FREDERICK, Md. - Here are some notes on the Single-A Frederick Keys as they begin the Carolina League championship series here tonight, hosting Kinston.
First baseman Aaron Baker, who joined the Orioles after his July 30 trade from Pittsburgh in the Derrek Lee deal, said the Keys are a close team with very good chemistry.
Baker hit a big two-run homer last night against Single-A Potomac and went 4-for-15 in that series.
"It's a great feeling to be a part of this awesome team. I feel like I did a very small part to win that game. (Jake) Pettit threw the ball extremely well and the defense was fantastic. Manny (Machado) made some amazing plays at shortstop.
"This group, we mesh well together and everyone gets along really well. They made me feel welcome from day one."
The lefty batting Baker, an 11th-round pick in 2009, hit .196 in 15 games at Double-A Bowie after the trade, but in 16 games with the Keys, counting the playoffs, he is batting .356 with four doubles, three homers and 13 RBIs.
This is Frederick's fifth appearance in the championship series in the team's 23-year history. The Keys are 3-1 in those series.
1990: Frederick defeats Kinston, 3-1
2005: Frederck defeates Kinston, 3-2
2006: Kinston defeats Frederick, 3-0
2007: Frederick defeats Salem, 3-1
The team that has taken Game 1 has gone on to win in the Keys four championship series appearances.
Manny Machado showed again last night why most scouts feel he can stay at shortstop on defense. He went into the hole twice to make great plays in the Game 5 win over Potomac and also showed off that big arm with a strong throw or two.
"Today, Bordy was here (O's minor league coach Mike Bordick) and we worked on my defense," he said after the game. "My adrenaline was pumping and it was pretty easy to get to that ball, just diving for it (in the fourth inning). Both plays were in the hole, but I have confidence in myself to get to those balls," Machado said.
One player not with the Keys now is pitcher Bobby Bundy. He was a big part of the success here this year. Before his late-season promotion to Double-A, Bundy went 11-5 with an ERA of 2.75 in 20 Keys' starts.
"Bobby put it together before he left here," Keys pitching coach Blaine Beatty said. "He was staying on top of the ball a lot better and had some nice downhill plane. It was good for him to go up to Double-A and you know, I'm not worried about him, he will figure it out at that level.
"His fastball is electric, 90 to 94, 95 at times. He had good action on his cutter and a nice 12 to 6 curveball. This kid can really be something special. He is not there yet, but when that stuff comes together and it will, he can be special," Beatty said.
Pitcher Jake Pettit was a real hero for the Keys in their series win over Potomac, winning the opening game and final game of that series.
In two starts, the lefty, a 42nd-round pick last year out of Western Oregon State College, gave up just six hits and two runs over 12 innings.
He used his changeup often in Game 1, but realizing the Nationals' hitters would be ready for that pitch last night, he went more with his fastball in Game 5.
"His fastball command was better (last night)," Keys manager Orlando Gomez said. "He pitched inside and out to the hitters. He used the fastball well. Last time he threw more changeups and he had a nice breaking ball tonight."
In the five games with Potomac, Frederick pitchers worked to an ERA of 3.73 and gave up just 27 hits in 41 innings for a batting average against of just .188.
Kinston finished with identical records of 38-31 in each half to finish with the second best overall record in the league at 76-62 to Frederick's 80-59. The Indians have 15 players that spent time on the Lake County Captains team that last season won the Midwest League championship.