After a tough first half, the Frederick Keys have received lineup and bullpen reinforcements that could improve the team's fortunes in the Carolina League.
Frederick received infielder Michael Almanzar on a rehab assignment, plus first baseman Trey Mancini, outfielder Mike Yastrzemski, and reliever Jimmy Yacabonis from Low Class-A Delmarva in the past week, and though the team is 1-5 in the second half so far and those four players haven’t done much, it represents a big step for both the ballclub and those players.
Almanzar was the Orioles’ Rule 5 draft pick, and once his rehab assignment is up, needs to either be added to the 25-man roster or returned to the Boston Red Sox. Almanzar has just a double in 11 at bats in three games so far for Frederick, and had been playing in Sarasota during extended spring training and the Gulf Coast League beforehand.
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Having seen plenty of Almanzar from his time in the Red Sox system, I’m not sure he could stick with a major-league club at this point in his career. Almanzar has a little pop in his bat, but I’ve seen his focus and effort wane on the field too many times to be a believer. But I do know that he loves Harry Grove Stadium, with a .368/.400/.912 slash line during his last full Carolina League season against the Keys at Harry Grove Stadium.
Mancini and Yastrzemski were both South Atlantic League All-Stars for the Shorebirds, and earned promotions after the All-Star break. Mancini, an eighth-round pick in 2013, hit .317/.357/.422 with three home runs and 42 RBI for the Shorebirds, and homered in his Carolina League debut last Thursday against Carolina. He has six hits and six RBI in as many games for the Keys.
Yastrzemski hit .306/.365/.554 with 10 bombs, 10 triples, and 14 doubles for the Shorebirds, but doesn’t have an extra-base knock among his five hits for the Keys thus far.
Yacabonis saved 14 games for the Shorebirds en route to an All-Star Game appearance of his own, and began the year with 24 scoreless innings of work before finally yielding a run. He fell into the closer’s role by accident, but performed so well that the organization is trying to extend him to longer spurts to increase his innings.
Yacabonis pitched an inning on Sunday and allowed a run on four walks, so no such scoreless streak is possible in his new home.