Keys to a Keys Postseason Run

Byline BraydenAs of August 16, the Frederick Keys were 56-64 after beating the Lynchburg Hillcats (Braves), 6-1. The Keys have been struggling this season despite having a handful of Orioles prospects on the roster.

KeysThe Keys can be a potential postseason team, but first, they need to put together the right talent to contend.

Although they haven’t made it to the postseason since 2011, the Keys could put it together soon with many of the O’s promising prospects on their way. I’ve watched a losing team of the Orioles quickly turn things around by having the right talent, so the Keys could easily make a great run. This is how I believe the Keys could make a future postseason run.

Pitching:

Pitching is everything. Pitchers are like quarterbacks. They do all the throwing and help lead the team to the postseason.

For example: Roy Halladay for the Phillies in 2010. That season, Halladay threw a perfect game and a no-hitter. One of his no-no’s was in the postseason and it was a big win to help the Phillies make a run at the World Series.

For the Keys, pitching prospects could lead the way. They have Branden Kline and Parker Bridwell already to help in the staff, but when Stephen Tarpley comes up from Short-Season Aberdeen, it could bolster the rotation. Who knows if Bundy will finish withe Keys, but it would help if he did.

A great Keys rotation in my mind features Bridwell, Kline, Tarpley, and the O’s first pick (3rd round) this past June, Brian Gonzalez. The bullpen should be good too; especially if they have a solid, reliable closer, at least one lefty specialist and one long-man.

Catching:

chance siscoA good team has a reliable everyday catcher. Take the Orioles No. 3 catching prospect, Chance Sisco for example. The young catcher has done well both behind and beside the plate for the Shorebirds this season.

At the beginning of the season, Sisco was ranked 10th in the O’s Top 20 prospects list. Sisco is hitting .337 with four home runs and 53 RBIs in 100 games for Delmarva (as of August 15). Sisco provides a good left-handed bat in the lineup and he is a good catch-and-throw guy.

Bench:

The bench is not a role athletes want to be in, but some favor it. Delmon Young has been solid off the bench for the O’s this season, leading the American League in pinch hits. The same is said for David Lough who has provided the Orioles with great speed of the bench and a good defensive replacement.

If the Keys can put together a good bench using players that have the potential impact of Young and Lough, they can rest regulars and swap in guys and still feel confident that they can help them win.

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Prospect Watch: Lucas Giolito

Byline BraydenLucas Giolito was drafted with the 16th overall pick by the Washington Nationals in June of 2012 out of Harvard-Westlake High School in Southern California. Standing at 6 feet, 6 inches tall, the hard-throwing righty was well under way for his future in baseball.

After signing, Giolito pitched for the Nationals’ rookie level team. In his first pro start, Giolito notched two innings, giving up one run (earned) on two hits and no walks, and struck out one before he felt a sharp pain in his pitching elbow. The Nats top prospect had to undergo Tommy John Surgery after making just one appearance to begin his professional career.

Lucas GGiolito began rehabbing in Florida soon afterward, where he shared a hotel room with injured catcher Spencer Kieboom. Both Giolito and Kieboom were not far in their pro careers when they needed Tommy John Surgery. They rehabbed together in Florida and became friends.

Later on, Giolito finally got back to pitching regularly for the Nationals’ rookie team in 2013. He pitched in eight games for the rookie affiliate, going 1-1 with a 2.78 ERA. Shortly afterward, Giolito was promoted to Class-A Short-Season Auburn to play for the Doubledays.

He finished the season with Auburn pitching in three games with a record of 1-0 and an ERA of 0.64 in 14 innings of work.

In 2014, the Nationals announced Giolito would pitch for the Class-A Full-Season Hagerstown Suns. The Suns had been an affiliate with the Nationals since 2007 and has had many prospects and rehabbing big leaguers come to the small historical town.

Giolito made his Suns debut on April 5 against the Rome Braves (Braves affiliate). Giolito pitched three innings giving up six hits, four runs (three earned), two walks and three strikeouts in front of a small crowd of 509 as the Suns lost to the Braves, 9-8.

