IronBirds prove jumping-off point

3 top Aberdeen players are promoted, fare well with Keys and Shorebirds

Minor league notebook


August 22, 2005|By Pat O'Malley | Pat O'Malley,SUN STAFF

Aberdeen got raided last week as three of the Orioles' top prospects were sent to Frederick and Delmarva. The IronBirds' top two pitchers, right-hander Radhames Liz and left-hander Garrett Olson, were promoted to Single-A clubs, Delmarva and Frederick, respectively.

Outfielder Nolan Reimold, who was Aberdeen's top hitter, joined Olson in Frederick. All three have fared well in their initial starts with their new clubs and, surprisingly enough, Aberdeen (21-38) hasn't done badly since the losses, going 3-3 this past week.

Olson, the Orioles' first-round sandwich pick out of Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo in June, who signed for $650,000, made his debut in the Single-A Carolina League on Saturday night, pitching the first four innings of a 4-0 victory in Myrtle Beach, S.C., as the first-place Keys (31-21) swept a doubleheader.

"I had pretty good stuff, but the humidity was brutal," said Olson, who gave up three hits and no runs, walked three and struck out three.

"I wasn't sure whether I was going to finish at Aberdeen, but I had heard that Frederick was in playoff contention and that I might go there. I was some- what surprised with the move."

Olson, who is 6 feet 1 and 200 pounds, and was 12-4 with a 2.71 ERA at Cal Poly this spring, throws in the low 90s with a lot of movement on his fastball and mixes in a curve and changeup. He threw 136 innings in college and threw 29 at Aberdeen with 27 strikeouts before moving to Frederick.

The four innings Saturday night give him 169 for the season.

"I've thrown a lot, but I feel good," said Olson, who plans to return to Cal Poly in the fall and work on a mechanical engineering degree.

"I'm absolutely pleased with my first pro season and college prepared me. At Aberdeen, [pitching coach] Dave Schmidt helped me a lot with my approach and now moving up with Scotty [McGregor, Keys pitching coach], I'm soaking up all the knowledge I can."

Reimold, who had set a single-season record for homers (nine) at Aberdeen and was the Orioles' second-round pick in June, has hit four homers at Frederick, including two Saturday night in a 6-2 win over Myrtle Beach.

"I expect to see more off-speed stuff as I move up and I just have to play hard every day because the pitchers have more control as you move up," Reimold said.

Liz was leading the short-season Single-A New York-Penn League in strikeouts (82 in 56 innings) and was fourth in ERA (1.77) with a 5-4 record when he left Aberdeen on Tuesday to return to Delmarva, where he started the season at 1-1 with 26 strikeouts in 18 innings.

Pitching four innings of a 3-0 loss to Lakewood on Friday, Liz gave up only one run and one hit, struck out 10 and walked five.

"He's got a great arm, power arm, but needs to get better command," Shorebirds manager Gary Kendall said of Liz, who throws 92-95 mph.

"He has problems with deep counts. He has great spin on his breaking ball, arm speed and the potential to be a front-line pitcher."

Triple-A Ottawa

Bernie Castro's 150 hits are not only a club record, but also rank first in the International League. His .323 batting average is second in the league, as are his 38 stolen bases.

Napoleon Calzado is the IL's fourth-leading hitter at .315 (122-for-387), and Walter Young, with his 13 homers, 78 RBIs and .293 average, keeps hoping to be called up.

Tony Fiore is 9-3 with the league's 11th-best ERA, 3.54, in the fourth-most innings pitched (147 1/3 ).

Double-A Bowie

The Baysox have gone 7-3 to improve to 67-61 and remain in contention for an Eastern League playoff berth.

Newcomers Nick Markakis (.353) and Ryan Hubele (.333) are swinging the bat well, and Peter Bergeron (.295, leads Bowie, 10th in EL), Brandon Fahey (.283) and Simon Pond (.278) remain steady. Pond's 18 homers and 70 RBIs lead Bowie and rank 12th in the league.

Single-A Delmarva

Despite going 5-5 in their past 10 games, the Shorebirds (34-19) lead the South Atlantic League's North Division by 5 1/2 games over Lexington.

"We've been a little inconsistent lately," said Delmarva manager Gary Kendall. "But if we can pick it up and win the second half, we would play first-half winner Hagerstown in the playoffs."

Kendall pointed to the steady hitting of Jake Duncan (.315) and Jason Fransz (.304, 18 homers, 94 RBIs) for the team's second-half surge.

Single-A Aberdeen

It hasn't been a productive summer for the IronBirds (21-38) in terms of wins, but manager Andy Etchebarren and his staff have been preparing players for the next step.

With Reimold's 30 RBIs gone, Ryan Finan (.250) leads the team in RBIs with 27.

In his first start since being promoted from Rookie-level Bluefield, Julio Soriano had a three-hitter with six strikeouts in five innings Saturday for a 5-0 win over Brooklyn.

Rookie-level Bluefield

Catcher Brandon Snyder (.289), the Orioles' No. 1 draft pick, is tied with shortstop Stu Musslewhite (.307) in homers (eight) and RBIs (32).

Brandon Erbe (McDonogh), the Orioles' third-round pick, is 1-0 and has lowered his ERA to 2.70. He has 41 strikeouts in 20 innings pitched.

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