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The Time is Now to Support Your Shorebirds!

photo: Eric Garfield
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Finding your footing at work can be tough sometimes. There’s little else more humanizing than being the new person and treading water while struggling to adjust. We’ve all been there.

There are a few Orioles prospects who have started their climb through affiliated ball and have found the standard hard to meet initially. Ironically, the crew I’m going to focus on is a group I became close to watching them grow in Sarasota’s rookie leagues, who now find themselves on the Delmarva Shorebirds. It’s hard for me too because not only are they friends on some level but they’re on my team and I want for every Orioles player to excel. Again, we all do.

Moises Ramirez, Josue Cruz and Isaac DeLeon were 3/4 of the Sarasota infield down here in the sun. Righty Raul Rangel was on the mound throwing his stuff and developing a rep as a trusted starter. That was then. Now the hitters have gone cold and Rangel’s back in town working his way back to health. As much as they’re baseball pros eager to meet the standard’s they’ve set, it’s impossible to not see them as the young professionals they are being overwhelmed by new situations.

The staff on hand at the Eastern Shore is basically hand-picked to counter this period of fit-finding and from all accounts are doing an excellent job. The games are competitive, the team is going to find their groove and I’d bet even soon. As an observer I see the guys keeping their heads up so they haven’t lost confidence as the counting stats plummet.

The arms the group has been facing isn’t atypical of the Low-A level at all. Rookie leagues didn’t always provide a test this tough. Although Minnesota and Tampa Bay’s former GCL arms are across both high and low-A, most of the pitchers they’ve taken hacks against didn’t possess the movement ability and speed variances that Delmarva has faced to this point. This is not an excuse, rather an observation that may help to explain what’s occurring on the field.

Isaac is the kind of infielder who attacks ground balls near him. He’s aggressive in his defense. Balancing that out at the plate is a tough task but he’s seeing pitches (per AB & overall) and walking a bit so there are signs. Moises at 3rd and Cruz at 1st are the kind of corners who hit first and a lack of gaudy power/contact numbers is new for them both, as is batting lower in the order. Calling Cruz streaky is something I’d disagree with but he mixes periods of strong contact with strikeout tendencies that spike. He’s as deep and introspective as a thinker that you can imagine. The big guy wants to be a run producer and a dependable one. Moises is prideful, loves and trusts his skills immensely so I can imagine getting out of the gates this way is getting to him. Rangel smiles all day every day, and it’s not a grimace through the pain type of smirk. He’s happy with where he is in life and how baseball got him there. These are the profiles and personalities that I pull for, O’s players or not.

Like so much of what I provide from southwest Florida, this is an urging to look beyond the box score and realize the human side is just as much in play. Supporting these players as strongly as possible is going to help, so I’m brainstorming ideas as I write this. Bob Phelan from the On The Verge pod just let me know Isaac went deep today so there’s a turnaround so close I can feel it. But I want to do more, and I will.

As fans of the Orioles and their burgeoning minor league system we should be there front and center for all the players who make it happen.

Go to see the Shorebirds and scream for the players. Make a sign if you have kids. May I suggest ‘Hey DeLe We DeLove You!!!!

When this nucleus breaks through they’ll be playing great baseball and inspiring their equally young teammates. That’s what all of us who are O’s fans want no matter how close or distant we are. Getting better is not only the goal, but also now a daily requirement. The same applies to the support system that includes us. I’m thinking of what I can do to help, and this is my way of asking you to do the same. Let’s go Shorebirds!

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