Batting .351, Delmarva's Ascencion is a hit

Shorebirds left fielder shows improvement as accolades keep rolling in

Notebook

Minor League Baseball

April 26, 2004|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

Being named the Orioles' Most Improved Player at their minor league camp this spring was an unexpected honor for left fielder Quincy Ascencion, who was grouped with Double-A players after being demoted to short-season Single-A Aberdeen in 2003.

His spring training experience could have been woeful, but it turned into something much better - to the delight of an organization that kept waiting for his skills to take hold.

"He should have been overmatched and [in] over his head, but every time I looked at a game report, it would say that he had two more hits," said Doc Rodgers, director of minor league operations. "Then I'd see a player making a diving catch in left field and it would be Quincy."

His resurgence can't be explained by the Florida climate.

Through 12 games, Ascencion is batting .351 for Single-A Delmarva, and he's drawing raves throughout the minor league system.

During a recent batting practice, Aberdeen manager Don Buford, who is working with the outfielders until the IronBirds' season begins, singled out Ascencion as someone deserving of more recognition on a team where high-round draft picks such as Adam Loewen, Brian Finch, Chris Ray and Nick Markakis garner most of the attention.

"He was our most improved player in spring training," Rodgers said, "and he just keeps going and going."

Though he has been in the organization for five years, Ascencion won't turn 22 until November. He missed the 2000 season with a shoulder injury, and he didn't hit higher than .236 until last year.

The Orioles assigned him to Aberdeen last season, but a 2-for-30 start in nine games earned him a ticket to Rookie-level Bluefield. Ascencion continued to struggle, going 3-for-35 in his first nine games before hitting .410 in the next 23. His average reached .314, but an 0-for-13 finish left him at .282.

Slow starts were nothing new, which makes his early success this year all the more impressive. Ascencion hit .146 in his first 11 games at Delmarva in 2002 and later was sent to extended spring training before joining Bluefield.

Perhaps he's finally ready to move upward in the system.

"He's a great kid," Rodgers said. "He always has this big smile on his face. The entire organization is like, `Please stay healthy. Please stay healthy.' "

Triple-A Ottawa

The Lynx are a half game out of last place in the North Division of the International League. ... Ottawa set a franchise record for runs in Saturday's 18-11 win over Buffalo. The Lynx's 22 hits were two shy of another record. Catcher Robert Machado went 4-for-4 with two walks and five RBIs. Mike Fontenot was 4-for-5 with three RBIs. ... Ottawa pitchers walked 16, including a franchise-record 12 by Joe Gannon in three innings, during Friday's 11-5 loss to Buffalo. Gannon, a knuckleballer, had four wild pitches, and catcher Geronimo Gil was charged with four passed balls. ... Outfielder Pedro Swann began the weekend ranked second in the league with a .435 average. He built an eight-game hitting streak that included eight RBIs. He was 10-for-16 with runners on base, and 7-for-10 with runners in scoring position. ... Carlos Mendez and Eddy Garabito hit their first home runs in Tuesday's 4-2 loss to Syracuse. ... Joey Hammond drove in four runs in Wednesday's 10-7 loss, and had a two-run double Friday. ... In two innings of Wednesday's game, Mike Paradis allowed three runs and two hits, and walked four. ... Reliever Eddy Rodriguez threw 2 2/3 perfect innings Thursday to get the win.

Double-A Bowie

The Baysox (9-7) moved into first place in the Eastern League's South Division with yesterday's 5-3 win over Portland. ... Daniel Cabrera twice reached 99 mph on the Prince George's Stadium radar gun Friday while throwing five shutout innings against Portland. He struck out seven but didn't get the decision in Bowie's 3-2 win, which became official when Kris Wilken scored in the ninth on Ed Rogers' bunt single. ... Catcher Eli Whiteside came off the disabled list Friday and went 1-for-4. In his second game, he homered to lead Bowie to a 5-1 win over Portland. Cory Morris tossed five no-hit innings, walking five and striking out seven. ... Outfielder Val Majewski was batting .429 during an eight-game hitting streak that ended Friday. ... Rogers extended his hitting streak to five games Saturday. ... Walter Young hit his first Double-A homer Tuesday in a 5-4 loss to Altoona - a two-run shot off Crofton native and former Baysox pitcher Brandon Agamennone. Young hit another homer on Friday. ... Wilken had struck out at least once in eight straight games before yesterday. ... Dave Crouthers threw five scoreless innings Wednesday in a 7-5 victory over Altoona. ... Saturday's game drew 10,471, the second-largest April crowd in stadium history.

Single-A Frederick

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