Receiving a text from a best friend in a Melbourne, Florida hotel room is not the ideal way for a player to find out that they were traded. That is exactly what happened to now Frederick Keys first baseman Aaron Baker.
Baker, 23, was traded from the Pirates to the Orioles Saturday in exchange for Derrek Lee.
"It has definitely been a little different," Baker said. "Its been great and a learning experience and I am just excited to be here with the Orioles."
The newly acquired first baseman has 16 home runs and 76 RBI in 104 games between Bradenton (Pittsburgh's advanced Class-A affiliate) and Frederick.
Baker was originally drafted by the Minnesota Twins in the 37th round of the 2006 draft but did not end up signing with the organization. He was again drafted this time by the Pirates in the eleventh round of the 2009 draft. In 291 games he has hit 37 home runs, 187 RBI and has an average of .263.
The Texas native was impressed on how he was greeted by the team and the organization as he arrived in Frederick Monday afternoon.
"I have been really impressed on how the team has welcomed me," Baker said. "I walk into the door and everyone greeted me and has made me feel welcomed and that has really stood out to me. It is nice to be a part of that."
Manager Orlando Gomez was clearly happy by what he saw from his new first baseman after the game.
"I was impressed," Gomez said. "The first time I saw him today he was hanging with the guys in the clubhouse and they made him feel like he was just another guy. I give them credit they made him feel good today."
Gomez also loves what Baker shows on the field. The Keys manager is very happy with how he is able to hit the ball the other way and get on base. He also loves his patience at the plate and what he can do defensively.
The role Baker expects to fulfill is every day duties at first with occasional games at DH. He says he can play some corner outfield but has not done so in a long time but his preferred place is at first.
Baker is 6'2, 220 lbs and plays tall at first base defensively and shows a good approach at the plate which helped him hit a game winning two-run home run in his debut Tuesday.
"I just try to be simple because if I try too hard I can get myself in trouble," Baker said. "I stay small with my feet and put the ball where I can and so far its working. I am looking to continue that and see where it goes."
The home run was an opposite field blast to left-center field. Baker wouldn't say that hitting the opposite field is a true strength he just feels that he can hit the ball anywhere its pitched. He believes it's a matter of taking what the pitcher gives him and not trying to do anymore.
Keys first baseman Tyler Townsend is still on the disabled-list with hamstring issues and there is still no set timetable for his return. Baker will fill the prominent first base role for the time being but with the impression Baker has made for this team and organization it may be hard to keep both of them out of the lineup when Townsend is healthy.