Tinkering revs up Manley's batting

Altered mechanics help Shorebirds first baseman hit .522, earn league honor

Minor-League Baseball

Notebook

July 08, 2002|By Bill Free and Roch Kubatko | Bill Free and Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

Adam Manley was on his way to becoming just another minor-league baseball bust this season for the Delmarva Shorebirds before manager Joe Ferguson stepped in and took a gamble with the 23 year-old first baseman's career.

Ferguson decided to change Manley's mechanics at the plate, a move that paid off last week in Manley's crushing the ball at a .522 clip.

The sudden hitting tear (12-for-23) earned him the honor of Single-A South Atlantic League Player of the Week from June 28 to July 4.

Manley raised his batting average from .234 to .260, prompting Ferguson to project a move up to the Single-A Frederick Keys for the Missouri Valley College alumnus next season "if he continues to do it at the plate."

Certainly, Ferguson isn't expecting Manley to hit over .500 the remainder of the season, and he said it's too soon to label the left-handed "line-drive gap" hitter a major-league prospect.

"If he is doing this at the Double-A level, I'd say he was a definite major-league prospect," Ferguson said. "He is very athletic, has a strong arm and is a real versatile player being able to play all three outfield positions in addition to first base."

Manley, 6 feet 2, didn't arrive in the Orioles' system as a highly regarded player; he was a 24th-round draft pick in 2001.

He is a late bloomer out of a so-so college baseball program, according to Ferguson, and hit only a combined .174 with three teams (the Rookie-level Gulf Coast Orioles, Rookie-level Bluefield Orioles and Delmarva) last season.

After Manley continued to struggle this season, Ferguson reconstructed his approach to hitting and had to be patient while the Lakewood, Wash., native regressed while trying to implement the mechanics.

"Sometimes you have to take a step back," Ferguson said. "It's hard to think about body parts [mechanics] and hitting at the same time since hitting is the hardest single thing to do in sports. After he learned the mechanics, we told him to `put that aside and just go hit.' "

So what was all this mechanics instruction about?

"It's something we do in the organization and keep it there," Ferguson said. "I'd tell you if you had to go up and hit for us."

Triple-A Rochester

Josh Towers, who began the season in the Orioles' rotation, was scheduled to leave the disabled list yesterday and start against Ottawa. ... John Stephens improved to 11-4 with Tuesday's win over Buffalo, and he had lots of offensive support. The Red Wings' 17 runs were their most since May 7, 2000, and their 20 hits were their most since July 20, 1997. Catcher Mike Hubbard hit his first home run, a grand slam. ... Last month was kind to some of the Red Wings. Howie Clark batted .349 in June. Darryl Brinkley hit.336 and had a 16-game hitting streak. Luis de los Santos batted .333 with four homers. ... Infielder Joey Hammond was hit on the left shin by a pitch from Dave Maurer but didn't miss a game, which was fortunate. The Red Wings were short-handed, with Luis Lopez nursing a hamstring injury. ... Mike Moriarty, the Orioles' utility infielder on Opening Day, had 12 hits in 16 at-bats over six games.

Double-A Bowie

Tim Corcoran was activated from the disabled list to replace left-hander Erik Bedard, who went on the DL with a slightly torn ligament in his elbow. ... Reliever Jeff Wilson will replace Bedard in the Double-A All-Star Game.

Wilson, 26, entered the weekend at 2-2 with a 2.32 ERA and six saves in 50 1/3 innings. He walked 18 and struck out 52. Wilson was mostly a starter his first two seasons in Bowie, but 26 of his first 28 appearances this year came in relief. ... Mike Paradis, the 13th overall pick in the 1999 draft, fell to 3-9 with Tuesday's 6-2 loss to Akron. The defeat was his fourth in a row. ... The Baysox defeated Akron, 4-3, on Wednesday when Doug Gredvig hit a three-run homer in the eighth inning. Gredvig, whose struggles during the past two weeks had lowered his average to .276, also won Saturday's game over Harrisburg with a three-run double in the fifth inning. ... Shortstop Ed Rogers hit his first homer in 22 games Tuesday. ... Left-hander Matt Riley was impressive in Thursday's 2-1 loss to Harrisburg. He allowed two runs and five hits in six innings.

Single-A Frederick

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