ABERDEEN, MD - Spring Training is always a special time of year. The weather (usually) begins to turn, baseball is in the air, and the excitement of IronBirds' baseball is right around the corner.
While play in the New York-Penn League starts in mid-June, plenty of former IronBirds are in training for their respective seasons in Delmarva, Frederick, Bowie, Norfolk, or Baltimore.
With that in mind, let's take a look at how some former IronBirds are doing in the Grapefruit League this spring.
Christian Walker (2012, Infield): Christian has played in three games for the Orioles this spring, seeing four at-bats. He has two hits, including a triple, three RBIs, and a run scored.
Brian Ward (2009, Catcher): Brian has played in three games for the big-league club this spring. He has one hit in two at-bats, as well as a walk.
Steve Clevenger (2013, Rehab): Steve recently won the Orioles' back-up catcher job and will start behind catcher (and another former IronBird) Matt Wieters. Clevenger was in Aberdeen for a handful of games in 2013 after the Orioles acquired him from the Chicago Cubs.
The Baltimore native has had a terrific spring at the dish, going 15 for 31 in 12 games. Two of his 15 hits are doubles, along with one home run. He has six RBIs and seven runs scored.
Jonathan Schoop (2013, Rehab): Along with Clevenger, Schoop has had a monster spring. In 35 at-bats, he has 14 hits, including four doubles and two home runs. He has 7 RBIs and eight runs scored.
Schoop flashed some of his brilliance here in Aberdeen last summer. He smashed a grand slam and a three run home run in a single game against the Vermont Lake Monsters. He almost singlehandedly lifted the IronBirds to a 14-4 win and set the franchise record for RBIs in a game with seven.
Nick Markakis (2003, Outfield): Markakis carries a .361 average, with 13 hits in 36 at bats. Six of his hits have been for extra bases, including four doubles. He has five RBIs and six runs scored.
Fans and media alike are expecting big things from the right fielder this upcoming season.
Matt Wieters (2007, Catcher): Wieters has had some solid numbers this spring, in limited action. In nine games, he has recorded nine hits and five RBIs. He has also scored three runs.
Wieters has helped the Orioles' young pitching staff mature and become one of the best bullpens in all of baseball over the last few seasons.
Nolan Reimold (2005, Outfield): Reimold has a .263 average this spring. He has ten hits, including four doubles. He has one home run, five RBIs, and six runs scored.
Reimold was placed on the disabled list on March 26th as he continues to recover from neck surgery. The Orioles are certainly hoping that he regains the power and flash that he has displayed in Baltimore, as well as Aberdeen in 2005.
Mike Yastrzemski (2013, Outfield): Perhaps the most notable IronBirds player from last year because of his storied heritage, Mike has made quite a name for himself already this spring.
He has traveled with the Orioles on several road trips, with the first one being to JetBlue Park, home of the Red Sox. He had the chance to catch up with his grandfather, Carl, before the game.
Yastrzemski has found his name on the Orioles' lineup card several times and has seen action at the plate in four games. He has one hit in five at bats and has scored one run and knocked in two.
Eddie Gamboa (2011, Pitcher): Gamboa had a "cup of coffee" in Aberdeen in 2011, pitching in a hand full of games working his way back from injury at the time. In five outings this spring, spanning 4.2 innings pitched, he has not allowed a run, giving up just one hit and one walk, striking out six.
Zach Britton (2007, Pitcher): Britton led the 2007 IronBirds with six wins in 15 starts, helping the squad to a 34-42 record. In Aberdeen, he pitched 63.2 innings and allowed 64 hits.
In eight games this spring, Britton has allowed just two runs (one earned), good for a 0.87 ERA. Over 10.1 innings, he has walked just four and rung up ten strikeouts.
Kevin Gausman (2012, Pitcher): Gausman delighted fans in Aberdeen a couple summers ago and he's doing the same thing in Sarasota this spring. In four games, he has a 1-0 record with a 2.45 ERA. Over 11.0 innings pitched, he has allowed seven hits, three runs, and has rung up an astounding 13 strikeouts.
Mike Wright (2011, Pitcher): Wright was a highly touted prospect after the Orioles drafted him in the 3rd round of the 2011 draft out of East Carolina.
In Aberdeen, he made seven starts, earning a 2-1 record with a 3.77 ERA before getting the call up to Delmarva.
Wright has pitched in a pair of games with the big league club this spring. Over three innings, he has allowed two hits and a run, striking out three.
Steve Johnson (2013, Pitcher): Johnson has pitched in six games so far this spring. He is 1-0 with a 6.00 ERA.
In 9.0 innings, he has allowed six hits, and six runs, all earned, striking out three.
Johnson was optioned to Triple-A Norfolk on March 26th and will start the season there.
The Orioles' Opening Day is March 31st. The Norfolk Tides, Bowie Baysox, Frederick Keys, and Delmarva Shorebirds all open their seasons within the following week.
Coming off their McNamara Division Championship in 2013, the IronBirds will open their 2014 campaign at Hudson Valley on June 13th. The IronBirds' home opener will be played June 20th against the Brooklyn Cyclones.