Ogden Raptors open spring training; competition ‘is going to be a dogfight’ | News, Sports, Jobs
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Ogden Raptors pitcher Kida De La Cruz, right, demonstrates a technique to another pitcher during the first day of spring training Thursday, May 12, 2022, at Lindquist Field in Ogden.
KEVIN JOHNSON, Ogden Raptors
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Ogden Raptors manager Kash Beauchamp, center, and player Nick Michaels, right, walk across the field on the first day of spring training Thursday, May 12, 2022, at Lindquist Field in Ogden.
KEVIN JOHNSON, Ogden Raptors
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Ogden Raptors infielder Troy Dixon throws a ball during a drill on the first day of spring training, Thursday, May 12, 2022, at Lindquist Field in Ogden.
KEVIN JOHNSON, Ogden Raptors
OGDEN — The second year of the Ogden Raptors’ independent era is underway, and the 2022 season is less than two weeks away from the first pitch.
On Thursday, the Raptors opened what is likely the biggest and longest spring training in the franchise for new manager Kash Beauchamp and his team to assess players and compile a roster ahead of Opening Day on Thursday. May 25.
Ogden has about 41 players signed or invited to spring training vying for 25 spots on the roster.
“It’s going to be a dogfight. I don’t care where a guy is from, if you’re here you have a chance,” Beauchamp said.
Beauchamp is a former No. 1 overall pick (1982, Toronto Blue Jays) and has extensive minor league management experience – 10 years as an independent league manager and a few stints on minor league affiliate staff – since 1994. He has been a freelance league scout for the Arizona Diamondbacks since 2017.
It’s about 41 players in spring training because even after one day there were changes. On Friday morning, the Raptors posted on social media that pitchers Dylan Burns and Logan Lyle had been removed from them by the Chicago White Sox organization.
Top players from last year’s 54-42 team signed for affiliate opportunities: outfielder Jakob Goldfarb and pitcher Mitchell Miller signed with the Pittsburgh Pirates over the winter, pitcher Jackson Sigman signed with the Seattle Mariners last month and, days before camp opened this week, a Mexican League team bought the contract of long-awaited returning ace Nico Tellache.
Dean Stiles, last year’s coach, is now a pitching coach in the Detroit Tigers system, and assistant coach Jeff Lyle defected to Pioneer League foe Missoula Paddleheads.
Former Chicago Cubs pitcher Les Lancaster is now Ogden’s pitching coach, and Ogden native Evan Parker is returning to the coaching staff while completing rehabilitation to return to the pitch as a pitcher.
There are several more familiar faces in camp with Parker, including outfielder Josh Broughton. He hit .405 last season and says he’s increased his speed and strength dramatically. He’s a Pioneer League MVP-caliber player – if he sticks around long enough before scouts finally notice him.
Returning outfielder Reese Alexiades is in camp, along with infielders Troy Dixon and Nick Michaels, and pitchers Kida De La Cruz, Chris Campbell, Dylan Pearce and Jackson Cunningham.
Ogden’s draft picks from last month’s pro tryout in Tucson, Ariz. — infielders Fox Semones and Dane Tofteland — are also in camp.
There will be basic workouts and drills in spring training, of course, but Beauchamp says he wants to assess players as much as possible through intra-squad scrums. They will take a break for a local tryout this weekend, but otherwise spring training and roster decisions could last until Opening Day.
Beauchamp says he will balance this by releasing players when he feels they won’t make the squad, allowing them to try and find another opportunity if possible.
“I want our spring training to be so good and talented that I can unleash someone who comes back and kicks our ass. It means I brought the right kind of guy here,” he said. “If a kid is in this camp and he’s screwing with him, but I have to release him, I wish him nothing but the best. It’s about winning, but it’s also about getting guys signed .
Although he saw photos and videos, Oklahoma native Beauchamp said he was still amazed by the beauty of northern Utah when he arrived. When a player comes from a drastically different place in Utah, like the Midwest or Florida, Beauchamp said the first thing he did when he showed up at the stadium was take him to the field to soak up the backdrop of Lindquist Field.
He says his managerial inspirations come from Billy Martin, Whitey Herzog and Bobby Cox, as well as his father – after a 10-year playing career in MLB, the late Jim Beauchamp led the minor leagues for 15 years before moving on 10 seasons in Atlanta. Braves bench coach for Cox.
“I’m considered old school, I believe in tough love…but I’m still trying to remember what it was like to be a player,” the young Beauchamp said. After his No. 1 overall selection in 1982, he began his career with Medicine Hat in the Pioneer League and eventually suffered a serious injury just before the Blue Jays planned to recall him from Triple-A.
He then became the first-ever player to sign with a major league club directly from an independent league when he hit .367 in the Northern League and was signed by the Cincinnati Reds in 1993.
Beauchamp hopes to have plenty of opportunities to get his players through scouts and sign as many as possible in the affiliate ball. Other coaches on his travels to independent leagues, he says, haven’t always done this – partially obscuring a player’s talents when talking to scouts so they can keep a winning team intact, for example.
“When I make a decision it’s partly as a manager and partly as a player. I care about my players, I really do,” he said.
Beauchamp said he plans to use his old-school leanings to take advantage of the way baseball is currently played.
“The speed, the defense, the throwing, the timely strikes, put pressure on the defense. We want to have a great two-hit approach and be good situational hitters,” he said. “As baseball begins to revolutionize and change some things, I think we can exploit those things with our own strategies that may seem old-fashioned but are all about exploiting the way other teams play.”
The Raptors open the season on Wednesday, May 25 with a six-game home series against the Grand Junction Rockies at Lindquist Field.