Frederick Keys right-handed starter Fredy Deza is hoping that his path can be similar to that of Daniel Cabrera's. Cabrera, who was also signed in his teens by the Baltimore Orioles, has been one of the top rookies in the majors after making the jump from Class AA Bowie.

After being an all-star in the less-advanced Class A South Atlantic League for Delmarva this summer, Deza, 21, was promoted this month to Frederick of the higher Class A Carolina League.

"I talk to him sometimes," Deza said of Cabrera. "He is a good friend. He tells me I've got to work hard and that it's not about how you start [the season], it's about how you finish."

Deza's season started strongly at Delmarva, where he had a 3.31 earned run average and an 8-11 record. Using his hard fastball, a good slider and change-up, Deza struck out 93 and walked only 21 in 1192/3 innings, a strong improvement over the past few years.

But in his first start with the Keys on Sunday, Deza allowed six runs (three earned) over 22/3 innings.

"I felt good, but for some reason my slider wasn't working," he said. "It was my first game, so I had a little bit of nerves, I think."

Deza, a native of the Dominican Republic, was signed as a free agent by the Orioles as a 16-year-old in September 1999. He has slowly worked his way through the Baltimore system. He made one appearance in May 2003 with the Keys, yielding five runs in less than two innings. He was sent to short-season Class A Aberdeen, where he had a 3.25 ERA in 15 games last year.

In his fourth professional season, Deza says that he is pitching as well as he has in his career.

"It's very different this year," he said. "I've got good fastball command, and I worked more on my slider. . . . I feel very good. I have about four more starts [this season], and I'm feeling strong. . . . I want to be able to come back here next year."