Tides' Santos is keeping it simple

Catcher credits new mindset as reason for improvement

Minor league notebook

June 30, 2008|By Bill Free | Bill Free,Sun reporter

Triple-A Norfolk catcher Omir Santos, 27, said it would be easy to get caught up in the constant excitement around the team regarding players being called up from the Tides to the Orioles.

"You always think about it, but you can't think about it that much," Santos said. "Because if you think about [going to the Orioles], you'll mess up here and start doing bad. If you do your work here, someone will sooner or later give you a chance [in the majors]."

The native of Toa Baja, Dominican Republic, has taken his own advice since May 4, when he became the Tides' regular catcher after Chris Heintz went on the disabled list with a sprained left thumb.

Santos has not only solidified his No. 1 catching role, but he also recently had a 21-game hitting streak, the longest in the International League this season. He had hit safely in 24 of his past 27 games through Saturday and was hitting .299.

Santos also hit his first homer this season Thursday night. "It's about time," he said. "It's been a long time coming."

His improved hitting has come as Santos has worked on "keeping inside the ball and hitting it hard somewhere. Hopefully I can get another streak going."

However, the 6-foot-1, 200-pound catcher knows his importance to the Tides is based on his catching ability. "Any hitting I do is a bonus," said Santos, who had nine doubles and 19 RBIs through Saturday.

Santos has always been adept at catching since being drafted by the New York Yankees in the 21st round in 2001. He made just two errors in 392 chances last season with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in the Yankees' system.

Signed by the Orioles as a minor league free agent Nov. 26, Santos said his goal is to throw out 40 percent of the runners with "help from my pitchers holding them on." This season, Santos has caught 14 of 59 runners attempting to steal (24 percent).

Double-A Bowie

Baysox right-hander Chorye Spoone (Northeast, CCBC-Catonsville) was impressive again Saturday night as he comes back from arm problems that put him on the disabled list for 50 days this season.

Spoone, from Pasadena, pitched six scoreless innings in a 7-1 victory over Altoona that also featured the successful Baysox debut of switch-hitting catcher Matt Wieters.

Spoone, 22, is 3-3 with a 4.21 ERA in 36 1/3 innings.

Single-A Frederick

Keys right-hander Jake Arrieta, who has struck out 85 hitters in 84 1/3 innings, has been selected to Team USA for the 2008 Futures Game, which will be played at Yankee Stadium on July 13.

Arrieta was second in the Carolina League in strikeouts entering his scheduled start yesterday against Myrtle Beach. He had a 5-3 record with a 2.88 ERA and was the starting pitcher for the Carolina League All-Stars against the California League team.

Arrieta, 22, allowed no runs and no hits in one inning in the all-star game and was selected Pitcher of the Game. The Futures Game pits American-born players against minor league prospects from around the world.

Single-A Delmarva

Shorebirds right fielder Joe Nowicki raised his team-leading home run total to 12 with a grand slam Thursday night in an 11-5 romp over Hagerstown.

Through Saturday, Nowicki, 25, had also raised his batting average over .300 (.312) for 10th place in the South Atlantic League. He has also quietly moved into second in the league in doubles with 27.

The 27 doubles tie him with Asheville third baseman Darin Holcomb.

Single-A Aberdeen

IronBirds second baseman Eric Perlozzo homered Thursday night for the second time in his professional career.

It was noteworthy not only because Perlozzo was batting ninth, but also because he is the son of former Orioles manager Sam Perlozzo. Eric Perlozzo was hitting .375 after the homer but had dropped to .273 through Saturday.

william.free@baltsun.com

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