Figueroa paces Delmarva's hot start


Shorebirds' leadoff hitter leads team to 7-3 mark

Ottawa's Castro on a roll

Minor league notebook

July 04, 2005|By Pat O'Malley | Pat O'Malley,SUN STAFF

The addition of ninth-round draft choice Paco Figueroa as a leadoff man and improved pitching and defense have the Delmarva Shorebirds off to a 7-3 start in the second half of the Single-A South Atlantic League.

"We have a much better ballclub than we had in the first half," said manager Gary Kendall, whose Shorebirds were 30-40 in the first half of the league's split schedule of 140 games.

The Shorebirds were tied for first in the Northern Division with the Lakewood (N.J.) BlueClaws and the Hickory (N.C.) Crawdads going into yesterday's games.

Delmarva has won five games in a row and hosts first-half winner, the Hagerstown Suns, a New York Mets affiliate, today for the start of a three-game series. The Suns have started the second half 3-6.

"We're better because we're catching the ball, swinging the bat and Paco gives us the leadoff man we needed," said Kendall.

"Paco is a very versatile player. We've had him in center, left and second base since he signed after the June draft. He could have a lot of utility value as he develops."

Figueroa was the 273rd selection, and is no relation to Frederick manager Bien Figueroa. Figueroa is batting .306 (11-for-36) with six runs scored in the first nine games.

Luis Ramirez, a 6-foot-4, 180-pound right-hander, threw his best outing of the season Saturday night in a 6-0 victory over the West Virginia Power.

He threw a complete-game five-hitter with one walk and eight strikeouts. He evened his record at 4-4 and lowered his ERA to 2.98 in 90 2/3 innings. Ramirez has 89 strikeouts and 31 walks.

Ramirez, who pitched in the Gulf Coast League in 2002-03 and spent time at Aberdeen and Delmarva last year, threw 60 of his 82 fastballs (ranged from 87 to 91 mph) for strikes.

"Luis is locating his fastball better and is getting results," said Kendall. "He comes over the top and hides the ball well."

Triple-A Ottawa

All-Star second baseman Bernie Castro has lifted his batting average 10 points to .337 (98-for-291), good for fourth place in the International League, by going 12-for-28 (.429) in his past seven games.

Castro's 98 hits are tied for first in the IL and Castro leads the Lynx (40-41) in runs (50) and stolen bases (21).

Walter Young, who went 3-for-4 with his 10th homer on Thursday in a 5-4 loss to Indianapolis, has climbed back to .300.

Right-hander Andy Mitchell improved to 6-0 with a 3.59 ERA in a 9-4 win over Indianapolis on Friday. The Lynx lost veteran closer Tim Byrdak and his 11 saves and 2.31 ERA to the Orioles.

Double-A Bowie

Third baseman Tripper Johnson (.272, eight homers, 43 RBIs), starting pitcher Cory Morris (5-2, 2.55 ERA) and reliever Scott Rice (4-1, 1.69 ERA) have been named to the July 13 Eastern League All-Star Game in Portland, Maine.

The Baysox were 40-40 and 3 1/2 games behind the Erie SeaWolves in the South Division going into yesterday's game.

Hayden Penn (3-3, 3.12 ERA) is back with the Baysox, who start an eight-game homestand today with Harrisburg, but lost right-hander James Johnson to Frederick.

Sendy Rleal (2-2, 1.70 ERA) earned his eighth save on Friday in a 6-4 win over the New Britain Rock Cats.

Single-A Frederick

It is unusual to win both the Home Run Derby and the Most Valuable Player Award in All-Star events, but the Keys' Nick Markakis did it on Tuesday in Frederick.

After winning the home run contest, Markakis, an outfielder considered to be one of the Orioles' top prospects, went 3-for-5 with two homers and three RBIs to pace the Carolina League Stars to an 8-0 win over the California Stars in front of an All-Star Game-record crowd of 7,734 at Harry Grove Stadium.

Mario Delgado leads the Keys in batting (.323) and homers (13) and is second in RBIs (39) to Markakis, who has 48 and is hitting .287 with nine homers.

Reliever Chris Britton is the Keys' leading pitcher at 4-0 with three saves and a 1.68 ERA in 48 1/3 innings.

Single-A Aberdeen

Nolan Reimold, the Orioles' second-round draft pick, leads the IronBirds in batting at .333 (14-for-42, five doubles, two homers). His average is 16th-best in the New York-Penn League for a 4-9 team that has the worst team batting average at .204.

Radhames Liz (1.93 ERA), Ryan Schwabe (2.81 ERA) and Russ Brocato (7.04) are 1-1 each for a staff with a 3.83 ERA (11th in league).

Rookie-level Bluefield

Chorye Spoone, the Orioles' eighth-round draft pick, got his first professional win in relief in the first game of a doubleheader on Saturday. Spoone struck out two in a scoreless inning of a 5-3 victory over the Devil Rays.

Rene Aqueron, a 23-year-old third baseman, has been on a roll for the 7-5 Orioles batting .652 (15-for-23).

Outfielder Bobby Andrews, a seventh-round pick, is batting .444 (16-for-36) with three homers, 11 RBIs and 10 runs scored.

Maryland spotlightNick Adenhart

Position: Right-handed pitcher

Size: 6 feet 4, 190 pounds

Age: 18

Hometown: Hagerstown

High school: Williamsport

Pro team: Angels of the Arizona Rookie League.

Drafted: 2004 14th round by the Anaheim Angels.

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