Former Oriole Ryan Minor has the Delmarva Shorebirds off to a good start in his first year as a pro manager.
The Birds, who host Greensboro in Salisbury tonight, are 7-5 and tied for first in the South Atlantic League’s Northern division.
The Shorebirds have slugged their way to the top so far and lead the SAL with 72 runs scored and 13 homers.
Shorebirds players are all over the league leaders at this early stage. Brian Conley leads the league in OBP and is second in batting at .457. Tyler Kolodny has six homers to lead the league and is first also in extra-base hits and slugging. T.J. Baxter is first with 14 runs scored.
Minor feels his offense should be good all year.
“I think so. We’ve got a good mix with a couple of switch hitters and guys that can play multiple positions and also hit in multiple spots in the lineup. We’ve got some guys that can run like Bumbry and Baxter. Hopefully we sustain some of the level we’re at right now.”
Pitching and defense has not been as good for the Birds who are next to last in team ERA at 5.03 and last in the league with 25 errors so far.
Tonight, right-hander Matt Hobgood makes his third Delmarva start. He is 1-0, 4.66 and tonight will pitch at home for the first time on the year.
“He’s been really good,” Minor said of Hobgood, Delmarva’s first, first-round pick since Billy Rowell in 2007. “He has a lot of ability and potential. The first outing he walked a few guys. His second start he had a tremendous outing. He was able to keep the ball at the knees and he commanded his secondary pitches.
“Right now his two-seamer is working as well as anyone’s. He’s got great work ethic and wants to get better.”
Minor says Hobgood has fit in well on the team and doesn’t expect any special consideration as a first-round pick.
“He really wants to learn and always asks questions. You want your guys to want to get better. We want to see that out of our prospects. Some prospects can seem entitled. He is not and wants to earn everything he gets.”
Another pitcher dealing with some expectations is Ryan Berry, a ninth-round pick last year out of Rice that is 1-0, 4.70 through three starts.
“Ryan has quality stuff. He works fast and gets ahead in counts. He has four plus pitches in my opinion. He’s had some bad luck for us, we’ve made some errors and mental mistakes behind him.
“He’ll be a guy we can lean on. He’s a mature kid with great stuff. We just need to get him innings.”
Minor realizes his pitching staff has a lot of promise, but features four players currently 19 years old in Jesse Beal, Randy Henry, Hobgood and Ryan Palsha. Three others are 20 or 21, so some growing pains could be in the offing this year.
“We’ve got a lot of guys with good arms including guys in the bullpen. With guys like Randy Henry and Bobby Bundy, those are guys not far out of high school. Randy has tremendous upside and is one of the leaders in the league in strikeouts and he’s a bullpen guy.
“With the age and experience of this group, there will be some ups and downs. Some pitched maybe a little bit at Aberdeen or Bluefield, but have not faced a 140-game schedule. We’ll see if they can sustain what they have now through July or August.”
Hobgood’s two starts to date:
4-10 at Greensville: 4IP, 3H, 3R-ER, 5B, 4K..........Birds won 6-4
4-15 at Greensboro: 5 2/3IP, 6H, 2R-ER, 0B, 4K....Birds won 6-4