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2017 Frederick Keys Break Camp roster release


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Keys Press Release

The Baltimore Orioles have announced the Frederick Keys break camp roster for the 2017 season. This group includes three of the organization’s top four draft picks from 2016, five of the Orioles top 10 prospects according to Baseball America and 12 returning players. At the helm is Keith Bodie, who begins his second season as manager.

Cody Sedlock and shortstop Ryan Mountcastle rank second and third respectively in Baseball America’s top 30 Orioles prospect list and should provide plenty of excitement. The Orioles first round pick in 2016, Sedlock bypasses Low-A Delmarva after registering a 3.00 ERA at Short-Season Aberdeen last year. Limiting opponents to a .138 average, the former Illinois product was named Big 10 Conference Pitcher of the Year as a junior.

Mountcastle moves up one rung on the minor league ladder after playing shortstop for the Shorebirds a year ago. Placing just outside the top 10 in the South Atlantic League in batting average, the Floridian was the 36th overall pick in the 2015 draft.

Other players to watch include Keegan Akin, Austin Hays and Jomar Reyes. Baltimore’s No. 6 prospect, Akin followed up a strong career at Western Michigan with a terrific season at Aberdeen. A left-handed pitcher, Akin ended his first pro season with 20 consecutive scoreless innings. He also retired 22 of the last 23 batters he faced. The Orioles highest-rated outfield prospect and the “Best Athlete” in the system according to Baseball America, Hays hit .336 in 38 games with Aberdeen to go with a .514 slugging percentage. Of his 47 hits, 15 went for extra-bases.

In addition to Sedlock and Akin, Frederick’s starting rotation is expected to include Cristian Alvarado, Ofelky Peralta and Brian Gonzalez. Ending second in the SAL in strikeouts and innings pitched, Alvarado also had one of the lowest ERAs in the Orioles system a year ago. Two of the top 15 prospects on the O’s farm, Peralta and Gonzalez get their first taste of Keys baseball as well. Peralta posted a five-inning no-hitter in nearby Hagerstown last August and Gonzalez took a major step forward with the Shorebirds in 2016. A postseason all-star, the lefty went 10-8 with a 2.50 ERA and tossed a career-high 147.2 innings.

The Keys bullpen is split between returning players and newcomers. Franderlin Romero and Cory Jones shift to the bullpen after pitching out of the Keys rotation last year. Mitch Horacek also returns for his fourth season. In his time with the orange and black, the lefty has racked up nearly 300 innings. That group will be joined by veterans Tanner Chleborad, Luis Gonzalez and Michael Burke. A strong 2016 campaign earned Chleborad a Double-A cameo, while Gonzalez and Burke enjoyed success in limited innings with Frederick.

Jay Flaa, Christian Turnipseed and Reid Love begin their first tours of duty with the Keys. With Delmarva, Flaa ranked among the team’s leaders in appearances and Turnipseed recorded the third-most saves in the SAL. Love transitions to a relief role after a strong first year of full-season baseball. With the Shorebirds, the southpaw registered a 3.29 ERA and made six consecutive quality starts to end the year.

The Keys infield is full of new names with only Reyes and Steve Wilkerson returning. Frederick’s primary second baseman last year, the former Clemson Tiger hit nearly .300 at Nymeo Field. Along with Wilkerson’s double play partner Mountcastle, Alex Murphy, Ricardo Andujar, Drew Turbin and Steve Laurino are expected to complete the middle and corner infield. A native of Monrovia, MD, it is a homecoming of sorts for Murphy, who attended Keys games as a kid. Turbin worked at second base for the Shorebirds last year, while Andujar rotated between second, shortstop and third over 101 games at Low-A. A first baseman, Laurino joins Frederick from Delmarva as well. He was drafted by Baltimore out of Marist College in 2015.

Behind the plate, Yermin Mercedes and Stuart Levy manage the pitching staff. Promoted to the Keys last August, Mercedes turned in a monster offensive season with Delmarva and Frederick. Leading all Orioles farmhands with a .345 average, the catcher claimed the South Atlantic League batting title before hitting .318 in 31 games with the orange and black. It is Levy’s second trip to Frederick after playing three games with the Keys in late-2015.

In the outfield, Hays is complemented by Randolph Gassaway, Josh Hart and Ademar Rifaela. Baltimore’s No. 24 prospect, Gassaway comes off a breakout season. Splitting time between Aberdeen and Delmarva, he hit .340 in 55 games. Hart brings his strong defense back to Nymeo Field, while Rifaela got a brief taste of Advanced-A baseball last July.

Bodie is joined by pitching coach Blaine Beatty and hitting coach Kyle Moore. Cam Kneeland (player/coach), Brian Guzman (trainer) and Chris Cecere (strength and conditioning) round out this year’s field staff.

The 2017 season begins on Thursday, April 6 against the Carolina Mudcats at Nymeo Field. A full promotional schedule can be found here. Single game tickets are currently on sale and ticket plans are also available. Any fan who purchases or renews a ticket plan can choose between a Jonathan Schoop bobblehead or a Dylan Bundy gnome. For ticket information fans can call 301-815-9900 or visit frederickkeys.com.

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1 hour ago, Legend_Of_Joey said:

I'm a bit surprised they kept Mercedes behind the plate. The rotation looks stacked though and the bats should be good!

Over Murphy (it appears) who is listed as a 1B now.  With Murphy being younger you would think would give him more of a chance to improve his defense. 

I'm guessing they like Mercedes' arm strength and are hoping his abysmal receiving improves.  

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1 hour ago, ChuckS said:

Over Murphy (it appears) who is listed as a 1B now.  With Murphy being younger you would think would give him more of a chance to improve his defense. 

I'm guessing they like Mercedes' arm strength and are hoping his abysmal receiving improves.  

That, or they want to start the process sooner with with Murphy and wait to see which of the 3 in Delmarva steps up and gets bumped to Frederick before moving Mercedes.

Seems kind of similar to last season with Wynns, Heim, and Sawyer, Usually Sawyer at first (but would catch at times), with Wynns or Heim behind the plate while the other DH'ed.

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2 hours ago, Frobby said:

Frederick looks to be the most interesting team in our farm system from a prospect point of view.

They are the most interesting minor league team we've had in years IMO.  When was the last time we had so many top 10-20 prospects with one affiliate?  There is even some intrigue with some players they have outside the top 20 (Mercedes, Murphy, Alvarado).  

I'm already trying to figure out a game in April or May where I can make it up to Frederick (or maybe Potomac) when the O's are not also playing at the same time. 

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19 minutes ago, ChuckS said:

They are the most interesting minor league team we've had in years IMO.  When was the last time we had so many top 10-20 prospects with one affiliate?  

Off the top of my head, I'd go with the 2008 Baysox.    Tillman, D. Hernandez, Bergesen, Berken, Wieters and Reimold.     I think every one of those guys debuted in the majors in 2009.

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