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Clark enjoys birthday in Baseballtown07/11/2012 7:01 PM ET
By David Driver / Special to MLB.com
READING, Pa. -- Zach Clark is not your typical Minor League All-Star. He was signed by the Orioles as a non-drafted free agent out of the University of Maryland, Baltimore, in 2006 and, at the age of 29, is not among the top 20 prospects in the organization.
But Clark, who has pitched at every level of the O's Minor League system, was 7-4 with a 3.82 ERA in 16 games (15 starts) in the first half of the season for Bowie and was named to the Western Division squad for the Eastern League All-Star Game.
"It is pretty cool anytime you can make an All-Star game," Clark said of the Baseballtown All-Star Classic. "It is nice to be recognized."
The contest took on special meaning for Clark, who turned 29 on Wednesday. He was born in Delaware on July 11, 1983 -- the year the Orioles last won the World Series. He and his wife, Amy, live in New Jersey, and she attended Wednesday's game.
"Everything has been nice. They have taken care of us," Clark said after batting practice.
The right-hander was 2-0 with a 2.38 ERA in two starts for Triple-A Norfolk this season before he was sent back to Bowie. From 2008-10, he saw action each season for Class A Advanced Frederick, Bowie and Norfolk before spending all of last season with the Baysox, going 10-9 with a 5.00 ERA in 24 games.
Does he think he could help the Orioles, if needed?
"If I didn't feel like that, why would I be playing? I feel like I could pitch there," he said. "There is nothing sexy about what I do. I don't miss a lot of bats. I know I have to get a lot of guys out."
Over 94 1/3 innings for Bowie this season, he has struck out 50 batters while walking 29. Clark throws a fastball, changeup, slider and curve.
"I stopped throwing the curve earlier in the year to help develop my slider," he explained. "It is a pitch that can be more consistent. After the first few starts, I gave up on the curve and worked on the slider. Then I brought the curveball back" the past three or four starts before the All-Star break.
Close to home: Being selected to the All-Star Game also took on added meaning for Akron Aeros right-hander Kyle Landis, the Indians' 18th round pick in the 2007 Draft out of the University of Pittsburgh. He missed the entire 2010 season with an upper arm nerve traction injury and is not among Cleveland's top 20 prospects. Landis grew up in Hazleton, about 90 minutes due north of Reading.
"It is pretty neat. It is nice to be back close to where I grew up," he said. "I am happy for the opportunity. It is a great honor. It is really a tribute to my wife and family as much as me, since they have made a lot of sacrifices. I am happy for them they get to see this."
Landis and his wife, Lindsay, both attended Hazelton Area High School, and their parents planned to attend the All-Star Game. Landis is 4-3 with a 3.77 ERA and two saves in 28 games out of the Aeros' bullpen.
Ross Atkins, the Indians' vice president of player development, compared Landis to reliever Joe Smith as a right-on-right hurler.
"That is what he projects in the majors," Atkins said of Landis.
Just happy to be here: Harrisburg Senators left-hander Dan Rosenbaum started on Monday, so he was not slated to pitch Wednesday in Reading. Still, he made the trip to the Baseballtown All-Star Classic.
"I really wanted to be here," he said in the Western Division clubhouse. "It is a privilege to be here."
Rosenbaum was 3-0 with a 0.76 ERA in April and 6-1 through May. He entered the break with a 7-6 record and 3.38 ERA.
"I let it get to me a little bit," he said of his recent struggles. "I had some bad luck. That is baseball."