In the past few seasons, there has been an increase in the number of players who have begun a season in Bowie and finished it in Baltimore. Most recently both right-handed pitcher Kevin Gausman and third baseman Manny Machado have made the leap directly to the Orioles from Bowie, showing the confidence the organization has in players who are performing well at the Double-A level.
After the Major League roster expansion September 1, there are now 11 former Baysox players on the Orioles active roster: Gausman, RHP Jim Johnson, RHP Steve Johnson, LHP Brian Matusz, RHP Chris Tillman, C Matt Wieters, Machado, 2B Brian Roberts, INF Jonathan Schoop, OF Nick Markakis and OF Henry Urrutia. Both Urrutia and Gausman began the season with Bowie before moving on to the Big Leagues and both Schoop and Machado began the 2012 season with Bowie before making the leap.
Getting the call to Baltimore from Double-A can be a surprise for a young player, but it is also an exciting opportunity to prove yourself at the highest level.
"It has been awesome," Gausman said of his time with the Orioles. "It has gone by fast but at the same time I feel like I been everywhere. It has been really exciting and it is a huge honor for me to get to Baltimore in my first professional season. I thought I had a chance maybe at the end of the year to maybe get a shot, but I never thought it would happen as soon as it did."
With so many players from the Orioles Minor League system making their way to Baltimore, the players have experience playing with each other at different levels and have formed bonds over long bus rides and long seasons that are reformed when they meet up in the Major Leagues.
Schoop is still waiting to make his Major League debut, but he received his first call to the Major Leagues when the rosters expanded, giving him the opportunity to reunite with infield partner Manny Machado. The duo spent the entire 2011 season together in Delmarva and Frederick and began the 2012 season together in Bowie, turning a mean double play before Machado's promotion to Baltimore in August. Schoop said that Machado is like a brother to him and it's nice to have the opportunity to play with him again in Baltimore.
"It's amazing to be here - to have achieved the goal of making it to the big leagues," Schoop said. "It's amazing to be around the guys - Adam Jones, [Matt] Wieters, Manny, [Wilson] Betemit. We are in a playoff race right now; we want to win to go to the playoffs and it's fun to be on a winning team."
While they may have made it to the Big Leagues, both Gausman and Schoop credited Bowie and their experience in the Minor Leagues as a big part of what helped them make it to Baltimore.
"More than anything, in Bowie I learned my routine as a starter - how I was going to go about my business everyday," Gausman said.
"I was one of the youngest guys on the team last year, but I was facing good pitching and that helped me a lot," Schoop said. "I feel like the competition helped get me ready for Triple-A where I faced even more players who are big league players so that was a good experience."
Gausman also mentioned that a nice perk of being in the Majors was traveling on a plane to places like Cleveland instead of the long bus ride from Bowie to Akron.