The Countdown to the IronBirds’ Season Begins with an Open Practice!

Welcome back IronBirds fans! We are officially one week away from IronBirds baseball and two weeks away form Opening Day!  We have a very exciting week coming up at Ripken Stadium and we are ending the week with something we have never done before!

This weekend coaches and players will start arriving in Aberdeen.  Many of the players arriving this weekend are coming from Extended Spring Training down in Florida.  Today was the second day of the First Year Player Draft and the first day the Orioles had a pick.  Today the Orioles drafted five pitchers, two infielders, and one outfielder. These players will need to sign contracts before possibly joining the IronBirds roster. We expect to have a roster in the next few days, but there will be several changes between now and Friday.

This week we have a ton of work to do before the team gets here and even more work prior to Opening Day.  Our staff has been busy getting the locker room set up and field ready. Plus we have to get all of our brand new jerseys ready for the season.  Our white home jerseys all get names put on them, and we must get the grey, black and orange jerseys ready as well.  Our grounds crew has been busy preparing the field for practices as well.  No more games are being played at Ripken Stadium until Opening Day to give the grounds crew plenty of time to prepare the field. We even have a brand new tarp for this season!  You will even see some new changes to the facility (both downstairs and on the Club Level) this season as well!

Practice will take place in the evenings this week.  Over the years, many fans have requested to see pre-season practices or even batting practices.  On Thursday, June 12th, we will be opening the stadium for evening practice.  All of our fans are invited!!  The event is free and open to the public.  You can come into the stadium at 6 p.m. with the event ending at 8 p.m. Concession stands will be open and we will have tables on our concourse as well.   This will be your first chance to check out your 2014 IronBirds before the hit the road to Hudson Valley.  We hope all our fans will come out next Thursday to show our new group of players that IronBirds’ fans are the best fans in baseball!  Stay tuned over the next week as more details are revealed!

Jared Breen 7-5-13  (6)

Over the summer make sure to keep checking back to the Bird Watch blog for all of your insider information. Over the next few months you will be getting more detailed team information, see player interviews, and preview all of the important information for upcoming home stands. We will be posting more often and you will even get more posts from our Media Relations department. Also, make sure to keep sending your IronBirds’ questions to blog@aberdeenironbirds.com. We only have two Mailbox Mondays before Opening Day so get your questions in now!  Check back on Monday to see if you questions is answered!

Until then…Go IronBirds!

 

 

Mailbox Monday

 

Welcome back IronBirds fans! Thanks again to all of our wonderful fans who not only submitted questions over the past week but attended IronFest this past Saturday.  Make sure to keep those questions coming, especially now that Opening Day is one month from tomorrow!  You can always email them to blog@aberdeenironbirds.com.

Steve writes: “I know Matt Merullo is back as the IronBirds skipper this season.  Who else will be in the coaching staff?”

Matt Merullo 6-18-13 (9)

IB: Well Steve, the rest of the coaching staff will actually be new to Aberdeen this year.  This year Scott Thomas will be joining the IronBirds as the hitting coach. Thomas was drafted by the Red Sox in 2003 out of Chaminade College School.  Throughout his time in the minors, Thomas played for multiple clubs including the Cardinals and the Phillies, but after a few years playing independent ball, was picked up by the Orioles in 2012.  In 2012, he played for the Keys, Baysox and Tides before finishing his playing career.

Justin Lord will be joining us as the pitching coach. Lord played his college career with Florida State before ultimately landing in the Kansas City Royals organization.  He then spent a few years in the Pirates organization before finishing his career in an independent league.

We are very excited to have them both join our staff this season!

 

Luke writes: “I saw Parker Bridwell almost threw a no hitter last week for Frederick.  Did he ever play for the IronBirds?”

IB: Yes Luke he did! Bridewell joined the IronBirds in September of 2010 where he was able to pitch in two games. He came back to the IronBirds in 2011 where he pitched in 12 games.

Parker Bridwell 6-17-11 (16)

Thanks again to all our fans for submitting their questions. Make sure to check back on Thursday to get more information on the IronBirds‘ newest program, Hometown Hereos!

Until then…Go IronBirds!

Another IronBird Called Up to the Big Leagues

Great news IronBirds fans!  Another former IronBird has been called up to the Orioles!  Yesterday Caleb Joseph joined the O’s roster making him the 31st former IronBird to do so.

Joseph played in Aberdeen in 2008. The catcher played 63 games in the IronBirds uniform and was named an All-Star that year. He batted .261 with 8 home runs and 34 RBI’s.

Joseph played in his first big league game last night going 0-3 but caught a great game helping the O’s to 4-3 win over Tampa. Joseph will be the starting catcher in tonight’s game well.

