- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
La Plata grad could pitch for hometown club; three wins in four games has team atop standings through Monday
By DALLAS COGLEStaff writer
The marriage that many local baseball fans have long awaited for could be on the cusp of taking place.
Southern Maryland’s best homegrown talent this millennium might suit up for Southern Maryland’s professional baseball franchise.
Hughesville native Daryl Thompson, an eighth-round selection of the then-Montreal Expos, now the Washington Nationals, in the 2003 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft shortly after graduating from La Plata High School that year, was offered a contract by the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs Saturday.
By Monday evening, Blue Crabs manager Patrick Osborn had received a voicemail from Thompson stating he needed a few days before making a decision to accept the team’s contract offer.
Osborn, at 11 p.m. Monday night in the aftermath of the Blue Crabs’ 7-4 victory in Long Island to start a three-game series, said he would call Thompson on Tuesday. The details of that conversation were disclosed too late for inclusion into this edition.
Thompson could not be reached for comment by press time for this edition.
After getting two stints in the big leagues with the Cincinnati Reds in 2008 and as recent as last year, the 26-year-old power right-hander confirmed last Monday that he was no longer with a major league organization while he attended a District 7 title game involving his childhood Hughesville Little League team in Indian Head.
“I told him, ‘You’re 26 years old, you pitched in the big leagues last year. You need to be pitching; people don’t know you’re sitting at home,’” Osborn said of his conversation with Thompson over the weekend when the former Southern Maryland Athletic Conference standout threw bullpen sessions on Friday and Saturday for the Blue Crabs evaluation. “But it’s up to him. The ball’s in his court.”
Over the weekend, the talk involving the converging paths of Thompson and the Blue Crabs became reality with the bullpen sessions.
The Blue Crabs were impressed while getting a firsthand look at his ability and believe Thompson could climb his way back to the affiliated minors and possibly return to the Majors by thriving in their uniform in the Atlantic League, which regularly attracts the watchful eye of big league scouts.
“He was 90, 91 [mph] with his fastball, which in this league is very good,” Osborn said of how fast Thompson threw during the bullpen sessions, each about 30-35 pitches. “You don’t see a lot of velocity here because those guys are in affiliated baseball. I saw what I needed to see and he was healthy.”
Osborn added that he’s surprised Thompson is available for any minor league team, of affiliated or independent status, to scoop up.
“A guy that’s that young that pitched in the big leagues last year, that’s had some success in the minor leagues, it’s one of those baseball things that makes you shake your head. There’s a lot of them,” the Blue Crabs skipper said. “[Blue Crabs reliever Chris] Mobley played with him last year [in Triple-A Louisville for the Reds] and said he was up to 96 [mph].
“I think he can help us. That’s the bottom line. I wouldn’t be signing him just as a courtesy. He can pitch. He’s got a good arm and a good breaking ball.”
Thompson would have started Tuesday’s game, which finished too late for today’s edition, had he signed with the Blue Crabs before they traveled to Long Island on Monday.
Blue Crabs top pitcher Dan Reichert was initially scheduled to start Tuesday but is now out for a month, according to Osborn, because he needs surgery on fractured left pinkie sustained last Wednesday on his glove hand from a comebacker to the mound.
Osborn said Monday night that he was “scrambling for a replacement” to start Tuesday’s game with Reichert injured and Thompson yet to be signed.
Thompson appears to have a spot in the starting rotation waiting for him if he decides to join the Blue Crabs.
Thompson was signed to a minor league contract with the Minnesota Twins last November as a free agent but was released by the organization in early June.
Thompson has a career 0-3 record in the majors with an 8.31 ERA in four games, three of them starts.
In 10 years in the affiliated minors, mostly spent with the Reds organization from 2006-11, he has a 36-44 tab with a 3.79 ERA.
Blue Crabs back to their old selves
The Blue Crabs are off to a quality start in this second half of the season, winning six of their first 10 games through Monday and were tied for the top record in the Atlantic League at 6-4 (36-44 overall).
