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Is Eduardo Rodriguez Close?

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.

ROY vs. Shorebirds

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. 

Perdue Stadium Plays Tough

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…

2013

  • 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

2012

  • 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.  

Trivia Question

How many former Shorebirds players have a MLB World Series ring?

  1. Orlando Cabrera, who played for the Shorebirds in 1996, won a world series title with the Boston Red Sox back in 2004.  He actually started that season with the Expos before being part of a monster 4-team deal that shipped him to the Sox.  Nomar Garciaparra was part of the deal – he was dealt to the Chicago Cubs. 
  2. Jayson Werth, who played for the Shorebirds in 1997, won a WS ring with the Philadelphia Phillies in 2008.  Werth had eight hits and a HR in the World Series that season. 

Are we missing anyone?

Stats Don’t Mean Much

We love to pour over statistics and pass judgement on players based on the numbers.  It’s natural because it’s an easy way to qualitatively measure a players ability against his peers. 

However, the more and more I think, the more and more I’m convinced that numbers at this level (SAL), don’t really tell a great story.  There are just to many examples of guys that had average to poor numbers with the Shorebirds that have gone on to do well at the higher levels including the major leagues. 

My favorite example is Pedro Florimon.  Yes, I’m talking about the starting shortstop for the Minnesota Twins (the MAJOR league club!).  In 2007, he batted .197 in 111 games for the Shorebirds.  In 2008, he hit .223 in 81 games for the Shorebirds.  Don’t be so quick to judge.

I was recently talking to Steve Melewski from MASN and he brought up the case of Chris Tillman, yes the ace of the Orioles pitching staff.  In 2007, he pitched for High Desert (California League).  He had a 5.26 ERA in 20 starts.  Don’t be so quick to judge.

How about more recent examples.  Let’s take Tim Berry, who pitched for the Shorebirds in 2011 and 2012.  In 2011, he posted a 5.21 ERA and in 2012 he had a 5.02 ERA.  This year, he lowered his ERA to 3.85 for the Keys and is now pitching in the Arizona Fall League.  Don’t be so take to judge.

Even a kid like Jacob Pettit – a 42nd rounder that had a 4.42 ERA in 2011 for the Shorebirds.  This year, he made five appearances (four starts) in Triple-A.

Now, of course there are plenty of examples of guys that had great statistics at the lower levels and were destined.  Like, Chris Davis (or “Crush”).  In six minor league seasons, he batted .318.

My point is this – just because a guy doesn’t hit .300 or doesn’t have a 3.00 ERA don’t be so quick to rule him out. 

Hunter Harvey Starts Here?

It seems like every off-season, there is one blue chip prospect that fans cross their fingers for.  This year, it is pitching prospect Hunter Harvey, who the Orioles selected in the first round (22nd overall) in the 2013 First Year Player Draft.

Here is the quick low down on Harvey…

Between the GCL and Aberdeen in 2013, he went 0-1 with a stellar 1.78 ERA in eight starts.  In 25.1 innings, he allowed 21 hits and five earned runs.  The 18-year old struck out 33 and walked only six batters.

So, he is obviously advanced for his age. 

Now, does he start with the Shorebirds in 2014?

The precedent that has been set over the last number of years leads you to believe the answer is yes.  Think about all the high school first rounders the Orioles have drafted and where they started the following year after they were drafted.

Matt Hobgood – 1st round 2009, started with Shorebirds in 2010

Manny Machado – 1st round 2010, started with the Shorebirds in 2011

Dylan Bundy – 1st round 2011, started with the Shorebirds in 2012

Of course we know that the precedent is drastically different for college first round draft picks.  Take for example Matt Wieters (2007), Brian Matusz (2008) and Kevin Gausman (2012).  All were drafted in the first round by the Orioles out of college and all three skipped this level. 

I know many Shorebirds/Orioles fans don’t want me to do this, but even go back to 2006 when Billy Rowell was the Orioles first round pick.  In 2007, he started with the Shorebirds.

