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Suns get youth served

April 05, 2000

Suns get youth served: Hagerstown's new team is definitely a young one

Hagerstown Suns 2000 RosterNo.NameBatsThrowsAgePitchers33Marc BlumaRR2327Brian CardwellRR1939Aaron DeanRR2034Matt FordSL2014Robbie HamannRR2317Travis HubbelRR2036Peyton LewisLR2419Diego MarkwellLL1910Dana ReeceLL2213Cam ReimersRR2216Marcos SandovaRR1918Josh StevensRR20Catchers20Kevin CashRR228Josh HollidaySR2311Guillermo QuirozRR18Infielders25Robert CosbySR194Jaime GoudieRR213Brandon JacksonRR247Doug RoperSR2222Mike SnyderLR199Chris WeeklyLR23Outfielders15Shannon CarterLR2128Aaron FeraRR225Reed JohnsonRR2312Auntwan RigginsSR23Manager - 24, Rolando Pino

Pitching Coach - 21, Hector Berrios

Hitting Coach - 38, Ken Landreaux

By BOB PARASILITI / Staff Writer

Hagerstown Suns manager Rolando Pino might be wondering if he's running a minor league baseball team or a daycare center.

It's easy to say they are young, but the 2000 Suns - by average - were celebrating their first birthday when the Hagerstown franchise was playing its first game at Municipal Stadium in 1981.

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Now Pino will be leading that same youthful group that includes three of Toronto's top four 1999 draft picks into the Suns' 20th anniversary season, which begins Thursday at the Macon (Ga.) Braves. Pino will be working with a group that will be counted on to age quickly if it is going to contend for a third straight South Atlantic League playoff spot.

Pino led the Suns to a 84-56 record and a South Atlantic League Northern Division first-half title. Hagerstown bowed out in the first round of the playoffs.

"It's a whole new crew except for two players," Pino said from his hotel room in Macon. "We are going to have to blend together for the first couple of weeks. Most of these guys are getting their first taste of full-season minor league baseball, they all are from Medicine Hat or St. Catharines. It will take time to feel each other out and get used to playing."

Even Hagerstown's two returnees are relatively new. First there's Marcos Sandoval, who will be the opening day starter. Sandoval was a part-time starter last season for the Suns, finishing 4-3 with a 4.55 ERA in 27 appearances.

Another pitcher, Peyton Lewis, is the other returnee. Lewis joined Hagerstown right before the playoffs and pitched in two games with no record.

"Quite a few of the players have been with me right from the beginning of the spring," Pino said. "So I know what some of them can do. Some of the pitchers I've only seen throw once."

Hagerstown's pitching staff is young but talented. The average age on the staff is 21 1/2 with seven pitchers at 20 or under.

The two prizes may be Matt Ford and Brian Cardwell, who were selected in the third and fourth rounds of last year's amateur draft. Ford was 4-0 with a 2.05 ERA for Medicine Hat, while Cardwell went 2-1. The pair will alternate starts in the No. 5 slot of the rotation.

The Suns may be the deepest at catcher. Guillermo Quiroz, 18, keeps the Suns on the youth kick and Kevin Cash is a non-drafted free agent. The most versatile is Josh Holliday, one of four switch hitters on the roster who can also play first or third base and can be the designated hitter.

The infield is led by first baseman Mike Snyder, who was Toronto's second-round pick. Other 1999 picks are third baseman Robert Cosby (10th round), shortstop Doug Roper (26th round) and reserve Chris Weekly (12th round). Cosby and Weekly are switch hitters.

Most of the speed is in the outfield with center fielder Auntwan Riggins and right fielder Shannon Carter. Riggins is a converted first baseman and Carter is the second cousin to former Blue Jay and Oriole Joe Carter.

Now that Pino has the pieces, it's time to put them all together.

"I think we will be able to hit and run a lot," Pino said. "We have some speed, just not as much as we had last season. We'll be running, but I think we will be hitting for power at any time. But when it's all over, I think our starting pitching will be the strength of the team."

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