It's time to give the Frederick Keys some major props

The Frederick Keys are one of the hottest teams in minor league baseball right now. The Keys beat Potomac 7-2 last night and that extended the club's win streak to seven games, the Keys' longest since August of 2005.

The Keys have won 12 of their past 13 games and have the Carolina League's best record at 36-22, a .621 winning percentage. They are closing in on the first-half title in their division with a lead of 5 1/2 games with 12 contests to play.

After finishing April a game under .500, the Keys have been stellar since, going 19-11 in May and 6-0 in June. They are fourth in the league in runs scored and third in team ERA with a 3.44 mark.

The Keys rotation has been solid and consistent, led by Bobby Bundy, Ryan O'Shea, Oliver Drake and Nate Moreau. Bundy is 6-3 and his ERA of 2.73 is eighth-best in the league. Frederick starters have worked to an ERA of 3.36.

Sean Gleason has an ERA of 5.63, but is leading the league with 15 saves in 17 chances and is averaging 12.4 strikeouts per nine innings. Clay Schrader recently joined that bullpen from Delmarva and has fanned 15 in his first 8 2/3 Carolina League innings.

Catcher Brian Ward has been solid behind the plate and has thrown out 50 percent of those trying to steal at 24-for-48.

Tyler Townsend continues to lead the offense, batting .322 with 19 doubles, 10 homers, 39 RBIs and a .584 slugging percentage. He is currently first in the league in batting, total bases and slugging. Tyler Kolodny leads the league with a .400 on-base percentage.

Infielder Jonathan Schoop was promoted from Delmarva on Sunday and has gone 4-for-12 with two RBIs in his first three games.

The Keys play at Potomac tonight, but you can catch them in Frederick this weekend at Harry Grove Stadium when they host Lynchburg.

In other minor league notes, as we reported here recently, Orioles 2010 minor league player of the year Joe Mahoney is expected to head north from Sarasota and join Frederick this weekend. He is not being assigned to that club and will rejoin Bowie soon. But with the Baysox in Maine this weekend, the Orioles will send Mahoney first to Frederick and then back to Double-A.

Matt Hobgood is making progress with his throwing program. Yesterday he tweeted the following:

Just had another good live BP today, arm felt great. Couldn't ask for anything else. Feeling healthy is awesome.

Hobgood has been in Sarasota, rehabbing a strained rotator cuff. The plan calls for him to likely pitch in some games in the Gulf Coast League when that season begins later this month. He could move to another affiliate later in the summer as the O's hope to get him healthy and full go for the 2012 season.

Last year, the O's 2009 first-round pick went 3-7 with an ERA of 4.40 in 21 starts with Delmarva.

Manny Machado was pinch hit for last night in Delmarva's game with West Virginia, but there is no injury and he is fine. He was the DH for a night and was just pulled after three at bats in a blowout game.

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