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2007 Oneonta Daily Star Articles

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http://www.thedailystar.com/sports/2007/06/18/11-otigers-180.html

6-18-2007

O-Tigers arrive at new-look Damaschke Field

By P.J. Harmer

Staff Writer

ONEONTA _ This isn’t the Damaschke Field Ronnie Bourquin and Casper Wells remember.

Members of the Oneonta Tigers last season, Bourquin and Wells arrived Sunday in preparation for the 2007 New York-Penn League season and got a surprise with the new-look Damaschke.

"It looks like everything is nice," said third baseman Bourquin, Detroit’s second-round pick out of Ohio State last year. "The improvements look like a plus."

Damaschke got a face lift over the past four months, including new clubhouses for the Tigers and visiting teams, new concession and souvenir stands, a new entrance and ticket booth, and a set of bleachers on the third-base line. The former third-base line bleachers will be moved to the first-base line and that is scheduled to be done today.

Wells, an outfielder, said he hadn’t walked the field yet, but it looked as though the outfield was more level than last year.

"The grass looks nice and even," said Wells, who’s from Schenectady, about an hour’s drive from Oneonta. "It’s a lot more spacious (inside the clubhouse) and it’s real nice. It even smells new."

Bourquin and Wells were among a handful of Oneonta Tigers who arrived Sunday afternoon, some by bus and others who drove from the Tigers’ spring training facility in Lakeland, Fla. The team will settle into the dorms at Hartwick College and then have a practice at 7 tonight, which will be the only practice the team has at Damaschke before starting the 76-game NY-Penn schedule Tuesday.

The Tigers open the season with a three-game set at Lowell, beginning at 7:05 p.m. Tuesday. The home-opener is slated for 7 p.m. Friday against Tri-City.

Andy Barkett, who will make his O-Tigers managerial debut Tuesday, was scheduled to arrive Sunday night. Barkett takes over for Tom Brookens, who was promoted to Single-A West Michigan following two years with Oneonta.

O-Tigers owner Sam Nader watched the players get acclimated to their new surroundings Sunday.

"I’m very excited and I almost have a new lease on life," he said. "I always look forward to the beginning of the season."

The Tigers went 40-34 last season, missing the playoffs after finishing second in the Stedler Division _ three games behind Tri-City.

On the preliminary roster sent Friday, Bourquin and Wells were the lone holdovers from last season. Pitchers Guillermo Moscoso and Collin Mahoney, and infielders Jorge Patino and Cory Middleton were on the team in 2005. Mahoney also pitched for Oneonta in 2004.

Oneonta’s final roster should be set today.

"The main goal is to come here, play well and win," said Bourquin, who played 26 games earlier this season with Lakeland, hitting .192 for Detroit’s high Single-A team. "I want to do what is necessary to help the team do it.

"I played the first month in Lakeland and then extended (spring training) for a few weeks," he continued. "I’m anxious to get on a regular team again and get started."

Wells said while it was disappointing to stay at the same level, he was excited to have a chance to play every day and be so close to home, allowing friends and family to have a chance to see him play.

"My goals are to try and be an everyday player and personally, try and be more consistent," said Wells, who went 1-for-2 with a double in two games with Lakeland in April. "Having the chance to play, it’s the best situation for me. ... I have a clear mindset and have confidence (for the season)."

As players filed into the new clubhouse Sunday, they checked out their uniforms hanging in their lockers. They were fitted for hats and tried to get organized.

"It’s a little overwhelming, so I’m letting it soak in," said 5-foot-9 switch-hitting outfielder Kody Kaiser, drafted in the 15th round out of Oklahoma City University. "It’s something I’ll get used to and I’m excited to get started."

Rudy Darrow, who pitched five games for the Gulf Coast League Tigers after being drafted out of Nicholls State University in the 32nd round of last year’s draft, said he had arrived in Oneonta around 7:45 a.m. Sunday and had the chance to not only see the field but get around and check out the city.

"We drove around a little bit and I really love the mountains," said Darrow, who had an 11.25 ERA in four innings in the GCL. He also had a save.

