CUMBERLAND — For Allegany High School’s Aaron Laffey, The Land of Pleasant Living has become The Land of Opportunity, as the seven-year major league veteran left-hander and 10-year professional signed a minor league contract with the Baltimore Orioles on Thursday.
The deal does not include an automatic invitation to major league spring training camp as Laffey will report to the organization’s minor league mini-camp Feb. 22 with the opportunity to earn a look with the big league club. For now, he’s competing for a rotation spot at Triple-A Norfolk and, after an admittedly sub-par 2013 season, in which he was with four organizations, that’s perfectly fine with Laffey.
“Just excited,” Laffey said Thursday evening. “Pure excitement, really. I feel happy and blessed for the opportunity to go back out and prove last year was just a fluke. After 10 years (in professional baseball) it was going to happen at some point, but I’m blessed and excited for the opportunity with the Orioles.
“I hope to go down there and do the same thing I’ve been doing here — get better and stronger.”
Laffey, the 2003 Area High School Baseball Player of the Year for Allegany, pitched in the big leagues last season for the New York Mets and Toronto Blue Jays, as well as in the Los Angeles Dodgers and Milwaukee Brewers organizations.
The left-hander, drafted by the Cleveland Indians in 2003, has pitched to a 25-29 record in seven big league seasons with a 4.45 ERA, having also pitched for the Indians, the Seattle Mariners and the New York Yankees. He was also briefly with the Kansas City Royals.
After making the Mets’ Opening Day roster as a non-roster invitee and making four appearances last year, he was designated for assignment and made just one other major league appearance with the Blue Jays, spending most of the year in the Triple-A Pacific Coast League (Los Angeles and Milwaukee), where he was 6-8 with a 6.34 ERA in 23 games, 22 of them being starts.
In 2012 he appeared in 22 major league games with Toronto, making 16 starts, and was 4-6 with a 4.56 ERA in over 100 innings of work.
Throughout his major league career, Laffey has pitched successfully in Oriole Park at Camden Yards, his most recent appearance there being a Sept. 25, 2012 start for the Blue Jays when he worked 5 2/3 scoreless innings in a 4-0 Toronto win, marking the first time the Orioles had been shut out in 49 games. Laffey, a low-ball pitcher, induced 11 groundball outs and allowed just one runner to reach second base.
Having signed his contract with the Orioles on Thursday, Laffey said, “I have an opportunity to continue my playing career and, all things considered, this is the best thing for me. I didn’t have many opportunities because of the results of last year. To have this with Baltimore, the hometown team, it’s just really pure excitement.”
Laffey will be one of the speakers at the 66th Dapper Dan Awards Banquet Saturday, 4 p.m., at the Ali Ghan Shrine Club.
Mike Burke is sports editor of the Cumberland Times-News. Write to him at email@example.com