Orlando Gomez on Frederick’s Carolina League title, plus Lester notes (updated)

While Tim Bascom and Jonathan Schoop picked up the top Orioles’ minor league awards this week, it was great to see Single-A Frederick manager Orlando Gomez win the Cal Ripken Sr. Player Development Award.

Gomez has spent seven years in the O’s organization and 47 years in pro baseball. Like Ripken, he is just a solid and unassuming baseball guy.

He seemed to relate well to the kids on the Frederick team that recently won the Carolina League championship, beating Kinston, three games to one, in the Mills Cup finals.

“It was great,” Gomez said of the Keys’ title. “We played great baseball at the end. We started swinging the bats better and defensively we played well. All the kids were really excited.

“In that first series (against Potomac), we struggled to get runs. Then we got some runs in that last series. The last day we scored 11 runs in one inning.”

The Keys’ championship was the first by an Orioles’ minor league club since Frederick’s last Carolina League title in 2007.

Gomez managed a team that had the top pitching in the league and maybe the best defense, as well. He also managed an amazing, young double-play duo of Manny Machado at short and Schoop at second base.

In the championship series, Machado had a homer and seven RBIs and was named the Most Valuable Player of the finals.

“He really stepped up in that series. He swung the bat well, got some clutch hits and hit a big home run in that series. You could see him growing up in that series,” Gomez said of Machado.

On Monday, Schoop was named the Orioles minor league Player of the Year. It was a well-deserved honor, according to Gomez.

“Schoop did a lot of good things. He swung the bat well in the playoffs. But the key was how he could turn some double plays. He caught the ball going right and left and he was outstanding,” Gomez said.

“He has a great future ahead of him. He’s learning how to play the game. He still makes mistakes as a young player. The good thing about him, though, is he can play short, third and second. You don’t know where his future is going to be (on defense). He can play all three positions well.”

In getting the player development award, Gomez, a quiet guy that never seeks the spotlight, actually got in that attention.

“It’s a great honor for me. I am very happy and excited to get that honor. I never was expecting this. I have to thank my coaching staff and players. One of the reasons I am here is because they played so hard and we won,” he said.

You can probably tell I have a lot of respect for Orlando and have been very impressed with the job he has done at Frederick for the last two years.

Some times, nice guys finish first.

Meanwhile, there is certainly plenty of drama around tonight’s season finale at the Yard as Boston and Tampa are even for the wild-card after 161 games.

Then you have the drama with Jon Lester on the mound. He has never lost to the Orioles, yet he is struggling in his last few starts. And, he is pitching on three days rest tonight.

Saturday against New York, Lester gave up a career-high eight runs in a season-low 2 2/3 innings. Over his last three starts, Lester’s ERA is 10.59 as he has allowed 16 earned runs in 13 2/3 and opposing batters hit .362 against him in those outings.

But here are his numbers against the Orioles:
2011: 1-0, 2.25 ERA. Beat O’s April 28 in Baltimore, allowing two earned runs over eight innings pitched
Career: 14-0, 2.33 ERA in 17 starts.
Career at Baltimore: 7-0, 2.47 ERA in nine starts.

So which Lester will show up tonight? The one that went 4-0 with a 1.16 ERA over five starts between Aug. 16 and Sept. 6, or the one from the last three starts?

Can his Orioles’ dominance last one more start, the biggest start of the year for the Red Sox?

Update: Baseball America released its list today of the top 20 prospects from this season in the South Atlantic League. Manny Machado was rated as the number two prospect in that league behind Bryce Harper and Jonathan Schoop was ranked ninth.

In the write-up about Machado, it says he is also the number one prospect in the Carolina League, although Baseball America won’t release that list until Friday. Did they let the cat out of the bag on that one?

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