This spring, Shorebirds' Tripp is blossoming


Minor League Baseball

April 30, 2007|By Roch Kubako | Roch Kubako,SUN REPORTER

When Joe Jordan worked as the national crosschecker in the Florida Marlins' scouting department, he tried to persuade high school outfielder Brandon Tripp to sign a professional contract. He offered plenty of good reasons - six figures' worth of them - but Tripp was determined to play at Cal State Fullerton.

In one of baseball's interesting twists, Jordan was hired as the Orioles' director of scouting in November 2004. And he drafted Tripp again two years later.

Jordan is reminded of these events because Tripp won't let him forget. And not with words.

Coming off an uninspiring collegiate career and professional debut, Tripp is tearing up the South Atlantic League with the Single-A Delmarva Shorebirds. He led the league with a .425 average and 24 RBIs heading into yesterday's games. He also had 10 doubles, five homers and 21 runs.

Keep in mind that Tripp batted .221 with two homers and 15 RBIs at short-season Aberdeen in 2006, after the Orioles selected him in the 12th round. He also had trouble cracking Fullerton's lineup, receiving only 19 at-bats in 2004 before batting .343 in 54 games the next year.

"I think he forgot, in his three years at Fullerton, what kind of potential he had," Jordan said. "He's got a lot of ability. I feel like, with a lot of players, sometimes they just need to play every day. They need to know that if they 0-for-4, they're going to be in the lineup the next day. And that's what professional baseball offers sometimes."

Mark Ralston, the Orioles' California-based scout, kept close tabs on Tripp at Fullerton. When the 12th round of the amateur draft rolled around, the Orioles decided to take a chance.

"We figured that there was value for that pick, if we could sign him," Jordan said.

Tripp was named the league's Player of the Week from April 16-22 after batting .545 with three doubles, two homers, six RBIs and seven runs.

Denny Walling, the Orioles' roving minor league hitting instructor, made a small adjustment with Tripp in spring training. It was fairly simple, involving Tripp's lower torso and how his pivot was affecting his swing. In baseball parlance, he didn't have his legs underneath him.

"Somebody needed to see it, and they did, and it got him into a little bit better position to hit. And Brandon's just taking off," Jordan said. "So far, so good. And I'm thrilled for him."

Triple-A Norfolk

J.R. House's 14-game hitting streak, second longest in the International League, ended last weekend. He batted .385 during the streak. ... Outfielder Luis Montanez's 10-game hitting streak ended on the same day as House's, but it didn't faze him. He batted .400 over a five-game stretch last week. ... Top pitching prospect Garrett Olson is 0-2 but lowered his ERA from 6.63 to 5.04 Saturday after holding Richmond to two unearned runs in six innings.

Double-A Bowie

Outfield prospect Nolan Reimold was placed on the seven-day disabled list, retroactive to Friday, with a strained oblique muscle. Before the injury, Reimold raised his average 46 points by batting .381 with six RBIs in 21 at-bats. ... Reliever James Hoey, who appeared in 12 games for the Orioles last season, hadn't allowed a run in his first seven innings and picked up five saves.

Single-A Frederick

Chorye Spoone is a name worth remembering, even if it's tricky to spell. The Pasadena native, an eighth-round draft pick in 2005, was named the Carolina League's Pitcher of the Week after going 2-0 with a 0.71 ERA and 12 strikeouts in 12 2/3 innings. ... The Orioles are stretching out Brandon Erbe a little more as he matures. Once kept on a strict pitch count, Erbe ranks fourth in the league with 22 2/3 innings. Erbe won his first game Thursday, allowing one run and striking out seven in six innings. He struck out eight in his first 16 2/3 innings before Thursday.

Single-A Delmarva

Brandon Snyder, the Orioles' first-round pick in 2005 who's returning from left rotator cuff surgery, had a career-high four hits last Monday with three runs. ... Shortstop Dave Cash, who lasted until the 40th round of the 2006 draft, had six multi-hit games in 12 starts, including three three-hit games.

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