Doesn't look like anyone from this years draft class will open at Dayton...
Of The Gazette Staff
Drew Stubbs has already been labeled Gold Glove material by professional baseball scouts. Billings Mustangs fans will get a chance to see why.
Stubbs, the No. 1 draft pick of the Cincinnati Reds this season, signed a contract with the organization Wednesday and will report to the Mustangs today in Billings along with the rest of the Pioneer League team.
Highly touted for his glove work, the University of Texas center fielder was listed among the best college athletes in this year's draft. Stubbs, who received a reported $2 million to sign with the Reds, hit .342 with 12 home runs and 58 RBIs, and also stole 26 bases in 62 games this spring. He also played on the Longhorns team that won the College World Series last year.
The Mustangs are reporting to Billings several days later than usual. With a new owner and new general manager in Cincinnati, things are working a bit differently this season. Excluding this year's draft selections, the Mustangs have been working out as a group in Sarasota, Fla., and will fly into Billings today, along with manager Rick Burleson and the rest of the coaching staff. The team will hold workouts at Cobb Field on Saturday, Sunday and Monday and then open the season Tuesday at home against the Great Falls White Sox. Usually players are here for nearly an entire week before the season begins.
"We miss having them around," Mustangs general manager Gary Roller said. "Kind of the publicity and the electricity build up to the opener (is missing), but with Saturday, Sunday, Monday and the banquet Saturday night, I don't think we're going to miss anything to be honest with you."
Mustangs officials got their first glimpse of the roster on Thursday, and on paper, it looks to be one of the deepest in recent memory.
Not only is Stubbs, the eighth pick overall, coming to Billings, but the Reds' No. 2 pick and potentially the No. 3 pick are also slated for the Mustangs. In fact, six of the Reds' first 10 picks are supposed to start the season in Billings.
University of Tennessee closer Sean Watson was the Reds' second selection in the draft and has already signed a contract. The Reds picked UC-Santa Barbara shortstop Chris Valaika in the third round, and as soon as he signs he'll join the Mustangs, Roller said.
"I think as far as the draft goes, I think we're doing terrific, which tells me what the Reds think of us and our relationship with them," Roller said. "They are going out of their way to make us as competitive as possible."
As of Thursday, five players from last year's Mustangs team will return this season: Pitchers Rafael Gonzalez, James Morris and Logan Ondrusek; and infielders Kevyn Feiner and Yoni Lasso.
"I like the makeup of the roster," Roller said. "With the draft picks and No. 1, 2 and 3 (picks) eventually coming and from what we're hearing from the scouts and various people, (the Reds) think they had a good draft, a very productive draft."