Blue Crabs add more pitch­ing depth

Base­ball team signs four more pitch­ers to ros­ter

Maryland Independent - - Sports - By AJ MA­SON aj­ma­son@somd­ Twit­ter: @aj­ma­son301

With spring train­ing start­ing in just three days, the South­ern Mary­land Blue Crabs added more solid pitch­ing depth to their ros­ter for the 2016 sea­son, which kicks off on April 21.

Tues­day, the Blue Crabs an­nounced the sign­ings of Brian Bur­res, Or­lando San­tos, lo­cal prod­uct Daryl Thomp­son and new­comer Bran­don Poul­son.

Thomp­son, a na­tive of La Plata, re­turns to the Blue Crabs for his fifth sea­son. The 30-year-old was orig­i­nally drafted di­rectly out of La Plata High School by the Mon­treal Ex­pos and made his ma­jor league de­but on June 21, 2008 with the Cincin­nati Reds ver­sus the New York Yan­kees at the old Yan­kee Sta­dium where he struck out two bat­ters and stranded eight base run­ners.

Since his time with South­ern Mary­land, the right-han­der has 26 wins, a 3.81 ERA and 406 in­nings pitched, most no­tably throw­ing a com­plete game shutout against the Lan­caster Barn­storm­ers in Game 1 of the 2015 Free­dom Di­vi­sion Cham­pi­onship Se­ries. Thomp­son had 11 strike­outs, did not walk a bat­ter and threw 140 pitches, 94 of which were for strikes.

Af­ter a strong sea­son in 2015, the left-handed Bur­res came back for his third sea­son with the Blue Crabs. Bur­res was drafted by the San Fran­cisco Gi­ants in 2000 and made his ma­jor league de­but with the Bal­ti­more Ori­oles in 2006, record­ing an ERA of 2.25. For six sea­sons, Bur­res spent time in the ma­jors for the Ori­oles, Toronto Blue Jays and the Pitts­burgh Pi­rates or­ga­ni­za­tions, ap­pear­ing in 106 games.

As a key cog in the start­ing ro­ta­tion for the Blue Crabs, Bur­res has earned 11 wins and a 2.68 ERA dur­ing his time in South­ern Mary­land. Last sea­son he de­liv­ered 104 strike­outs.

“It feels good to come back, es­pe­cially with the sea­son that we had last year,” said Bur­res, re­fer­ring to the Blue Crabs run to the At­lantic League cham­pi­onship se­ries, fall­ing to Som­er­set in four games, which in­cluded a Free­dom Di­vi­sion firsthalf reg­u­lar sea­son and cham­pi­onship se­ries ti­tle. “Our pitch­ing will be re­ally strong. We have some good arms and fa­mil­iar faces.”

Poul­son will be in his first sea­son in the At­lantic League as the Blue Crabs signed him af­ter play­ing a stint with the Min­nesota Twins mi­nor league or­ga­ni­za­tion.

The Santa Rosa, Calif., na­tive was signed by the Twins as an un­drafted free agent in 2014 out of the Academy of Art Univer­sity in San Fran­cisco and played in the Ap­palachian and the Gulf Coast leagues.

Poul­son, a for­mer truck driver and ju­nior col­lege line­backer who stands 6-foot-6 and 240 pounds, is­sued 32 walks in 27 2/3 pro in­nings with the Twins. They signed him out of the Golden State Col­le­giate League, where he pitched for the Healds­burg Prune Pack­ers.

“I think it will be a great ex­pe­ri­ence,” Poul­son said. “I’m just work­ing on fine-tun­ing my craft and from past play­ers that have been with the Blue Crabs I’ve heard that it is just a great at­mos­phere and a great pro­gram and that just steered me in the right di­rec­tion to sign with the or­ga­ni­za­tion.”

Poul­son added that he needs to work on throw­ing more strikes.

“I just need to work on get­ting ahead of bat­ters,” he said. “I want to blow it by them and work on my con­trol, I had a lit­tle trou­ble with that in the past, but I’m ex­cited for this sea­son in South­ern Mary­land.”

San­tos will be com­ing back to the Blue Crabs for his sec­ond straight sea­son. In 2015, the 29-year-old posted a 2.91 ERA in 51 games for the Blue Crabs. San­tos has played stints in the Chicago White Sox or­ga­ni­za­tion, while also pitch­ing in the Fron­tier League.

The San Jose, Calif., na­tive has posted a to­tal pro­fes­sional ERA of 2.85 in 309 1/3 in­nings pitched.

“Adding depth to our ro­ta­tion and bullpen is an in­te­gral part of our suc­cess this sea­son,” said Blue Crabs man­ager Jeremy Owens in a Blue Crabs news re­lease. “The sign­ings of all these guys adds ex­pe­ri­ence to our club­house. Sign­ing Bur­res, San­tos and Thomp­son also add fa­mil­iar faces to the club­house and the fans. I am also look­ing for­ward to the new energy Poul­son brings to our team.”

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