Keys' Bartee gets speed on base

August 24, 1994|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,Sun Staff Writer

Although Curtis Goodwin will justifiably argue, Frederick Keys center fielder Kimera Bartee is considered the fastest player in the Orioles organization.

Getting him to first base was the problem. After April, Bartee was on a pace to strike out 250 times and was batting .180. His speed was no good on the bench.

"I was flustered. I didn't think I belonged in this league," said Bartee, who hit .246 with 66 strikeouts in 264 at-bats at Bluefield (Rookie) last summer.

Now, the Omaha, Neb., native is thriving in the Single-A Carolina League with a .287 average and is second in the league with 88 runs scored and 41 steals.

"His hitting has been a pleasant surprise," said Keys manager Mike O'Berry. "We didn't expect this kind of offensive year from him. I think he was just trying too hard to impress people early. He didn't have to do it all in one month."

Bartee is strong defensively, using his fleetness to run down fly balls on both sides and improving his arm with work.

He said his progress at the plate can be attributed to "simply watching the ball. I wasn't doing it. I had no chance to hit anything outside. I wasn't protecting the plate."

His next chore is to learn how to read pitchers' moves when he reaches base.

"Basically, I'm just outrunning the ball to second now," he said. "God gave me the speed, and for the most part, I'm on my own when it comes to running. Luckily, I know when not to try stealing."

Home run, as promised

Rochester outfielder Jim Wawruck is not in the class of Babe Ruth or Mo Vaughn when it comes to slugging, but, like the other two, he delivered as promised.

In a game against Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Wawruck told Rebeka Schiess, 7, who is blind and confined to a wheelchair, that he would hit a home run for her.

The two had become acquainted earlier when Wawruck gave her a ball autographed by all the Red Wings and the girl responded with a homemade thank-you card.

In the seventh inning, Wawruck homered into a section near where the girl was sitting. It was his 21st homer in four professional seasons.

Attendance boost

During the first two months, when the nomadic Bowie Baysox were playing at four home sites, their attendance averaged less than 600, by far the lowest in the Eastern League.

Prince George's County Stadium has made a world of difference.

In the first 30 dates at their new park, the Baysox averaged 7,051 fans, including six crowds of 10,000 or better.

They have climbed to fourth in the league with an average of 3,969 and could finish as high as second to Portland, Maine.

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