June 2011

Orioles add 3B Esposito in 2nd round

With the second-round pick (No. 64 overall) the Orioles selected third baseman Jason Esposito out of Vanderbilt University.

The 6-foot-2, 205-pound Esposito is a right-handed hitter whose biggest strength is said to be his defense. According to various scouting report, he moves well at third and has a plus arm to along with a swing that generates a lot of line drives.

A native of Bethany, Conn. Esposito (who graduated from Amity Regional High School) took over third base when budding superstar Pedro Alvarez went pro. He hit .362 in 60 games this season, with eight homers and 55 RBIs. Esposito was originally drafted in the seventh round of the ’08 Draft by the Royals.

Here’s a feature story on Esposito that was written last week.

Also, here’s a story on last night’s first-rounder, Dylan Bundy, and the close friendship he has with fellow draftee Archie Bradley.

Os to host press conference for Brooks Robinson HS All-Star Game

The Orioles have announced that the Brooks Robinson High School All-Star Game press conference will be held at Oriole Park at Camden Yards this Wednesday, June 8 on the 6th floor of the Warehouse beginning at 1 PM.

The press conference will announce and introduce the players, alternates and coaches from across the state of Maryland who have been selected to play in the game on Sunday, June 12 at Camden Yards following the Orioles’ 1:35 p.m. game against the Tampa Bay Rays.

The Brooks Robinson High School All-Star game is a showcase for the best high school baseball players across Maryland. The game, which is sponsored by Geier Financial Group, will feature the best players from Maryland’s northern half of the state versus players from the southern half. Geier Financial Group, based in Marriottsville, Md., has sponsored the game for the past eight years to celebrate the legacy of Brooks Robinson and salute the best of youth baseball players from across Maryland.

The Orioles have hosted the High School All-Star Game for 30 years, providing accommodations for the press conference, field use for the players, food, game tickets and recognition of the student-athletes in an on-field pre-game ceremony.

Bundy’s price

By now you probably read that the Orioles selected right-handed high school pitcher Dylan Bundy with the fourth overall pick.

The biggest issue, of course, is signing Bundy. While reports prior to the Draft were that Bundy wanted a deal that could reach $30 million, scouting director Joe Jordan said the team received new information that “doesn’t come close” to some of the astronomical figures previously reported.

However, Bundy said the demands were accurate.

“The numbers that were thrown out were true, “ Bundy said. “That’s how we feel and we feel that I am one of the best prep pitchers out there in the Draft this year, and we’ll see what happens I guess.”

So $30 million sounds about right?
“I guess so, huh?,” Bundy said.

“We are going to start the process pretty quickly,” Jordan said of the Bundy negotiations. “It is going to take some time. I have no idea what that means but it won’t be quick, I am certain of that.”

It should noted that this kind of stuff is standard fare for top picks and no one anticipates anything other than Bundy’s signing decision to come down to the wire. Unfortunately, it’s become the norm for the premiere draftees to holdout and maximize their value.

The Orioles next pick will be 64 overall, and live coverage of the Draft resumes at noon ET on Tuesday on MLB.com, where fans will receive exclusive coverage of Day 2 and 3, featuring a live pick-by-pick stream, expert commentary and Draft Tracker, a live interactive application that includes a searchable database of every Draft-eligible player. You can also keep up to date at Draft Central and by following @MLBDraft on Twitter. And get into the Draft conversation by tagging your tweets with #mlbdraft.

Orioles pick Bundy 4th overall

BALTIMORE– Widely considered the top high school arm –and perhaps the best right-handed pitcher, period – in this year’s First-Year Player Draft, the Orioles selected Dylan Bundy with the fourth overall pick on Monday night.

A 6’1 power pitcher, Bundy is built more like a position player than a prototypical prep arm but scouts from all over the country have raved of his arsenal, which boasts a fastball that has touched 100 mph, along with a trio of solid secondary pitches. His cutter that can reach 90 mph, and he also has a curveball and a change-up, the later widely regarded of one of his best pitches.

