Bumbry Nursing Batting Average Back To Health

Minor League Spotlight

July 28, 2009|By Dean Jones Jr. | Dean Jones Jr.,dean.jones@baltsun.com

When he hit a home run against Hudson Valley in his second plate appearance, Aberdeen IronBirds center fielder Steve Bumbry appeared to be adapting quickly to professional baseball.

"Up there, I actually felt really relaxed and comfortable at the plate," Bumbry said. "I tried to see a good pitch. ... Luckily, he got one down in the zone and I put a good swing on it."

The 5-foot-11, 185-pound outfielder soon found out, however, that the road from short-season Single-A to the major leagues would also include some setbacks.

Bumbry strained his groin last month, which caused him to miss three weeks after beginning the season in a 2-for-20 stretch over eight games.

The Dulaney graduate returned to the lineup in style against Mahoning Valley on July 20. In his first at-bat, Bumbry tripled to left-center field. He also picked up two outfield assists during the IronBirds' 9-2 victory.

"We shut it down, and I was on the [disabled list] ... just to make sure it was all healed up correctly and that we wouldn't have any flare-ups once I came back," Bumbry said. "I feel great now, putting really good swings on the ball, feeling comfortable at the plate. I've run a couple balls down in the outfield, too, so everything is going well right now."

Bumbry is 5-for-19 with two RBIs, two stolen bases and three runs scored since his return. He is hitting .179 (7-for-39) with one home run, five RBIs and four stolen bases in 16 games this season.

Orioles director of player development David Stockstill said Bumbry's wide range of skills, especially his speed and defense, will help the young outfielder climb through the organization despite his early struggles.

"When you have speed, it makes a difference. When you have a strong arm, it makes a difference," Stockstill said. "Those are qualities that we really like.

"We just need to get him into enough games to improve his timing."

Bumbry's father, former Orioles outfielder Al Bumbry, said his son's future will be determined by adjustments he makes at the plate.

"He's going to have to work on improving his hitting," the elder Bumbry said. "The one area that he has not done very well is his strikeouts, but hopefully through maturity and learning, he'll be able to cut down on that. ... I think how far he goes will be determined by how well he hits."

While a large number of Orioles fans relate to Steve Bumbry because of his father's success with the organization in the 1970s and '80s, the 21-year-old believes he'll be known for a different reason.

"I'm a hard worker. I'm not going to give up," Bumbry said. "I'm just learning as I go, and hopefully I'll start moving up the ladder in the next couple years and start making a name for myself."

IronBirds notes: : Aberdeen first baseman Tyler Townsend, the Orioles' third-round pick in this year's draft, hasn't played since July 15 because of a strained wrist. Townsend, 21, who is hitting .148 with one home run and six RBIs in 14 games, is expected to return in about a week, Stockstill said. ... Infielder Levi Carolus leads the IronBirds in batting average (.328), on-base percentage (.827), RBIs (18), stolen bases (seven) and doubles (11). ... Right-hander Kenny Moreland is 5-1 with a 0.80 ERA in seven starts. He was 1-0 with a 1.93 ERA in two starts for Single-A Frederick earlier this year.

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