The same crack of the bat Frederick Keys fans heard at the start of this season is now ringing in the ears of fans at Prince George's Stadium as Nick Markakis, the Baltimore Orioles' number one prospect, continues to live up to his Baseball America billing. Markakis, who moved up to Class AA Bowie from Frederick on Aug. 1, has continued his success at the new level. He entered last night's game against the Harrisburg Senators tied for the team's best batting average at .340 in 53 at-bats.

"Nick is a very good instinctive player," said David Stockstill, the Orioles' minor league operations director. "He has incredible hands to hit with. The end of his bat always seems to find the ball."

In June, the 21-year-old Markakis showed a little of what he can do power-wise, winning the home run derby at the Carolina/California League All-Star Game and then ripping two homers during the game to win the Carolina League team most valuable player award.

Stockstill said Markakis, the No. 7 overall pick in 2003, can play all three outfield positions, giving the Orioles some flexibility if they wanted to bring up the youngster to get some big league experience.

"He's definitely demonstrated a little bit of his power," Stockstill said. "He has excellent power and we haven't seen a lot of it yet, but it's gonna come."

Markakis is happy with his progress in the Orioles' system thus far but said he and all other players keep a move to the big leagues in the back of their minds. His hope is to be consistent. "As far as I'm concerned, I'm playing with Double-A right now," Markakis said. "You have to prove yourself at each level."

-- Daniel Lyght