If you live near Baltimore and want to see a bunch of 2013 Orioles draft picks play, go check out the short-season, Single-A Aberdeen IronBirds at Ripken Stadium.
When pitcher Eric Green joined the team this week he became the 15th member of the O’s June draft class to be added to the roster.
Many of the players, all drafted from the college ranks, are doing quite well for the 17-17 IronBirds, who are looking for their first-ever playoff berth in their 12th season.
Two of the position players are having good years and I had the chance to ask Aberdeen manager Matt Merullo about them before yesterday’s game.
First baseman Trey Mancini was drafted in eighth round out of Notre Dame. The 21-year-old, right-handed batter is hitting .328 with 10 doubles, one triple, one homer, 19 RBIs and a .823 OPS in 32 games. He is batting .364 this month and is 7-for-17 over his last four games with three doubles and six RBIs.
“He’s been a big part of our lineup from the get-go and a force in our lineup,” Merullo said of Mancini. “He brings a loosey-goosey approach to playing. He never gets too up or down, and brings a steadying force and nice presence to our clubhouse.”
What about his offense so far?
“He’s very aggressive and can put the bat on the ball,” Merullo said. “He doesn’t strike out much and you need that from a guy batting third. He needs sometimes to tone it down and not get too aggressive at the plate and get a better understanding of what pitchers are trying to do to him. Sometimes he gets himself out.
“There are some defensive things we work on, but I’ve been more than happy with his defense. But, like any corner guy, it’s his bat that will get him to the leagues. He’s been able to pull himself out of small funks because he’s got a good attitude.”
Mike Yastrzemski, drafted by the Orioles in round 14 out of Vanderbilt, is having a solid season for the IronBirds. In 22 games, the left-handed hitter is batting .319 with no homers, nine RBIs, a .430 on-base percentage and a .889 OPS. He is 8-for-20 (.400) batting with runners in scoring position.
He is the grandson of Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski, who was inducted at Cooperstown in 1989, a year before the younger Yaz was born.
“Mike is our most complete ballplayer,” Merullo said. “He’s a pleasure to have around. He is one of those guys that makes you look smart.
“He knows how to run the bases, he gets great jumps and reads on the ball in the outfield and can play all three positions. He’s a heads up player and I can bat him just about anywhere in the lineup. He’s been solid with his on-base percentage and his ability to hit with men in scoring position.
“It’s a clichÃ©, but Yaz is a ballplayer. Nothing too flashy about him. (Coach) Scotty Beerer keeps bringing up Nick Markakis. Scotty played with him years back and he keeps seeing Markakis in Yastrzemski. I put in my reports that he is our most solid, complete baseball player.”
High praise for the 22-year-old Yastrzemski from a first-year manager but a long-time scout who knows talent.
Merullo said he is having even more fun than expected in his first season as a manager in the O’s organization and said his players have made it that way.
“It’s a credit to our scouting department,” Merullo said. “They got us some good ballplayers but also quality guys that are excited to be here. There are no prima donnas.
“We have players that have a nice, humble approach to the game. They want to learn, have respect for our staff and they have a sincere appreciation for the surroundings they are in. This is a fabulous franchise to be a part of.”
The 2013 O’s draft picks currently with Aberdeen:
Round 8 - 1B Trey Mancini, Notre Dame
Round 9 - LHP Mitch Horacek, Dartmouth
Round 10 - C Austin Wynns, Fresno State
Round 11 - LHP Steven Brault, Regis University
Round 13 - RHP Jimmy Yacabonis, St. Joe’s
Round 14 - OF Mike Yastrzemski, Vanderbilt
Round 19 - RHP Dylan Rheault, Central Michigan
Round 20 - RHP Nick Cunningham, Arizona
Round 24 - IF Jared Breen, Belmont
Round 27 - LHP Donnie Hart, Texas State
Round 29 - OF Connor Bierfeldt, Western Connecticut State
Round 30 - IF Federico Castagnini, Creighton
Round 33 - IF Jeff Kemp, Radford
Round 36 - LHP Eric Green, Embry-Riddle University
Round 39 - LHP Augey Bill, Arizona