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2014 Delmarva Shorebirds season preview

Meet some of the newest Baby Birds as their professional careers take flight

The Class Low-A affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles return to action on Thursday, April 3rd, and they look to field one of their most impressive and exciting rosters in recent memory. The break camp roster is comprised predominantly of players brought into the organization over the past two years under the leadership of Dan Duquette and Scouting Director Gary Rajsich. Just 6 of the 26 players assigned to Delmarva were signed under the MacPhail regime, so this will give fans of the O's their first true look at the early returns of the current amateur scouting regime.

The Pitching Staff

The marquee name headlining the roster is 2013 1st round selection, (RHP) Hunter Harvey. Despite falling to the O's at the 22nd overall selection, Harvey garnered a degree of attention from some prospect writers more befitting a top 10 pick. Just 19 years old, Harvey will be one of the youngest players in the South Atlantic League. He earned this aggressive assignment after impressing over his 8 starts and 25.1 IP split between the Gulf Coast League and Short Season A-ball Aberdeen. I expect Harvey to stick around Delmarva for the bulk of the season, with a late season promotion to High-A Frederick not out of the question should he show he's ready for the challenge.

Harvey should be joined in the Shorebird rotation by fellow 2013 draftees (LHP) Mitch Horacek (9th round) and (LHP) Steven Brault (11th round), by the wonderfully named (RHP) Sebastian Vader, and finally by fellow 19 year old (RHP) Luc Rennie, who started 10 games for Delmarva last season.

One name to watch for as the season goes along is (LHP) Stephen Tarpley, who was drafted in the 3rd round last year out of an Arizona area Community College after having transferred out of the University of Southern California. Tarpley will start the season off in the GCL, but could be in line for a quick promotion up to Delmarva before long.

Positional Players

The offensive side of the roster is headed by two consensus top-10 Orioles prospects: (CF) Josh Hart and (C) Chance Sisco, the Orioles 2nd and 3rd selections in the 2013 draft. Hart was drafted out of an Atlanta area High School and is more athlete than ballplayer at the moment. But the potential for a solid center fielder, both offensively and defensively, is evident in his skill set. The outfield will also feature the much-discussed-as-a-result-of-his-name Mike Yastrzemski, the power bat of Conor Bierfeldt, and the speedy Gregory Lorenzo.

Sisco was the first of four catchers selected by the O's over their first ten selections in the 2013 draft. His offensive performance in the GCL caught nearly as much attention as Harvey's pitching did. He's still relatively new to catching, having just begun to don the tools of ignorance late in his high school career. Also just 19 years old, he and Harvey should almost certainly form the youngest battery tandem at a full season level.

The infield features one-time Bonus Baby signee (3B) Hector Veloz, who has finally managed to make his way to full season ball after 3 somewhat disappointing seasons in various short season levels. He just turned 20 in February, so he still has time to develop on his side. But he's going to have to show something soon should he want to progress further up the O's organization, particularly because of the presence of (3B) Drew Dosch, a 2013 draftee (7th round) out of Youngstown State University. Dosch did not play for the O's in 2013 after being drafted due to a knee injury. Across the diamond from Veloz & Dosch will be 2013 draftee Trey Mancini, who showed a solid bat with Aberdeen last season, hitting .328/.382/.449 over 285 plate appearances.

So there you have the significant names on the roster to start the season. The Shorebirds start the season with a seven game road trip, taking them to Ashville, NC and Hagerstown, MD before having their home opener vs. Greensboro on Thursday, April 10th. It has already been announced that Steven Brault, and not Hunter Harvey, will start Game one of the season. So this has me wondering if it's a means of setting up the rotation so that Harvey will make his 2nd start of the season at the home opener. If so, I certainly hope to be able to make the two hour drive down to Salisbury to see Harvey in action for the first time in 2014.