"The climate is better than in Florida, where it’s too hot," he continued. "I like the field and it’s a lot greener than I thought it would be."

___

P.J. Harmer can be reached at pharmer@thedailystar.com or 607-432-1000, ext. 229.

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Thank God you were able to find that and post it. About half an hour ago I just woke up to the fact that season opener is tonight, and there is SFA on MiLB about the roster. I'm anxious to see who else from the current draft starts out there.

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Good to see Damaschke receive a face-lift. I have heard that place is a dump compared to our other minor-league facilities.

Might be time for my first road trip to Oneonta in the near future.

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Good to see Damaschke receive a face-lift. I have heard that place is a dump compared to our other minor-league facilities.

Might be time for my first road trip to Oneonta in the near future.

Hope a camera is on your list of things to take. We want pictures

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Oneonta to Cooperstown - 24.2 miles, 31 minutes (Yahoo maps).

Yep. Took a trip to the field on my way to Cooperstown in 2002. O-Tigers were out of town though.

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http://www.thedailystar.com/sports/2007/06/19/11-otigers-190.html

http://www.thedailystar.com/sports/2007/06/19/11-eyeotigers-11.html

6-19-2007

History on O-Tigers’ side

By P.J. Harmer

Staff Writer

ONEONTA _ Rookie Oneonta Tigers manager Andy Barkett has some history to protect when his team opens its 76-game New York-Penn League schedule at 7:05 p.m. tonight in Lowell.

The O-Tigers are 7-1 in openers since switching affiliations from the Yankees to the Tigers in 1999.

Barkett, a 32-year-old who played 17 games with the Pittsburgh Pirates as a utility player in 2001, said winning will be a priority for the O-Tigers this season.

"It’ll be interesting," Barkett said Monday afternoon as he prepared for his first practice at Damaschke Field. "It’ll probably be a little emotional and intense doing this for the first time. But knowing myself as I do, the competitiveness will take over and I’ll be out there trying to win that game as best as I can and probably wanting to pinch hit late in the game.

"I’m going to manage that game to win," Barkett continued. "Game 1 is just important as Game 76. We’re going to go and try and win."

He’ll send a pitcher to the mound in Alfredo Figaro who has a fastball that compares to pitchers who play in big-league ballparks.

Barkett said the 22-year-old Figaro’s fastball can top out at around 97 mph.

A second-year pro from Samana, Dominican Republic, Figaro went 3-1 in 14 games for the Gulf Coast League Tigers last season. The 6-footer struck out 31, walked 12 and had a 0.70 ERA in 38 1/3 innings. [

"Alfredo Figaro has the ball and he has a lot of ability," Barkett said. "We’ll look for him to take the ball and give us a good outing and try and take Game 1 of that series. The next day, we’ll try and take Game 2."

Figaro will be opposed by Lowell’s Jose Capellan, who played last season with the GCL Red Sox. Capellan, in his fourth professional season, went 4-1 with a 2.79 ERA in 11 GCL games last season. In 48 1/3 innings, he struck out 48 and walked nine.

"He’s got a big-league fastball in the mid-90s and at times he has a big-league breaking ball," first-year Oneonta pitching coach Mark Johnson said of Figaro. "He competes well and he’s a great athlete. He’ll go out there and give it his best. ... You always have nerves on your first start. It’s a matter of getting through that first hitter and it should settle down."

The O-Tigers have won two straight openers and are 3-0 in openers on the road. They’ll put those streaks on the line against the Stedler Division rival Spinners at LeLacheur park.

"I’m real excited," said Schenectady’s Casper Wells, who is penciled in as the designated hitter tonight. "I don’t know what kind of team they’ll have this year, but it’s exciting to play there. Just the atmosphere. To be there opening night will be pretty exciting. I’ll have a lot of good nerves building up."

The only season-opening loss Oneonta suffered in the Detroit era was a 3-2 setback to visiting Vermont on June 18, 2003. This will be the first time the O-Tigers have opened against the Spinners.

After a three-game set at Lowell, the O-Tigers will play their home opener at 7 p.m. Friday against division-rival Tri-City.

