There will come a day, Don Buford predicts, when Larry Bigbie and Keith Reed will roam the same major-league outfield. Wasn't that the plan when the Orioles picked both of them in the first round of the 1999 draft, only two selections apart?
Though considered to have the higher ceiling, Reed resides on a lower rung of the organizational ladder at Single-A Frederick. Bigbie remains at Double-A Bowie, where he was batting .404 with 14 RBIs in his past 12 games heading into the weekend.
Reed hadn't been as hot, and now he's not even active. He went on the disabled list Friday with a hand injury, leaving an 0-for-10 slide in progress.
"Ability-wise, he could be in Double-A now," said Buford, the Orioles' director of minor-league operations. "I'd rather play guys every day than have them split time. He's had a few nagging injuries this year, but he's starting to come along quickly."
Bigbie, taken with the 21st selection of the 1999 draft out of Ball State, had a nine-game hitting streak broken on May 19. He was batting .308 with eight doubles, four homers, 21 RBIs and eight stolen bases in 43 games. He spent the first half of last season at Frederick, being named to the Carolina League's All-Star team, before batting .241 with no homers and five RBIs in 31 games with the Baysox.
He went on the disabled list in late July with a sprained right wrist and missed the remainder of the season. He has been making up for lost time ever since.
"I think the learning phase of Larry Bigbie is excellent. You can see the progress he's made from last year," Buford said. "His approach to hitting, running, defense - everything's above average."
Reed, taken with the 23rd pick out of Providence College, was batting .281 with eight doubles, three homers and 14 RBIs in 39 games at Frederick before the injury. Named the organization's top prospect by Baseball America, he ranked second among Orioles farmhands last season in home runs (19) and RBIs (90) and tied for third in stolen bases (29) while splitting time between Single-A Delmarva and Frederick. He was named to the South Atlantic League All-Star team with the Shorebirds.
"I would not be afraid to say both guys will be in the big leagues," Buford said.
Both athletes can play all three outfield positions and have the potential to hit for power. Reed throws better, while Bigbie does a better job at the plate of using the whole field.
"They're very good prospects," Buford said.
Wasn't that the plan?
Sean Douglass has won five consecutive starts on the road. Most recently, he combined with two relievers to record the Red Wings' sixth shutout, which leads the International League. Douglass has allowed four earned runs and 24 hits in his past five outings away from home, with 23 strikeouts in 35 2/3 innings. ... Left-hander John Parrish, who made eight starts with the Orioles last summer, allowed a base runner for the first time in four appearances since moving to the bullpen. He retired 20 of 21 batters, with eight strikeouts, in seven innings before the weekend. Club officials are projecting Parrish as a left-handed setup man in the mold of former Oriole Arthur Rhodes. ... Shortstop Brian Roberts, who impressed the Orioles this spring, stole his league-leading 16th base on Thursday. Roberts also hit his first Triple-A home run Wednesday. ... Leslie Brea posted a 2.57 ERA in his last 12 appearances, covering 12 innings, before the weekend. ... Former No. 1 draft pick Darnell McDonald, who returned to Rochester after a brief demotion to Bowie, went 4-for-27 (.148) in seven games. The Red Wings continue to make a flurry of personnel moves, with infielder/designated hitter Julio Vinas being released and infielder Guillermo Garcia coming aboard.
The Baysox had three consecutive rainouts on the road. Before the deluge, Miguel Felix struck out 10 in a three-hit shutout of New Haven. Felix was part of the four-player package obtained from the Chicago White Sox last summer for catcher Charles Johnson and DH Harold Baines. ... Catcher Tom McGee enjoyed a stretch where he threw out 14 of 18 base stealers, including all three May 20 against Erie. ... Outfielder Tim Raines Jr. reached base at least once in each of his first 18 games with Bowie after being promoted from Frederick. ... Willie Harris was tied for second in the Eastern League with 17 steals heading into the weekend. ... Left-hander Scott Eibey had allowed one run and struck out 14 over his last 10 appearances (15 innings).
The Keys recorded their third consecutive shutout victory, 5-0, over Lynchburg on Thursday. ... Left-hander Erik Bedard has recorded double-digit strikeouts in his past three starts. He has 35 in his last 20 innings. ... Frederick won two 1-0 games in Wednesday's doubleheader against Lynchburg. Steve Bechler allowed three hits in the opener, retiring 13 in a row before allowing a two-out single in the seventh. His 2.40 ERA is sixth in the Carolina League, trailing Sonny Garcia (2.03). In the nightcap, left-hander Richard Stahl allowed only two hits and retired 12 of the first 13 batters. Stahl hasn't allowed more than three earned runs in four starts since his promotion from Delmarva. ... Outfielder Jovanny Sosa broke an 0-for-20 slump with a single Thursday.
Catcher Jon Kessick went on the disabled list last week with a sore shoulder. In his absence, Mike Seestedt and Michael Russell were a combined 2-for-15 with two runs and one RBI. ... Former No. 1 pick Rick Elder had started 38 of 39 games at first base, where he made 11 errors, before moving to left field for two games and serving as the DH in four others. ... Right-hander Sendy Rleal could sue Delmarva's offense for lack of support, having lost four straight decisions despite a 3.90 ERA over six starts. ... Outfielder B. J. Littleton has made a nice recovery after a 4-for-35 slump. He carried a seven-game hitting streak into the weekend and was batting .317 (20-for-63) over his last 16 games. ... Second baseman Gary Cates found a good way to end his 0-for-16 slump. He laid down a bunt single Thursday.