Camden shared first place in the Liberty Division with the Blue Crabs entering Tuesday’s action.
After taking two of three at home in Waldorf’s Regency Furniture Stadium from Somerset over the weekend, the Blue Crabs continued their turnaround mode from the first half with Monday’s victory in Long Island (4-7, 43-37 overall), the first-half division champion.
The Blue Crabs used the long ball to counter Long Island’s offense, as catcher Richard Mercado cranked a two-run shot in the fourth inning for a 2-1 Southern Maryland lead.
In the ninth with the Blue Crabs clinging to a 5-4 lead, Casey Benjamin also went deep for a clutch two-out, two-run home run to put Long Island away.
The sixth saw Kevin Rios and Jeremy Owens smack back-to-back, two-out doubles, pushing the Blue Crabs lead to 5-2, as the team experienced a bevy of clutch-hitting — something it struggled with in the first half.
“The important thing is we’ve got things headed in a good direction,” Owens said. “Pitching’s doing their thing, they’ve been doing it all year, and hitting is slowly but surely coming around.”
Starters Matthew Vasquez and Nick Green were stellar on the mound in pacing the Blue Crabs to wins of 3-1 and 5-1, respectively, on Friday and Saturday against a Somerset team that had owned Regency Furniture Stadium with six wins in seven previous games there prior to the weekend series.
“Coming out here in the second half, everyone feels like they’ve got to get a fresh start,” said Vasquez, who enjoyed his best outing of the season with a complete game Friday, allowing just one earned run on five hits while fanning nine. “We’re excited for the second half, I’ll tell you that.”
He added after Sunday’s 8-1 loss versus Somerset, “You want to sweep obviously but we win the series. We got some key hits.”
Atlantic League second-half standings
(Standings as of Monday)
Liberty Divisino W L Pct. GB Streak Last 10 Overall
Camden 6 4 .600 ---- W-1 6-4 40-39
Blue Crabs 6 4 .600 ---- W-1 6-4 36-44
Bridgeport 6 5 .545 0.5 W-1 5-5 37-44
*Long Island 4 7 .364 2.5 L-3 4-6 43-37
Freedom Division W L Pct. GB Streak Last 10 Overall
*Lancaster 6 4 .600 ---- L-1 6-4 51-29
Sugar Land 6 4 .600 ---- W-3 6-4 35-45
York 4 7 .364 2.5 L-1 4-6 40-41
Somerset 4 7 .364 2.5 L-1 3-7 39-42
*First-half division winner, playoff berth clinched
MondayBlue Crabs 7, Long Island 4
Blue Crabs 000 212 002 7 11 1
Long Island 010 010 200 4 6 1
WP Jones (1-3), LP Singleton (2-3), Save Warden (10)
Extra-base hits: 2B Owens (BC, 14), Barton (BC, 15), Garcia (BC, 3), Rios (BC, 7), Gorecki (LI, 11), Lyons (LI, 9), Fleishman (LI, 1); HR Benjamin (BC, 8), Mercado (BC, 3), Nelson (LI, 9)
SundaySomerset 8, Blue Crabs 1
Somerset 100 102 400 8 12 0
Blue Crabs 000 000 001 1 9 0
WP McCall (4-4), LP Suarez (3-5)
Extra-base hits: 2B Rios (BC, 6); HR Fox (S, 4), Hoorelbeke (S, 13), Pedroza (BC, 2)
SaturdayBlue Crabs 5, Somerset 1
Somerset 000 010 000 1 7 4
Blue Crabs 300 101 00x 5 7 2
WP Green (6-6), LP Cassel (3-7)
Extra-base hits: HR Garcia (BC, 4), Pedroza (BC, 1)
FridayBlue Crabs 3, Somerset 1
Somerset 000 100 000 1 5 1
Blue Crabs 010 000 20x 3 7 1
WP Vasquez (5-6), LP Merritt (5-4)
Extra-base hits: 2B Barton (BC, 14), Giannotti (BC, 10); HR Fox (S, 3)