Nick Orlandos: No Holding him Back

Since joining the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers in early June, infielder Nick Orlandos has helped breathe some life into the offense and improved the Mariners' Midwest League affiliate in a timely fashion. Find out more about the reigning Everett AquaSox team MVP in this InsidethePark exclusive.

The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers finished the first-half of the season with a disappointing 31-38 record, 12 games behind the first-place Kane County Cougars and seventh in the Midwest League. To improve their sluggish offense, the Timber Rattlers received Hyung Cho and Nick Orlandos prior to the mid-season break. Cho came from High-A Inland Empire while Orlandos arrived from extended spring training in Arizona.

Orlandos, who turns 24 on July 8, is hoping to provide a spark to the Rattlers' offense in the second-half of the season. Orlandos grew up in Mission Viejo, California and played college baseball at nearby Long Beach State. At the end of his collegiate career, the infielder went un-drafted and became a free agent. He was eventually signed by the New York Yankees, but then faced another setback when the Yankees released him in 2002. In 2003, the Seattle Mariners signed Orlandos and he quickly made the most of his opportunity, playing for the Everett Aqua Sox. Even though Orlandos' professional career started later than most because of his stint at Long Beach State, he values his time spent there.

"Coming out of high school, I don't think I could have competed at this level," said Orlandos. "Going through college you learn all lot of things that really help you compete at this level."

Certainly, one of the most important things Orlandos learned while playing at Long Beach State was the ability to play multiple positions. Last season with Everett, Orlandos played at second base, shortstop, left field and third base. Being able to handle different positions makes a player like Orlandos more attractive to major league scouts.

What also looked good to the scouts was the way he swung the bat while playing for the AquaSox. In 69 games, Orlandos batted .317, led the Northwest League in hits with 84 and stole 14 bases. He was named to the Northwest League All-Star team and was honored by the Mariners' when he was named Everett's Most Valuable Player. Perhaps his most impressive accomplishment last season was compiling a 13-game hitting streak.

"To be honest when I found out I was in a hitting streak, I didn't know that I was in one," Orlandos said. "It's one of those things where you go out there every day and you do your best to hit. A hitting streak is just something that happens, you don't try to do it."

Orlandos was looking to capitalize on his successful 2003 season after earning a spot on the Timber Rattlers' opening day roster, but shoulder stiffness forced him to stay in Peoria, Ariz., to participate in extended spring training and rehab the injury. As of June 28, Orlandos has pounded out 14 hits and four RBI in just 12 games with Wisconsin.

Timber Rattlers' manager Steve Roadcap is happy to see a healthy Orlandos and hopes the infielder will help the team turn things around in the second half of the season.

"He brings some energy and he's been swinging the bat really well for us," said Roadcap.

Despite posting a team batting average of just .245, Wisconsin has improved from earlier in the season. Roadcap keeps preaching to his team that getting through their long, 140-game season is like competing in a marathon. Commenting on the first-half of the season, Roadcap believed the Timber Rattlers improved, but just couldn't overcome some early-season struggles.

"I saw all lot of improvement from a lot of individuals, some not as much as I would like to see," said the manager. "I though we played strong, we just dug ourselves too big of a hole early on."

Roadcap's biggest goal for the second half of the season is to see the team steadily improve. He thinks the offense is improving, but needs to be more consistent down the stretch. People throughout the organization have talked about the teams' inconsistency. Some how, some way, that needs to change. If Wisconsin's pitching holds up and if their hitting does continue to improve, we may see a different Timber Rattlers team the rest of the season.

On June 14, Wisconsin sent outfielder Josh Ellison and infielder Oswaldo Navarro back down to Low-A Everett. They also released infielder/catcher Brent Metheny. All three players were struggling offensively and the roster move allowed both Orlandos and infielder Hyung Cho to be called up.

So far, both players have been hitting the ball well and have helped ignite what had been a punchless offensive attack. Orlandos could be described as a late bloomer, but should keep moving up the Mariners' system if he stays consistent at the plate. He's hoping to make the Yankees regret ever letting him go, and he wants to do that in a Mariners uniform.

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