Last year the Frederick Keys yielded the Carolina League pitcher of the year and the Carolina League MVP, in Zach Britton and Brandon Waring, respectively. The 2009 Frederick Keys fielded players Britton, Waring, Caleb Joseph and Brian Matusz — had already been successful as pros.
This year, the Keys will import most of the 2009 Delmarva Shorebirds and while the pitching staff won’t be all that exciting, the toolsy outfielders should bring an exciting, fast paced tempo to the 2010 Frederick Keys.
The pitching staff should consist of a few exciting players, but nothing to get too worked up about.
Oliver Drake will lead the rotation and try and build off his solid 2009 campaign. Drake is a little under the radar and don’t be surprised if he has a breakout year.
Ryan Berry should make his pro debut with the Orioles — after falling to them in the 9th round of the 2009 draft. Berry pitched in some big games with Rice, and Frederick is the perfect place for him to start his career with the Orioles.
Berry and Drake are very similar pitchers, they both throw a low 90’s fastball and compliment it with an above-average secondary pitch. Berry throws an above-average knuckle curve while Drake throws an above-average slider. If they want to continue pitching as starters they’ll need to improve their changeups.
There is a reason Avery was a 2nd round draft pick, his raw tools are outstanding and he is the best athlete in the system. His tools haven’t translated to performance yet and he is still extremely raw. His speed is a plus-plus tool, although he was only 30 for 40 in stolen base attempts last season, so he’s still learning how to use his speed on the base paths. You should keep your eye on Avery. Follow his progress. Check the box scores, see if he’s taking more walks and making less outs on the base paths.
Hudson is another outstanding athlete and also has plus speed. Hudson out performed Avery last season but he is also two years older than Avery. Hudson’s ceiling isn’t that high and he’s a 4th outfield at the most. While Avery and Hudson are similar because they are both plus runners, Hudson had just 10 extra base hits in 2009, while Avery had 25.
Displaying more pop than Avery and Hudson, Welty had 36 extra base hits last season. Avery and Welty are about the closest things the Orioles have to five tool outfielders. If Welty can cut his strikeout rate this year, we could be looking at our next top outfield prospect.
L.J. Hoes will man second base for the Keys and he’s another raw player like Avery. In his pro debut in the rookie league, Hoes registered 30 walks against just 22 strikeouts in just 191 at-bats. The Orioles decided to jump Hoes straight to Delmarva so I wasn’t surprised to see him take just 23 walks in 465 at-bats with the Shorebirds.
You should expect to see some improvements from Avery, Hoes, Welty and Hudson and should start to see some indications how our 2008 draft class looks beyond Brian Matusz.