Giolito rebounded in his first road start for Hagerstown. He pitched on April 10, going six innings giving up one hit, on runs, walking one and striking out six. Giolito got the win as the Suns beat the Lakewood BlueClaws (Phillies), 6-0.

Part of Giolito’s success is from having a familiar face behind the plate. His catcher was his rehabbing partner, Spencer Kieboom. Oddly enough, these two live together once again as they both received the same host family.

Kieboom has been behind the plate for most of Giolito’s starts and the two have done well together this season. Kieboom is hitting .308 with seven home runs and 52 RBIs in 76 games this season as the Suns’ starting catcher. Giolito is 9-2 with a 2.23 ERA, 28 walks and 105 strikeouts in 19 starts.

One of Giolito’s best starts came at home on July 25 against the Kannapolis Intimidators (White Sox). Giolito only pitched six innings and gave up one hit as he walked none and struck out seven and was the winning pitcher in a 5-1 Suns win.

Another great start came in Charleston, South Carolina against the Charleston RiverDogs (Yankees) on July 31. Again, Giolito pitched six innings but he gave up only two hits, no runs again, walked one and struck out six. That was back-to-back quality starts from Giolito.

If Giolito pitches on normal four days of rest for the remainder of the season, he’ll will make three more starts for the Suns all on the road as the minor league regular season ends on Labor Day, September 1. Giolito was scheduled to make his next start on tonight at Lakewood.

Bundy on DL with Lat Strain

Byline IanDylan Bundy, the Baltimore Orioles’ top pitching prospect, was placed on the DL with a right latissimus strain, according to the Baltimore Sun. The injury is said to be caused while Bundy was running, not throwing.

Bundy was drafted fourth overall in the 2011 draft. He quickly rose through the minor leagues, making his professional debut in April 2012, six months after signing with Baltimore. He made his debut with Single-A Delmarva and was promoted to Class-A Fredrick one month later.

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He stayed with Fredrick until August of that year when he was promoted to Double-A Bowie in early August. Bundy was then promoted once again to the major league team as a September call up.

In June of 2013, Bundy had Tommy John Surgery and missed the rest of the 2013 season and half of this season until he started his rehab assignment. Bundy was progressing through his rehab starts but hadn’t regained his form completely.

The good news in all of this is the arm Bundy is rehabbing is said to be fine. In nine rehab starts, Bundy has a 1-3 record with a 3.27 ERA. He allowed 38 hits, struck out 37 and walked 16 batters in 41.1 innings pitched. With Bundy already being on a pitch limit, he might be shut down for the rest for the season.

Hunter Harvey Out for Year

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Byline Jeff

Orioles pitching prospect Hunter Harvey is out for the remainder of the year with a “flexor mass strain.”
Harvey, the Orioles’ top pick in last year’s amateur draft, will not pitch for the rest of this season, but no word whether in the recovery will go into next year. General Manager Dan Duquette says the injury will not require surgery at this point and he simply needs rest.

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The announcement came during the Jon Lester sweepstakes, but it is unclear whether Harvey was the main cause of the talks failing.
The official injury is being called a “flexor mass strain”, but Duquette said that the injury did not include any ligament damage, a sign that Tommy John might not be necessary.

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Harvey, 19, was 7-5 with an ERA of 3.18 in 17 games with Single-A Delmarva this year. He was named a mid-season South Atlantic League All-Star, and pitched in the MLB All-Star Futures Game.

Prospect Watch: Austin Anderson, Jamil Moquete

Byline IanAustin Anderson (Round 9) and Jamil Moquete (Round 32) joined the Orioles organization in the 2014 MLB Draft and became Aberdeen Ironbirds almost immediately. Anderson, from Ole Miss, and Moquete, from UMass-Boston, have been having near opposite seasons, but on Thursday night it would have been hard to tell.

