Maine outgrowing competition fast in first two stops

O's sixth-round pick, promoted to Shorebirds, still overpowers hitters

Minor-league notebook

Baseball

August 12, 2002|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

The New York-Penn League wasn't big enough to hold John Maine. And after two starts with the Delmarva Shorebirds, it's becoming apparent that the Single-A South Atlantic League might have the same size issue.

The Orioles promoted Maine, their sixth-round draft pick in June, after four appearances with the Aberdeen IronBirds. The first 11 outs he recorded with Cal Ripken's team came on strikeouts, and he left with a 1-1 record and 1.74 ERA in 10 1/3 innings, including three walks and 21 strikeouts.

A change of venue hasn't changed his results. In 10 innings with the Shorebirds, Maine hadn't allowed an earned run while permitting seven hits, walking one and striking out 10.

"He's just got an outstanding arm," said Aberdeen pitching coach Scott McGregor, who pitched for the Orioles from 1976 to 1988. "It's a live, loose arm. He's got great velocity with movement on his fastball. He also has a very good slider and a sharp breaking ball.

"The problem here was nobody could hit it and he had to strike everybody out. That's a tough problem."

The Orioles took Maine, 21, with the 166th overall selection out of UNC-Charlotte. Being careful with his arm, they put him in the IronBirds' bullpen rather than in the rotation to build innings gradually. Maine decided to quicken the pace by striking out nine batters in three relief innings, and the first two he faced as a starter.

McGregor noted that Maine's fastball topped out at 93 mph at Aberdeen, and said, "I imagine he'll end up throwing 95." He also compared Maine's grip on his curveball to Mike Mussina's, "with the finger up."

Maine, who's listed at 6 feet 4, 190 pounds, was so dominant in the New York-Penn League that McGregor suggested he limit the use of his changeup because it was the only pitch batters actually could catch up to.

In his Delmarva debut, Maine allowed an unearned run and struck out five in five innings. He left with a 3-1 lead but didn't get the decision in the Shorebirds' 4-3 loss.

"He's been a good kid. He's real calm on the mound. He's really under control of his emotions. He doesn't panic," McGregor said.

"If all goes well, I think we'll be seeing him in the big leagues for a long time."

Triple-A Rochester

A 12-game losing streak, the longest in Red Wings history, ended with Tuesday's 12-3 victory over Syracuse. They hadn't won since July 23 in Toledo. General manager Dan Mason spent six nights in a tent in the home bullpen at Frontier Field, vowing to stay there until Rochester won. Pitchers Lee Marshall and Rafael Pina carried him out of there after the game, and the Red Wings purchased a cruise for his family. The 12 straight losses tied the franchise record set in 1920 by the Rochester Hustlers. ... First baseman Franky Figueroa had three of Rochester's 18 hits on Tuesday, including a home run. Figueroa also homered in Thursday's loss to Syracuse and recorded his fourth multi-hit game in the past five games since arriving from Single-A Frederick on Aug. 2. ... Howie Clark went 1-for-3 with a double in his first game since the Orioles optioned him. ... Jay Spurgeon (4-12) made an emergency start on Friday when the Red Wings determined that Josh Towers couldn't pitch because of a sore right elbow. Spurgeon allowed nine runs (seven earned) and 11 hits in 5 1/3 innings in a 10-5 loss to Ottawa. ... Darnell McDonald returned to the Red Wings on Tuesday -- he was sidelined since July 29 with a shoulder injury -- and doubled in his first at-bat. He also homered on Friday. ... Jacobo Sequea was promoted from Double-A Bowie despite being 1-6 with a 5.40 ERA. He came to the Orioles along with B.J. Ryan from the Cincinnati Reds in the Juan Guzman trade in 1999.

Double-A Bowie

In Friday's 11-0 loss to Akron, the Baysox were held to two hits over 4 2/3 innings by former major-league pitcher Dave Burba, who recently signed with the Cleveland Indians after being released by the Texas Rangers. ... Mike Paradis allowed eight runs (five earned) and seven hits in 1 2/3 innings in Friday's loss. He also walked two. ... Matt Riley became Bowie's all-time leader in career innings when he passed Matt Snyder (290) in Thursday's 6-1 loss to Akron. ... Luis Matos prevented a shutout on Thursday when he homered on a two-out, two-strike pitch in the ninth inning. Matos also hit two homers last Monday in a 10-2 win over Harrisburg. ... Beau Hale allowed one earned run and seven hits in five innings of Monday's victory. ... Juan Figueroa fell to 0-4 on Wednesday, allowing three earned runs and eight hits in seven innings in the Baysox's 4-3 loss to Harrisburg.

Single-A Frederick

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