Caleb Joseph

We wish him the best of luck as his big league dreams have finally come true!

Mailbox Monday

Welcome back IronBirds fans!  It was a beautiful weekend the past few days and it is definitely starting to feel like baseball season.  Thanks again to all of our wonderful fans who took a few moments out of their time over the past week to send in some questions.  Remember if your question was not selected this week or if you think of any others, keep sending them to blog@aberdeenironbirds.com.

Sam writes: “I remember last season Conor Bierfeldt had some huge home runs.  How has he been doing so far this season?”

IB: Last season Bierfeldt got off to a slow start.  He seems to be on the same trend as last year so far.  He did hit a walk-off homerun over a week ago now for his first home run of the season. Unfortunately his batting average is low at this point with him only hitting .149.  He has currently struck out 26 times over 87 at bats.  Luckily the season is still young and there is plenty of time for him to develop into the same strong player he ended last season as.

If you are looking to follow a big home run hitter, follow former IronBird Christian Walker.  He currently has the most home runs for Bowie and for the entire Oriole’s minor league system with 6 to date.

  Christian Walker 7-28-12 (1)

Nick writes: “I know the Orioles have recently been having some pitching issues.  Are there any former IronBirds that are coming up in the system that could possibly join the Orioles this season?”

IB: Right now Kevin Gausman is looking like he will definitely wear the Orioles jersey at some point this season. He has been battling blisters on his hand and most recently pneumonia. This will probably delay him getting called up.  He has been on a pretty strict pitch count this season to save him for later in the year.

Hunter Harvey has been having a great season so far.  He has the second lowest ERA of all Orioles pitchers.  With Harvey still pitching for Delmarva, it will be interesting to see how far up the ladder he progresses this season.  He is a young pitcher who definitely has a bright future ahead of him.

 

Thanks again to all of our wonderful fans for emailing in questions this past week.  We hope to see many of you out at the Ripken Cup game this Wednesday!  Make sure to check back on Thursday as we recap the Ripken Cup game!

Until then…Go IronBirds!

 

 

Checking in on Former IronBirds

Hey IronBirds fans!  In the past few weeks we shared where many of our former players will be playing this year.  Today we wanted to check in to see how they are doing.  We definitely have some former IronBirds that are rising stars in the Orioles system.

Manny Machado – Manny has become a fan favorite of IronBirds fans and Orioles fans.  He has been making a ton of progress recently with his rehab.  Manny has played a few games down in Extended Spring Training and will join Frederick on Friday.  This is great progress and we should expect to see him playing down at Camden Yards in the near future.

2010_Machado2

Hunter Harvey – Harvey has definitely been a bright spot within the Orioles system.  Currently, Harvey is leading the South Atlantic League with 0.86 ERA.  He currently has pitched 21 innings and struck out 23 batters while walking 6 others.  These are some pretty impressive numbers for a 19 year old.

Delmarva – Delmarva has many member of last year’s IronBirds team who are looking to carry on that same success. Steven Brault and Jimmy Yacabonis have also been had very successful starts. Brault has been one of Delmarva’s better starting pitchers with a record of 2-1 and also recording 23 strikeouts in 23 innings. Yacabonis has currently recorded 5 saves.

Christian Walker – Christian Walker has been tearing it up in Bowie this year.  He was on a 10 game hitting streak through Wednesday’s game.  Bowie beat Erie 11-1 behind a Grand Slam on Tuesday.  That was Walker’s third home run of the season.  This is the second year in a row that Walker has been hitting above .300 in April.

Christian Walker 7-28-12 (1)

Glynn Davis – Davis is also off to a hot start for Frederick.  He is currently batting  a team high of .414.  He is also leading the team with three stolen bases.

Kevin Gausman – Gausman has also had several bright spots so far this season. After battling a blister on his pitching hand, Gausman pitched for a season long five innings. He allowed just four hits through five shutout innings.  He has been able to lower his ERA to 3.24 after a recent rough start.

 

Remember IronBirds fans to keep sending over your questions to blog@aberdeenironbirds.com. We will be back on Monday will another Mailbox Monday!

Until then. ..Go IronBirds!

Mailbox Monday

Welcome back IronBirds fans!  Baseball season is officially now in full swing!  All of the long season minor league teams have now started playing.  Even things around Ripken Stadium are starting to pick up!  Between planning for the season, hosting youth tournaments, and even preparing for the first annual Ripken Cup game next week, we are very busy.  With all of this excitement going on, we thank all of our fans for submitting questions over the past week.  We have chosen a couple to be answered this week.

Jim writes: ” Do you think former IronBirds pitcher Kevin Gausman will pitch for the Orioles this season?”

