He has worked his way up and sometimes down on those top Orioles prospects lists. Back at Single-A Delmarva this season, 21-year-old right-hander Parker Bridwell hopes a cleaner, more consistent delivery will lead to better results.
The Orioles drafted Bridwell out of Hereford (Texas) High School in the ninth round in 2010. He was ranked by Baseball America as the organization's 12th-best prospect after that season, was fourth after 2011 and rated 23rd after last year, when he went 5-9 with a 5.98 ERA for the Shorebirds over 114 1/3 innings. He walked 63, fanned 71 and allowed a .281 average against.
"I struggled a lot last year," Bridwell said recently. "But I have been throwing more strikes early on, so I feel better about this year. You go through times and last year was one of those."
In his first two starts this season for Delmarva, Bridwell has an ERA of 1.69. Over 10 2/3 innings, he has given up 10 hits and three earned runs with three walks to 10 strikeouts. Right-handed batters are hitting just .167 (4-for-24) against him.
"Last year, I was kind of erratic on the mound, body parts going everywhere," he said. "Now I am staying on line a lot better and that is helping me throw more strikes. My location and command has been better for all my pitches."
How is he trying to get better and more consistent with his mechanics?
"It's a mindset, concentration. Drills obviously help a lot. You can do a lot of stuff mechanically but there also is stuff mentally you can prepare for. I'm comfortable where my pitches are at and the action on the pitches. I want to command it better. Throw more strikes," he said.
Bridwell said that showing up on those prospects lists doesn't put any more pressure on him, but he also knows that won't him get any outs either.
"It's always an honor to be on one of those. But you have to look past it and don't think about that kind of stuff and just perform on the field," he said.
It's early, of course, but here are the O's minor league ERA leaders right now:
0.77 - Josh Stinson, Triple-A Norfolk
0.82 - Josh Hader, Delmarva
1.59 - Jair Jurrjens, Norfolk
1.64 - Tim Berry, Single-A Frederick
1.69 - Parker Bridwell, Delmarva
Meanwhile, the Norfolk Tides are doing something nice in their community as explained in this press release from the team:
The Norfolk Tides organization will be renovating the Phoebus Little League field in Hampton on Wednesday, April 17 and Thursday, April 18. Phoebus Little League was the winner of the 2013 Field Renovation Contest, garnering over 5,000 votes in an online contest.
Members of the Tides front office staff, including head groundskeeper Kenny Magner, will take part in the field makeover, which will include an upgrade to the playing surface and an improvement to existing dugouts.
"Our entire organization is really excited to head out to Phoebus this week" said Tides General Manager Joe Gregory. "This is a chance for us to make a difference in the community, and we are eager to do our part in giving some very deserving children a wonderful place to play baseball."
This year's contest saw over 14,000 votes cast for 13 nominated fields in just five days of online voting. The Tides also helped to renovate three fields in 2012 - Ocean View Little League (Norfolk), Smithfield Recreation Association (Smithfield) and Bennett's Creek Little League (Suffolk).
The project is possible because of the Youth Baseball Fund, a program established by the Tides in 1990 as a way to raise money for youth baseball and softball programs in Hampton Roads. In addition to assisting with field renovations, the Youth Baseball Fund also helps local teams and leagues with travel expenses.
Ratings note: The Orioles-Yankees game on ESPN Sunday night delivered a record 8.4 metered market rating in Baltimore, according to Nielsen. This is the best rating in the Baltimore market for a regular-season Major League Baseball game on ESPN. The game delivered a 4.4 in New York City and a 1.8 nationally.
Red Sox note: Boston recorded a walk-off win over Tampa Bay today and has improved its division-leading record to 8-4. The Sox have won series against New York (2-1), Toronto (2-1) and Tampa (3-0), and lost two of three to the Orioles.