Baysox start season with talent-rich roster

Thursday, April 6, 2006

While the major league baseball schedule got under way earlier this week, the Bowie Baysox, the Class AA minor league affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles, starts its season this evening at Prince George’s Stadium.

The Baysox enjoyed a winning record (74-68) in 2005 under manager Don Werner, who returns to the helm this season. Werner, who is 503-510 in 10 seasons as a manager in the minor leagues, spoke optimistically about every phase of the team Tuesday afternoon at media day.

‘‘From where I’m sitting, without having seen a single game this season, I think we look very good on paper,” Werner said. ‘‘Our hitting is a good mix of power hitters, contact hitters and guys who can create things with their speed. Defensively, we’re very strong at second and shortstop and at the corners and our outfielders are not going to let many balls drop in. Our pitching staff is filled with live arms.”

Werner noted that outfielder Jeff Fiorentino will bat in the leadoff spot, after spending much of last season at Class A Frederick where he hit .286 with 22 home runs and 66 runs batted in. Fiorentino also had the proverbial ‘cup of coffee’ with the Orioles last September, hitting .250 with one homer and five RBI.

Bowie has lots of longball potential, led by Noah Hall (26 homers, 92 RBI at Class A Winston-Salem last season), Leo Daigle (29 homers, 112 RBI at Winston-Salem last year) and Mario Delgado (26 HR, 86 RBI at Frederick) .

Former Oriole Scott McGregor takes over as the Baysox pitching coach this season. During his 13 major league seasons, McGregor went 138-108 with a 3.99 earned run average. He is best remembered for shutting out Philadelphia in the fifth and deciding game of the 1983 World Series.

McGregor will guide a Baysox staff with plenty of potential.James Johnson, Adam Loewen, Brian Finch, Richard Stahl and Craig Anderson will man the five starting spots. Johnson, Loewen and Finch are on the Orioles’ 40-man roster. Loewen, the Orioles’ top pick in the 2002 draft was 10-8 at Frederick last season and pitched 3.2 shutout innings for Canada against a star-studded U.S. lineup last month in the World Baseball Classic.

‘‘We have some really good arms,” McGregor said. ‘‘The key for me is teaching these guys to do the same thing over and over again. The guys who will make it to the next level can throw fastballs for strikes and have a second pitch that they can throw for a strike in fastball counts. My changeup was my bread and butter, so these guys have to learn how to throw breaking pitches for strikes.”

E-mail Ted Black at