Quality on Baysox staff runs deep


Right-handers Cory Morris, Ryan Keefer and Matt Bruback have been three of the most consistent pitchers at Double-A Bowie this season while pitching in the shadows of Hayden Penn, Chris Ray and Eric DuBose.

Morris (6-5), who lost to Erie on Saturday night, ranks fourth in the Eastern League in both ERA (3.09) and strikeouts (125) in 119 1/3 innings.

Keefer, who has had just one start in his 45 appearances, leads the Baysox in wins (7-3) with a 3.58 ERA in 73 innings with 74 strikeouts.

Bruback has started nine games in his 16 appearances and is 5-1 with a 4.36 ERA, 55 strikeouts and 67 hits allowed in 66 innings.

"Cory has improved his fastball location and his curveball has really been consistent compared to last year," said Bowie pitching coach Larry McCall.

"And the main thing is he's healthy after having arm problems last year and having arm surgery in the offseason."

Morris, a 15th-round draft pick in 2001, says he is throwing the best he has in five years after going 3-6 with a 5.98 ERA in 2004.

"My curveball has become my out pitch and it's real slow, anywhere from 67 to 71 mph," he said. "I think I found it late last year when my shoulder was hurting real bad. I started short-arming it a little bit and I brought it to this year."

Keefer attributes his seven wins to "getting lucky because of clutch hitting by our team" - he gave up four runs in the bottom of the ninth in a 5-4 win over Erie.

Keefer also says his slider has improved.

"I relied more on my splitter last year, but my slider has been a good adjustment at this level against older and more experienced hitters," said Keefer, who was 4-4 (3.09 ERA) with four saves at Frederick last season.

Triple-A Ottawa

The Lynx is 61-61 despite losing players to the Orioles, two of the most recent are pitcher John Maine and first baseman Alejandro Freire.

Second baseman Bernie Castro has had a lot to do with the Lynx's 33-26 home record as the International League's third-leading hitter at .325 and is tied for first in hits (142) and fourth in stolen bases (33).

Dave Borkowski, who leads the IL in innings pitched (150 1/3 ) keeps climbing and is now 9-7 with a 4.13 ERA and 89 strikeouts. Tony Fiore (8-3, 3.57 ERA) and reliever Andy Mitchell (8-0, 5.21 ERA) are right behind.

Single-A Frederick

At 25-20, with winning records at home (11-7) and on the road (14-13), the Keys are one game behind Northern Division-leading Lynchburg (27-21) in the Carolina League.

Solid pitching by James Johnson (10-7, 3.72 ERA), Adam Loewen (7-7, 3.79 ERA) and Brian Finch (8-9, 3.53 ERA) has been keeping the Keys in games and allowed reliever Chris Britton (1.57 ERA) to go 5-0 with three saves in 38 appearances.

Single-A Delmarva

Kevin Hart (Maryland) leads the South Atlantic League in strikeouts with 139 in 127 1/3 innings. Hart is 8-7 with a 4.88 ERA.

The league-leading Shorebirds (30-16) also have No. 2 and No. 5 on the strikeout list in Luis Ramirez (8-6, 2.41 ERA) and Carlos Perez (10-6, 3.89 ERA) who have 136 and 121 strikeouts, respectively. Jason Fransz, who leads the team in homers (17) and RBIs (85), is batting .301 while Jake Duncan is seventh at .318.

Single-A Aberdeen

Outfielder Nolan Reimold (.304, nine homers, 15 doubles, 30 RBIs and 33 runs scored) keeps adding to his IronBirds' season record for homers.

"When I was rounding the bases and they announced that my sixth home run was a team record, I was kind of a little surprised," said Reimold, who was the Orioles' second-round pick in June.

"Adjusting to the wood bat is a big thing because the sweet spots are a lot smaller. And I've found hitting a good changeup is the toughest thing to do because it's the same arm motion as a fastball."

Justin Maxey (Hammond), who has been used mostly as a DH, has increased his batting average to .288.

Radhames Liz (5-3) continues to lead the New York-Penn League in strikeouts (76) in 51 innings and is second in ERA at 1.41.

Rookie-level Bluefield

Shortstop Stuart Musslewhite and closer Dan Lonsberry, the Orioles' 24th and 25th picks respectively from June, are starring for the rookie team.

Musslewhite is seventh in the Appalachian League in batting (.319), eighth in homers (seven) and 13th in RBIs (29).

Lonsberry has six saves in 15 games, with a 1.66 ERA and 28 strikeouts in 21 2/3 innings.

Infielder Rene Aqueron is hitting .436 with 44 hits, three homers and 17 RBIs.

Orioles farm report

Three up

Seven Shorebirds pitchers have winning records, the most in the Orioles' minor league system, with 10 by Carlos Perez leading the way.

Keys outfielder Jeff Fiorentino, who played 13 games with the Orioles this season, was named Carolina League Player of the Week (Aug. 1-7) after batting .375 in seven games with five homers and 14 RBIs.

The demotion of reliever Chris Ray from the Orioles to Bowie on Tuesday had no ill effects on the right-hander, who immediately earned two saves in two Eastern League appearances.

Three down

The Bluefield Orioles lead the Appalachian League in walks allowed with 210 in 419 2/3 innings.

Aberdeen's .236 team batting average, which is second to last in the New York-Penn League, is an indication of why the IronBirds are in last place at 18-34.

The Lynx's Tim Raines (.251) has struck out 101 times, the most of any Orioles minor leaguer and ninth-highest in the International League.

On deck

Starting today, the Keys will introduce a plan to curb the use of performance-enhancing drugs by encouraging students at nine Frederick County high schools to sign pledges that encourage them to use hard work and a healthy lifestyle to achieve success.

Maryland spotlight

Ryan Baker

Position: Right-handed pitcher

Size: 6 feet, 200 pounds

Age: 27

Hometown: Linthicum

High school: Mount St. Joseph

College: UNC-Charlotte

Pro team: Carolina Mudcats in the Double-A Southern League, Florida Marlins affiliate

Statistics: 3-2, 4.31 ERA, 39 2/3 innings, 42 hits, 24 walks, 29 strikeouts in 25 relief appearances.

Skinny: Signed as a free agent after his junior year of college, Baker, who was an All-Metro selection at Mount St. Joseph in 1996 (8-3, three saves, 2.97 ERA), has been in the minors for seven seasons.

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