Friday’s game will be one of three home games in June for the Tigers, who’ll play nine road games in the season’s first month.

Barkett, who played 11 professional seasons, inherits a team that went 40-34 last season and missed the playoffs after finishing second in the Stedler Division behind Tri-City.

"Just to be in this clubhouse, be in an office and getting ready to put on the uniform in your home field with your team outside the walls here, it’s a rush to be honest with you," Barkett said. "I didn’t expect this feeling, but I’m really excited to get this season going and try to bring a championship to this organization."

As Barkett gets his feet wet, learning the players and the area, his team will be doing the same.

The O-Tigers start with a 23-man roster, but Barkett said he expects a few more to arrive once some recent draftees are signed. They’ll begin with 12 pitchers, two catchers, four infielders and five outfielders.

Seven players who have played with the O-Tigers in past seasons are on the roster, including pitchers Jose Fragoso, Collin Mahoney and Guillermo Moscoso. Third baseman Ronnie Bourquin, shortstop/second baseman Jorge Patino and outfielders Cory Middleton and Wells are also making their second tour at Oneonta.

"I’m just ready to get things rolling and kick it off," said Middleton, a NY-Penn All-Star third baseman in 2005. "Start it off good, stay hot and keep rolling."

Second baseman Kody Kaiser will lead off for Oneonta against Capellan. He’ll be followed by catcher Devin Thomas, Bourquin, first baseman Chris Carlson, left fielder Mike Sullivan, right fielder Orlando Rodriguez, Wells, shortstop Patino and center fielder Chris White.

Bourquin, Detroit’s second-round pick out of Ohio State last season, said the first time around will be a learning process. Bourquin played in Oneonta last season, hitting .266 in 67 games.

"The first time we play these teams, we’re not going to know anything about them other than the players that we played that were with them last year," Bourquin said. "It’ll be tough. In this league, every team is usually tough. It will be good to try and get out on track with a win. We want to come out and win this series."

___

P.J. Harmer can be reached at pharmer@thedailystar.com or 607-432-1000, ext. 229.

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Just a note on Figaro....he's been around a lot longer than two years. He was signed in June '04 by the Dodgers, played in the DSL, and was released in October of the same year. The Tigers then signed him prior to the 2005 season, where he again pitched in the DSL, then came stateside in 2006 to pitch in the GCL.

He will be eligible for the Rule 5 draft this off-season.

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Tigers fall in opener

Staff Report

Kody Kaiser hit his first professional home run, but the Oneonta Tigers lost their New York-Penn League season opener, 3-2, at the Lowell Spinners on Tuesday night.

Kaiser, who finished 2-for-4, also doubled. His homer to lead off the eighth inning cut Lowell’s lead to 3-2.

The Tigers (0-1) continue their three-game series at Lowell at 7:05 tonight. Oneonta right-hander Paul Nardozzi will oppose Lowell right-hander Caleb Clay, who was drafted in the first compensation round of the 2006 amateur draft (44th overall).

Oneonta fell to 7-2 in season openers since becoming part of the Detroit Tigers system in 1999.

Alfredo Figaro took the pitching loss, allowing three runs on four hits over five inning. He struck out five and walked two. Jose Fragoso allowed one hit over the last three innings, striking out four and walking one.

Ryne Lawson earned the victory for Lowell, allowing one run on one hit in four innings of relief. Lawson struck out three and walked one.

Lowell starter Jose Capellan gave up one run on two hits in four innings. He struck out five and walked three. Felix Ventura pitched a scoreless ninth, yielding one hit en route to his first save.

Oneonta opened the scoring in the top of the third. Chris White walked and moved to third on Kaiser’s double to right field. After Jorge Patino popped out to second for the first out, Devin Thomas drove in White with a sacrifice fly to center.

Lowell opened a two-run fourth with back-to-back doubles to left by Michael Jones and David Marks, the latter tying the score at 1. Marks advanced to third when Jorge Jimenez grounded out to second, then scored the go-ahead run when Yamaico Navarro grounded out to short. Click to visit their website

The Spinners went ahead, 3-1, in the fifth, when Ryan Kalish scored from first on a two-out double to left by Pedro Vasquez.

