: 5 of 19 active, with one in the major leagues, one at AAA, two at AA, and one in independent league baseball. Two remain as Orioles property. (Only 19 players were “new” Shorebirds of the Week; three were selected in 2006 as well.)
  • 2008: 9 of 22 active, with two in the major leagues, three at AAA, one at AA, two playing in independent leagues, and one playing in Mexico; however, he is one of the two players who remain Orioles property as he was loaned to the Mexican League team.
  • 2009: 8 of 18 active, with three in AAA, three in AA, and two playing independent league baseball. Five of those eight are still in the Orioles’ system. (Four players were selected as Shorebird of the Week in 2008 as well.)
  • 2010: 7 of 17 active, with five at AA, and two at advanced-A. All but one are still Baltimore’s property. (This was the year with the most repeaters to date – two repeated from 2008 and three from 2009.)
  • 2011: 13 of 18 active, with one in the major leagues, two at AAA, seven at advanced-A, and three in independent leagues. Just eight of the 13 still belong to the O’s. (Four were previously selected as Shorebird of the Week in 2010.)
  • 2012: All but one of the 18 players are active, with two in AA, eight at advanced-A, five with Delmarva this season, one in rookie-level baseball, and one in independent baseball. Fifteen of the seventeen still play for Oriole affiliates.

If you look at the category of those in the Shorebird of the Week Hall of Fame – 15 inducted, with a 16th to be added at season’s end – there are five who are playing in the majors right now: David Hernandez of Arizona (SotW in 2006), Pedro Beato of Boston (SotW in 2007), Pedro Florimon of Minnesota (SotW in 2008), and the Orioles’ own Zach Britton (SotW in 2008) and Manny Machado (SotW in 2011.)

At this point in time my initial inductee Brad Bergesen is playing in Japan, but most of the SotW Hall of Famers are dotting AAA and AA rosters: Brandon Snyder for Boston’s team in Pawtucket, Blake Davis for Milwaukee’s team in Nashville, Matt Angle with the Los Angeles Dodgers’ farm team in Albuquerque, Joe Mahoney (who was up with the Miami Marlins briefly back in April) playing in New Orleans, and a handful remaining in the Orioles’ system between Norfolk and Bowie: Xavier Avery, Kyle Hudson, L.J. Hoes, and Dylan Bundy make up that list, which also includes future 2013 inductee Zach Clark, who debuted earlier this season.

Only Ryan Adams, who was a SotW back in 2008 and made the SotWHoF in 2011 with the Orioles, is out of baseball. But there is a caveat: he was suspended by Major League Baseball after last season for 25 games, so he has to serve that before resuming his career with whichever team signs him. It’s possible he may be on an independent league team’s restricted list since most haven’t reached the 25-game mark quite yet.

If you haven’t looked at the SotW Tracker page over the last few weeks, you’ll notice I updated it with the honorees from 2013’s first half. At this point only one of the 2013 crop is a repeater from last year while five of them remain with the Shorebirds – so you can probably expect somewhere between 18 and 20 “new” players this season as well.

Lastly, I normally wrap up my post by detailing how the Shorebirds’ representatives did at the SAL All-Star Game. But Josh Hader might be in a Baltimore uniform before the game gets underway as Lakewood is experiencing the same rainy weather plaguing us this evening. As of 9:30 posting, the rain was still being waited out. Once I find out, I’ll let you know how Hader did in what could well be his last appearance as a member of the Shorebirds.

Update: Hader pitched as the first man out of the North bullpen, coming in for the second inning. While he allowed the lone South walk, it did no damage and he struck out two in the North’s 2-1 rain-delayed win.

The Shorebird of the Week Hall of Fame Class of 2012

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.

The quickest inductee

Normally I don’t comment a lot about Oriole transactions, but this one is worth pointing out.

When Manny Machado – the wunderkind 20 year old who was the #3 pick in the 2010 baseball draft – makes his debut for the Orioles (as he was called up after tonight’s win over Seattle) it will smash the record for quickest ascension from Shorebird of the Week to the Show previously held by Kyle Hudson. Perhaps the only guy with a shot at breaking it would be Dylan Bundy.

I’m sitting here working on the next Shorebird of the Week, who oddly enough has his own big league connection. Who is it? Find out later tonight.