How about 2005? Yep, Brandon Snyder was the Orioles first rounder and he started with the Shorebirds in 2006.  He didn’t have great success (.194) and was moved to Aberdeen once the NYPL began in June. 

So, the conclusion is that there is a good chance Hunter Harvey starts with the Shorebirds in 2014.

Planeta – College Basketball Player

He was a fan favorite for good reason when he played for the Delmarva Shorebirds during parts of three season – 2010, 2011, 2012.  Not only was he a hard-nosed player, but he was exceptional to fans before and after games.  You’d be hard pressed to find a more personable and approachable athlete.  Of course, I’m writing about Mikey Planeta. 

I was recently communicating with Mikey back-and-forth over text messages, so I thought I’d give you an update.

He played in 12 games with the Frederick Keys this past season, before he was released by the Orioles.

He is now a COLLEGE BASKETBALL PLAYER!

Planeta is a freshman guard at Point Loma Nazarene University, a Division II program in Bakersfield, California.  He will wear #11 for PLNU.

We’ll keep tabs on Mikey as he transitions from baseball to basketball.

Best Mikey!

Here is the roster – http://www.plnusealions.com/roster.aspx?path=mbball

 

 

 

 

Bridwell – Over 140

With 13 games left in the 2013 season, Parker Bridwell leads all Orioles minor league pitchers with 131 strikeouts.  He will likely get 2-3 more starts with the Shorebirds which will leave him with a good chance of being between 140-150 K’s this season.

Who is the last Shorebirds pitcher to fan 140 batters in a single season?

The answer is Cole McCurry, who struck out 145 in 2009.

Creede Simpson’s Stretch

Creede Simpson ranks third in the South Atlantic League in batting average at .395.  He takes a six-game hit streak and a six-game RBI streak into the game on April 20.

He has 11 hits and 9 RBIs in the last six games. 

Simpson ranks fourth in the SAL in RBIs with 13. 

Simpson went 3-for-3 last night at Perdue Stadium. 

The interesting thing about Simpson is that he only played in three games during the first homestand.  He started playing everyday once Roderick Bernadina went down with an injury.

Simpson is the definition of taking full advantage of an opportunity. 

Prospect Book Arrives

I just got my 2013 Baseball America Prospect Handbook, a real jewel for any broadcaster or minor league baseball enthusiast.  It ranks the top 30 (plus a 31st) prospects in every organization.

I listed the top 15 prospects for the Orioles entering the season (again according to Baseball America).  Please note that ranking prospects is never an exact science and there will always be disagreement based on your baseball eye.

1. Dylan Bundy (2012 Shorebird)

2. Kevin Gausman

3. Jonathan Schoop (2011 Shorebird)

4. Nicky Delmonico (2012 Shorebird)

5. Eduardo Rodriguez (2012 Shorebird)

6. L.J. Hoes (2009 Shorebird)

7. Xavier Avery (2009 Shorebird)

8. Mike Wright (2011 Shorebird)

9. Branden Kline

10. Adrian Marin (2012 Shorebird)

11. Tim Berry (2011 + 2012 Shorebird)

12. Christian Walker

13. Henry Urrutia

14. Glynn Davis (2012 Shorebird)

15. Torsten Boss

Of the top 15 prospects, 10 have played for the Shorebirds within the last four years.  Of the top 30 prospects, 18 have played for the Shorebirds in the last four years.

The player that made the biggest jump from last year to this year as far as his ranking is concerned is Eduardo Rodriguez.  He was ranked 30th by Baseball America entering the 2012 season.  Now, he is ranked 5th and the 3rd best pitching prospect! Rodriguez went 5-7 with a 3.70 ERA for the Shorebirds last season.

I’m glad that Ty Kelly finally got some love from Baseball America.  He is the 30th best prospect in the system entering the season.  I get that Ty will turn 25 during the middle of the 2013 season, but his numbers are undeniable.  His career minor league numbers are strong – .283/.379/.378.  He has walked more times (247) than he has struck out (245) in four MiLB seasons.  He hit .308 in AA last year, .278 in 11 games in AAA.  Hope he gets a shot one day!

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