But just as impressive as Bundy’s arsenal is his ability to command it. In 71 innings for Owasso, Okla. High School, he had a 0.25 ERA, struck out 158 and walked just five. Bundy, considered the far and away the most polished high school arm, has been hailed for his fanatical workouts and intense devotion to nutrition to help him gain an edge.

Bundy will join an Orioles organization that has taken the approach under president ofbaseball operations Andy MacPhail of “growing the arms” and stockpiling pitching through the Draft. The Orioles current rotation includes homegrown arms lefty Brian Matusz, Zach Britton and Jake Arrieta.

Orioles/A lineups and pregame tidbits

*As expected, Chris Jakubauskas will get the start tomorrow. The O’s currently have a four-man rotation and Jakubauskas will make a spot start to keep everyone on regular rest. The Orioles don’t need a fifth starter again until June 18.

*Luke Scott is not in tonight’s starting lineup but he wouldn’t be with lefty Gio Gonzalez on the hill. He is feeling better, a day after getting a Cortisone injection in his right shoulder and manager Buck Showalter said Scott would be available to pinch hit.

*Just a reminder that live coverage of the Draft starts on MLB Network at 6 p.m.. The Orioles have the fourth overall pick in the Draft, which is slated to be at approximately 7:25 p.m. You can also keep up to date at Draft Central and by following @MLBDraft on Twitter. And get into the Draft conversation by tagging your tweets with #mlbdraft.

*Pitchers Jake Arrieta and Zach Britton will visit the Under Armour Freedom Bunker at the Under Armour Distribution House to help assemble Wounded Warrior Project Backpacks for injured service members recovering in military hospitals tomorrow. The players, Wounded Warriors and Orioles staff will fill backpacks with Under Armour gear and additional Orioles items as part of the Under Armour Freedom Initiative, developed to honor and support military and public safety officials.

ORIOLES LINEUP
Robert Andino 2B
Nick Markakis RF
Adam Jones CF
Vladimir Guerrero DH
Derrek Lee 1B
Matt Wieters C
J.J. Hardy SS
Mark Reynolds 3B
Nolan Reimold LF

Brian Matusz LHP

ATHLETICS LINEUP
Coco Crisp CF
Daric Barton 1B
Conor Jackson LF
Josh Willingham DH
Kurt Suzuki C
Mark Ellis 2B
Adam Rosales 3B
Ryan Sweeney RF
Cliff Pennington SS

Gio Gonzalez LHP

Scott gets shot in his shoulder

Outfielder Luke Scott received a cortisone injection in his ailing right shoulder on Sunday, a measure the team hopes will continue to keep Scott, who was diagnosed with a torn labrum earlier this season, on the field.

Scott was not available to pinch-hit on Sunday, although he still petitioned his case to manager Buck Showalter, and the team is optimistic he will be a go for Monday’s series opener against Oakland.

The Orioles are slated to face a pair of lefty starters in Gio Gonzalez on Monday and Josh Outman Wednesday and the left-handed hitting Scott probably wouldn’t start either of those games but would be available off the bench.

Scott has maintained that he will not undergo season-ending surgery on his shoulder, although it is clearly still bothering him at the plate. Coming off a career year offensively, Scott is batting .224 with six homers and 19 RBIs in 46 games, including a .151 average over his last 17 contests.

Asked if it might be worth considering shutting down Scott, Showalter said the team will continue to evaluate that option and figure out what’s best.

“Only Luke really knows [how much the injury is affecting him] because he’s not giving it up very much, at least not to me, and I talk to him about every day in some form or fashion,” Showalter said. “He’s a tough guy. He’s going to try to play through it and we’re hoping this injection kind of frees it up a little bit. If not, then what you’re talking about [in shutting him down] is something that we might revisit.”

