Young team blessing, not Suns' curse

April 03, 2001

Young team blessing, not Suns' curse


One man's plight is another man's pleasure.

Take Hagerstown manager Bill Hayes for example. People using conventional wisdom would say the 2001 Suns are inexperienced.


Everyone's entitled to their own opinion, but for the Suns, Hayes has the only one that counts.

"You might say we are inexperienced ... I say we have youthful exhuberance," Hayes said. "That's saying something. You don't see that on every team. I've been on some teams that are on higher levels and they didn't have it."

Hayes will be leading the Suns through the wonderful world of minor league baseball, the first full season for most of the players on this year's team. It's a whole new world for the latest edition of the Suns - the first year in the San Francisco organization; the first year in the South Atlantic League; and for some, the first year away from the West Coast.


"We were on the bus and it was kind of a shock coming in," Hayes said. "They saw a deer ... we have some California boys here."

What they lack in the knowledge of the animal kingdom, the Suns make up for in raw talent. Hagerstown has a team that looks to be strong in pitching and solid in the field. The Suns have four top 5 picks from the last two amateur drafts - all pitchers.

"I haven't been here before or at any other park in the league, but I was looking at the stats from last season, but they seem out of proportion," Hayes said. "Just looking around this park, it looks like pitching will be pretty important."

The Suns lead the arm's race with Boof Bosner, San Francisco's top pick last season, and back it up with Brion Treadway, the team's third pick. They also have Kyle Gross, last year's fifth pick, and John Thomas, the second pick from 1999 on the roster.

All are talented, but they are also green by baseball standards.

"We have a young group with a lot of enthusiasm, who want to learn and will compete," Hayes said. "We have five pitchers who are all competitors. They are low in experience, but they are high on the upside for the whole team. There is a lot of talent, but you don't know what it's going to do."

The Suns got their first look at the spacious field in Municipal Stadium during Monday's Meet the Suns workout. It will be a home base for Hagerstown to test its talents.

Three players in particular - first baseman Delvi Santos and outfielders Dan Trumble and Jason Ellison - will get put to the test in the SAL.

"Santos is a pull-type hitting guy," Hayes said. "He'll probably bat third for us and I think Trumble can take the ball out anywhere. He's got lift in his power. Ellison also has some credentials."

Santos hit .372 in 12 games at the Giants' Arizona State League with two home runs and 10 RBI in 46 at bats. Trumble hit eight homers and drove in 36 runs while hitting .366 in Arizona. Meanwhile, Ellison hit .300 with 28 RBI and 13 stolen bases while at Salem-Keizer, the Giants' Rookie League team in the Northwest League.

The problem - if it is considered a problem - is that none of the Suns have experience on a full season team.

"I've been doing this for awhile," Hayes said. "This is another team that we have to work with and just try to get better. We got some guys who can do some things. I like to play aggressively with good base running. You win with pitching and defense."

And don't forget the youthful enthusiasm.

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