Frederick Keys gear up for playoffs and other minor league notes

With four games to go, the Single-A Frederick Keys are putting the finishing touches on an excellent regular season and gearing up for the Carolina League playoffs.

At 79-56, the Keys have the best record in the league despite losing five of the last six games. Frederick won the first half and leads the second half by a half-game over Potomac at 38-28.

The Keys are already assured of having their best record ever. The 2005 team went 79-61 and this team will finish better than that even if it loses the remaining four games.

That 2005 team featured Nick Markakis, Jim Johnson, Nolan Reimold, Adam Loewen and Garrett Olson.

With one more win, the Keys would have their first 80-win regular season. Tonight, Frederick plays at Kinston before wrapping up with three games at Wilmington.

The Keys will begin the playoffs at home next Wednesday and Thursday, hosting Potomac. Should Frederick win that best-of-five series, the Keys would host the first two games of the league championship series on Monday and Tuesday, Sept. 12 and 13.

Looking ahead to the start of the playoffs next week, lefty Jacob Pettit projects to be the Keys’ starting pitcher for Game 1. He is 6-0 with an ERA of 1.78 in nine Frederick starts. By the way, the Keys will be giving away Manny Machado posters to fans attending those first two playoff games next week at Harry Grove Stadium and there will be fireworks after the game Thursday.

In his first start since being named International League Pitcher of the Year, the Gwinnett Braves’ Julio Teheran got roughed up last night by the Triple-A Norfolk Tides, who beat him 9-4.

Brandon Snyder hit a three-run homer off Teheran, who gave up six runs and six hits over three innings. The win was also the 282nd for Norfolk manager Gary Allenson, which ties him with Frank Verdi as the all-time winningest manager in club history.

Tonight the Tides will honor fallen servicemen in Norfolk. Click here to read more on that.

Baltimorean Joe Velleggia has been named this year’s short-season Single-A Aberdeen IronBirds team Most Valuable Player. In 54 games, he is batting .257 with seven homers, 34 RBIs and a .786 OPS. The 23-year-old first baseman was drafted in round 40 last year out of Old Dominion. Velleggia is a graduate of Calvert Hall in Baltimore.

The Double-A Bowie Baysox host Erie starting tonight in a regular-season-ending four-game series. With a win last night, Bowie moved a half-game ahead of Richmond for second place and a playoff berth.

Oliver Drake pitched 5 2/3 scoreless innings of five-hit ball last night as the Baysox beat Altoona 3-1.

“I went out there trying to pound the zone and fortunately I had three pitches working today and I was able to keep them off-balance and get a lot of ground balls,” Drake said of his outing. “It’s always nice when you get a run in the first inning and go out there from the second inning on with the lead. As a pitcher, it gives you a great deal of confidence when you go out there with the lead because you feel really comfortable trying to challenge hitters and trying to get quick outs.”

Joe Mahoney hit a two-run homer to lead the Baysox offense and it was No. 11 on the year for Mahoney, who now has 52 RBIs in 58 games since July 1.

Since the All-Star break, Mahoney is batting .288 with 14 doubles, five triples, six homers, 44 RBIs and an OPS of .867 in 177 at-bats.

Mahoney, who played his college ball at the University of Richmond, was the subject of a recent feature by the school’s Web site and Spiders TV when Bowie played in Richmond.

Click here to see a very well done and entertaining video on Mahoney.

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