Orioles notebook

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

O's are willing to wait for their future catcher

Surgery, inexperience obstacles for Snyder

Minor league baseball

May 07, 2007|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,Sun reporter

The Orioles envision a day when Brandon Snyder, their first pick in the 2005 draft, becomes their regular homegrown catcher. They also know it's going to take time, partly because he came to them out of high school, and since he's being forced to play a different position this year.

Snyder, 20, is sharing first base duties with Chris Vinyard at low Single-A Delmarva after undergoing surgery Aug. 29 to repair a torn left rotator cuff. He could move back behind the plate next season.

Before yesterday, Snyder had committed six errors at first, often because he didn't realize that he had plenty of time to make a play.

"He's making a pretty good adjustment," Shorebirds manager Gary Kendall said. "He was an infielder before he was a catcher, so the footwork isn't a big adjustment. His hands have some softness. But he always played the left side, so he was in more of a rush. If he makes a mistake at first base, it's because he's rushing too much. We've worked on that a lot. He's very good on balls in the dirt. And he's got plenty of arm."

And plenty of room to grow as a hitter.

Snyder was batting .247 before yesterday, with two homers and nine RBIs in 26 games. His biggest challenge has been emulating himself.

"Offensively, he just needs to repeat his swings and improve his strike zone knowledge," Kendall said. "He's not a real good thinker right now. He doesn't go up there with a plan. But that's coming.

"He's very emotional and hitting is as much mental as physical. We're working on the mental side."

Snyder, the 13th overall pick in his draft class, batted .234 in 34 games at short-season Aberdeen last season and .194 in 38 games at Delmarva. Snyder hit safely in seven of his first eight games with the Shorebirds, but batted .138 in the last 30 before being transferred to Aberdeen.

"I see a lot more adjustments out of him than I saw last year when he came here," Kendall said.

Like other members of the organization, Kendall has to remind Snyder's critics of his age.

"He's still a young kid," Kendall said. "If he had gone to college, he wouldn't even be here yet."

Triple-A Norfolk

Left-hander Garrett Olson, 23, is forcing the Orioles to consider him for the rotation. Olson allowed two runs, struck out 10 and walked none over eight innings in Friday's 3-0 loss to Durham. He retired the last 13 batters he faced, striking out eight. ... Third baseman Mike Cervenak made a good impression on the Orioles in spring training, and he's still getting noticed. Cervenak, who also plays first, hit safely in eight of nine games during a recent hot stretch. Entering yesterday, he was batting .327 with 33 hits and 19 runs in 26 games. Cervenak finished last month tied for fourth in the league with 44 total bases. ... Rob Bell tossed five scoreless innings in his first appearance for Norfolk. He started again yesterday. ... Left-handed hitters were 4-for-21 against right-handed reliever Steve Green going into the weekend.

Double-A Bowie

Left-hander Rommie Lewis is emerging as a prospect again after missing the 2005 season. In his first year at the Double-A level, Lewis posted a 2.77 ERA in 13 innings and opponents were batting .200 against him. Lewis, a fourth-round pick in the 2001 draft, was 1-7 with a 5.61 ERA at Single-A Frederick in 2004 before being placed on the restricted list in '05. ... Shortstop Luis Hernandez, claimed off waivers from the Atlanta Braves, had 19 RBIs and 31 hits in 27 games. He had 15 RBIs in 15 games. Hernandez totaled 29 RBIs in 104 games at Double-A Mississippi last year. ... The middle infield has been a strength for the Baysox. Second baseman Paco Figueroa reached base in 23 straight games before the weekend, the longest streak in the Eastern League. ... Nobody scored on reliever James Hoey in his first eight innings. He struck out 11.

Single-A Frederick

Brandon Erbe, one of the top pitching prospects in the organization, won his previous two starts going into yesterday's outing. Erbe allowed two earned runs in 12 innings, striking out 13 and lowering his ERA from 3.78 to 2.83. ... Bob McCrory, a fourth-round pick in 2003 out of Southern Mississippi, led the Carolina League with seven saves. He hadn't allowed an earned run in seven of nine appearances entering yesterday. ... Shortstop Blake Davis, a fourth-round pick in 2006 out of Cal State Fullerton, reached base in his first 22 games. He was batting .319 with eight multi-hit games entering yesterday. Davis ranked second in the league in doubles (10), fourth in hits (30) and seventh in average.

Single-A Delmarva

Outfielder Brandon Tripp batted .420 in April and was named the organization's minor league Player of the Month, but the Orioles placed him on the disabled list over the weekend with a sore wrist. Tripp had a .490 on-base percentage, a .705 slugging percentage, 23 runs, 10 doubles, five homers, 25 RBIs, eight walks and two steals. ... Right-hander Brad Bergesen deserves better. He's 2-2 despite a 2.48 ERA and 27 strikeouts in 36 1/3 innings. ... Catcher Michael Pierce batted .375 in six games to raise his average from .267 to .304.

roch.kubatko@baltsun.com

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