Thursday, May 28, 2015

Oriole #996- Chaz Roe

Unlike the previous four players who made their Orioles debuts (Rey Navarro, Mike Wright, Tyler Wilson, & Oliver Drake), Chaz Roe has been around the block a time or two. He actually has limited MLB experience, which includes 21 games with the Diamondbacks in 2013, as well as 3 appearances with the Yankees last year, but he was selected way back in the first round of the 2005 draft by the Rockies. He has pitched in the farm systems for five different teams and spent some time in the independent American Association over the past 11 years.

Chaz made his Orioles debut on May 24th against the Marlins and pitched two scoreless innings without allowing a baserunner and striking out two. He's made it into two more games since his O's debut, he walked two over 1.1 innings against the Astros on Tuesday, and gave up a hit and struck out one against the White Sox in the first game of today's doubleheader. So covering three appearances over 5 innings, he has given up just one hit, two walks and struck out three. Not too shabby.

Thanks to my dad's time spent getting autographs on his spring training trip and work making his Old Man Cards, I have probably the only signed Chaz Roe Orioles card in the world. Thanks Dad! And I'm 100% positive I have the only one personalized to Rayn!

I included Chaz in the group of Norfolk Tides players whom I considered that "anyone from this group could make it to Baltimore or none of them could" when evaluating candidates for Oriole #1000 just over a month ago. Looks like I was at least partially correct.

And good luck Chaz, keep mowing down those hitters!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Oriole #995- Oliver Drake

Wow, with four players making their Orioles debut last week, it's really pushing the pace of my posts. Considering there's no way I have time to write four in a week right now, maybe slow down a little bit with the new players, whaddya think O's? But then again, at this rate, we will see Oriole #1000 in just a few short weeks!

In this past Saturday's game against the Marlins, Oliver Drake became the third Orioles pitched within a week to make their MLB debut for the team, following Mike Wright, and Tyler Wilson. And it was another stellar showing once again!

Drake entered in the ninth inning of a scoreless game (no additional pressure for an MLB debut, right?) and pitched three scoreless innings giving up just two hits and striking out two. He pitched again in the eighth inning on Monday's game, with the O's staked to a 4-3 lead, and was dominant yet again, as he struck out two of the three Astros he faced and didn't allow anyone to get on base. 

Oliver took the long and winding road to the major leagues, as he was drafted by the O's in the 43rd round of the 2008 draft out of the Naval Academy. He pitched at every level of the O's farm system, including Bluefield, which hasn't even been an Orioles affiliate since 2010, but he continued to rise through the system. The O's actually added him to their 40 man roster way back in 2011 to protect him from the Rule V draft, but subsequent injuries and roster crunches led to his being removed before pitching for the team at that point. 

He was actually a minor league free agent following the 2014 season, but he agreed to a major league deal that once again saw him added to the 40-man roster. It was a deal that made since for both sides since Drake knew that being on the 40-man made a call-up much more likely and the O's obviously liked something they saw in him. 

He was largely a starter over his first four years in the O's system, but was converted to a reliever in 2013 and his results seemed to improve at that point. In fact, as the AAA Norfolk Tides closer this season, he had 8 saves and a 0.96 ERA with 30 strikeouts over 18.2 innings in 16 appearances. Those are the kind of numbers that dignify a promotion!

Good luck with the Orioles Oliver! I have a feeling that you might stick around in Baltimore if you continue to pitch the way you have been so far!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Oriole #994- Tyler Wilson

For the second time in the last three games, a pitcher has made their Orioles and MLB debut when Tyler Wilson took the mound in the ninth inning against the Mariners with the Orioles losing 4-1 to become the 994th player in Orioles history. He was officially recalled from AAA Norfolk on Sunday when Bud Norris was placed on the DL with lingering issues with bronchitis, but he had been with the club for a few previous days as a member of the "taxi squad".

Tyler allowed two singles in the inning but also got Robinson Cano to ground into a double play over his scoreless frame. I'm sure that he was relieved to not allow any runs in his debut.

He is the second consecutive home-grown player to debut for the O's, after Mike Wright's debut this past Sunday, and was selected in the 10th round of the 2010 draft out of the University of Virginia. He was also born and raised in VA, so it sounds like he had a nice contingent of family and friends at the game last night to seem his MLB debut.

It sounds like Tyler will continue to pitch out of the bullpen for the time being, but is a very likely candidate for the starting rotation in 2016. He seems to have made quite the impression on Buck Showalter during this past Spring Training, as he went 1-0 with a 0.64 ERA covering 14 innings over 6 games, and was given many opportunities to appear in games over some more senior pitchers who were competing for jobs on the big league club.

Good luck with the Orioles Tyler!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Oriole #993- The Mike is Wright

Now THAT'S how you make an MLB debut! 

