When the Orioles announce their minor league player of the month for June, Michael Ohlman should get some strong consideration.
The Single-A Frederick catcher batted .356 with five homers, 17 RBIs and an OPS of 1.104 in June. His scorching hot bat finally cooled off during an 0-for-4 day on Sunday. But, in the four games before that, Ohlman went 10-for-15 with four doubles, one homer and eight RBIs.
The 22-year-old right-handed hitter has battled some injuries over the years including a right shoulder injury this season. But in 44 Frederick games for the season he is batting .318 with six homers, 26 RBIs and a .992 OPS.
"He's really competing at that level in his first year in the Carolina League," O's director of player development Brian Graham said. "He made really good strides last year and when you see a guy that continues to get better that is a nice feeling from a development standpoint.
"He stays in the middle of the field and his pitch selection is a lot better. He's not trying to do too much. There should be some power develop at some point. He's a big, strong kid who could get bigger. He'll have a chance to hit a few home runs."
Ohlman was drafted out of a Bradenton, Fla. high school in round 11 of 2009 and got an overslot bonus of $995,000 from the Orioles. Some of the potential is being seen now by the club and he had quite a run in June for the Keys.
How is his defense behind the plate?
"He's getting better. That shoulder injury set him back a bit," Graham said. "He's a big kid and a lot of times your bigger catchers, it's a little tougher for them to block balls behind the plate but he's getting better."
Update: It was announced this afternoon by the Keys that Ohlman has been named as Carolina League player of the week for the second straight week.
Meanwhile, right-handed pitcher Oliver Drake has been with Double-A Bowie for the last couple of weeks and is throwing well after undergoing shoulder surgery last Aug. 20.
Drake is pitching one and two-inning relief outings and is 1-0 with a 0.90 ERA and three saves. Over 10 innings he has allowed just five hits with three walks and 13 strikeouts.
"So far he's been really good," Bowie manager Gary Kendall said. "He has shown a lot of polish already. His delivery has looked good, his fastball command has been good and he's thrown some good split-finger pitches.
"Our plan is to kind of program his innings. Let him know, give him plenty of time and give him clean innings to work in. So far, so good with him."
Drake told me this in spring training about his procedure from last Aug.
"They cleaned up a little of the labrum, but they had to shrink a capsule basically in my shoulder," Drake said. "It was stretched out to twice the size of a normal capsule and the tendon was moving around in there."
A 43rd round draft pick in 2008 out of the Naval Academy, Drake was added to the O's 40-man roster, which he is no longer on, in Nov. of 2011.
Kendall said he is throwing as well now as he did before his surgery.
"To me it's like he never really missed a beat. He's throwing strikes with his fastball and it's got some quality to it. He's been 91, 92 (mph). He always topped off 93, 94 (mph)."
Bowie's Eddie Gamboa was named today as the Eastern League pitcher of the week. Gamboa threw a seven-inning no-hitter for the Baysox on Sunday, the ninth no-hitter in team history.
O's organization batting average leaders:
.355 - Henry Urrutia, Norfolk
.309 - Jason Pridie, Norfolk
.307 - Christian Walker, Frederick
.304 - L.J. Hoes, Norfolk
O's organization ERA leaders:
2.67 - Josh Hader, Delmarva
2.85 - Eduardo Rodriguez, Bowie
3.44 - Zach Davies, Delmarva
3.48 - Eddie Gamboa, Bowie
Draft pick signing: Baseball America's Jim Callis reports this afternoon that the Orioles have signed their 22nd-round draft pick, right-handed pitcher Jon Keller from the University of Tampa. Callis wrote that he signed for $100,000 and that the former Nebraska Cornhusker features a 90-94 mph fastball.
Keller, who was first drafted in round 11 by Seattle in 2010, went 6-3 with a 3.95 ERA this season with 33 walks and 47 strikeouts over 66 innings