Shorebird Player and Pitcher of the Month: July 2022

For the penultimate edition of this series, I have two winners who have come aboard midstream to provide a spark to the team, which ended July by taking 5 of 6 in Lynchburg.

After getting yet another hit, Frederick Bencosme leads off first in a recent game against Salem.

This is a good photo of Frederick Bencosme because it shows him at a place he often hangs out: first base. After two games in June getting his feet wet in the Florida Complex League, Frederick was promoted here June 9 and has worked his way around the infield: mostly at short, but also getting a handful of starts at second and third.

Even though he hails from the Dominican Republic and not Panama, the kid reminds me a lot of Rod Carew – plays the similar positions, has good bat control, and hits it where they ain’t quite a bit – for the month, Bencosme slashed a team-best .369/2/10/.960 OPS, which followed up a similar June. For the season here, Frederick is hitting .362 in 40 games, with a knack for putting the ball in play – just a combined 35 strikeouts and walks in 167 plate appearances here. It follows up a solid season in his native DR, where he slashed .310/2/16/.816 OPS in 44 games for the Orioles 2 team.

Signed as an international free agent August 14, 2020, the cancellation of the 2020 season meant Bencosme couldn’t begin playing until last season (although it’s likely he would have waited anyway as a late-season signee.) But the 19-year-old has shown he can hit pitching at each level he’s played; perhaps the one drawback to his game so far is the need to improve his fielding a little bit as he lags behind his league peers at shortstop. Still, it wouldn’t surprise me if he didn’t spend a few weeks at Aberdeen before the summer’s out, depending on what happens with the plethora of infield prospects ahead of him on the depth chart.

Dylan Heid took the loss in this, his debut against Lychburg, but has recovered since to become one of the most reliable Shorebird pitchers.

Drafted in the 11th round last season out of the University of Pittsburgh-Johnstown, Dylan Heid had a July where he led the Shorebirds in strikeouts as well as OPS against, effectively shutting down the opposition to the tune of a 2-0 record and 2.25 ERA in 16 innings pitched – close to a starter’s workload in 5 relief appearances.

2022 was the pro debut for Heid, who – like his position player mate Bencosme – made two appearances in the Florida Complex League before coming to Delmarva late in June. After strugging in his two June appearances here, allowing 6 earned runs in 5 1/3 innings, he’s whittled that lofty ERA down to 4.22, with a 2-2 record in 21 1/3 innings, striking out 28 while walking 12.

Heid was one of those players who waited out last year’s draft as a member of the MLB Draft League, suiting up for the Trenton Thunder, a former Eastern League member that lost its spot to the previously independent Somerset Patriots. That experience may have been helpful for Heid, a Pennsylvania native who came from a school that’s only sent a handful of players to professional baseball. One knock surely to come on him is that he’s old for this level, having turned 24 in May, so he’ll need to be impressive to keep moving up the ladder.

This monthlong stretch may be of great assistance in that regard.

As I noted above, this is the penultimate edition. I’ve decided to combine August and September since the latter schedule has just 10 games. So the final Shorebirds of the Month will be selected September 15, with the Shorebird of the Year picked September 22. Then it will be time to embark on a new, exciting baseball-related project I’m putting together called The Knothole.

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