Long term, O's thinking short work for Crouthers

Baysox starter is headed for bullpen in fall league

Minor league notebook

Baseball

September 06, 2004|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

If David Crouthers expects any perks after making the Double-A Eastern League's All-Star team, being chosen its Player of the Week and combining with two relievers on a no-hitter, he'll have to find them in the bullpen.

When the Orioles send Crouthers to the Arizona Fall League, they want him pitching in relief to limit his innings and become accustomed to a possible change in roles.

Though he could join Triple-A Ottawa's rotation next season, Crouthers is projected as a late-inning specialist.

"He has closer stuff," said Doc Rodgers, director of minor league operations. "Typically, major league relievers were starters in the minors and make the transition. We want to keep our options open."

Crouthers, 24, throws a mid-90s fastball, a power slider and a changeup that Rodgers rates as "average." After a slow start, he went 9-9 with 138 strikeouts in 139 2/3 innings at Bowie.

In recent back-to-back outings, Crouthers went 1-0 with a 0.69 ERA and 11 strikeouts in 13 innings. He was named Player of the Week after pitching seven hitless innings Aug. 19.

Crouthers' final start came Saturday, when he lasted five innings in a 4-3 win over Norwich. He didn't allow a hit to 13 straight batters.

Rodgers noted that Crouthers, a third-round pick in the 2001 draft out of Southern Illinois, seemed to lose confidence in the second half before regaining his swagger.

"He kind of gets out of whack and starts throwing instead of pitching," Rodgers said. "When he pitches, he can be pretty impressive."

He almost pitched for another organization this year. The Orioles agreed to trade Crouthers and outfielder Val Majewski to the Florida Marlins last winter for first baseman Derrek Lee, but the deal fell through when they couldn't get Lee to sign a long-term contract. Not interested in just renting Lee for a season, the Orioles held onto both prospects. They purchased Majewski's contract last month. Crouthers could be closing for them one day.

Triple-A Ottawa

Outfielder Chad Mottola was named the Lynx's Most Valuable Player. He had 22 homers and 68 RBIs before yesterday. ... Ottawa was 65-77 going into its last two games, both on the road, after making the playoffs last year. ... Rick Bauer went 3-5 with the Lynx, winning his last start Saturday, 9-3, over Buffalo. ... John Maine, scheduled to start yesterday, was 1-0 with an 0.82 ERA in his previous two outings. ... Mike Fontenot ranked second in the International League with 10 triples going into the weekend.

Double-A Bowie

The Baysox are assured of having a winning record. They were 72-68 before yesterday, with two games left. ... Keith Reed, a first-round draft pick in 1999, had three hits Saturday to raise his average to .296. ... Shortstop Brandon Fahey took a seven-game hitting streak into the weekend. He was batting .440 during that stretch. ... Walter Young hit his 32nd homer late last month to pass Calvin Pickering for first place on Bowie's single-season list. ... Jacobo Sequea broke Gabe Molina's single-season saves record of 24 at Bowie. ... Tony Mota was suspended for 15 games for using a banned supplement, the third player in the farm system this year to be punished for the same violation.

Single-A Frederick

The Keys were 31-37 in the second half before yesterday, a marked improvement from the first half. They were 51-86 overall. ... The Orioles shut down left-hander Richard Stahl because of recurring back spasms but hoped to have him available for the Arizona Fall League. ... Tripper Johnson, named to the Carolina League's postseason All-Star team, hit his 21st homer Thursday. Gera Alvarez homered twice and drove in four runs. ... Cory Morris picked up his first career save Tuesday.

Single-A Delmarva

The Shorebirds were 68-68 before yesterday. ... Jeff Fiorentino hit his 10th homer last week and had four hits and two RBIs in Saturday's 7-4 loss to Kannapolis. ... A crowd of 10,255 watched Thursday's 2-0 loss to Lakewood.

Short-season Aberdeen

The IronBirds went 35-40 this season, losing their last four games to drop five under .500 for the first time. The IronBirds started 17-9. ... Ryan Schwabe had a 1.06 ERA in three starts with the IronBirds. ... Reliever John Haehnel, who suffered his first loss Thursday, was named Aberdeen's Most Valuable Player after going 3-1 with 16 saves and a 1.21 ERA. He walked 11 and struck out 61 in 37 1/3 innings.

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