Ogden Ready for Season Opener

In his first year as a manager in the Dodger system, Lance Parrish has the luxury of fielding an experienced team fortified by some newly signed likelies as Ogden gets the 2006 Pioneer League season underway.

Those that have been there -- at least, for a little while -- and Parrish got used to each other during the extended spring training rigors at Dodgertown so it's a group that he's familiar with as they take the field.

That would include Jesus Soto at second and Juan Rivera at short, who staffed the middle of the infield for the Raptors last year. In addition, first baseman Rick Taloa and outfielder D. J. Jackson are returnees as is utilityman Parker Brooks. The mound staff also includes veterans of this league in righthander Nate Hochgesang and lefthander Cody White.

There's a good group up from the 2005 Gulf Coast squad including Eduardo Perez, a third baseman/first baseman who led that league in hitting with a .352 average. Another third baseman, Josh Bell, hit .318 and catcher Carlos Medero hit .313 for that same team. Outfielder Scott Van Slyke hit .282 so there would seem to be plenty of offense awaiting. Outfielder Jeremy Brown, who had an excellent spring, is another from that team.

Medero gets catching aid in the persons of Ryder Mathias, who was the final player added in the Danys Baez trade with Tampa Bay; draftee John Martin (24) from Emporia State and undrafted free agent Conor McGeehan.

New arrivals from the draft are shortstop Justin Fuller (11th round) from Lewis & Clark and second baseman Michael Rivera (17th) plus outfielders Matt Berezay (21st) from the University of Pacific and Chris Jensen (22) from UCLA. Ryan Rogowski, signed last summer after becoming the MVP of the collegiate Northwoods League, possesses both speed and power.

Pitchers up from the GCL include righthanders Chales Dasni, Kalen Gearhart. Miguel Ramirez, Joey Norrito and Steve Johnson, who made a brief but memorable two-game splash for Jacksonville a bit earlier this year. Righthander Josh Wall, a second-round draft pick in 2005 is being counted on heavily. Lefthander Miguel Sanfler and righthander Jesus Rodriguez have been sent back from Columbus to bolster the staff.

Pending the assignment of the just-signed first draft pick, lefthander Clayton Kershaw, the newcomers are led by still another first-round selection, righthander Bryan Morris, who throws mid-90's gas. At the present time, righthander Joe Jones an 18th round pick, is the only other recently drafted pitcher here. But righthander Jesus Castillo, who seemed to have a very bright future before elbow surgery, is fresh from rehab and ready to take the next step. There's also undrafted free agent Doug Brooks.

Like most Dodger farm teams these days, there's talent here -- enough that optimism prevails.