Even though the Single-A Frederick Keys have not gotten off to a good start, going 3-7 through their first 10 games, a couple of their players sure have.
That includes relief pitcher Mychal Givens. The 23-year-old right-hander was converted from an infielder to a pitcher last season at Single-A Delmarva.
The Orioles' second-round pick in 2009, Givens went 2-3 with a 4.22 ERA and three saves for Delmarva. Over 42 2/3 innings, he walked 19 with 36 strikeouts, allowing just one homer, and had a .219 batting average against.
Ranked as the Orioles' No. 23 prospect by Baseball America, Givens showed a heavy sinking fastball that could reach the mid-90s and the Orioles seem intrigued by Givens on the mound.
Last season, in the first year of the conversion, the Orioles were conservative with how they used Givens and closely monitored his innings and appearances. That won't happen to the same degree this season, according to the club's director of player development, Brian Graham.
"He's going to be more on a regular pitcher's routine and less on a controlled innings routine," Graham said. "Last year, we laid his innings out for him. He knew if he pitched one day, he knew he wasn't pitching for three days. This year he's more in a normal pitcher's routine with keeping an eye on the number of innings he'll pitch this year.
"Normally, you really don't want pitchers to jump up more than 20 innings than they pitched the year before. That is an industry guideline for protecting pitchers. He pitched well in spring training and he's pitched well so far this year."
Over three outings at Frederick, Givens has pitched five innings, allowing just one hit and one unearned run with one walk and eight strikeouts. Opposing batters are just 1-for-17 against him.
Meanwhile, Keys outfielder Glynn Davis continued his hot start Sunday, going 4-for-6 with career highs in runs and RBIs with four each.
Davis is 12-for-23 over his last five games - all multi-hit games - and he leads the Carolina League in batting at .477.
It's a big year for the 22-year-old outfielder, who has spent parts of the past two seasons in Frederick and dealt with hamstring issues last year when he batted .234. He is the O's 29th-ranked prospect.
"Very good," Graham said of Davis' hot start. "It's that time where Glynn needs to put together a solid season and he's off to a very good start."
Some fans were surprised to see Korean right-handed pitcher Suk-min Yoon give up nine runs on 11 hits in just 2 1/3 innings in his first start on April 8.
"Well, he left some balls up out over the plate and he got hit. Absolutely no reason for alarm right now. He needs to go pitch every fifth day and get used to the routine here," Graham said.
It went a little better for Yoon when he started Sunday for Triple-A Norfolk. He went 4 1/3 innings and gave up six hits and three runs - and that lowered his ERA to 16.20.
Left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez makes his third start of the year for Double-A Bowie tonight when the Baysox play at Erie.
The Orioles' No. 3 prospect, Rodriguez, who turned 21 a week ago today, is 1-1 with a 7.20 ERA so far, giving up four runs in five innings in both of his starts. It was a little surprising to see him with that ERA after he finished so strong for Bowie last year, when he pitched to an ERA of 0.36 over his last four starts. Right-handed batters have hit .412 so far off Rodriguez.
"He pitched well early in the games, but as the innings progressed, he got hit. This early in the season, it would be not fair to make judgement. It's too early in the year," Graham said.
Graham said we should not look at Rodriguez's first two Bowie outings as any carryover from the stats that Rodriguez put up in spring training games in March for the Orioles. Rodriguez allowed eight runs in six innings in major league spring training games.
"That would be absolutely unfair to say that. Let's let this guy get 10 starts under his belt and then we'll evaluate him," he said.