Cory Middleton and Mike Sullivan had the other hits for Oneonta, which was outhit, 5-4.

http://www.thedailystar.com/sports/2007/06/20/13-otigers-201.html

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The Spinners went ahead, 3-1, in the fifth, when Ryan Kalish scored from first on a two-out double to left by Pedro Vasquez.

Let's just say some of the Ryan Kalish fan club was a sight for sore eyes....WOW!!!!

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Kaiser leads to O-Tigers to first win

Staff Report

The Oneonta Tigers’ first victory of the 2007 New York-Penn League season came in dramatic fashion.

Kody Kaiser’s two-run double with two outs in the top of the ninth inning lifted the O-Tigers to a 4-2 victory at Lowell on Wednesday.

Kaiser finished 2-for-5 for Oneonta, which dropped its season-opener, 3-2, at Lowell on Tuesday.

The Tigers finish their three-game series at Lowell at 7:05 tonight. Oneonta plays its home opener at 7 p.m. Friday against Stedler Division-rival Tri-City.

Cory Middleton led off the ninth with a single to center. Orlando Rodriguez followed with a single to left, moving Middleton to third. After popouts by Jorge Patino and Chris White, Kaiser doubled to center, scoring Middleton and Rodriguez.

Reliever Noah Krol worked a perfect ninth, striking out two, to earn his first professional save. Krol was drafted in the 17th round out of Wichita State this year.

Eric Crichton, drafted in the 20th round out of Oral Roberts, threw two innings to earn his first victory. The O-Tigers’ fourth pitcher of the night allowed two hits and walked one.

The O-Tigers opened the scoring in the top of the third. White walked to lead off and stole second. Kaiser grounded out to first to move White to third. Mike Sullivan’s sacrifice fly to left scored White.

The Spinners took the lead in the fifth. Ryan Kalish had an RBI double and Pedro Vasquez an RBI single to make it 2-1. [an error occurred while processing this directive]

http://www.thedailystar.com/sports/2007/06/21/11-otigers-210.html

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Micro, is that right? Kaiser at 2d? He looks like he'd have no problems there whatsoever, and seems like a super ideal position for him, where he could be a masher there.

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He's got some work to do defensively, but he's got the skills to handle the position. He's a little rough in instincts, reactions, and footwork right now, and slow on the DP....but I think he'll get there. He's got good range, good hands, and a strong arm...

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If he is a 2B, his value just shot up! From everything I have read, he has a really good offensive game and is very athletic. I thought he was an infielder during his college days (especially at OU) but maybe he switched to the outfield at OCU.

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http://www.thedailystar.com/sports/2007/06/22/15-otprev-220.html

-Tigers get fresh start

By P.J. Harmer

Staff Writer

ONEONTA _ Barely out of the driveway this season, the Oneonta Tigers will play their fourth game of the 76-game New York-Penn League season tonight and first at Damaschke Field.

They’ll do so with a revamped coaching staff, a refurbished home and nine players new to professional baseball.

6-22-20070618tiger_file4.tif.jpg

Star photo by Julie Lewis Oneonta Tigers pitcher Jose Fragoso goes through the motions during Monday's practice at Damaschke Field in Oneonta. Fragoso is one of 12 pitchers _ all right-handers _ on the O-Tigers' roster for the 2007 season. Oneonta hosts the Tri-City ValleyCats in its home opener at 7 tonight. More O-Tigers, Pages 18-20.

Yeah, this season will have a fresh feel to it and it begins locally at 7 tonight when the O-Tigers play the Tri-City ValleyCats.

Andy Barkett, a 32-year-old who spent 17 games with the Pittsburgh Pirates during an 11-season pro career, is the new manager. Mark Johnson is the new pitching coach and Luis Quinones is the new hitting coach.

There’s even a new-look Damaschke Field _ replete with new bleachers along the third-base line, new clubhouses for the Tigers and visiting teams, new offices, new concession and souvenir stands and a new entrance.

