O's Draft pick Servideo has franchise family ties

Grandson of Curt Blefary, who won 1965 ROY and '66 WS with O's

June 15th, 2020

When the Orioles drafted Mississippi shortstop Anthony Servideo with their third-round pick in Thursday’s MLB Draft, they didn’t just add a glove-first shortstop and one of the better defenders in the Draft. They also got a player with a longtime family connection to the club.

The Orioles also got the grandson of Curt Blefary, who won the 1965 American League Rookie of the Year Award and a World Series ring with Baltimore in ‘66. Blefary, who died in 2001, was Servideo’s maternal grandfather.

“I was too young, unfortunately, to know him. But my mom and my uncle and my grandma all told me stories,” Servideo said on Monday. “I would ask about him almost every time I saw them. It was cool. We have a lot of pictures of him, and memorabilia.”

Servideo was 2 years old when Blefary died, his ashes scattered on the former grounds of Memorial Stadium. Best known for breaking out with 22 homers and 70 RBIs as a 21-year-old rookie in 1965, Blefary hit at least 20 homers in each of his first three big league seasons, all with the O’s. He was a key member of their World Series champion team in ’66, hitting 23 homers with an .839 OPS that season.

Blefary compiled 82 homers over four years with the O’s, before issues with anger and alcohol facilitated his trade to the Astros in a 1968 deal that netted Mike Cuellar. He played until '72, finishing his career with stints with the Yankees, A’s and Padres.

“Growing up, he was my idol. I want to follow in his footsteps, hopefully be a better player than he was,” Servideo said. “I am super thankful to be able to look up to him.”

The Orioles on Monday tweeted a family photo of Blefary holding Servideo as an infant, showing his grandson his 1966 World Series ring. Flash forward two decades and Servideo is an Oriole, the latest in a line of middle-infield prospects Baltimore has brought in over the past two years via the Draft.

The O’s had been aware of Servideo since his days in the Florida prep ranks and were impressed enough with his improvements this spring at Ole Miss to overlook some offensive struggles in the Cape Cod League last summer. He is seen as a potential utility player in the Majors given his experience at short and also in center field and right.

Blefary was multipositional as well, but a corner outfielder first and infielder second. Servideo is the opposite, a 5-foot-10, 175-pound sparkplug who relies largely on speed and athleticism.

“I am not as strong as the other guys, but they’re not as quick as me, and I have that advantage over them,” Servideo said. “Now, in today’s game, there aren’t a ton of guys with speed.”

Servideo popped seriously onto the Orioles’ radar this spring when he supplemented that skill set with improved power and plate discipline, hitting five homers and drawing 24 walks in 17 games. The O’s are hoping that’s more reflective than Servideo’s anemic summer in the Cape Cod League, where he was one of the circuit’s poorer offensive players. Signability is not expected to be a hurdle.

“He got off to a blistering start and ran into some power. We were intrigued by his athleticism in the dirt, how well he moved laterally and how well the hands worked,” Orioles domestic scouting supervisor Brad Ciolek said. “We are not overly concerned as far as his body of work. We’re taking what he’s done most recently, and we like his chances of continuing to add to the power department and the on-base skills moving forward.”