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Experience should serve Suns well

March 30, 1997

By BOB PARASILITI

Staff Writer

Hagerstown Suns' fans have annually been forced to endure spring-fall relationships.

The Suns' youthful rosters have tested the love of their fans in March. But come August, the growing pains have subsided and winning makes all good with the world.

This year's team may already be past that early "getting acquainted" stage. At least on paper, the 1997 Suns are older and more mature than past teams in terms of baseball experience.

Twelve of the 25 players on the roster have played either college or junior college baseball. Another eight are at least 20 years old and have played professionally for at least two years.

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"We have a lot of players who are coming out of college and that makes for a healthy team," Hagerstown manager J.J. Cannon said. "We won't have to teach the college players as much. We will be working less on basic fundamentals and more on going after games."

This year, the average age of a Suns player is 21, making the team look like senior citizens compared to past teams. The Toronto Blue Jays organization, Hagerstown's parent club for the last five seasons, is known for drafting youth - generally using 75 percent of its picks on high school-aged players.

"We just have that kind of wave of players coming through the system," Cannon said. "Last year, there were just more good college players coming out in the draft then there has been."

That maturity will be most evident in Hagerstown's offense. College-aged players have more experience at hitting breaking pitches, an art which separates prospects from wannabes.

Three players who could key a quick start for the Suns are first baseman Tim Giles, second baseman Ryan Stromborg and outfielder Peter Tucci.

Giles, 22, is a left-handed power hitter who hit .267 with 10 home runs last season at Medicine Hat. He played at North Carolina-Greensboro, where he was a Freshman All-America selection.

Stromborg, 22, was named the most valuable player at Medicine Hat after hitting .310 with eight homers. He hit .356 as a sophomore at Southern California in 1996.

Tucci, 21, hit .254 with seven homers at St. Catharines last season. He played at Providence College, where was named to the 1995 All-Big East team.

"It is a good balanced team with an idea of how to play the game," Cannon said. "They will be able to do everything we ask and execute. The ability to execute is one of the big keys. Last year, we had a young team that had to learn how to adjust. This year's team doesn't lack maturity or experience and are now ready to play."

The Suns open the season on the road Thursday, facing the Macon (Ga.) Braves.

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