All season long the Baysox consistently proved themselves to be one of the best teams in the Eastern League — a fact solidified by their first playoff appearance since 1997 — but on Saturday night their phenomenal season was given an abrupt ending by one of the best in the Major Leagues.
With a best of five series with the Akron Aeros tied 1-1- in the first round of the Eastern League playoffs, the Baysox saw Indians designated hitter Travis Hafner — rehabbing a right shoulder strain — give the Aeros a defining edge. Hafner hit pivotal home runs in not one but two games for the Aeros, ultimately writing an end to Bowie’s storied season.
Hafner hit a two-run homer in his first at-bat Saturday, en route to a 5-1 victory and on Friday, he smashed a grand slam in the Aeros’ 6-2 clincher. Akron took the series, 3-1.
Bowie’s starter Chris Tillman was tagged with the loss, going just 2 1/3 innings, allowing four earned runs off three hits and two walks.
Bowie’s exit from the playoffs ends the season for all of the Orioles affiliates.
— Amanda Comak
As the Minor League season draws to a close this weekend and the Major League rosters prepare for expansion the Orioles farm teams are finishing out their seasons and continue to collect accolades in the process.
ARRIETA NAMED CAROLINA LEAGUE PITCHER OF THE YEAR
It’s been quite a year for Keys’ pitcher Jake Arrieta who followed up selections as the Keys’ opening day starter, the Carolina League All-Star game starter, an appearance in the Minor League futures game and a victory for the U.S. Olympic bronze medal-winning team, Arrieta was named the Carolina League Pitcher of the Year.
On Wednesday, Arrieta became just the second Keys pitcher to earn such an honor, following Orioles reliever Jim Johnson who was given the prestigious award in 2005. The 22-year-old right-hander went 6-5 with a 2.87 ERA in 20 starts for the Keys this season. Arrieta collected 120 strikeouts over 113 1/3 innings.
Arrieta joins quite a lengthy list of successful pitchers who have won the award including: Dwight Gooden (1983), Randy Myers (1984), Kent Mercker (1988), Charles Nagy (1989), Julian Tavares (1993), Bartolo Colon (1995), Rick Ankiel (1998), Zack Greinke (2003), and Zach Duke (2004) and Keys’ pitching coach Blaine Beatty won the award as an Orioles prospect in 1987 with the Hagerstown Suns two years before the Keys existence.
Arrieta was a third-round draft choice of the Orioles in 2007 and performed very well in the Arizona Fall League last year, tossing 14 consecutive scoreless innings.
DOUBLE-A BOWIE HEADED TO FIRST PLAYOFF APPEARANCE SINCE 1997
With newly named Eastern League Manager of the Year Brad Komminsk at the helm, the Baysox secured their first playoff berth in over 10 years after an 82-55 season and will open the Eastern League Playoffs on September 3 in a best of five series with Akron.
The Playoff Schedule is as follows:
September 3: Akron @ Bowie
September 4: Akron @ Bowie
September 5: Bowie @ Akron
September 6: (if necessary) Bowie @ Akron
September 7: (if necessary) Akron @ Bowie
Should the Baysox advance, the Eastern League Championship Series will take place September 9-13 against the Northern Division Champion.
But the playoffs are really just the icing on the cake for a highly successful season for the Baysox. To go along with Komminsk’s Manager of the Year accolades, the Baysox also list the Eastern League MVP (Lou Montanez) and Pitcher of the Year (Brad Bergesen) on their roster.
Montanez, who was called up to the Orioles on August 5 when centerfielder Adam Jones went in the disabled list with a broken left foot, hit a homerun in his first Major League at-bat and has been making his presence felt with the bat ever since that debut (.356, 7 RBIs). And prior to his call-up, Montanez was having an outstanding year for the Baysox, hitting .335 with 26 homers, 97 RBIs and 90 runs scored in 116 games. Despite not playing for the Baysox since August 4, Montanez is still in the running to win the Triple Crown.
Bergesen, who is giving the Orioles a lot of thought as far as September call-ups are concerned, went 15-5 with a 3.11 ERA in 23 appearances for the Baysox this season. Bergesen began the season with Frederick where he was 1-1 with a 2.08 ERA but stepped in as the ace in Bowie after his April 21st promotion.
The Orioles have already announced that reliever Kam Mickolio and recently optioned starter Radhames Liz will return to the Major League roster on Tuesday, September 2. Baltimore has not yet said who else they expect to call-up, but the announcement is expected to be imminent.
ARIZONA FALL LEAGUE SELECTIONS
The Orioles announced on Friday that they will be sending Bowie right-fielder Nolan Reimold, catcher and top prospect Matt Wieters and shortstop Blake Davis to the Arizona Fall League. Joining them will be Frederick Keys first baseman Brandon Snyder.
Orioles prospect Jake Arrieta has been having quite a season for himself. First impressing at the Class-A level with Frederick, Arrieta was selected to play in the futures game in Yankee Stadium during the All-Star break last month. A week later the right-hander was named to the Olympic team.
Today, Arrieta added one more achievement to his resume when the 22-year-old pitched six shutout innings with seven strikeouts to nab a win for the United States in their 9-1 victory over China in the Olympics.
The U.S. Team is now 3-2 in Olympic play.
