Sometimes this column is about stats, but there are times when it’s about expectations. Because of expectations – and the fact he was around the whole month – your Shorebird Position Player of the Month for June is outfielder Trendon Craig.
You see, Trendon put together a solid month at the plate by any measuring stick: Slashing .309/1/13/.826 OPS, this 20th and final pick by the Orioles last year out of the small-time Louisburg (N.C.) College turned around a slow start to the season in May to bring his overall slash to .235/2/21/.691 after Monday’s game. It came on the heels of a .294/1/8/.796 OPS mark in 24 Complex League games last season after being drafted. And watching how overmatched Trendon looked in May, I’m pleasantly surprised to be writing this. But his across-the-board consistency across the offensive numbers combined with a flawless season in the field gave him the nod.
A native of Georgia, Trendon went to high school in the Fredericksburg area of Virginia before going to the same junior college that produced some nobody you’ve never heard of, Cedric Mullins. Given the fact he’s only 20 – turns 21 this coming Sunday – and his average and OPS are trending higher, Trendon may be on track for a look-see in Aberdeen later this summer; if not, certainly for 2023. Not bad for a guy who had 586 guys picked before him – a relative position that would have put him 585 spots behind my other major contender for this month, Heston Kjersted. If Heston had been here a week (or even 2-3 days) earlier, he would have been the winner and Trendon in the agate type, but I use both cumulative and rate stats and the cumulatives is where Heston was lacking just a bit.
As for my pitcher, he was the fifth and last pick in what’s been sort of a star-crossed 2020 draft for the Orioles. Because of the pandemic and injury issues, it took until this season for Carter Baumler to make his pro debut, and Carter has been assigned so far a unique plan for this season: if you don’t come out on Wednesdays, you miss him. (Hence, I haven’t seen him since I usually go Thursday and Sunday.) Moreover, due to another arm flareup and an ill-timed rainout, Carter hasn’t pitched in a game since June 15th – since he’s not on the injured list, though, he remained eligible for Shorebird of the Month despite not pitching.
In a month where the Delmarva pitching was pretty brutal, though, the 2.08 ERA and 15/6 strikeout/walk ratio in just 8 2/3 innings stood out. A product of Dowling Catholic High School in West Des Moines, Iowa, he grew up on the outskirts of Des Moines and took a $1.5 million bonus in lieu of a commitment to TCU. (Ironically, money saved on signing the aforementioned Kjersted sweetened Baumler’s bonus pot. Wonder if Carter’s ever bought Heston lunch?) Things looked good until he needed Tommy John surgery in the fall of 2020 after beginning his workouts with the Orioles. So this is the first step back, and the Orioles are being cautious.
Overall on the season Carter’s only pitched 11 2/3 innings, allowing just seven hits, seven walks, and striking out 20. At just 20 years of age and lacking experience, I see no reason for him to pitch anywhere but Delmarva this season with the expectation he’ll be let loose a little bit next season, whether here or (more likely) with the IronBirds.
The other good pitching candidate this month was Ryan Long, who led the team in innings pitched and won one of the few games the Shorebirds were victorious in last month. No one else really had a month that wasn’t mediocre to awful.
One housekeeping note before I go: it’s looking more and more like I will combine August and September for my final Shorebirds of the Month. With only ten games scheduled in September, it didn’t seem fair to the pitchers to base it on maybe two appearances. July’s selections should be ready August 4.