In a move that was mostly overlooked, the Red Sox traded catcher Alberto Castillo to the Orioles for outfielder Cory Keylor at the end of spring training.
Castillo was a non-roster invitee in Sox camp, but at age 37 clearly wasn't the solution in the Sox quest to lower the burden on an aging Jason Varitek. So, the Sox had no reservations in parting ways with Castillo. But what they got in return was quite a surprise.
The 6-3, 216-pound Keylor was the Orioles' minor league player of the year last season after hitting .294 with 10 homers and 68 RBIs in 124 games in Double-A ball.
The 27-year-old Keylor, who bats left but throws right, was a non-roster invitee in the Orioles camp this spring. Apparently the Orioles have plenty of organizational depth in the outfield and didn't feel they had room for Keylor. But it begs the obvious question; why would Baltimore give up its minor league player of the year in return for a 37-year-old catcher?
Only the Orioles know for sure, but Keylor's fast track to the Majors was derailed on a couple of occasions over the last few years.
Selected by Baltimore in the 14th Round (413rd overall) of 2001 amateur entry draft, the Ohio native played at Ohio University where he became the Bobcats' all-time home run leader with 34 career blasts. Yet, despite his obvious talents, Keylor has never made it above AA ball. It's not due to a lack of talent, but rather the result of multiple injuries.
The outfielder broke his kneecap in 2003 and then broke the hamate bone in his hand in 2005. If that injury sounds familiar, it's the same one that hampered Wily Mo Pena last season. But Bowie Baysox (the Orioles AA team) manager Don Werner said the wrist injury didn't give Keylor any trouble last year. Werner also said that Keylor can hit the ball to all fields, making him a tough out.
Now with the Red Sox AA affiliate Portland Sea Dogs, Keylor has worked on increasing his speed, which makes him a base-stealing threat. And defensively, Keylor's strong arm can save runs from right field.
Batting third for the Sea Dogs, Keylor is hitting .250 in 12 at-bats over Portland's first three games this season.
Though the Red Sox have plenty of outfield depth in the minors with David Murphy, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Brandon Moss, the name Cory Keylor could become more familiar to Sox fans in time.
Copyright © 2007 Sean M. Kennedy. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without the author's consent.