Shortstop Anthony Servideo has a chance to begin a family legacy with the Baltimore Orioles. The 2020 third-round pick out of Ole Miss is the grandson of former Orioles outfielder Curt Blefary, who played in Baltimore from 1965-1968.
“I knew the Orioles were interested in me, and I was growing up playing baseball thinking that would be so cool to have an Orioles jersey on and follow in his footsteps,” Servideo said on Glenn Clark Radio June 15. “But regardless of the team, my goal is to make it to the big leagues, try to be a good player like he was.”
Blefary left a lasting mark in Baltimore, winning the 1965 American League Rookie of the Year award after hitting .260./.381/.470 with 22 home runs and 70 RBIs in 144 games. He went on to play for five teams in eight big-league seasons, posting a .237/.342/.400 career line and hitting 112 homers. He was part of the Orioles’ first World Series championship team in 1966.
“I didn’t really get a chance to know him that well, he passed away when I was 2 years old, I believe, so I’d always ask my grandma, my mom, my uncle stories about him,” Servideo said of his grandfather, who passed away in 2001. “Look up pictures and stuff of him and all the memorabilia that my family has of him.”
On June 16, Servideo announced his intention to sign with Baltimore. He played at Ole Miss from 2018-2020, spending time at shortstop, second base and the outfield. The Orioles drafted him as a shortstop, the position he played for the Rebels in 2020. Servideo was named a second-team All-American by Collegiate Baseball this season and a Freshman All-SEC selection in 2018. He was a career .294/.440/.427 hitter at Ole Miss.
Offensively, Servideo draws plenty of walks and has the speed to be an effective base runner. During his sophomore season at Ole Miss, he walked 48 times and stole 24 bases in 66 games. This season was cut short due to the coronavirus, but he walked 24 times and stole nine bases in 17 games. He was on pace for a career year at the plate, as his .390 average, .575 on-base percentage and .695 slugging percentage were all easily career highs.
“My confidence was through the roof. I felt really good up at the plate,” Servideo said. “I made some adjustments coming off the summer and I just stayed within myself. That was the main goal. Sometimes when I’m going fast I can do too much. My mindset was stay within yourself, keep the same approach and stay aggressive. I believe I was heading in the right direction and [would have continued] to go up.”
Despite his success as a Rebel since 2018, it didn’t carry over to his time in the Cape Cod League last summer. While playing for the Hyannis Harbor Hawks, his performance at the plate raised some concerns about his future in pro ball. In 32 games and 101 at-bats, he hit .149, recorded 15 hits and struck out 37 times.
Servideo doesn’t believe the wood bat used in Cape Cod was the reason for his struggles. (BBCOR bats are used in college.)
“I was in the Cape trying to do too much. I was not there mentally. I was trying to hit home runs and show off for the people that were watching but I realized obviously after it was over just get caught up in the moment,” Servideo said. “That’s what I was trying to do, take that as a learning experience and move on.”
Servideo believes his struggles in the Cape Cod league motivated him to prove he can hit. This season at Ole Miss, Servideo recorded 23 hits and a career-high five home runs in 59 at-bats. He led the SEC and was ninth in the country in on-base percentage (.575). He was tied for fourth in the nation in runs scored (24).
“Oh, 100 percent, especially because how so many people talk about the Cape,” Servideo said regarding whether his Cape performance served as motivation. “It was getting me pissed off and I was anxious to get the season rolling and show everyone that’s not the type of hitter that I am and I’m actually kind of good at it. I don’t really suck at it.”
Servideo wasn’t the only SEC player drafted by the Orioles this month. He is joined by first-rounder Heston Kjerstad (Arkansas) and competitive balance pick Jordan Westburg (Mississippi State). Servideo has been working out recently with Kjerstad, the second overall pick in this year’s draft.
What would it mean to Servideo to eventually win a World Series with the same franchise his grandfather won a title with?
“That would be unbelievable. That’s the goal. Mark the date,” Servideo said.
For more from Servideo, listen to the full interview here:
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Ole Miss Athetics and the Baltimore Orioles