Outlook at Ogden

For the past couple of seasons the lineup at Ogden had been studded with the new kids on the block -- high draft choices, either of the college or high school variety, making their professional debuts. That's certainly not the case this time around.

The starting lineup that opened the Pioneer League season for the Raptors Tuesday was comprised, in the main, of graduates of the Gulf Coast League. Only one 2005 draft pick started -- Jason Mooneyham, a 40th round selection, who served as the designated hitter. All the others have professional experience.

Ogden is managed this year by Juan Bustabad, returning to lead a team, after spending the past two seasons as a coach. He was with Ogden as such in 2003 and was with Vero Beach last season. His coaches are both new -- onetime Dodger ace and Cy Young winner with Oakland Bob Welch handles the pitchers while Jose Mejia from the Dominican League is the hitting instructor

The first baseman is David Sutherland, a 6-6 Australian who hit .301 for the Gulf Coasties last year. What's more, he's added strength and was the leading hitter in the extended spring camp this year. The middle of the infield is also up from the GCL Dodgers, second baseman Jesus Soto (.292) and shortstop Juan Rivera, a stylish fielder who hit .243.

Russell Mitchell, who has served in backup roles both in Vero Beach and Jacksonville this year, has come down to play third. He's bulked up to get more juice in his bat since he didn't manage a home run all last year. split between Vero (.249) and Columbus (.201). It paid off opening night when he hit the first home run ever in Orem's new park.

Backup infielders are Justin Crist, who hit .311 in the Gulf Coast and Shane Justis from Towson University, a 21st -round draftee.

In the outfield, Sam Steidl who started rhe year at Columbus, has been dropped back to play left. Hurt most of last year, he got into only 11 games in the GCL, hitting .129. Derry "D. J." Jackson, who looked much improved in the extended camp after managing only a .208 mark in the GCL, is in center with B. J. Richmond, a returnee from last year when he hit .267, is in right. Reserves include Hector Arias, back again after hitting .252 here last summer; James McDonald, who hit .224 in the GCL, and 19th round draft pick Drew Locke from Boston College.

Juan Apodaca, who started the year at Columbus, is the catcher. He's a Venezuelan who played in the Dominican League where he hit .260 but showed some power. He's backed by Kengshil Pujols, a returnee who hit .221 and Rotsen Gil, .304 in the GCL.

Mario Alvarez, a hard-throwing former infielder from the Dominican who posted a 4-3, 1.24 mark there in 2004, was the opening day starter. Others in the rotation are expected to be Cody White, hurt most of last season when he pitched in just five games in the Gulf Coast (1-1, 2.53); Kris Krise, a 12th round draftee from Chico State; Marlon Arias (4-1, 1.84 in the Dominican); and David Pfeiffer, (2-0, 0.40 in the GCL, 1-4, 6.20 with Ogden). There's a predominance of lefthanders here for Arias, White and Pfeiffer all throw from that side.

Others on the staff are Cory Wade, another dropped down from Columbus; Jordan Pratt, who's been with Ogden for two seasons; Aaron Klusman, another Ogden vet, plus Nate Hochgesang and Alvin Hayes from the Gulf Coast and rookies Matt Gomez deSegura and Brent Leach. Gomez deSegura was a free agent signee late last summer while Leach is a sixth-round pick from Delta State where he was a standout closer. He's the only lefthander in this group.

The offense may depend a lot on speed for there's not an overabundance of power but that's okay with Bustabad, who loves to put pressure on the defense. The pitching is deep. And there's a chance that more will be added when other draftees are signed.

For the past two years, inexperience has often hurt Ogden's entries. That doesn't look to be the case this time around.