City Desk

A Little Boy of Summer Comes Close

05snyderbdpI'm anxious, so Brandon Snyder's gotta be some word stronger than "anxious." Snyder was called up from the Orioles' Triple A affiliate in Norfolk a week ago to the big league club. That was his first call-up. But though he's wearing the uniform, he hasn't yet made it into a game.

I want Snyder to get an at-bat, for crissakes. Hell, for my sakes.

I wrote a column about Snyder 11 years ago. He was 12 years old, and already a superstar all over his Centreville neighborhood. I'd just seen him hit a game winning home run in the last inning of the Southwestern Youth Association's Major League Championship, the local Little League. That was his 19th homer of the year in 21 games for his SYA squad, the Rockies. Little League games last just six innings. Translated into a big league schedule of 162 nine-inning games, that comes out to a 219-homer season. Snyder also batted .796 for his last year of kiddie ball.

"I can see Brandon going all the way to the majors," a kid with braces announced outside the Rockies dugout after that 1999 championship game, while Snyder swapped Pokemon cards with teammates. I was right there with the kid.

While following Snyder through a great career at nearby Westfield High, where he earned Washington Post player of the year honors, to his being taken by the O's with the 13th pick in the first round of the 2005 MLB draft and given a $1.6 million dollar deal to skip college, I remained certain that my original scouting report on the 12-year-old Snyder would pan out: He was going to make it to the bigs.

But then Snyder started getting hurt again and again, and even when he was healthy he found pitchers in the pros were harder to hit than when he batted .796 for the Rockies. Each spring, he's gotten closer to being labeled a bust and further away from the sure-thing tag he wore when he was drafted. But, because he's worked hard and the organization has so much money invested in him, Snyder was moved up to the Triple A level last season, and spent all of 2010 there until Wednesday, when he was one of three Norfolk players called up by the Orioles for the traditional September roster expansion.

But O's manager Buck Showalter hasn't yet penciled Snyder in. Yesterday, Snyder, as he has every game since the call up, sat on the bench and watched as the O's beat the Yankees in New York. Yes, that means he's made it from a dugout in Centreville to a dugout in Yankee Stadium. That's an amazing journey, no question. But still. Just let Snyder bat, skip!

The games mean nothing to the O's now. It would mean everything to Snyder. And me. I can say I called it.

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