Mustangs' roster begins to take shape
By MIKE SCHERTING
Of The Gazette Staff
Billings Mustangs general manager Gary Roller received the first draft of this year's roster from the Cincinnati Reds on Wednesday, and one thing is clear. This year's Pioneer League team doesn't appear to have the pedigree of last year's roster.
With the first-year player draft just completed last weekend, the Reds are still signing their draft picks. As of now, the highest draft pick assigned to Billings is fifth-rounder Andrew Bowman, a left-handed pitcher out of the University of Nebraska.
Last year at this time, the Mustangs were eagerly awaiting the arrival of several top-10 picks, including first-rounder Drew Stubbs. The Reds also ended up sending second-rounder Sean Watson (pitcher) and third-rounder Chris Valaika (shortstop) to Billings.
Because the Reds drafted several high school players and several players who have college eligibility remaining, signing those players could prove difficult. The Reds picked high school catcher Devin Mesoraco with their first pick and selected Rutgers junior shortstop Todd Frazier with a supplemental first-round pick. Even if they sign with the Reds, Roller said he doesn't expect either of those players to be assigned to Billings.
With the first official workout set for today at 2 p.m., and with the opener six days away, the Mustangs' roster is still in flux. And getting any roster to match the star power that last year's had would be difficult. Not only did the Reds assign several high-level players to the Mustangs, those players also performed up to their lofty status.
"You can't compare this team to last year," Roller said. "You're going to have to compare it to two, three years ago."
The early roster also contains 13 players from the Reds' extended spring training. Those at extended spring training are players under contract who were not assigned to any of the Reds' minor league clubs at the conclusion of spring training.
Pitchers Josh Ravin (a fifth-round selection in '06), Adam Pointer and Dan Donaldson all played for the Mustangs briefly at the end of last season. Fans might also remember Phil Valiquette, a seventh-round pick in 2004 who made three starts in Billings in 2005.
Other familiar names from the extended spring training list include catcher Jake Long and outfielder Michael McKennon, who both played for the Mustangs last season.
After today's workout, the team's remaining workouts are scheduled to begin at 11 a.m.
NOTES: As of Wednesday, the Mustangs had 27 players on their roster. They generally have 30 to 33 when the season starts. ... Bowman was 4-1 with a 4.32 ERA in 14 games this season. ... One of the intriguing names on the Mustangs' roster is seventh-round choice Brandon Waring of Wofford University. The 6-foot-4, 195-pound Waring won two legs of the Southern Conference's triple crown, leading the league in batting (.401) and home runs (27). His home run total placed him second in the nation behind Kyle Russell, who hit 28 for Texas.
Published on Thursday, June 14, 2007.
Last modified on 6/14/2007 at 12:48 am