Mike Wright was recalled from AAA Norfolk last Wednesday and announced his presence to the baseball world on Sunday. Due to an illness and an injury to Bud Norris and Chris Tillman respectively, Mike was called upon Sunday to make the start against the Angels, and a lineup that included MVP winners Mike Trout and Albert Pujols. 

How did he respond? Only by shutting down the Halos on just four hits over 7.1 innings and striking out six, including Trout. His Orioles debut, which was also his MLB debut, was among the best ever for Orioles starters, and I can say that I had the pleasure to be there with my family. It was a game that we won't soon forget, and I'm sure that it must have been one of the best days of Mike's life. 

Mike was drafted by the Orioles in the third round of the 2011 draft out of East Carolina University, and Bowman was cool enough to mess up his first, and one of the only current, cards of him by somehow photoshopping him into a Nationals uniform. I remember when Mike signed this card for me during his time as a Frederick Key in 2012, and I asked him how he felt about being pictured with the wrong team. At this point, I forget what he said but he seemed to take it and stride and didn't react too strongly.

I can also tell by the Old Man Card that Mike signed and personalized for me that I found that photo a few years back. I'm pretty confident it was taken on a back field during Spring Training (probably 2012 or '13) and at that point was one of the only shots of him in an Orioles uniform. Looking at the picture now, you can barely tell that it's him, but trust me that it is!

On one of my family's spring training trips, we happened to stay at the same hotel as some of the O's smaller name players and minor leaguers who were in big league camp and Mike was one of those players. I don't remember specifically interacting with him around the hotel, but you could pretty obviously tell that he was a player by his size (he's 6' 6", 215).

And I would be remiss not to mention that I read an account by how Mike preps for his games by reading a book in the stands prior to his starts. The book he was reading on Sunday was one of the Harry Potter books, which my wife and I both enjoy, so it makes him even easier to root for!

Good luck Mike! I hope you have many more starts for the Orioles like the one on Sunday. But even if you don't, no one can ever take away the fact that you are the 993rd player to appear in a game for the O's!

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Jaret Wright Makes it Right

The past couple weeks have been very good to me and my collection as I was able to add not one but two new autographs from my long-time need list. I wrote about my Freddy Garcia autograph earlier this week, and now I happily will also get to write about Jaret Wright. 

I covered Jaret's career in a post that I wrote way back in December 2011, and nothing has changed, baseball-wise for him since that time. The three games he pitched for the Orioles at the beginning of the 2007 season were the end of his MLB career. He pitched in four minor league games at hi A Frederick and AA Bowie towards the end of the 2007 season, and spent Spring Training 2008 with the Pirates but wasn't able to pitch well enough to get back to the show.

Jaret was featured in three major release sets as an Oriole in 2007, this Topps base set card, Topps Heritage, and Upper Deck Series 2. I know that a lot of other collectors work on Heritage sets, so I figured I had a much better shot at coming across a signed copy of the Topps or Upper Deck card. It just took over eight years for it to work out. I saw one signed copy of his Orioles Topps Heritage card on ebay maybe two years ago but someone else had bought it before I had the chance to do so, but this time around I quickly grabbed this signed card as soon as I saw it for sale.

I didn't really get back into collecting autographs hard-core until sometime in 2008, otherwise I would have almost certainly attended the Keys or Baysox games that Jaret was scheduled to pitch at to try to get one of his Orioles cards signed then as minor league rehab games are always a pretty good shot to get rehabbing Major Leaguers to sign, but I happily am adding this autograph to my collection now, better late than never!

Monday, May 4, 2015

Finally Freddy

Anytime that I am able to knock a name off of my list of Orioles autographs that I need is a good day, and today, I am happily knocking Freddy Garcia's name off of that list. 

Freddy made his Orioles debut back on May 4, 2013 and served as the Orioles fifth starter for about two months before being shipped to the Braves. I never got his autograph during his time with the O's but he had a few certified autographs out there, and I purchased a Mariners auto and plugged it into my collection.

Even though he was an well-traveled MLB veteran he was only in Baltimore for about two months, so I figured he wouldn't be featured in any sets as a member of the Orioles. Then on November 14, 2013 Topps released their Heritage High Number set, with Freddy pictured as an Oriole. No matter that he hadn't been an Oriole for nearly five months, and he finished the season with the Braves. Topps made me add Freddy's name to my need list.

Then Freddy spent the entirety of the 2014 season pitching in Taiwan. So I had no chance to get this card signed. And as far as I know, he still lives in his native Venezuela in the off-season, so obviously I wasn't sending him a TTM request that way. Freddy seemed out of reach, possibly permanently.

But then, the Dodgers signed him this past March 30th to a minor league deal. A window of opportunity to get this card autographed opened and I sent it out on a consignment via a connection on SCN. And there it is, a beautifully autographed Freddy Garcia Orioles card. And it was signed none-too-soon as Freddy was released on April 22, mere days after this was signed. And now, I don't have to worry about Freddy Garcia anymore.