Even casual fans are familiar with the name Matthew Wieters, the Orioles' first round pick in this June's amateur draft, but another catcher has been suiting up nightly for the Aberdeen Ironbirds. Jordan Wolf, drafted in the 13th round after his best offensive season at Xavier University, established
Anybody that will give you a chance to play, that's the main thing," Wolf told Inside The Warehouse. "They've given me a chance to play and, hopefully, it will all work out for me."
Wolf is taking full advantage of the playing time he gets, but he has had his fair share of struggles. The 22 year old is hitting .186/.284/.339 through his first 59 at bats. Wolf attributes some of the struggles to the gap between amateur and professional pitching.
"Pitching inside and really using the fastball is what the major change is," Wolf explained. "You don't get as many bloop inside hits but, instead, you get that broken bat."
Despite establishing career highs is in batting average, home runs, and RBI's in his senior season, Wolf understands there are things he has to improve.
"Mainly working on my hitting, getting that to come around, swinging the bat a little better and spraying the ball around."
In addition to the differences he's noticed in the batter's box, Wolf has had to make adjustments behind the plate.
"Guys here, they don't work as much. They hit their spots; in college, you don't have those without control issues," Wolf said. "Here, you have guys hitting their spots, doing a good job and getting a lot of ground balls; helping [me] out that way."
Wolf also understands that it's not just the quality of pitchers that are better, but the catchers as well. Wolf also wants to improve, not only to better his chances at getting a call-up, but to return the favor to his pitchers.
Wolf has also been the beneficiary of great resources. The Orioles' big league catcher, Ramón Hernandez, who was sidelined earlier this season with a groin injury, was with the Ironbirds for their opening series. Wolf explained that Hernandez was a perfect early mentor.
"When Ramón was down here, he was a great guy, very social, and basically [told me] to work off the fastball and use that and always to be a good backstop for your pitchers."
In addition to be prepared on the field, there are other ways to get to know pitchers better.
"You hang out with them as much as you can, get to know the guys, get a feel for them so you're comfortable out there so you can go out there and talk to them," Wolf said.
So far, Jordan has been doing a pretty good job behind the plate.
As if having Ramón Hernandez down with the Ironbirds was not enough of a help, his current manager, Andy "Etch" Etchebarren, was a former mainstay for the O's behind the plate. Etch was candid about what he's seen from Wolf in the short amount of time he's had with Wolf.
"He's done a good job behind the plate. I'm happy with his game calling and his throwing."
Etch further added that Wolf does have some learning to do.
"We talk to him between innings about pitch selection and what guys got slow bats and if a guy's fouling a ball off over here, don't given to the change up, speed his bat up and stuff like that. That's the stuff he's got to learn."
Although the batting average may not be there for Wolf yet, Etch thinks the hits will start to come.
"He really hasn't swung the bat that badly, he just hasn't gotten a lot of hits. He hasn't struck out a lot," Etch explained.
"We'll keep going and see what happens."
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