Snyder waits out bat, works on defense

Minor leagues


When Brandon Snyder had a rare bad game as an amateur, he'd simply do everything a bit harder the next time and go right back to dominating.

But when the Orioles catching prospect took that approach to his first professional slump, he found it didn't work so well. That's why, after striking out 24 times and walking only four in his first 17 games at Single-A Delmarva, Snyder is trying to mellow out.

"You're thinking, `Oh, I've got to swing more, I've got to swing more,' " he said. "When really, it's just the opposite. You need to slow things down and get back to what got you there."

Snyder has a ready guide to the big league mentality. His father, Brian, pitched briefly for Seattle and Oakland in the late 1980s.

"He just tells me to trust my hands, trust my instincts," Snyder said. "A lot of times, these guys up here are going to be better than you. And you just have to live with it."

The Orioles have little doubt their first-round pick from last season will come around. "Right now, there's not a lot for us to do with his hitting," said David Stockstill, director of minor league operations. "We think he'd be comfortable hitting one or two levels higher even."

The first time Chuck Welch saw Snyder walk into a batting cage, the kid was barely more than a toddler.

But the 4-year-old was hardly overwhelmed. He already had the compact right-handed swing that allowed his bat to meet baseballs with force. Snyder's father taught him how to think through an at-bat. He learned to hit for power without pulling the ball.

So Welch, the coach at Westfield High School in Centreville, Va., was hardly surprised when Snyder was his best hitter as a 14-year-old freshman or when pro scouts began coming around.

"I would like to take all the credit for his hitting," Welch said. "But realistically, I can take none."

When the Orioles, the team Snyder grew up watching, took him 13th overall in last year's draft, it seemed another perfect note in a perfect biography. So did his first minor league season, when he showed the batting eye and all-fields power of an advanced hitter.

The Orioles drafted him knowing that the conversion from shortstop to catcher would be a project. They will be watching his defense more than his hitting this season.

Former Orioles catcher Andy Etchebarren worked with him on the mechanics of throwing and blocking balls last season, and Snyder said he's feeling comfortable behind the plate.

He catches about three games a week and is designated hitter the rest because the team wants his hitting to keep progressing.

3 UP, 3 DOWN


Brandon Erbe -- The McDonogh graduate has dominated at Single-A Delmarva with a 2.25 ERA, 26 strikeouts and one walk in 20 innings.

Nolan Reimold -- The Orioles' best power prospect continues to impress for Single-A Frederick, batting .329 with four homers and 15 RBIs.

Calvin Maduro -- The former Orioles starter is overwhelming hitters for Double-A Bowie with a 0.55 ERA and 24 strikeouts in 16 1/3 innings.


Keith Reed -- The spring training invitee, an outfielder, is batting .235 with one home run in 20 games for Triple-A Ottawa.

Brian Bock -- The catching prospect is known more for his mitt but is batting .194 with no homers for Frederick.

Mark Fleisher -- The Orioles hoped the first baseman would emerge as a power prospect, but he's batting .189 with no home runs in 74 at-bats for Delmarva.

[Childs Walker]

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