Right-hander Joe Gunkel, 24, pulled his ERA back under 4.00 by allowing one earned run in 6 1/3 innings with seven strikeouts Tuesday. He's now 6-9 with a 3.87 ERA in 18 starts for the Tides. Meanwhile, left-hander Andy Oliver is back in the rotation and fanned 12 in 9 2/3 innings while allowing two earned runs in his two starts before the weekend.
Before right-hander Parker Bridwell allowed two runs on four hits in 1 2/3 innings Thursday at Reading, he'd shown an immediate aptitude for the bullpen. He had strung together 7 1/3 scoreless innings with 14 strikeouts over five appearances. The team is encouraged with his work as a reliever, and scouts believe his arsenal is playing up well in the shorter stints.
Over his three starts before the weekend, left-hander Mitch Horacek allowed just one earned run as he enjoys some of his best performances over two years with the Keys. He has gone at least five innings in all but one of his 11 starts before Friday, a stretch that saw his ERA drop from 6.06 to 4.64 on the season.
Outfielder Randolph Gassaway briefly opened his season at Aberdeen, but has been one of the best hitters on the Shorebirds roster over the past month. Gassaway entered Friday batting .337 (32-for-95) with eight extra-base hits in 26 games. A 2013 16th-round draft pick, Gassaway had spent parts of the past two years in short-season ball, but is seizing his chance in Delmarva.
First baseman Preston Palmeiro, son of former Orioles star Rafael Palmeiro, is off to a hot start after debuting last weekend with the IronBirds. In his first seven games, the 2016 seventh-round draft pick and North Carolina State product batted .320 (8-for-25) with two RBIs. Outfielder Cole Billingsley went into Friday leading all Aberdeen regulars, batting .287 with three home runs and four steals in 32 games.