IB: Yes I do.  Gausman had a very strong spring.  Their were rumors he might have been called up to make the trip to Detroit for just 24 hours due to the possible rainout in Detroit. Major League clubs are allowed to carry an extra reliever on their roster for days they could have a double header He was slated to be the Opening Day starter for Norfolk but then scratched in case the Orioles needed them. . Gausman ended up pitching in Norfolk on Sunday.  He went 4.2 innings allowing 3 hits, 2 walks, and struck out 6 players.

Kevin Gausman (Corey Rinker) 8-12-12 (103)

Steve writes: “I got an email about a Marlon Brown Celebrity Kickball game?  Is that the same as the softball game from last year?”

IB: No Steve it is different, but we expect it to be similar.  The Marlon Brown Celebrity Kickball game is being put on by a different company than the one that brought in the softball game.  We do expect Ravens players and other celebrities to make up the rosters. Like in the past, this is a charity fundraiser as well.  A portion of the proceeds will be benefitting the Wounded Warrior Project.  Tickets are on sale now for the May 25th game.  You can purchase them online or you can call the office at 410-297-9292.  It should be a fun event!

 

Thanks again to all our fans that submitted questions over the past week.   Make sure to keep sending the questions to blog@aberdeenironbirds.com. This Thursday we will have another special blog from Paul Taylor.  Paul has recently spoken to Manager Matt Merullo and caught up about what players are down in Extended Spring Training.  Check back Thursday to see the details on their conversation!

Until then… Go IronBirds!

 

 

2014 Hot Stove Dinner

Welcome back IronBirds fans! As promised, today we wanted to put together a post to recap last night’s Hot Stove Dinner.  It was a great evening and for everyone that did not make it last night, you really missed out.

First of all, it was great to have everyone back in the stadium.  There is nothing like walking into a baseball stadium for the first time each year.  Though it was a little chilly and no games were being played, there was plenty of baseball talk. Guests were then treated to a great buffet featuring prime rib and herb roasted chicken.  After seconds and even some third trips to buffet, everyone had to make room for the blackberry cobbler.  No one left hungry last night.

Hot Stove Dinner Hot Stove Dinner 2

The highlight of the night was definitely the Question and Answer segment with Bill Ripken and Tom Davis. Tom Davis, as coined “The Rainman” by Bill Ripken knows an impressive amount of baseball statistics that he was able to wow the guests with throughout the evening.  Then we had the knowledge of MLB Network Analyst Bill Ripken along with his unforgettable humor that often had the crowd laughing out loud.

Throughout the evening, I took notes during the Q&A session so we could  fill all of our loyal fans in on some of the highlights. (These are not exact quotes but taken from my notes during the evening.)

Hot Stove Dinner 3

Question 1: Will instant replay verify umps are really that good?

Bill: I’m not sure. One thing I like is getting it right.  I think 80% of plays can be overturned in 20 seconds.  I am more of a fan of a 5th umpire in the box that buzzes down to the field when a call is missed and then the box will overturn the call.

Q2: Will the big payroll at the Dodgers pay off this season?

Bill:  I’m not buying it.  Just because you spend doesn’t mean you win. They have some very good players.  It’s not always superstars that win.

Tom: Ten out of the last 15 World Series winners were not in the playoffs the year before.

Q3: What are the differences in the minors now from when you played?

Bill: The players are getting here earlier and training.  The investment in money gives them more reason to get out here early.  I appreciated the desire at this level. You never know when it will be your last at bat. The game out here is at its purest form.”

Q4: Who was your favorite player growing up?

Bill: My dad managed in the minors.  The last three years we were in Asheville, North Carolina. Al Bumbry, Mike Flanagan, and Don Hickey were all going through there.  I would go play catch with them before the game.  Don Hickey loved to play catch with me so he was my favorite.

Q5: The Ripken Way was so connected to the Oriole Way.  How hard was it to play for other teams?

Bill: The Oriole Way was all about doing things right. I learned it the hard way when I went to Texas. I had played 5 1/2 years with Jr. and I knew everything he was going to do.  It was difficult to know not every team did things correctly. I do think the Orioles are starting to go back to doing things right now under Buck.

Tom: Buck is probably the best thing to happen to the O’s in 15 years.

Bill: He has a great record at starting the process.  He managed the Yankees and the year after he left the won the World Series.  He went to Texas and cleaned Texas up.

Q6: Who is the Best Player in the American League?

Bill: If I was building my club and I had my pick of any position players, it would be Machado, Trout and Harper before Machado blew his knee out.  Right now I would pick Trout.

Tom: The number one reason the O’s are on track is there recent number one draft picks have been good.  Markakis, Weiters, and Machado are all in the regular line up and now you have Bundy and Gausman coming up.

 

At the end of the evening, Tom had one question for Bill and he asked Bill  to predict the Orioles’ 2014 season.

