Suns beginning to take shape

March 26, 1997


Staff Writer

J.J. Cannon is no different than anyone else.

He wonders just who will be playing for the Hagerstown Suns when they open the 1997 season on April 3 in Macon, Ga.

The roster is a pretty important subject to Cannon. He is, after all, the team's manager.

After six weeks of spring training, the Suns' second-year skipper has some educated guesses as to who will be on the Class A South Atlantic League team. But with eight days until the opener, Cannon said nothing is definite.

"We have had a lot of guys playing at a lot of different levels to get in innings and at bats just to get in shape," Cannon said recently in a telephone interview from Dunedin, Fla. "It has been hard to guess where everyone will end up because guys have been moving all over just to play.


"We are going to be very young but very talented," he said. "I don't mind young because those players always work hard and keep learning. Their ability to adapt will make them better in the end."

The middle of the Suns' infield could feature shortstop Joe Lawrence and second baseman Brett Abernathy, two of the Toronto Blue Jays' first-round picks in the 1996 amateur draft.

Lawrence, the 16th overall selection, hit .224 in 29 games last season at St. Catherines. He was voted Gatorade Player of the Year and Mr. Baseball in Louisiana as a senior in high school.

Abernathy didn't play professionally last year, but was labeled as the best pure hitter in the draft by Baseball America. Toronto selected Abernathy with one of the draft picks they received when the Baltimore Orioles signed Roberto Alomar.

"Those two are bona fide bonus babies," Cannon said.

Tim Giles is a strong candidate to be the Suns' first baseman. The 6-foot-3, 215-pounder is a 1993 graduate of Arundel (Md.) High School. He hit 10 home runs in 258 at bats at Medicine Hat last season.

Ryan Stromsborg is a possibility at third base. He hit .310 at Medicine Hat last season.

The rest of the roster is a guessing game. Cannon said Toronto should finalize the roster on Friday. The Suns break camp on Monday before heading to Macon.

Other names mentioned as possible Suns were: outfielders Symmion Willis, Peter Tucci and Lorenzo Bagley; catchers Josh Phelps, Blaine Fortin and Jason Koehler; and pitchers Billy Hibbard and Clint Lawrence.

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