FREDERICK, MD-On Thursday morning, the Baltimore Orioles announced their list of non-roster invitations to Major League spring training. Of the 19 who were chosen, six have ties to the Frederick Keys. This includes Ryan Mountcastle , who suited up for the orange and black during the 2017 campaign. Other players with Keys ties include Eddie Gamboa , Jason Gurka , Garabez Rosa , Erick Salcedo and DJ Stewart.
Mountcastle, 20, the reining Carolina League batting champion, batted .314/.343/.542 in 88 games with the Keys. Collecting 113 hits, the infielder slugged 15 home runs to go with 35 doubles and 47 RBIs. He was selected to the league's midseason and postseason all-star rosters. Promoted to the Double-A Bowie Baysox on July 20, Mountcastle finished the year with 48 doubles, most in the MiLB. After the regular season, the Floridian was selected to play in the prestigious Arizona Fall League, where he took part in the league's annual fall stars game.
Both members of the 2016 Keys, Stewart and Salcedo each spent their 2017 campaigns with the Double-A Bowie Baysox. Leading the Eastern League in runs scored, Stewart, 24, batted .278//378/.481 in 126 games to go with 21 home runs and 79 RBIs. He added 26 doubles and two triples. In each month Stewart played with the Baysox his offensive numbers improved. This culminated with Stewart being named the O's Minor League Player of the Month for August. In 27 contests, the former Florida State product batted .340 with six home runs, 20 RBIs, a .446 on-base percentage, .610 slugging percentage and a 1.056 OPS.
Salcedo, 24, played 121 games with the Baysox in 2017, and was one of the most challenging hitters to strike out in the EL. Going down via strikes only one time for every 9.2 at-bats, the Venezuelan posted a .260/.320/.341 slash line in 121 contests while predominantly playing shortstop. With Frederick in 2016, Salcedo slashed .270/.319/.369 and appeared in 133 games, most by any Frederick player since the 2010 campaign.
After winning Eastern League MVP honors, Rosa, 28, receives a non-roster invite to O's spring training. Claiming the EL batting title (.310 BA), Rosa also paced the circuit in hits (162) and RBIs (91). The 162 hits were the most by a Baysox player in a single season. Rosa spent parts of two seasons with the Keys (2011-12).
Gamboa, 33, and Gurka, 27, return to the Orioles organization for the start for of spring training. Spending time with the Rangers and Dodgers organizations in 2017, Gamboa returns to the Orioles organization after last playing for them in 2015. In 2016, the knuckleballer made his MLB debut with the Tampa Bay Rays.
Gurka became the 141st former Key to reach the big leagues when he pitched for Colorado in 2015. He returns to the O's with 18 MLB relief appearances under his belt. Last season, he pitched for the Angels and Yankees organizations. In 43 combined minor league appearances he was 3-1 with a 3.20 ERA in 43 games. Additionally, the left-hander worked in three MLB games for the Angels. Among Keys fans, Gurka may be best known for pitching the final inning of the 2011 Mills Cup championship series, a game the Keys won over the Kinston Indians.
Ticket plans are currently available for the 2018 season by contacting the Keys Groups Department at 301-815-9900. Each fan who purchases a ticket plan will have their choice of a Trey Mancini or an Austin Hays bobblehead. The Frederick Keys kickoff their home schedule on Thursday, April 12 against the Potomac Nationals at 7:00 p.m. To follow the Keys all offseason, fans can visit frederickkeys.com.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.