Bill: The AL East is interesting. I can make an argument for four teams to win, New York, Tampa,  Boston and Baltimore.   I think Buck is the best coach in the division. Tampa has the best pitching. New York is hurting and if they can figure it out they will do well.  I love that Tillman is emerging for the Orioles. What bothers me is the Orioles don’t have a #1. Bundy could be that guy when he comes back.  Gausman is the key.  He’s got  the look.  His record might not reflect his talent.

 

Last night was a great evening and we hope everyone that attended had a wonderful time.  Make sure to check back next winter to see what guest we will have at the 3rd Annual Hot Stove Dinner.

If you have any different questions, make sure to email them over blog@aberdeenironbirds.com.  We have an exciting week next week as rosters will be announced for the other affiliates.  We will have a special blog on Thursday to update fans on where they can see some of our former players this season.  But, first make sure to check back on Monday to see if your question was answered in the next edition of Mailbox Monday!

 

Until then…Go IronBirds!

 

Mailbox Monday

Welcome back IronBirds fans!  Believe it or not we are only 88 days away from Opening Day!!!  We thank all of our fans for submitting questions and we encourage you to keep sending them my way!  You can email them to blog@aberdeenironbirds.com.

Cheryl asks: “When do pocket schedules come out and how can I get one?”

IB: Pocket schedules tend to come out closer to the season.  I would check back in mid-May for these.  If you would like one, you can mail us a self addressed stamped envelope to 873 Long Drive, Aberdeen, MD 21001.

Nick writes: “I saw your Facebook post with some of last year’s IronBirds taking BP, are there IronBirds returning to the team or going to another minor league level for 2014?”

IB: At this point we do not know.  The players in the pictures were invited back for Spring Training which is a good thing.
Spring Training is winding down and teams start playing in the beginning of April.  I would expect the long season teams to announce their rosters in the next few days.  At that point we will see if any of our former players are placed on those teams.  We will have to wait until mid-June to find out our roster.

Thanks again to all our great fans for submitting questions. Make sure to check back on Thursday as we have another exciting blog with more insider information!

Until then…Go IronBirds!

Mailbox Monday

Welcome back IronBirds fans!  We had several great questions submitted over the past week and thank all of our fans for doing so.  We have selected a few questions to be answered today.  You can keep sending your questions to blog@aberdeenironbirds.com and your question may be answered here next week!

Judy writes: “Are there any chances that some of my favorite players from last season like Hector Veloz and Connor Bierfeldt will be back again for the 2014 season?”

IB: Judy there is a chance but we have no way of knowing.  At the end of last season Connor Bierfeldt had received multiple awards so I would expect the chances of seeing him back in Aberdeen a little less.  Hector Veloz could possibly be back with us this summer, but he was an IronBird in both 2012 and 2103.  We should know very soon if they make the Opening Day roster for Del Marva or any of the other affiliates.

Gary writes: “Have any other former IronBirds been on the Orioles Spring Training roster since last week?

IB: Yes Gary they have been more IronBirds on the roster! Last week Jimmy Yacabonis was listed as an available pitcher.  We are still seeing other former IronBirds be listed as well.  Even though today’s game was rained out, Mike Yastrzemski, Christian Walker, and Kevin Gausman were all listed as available players.

  Jimmy Yacabonis 6-16-13 (20)

Make sure to keep sending your questions to blog@aberdeenironbirds.com.  Check back this Thursday for another exciting Bird Watch blog!

Until then… Go IronBirds!

Mailbox Monday

Welcome back IronBirds fans!  We hope you enjoyed this very spring-like weekend.  With the weather warming up it can only mean one thing, baseball season is almost here!  Thanks to those fans who took some time out their weekend to send their questions over.  We have selected a couple today to be answered.  Please keep sending your questions to blog@aberdeenironbirds.com!

Tina writes: “I saw in the blog last week that Mike Yastrzemski was seeing some playing time with the Orioles this Spring Training.  Are any other IronBirds from last season getting some time with the O’s?”

IB: Yes Tina they are! Over the past two weeks we have checked up on Hunter Harvey and Jonathan Schoop who have seen some time, but just last week on March 4th, Trey Mancini was listed as a reserve.

Trey Mancini 8-25-13 (59)

Bob writes: “Are there anymore of the Hot Stove tickets available?”

IB: Yes there are Bob!  Tickets are going fast so make sure to give the office a call at 410-297-9292 before they sell out!

Thanks again to our fans for submitting questions. Keep sending those questions to blog@aberdeenironbirds.com to see if you question is answered here next week.  Make sure to check back on Thursday as we will be taking a special look into the upcoming Hot Stove Dinner with Bill Ripken!

Until then…Go IronBirds!