The Aberdeen crowd loved the home game premiere of Steve Bumbry
, the son of former Oriole great Al Bumbry. Steve let his defensive skills do the talking on the field, catching five balls in center field in the IronBirds 2-0 win in the home opener. The home crowd gave him the biggest applauses, but Bumbry wasn't feeling the pressure to be like his father.
"I think it is just more exciting and makes me work that much harder, to be as good as him one day, and that is going to push me to work harder," said Bumbry after the game.
Bumbry, Baltimore's 12th round pick in the 2009 MLB First-Year Player Draft, signed after three years at Virginia Tech. In his junior season he led the Hokies with 10 home runs while hitting for a .283 average and swiping nine bags. One of his home runs came off of North Carolina's Alex White, the eventual 15th overall pick in the draft by the Indians.
His last season in Blacksburg saw an explosion of power but also a slight increase in his strikout rate (64 SO in 180 AB in 2009 against 42 SO in 124 AB in 2008). The lefty primarily played the corner outfield positions in college, but he has started all three games so far in center field for the IronBirds.
"It's a lot easier when you're in center field, you get to see the ball coming into the batter and the kind of swings he's taking throughout the at bat. Those are the kind of things I look for when I'm out there."
IronBirds manager Gary Kendall says Bumbry will "primarily play in center field, but will move around."
Along with his five catches, Bumbry showed patience at the plate on Monday, drawing two walks plus going 1-2 on stolen base attempts. With his speed, defensive ability and his recent increase in power, the future looks bright for the new home-town favorite.
"He has a lot of baseball aptitude, and a lot of it was probably inherited from genetics. He's very level headed and he doesn't come across like he knows everything about the game," says Kendall.
Already Aberdeen has been impressed with Bumbry's play. In just his second plate appearance as a pro, he hit a solo home run into right field. But, Kendall knows that there is still work to be done, as Bumbry has only one hit in eight at bats in his first three games with Aberdeen.
"He's here to get instruction, and he seeks instruction," Kendall said. "He's very open-minded and he's willing to try things. Tomorrow he's coming out early to see some situations against left-handed breaking balls because he doesn't look good against a left-handed breaking ball. He knows his areas of concern and he's willing to work at it."
Bumbry had started opening eyes in the organization while playing the Cal Ripken Sr. Collegiate Baseball League and in other summer tournaments. He spent the last two summers with the Youse's Maryland Orioles, a wooden bat summer collegiate team formerly coached by Orioles scout Dean Albany. Albany is now the general manager of the team, but father Al was one of the assistants on the staff, and remains on the coaching staff this year.
A number of former Youse's players are currently in the Orioles' farm system right now, including second baseman L.J. Hoes, pitcher Oliver Drake and outfielder Brian Conley. Those players are making a name for themselves with the low-A Delmarva Shorebirds in 2009. Scott Swinson, Baltimore's 46th round pick from Maryland, would be another Youse's player in the Baltimore farm system if he signs.
Steve Bumbry may only have played three games of professional baseball, but he is already showing he has some potential. Orioles fans can hope: like father, like son.
Steve Bumbry proved himself in three years at Virginia Tech, playing in a tough ACC and earning his selection by the Orioles in the 2009 draft. Inside, get the scoop on the son of former Oriole Rookie of the Year, and All Star, Al Bumbry.
Whether he likes it or not, Steve Bumbry has become a star for IronBirds and Orioles fans.