Good to be ready, farmhands learn

THE BALTIMORE SUN

With the Orioles' goal of establishing a winning attitude in the farm system, some fans may wonder if the club worries about what the losses of players such as Jeff Fiorentino (Frederick) and Hayden Penn (Bowie) mean to the minor league teams.

Fiorentino and Penn were recently promoted to the parent club.

"We try to keep the prospects not ready to move where they belong when we start making moves," said David Stockstill, the Orioles' director of minor league operations. "There is some falloff at the beginning, but if necessary we will sign some older, experienced players to keep things going for the minor league teams."

Stockstill wants that winning attitude prevalent throughout the Orioles' system, but at the same time wants to show the guys on the farm that they have a chance to be called up.

There is no question that winning at the major league level is the top priority.

"We use the likes of Brian Roberts to show the minor leaguers that they, too, can get that big chance at the big leagues by coming up in our system," Stockstill said.

"When the season started, we had a plan for a certain group of guys who would move. For example, we expected to have [Frederick Keys left-hander] Richard Stahl at [Double-A] Bowie by midseason. But with the recent moves we made, Stahl is up [with the Baysox] about three weeks earlier."

Another example is Penn, 20, a constantly improving prospect whom Stockstill was very proud of Saturday in his major league debut against Detroit.

"Hayden I thought threw very well," said Stockstill, who watched the game at Camden Yards. "He didn't quite have command of his velocity and had a tough break at the end, but he showed a lot of poise."

Penn is one of seven players recently called up by the Orioles, proving indeed that all farmhands need be ready.

Triple-A Ottawa

The Lynx (26-21), who trail Buffalo by 3 1/2 games in the North Division of the International League, start an eight-game homestand today.

Recently promoted (from Bowie) right-hander Matt Bruback (4-0, 3.32) will face the Columbus Clippers tonight.

Yesterday, the Lynx dropped a 3-0 decision to Norfolk as Rick Bauer (0-3) made his fourth start since being sent down. Going 5 1/3 innings, Bauer lowered his ERA from 5.25 to 4.67 by only giving up one earned run.

Second baseman Bernie Castro has 19 multi-hit games and has gone 11-for-24 (.458) in his past six games. Going into yesterday, Castro (.341) ranked fourth in the league in batting.

Double-A Bowie

Left-hander Eric DuBose continues to work his way back to the major leagues, lowering his ERA to 1.88 and evening his record at 4-4 with a sterling three-hitter to stop the Akron Aeros, 4-2, on Thursday.

Tripper Johnson leads the Baysox in batting at .297 and RBIs with 22. He's tied for the team lead with Brandon Marsters and Simon Pond with three home runs.

Hard-throwing closer Chris Ray made it 10-for-10 in save opportunities last week, and right-hander Sendy Rleal extended his scoreless innings streak to 14 2/3 , lowering his ERA to 0.72.

In his Baysox debut, Stahl gave up five runs, four hits and two walks in the first inning of a 7-5 loss to Akron on Saturday. He settled down and gave up only one more run.

Single-A Frederick

The Keys suffered their fourth loss in a row Saturday as the Lynchburg Hillcats erupted for four runs in the ninth for a 5-4 victory against closer Tony Neal. Neal (2-6, 4.88) came into the game with seven saves.

Outfielder Nick Markakis has lifted his batting average to .289 (50-for-173), and Mario Delgado continues to lead the Keys at .351. Delgado also has nine home runs.

Considered the Orioles' top prospect going into this season, Markakis is tied with Delgado in doubles (13) and RBIs (30).

The Keys added a left-hander, Trent Baysinger, last week from Moscow, Idaho. He comes from extended spring training.

Single-A Delmarva

The struggling Shorebirds are looking to rebound with starting pitchers Kevin Hart (3-2, 3.35 ERA, 53 strikeouts, 23 walks, 53 2/3 innings) and Carlos Perez (3-3, 2.73 ERA, 53 strikeouts, 24 walks, 56 innings) expected to bounce back from losses.

Also, Luis Ramirez (2-1, 1.92 ERA, 53 strikeouts, 21 walks, 51 2/3 innings) has impressed manager Gary Kendall.

The Shorebirds do not have a hitter over .300.

Peter Maestrales leads the team, hitting .296 (48-for-162) and has 12 doubles, six homers and 13 RBIs. He is followed by Quincy Ascencion (.276) and Jacob Duncan (.275).

Orioles farm report

Three up

Ottawa Lynx left-hander Tim Byrdak notched his ninth save Saturday night and is 2-0 in 22 games with a 1.17 ERA in 23 innings.

After being thrown out 14 times in 26 steal attempts, Bowie Baysox runners have been successful in 13 of their past 15 tries. Shortstop Brandon Fahey is 6-for-6 in steals.

Dustin Yount, son of Hall of Famer Robin Yount, hit his eighth homer for the Frederick Keys, equaling his total of the past two seasons.

Three down

Before being called up, Hayden Penn suffered a 5-3 loss to New Hampshire last Monday to end Bowie's five-game winning streak.

Before winning yesterday, the Delmarva Shorebirds (22-28) had lost five in a row. They are 12-13 at home, with top pitchers Kevin Hart (3-2) and Carlos Perez (3-3) each losing their last starts.

Frederick (23-27) is 3-8 its past 11 games and is 1-9 against the Carolina League's Northern Division-leading Lynchburg Hillcats. The Keys trail the Hillcats by eight games.

On deck

A novel idea by the Lynx that one of the Maryland farm teams might want to try: Area Boy Scouts watch the Lynx play, settle in the outfield for movies, sleep over and have breakfast served in the morning.

Maryland spotlight

Gavin Floyd

Position: Right-handed starting pitcher

Size: 6 feet 4, 215 pounds

Age: 22

Hometown: Severna Park

High school: Mount St. Joseph

Pro team: Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre of International League, Philadelphia Phillies

Drafted: 2001 first round, fourth pick overall; signed for $4.2 million, turning down a scholarship to South Carolina.

Record: 2-5, 6.51 ERA, 48 hits, 19 walks, 28 strikeouts in 37 1/3 innings.

Skinny: After holding the St. Louis Cardinals to three hits and one run in seven innings on April 9, it has been all downhill for Floyd, a two-time Sun Player of the Year. Demoted to the Triple-A Red Barons, Floyd had struggled in six starts before yesterday when he beat Richmond, 7-1, on a four-hitter through seven innings, lowering his ERA from 7.71 to 6.51.

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