The Bowie Baysox continued a recent trend last week when they named former Baltimore Orioles catcher Andy Etchebarren manager for next season.

It will be the fifth consecutive season that a former major league catcher will manage the Orioles' Class AA Eastern League team. Tim Blackwell (Expos, Red Sox and Phillies) managed the team in 1996. Longtime Dodgers catcher Joe Ferguson guided the club from 1997 to 1999.

Etchebarren moved from Baltimore's Class A Frederick team last week after Ferguson became manager of the organization's Class A Delmarva Shorebirds on the Eastern Shore.

"I'm looking forward to having a good, young team," Etchebarren said. "It's a step closer to the big leagues for them, and I'd like to see a few take that step next year."

Etchebarren served as a bench coach in Baltimore during Davey Johnson's tenure as manager in 1996 and 1997. Last year was his first as Frederick's manager, and the Keys posted a 67-71 record in Carolina League play.

"The organization matches the coaching staffs of each of our six minor league affiliates to the talents and needs of the players at that level," Baltimore Director of Player Development Tom Trebelhorn said. "We give our players the best instruction possible to enable them to reach the next level and, ultimately, the major leagues at Camden Yards."

During Ferguson's three-year run, several players at Bowie made it to the Orioles, including Matt Riley, Jerry Hairston, Calvin Pickering, Ryan Minor and Eugene Kingsale.

The Baysox went 216-209 under Ferguson, with one playoff appearance.

Bowie made the 1997 playoffs as a wild card team.

The Baysox were tied for the wild card spot with 18 games left last year, but they lost 14 of their final 18 games to finish 70-71 and 5 1/2 games out of the playoffs.

CAPTION: Andy Etchebarren (13), a former catcher and coach for the Baltimore Orioles, will lead team's Class AA affiliate.