Down on the farm (updated)

Second baseman LJ Hoes, the Orioles’ third-round pick in 2008 out of St. John’s (DC) High School, has been promoted from Single-A Frederick to Double-A Bowie.

Hoes is batting .241 with seven doubles, three homers, 17 RBIs and a .638 OPS in 41 games. He’s 8-for-39 in his last 10 games, but he has hits in six of them.

Hoes is batting .303 against left-handers and .196 against right-handers. He’ll need to work on those splits.

Baysox manager Gary Kendall can start writing Hoes’ name in his lineups, as he does most nights with center fielder Xavier Avery.

Why do I bring up Avery? Because I’m looking to transition this blog topic.

I sat down with Kendall before Alfredo Simon’s first injury rehab start with the Baysox, and Avery was one of the subjects we covered. Since the Orioles aren’t playing tonight, I figured it was an opportune time to pass along his comments.

Avery, selected one round ahead of Hoes, is batting .237 with eight doubles, five RBIs, 18 stolen bases and a .583 OPS in 42 games with Bowie. It’s much too early to make a final judgment on a 21-year-old athlete who got a late start playing baseball and was regarded as a project of sorts when drafted, but it’s safe to say there’s lots of room for improvement.

“Good so far,” Kendall said. “I know the average isn’t ideally what he wants, but it’s just a work in progress. I know he went up here last year for a trial and starting the year here, I think he’s made good adjustments in the outfield. Having Denny Hocking here on staff has been a big plus because Denny had him last year, so there are little key words that they use to get him going offensively and to help him in the outfield.

“There are some things that Xavier’s going to have to work on, especially being a leadoff hitter - seeing pitches, not being afraid to hit with two strikes. We want to utilize that bunt more, and it’s a hard thing to get across to him sometimes because he may be 0-for-2 and he sees the infield in, playing him on the corners, and he thinks he’s bunting into an out. But as (Kyle) Hudson did last night, they were up on the corners and he laid down a beauty and it was bang-bang. And it’s about him getting better and developing, so if we’re losing a ballgame, 5-1, we really encourage him at that time in the game to try that bunt hit because that’s got to be part of his arsenal.

“He improved in the outfield. He had an assist the other night at second base on a guy trying to stretch a long single. He’s got tools. It’s just about, as a coaching staff, to keep encouraging him, keep working with him, and for him to keep confidence in himself in the bunting thing. Bunt 100 balls a day, which he’s been doing, and take extra fly balls in early BP if he’s done hitting. Things like that. He’s all about working hard.”

I’ve heard criticisms about Avery’s defense in center, how he takes bad routes to balls but often can outrun his mistakes. I saw him drop a fly ball in right-center field in the Simon game that was scored a hit.

“His routes have improved - footwork, using a reverse pivot when he goes in the gap, maybe the left-center field gap where he’d try to get his shoulders turned around a different way,” Kendall said. “I’ve never managed him until this year. From seeing him in spring training and instructional leagues in years past, he’s a better player each day. You might not see it in the 0-for-4, but he’s a better baserunner, he’s making adjustments, his primary and secondary leads are aggressive. He’s got some weapons.”

Kendall also talked about two of his pitchers:

Reliever Dan Klein, who’s allowed one earned run and struck out nine 11 1/3 innings:

“I had him last year at Aberdeen when he signed, and what I saw in Aberdeen was very similar to what I saw his first two innings that he threw the other night, and that’s real good mound composure, a good feel and a good awareness of what he’s doing out there. Very confident in his off-speed pitches, maybe too much at times. We’d like to get him to throw his fastball more. That’s something organizationally they’d like to have him do. Develop the control and the command of that fastball. Sometimes, he pitches backward, starts guys out with a lot of off-speed pitches - breaking ball, changeup. And not that there’s anything wrong with that, but in his development, that’s one of the things they want to make sure he gets, his good fastball command. He’s a guy that’s apparently moving kind of quick. He’s very mature and brings a lot to the table.”

Starter Steve Johnson, who’s 2-1 with a 2.06 ERA in six starts:

“He’s just throwing the ball really good. He’s keeping the ball down and his breaking ball and his changeup, he’s getting over the plate. He’s got the ability to throw a 3-1 changeup and a 3-1 breaking ball so people can’t sit on pitches. He’s a guy who’s easy to play behind from an infielder’s standpoint and outfielder’s standpoint because he pitches to contact, his tempo is so good in a game. He gets it and it’s right back on them again. We’re happy to have him. He’s been making some good starts for us.

“It isn’t like when he’s 3-1, he’s missing bad with the three pitches. It’s just a little off the plate, a little up. It almost looks sometimes like it’s by design because he has a lot of success. He’s cut down on his walks and he’s got a lot of strikeouts. He’s doing well.”

Update: Hoes is starting in right field tonight, and he’s 1-for-3 with a double and RBI.

Buck Britton is starting in left field. The only Bowie outfielder in his normal position is Avery, who’s 2-for-3 with a double and walk. He’s batting .244.

Triple-A Norfolk third baseman Josh Bell hit his sixth home run tonight, and it came against Reds first-rounder Mike Leake, who relieved Aroldis Chapman after one inning.

Craig Tatum led off the third inning with a double off Leake. Kyle Hudson singled and Tatum scored on a fielder’s choice grounder from Matt Angle. Tyler Henson followed with an RBI single.

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