Orioles/Jays finale and pregame tidbits

*Tuesday’s starter is still TBA, although Chris Jakubauskas is the most likely candidate. Alfredo Simon is another option out of the Orioles bullpen to make a spot start, but assuming Jeremy Guthrie goes fairly deep into today’s game (or there’s no crazy 15-inning event) the Orioles are leaning on using Jakubauskas for Tuesday’s game against Oakland.

*Brian Roberts’ return is still a very inexact timetable according to manager Buck Showalter. Roberts will be reevaluated by concussion specialist Dr. Collins in Pittsburgh on Tuesday. He has been resting for the two weeks prescribed and the team should have a better idea after his next appointment.

*A neat little stat: the 128 homers Mark Reynolds had before his first slam was the most any active player had before hitting his first career slam. You can read more about Reynolds’ hit in last night’s game story.

*Top prospect Manny Machado was activated from the Minor League disabled list today and will rejoin the Delmarva Shorebirds.

The Orioles also announced on Sunday that Jonathan Schoop has been promoted to Frederick. Through 51 games, Schoop batted .316 for the Shorebirds with a team high eight home runs and 34 runs-batted-in. Schoop also led the Shorebirds with 45 runs scored.

ORIOLES LINEUP
Robert Andino 2B
Nick Markakis RF
Adam Jones CF
Vladimir Guerrero DH
Derrek Lee 1B
J.J. Hardy SS
Mark Reynolds 3B
Nolan Reimold LF
Craig Tatum C

Jeremy Guthrie RHP

BLUE JAYS LINEUP
Yunel Escobar SS
Corey Patterson LF
Jose Bautista RF
Adam Lind 1B
Aaron Hill 2B
Edwin Encarnacion DH
Rajai Davis CF
Jose Molina C
Jayson Nix

Jo-Jo Reyes LHP

Arrieta’s night

Orioles starter Jake Arrieta admitted his outing Saturday was pretty ugly and he’s now walked three or more in six consecutive starts. The thing that I take away from this, however, is that he took responsibility for Saturday’s subpar –but still technically a quality start — and immediately went over a solution with pitching coach Mark Connor.

Arrieta’s problems with command stem mostly from his delivery and the key to that is he has to be able to keep himself mechanically sound instead of having Connor or catcher Matt Wieters remind him.

“He’s a big help,” Arrieta said of Wieters, who came out for a brief mound meeting to help settle him down.

“Wieters gets on me quite a bit. He’s kind of like my older brother, but I think I’m actually older than him. But he works with me a lot out there, in between innings he will come in and he told me in the 5th, he’s like you gave up a run. you gave up a run that you shouldn’t have given up there in the 4th inning.

It’s nice to have him make comments like that and know that you just got to do a better job next time.”

Arrieta worked out of several jams, including a bases-loaded third inning, but managed to give the Orioles six innings, allowing three runs on five hits and four walks.

“He’s done that a few times,” manager Buck Showalter said of Arrieta’s bend but not break approach.

“We’d like to do away with it and get it done with. I think that he had 80 pitches through four. But only one of those balls was hit hard and it was a home run.

But the walks and the counts, the stress of those innings, every inning, it seemed like there was somebody out there. He just couldn’t have a clean inning. The double play with the bases loaded was big. We’ll leave it at that. His command has been a challenge for him. It seemed like as soon as Corey [Patterson] hit the home run, he wasn’t as competent in the strike zone.”

Reynolds on his D: I have to get better, I know that

Orioles third baseman Mark Reynolds and infield coach Willie Randolph worked on a more aggressive, up-tempo set of pregame fielding on Saturday, an approach designed to get Reynolds practicing in “game speed” and help restore a defensive rhythm that has gone haywire at times.

“It’s just focus, that’s what it boils down to,” Randolph said of Reynolds, who committed his 11th error Friday and is tied for the Major League lead in that category. “It’s a matter of just anticipating every ball being hit to you. Sometimes he gets caught a little bit flat. With him it’s feet.”

