Ogden Raptors Review

The Ogden Raptors had set a team goal at the start of the Pioneer League season -- make the playoffs. That they achieved- only, well, they wished it could have gone on a bit further. For the Raptors were like a driver leading the Indy 500 only to run out of gas at mile 490.

They had begun by hitting lustily. The 6-7 Australian playing first, David Sutherland, the kid they all call "Goofy", was flirting with .400 while third baseman Russ Mitchell, who had managed only a solo home run in his first two seasons, was going long ball so often he was leading the league. And Sergio Pedroza was Paul Bunyan at the plate hitting .500 with power, only to be quickly pulled upward.

If the pitching was a bit shaky at times, it didn't seem to matter. They score five runs, we'll score six; they score seven, we score eight. They won the pressure games to capture the first half. In the second slice of the schedule, manager Juan Bustabad quite properly mixed and matched his lineups, seeing what each kid brought to the field. Still, they were on top this time, too.

But with a couple of weeks to go, the bats abruptly turned chilly. Toward the end, Bustabad assembled his best lineup to get ready for the post-season but it didn't matter. And in the opening division series, they just couldn't score runs, so even though they got two fine pitching performances by Brent Leach and John Meloan, they were bumped out by Orem, two games to one.

In retrospect, it was generally a fine campaign despite the less than happy ending. They went 38-36 while developing some promising players for future Dodger use. Sutherland and Mitchell both wound up making the All-Star team while several other players stood out as well.

Second baseman Jesus Soto hit a solid .280 while leading the team in stolen bases. Shortstop Juan Rivera sparkled afield and when he was out with a bad ankle, Ivan DeJesus, Jr., came up from the Gulf Coast team to fill in nicely.Rookie outfielder Drew Locke, a 19th round draft pick from Boston College, proved to have more sock than expected, tying Mitchell for the team home run lead. Another first-year outfielder Adam Godwin showed the speed that had won the NCAA stolen base title and hit .310.

Three catchers alternated with Juan Apodaca drilling 10 homers while both Rotsen Gil and Kengshil Pujols showed defensive skills. B. J. Richmond was solid in the outfield and hit .284.

On the mound, lefthander Leach (5-3, 2.43) , a sixth-rounder from Delta State, led the league in ERA while fifth-rounder Meloan from the University of Arizona, who signed a bit late, came on strongly in the second half. Dominicans Marlon Arias (4-4, 5.48) and Mario Alvarez (3-3, 6.14) displayed strong arms but were wildly inconsistent.

Ramon "Landestoy" Troncoso, who had flopped as a starter for Columbus, came here to provide strong service as a closer (6-2, 3.68, 13 saves) . David Pfeiffer (7-3, 5.63) handled both starting and relief assignments well. Cory Wade (2-3, 4.35) came on to deliver some fine outings after joining the rotation.

The biggst surprise might well have been righthander Aaron Klusman 4-2, 3.09) , undrafted and unnoticed with this team a year ago but a very capable middle man in his second season The biggest disappointment is righthander Cody White, who pitched very well in the extended camp but who never got it together here to be quickly bumped from the rotation to finish 1-3, 6.92.

In all, there was lots more to cheer about than complain with this team.

Team leaders in key departments:

Games- Mitchell 69
Runs- Soto 57
Hits- Sutherland 83
2B- Mitchell 19
3B- Sutherland, Shane Justus 2
HR- Mitchell, Locke 13
RBI- Mitchell 54
SB- Soto 13
Ave.- Sutherland .336
OBP- Sutherland .422
Slug- Locke .556

Innings- Wade 72.1
Wins- Pfeiffer 7
ERA- Leach 2.43
Saves- Troncoso 13
SO- Leach 77
OBA- Meloan .210