Fans of Minor League Baseball always ponder the question, “who is next?” I think the next former Shorebirds player to crack the major leagues could be Eduardo Rodriguez.
I know, he is young – only 20 years-old. He won’t be 21 until the beginning of next season.
Look what he did this season…
Frederick – 6-4, 2.85 ERA
Bowie – 4-3, 4.22 ERA (work to do)
Surprise (Arizona Fall League) – 0-1, 5.52 ERA (this does not include a 3-inning gem in the championship game of the AFL)
I think it’s fair to assume that Rodriguez will begin the 2014 season in Double-A with the BaySox. If you read MASNsports.com often, a good portion of the blogs written by Roch Kubatko and Steve Melewski have at some point touched on the Orioles need for pitching. At this point, Rodriguez is probably still a year away (at least) from the Orioles, but he is definitely getting closer.
Is there another former Shorebirds player that is closer to the majors than Rodriguez?
The only one I can think of is Mike Wright. The right-hander went 11-3 with a 3.26 ERA in Bowie and made one strong start in Triple-A at the end of the year. Wright won the Jim Palmer Pitcher of the Year award as the top Orioles minor league arm.
Obviously, I’m not including Jonathan Schoop in this discussion because he already cracked the major leagues for a brief period.
On Monday, 21-year old rookie sensation Jose Fernandez, right-handed pitcher for the Miami Marlins, was named the NL Rookie of the Year. His numbers were staggering in the big leagues this year – 12-6, 2.19 ERA – second best in the major leagues. Opposing batters hit just .182 against him.
The crazy thing about the above is that one year ago, he was pitching for the Greensboro Grasshoppers – yes, the Miami Marlins affiliate in the South Atlantic League.
He actually pitched twice against the Shorebirds. It was clear both times that he was destined for stages much larger than Arthur W. Perdue Stadium or NewBridge Bank Park (home of Grasshoppers).
4/12/12 – W, 5 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 8 K, 2 BB
5/26/12 – W, 6 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 12 K, 1 BB
So, in two games against the Shorebirds, Fernandez went 2-0 with a 0.00 ERA with 20 K and 3 BB.
Let’s be fair – it wasn’t just the Shorebirds that he picked on. He went 7-0 with a 1.59 ERA in 14 starts with the Grasshoppers.
Man, he was good.
It’s always a topic of conversation – on the bus, in the stands, at other ballparks, etc. Arthur W. Perdue Stadium has always been a graveyard – a pitcher friendly park. The numbers back it up…
- Shorebirds hit 23 HR’s at home and 34 on the road
- Shorebirds pitchers gave up 22 HR’s at home and 44 on the road
- Shorebirds pitchers had a 3.78 ERA at home and a 4.78 ERA on the road
- 25 homers at home/42 homers on the road
- 4.05 home ERA/4.72 road ERA
Take a look at every ballpark in the South Atlantic League. Now, of course these numbers are a bit skewed because certain teams (i.e. Hickory) hit a lot of home runs wherever they went. Below is a look at every park in the SAL and how many home runs were hit in 2013 (home team and visitor). Only three other parks yielded fewer home runs in 2013…
Greensboro (NewBridge Bank Park) – 161
Hickory (L.P. Frans Stadium) – 145
Asheville (McCormick Field) – 127
Greenville (Flour Field) – 98
Lexington (Whitaker Bank Ballpark) – 76
Charleston (Joseph P. Riley, Jr.) – 73
West Virginia (Appalachian Power Park) – 72
Hagerstown (Municipal Stadium) – 68
Kannapolis (CMC Northeast Stadium) – 62
Rome (State Mutual Stadium) – 49
Delmarva (Perdue Stadium) – 45
Savannah (Grayson Stadium) – 42
Lakewood (FirstEnergy Ballpark) – 38
Augusta (Lake Olmstead Stadium) – 34
If you’re reading this and wondering if 2013 was an anomaly – it wasn’t. These numbers are fairly consistent every year. Greensboro’s park yields the most home runs and Perdue Stadium is among the bottom four or so.
The last Shorebirds player that put up “big-time” power numbers was Joe Nowicki in 2008 – he hit 19. Of the 19, only six came at home.
The last player that had big power success at Perdue Stadium was Jason Fransz in 2005. He hit 14 of his 22 home runs at home.
The point is that it is rare, but possible for a power bat to hit a significant amount of home runs at Perdue Stadium. I think the ballpark plays fair, but tough for power bats.