A Triple-A Bowie could put Aberdeen in game Ripken's hometown tops possible Single-A sites

July 30, 1996|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,SUN STAFF

Maryland Baseball Partnership's quest to put the Orioles' Triple-A farm club in Bowie may have a residual effect for the Baltimore area.

If that goal is realized, Maryland Baseball CEO Peter Kirk said his group probably will need to build another ballpark to realize the dream of placing all the upper levels of the Orioles' system within state borders.

And the leading early candidate for that stadium, probably to house a Single-A franchise, is Aberdeen, the home of Cal Ripken.

"A group there has expressed the most interest," said Kirk.

But with the Triple-A expansion committee moving slowly, Kirk is concerned that there won't be sufficient time to construct a new facility before the 1998 season -- when the major leagues (and thus Triple-A) expand by two teams.

Kirk said the "committee is mulling where they stand" and that if the time span is insufficient, a new club may wind up playing one season at Memorial Stadium -- as the Baysox did.

The Orioles' role in the scenario is uncertain, although their baseball administrators have expressed great interest in Bowie. Kirk will not accept the franchise if it is not aligned with the Orioles.

The front-runners for the two expansion teams are Bowie and Durham, N.C., which dropped out, then reapplied after the Tampa Bay Devil Rays agreed to supply 25 percent of the upfront costs, making it a joint venture.

Bowie's Prince George's Stadium passed with flying colors when the expansion committee conducted a recent inspection of the facility. No surprise there.

Now it is "a matter of having the planets align properly," said Kirk.

Close race for honors

Last summer, the Orioles' minor-league pitcher of the year was an easy choice (Rocky Coppinger) and the player of the year (Scott McClain) only a little tougher.

This summer, with the upper-level clubs struggling, there are no clear-cut choices. The leading player candidates appear to be at the Single-A level, with High Desert third baseman Mike Berry slightly ahead of the pack.

Berry leads the California League in hitting, doubles and on-base percentage and is second in RBIs. He had a stretch of 65 consecutive games in which he reached base.

The Mavericks also have first baseman Chris Kirgan with 20 homers and 82 RBIs and outfielder Bryan Bogle with 18 homers and a .307 average.

Frederick can offer outfielder Johnny Isom, who is battling for the Carolina League RBI lead, and third baseman Rick Short, .317 with a 23-game hitting streak.

Brent Bowers, a former Toronto Blue Jays farmhand, has had a good year split between Bowie and Rochester.

The pitcher of the year honor seems a choice between Calvin Maduro, Bowie's only all-star and now at Rochester, and Nerio Rodriguez, a converted catcher fighting for the Carolina League ERA title.

Around the horn

Rochester is in a four-way scramble for two International League playoff spots, but the Red Wings' schedule may hurt them. They play 25 of their last 34 on the road, where they are 18-29. That stretch begins with a weekend series at first-place Pawtuckut, where they are 0-6. . . . Brian Sackinsky has won his first three Red Wing starts since his latest stint on the disabled list with arm trouble. . . . C B. J. Waszgis played five games at first base last week while Billy Owens, who is in a 2-for-33 slump, had his right knee drained.

Pub Date: 7/30/96

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