At center of system, it's musical chairs Bowers' Rochester call-up starts shuffle in outfield

June 26, 1996|By Jason LaCanfora | Jason LaCanfora,SUN STAFF

There's a center-field shuffle going on in the Orioles' minor-league system.

It started when Brent Bowers was called up to Rochester.

Bowers, 25, wasn't considered much of a prospect when the Orioles signed the free agent last November, but he played his way from Double-A Bowie to Triple-A Rochester. Bowers, a leadoff hitter, has earned the starting center-field job with the Red Wings, having hit .378 since arriving there.

But when the Orioles sent Jeffrey Hammonds to Rochester, manager Davey Johnson said it was with the intention that Hammonds would get some time in center. Hammonds has played left field and designated hitter since joining the Red Wings, although he's expected to be in center field soon.

Then there was the matter of Bowers' spot with Bowie.

First, David Dellucci was called up from Frederick during the Single-A All-Star break. Dellucci crushed Double-A pitching in four games, going 7-for-17 (.412) with five doubles and four RBIs. But Dellucci, who leads the Carolina League with a .335 average, went back to Frederick and Rolando Avila came up from Single-A High Desert.

Avila is hitting .333 (6-for-18) with two doubles, a home run and four RBIs since joining the Baysox, and was named the team's permanent center fielder.

Jarvis Brown was released by Rochester to make room for Bowers and Hammonds. Brown had played center for the Red Wings, but had hit just .211 with four homers and 19 RBIs in 56 games.

Ponson's numbers healthy

Right-handed pitcher Sidney Ponson, 19, appears to have recovered from off-season knee surgery.

The native of the Caribbean island of Aruba was supposed to start the year with the Single-A Frederick Keys, but instead spent April and May in extended spring training, rehabilitating after the surgery. Since joining the Keys, Ponson has gone 3-1 in five games (four starts) with a 0.87 ERA.

His control has been sharp. He has struck out 35 and walked five, and opponents are hitting .194 against him. Ponson was just as good last year for Bluefield in the rookie-level Appalachian League, striking out 56 and walking 16 in 77 2/3 innings.

Maduro Double-A All-Star

Ponson isn't the only Aruban pitcher succeeding in the Orioles' minor-league system.

Bowie pitcher Calvin Maduro, one of six Arubans drafted by the Orioles since 1991, will pitch in the Double-A All-Star Game. He is 7-6 with a 2.81 ERA and is tied for first in the Eastern League with 99 1/3 innings pitched. He's also first in the league with four complete games, and has three shutouts.

Maduro is the Baysox's only representative in the Double-A All-Star Game, to be played July 8 in Trenton, N.J., and televised on ESPN2.

Miscellaneous

Esteban Yan has fallen out of the Red Wings' starting rotation. Yan is 2-1 with a 5.04 ERA since being demoted after pitching one inning for the Orioles. . . . Reliever Todd Frohwirth was signed to address the Orioles' lack of right-handed pitching depth, but he's 0-1 with a 6.01 ERA with the Red Wings. . . . Catcher Melvin Rosario, acquired from the Padres earlier this year, is 0-for-14 since being called up to Bowie.

Pub Date: 6/26/96

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