This summer, Mike Floyd of Severna Park is working to make a name for himself: his own name. Since being selected in the 2001 Major League Baseball draft, Mike Floyd, 25, has often been known as "Gavin Floyd's older brother," a reminder that his sibling has the family's more recognized name on the baseball diamond.
Mike was drafted in the 22nd round, 650th overall, by the Philadelphia Phillies, who had picked up Gavin in the first round as the fourth pick overall in the same draft.
The brothers said they enjoyed being in the same organization, sharing a dream of someday playing on the same major league field, though Mike Floyd was traded to the Houston organization in April. He now plays for the Class A Salem Avalanche.
"We were best friends even before then, but that really brought us close," said Mike Floyd.
"It was awesome," agreed Gavin Floyd, now playing for Class AAA Scranton/Wilkes Barre. "I looked up to him all my life, and then to be able to play with him was great."
But at the same time, Mike, an outfielder, lingered in the shadow of his more heralded brother. Gavin had risen to become a 22-year-old phenom, closing in on the day he takes the reins as one of the Phillies' starting pitchers.
"Whether or not people viewed me as a separate entity as my brother is up to them," Mike said. "I've always been a separate entity. I've always been the same person. It's not a big deal. I really don't care. . . . I'm totally happy for him. He deserves it. I've seen him grow up and become a great pitcher. He's got amazing stuff. He's going to be in the big leagues for a long time once they keep him there."
The trade "gave [Mike] an opportunity to not be attached, to be his own person, not his brother's older brother," said their father, Rodney Floyd. "That was the way it was always treated with the Phillies."
In Salem, Mike is less recognized as "the older brother" and has been making progress on the field, gaining the attention of decision makers in the organization and establishing his own identity.
"He's making some adjustments," said Astros director of player development Ricky Bennett, who plays a role in deciding whether players move up or down in the farm system. "He's hitting with some power, which is nice to see. We're pretty happy with what he's done so far."
Mike Floyd is batting .275 with 26 runs scored and 21 RBI through last Sunday with Salem.
Some of those stats came while enduring a fractured nose after he took a pitch to the face in mid-May. He was still recovering from that injury on June 10, when the Avalanche faced the Lynchburg Hillcats under the lights at Lynchburg City Stadium.
In the top of the 12th inning, he stepped into the batter's box with a chance to be the hero of the evening. Edwin Maysonet had doubled to start the inning and Mario Garza was intentionally walked to bring up Mike, who had been in a recent slump but had been hot that night, going 3-for-4 to that point.
The Hillcats thought he would cool off. They were wrong. Mike Floyd smacked a single up the middle to score Maysonet and give the Avalanche the go-ahead run in an 8-6 win.
"I was trying to stay calm and put the team ahead," Mike said after the game, which he finished with 2 RBI and 2 runs scored. "You don't want to put too much pressure on yourself. [If you do,] that'll hurt you even more."
"He takes his job seriously. He wants to be the best player he can be out there," Salem Manager Ivan DeJesus said. "I like the way he plays the game. He hustles. He gives you everything he has."
Mike Floyd is hard working and determined, but there are, of course, adjustments he needs to make, such as being more consistent at the plate.
After missing the 2003 season with a shoulder injury suffered during spring training, Mike struggled in the early part of the 2004 season with the Class A Clearwater (Fla.) Threshers. He bounced back so much that Clearwater Manager and Hall of Fame third baseman Mike Schmidt called him the MVP of the second half of the season.
In the beginning of the 2005 campaign, he struggled again, holding a .136 batting average in the first seven games with Clearwater before being traded.
DeJesus would like to see Mike use better strategy when batting with two strikes.
"He has a long swing," said DeJesus, a former major leaguer. "When he has two strikes, he needs to cut down his swing and hit to the middle more. Make more contact. . . . If he can improve that, he can be a much better hitter [and] player than he is right now."
Becoming a better player is what Mike Floyd is concentrating on right now, not who his brother is.
"Whatever I do on the field, hopefully I can get recognition for that," Mike Floyd said. "It seems like I have."