Coming into the game, Anderson held a .365 batting average on the season and was batting .395 over his last 10 games. Moquete, on the other hand, was batting significantly lower. He held a .169 average on the year and .292 in his last 10 games.

Jamil MoqueteMoquete seemed to be turning things around by the performance he put up Thursday night. The former Division-III player had a two-hit performance highlighted by his solo home run in the third inning. The 2-for-3 night raised his batting average to .185 on the year.

“It’s about time I hit the ball hard,” Moquete said, “I show it off in batting practice and today it was good enough to show it off in the game.”

He nearly missed hitting another home run in the eighth inning but it fell just short of the wall for a ground rule double.

“I thought it was gone,” he said, “And we were going to go up one in the top of the ninth but it didn’t go as I planned.”

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Austin AndersonAnderson went hitless in four at-bats, ending his hit-streak at five games. Despite the hitless night, Anderson seems to be having an easy time adjusting to pro ball.

“I played in the SEC for four years,” he said. “I always saw a lot of good pitching and playing there for four years and getting the experience I did has transferred over here.

“It’s pretty similar. The SEC has dominant pitchers and the pitchers here are good [too].”

The game was tied 2-2 going into the top of the ninth but a sacrifice fly and a two-out, two-run home run was too much for the Ironbirds to come back from, as they fell, 5-2.

Prospect Watch: Mike Yastrzemski

Tyler's BylineCarl Yastrzemski is one of the greatest Red Sox players of all-time and even won the Triple Crown in 1967.

His playing days have long passed, but now his grandson, Mike, carries his legacy and is doing so in a big way in the Orioles’ farm system.

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Baltimore drafted Mike Yastrzemski in the 13th round as an outfielder out of Vanderbilt.

He started off his career in short-season Single-A Aberdeen and finished the season with a .273 average, three homeruns and 25 RBI.

573262Yastrzemski started off the 2014 season in Single-A Delmarva with a bang, batting .306 with 10 homeruns, 44 RBI and 12 stolen bases.

The Vanderbilt product was quickly promoted to Single-A Frederick, where he continued his success and batted .312.

Yastrzemski’s hot hitting prompted the O’s to promote him once more to Double-A Bowie during the All-Star break.

He’s only played two games in Bowie, but is already has five hits in just nine at-bats.

The talk was always centered on Christian Walker and Dariel Alvarez as the top hitting O’s prospects, but Yastrzemski has entered the mix and has been on fire.

Yastrzemski has been tearing the cover off of the ball, but likely won’t be promoted to the big leagues this early in his career.

The O’s may have been a found a future starter in Yastrzemski, as he looks to play like his grandfather. He’s already managed to climb his way into our prospect watch.

Kevin Gausman: Aberdeen Ironbirds

 

Byline IanThe Aberdeen Ironbirds, the short season Single-A affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles, faced the Staten Island Yankees on Wednesday night. After a 36-minute rain delay, Orioles prospect Kevin Gausman took the mound for the Ironbirds in a two-inning, short start.

A “short start” is like a bullpen session, only the pitcher is facing live batters. A “short start” is something major league pitchers do not have. The reason Gausman threw a “short start” was because he needed to wait 10 days after he was sent down from Baltimore to be promoted again.

Wednesday was Gausman’s scheduled day to pitch, five days after he last took the mound. From what Gasuman said post-game, and from what Orioles beat writers said on Twitter, there is a high possibility that Gausman will pitch Sunday for the Orioles.

Gausman last pitched on Friday, June 27 for the Orioles against the Tampa Bay Rays in the first game of a doubleheader. In that start, he gave up five runs on seven hits and four walks, but only struck out one batter in 5.0 innings.

Wednesday night, as most people suspected, was a very different outing. He went just two innings, allowed one hit, issued one walk and struck one batter out. He also allowed an unearned run when the second baseman threw the ball low to first , trying to complete a double play, and Gausman could control it.

