For Rowell: Back to the dirt

Billy Rowell is changing positions again. He’s moving back to the infield and back to third base.

Also, Rowell will begin this year with the Class-A Frederick Keys instead of playing for Bowie as some had speculated he might.

Rowell, the Orioles first-round pick in June of 2006, played in right field at Frederick last year. In his first three seasons in the organization he played at third base.

“I feel like this is a good plan. The new farm director John Stockstill has a plan for me in place and he thinks this will get me to the big leagues the fastest,” the 21-year-old Rowell said.

“They might DH me the first week or so, to make sure I feel comfortable there. Then play a couple of days a week at third and still DH, switch off and then eventually play every day at third.

“Just being on the dirt feels good. Outfield wasn’t uncomfortable, but I’ve just taken a lot more ground balls in my life than fly balls. I’ve played infield my whole life.”

Rowell began spring camp still as an outfielder and wasn’t moved to infield until about a week ago. He didn’t play in the infield in any minor league camp games.

Rowell has struggled on offense the last two years at Frederick, hitting .248 and .225, but doesn’t blame last year’s position switch for his problems at bat.

“I don’t think it hindered it. It wasn’t a bad move. Everything happens for a reason and it will help me down the road now having a little experience there. It was a good choice at the time and this is another good choice.”

He also says it’s not a big deal that he will be playing at Frederick for the third year in a row.

“People get hung up on going to high A or Double-A. It’s all about dominating the league and I didn’t dominate last year. You should have a successful year to move up. They are almost treating me now like a college guy starting at Frederick. I’m only 21. It’s almost like a new slate.”

Reports out of spring camp said Rowell was swinging the bat very well and that included a homer off Brian Matusz in an intrasquad game.

“I went back to my old high school natural swing. It’s comfortable, my old approach. I’m just a lot more relaxed this year mentally and having fun playing and my swing comes along with it.

“I feel like this is a good year for me and good things are going to happen. I feel like this is a good situation now.”

Some other starters at Frederick are reportedly going to be L.J. Hoes at second, Greg Miclat for short and Joe Mahoney at first with an outfield that includes Xavier Avery, Ronnie Welty and Kyle Hudson. Luis Bernardo is the likely catcher starter.

The Keys, who will be managed by Orlando Gomez, open the season on Thursday at Lynchburg. Lefty Rick Zagone is expected to get the nod as Keys starter then.

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