If you want to see one of the top Orioles pitching prospects this year, Hunter Harvey, you'll probably have to look for him in a Frederick Keys uniform. Unfortunately, Harvey is not going to start the season with the Keys due to the broken bone he suffered during spring training. Hopefully he'll get to show up some time in the month of May. Even without Harvey, the Keys have some names worth keeping an eye on.
Last year's edition of the Keys had a 65-72 record in the Carolina League. That's the kind of thing you'd expect from a team that didn't have many of the organization's top prospects, most of whom were either ensconced above or working their way up from below the High-A level. Orlando Gomez, a past Keys manager and the winningest manager in Keys history, returns to manage the team this season.
Players to watch
Hunter Harvey, RHP
The Orioles' first round draft pick from 2013 figures to get in a good bit of time for Frederick once he's healthy. Harvey has been rated as high as the #20 prospect in all of baseball by Baseball Prospectus. He struck out 106 batters in 87.2 innings of work for Delmarva last year, and prospect evaluators including ESPN's Keith Law were surprised Harvey didn't get a promotion towards the end of last year. If he excels in Frederick he may not stay all year. If you live around Frederick, go see him when you can.
Chance Sisco, C
Sisco is the top positional prospect in the organization and some might say the only positional prospect worth getting excited about. The O's second round pick from the 2013 draft won the batting title in the South Atlantic League with a .340 batting average. Drafted out of high school, he'll be only 20 this season, so O's fans shouldn't envision him as an immediate replacement to Matt Wieters. He is well-regarded enough to land at #101 on the BP 101.
Jon Keller, RHP
The 6'5" Keller was lights out in relief for Delmarva last season, putting up 1.59 ERA in 56.2 innings. His season was cut short by a strain of his left intercostal muscle. It's a long road to the majors for a 22nd round pick like Keller and quite a drop in prospect quality from Harvey and Sisco to Keller. He's 22, so if he is successful as a reliever at this level, he may not spend the whole year here.
Drew Dosch, 3B
Lefty-batting Dosch was another solid bat in the Delmarva lineup last year after being a 7th round pick in the 2013 draft. He batted .314/.379/.404 for the Shorebirds, but he was old for the level as he was a senior sign. He'll again be old for the Carolina League as he's set to turn 23 in June. There's a place for late bloomers in the big leagues, however. Just ask Steve Pearce. Dosch might be able to show he's worth bringing up another level.
Shortstop Adrian Marin will be back for his second year at Frederick, hoping that he can take a step forward offensively. Outfielder Josh Hart was the O's competitive balance pick in the 2013 draft, a high school draftee like Harvey and Sisco. The awesomely-named Sebastian Vader finished up the year with the Keys and he'll be starting this year there.
Best of the promotions
There's always something going on in a minor league stadium, which is part of the fun. Want bobbleheads of a major leaguer? You'd better be one of the first 1,000 fans on July 25 (Zach Britton) or August 22 (Kevin Gausman). You could show up for Star Wars Day on April 25, Bark in the Park on May 28, or the Cowboy Monkey Rodeo on June 20. There's also the August 15 Seinfeld Night with the Soup Nazi, or Medieval Times Night on September 4.
Check out the best of the rest on the Keys website. And, giveaways or not, if you can go see Harvey, go!