This was my first view of Gausman in person. From what I had seen on television and from what analysts say about him, my expectations were very high. Thankfully, he did not disappoint and he put on an impressive performance even though it was a short one.

The pitches Gausman threw were in the upper 90s all night. He hit 99 on the radar gun a few times.

“I felt pretty good,” Gausman said. “I was just getting my work in and just trying to establish fastball command and more than anything, that’s what I did.”

Gausman just pitched two innings for the Ironbirds. He allowed one hit, one walk and one unearned run. He also struck one batter out.

When asked after the game about what is next for him, Gausman said that he isn’t sure what the future holds.

“I don’t really know,” Gausman said. “I think it’s kinda up in the air what’s gonna happen in the next couple days so just kinda play it by ear.”

Gausman also said that he was not trying to work on any one pitch in particular except his fastball.

“Just [trying to work on] fast ball command, just moving fastball in and out on guys,” he said. “And probably the biggest thing was throwing fastballs in, like I’ve been doing in the big leagues.

“I just felt like I should make the most of two innings. It was two innings or 35 pitches. We got to 29 and decided that I had a good work day.”

 

First Inning:

Gausman started out very strong. The Orioles top pitching prospect hit 99 on the radar gun on the first pitch he threw.

Two pitches later, he threw an off-speed pitch that was registered at 66 mph. One pitch after that, Gausman got the first batter to pop-out to the first baseman.

He struck the second batter out on a nasty off-speed pitch. The third batter hit a weak ground ball up the third baseline in-between the catcher and Gausman. The catcher called Gasuman off and threw on to first to retire the batter.

Gausman pitched a 1-2-3 first inning, hitting at least 98 mph against all three batters faced.

Second Inning:

The second inning was a little bit of a struggle compared to his first. After Gausman retired the first batter on two pitches, the next batter singled to right field. He walked the next batter on a 3-2 count.

With one out, Gausman got the fourth batter to ground to the first baseman, who threw to second base to get the second out in the inning. The throw to first was low and the ball got past Gausman, allowing a run to score.

 

Kevin Gausman: Ready

Tyler's BylineKevin Gausman is now in a weird limbo with the Orioles, as he gets called up for a start and then sent right back down to the minors.

The Orioles originally brought Gausman up June 7 after the team placed Miguel Gonzalez on the 15-day DL.

GausmanHe didn’t disappoint the Orioles during Gonzalez’s absence, posting a 3-0 record and giving up two runs in 19 innings.

Gausman showed great control in those three starts, hitting the corners of the strike zone with fastballs that were touching 98 mph.

His impressive stretch made the Orioles throw around the idea of using a six-man rotation after Gonzalez came back off of the DL.

However, the O’s chose to stick with a five-man rotation and Gausman was sent back down to Triple-A Norfolk.

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It was a questionable move by the club, after the 23-year-old had pitched so well for the team, but the Orioles didn’t feel the need to send a starter to the bullpen or roll with a six-man rotation.

The plan was for Gausman to come back up to the O’s soon after his demotion though and that process was sped up after Baltimore put Bud Norris on the 15-day DL.

Gausman’s last start showed some control problems, as he walked four batters and also hit a batter. He got the loss and some fans questioned whether he is ready to pitch for the Orioles.

The answer to that question: Kevin Gausman is ready to stay in the majors for good.

This is a pitcher who has nothing left to prove in the minors anymore and has already proven how dangerous he can be when he is hitting the corners of the strike zone.

Gausman also has strong comparisons to Justin Verlander, as his velocity goes up throughout the game and he is able to blow hitters away with speed.

The former LSU pitcher is still going to have his struggles, as seen in his last start against Tampa Bay, but he needs to stay in the rotation in order to work through them.

Sending Gausman up and down seems to be hurting the pitcher’s psyche and the Orioles need to find a way to keep him in Baltimore.

He has the chance to prove his worth while Bud Norris is out, solook for Gausman to succeed in his next couple starts.

Buckle up O’s fans: Kevin Gausman should be here to stay and ready to lead the rotation for years to come.