But it’s still baseball that’s the featured event and with several experienced players returning, Oneonta could again contend for the Stedler Division title.

Seven of the 14 players with pro experience have played in Oneonta, which could help Barkett and staff get acclimated to the league, stadium and area.

Mix the experience with the new draft picks and the 2007 version of the O-Tigers should make for an interesting group.

"We have a pretty scrappy group of guys," Barkett said. "I wouldn’t say that we’re the most talented team I’ve ever seen, but we have some guys who can play the game.

"We don’t have a ton of power, but we have a little," he continued. "We don’t have ton of speed, but we have some. We run the bases pretty well. We don’t have a ton of pitching as far as arms that will come out there and blow you away, but we have some guys who have pitched for a few years and know what they are doing. I think we have a little bit of this and a little of that. It’s our job to put that all together and turn that into a team that’s going to try and contend for a championship."

Oneonta is coming off a 40-34 season, which placed them second in the Stedler Division _ three games behind Tri-City under second-year manager Tom Brookens, who earned a promotion to manage Single-A West Michigan this season.

Rookie Mark Brackman is scheduled to start the home opener for Oneonta. A 16th-round pick out of William Jewell College, Brackman is a 6-foot-7, 230-pound righty. He went 13-1 with a 2.07 ERA for William Jewell, an NAIA school in Missouri, in 17 games. Of the 14 games Brackman started, he threw 12 complete games and struck out 97 in 104 1/3 innings.

Brackman’s batterymate, Devin Thomas, is the highest draft pick the parent club sent to Oneonta this season. Detroit picked Thomas in the seventh round out of Brown Univeristy.

Outfielder Chris White, the O-Tigers’ next highest 2007 draft pick, went to the Tigers in the 12th round.

That’s a bit of a change from last season, when Detroit sent six of its top-10 picks to Oneonta.

One of those high picks from last season _ third baseman Ronnie Bourquin is back. Bourquin, the 2006 Big Ten Conference Player of the Yar out of Ohio State, made the NY-Penn All-Star team last year. The second-round pick (50th overall) hit .266 in 67 games for Oneonta last season, including 13 doubles, one triple and two homers. He also led the league in walks with 46.

"I think we’ll have the opportunity to win a lot of games," said Bourquin, who hit .192 in 26 games with Single-A Lakeland this spring. "Offensively, we should do fine and the defense and the pitching will be there. We have a good team and we’ll be able to score some runs and keep opponents runs to a minimum.

"I feel great right now," he continued. "I’m 100 percent and have no injuries."

Bourquin will help man a short-handed infield, which also includes outfielder Kody Kaiser, drafted in the 15th round out of Oklahoma City University. He’ll play second and second baseman Jorge Patino will move to shortstop as the O-Tigers will be forced to mix and match positions early on until they get some additions to their 24-man roster. Chris Carlson, who played in the GCL last season, is at first.

Bourquin isn’t the only former league all-star back as Cory Middleton, who played third base in 2005 for the O-Tigers, returns. He’s making the switch from the infield to the outfield and will see time in left.

Middleton hit .244 (63-for-258) in 68 games with Oneonta in 2005, including seven homers and 51 RBIs. Those numbers dropped at West Michigan last season, when he hit .180 (50-for-278) in 80 games. He had three homers and 29 RBIs.

"I want to come out and play well," Middleton said. "I have the opportunity to play pretty much every day while I’m here. I want to just put together a good year and help my team win. We have a good group of guys from what I’ve seen so far, so we should be able to compete. ... I just want to stay healthy and help the guys win."

Middleton will compete with a deep group of outfielders for playing time, which also includes Casper Wells, who is back from last season.

Barkett said he thinks there are several good prospects on the team. Although the NY-Penn is often thought of as a league to develop players, Barkett said he’s still aiming to win a league championship.

"We’re trying to get these guys better and prepare them to play in the big leagues one day," Barkett said. "But here’s the deal, we’re not trying to develop players to play on a second- or third-division team that’s not in the playoffs every year. We’re trying to develop players who can help win a World Series. And the only way to develop players who are going to win at the major-league level is developing them in a manner that they’re learning to win at the minor-league level. If you are just developing players just to develop them as players, then what happens is when they are going up the ladder? They are focusing on themselves and they don’t quite comprehend the team concept."

