Oliver Drake is not pitching like a 43rd-round draft pick (Bascom note added)

He was just named the Orioles organization’s minor league Pitcher of the Month for June: Right-hander Oliver Drake is on quite a roll right now as he heads into his next start for Single-A Frederick tonight at home against Potomac.

Drake has put together a current streak of 22 consecutive scoreless innings. That counts a two-inning stint on June 23 for Triple-A Norfolk and 20 innings with Frederick.

On the year, the 24-year-old Drake is 7-3 with an ERA of 2.24. Over 88 1/3 innings he has allowed 74 hits with 16 walks and 71 strikeouts. He has a very strong 2.12 ground-to-air out ratio and is third in ERA, fourth in WHIP (at 1.02) and fifth in innings in the Carolina League.

Drake went 3-1 with an ERA of 1.13 in June and, over his past five starts, he is 4-1 with an ERA of 0.89, allowing just four earned runs and 29 hits over 40 1/3 innings. He has pitched into the eighth inning of each of those outings.

On June 27, Drake pitched a complete-game, three-hit shutout against Wilmington and he followed that up with an 8 1/3 inning outing versus Kinston, where he gave up three hits, but no runs again.

Drake pitched at Frederick last year, going 6-6, 4.36. He has made major improvement from then, lowering his batting average against from .272 to .232 and improving that groundball ratio from last year’s 1.26 to this season’s 2.12. Last year he gave up 19 homers in 128 innings and this season has given up just one all year in 88 1/3.

Drake is pushing for a chance to move up to Double-A Bowie. He did make two starts for the Baysox in April and then gave up 11 runs in just four innings.

Maybe before this season is out, he will get another shot at that level.

Drake’s story is interesting. He was drafted in the 43rd round out of Navy in 2008 and the Orioles felt his talent was of a much higher-round pick. But most other teams didn’t know Drake was a draft-eligible sophomore that could get out of his Navy commitment.

The Orioles did and took him in round 43. They later found out St. Louis was just about to take him.

Before someone fires off a comment knocking him because he is 24 or repeating Frederick, please keep in mind that if he could get to the majors in a year or two and help the Orioles for the next five to 10 years, who would care what his age is? Also, several players have repeated a level on their way up to bigger and better things, including Joe Mahoney with Single-A Delmarva in 2008 and 2009.

I think Drake should get credit for his improvement.

Bascom added to All-Star team: The Bowie Baysox have announced today that Baysox pitcher Tim Bascom has been named to the 2011 Eastern League Western Division All-Star team. Bascom is replacing Richmond’s Eric Surkamp on the roster, and joins catcher Caleb Joseph and center fielder Xavier Avery in the showcase.

On the season, the right-hander is 5-2 with one save and a 2.96 ERA over 73.0 innings.

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