Single-A Frederick first baseman Brandon Snyder slugged another home run Friday, giving him 11 for the season. It was Snyder's fourth homer in 10 games. The Orioles' 2005 first-round pick batted .330 in July and has raised his season average to .296, tops on the Keys.
Snyder, the son of former major league pitcher Brian Snyder, said the reason he's swinging such a hot bat during the warmer months is equal parts physical, mental and meteorological.
"I'd have to say I enjoy the warm weather a little better than the cold stuff," said Snyder, whose average has risen like the heat index this summer. "My last two years it has seemed to work out that way."
Temperatures aside, Snyder, who was born in Las Vegas when his dad was playing with the San Diego Padres' Triple-A team there, also credits his improved discipline at the plate for his success of late. He said he has made a concerted effort to let the game come to him instead of trying to force the issue.
"The biggest thing lately is trying to relax and use my hands," said Snyder, who got off to a rough start this season, batting .229 in April with one home run and 21 strikeouts. "I've gotten to the point where every at-bat I'm trying to make it as difficult as I can for the pitchers to get me out."
Drafted as a catcher, Snyder, 21, switched to first base for the 2007 season after he suffered a shoulder injury the previous year. He hit .283 for low Single-A Delmarva last season with 11 home runs and 58 RBIs, earning him a promotion to Frederick.
His injury might have slowed his progression through the Orioles' system, but the infielder - Snyder has also logged time at third base this season - said it helped him mature as a player and appreciate the opportunity to follow in his father's professional footsteps.
"It made me grow up as a person and as a player," he said. "It made me appreciate being on the field every day."
Catcher Omir Santos continues to amass hits on an almost daily basis. After posting an International League-best 21-game hitting streak in June, the one-time New York Yankees prospect hit safely in nine of the last 10 games of July, raising his average to .315. Santos, 27, hit .375 last month, the third consecutive month he has improved his batting average. He has been especially tough against left-handers this season, batting .359 against them. ... Second baseman Eider Torres went 4-for-5 Friday, giving him 15 hits in his past 10 games, a span in which he hit .349. ... Relief pitcher Rocky Cherry posted a 0.71 ERA in July to lower his season ERA to 2.97. He made 11 appearances last month, pitching 12 2/3 innings and striking out 14. His only blemish was a solo home run by Buffalo's Brad Snyder on July 23.
Starting pitcher Jason Berken has won his past six decisions to improve his record to 10-3. Since going 1-2 in his first three decisions of the season, the right-hander, 24, is 9-1 and has 104 strikeouts in 122 2/3 innings this season. More than half of Berken's strikeouts (55) have come in his past 10 starts. ... Fellow right-hander David Hernandez, 25, continues to lead the Eastern League with 137 strikeouts and is third in ERA (2.60). He struck out eight in five innings Sunday night.
Pitcher Sean Gleason is 8-1 since moving into the starting rotation. Gleason, 22, began the season in the bullpen and made eight relief appearances, with an ERA of 2.00, before being converted to a starter in May. Opponents are hitting .223 against him this season. ... First baseman Anthony Martinez has hit safely in 10 of his past 11 games to boost his average to .260.
Outfielder Kraig Binick is off to a fast start with the IronBirds, hitting .386 since joining the team after a short stay with the Orioles' affiliate in the Gulf Coast League. In 12 games with Aberdeen, Binick, 23, has 17 hits and is working on a seven-game hitting streak.