Pitching coach Johnson played nine professional seasons, including nine games in the majors with Detroit in 2000, when he went 0-1 with a 7.50 ERA. He was selected in the first round (19th overall) of the 1996 draft by the Houston Astros.

Quinones played 11 years professionally, including parts of eight seasons in the majors. An infielder for much of his career, Quinones hit .260 in 939 major league games and won a World Series championship with the Cincinnati Reds in 1990.

"I couldn’t ask for a better fit of a staff for my first managing job," Barkett said. "Luis Quinones is a veteran major league player. He’s not just going to be a hitting coach for me, he’s going to be a bench coach and a hitting coach and an outfield coach and an infield coach. His experience and knowledge of the game is bar none to anybody that’s in the game.

"It’s a unique mix between the staff because Mark and I played in the same era against each other, although I don’t think we had many reps against each other, if any at all," he continued. "We kind of grew up in the game together around the same time. I think it’s a good mix and we get along very well. I’m very blessed to have the staff I have."

Also back for his second year with Oneonta is trainer Eric Hall.

___

P.J. Harmer can be reached at mailto:pharmer@thedailystar.com">pharmer@thedailystar.com.

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http://www.thedailystar.com/sports/2007/06/22/15-otposition-21.html

Expect juggling act early

By P.J. Harmer

Staff Writer

ONEONTA _ The numbers game could work against the Oneonta Tigers early on this season.

The Tigers opened the season with a 23-man roster, which could make things interesting for first-year manager Andy Barkett, who will likely have to juggle the lineup to put people in the right spots. 6-22-20070618tiger_file3.tif.jpg

Star photo by Julie Lewis Members of the Oneonta Tigers jog accross Damaschke Field during warm-ups on Monday.

But Barkett said reinforcements could be on the way once Detroit signs more of its draft picks.

Until then, the O-Tigers will experiment as they move some players to positions they’re unaccustomed to playing.

The following is a position-by-position look at the 2007 Oneonta Tigers.

PITCHERS

The initial roster had 12 pitchers _ all right-handers _ and seven with professional experience. Barkett said he expects more arms to arrive, including starting pitcher Sendy Vasquez, who joined the roster Thursday after serving the end of a 50-game suspension after testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance in April.

Vasquez, who was 0-3 with an 8.20 ERA in four games for Single-A Lakeland this season, is the 12th-ranked prospect for Detroit in Baseball America’s Prospect Handbook. Vasquez is 24-13 over five professional seasons. He went 13-6 with a 2.97 ERA for Single-A West Michigan last year.

"We have some depth, but not having a lefty will be tough," Barkett said. "We have guys who have been in the organization a couple of years that have pitched before. And we have some new guys, so we’ll have to see. I think a question for us right now is our pitching."

With Vasquez activated, that makes four pitchers who have pitched in Oneonta. Jose Fragoso, Guillermo Moscoso and Collin Mahoney also have experience at Damaschke Field.

For Mahoney, it’s his third trip to Oneonta. He’s coming off a variation of Tommy John surgery on his right elbow and sat out all of last season. Moscoso was Oneonta’s opening-day starter in 2005 and went 3-2 with a 2.50 ERA last season with the Gulf Coast League Tigers.

Fragoso, in his fifth pro season, went 3-0 with a 1.50 ERA for Oneonta last season and 1-0 with a 2.33 ERA with West Michigan. He’s 16-12 with a 2.77 ERA in his career.

Opening-day starter Alfredo Figaro, Rudy Darrow, Luis Gil and Adriano Santos all pitched for the GCL Tigers last season.

Draft picks Mark Brackman (16th round), Noah Krol (17th), Andrew Hess (19th), Eric Crichton (20th) and Paul Nardozzi (31st) round out the staff.

