Suns 'fun' roster loaded with youth

April 04, 2006|by BOB PARASILITI

Hagerstown Suns manager Frank Cacciatore used five words to sum up his feeling of the impending South Atlantic League season.

"It's going to be fun," he said.

For sure, it won't be boring. In fact, there are times that Cacciatore will feel like the leader of a Cub Scout troop as the season wears on.

The Suns announced their roster on Monday, featuring 12 players who are 21 or under and barely old enough to avoid curfew for the 2006 season. In fact, eight of them - including five position players - aren't old enough to vote.

"This team is going to be fun to watch," Cacciatore said. "They go out and play the game hard and it will be interesting to see how they develop as time goes on."


Center fielder Fernando Martinez was signed with the New York Mets for $1.4 million as a 16-year-old in the Dominican Republic and will be playing his first professional games with the Suns.

Martinez is tabbed to start in the middle of the outfield and the top of the batting order when the Suns open the year on Thursday in Greensboro (N.C.).

"He had a good spring for a 17-year-old kid," Cacciatore said. "He has hit the ball well and will be looking to do things out of the leadoff spot."

Two other major parts of Suns "Kiddie Korps" will be playing second and shortstop. Hector Pellot, 19, was drafted by the Mets in the fifth round in the 2005 amateur draft while Jose Castro, 19, was a free agent signee in 2004.

"They are younger guys who have excelled and they have the confidence of the organization to send them out to play on this level," Caccitore said.

Jonathan Sanchez is a 20-year-old left-handed-hitting right fielder, who is scheduled to join Martinez in the starting outfield.

From there, the Suns will be trying to match their early season run from last season with only four players who have played above the rookie league level. Hagerstown's 2005 team won the SAL's first-half Northern Division title and went on to lose to Kannapolis in the league finals.

Three pitchers - Jeff Landing, Brandon Nall and Joe Serfass - along with catcher Rafael Arroyo return from last season.

Hagerstown is counting on production out of the corner infielders with third baseman Leivi Ventura and first baseman Nick Evans. Ventura hit .263 in the Gulf Coast League and has five home runs during the spring while Evans hit .272 in 72 games last year.

Jonathan Niese, 19, is another youngster who could have an impact on the Suns as part of a staff which includes Sal Aguilar, Jacobo Neguilis and Jorge Reyes.

Niese is a left-handed pitcher who was the Mets' seventh round pick in the 2005 draft while Aguilar was taken in the 29th round.

"From what I've seen, they lit up the gun for me," Cacciatore said. "They have some good arms and are fun to watch."

And the fun will all begin pretty quickly.

"We have had a good blend in the spring," Cacciatore said. "We have been able to run when we have had to, but we have swung the bats pretty well during spring training. You just never know what will happen though until you get out there for real."



Name B/T Age


Sal Aguilar R/R 24

Josh Appell L/L 22

Eric Brown R/R 22

Jeff Landing R/R 22

German Marte R/R 22

Waner Mateo L/R 20

Brandon Nall L/R 20

Jacobo Neguilis R/R 21

Jonathan Niese L/L 19

Jorge Reyes R/R 21

Joe Serfass R/R 24

Kevin Tomasiewicz L/L 22


Rafael Arroyo R/R 22

Andrew Butera R/R 22

Joan Martinez R/R 21


Matt Anderson L/R 23

Jose Castro S/R 19

Nick Evans R/R 20

Hector Pellot R/R 19

Jonathan Schemmel R/R 23

Leivi Ventura R/R 22


Elvis Cruz R/R 22

Fernando Martinez n/a 17

Jonel Pacheco R/R 23

Jonathan Sanchez L/L 20

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