Notes on Snyder, Miller and the Orioles outfield

Here’s wishing Brandon Snyder well with the Texas Rangers. He is someone I first met while broadcasting Aberdeen IronBirds games and he played there briefly in 2005 and 2006.

When Snyder had that big first half with Double-A Bowie in 2009, he looked like he was on his way to one day being the Orioles’ regular first baseman. But he never did put up big numbers at Triple-A Norfolk, some fans began to doubt him and he didn’t seem to be too high on Buck Showalter’s list last year either.

Snyder never got the chance to play regularly in Baltimore and that is probably because he just didn’t put up Triple-A numbers ever good enough to force his way onto the team. Some people in baseball wondered why a losing club like the Orioles didn’t just give Snyder 500 big league at-bats last year at the minimum salary rather than sign Derrek Lee for $7.25 million to play at first, but that is what they did.

I remember when Snyder tried to play through major shoulder issues in 2006 with short-season Single-A Aberdeen and every day it seemed he had less force swinging the bat. But he kept going out there even when it was clear he was just too injured to do so.

“I don’t want the fans to say I am a first-round bust. I need to go out and play to show the Orioles what I can do,” he told me then.

I was impressed by his determination, but he finally had to shut it down due to the shoulder issues that led the Orioles to move him to the infield and out from behind the plate as a catcher. It was probably a bad idea to try to make Snyder a catcher in the first place.

He’s not the first player to work his way up through the minor leagues but not get much of a big league chance with his organization and he won’t be the last.

But with that memory of Snyder dragging his injured shoulder to the plate every day in Aberdeen five years ago still fresh in my memory, I hope he gets a chance to show what he can do in Texas.

Meanwhile, Jai Miller, the outfielder the Orioles added from Oakland in a separate trade yesterday, was among the league leaders in several batting categories last season with the Sacramento River Cats of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League. It was his fourth year in that league and he probably should have put up some numbers and he did.

He batted .276 with 32 homers, 88 RBIs, a .368 on-base percentage, a .588 slugging percentage and OPS of .956. He did all that in 410 at-bats and went 16-for-16 stealing bases. He was third in the league averaging a homer every 12.81 at-bats.

Miller was second in the PCL in homers and fourth in slugging. But he was also first in strikeouts with 179. That is a ton for just 410 at-bats. In 3,276 career minor league at-bats, Miller has fanned a whopping 1,154 times. That’s 35 percent of the time.

Miller had an OPS of .877 in home games and 1.026 on the road with Sacramento. He hit 11 homers in 137 at-bats against southpaws and 21 in 273 at-bats against right-handed pitching.

In a September call-up with the A’s, he went 3-for-12 with a homer and two RBIs. Miller was recently designated for assignment by Oakland and the Orioles then acquired him. They will hope to get something out of a player it appears Oakland didn’t value very highly. The A’s have one of the worst offenses in the American League, yet they let Miller go.

The Orioles have the third-best outfield in the American League East, but they rank as the 10th-best in all of baseball. That is according to ESPN’s Buster Olney in his recent ranking of the top 10 outfields in Major League Baseball.

He wrote this about the Orioles:

Nick Markakis might be the best player casual baseball fans don’t know. But managers and coaches know him, which is why he won a Gold Glove for his play last season, and he has missed only 11 games over the last five seasons. Adam Jones is mercurial in center field, hitting for some power and playing good defense.

Olney ranked Arizona as having the best outfield play in the majors followed by the New York Yankees, Texas, Milwaukee, the Los Angeles Angels, St. Louis, the Los Angeles Dodgers, Boston, Kansas City and the Orioles.

Here’s how you can get a free O’s ticket: This season, once again, the Orioles will continue their popular “come to an Orioles game free on your birthday” promotion. Fans who register at will receive a voucher for a free ticket to a non-prime Orioles game in his/her birthday month. Those with birthdays in January through March will receive a voucher for an April game, and those with birthdays in October through December will receive a voucher for a September game. More than 50,000 fans have participated in the program since it began.

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