"It’s always interesting to start a season and how you feel about this and feel about that," Barkett said. "When the lights come on, sometimes that brings the best out in people and sometimes it brings out the worst in people, so it’s hard to say. We have some guys with some ability and how they perform with the lights on is a different story, so we’ll see. I think it’s something that’s up in the air right now."

CATCHERS

The two in charge of handling the pitching staff are strong, Barkett said.

Leading the way is seventh-round draft pick Devin Thomas, who was selected with the 241st overall selection out of Brown University. Angel Flores, who played for the GCL Tigers last season, will share time with Thomas.

"Devin Thomas has a lot of offensive ability, but I think it’s going to be an adjustment for him because he caught in the Ivy League," Barkett said. "He’s going to have to catch guys throwing 97 mph and last time I checked I don’t think the Ivy League had anyone throwing that hard. ... Physically he’s able to do it. He has a lot of physical ability. I look forward to him being a leader offensively and defensively for us."

Flores played the past two seasons in the GCL, hitting .111 (3-for-27) in 2005 and .234 (11-for-47) in 2006. Barkett said Flores is familiar with some of the O-Tigers pitchers and that should be beneficial.

"Angel Flores is a good defensive catcher and has a little Latin flair behind the plate," Barkett said. "We have to calm him down a little bit sometimes. He’s caught a lot of these guys already, so he’s familiar with these guys. He’ll get some playing time beginning of the season to catch guys he knows and I think he can handle well."

INFIELDERS

Oneonta’s initial roster listed three infielders _ somewhat of a problem considering there are four infield spots.

Kody Kaiser, drafted as an outfielder in the 15th round, has started the season at second base until more infielders arrive. Kaiser hasn’t played infield since high school. In turn, second baseman Jorge Patino, who played in Oneonta in 2005, will move to shortstop.

"It’s tough," Barkett said. "We have a second baseman who hasn’t played it since high school. We have a shortstop who is a second baseman. Is it an ideal situation? No. Is it something that these guys can handle because they are good enough athletes and good enough baseball players? Most definitely. Is this how the middle infield will be all season? No. Is this the middle infield that will start off the season? Yes, and we’re going to do the best that we can."

Ronnie Bourquin, Detroit’s second-round draft pick last year, will return to play third base. A NY-Penn All-Star last season after hitting .266, Bourquin is the 20th-ranked prospect in Detroit’s system by Baseball America’s Prospect Handbook.

He started the season at High-A Lakeland, hitting .192 (15-for-78). He struck out 25 times and walked 14.

"Ronnie has been a model citizen for us in extended spring training," Barkett said. "I’m looking forward to him being one of the leaders on this team offensively and defensively. He ran into a bump in the road in the Florida State League and the organization felt he needed to repeat this level to get some confidence and to make some adjustments in his swing and defensive as well. Ronnie just has some work to do. He’s a second-round pick and has a lot of ability. He has the chance to play in the big leagues one day."

Filling out the infield is 6-foot-4 first baseman Chris Carlson, who played for the GCL Tigers last season. Carlson was a 29th-round pick last year and hit .311 (55-for-177) in 49 GCL games. He also had 11 homers and 47 RBIs.

OUTFIELDERS

Including Kaiser, the O-Tigers have six outfielders on the roster.

Casper Wells and Cory Middleton each have NY-Penn experience. Middleton, was an All-Star third baseman for Oneonta in 2005, but the organization has opted to move him to the outfield. Barkett said is part of the reason he’s back.

"Cory had some speed bumps last year at West Michigan," Barkett said. "He broke camp I know as the starting third baseman after an all-star season here. He had a decent spring, but his future in the game is not as an infielder. When it comes to learning a new position you kind of have to start over. He’s back here again to show us he can play some left field and use that bat that he used well a couple years ago."

Middleton has hit .216 (147-for-681) in 191 games over three professional seasons.

Wells, of Schenectady, played for Oneonta last season, hitting .229 (24-for-105) in 35 games. He also played in 11 games with High-A Lakeland, hitting .152 (5-for-33).

Orlando Rodriguez and Mike Sullivan each played for the GCL Tigers last year. Chris White is a 12th-round draft pick out of Sacramento Community College. In three professional seasons, Rodriguez has hit .278 (156-for-562) and Sullivan hit .287 (47-for-164) in the GCL last year.

