Shortstop Augie Ojeda has done a little bit of everything for the Bowie Baysox this season. Even those who follow Bowie closely, however, may not appreciate all that Ojeda contributes to the Class AA Eastern League team.
Ojeda leads the team in sacrifice bunts with 16 and is good at helping move over runners. Although he is not a power hitter, Ojeda has 20 RBI in his last 29 games. He also hasn't struck out in his last 66 plate appearances. In the field, he has made just three errors in his last 44 games.
Ojeda's work in Monday's 8-6 loss to Akron was representative of his value to the team. He went 3 for 4 with an RBI and a run scored, increasing his average to .268. Ojeda drove in a run with a second-inning fielder's choice and then singled in each of his last three at-bats. He hit the ball hard each time--he hasn't struck out since July 2.
"He's been a consistent contributor for us," Bowie Manager Joe Ferguson said. "He's just done a great job."
This is the third season in which Ojeda has spent some time at Bowie. Ojeda said the experience has helped him greatly this year.
"I have more of an idea what I'm doing now," Ojeda said.
Ojeda might be best known for his bunting, a skill upon which he prides himself.
"That's a lost art," Ojeda said. "It's a lot harder than people realize it is."
Bunting and moving over runners is more important this year than last for Bowie, which has a lineup better suited for scratching out runs than power hitting. Ojeda also has been a good hitter in the clutch, with 12 tying or go-ahead RBI this season.
Bevins Keeps Hitting
Potomac Cannons designated hitter Andy Bevins continues his season-long hot streak. Bevins, a Class A all-star, is hitting .304 with 17 homers and 66 RBI through Monday as the Cannons (9-12) hope for better success in the second half.
He has been Potomac's top hitter throughout the season. He was third in the Carolina League in homers through Monday and also is the only Potomac player with more than 100 hits (102).
Outfielder Bill Ortega (.284) and second baseman Billy Deck (.295) also have hit well since the second half started. Jason Marr continues to be one of the league's top closers with 16 saves.
Otherwise, the Cannons have struggled at the plate. Their .245 average ranked next to last in the league after Monday's games.
The saga of oft-injured Frederick Keys pitcher Alvie Shepherd came to an end Monday when the former first-round pick was released. Selected 22nd overall in 1995 by Baltimore, Shepherd won 10 games with Class AA Bowie two years ago before struggling with a shoulder injury last season.
After undergoing surgery to repair nerve damage in his right shoulder Sept. 1, he began this season in extended spring training. He joined the Class A Keys in June, and went 0-2 with an 11.81 earned run average in three games.
"He did not totally develop into what we expected," said Don Buford, the Orioles' assistant director of player development. "That doesn't mean he can't. We feel that we're going to give some other pitchers more of an opportunity, so Alvie wasn't going to get the innings he needed. [Releasing him now] allows him the chance to hook on with another club this season."
The Orioles made Shepherd their first pick in 1995, despite his losing record at the University of Nebraska. He was rated by Baseball America as having the best velocity among collegians in the 1995 draft.
He went 17-16 with a 5.36 ERA in four minor league seasons.
Special correspondent Rich Scherr contributed to this report.