Although he has yet to return to Waldorf’s Regency Furniture Stadium while awaiting word of the official start to the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball season, Southern Maryland Blue Crabs manager Stan Cliburn has remained busy building his pitching staff for the 2020 slate.
During the first two weeks of April, Cliburn signed pitchers Brandon Barker, Devin Burke, Austin Glorius and Brad Markey for the upcoming season, the outset of which has been delayed indefinitely by the coronavirus pandemic.
Barker, a native of Panama, is 32-26 with a 3.98 ERA during his minor league career. He has started 73 of 100 games and has fanned 371 batters and walked 154 hitters in 461 1/3 innings pitched. He was 12-12 during two seasons with the Bowie Baysox, the Double-A affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles, in 2016 and 2017 and 10-9 with two independent teams over the past two years. He played last year in the independent Canadian-American Association and posted a 7-3 record and a 3.39 ERA.
“Brandon was one of those guys that my contacts with various scouts recommended,” Cliburn said. “He pitched really well in Double-A while he was there and he should definitely be a big part of our rotation moving forward.
Markey, a Maryland native who is 26-19 with a 3.60 ERA and 339 strikeouts and 115 walks in 470 1/3 innings of work, has at least one local tie. He was the starting pitcher for C. Milton Wright of Harford County in the Class 3A state championship game against Huntingtown in 2010. He has reached as high as Triple-A with the Chicago Cubs and Cincinnati Reds organizations.
Cliburn noted Markey’s return to the area should bode well for the club.
“Brad was another guy that I heard good things about from my contacts around professional baseball,” Cliburn said. “He’s always had good control and good command of several pitches and he’s another guy that will be a key part of our rotation. We have a lot of new faces on the roster, but we’ve really looked to build our pitching staff.”
Burke and Glorius were each acquired via the trade route.
Burke was drafted by Somerset in the fourth round of the 2019 New Britain Bees dispersal draft then traded to Southern Maryland for the rights to pitcher Pat Dean. Burke reached as high as Triple-A in the Colorado Rockies organization and recently spent two seasons with New Britain.
Burke, who was 11-3 at Virginia Tech, is 18-24 with a 4.31 ERA and 279 strikeouts and 91 walks in 344 2/3 innings on the mound. He was 7-9 over the past two seasons with New Britain Bees.
“Devin is from the area and he pitched for me a couple of years ago at New Britain,” Cliburn said. “I was glad that we were able to sign him.”
Glorius was acquired in a trade with the New Jersey Jackals during the offseason prior to the 2020 campaign, which is currently suspended from its original April 30 start date due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Glorius is 10-13 with a 4.29 ERA with 201 strikeouts and 116 walks in 180 1/3 innings pitched, including 4-3 last season with Ottawa, an independent league squad. He was in the Boston Red Sox’s organization from 2015 to 2018 before playing with the Jackals in 2019 where he posted a 4.25 ERA in 35 appearances.
Southern Maryland general manager Courtney Knichel lauded the moves to enhance the staff and looks forward to seeing all of the players and Cliburn back in uniform and on the field sometime this season.
“Our pitching staff was already strong, in the top half of the league undoubtedly. But adding a couple of elite arms like Markey and Barker who have each been on the cusp of MLB call-ups in the last three years brings us to a new tier,” Knichel said in an April 8 team news release.
Fan fest, tryouts postponed
In a move that was hardly a surprise amid the COVID-19 outbreak, the Blue Crabs announced on Thursday that they have postponed their Fan Fest and open tryouts that were set for this Saturday, April 18.
The team said in a Thursday news release announcing the cancellation that “updates on the rescheduling of the events will come in the following months.”
“Fan Fest is a day everyone in our organization looks forward to every year,” Knichel said in the Thursday team news release. “While we are proud to lead by example in our community, it of course is sad to postpone the event. But we will come out this a stronger Southern Maryland.”