Well, my friends, the rodeo has come to an end.
I never believed that when Josh Potter became my first Shorebird of the Week back on April 6, 2006 that it would become a series that spanned most of the life of my monoblogue website, which was only a few months old when I started. It turned out that I featured a pretty good slice of the guys who played here in that span of time, over 250 in all.
But it has to end someplace and it’s getting harder and harder for me to put these together in a manner that I like, so when I can’t do my best work it’s time to put the feature to bed. I will saddle it up one more time tonight with my August/September combined Shorebird position player and pitcher of the month.
Let’s begin with the position player, who finally had a healthy half-season to show what he could do. An injured Reed Trimble came up at the tail end of last year after being drafted as the Competitive Balance “B” pick in 2021 out of the University of Southern Mississippi and hit just .169 in 16 disappointing games. Rejoining the Shorebirds in late July this year, he got off to a bit of a slow start again but the Tupelo native finally blossomed like a crepe myrtle in August, stroking a slash line of .307/2/16/.775 OPS in the month-plus. (Since there were only 10 scheduled games in September this season, I decided to combine months.)
It culminated a year where Reed hit .291/2/18/.747 OPS in 31 Delmarva games (after an 0-for-6 rehab stint in Florida.) Since Reed turned 22 this year, he’s not way off the timetable for a prospect although it should be noted that this season’s CBB pick, Jud Fabian, tore up the Carolina League in meriting a quick promotion to Aberdeen – in fact, he was in line to snag this honor until he was called up, as was Dylan Beavers. Unfortunately for Reed, it’s two more outfielders who have leaped over him on the Orioles’ depth chart. It wouldn’t surprise me if the Orioles pulled a Darrel Hernaiz with Trimble and kept him here for another couple months to see how he starts a season.
Besides Fabian and Beavers, the other contender was a bit of a surprise. Fan favorite Creed Willems put together a great month as part of a second half where he surged his overall batting average over 50 points after July 4. But Trimble won out for my final Shorebird Position Player of the Month honor.
If it weren’t for the extended month, my pitcher would not have had the requisite number of games on the roster as he came off the injured list on August 14. But Ryan Long picked up where he left off as the ace of the Shorebirds’ staff (he was close to winning in June and July as well) and thus is my final Pitcher of the Month.
Ryan came to us as a 17th round draft pick last season from the unusually named Pomona College/Pitzer College in California. (In looking this up, I found it’s two schools who compete in athletics as one, and the arrangement is over 50 years old. Whatever works for them.) He was sent to the GCL in Florida and, truth be told, didn’t burn the place up – 0-2 with a 7.71 ERA in just seven innings. Regardless, once spring training ended Ryan found himself on the Delmarva staff and he’s quietly become one of our best hurlers: in August and September he finished 3-1 with a 2.16 ERA in 16 2/3 innings, with a nifty K/BB ratio of 17 to 4. (That’s been an issue with several Delmarva pitchers, as they are worst in the Carolina League at allowing walks.) It didn’t hurt that, despite his injury after the first appearance, he put forth four straight shutout outings covering 16 innings.
Ryan finished the season with just that three-week chunk missed with an injury but led the Shorebird qualifiers with a 7-5 record and 3.10 ERA, as well as a 1.25 WHIP. He also put up a good 73/31 strikeout to walk ratio in 72 2/3 innings. He’ll turn 23 over the offseason so it’s my suspicion he will be Aberdeen-bound to begin 2023, joining several other 2021 picks who have already made the leap.
Unlike the batting competition, Long pretty much dominated the pitching side; however, there were spirited efforts from 2022 draft choice Cameron Weston, trade piece Yaqui Rivera, and full-season pitcher Moises Chace to crash his party. But Long had the best month.
So, like Porky Pig would stutter, that’s all folks! I’ll have the Shorebird of the Year next week and that will be it for baseball coverage at monoblogue. In October it’s relocating and expanding to a new Substack page called The Knothole where my love of baseball will see the end of this era and the beginning of my historical look at the game. (I might have some Shorebird stuff, too, but no more players of the month.)
Until next week, happy trails.