No titles, but Orioles' system took strides Players made progress

teams were respectable

Minor-league wrap-up

September 11, 1998|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,SUN STAFF

Orioles affiliates did not challenge for any league titles this season, but that doesn't mean the farm system had a down year.

"I think a lot of players made tremendous progress to advance to higher leagues," said Syd Thrift, Orioles director of player development.

"All the teams were respectable and I think this year we did a better job of developing more real prospects. I'm very pleased to see them growing."

Next season, for the first time in many years, the strength of the minor-league organization should be at or near the top. No longer will Rochester -- and to a lesser degree Bowie -- have to depend heavily on retreads and fill-ins.

The Triple-A team probably will receive such notables as Calvin Pickering, Ryan Minor, Jerry Hairston and Gabe Molina in 1999, giving it a nucleus of young, in-house draftees with outstanding credentials.

The Red Wings should have a stellar infield to build upon with Pickering, Minor, Hairston, Augie Ojeda, Jesse Garcia and David Lamb.

"They'll come in a gang next year and make the Triple-A picture totally different," said Thrift.

The Orioles system produced five playoff teams and three league champions in 1997, but its real strength was at the lower levels (Delmarva and Bluefield).

Only the Shorebirds even reached postseason play this year. A summary of the top four farm teams:

Rochester Red Wings

Manager: Marv Foley

League: Triple-A International

Record: 70-74

Finish: Fourth in North Division

Attendance: 515,436 (regular-season record)

Top hitter: 2B P. J. Forbes (.294)

Top slugger: 3B Willis Otanez (27 HR, 100 RBIs)

Top starters: Joel Bennett (10-0, 3.64 ERA, since claimed by Philadelphia on waivers), Terry Burrows (9-6, 2.92 ERA led league), Rocky Coppinger (8-3, 3.50 ERA)

Top reliever: Bobby Munoz (3-1, 1.06 ERA, 19 saves)

Top prospects: P Chris Fussell, Coppinger, Otanez, OF Danny Clyburn, IF David Lamb

Bowie Baysox

Manager: Joe Ferguson

League: Double-A Eastern

Record: 71-71

Finish: Fourth in Southern Division

Attendance: 400,058

Top hitter: 1B Calvin Pickering (.309)

Top slugger: Pickering (31 HR and 114 RBIs, both led league)

Top starters: Matt Snyder (9-6, 4.35 ERA) and Rich Kelley (8-2, 3.71 ERA)

Top reliever: Gabe Molina (3-2, 3.36 ERA, club-record 24 saves)

Top prospects: Pickering, 3B Ryan Minor, 2B Jerry Hairston, Molina, SSAugie Ojeda, Snyder)

Frederick Keys

Manager: Tommy Shields

League: Single-A Carolina

Record: 64-76

Finish: Third in Northern Division first half; Last in second half

Attendance: 301,760

Top hitter: Rick Short (.308)

Top slugger: IF Chris Bryant (13 HR, 81 RBIs) and IF Ivanon Coffie (16 HR, 75 RBIs)

Top starters: Josh McNatt (11-8, 3.15 ERA), Josh Towers (8-7, 3.34 ERA, 9 BB, 122 K's in 145 1/3 IP) and Chad Paronto (7-6, 3.13 ERA)

Top reliever: Mike Bell (7-4, 2.69 ERA, 7 saves)

Top prospects: P Brian Falkenborg, Coffie, IF Carlos Casimiro, C Chip Alley, McNatt

Delmarva Shorebirds

Manager: Dave Machemer

League: Single-A South Atlantic

Record: 81-61

Finish: Won Northern Division second half; lost in first round of playoffs to Hagerstown

Attendance: 295,938

Top hitter: 3B Richard Paz (.320)

Top slugger: 1B Franky Figueroa (13 HR, 94 RBIs)

Top starters: Matt Riley (5-4, 1.19 ERA, 136 K's in 83 IP), Jay Spurgeon (11-3, 2.64 ERA)

Top reliever: Derek Brown (3-4, 1.85 ERA, 33 saves)

Top prospects: Riley, Spurgeon, Brown, OF Darnell McDonald, C Jayson Werth

Pub Date: 9/11/98

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