Keys' Rowell in no rush

Third baseman, 19, 'in a learning stage'

Orioles Minor League Notebook

August 19, 2008|By Jeff Zrebiec | Jeff Zrebiec,Sun reporter

Evan Longoria and Tim Lincecum have been major league All-Stars. Pitchers Luke Hochevar, Greg Reynolds, Brandon Morrow, Andrew Miller and Clayton Kershaw made their big league debuts months ago.

Billy Rowell, who also was selected in the top 10 of that 2006 draft, is currently the third baseman for the Frederick Keys, the Orioles' Single-A affiliate. And Rowell doesn't hesitate in saying, "I'm in a real good situation now.

"Those guys are a lot older," Rowell said Saturday before the Keys' 6-4 victory over Kinston. "I know I'm not ready. I'm not dominating in this league yet. I just have to keep learning and progressing. Really right now, I'm just in a learning stage."

Rowell, who won't turn 20 until next month, is going through some struggles this season that the Orioles fully expected when they drafted him ninth overall out of Bishop Eustace Preparatory School in New Jersey, when he was only 17 years old.

The youngest player in the Carolina League before the Washington Nationals' recent promotion of outfielder Michael Burgess to Potomac, Rowell was hitting .235 with six homers and 44 RBIs through Sunday. His on-base percentage was .301 and he has struck out 94 times in 332 at bats. But Orioles officials say that they have seen plenty of positive signs.

"I've seen him grow up tremendously in the way that he goes about his business," said David Stockstill, the Orioles' director of player development. "I think his time around people like [Jake] Arrieta and [Matt] Wieters has allowed him to grow up and see what being a professional is all about. His work ethic has gotten much better. His knowledge of playing baseball is much better. You knew hitting-wise, it was going to be a big step for him, but there's no doubt in my mind that he will hit and hit for power."

Rowell, ranked as the Orioles' fifth-best prospect by Baseball America after he hit .273 with nine homers and 57 RBIs last year for low-A Delmarva, is learning to be more selective at the plate. He has also learned to deal with adversity, from injuries the past couple of seasons to hitting struggles.

"You have to be mature about the whole situation," Rowell said. "There are a lot of ups and downs. It would be good to have better numbers, but that's life. All I'm going to do is work harder and get better."

Triple-A Norfolk

Radhames Liz shut out Charlotte over eight innings Saturday, allowing six hits and a walk while striking out eight. Since he was demoted after making 10 starts for the Orioles, Liz is 2-2 for the Tides with a 2.67 ERA in four stars, surrendering 21 hits and seven walks while striking out 27 over 27 innings. ... Outfielder Jeff Fiorentino is hitting .371 in August with seven RBIs.

Double-A Bowie

Right-hander Jason Berken lost his no-hit bid with two outs in the seventh inning against Binghamton on Saturday but did enough to win his seventh straight decision and his 11th of the past 12. ... Given an opportunity with Lou Montanez's promotion to the Orioles, Jonathan Tucker is hitting .488 over his past 11 games.

Single-A Delmarva

Second baseman Ryan Adams, whom the Orioles took in the second round in 2006, has 49 errors this season, one shy of the South Atlantic League record for a second baseman, which was set in 1981 by Orioles third base coach Juan Samuel. Adams has hit .330 with seven homers and 49 RBIs after the All-Star break.

Single-A Aberdeen

Pitcher Cole McCurry, catcher Caleb Joseph and outfielder Robbie Widlansky will represent the IronBirds in Tuesday's All-Star Game. ... Infielder Eric Perlozzo, the son of former Orioles manager Sam Perlozzo, is hitting .287 with seven RBIs.

jeff.zrebiec@baltsun.com

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