Shorebirds’ new manager likes his 2019 team

When the 2019 Delmarva Shorebirds take the field tonight in Lexington, Ky., they’ll be led by a familiar face.

Kyle Moore, entering his 10th overall season with the Baltimore Orioles organization, is taking over the managerial duties.

Moore, the 2018 manager for the short-season Class A Aberdeen IronBirds, makes his first return to Delmarva since serving as the hitting coach for the Shorebirds in 2016.

“It’s really exciting for me, because I’ve been here before but never as a manager,” Moore said during Monday’s media day session. “So, to come back here as a manager is super exciting and it’s my first time managing a full-season club, I just have a lot of excitement.”

After a seven-game road stand in Lexington and then Kannapolis, N.C., the Shorebirds return home for its home-opener against Lakewood Thursday, April 11. First pitch is set for 7:05 p.m.

This season’s roster features seven top 30 prospects and 12 players returning from last year’s Delmarva squad.

“I like our team. I’m excited to see what all of our players can do, we’ve got some prospects on this team and I think some big expectations, so I think with that we’re really just raring to go,” Moore said.

Perhaps the biggest name suiting up for the Shorebirds this season is top five prospect Grayson Rodriguez.

Rodriguez, Baltimore’s No. 11 overall pick in the 2018 MLB Draft, leads a strong pitching staff. The 19-year-old right-hander spent his time in the Gulf Coast League last season and will be entering his first full season of minor league ball.

He recalled that day last June when the Orioles selected him with their first-round pick.

“On draft day, we were expecting to get a call but never got a call, we saw it on TV just like everybody else,” he explained. “We kind of freaked out for a minute there – I mean, yeah, it was an unreal experience. It’s something I’ll never forget.”

Joining Rodriguez on Delmarva’s 2019 pitching staff, led by this year’s pitching coach Justin Ramsey, will be players such as Blaine Knight and Drew Rom.

“We have some good arms, really good arms,” said Rodriguez. “I expect we’ll win some games, especially with everybody in the rotation that’s throwing. They’re good pitchers, we have a good pitching staff throughout the minor league system and especially here.”

“It’s some big expectations, because I think we’ve got a really good staff,” said Moore.

Knight, last year’s third-round pick, helped the University of Arkansas baseball squad make a trip to the College Baseball World Series last June prior to being drafted. He then spent some time with the short-season IronBirds.

Knight is Baltimore’s No. 10-ranked prospect.

“I love the team, I think it’s a good mix,” said Knight. “Now we’re just ready to get playing, we’ve been doing spring training now for a while, and we’ve been playing every day, but now we’re just kind of sitting around, so I’m ready to get back on the road and get going to Lexington and get this thing cranked up.”

Left-handed Rom was a fourth-round pick last season and spent time with the Gulf Coast League Orioles. He’s the No. 29-ranked prospect in the organization heading into the season.

The remaining arms on the pitching staff include Matt De La Rosa, Gray Fenter, Nick Gruener, Hector Guance, Matthew Hammonds, Tyler Joyner, Jalen Miller, Timothy Naughton, Jhon Peluffo, Ofelky Peralta and Nick Vespi.

The group of position players on this year’s roster is highlighted by shortstops Adam Hall and Cadyn Grenier.

“It’s my first full season, so I’m pretty excited to get going with that and kind of continue the way I finished last year,” explained No. 14-ranked prospect Hall.

“Last year I tried to set statistical goals and I think that kind of got to me mentally, to go through that day-to-day, so I think this year it’s more of just performance goals,” he continued. “Keep hitting the ball hard, keep making plays and not worry so much about the stats side of things and let that take care of itself.”

Grenier, whose Oregon State baseball squad defeated Knight’s Arkansas Razorbacks in the College World Series last summer, is making his return to Delmarva after playing 43 games with the Shorebirds in 2018.

“This team is going to be a lot of fun to play with,” said Grenier, the No. 17-ranked prospect. “We ‘ve got a lot of talent obviously, a lot of guys who haven’t been here yet so it’ll be really cool to see how we play as a team throughout the course of the season, but I’m excited.”

Daniel Fajardo and Cody Roberts are listed as Delmarva’s catchers.

No. 13 prospect Jean Carlos Encarnacion, Southern Atlantic League All-Star first baseman Seamus Curran, returner Branden Becker and Andrew Fregia will be joining Hall and Grenier in the infield.

Shorebirds returner Will Robertson highlights the outfield group that also includes No. 30 prospect Robert Neustrom, Nick Horvath, Robbie Thorburn and Dorin Turchin.

“I’m familiar with these guys, I have some real personal relationships with them, so if I need to ask them something or communicate with them – which is huge – I feel really comfortable with them and they do with me,” Moore said.

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