— Amanda Comak
After his fourth and what looks to be final start, Dennis Sarfate is likely headed back to the bullpen for the Orioles which means that there may finally be a call-up from the Minor Leagues to fill Sarfate’s slot in the rotation.
None of the decisions have to be immediate, however, as the Orioles have the next three Thursdays off. But with Hayden Penn currently out of the picture — the right-hander got an MRI on his shoulder that revealed no structural damage — the most likely candidate remains Bowie’s Brad Bergesen. Bergesen is 15-3 this season with the Baysox with a 3.00 ERA.
However, with the need for a fifth starter being pushed back now until September, manager Dave Trembley may opt to go back to Radhames Liz who has improved since being sent down to Triple-A Norfolk at the end of July. Liz tossed eight shutout innings on Saturday night with eight strikeouts in a 4-0 victory for the Tides over Charlotte.
In other news for the Tides, former Orioles starter Brian Burres — who had been working as a reliever for Norfolk — makes his first start for the Tides this afternoon.
— Amanda Comak
The Orioles have still not reached a deal with their first-round draft choice, Brian Matusz, leaving them less than two days to get the deal done before the deadline at midnight on August 15.
Struggles signing their top pick are nothing new for the Orioles — last year’s first-round choice Matt Wieters signed his record-breaking deal just minutes before the deadline. Matusz reached out to local media via e-mail on Monday night, as the Baltimore Sun reported, stating that both sides were working hard to get a deal done and thanking Orioles fans for their support.
The Orioles are not alone — only three of this year’s top-10 picks have signed. (No. 1 — Rays’ Tim Beckham, No. 6 — Marlins’ Kyle Skipworth, No. 10 — Astros’ Jason Castro)
Wieters’ deal did get done in time and the catcher has been nothing short of impressive this season. Wieters is batting .353 this season (.345 with Class-A Frederick and .366 with Double-A Bowie) and has a combined 24 homers and 82 RBIs.
Penn Could be Getting Back on Track
Hayden Penn, the Orioles pitching prospect who has been on the verge of a call-up several times this season but suffered injuries or setbacks prior to each official promotion, got some good news on Wednesday.
After his last start was skipped due to shoulder soreness, Penn is tentatively scheduled to start Monday night for Triple-A Norfolk.
— Amanda Comak
THREE KEYS PITCHERS COMBINE FOR NO-HITTER IN FREDERICK
Brandon Erbe, Ryan Ouellette and Fredy Deza each turned in no-hit performances on Tuesday night against the Salem Avalanche, resulting in the Keys’ first combined no-hitter since 2006. It was the fifth no-hitter in club history, the last one coming by way of a combination of Radhames Liz, Russ Patrick, Jeff Montsani and Casey Cahill.
Erbe, a local prospect from nearby Owings Mills, Md., threw six innings, walking three and striking out seven. Ouellette, who came in after Erbe, was unable to make it out of the seventh — struggling but not allowing a hit — leaving having hit a batter, walked two and gotten a ground ball out. Deza came on to induce an inning-ending double play and then retired Salem’s final six batters all via the ground ball to seal the no-hitter.
Erbe improved to 9-2 with a 4.29 ERA
If the Orioles were expecting their top prospect to hit any stumbling blocks at all this season they’ve been sorely disappointed as the headlines continue to pour in on the outstanding performances being turned in by catcher Matt Wieters.
Wieters, the Orioles 2007 first-round draft pick, turned in another stellar performance in Bowie Friday night as the switch-hitting catcher homered twice and knocked in a career-high six runs in Bowie’s 10-1 victory over the New Britain Rock Cats.
Wieters impressed everyone in Class-A Frederick, where he began this season — his first full professional season — and has yet to make it look any harder after being promoted to Double-A in late June. Since joining the Baysox, Wieters is hitting a team-best .368 in 41 games and has driven in 39 runs with 9 homers.
With so many of their prospects making headlines with their impressive play in the Minor Leagues the Orioles will likely be faced with some tough decisions come September when the rosters expand.
Prior to the Orioles 9-1 victory over the Rangers Friday night manager Dave Trembley echoed those sentiments but reiterated the point that the team has not yet decided who will be rewarded for their play with a September call-up.
“We have not gotten to a point where we’ve decided who’s coming up here in September and what’s going to happen in September,” Trembley said, attempting to put to rest questioning on the subject.
— Amanda Comak
Still in search of a starter for Tuesday’s game against the Angels, the Orioles most likely option, Triple-A Norfolk’s Hayden Penn, saw his chances take a hit on Saturday.
Penn threw 31 pitches and was pulled after just 2/3 of an inning in the Tides’ 7-0 loss to Richmond on Saturday night. Penn allowed three runs, one of them earned, but couldn’t get out of the first, hampered by a cut on his left leg that was suffered during the game’s first at-bat. Richmond leadoff hitter Josh Anderson hit a broken-bat grounder back to Penn, who fielded the ball cleanly for the out, but the pitcher was hit with part of the broken bat and sustained the cut to the inside of his leg.
After getting treatment from the trainers Penn stayed in the game, facing six more batters, but was able to record just one more out.
Prior to Sunday’s finale with the Mariners the Orioles had still not announced the starter for Tuesday, likely deciding between Penn and Double-A Bowie hurler Bradley Bergesen, but it is unknown how Penn’s injury will affect his chances for a call-up. Penn is 5-7 with a 5.40 ERA this season at Norfolk.
— Amanda Comak