The approach stressed was first step forward, as both Reynolds and Randolph admit that the third baseman can get too passive in waiting back on his heels. Reynolds got caught letting J. P. Arencibia’s ball play him in the second inning of Friday’s game, giving Toronto a pair of runners on base with no outs. The Blue Jays would go on to score a pair of unearned runs en route to an 8-4 win.

“I can live with mistakes if I know I was aggressive and try to make the right play,” Reynolds said.

“So that’s what I’m going to try to concentrate on, is leaving offense in the dugout and going out there and playing solid D.”

It’s no secret that Reynolds has struggled offensively as well, and he entered Saturday hitting .188 with seven homers and 24 RBIs in 54 games. While Randolph acknowledged separating offense from defense –particularly on a new team – is easier said than done, Reynolds didn’t use his underperformance at the plate as an excuse.

“It’s definitely not me thinking about my offense out there,” Reynolds said. “Maybe sometimes I take the routine play for granted, [I] think I have too much time. I can’t put my finger on exactly what’s going on [defensively]. But I have to get better, I know that.”

Acquired from the Arizona Diamondbacks in an offseason trade, the Orioles maintained this winter that Reynolds –who would add a much-needed power bat – was far from a liability at third base. He worked diligently with D-backs coach Matt Williams after a 2008 season in which he made the most errors (34) and had the lowest fielding percentage (.904) of all Major League third baseman and the work paid off, as sliced that error total in half. He committed 19 and 18 errors respectively, at third base in the previous two seasons and is hopeful that he can start to flash the leather in Baltimore.

“I take pride in my defense,” Reynolds said. “I take pride in what I do out there. Aside from probably four or five routine balls that I should have made the play on, my other errors are throws on the run, or spin throws, barehanded plays. Tough plays. I’d like to think I can make most of them, but so far I just haven’t been able to make the tough plays.”

“If you are going to make an error, make a legitimate error [and] just mess it up,” Randolph said. “I can live with that. But don’t make careless, or what I call tic-tac, errors where you aren’t moving your feet, or you’re flipping the ball.

“You can tell errors where it’s a mental error or you get lazy. He’s not the only one doing this, but we just had a conversation about it [Saturday]. We talked [Friday] night, he knew what he did right away. He knew he didn’t charge the ball…it’s what [infielders] all do at some point in time. It’s my job to get them back in the rhythm.”

O’s vs. Toronto: Lineups and tidbits

*First baseman Derrek Lee will return to the Baltimore lineup tonight pending nothing goes wrong physically in batting practice. If activated, he will bat fifth and return to first base. Lee will still head to Sacramento, Calif. Thursday and Friday for his grandfather’s funeral.

*Brian Roberts, who is on the disabled list with concussion-like symptoms, will see concussion specialist Dr. Michael Collins in Pittsburgh Tuesday. Roberts has not played in a game since May 16 and initially saw Dr. Collins May 24 when he was told he would be reevaluated in two weeks.

*Right-handed pitcher Justin Duchscherer, who is on the disabled list with a strained left hip, will throw five innings in extended spring Tuesday.

*Top Orioles prospect Manny Machado (dislocated left kneecap) continues to progress in extended spring training games and should be back playing with Delmarva by mid-week.

ORIOLES LINEUP
Robert Andino 2B
Nick Markakis RF
Adam Jones CF
Vladimir Guerrero DH
Derrek Lee 1B
Matt Wieters C
J.J. Hardy SS
Mark Reynolds 3B
Nolan Reimold LF

LHP Jake Arrieta

BLUE JAYS LINEUP
Yunel Escobar SS
Corey Patterson LF
Jose Bautista RF
Adam Lind DH
Juan Rivera 1B
J.P. Arencibia C
Aaron Hill 2B
Rajai Davis CF
Mike McCoy 3B

LHP Ricky Romero

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