Baysox's Wilson, O's form good marriage

Savvy lefty proposed at Camden Yards before acquisition

Wings on tear


Minor-League Baseball

June 12, 2000|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,SUN STAFF

Last Oct. 3, with the Orioles playing their final home game at Camden Yards, Jeff Wilson became engaged to his fiancee, Susan.

Then an Arizona Diamondbacks farmhand, Wilson didn't know that he was soon to become Orioles property.

"The mascot came by and gave her two dozen roses and everything," said the Bowie Baysox left-hander, who ranks seventh in the Double-A Eastern League with a 2.72 ERA. "Two months after that, the Orioles took me in the Rule 5 draft. It was ironic, almost eerie."

Wilson was pleased with that development because he felt he was languishing in the Arizona system and as a North Carolina resident, he saw it as his chance to come back east after spending most of the previous two seasons at High Desert in the Single-A California League.

"I felt like I was stuck in A ball and I didn't foresee myself going any higher," said Wilson, who turned 24 last month. "So many other left-handers were ahead of me, so I'm ecstatic to be here."

There is nothing crafty about Wilson, who was drafted in the 29th round out of Elon (N.C.) College. He is not a fireballer and must keep his sinker and slider down to be effective.

"He's just got a feel for pitching," said Baysox manager Andy Etchebarren. "He's got decent numbers and probably could have had two or three more wins."

"From the beginning, he has thrown strikes," said Bowie pitching coach Dave Schmidt. "There's nothing tricky about him; he just throws basic stuff. But he has a feel for changing speeds and can read batters pretty well. He knows when they're out front of pitches or behind them."

Wilson, whose style is remindful of Jamie Moyer's, needed a brief break recently because he is unaccustomed to pitching so many innings this early in the season. He was primarily a reliever until converted to the High Desert rotation last June. As a starter, he went 7-3 with a 3.71 ERA, excellent numbers for a renowned hit-happy league.

"I've had to learn how to pitch," he said. "If a guy gets a hit off a good pitch, more power to him. I don't try to get too wrapped up in it. I just go about my business."

Triple-A Rochester

After going 6-16 on the road, the Red Wings unleashed a four-game winning streak for the first time this season to reach respectability away from Frontier Field.

Javier de la Hoya has raised his record to 19-5 over the past two seasons with a 6-1 mark this year. He is second in the International League with a 2.61 ERA. ... Hector Ramirez, a member of the 1997 Governor's Cup squad, was activated and earned a save in his first appearance. ... Starter Josh Towers is expected back from the disabled list this week after missing two starts with a sore shoulder. He is 5-3. ... Howie Clark has raised his average from .184 to .295 in two weeks, did not strike out in 33 at-bats and fanned only once in 55. He has been playing right field with Wady Almonte nursing a rib cage injury. ... Calvin Pickering struck out 61 times in his first 169 at-bats and has committed 12 errors in a third of a season.

Double-A Bowie

The Baysox fell on hard times, undergoing a season-long six-game losing streak while batting .140 with runners in scoring position. Etchebarren reshuffled his lineup, moving Eddie Garabito to leadoff and Luis Matos to second and dropping Darnell McDonald to sixth. ... After tonight, the team will have only 10 road dates before the All-Star Game at Prince George's Stadium on July 12. ... Juan Guzman is 4-1 with a 1.56 ERA in his past six starts and didn't allow an earned run in his last outing.

Single-A Frederick

Four Keys were chosen to the Carolina League all-star team that faces the California League all-stars in Kinston, N.C., June 20. The starters include infielder Richard Paz (league-leading .472 on-base percentage) and outfielder Papy Ndungidi (among the top five in six offensive categories). Brian Rust (league-high .588 slugging percentage) was named as a utility player and John Stephens (league-leading 1.88 ERA) to the pitching staff. Stephens' participation is questionable because of an injured hip. Ken Sims has taken his place in the rotation temporarily. ... Frederick could clinch the first-half title in the Northern Division on its current road trip. The magic number was seven entering the weekend.

Single-A Delmarva

Two red-hot hitters, Keith Reed and Napolean Calzado, and left-hander Randy Perez will represent the Shorebirds in the South Atlantic League All-Star Game on June 20 in Charleston, S.C. In the past 51 games, Reed and Calzado have combined for a .316 average with 12 homers and 84 RBIs. Perez chalked up 63 strikeouts in his first 67 1/3 innings. ... In 104 2/3 innings, the three major members of the bullpen - Matt Schwager, Travis Fleming and Sean Jones - have struck out 108 batters. ... Willie Harris leads the league in runs scored and is second in triples. ... Erik Bedard, a converted reliever, has zoomed into fourth in the league ERA race after being placed in the rotation.

Single-A Hagerstown

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