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Suns feature more than just Harper

April 04, 2011|By BOB PARASILITI | bobp@herald-mail.com
  • Washington National adviser Davey Johnson, left, answers a question about Bryce Harper as the new Hagerstown outfielder listens (right) during the Suns annual media day.
By Joe Crocetta/Staff Photographer

HAGERSTOWN — When Brian Daubach talks about the Hagerstown Suns, there is an asterisk at the end each of his statements.


“We have a well-rounded team with a lot of speed and some power,” said the Suns manager. “Our position players are very athletic. Our athleticism is big.”

Then the asterisk is added. * Oh yeah, the Suns have Bryce Harper on the roster.

The 2011 Hagerstown Suns roster was unveiled at media day on Monday with a wide array of young talent, all giving Daubach an abundant amount of optimism. But add Harper, the top selection in major league baseball’s 2010 amateur draft, to the list and everything else gets trumped.

Harper-mania has started and he is the focal point of everything Suns. Everything, that is, except where Daubach is concerned.

“Bryce has a ton of talent, as advertised,” Daubach said. “We are excited for him to be here. For him, the biggest adjustment is to get used to the grind of playing every day. He is moving from catcher to the outfield. As a catcher, you are in for every pitch. In the outfield, you can lose focus. One ball might be hit to you, but it is the one that could change a game.”

Harper spent the early part of spring training with the Nationals before being sent to Hagerstown. He showed that he might be ready for the majors shortly, but there is still room for improvement. When he came to the Suns, though, he rejoined a number of players he worked with in instructional leagues, giving the team an early bond.

“This group has been in an accelerated camp,” Daubach said. “They got together in February ... It was one of the longest minor league camps I’ve seen. This is a good group. They play hard and that says a lot.”

Daubach said he has high regard for his starting rotation and sees good things coming for his infielders and catchers, but he has an interesting situation brewing in the outfield with Harper.

“That group is really athletic,” Daubach said. “We basically have four center fielders out there. Harper will be in right, but he will play some center, too.

Joining Harper in the outfield are Michael Taylor, Wade Moore and Randolph Oduber.

“Taylor was an infielder who was converted to an outfielder,” Daubach said. “He has picked up the position very quickly. Moore played a lot of right field last year in Vermont. He has that ‘dirt dog’ mentality. He plays hard and hustles. It’s good for them to play other positions because someone always seems to be in your position when you move up.”

The infield will be anchored by shortstop Jason Martinson and second baseman Adrian Sanchez.

“Martinson was a football player, a receiver, who has played very well,” Daubach said. “Sanchez gets the bat on the ball. He makes a lot of contact and he is very good around the bag.”

Some familiar faces will check in at first and third base. Brett Newsome returns as a starter, while Mills Rogers will play first, third and outfield. At third, Sean Nicole — another returnee — and Blake Kelso, who led Vermont in hitting last year, will share duties.

The Suns will have two more notable catchers behind the plate in David Frietas and Cole Leonida.

“They both came into camp and worked with our catching coaches. Frietas had hip surgery, so we will be watching him,” Daubach said. “The way they throw, they won’t have many guys running on them.”

On the mound, the Suns will feature a wide variety of talents with an alternating mixture of right- and left-handers. Cameron Selik, the opening day starter, Taylor Jordan and Chris McKenzie are right-handers, while Matt Grace and Bobby Hansen are lefties.

“They all bring different things to the table,” Daubach said. “It they do what they can do, they will get promoted quickly. You hate to see them go, but that’s our job here.”

The bullpen is lined with returning Suns, including Paul Applebee, Ben Graham and Shane McCatty, the son of Nationals pitching coach Steve McCatty.

“It is a case where everything will sort itself out,” Daubach said. “They will all get chances. We will be looking to fill holes and see where they work and then come mid-May, everything will be set.”

The sum total of the Suns’ parts gives an indication that Hagerstown has a chance to be formidable in the South Atlantic League.

“We are going to hit-and-run and steal a lot,” Daubach said. “All these guys will be here will work their butts off and learn to deal with the peaks and valleys. We have a lot of good athletes. We have to make them into winning baseball players.”

And *, the Suns have Bryce Harper.

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Harrisburg vs. Suns
Today at 6 p.m.
Municipal Stadium

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