"We have a lot of depth in the outfield right now," Barkett said. "We have some guys who can be some exciting players. Orlando Rodriguez is a little-known guy that really had a tremendous season in extended (spring training). He has good pop and a good arm. Mike Sullivan has good range in the outfield, can run and hit. Cory and Casper are veterans in this league. We have a lot of depth out there and have some guys who can play. I’ll be looking to those guys to really carry us."

___

P.J. Harmer can be reached at pharmer@thedailystar.com or 607-432-1000, ext. 229

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http://www.thedailystar.com/sports/2007/06/22/15-barkett-222.html

Barkett looks to manage success

By P.J. Harmer

Staff Writer

ONEONTA _ Call it an honorary degree.

After 11 years as a professional baseball player, mostly spent in cramped minor-league buses and something less than first-class hotel accommodations, Andy Barkett has put in his time.

The pinnacle of Barkett’s career came in 2001, when he played 17 games for the Pittsburgh Pirates.

So the fact that he’d never managed before taking Oneonta Tigers’ position this past November, the 32-year-old Barkett isn’t exactly without experience.

"I tell people all the time if you are going to be a doctor, you have to spend about 10 years in medical school," said Barkett, who’ll manage his first home game tonight at Damaschke Field against Tri-City. "If you are going to be a lawyer, you’re going to have four years of under grad and another four in law school.

"Everybody who has played the game for a long period time, in my opinion at that point, you earn your Ph.D in the game," he continued. "Trust me, I don’t know everything there is to know about baseball. I have a lot to learn and I’m going to mess up this year. I’m going to mess up probably a lot. This is going to be a learning experience for me and I’m going to keep (mistakes) to a minimum the best I can."

Taking over a team that went 40-34 last season under Tom Brookens _ since promoted to Single-A West Michigan _ Barkett said his managerial style will much like the way he played.

"I like to put pressure on other teams but at the same time, you have to let the players play," said Barkett, primarily a first baseman during his playing days. "I’m just going to let them play. The first six innings are theirs, the last three are mine. I’m a big fan of hitting-and-running and putting guys in motion. It will be simple, basic baseball."

As a player, Barkett said he won five championships, including some during winter ball. He said the goal this season is to win the New York-Penn League championship, something the Oneonta franchise hasn’t done since 1998, when it was still affiliated with the New York Yankees. Since joining the Detroit organization in 1999, the Tigers have won three division titles.

"The goal of this season is to win the championship," said Barkett, who retired as a player after being released by the Atlanta Braves in June of 2005. "There isn’t anything in the world like being a champion. It’s the best feeling in the world. It’s better than any home run you can hit. The only thing that’s better than being a champion is (being married to my wife) and the birth of my kids. Every baseball season, that’s what I strive for. Obviously only one team can be a champion. If that doesn’t happen, we want to develop these guys into winners on and off the field."

___

P.J. Harmer can be reached at pharmer@thedailystar.com or 607-432-1000, ext. 229.

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http://www.thedailystar.com/sports/2007/06/22/19-mahoney-223.html

Mahoney’s familiar with road back

By P.J. Harmer

Staff Writer

ONEONTA _ Collin Mahoney’s trip back from surgery has brought him to a familiar place.

For the third time in his professional career, the Detroit Tigers sent right-handed pitcher Mahoney to Oneonta. He said he hopes this stop will be the first step on the road to recovery.

Mahoney sat out last season after having a version of Tommy John surgery on his right elbow.

A fourth-round selection by the Tigers in 2004, Mahoney had a fastball clocked at more than 100 mph at Clemson, but he started feeling pain in the spring of 2005.

"I feel I probably hurt it in spring training of ’05, which was when I first started noticing that my elbow was bothering me," Mahoney said. "My velocity went up and it went down. I was inconsistent in the strike zone. I showed some of the signs of having a torn ligament, but everybody kind of told me, 'Hang in there, it’s your first full season and it will take a toll on your arm. Don’t worry about it, there’s going to be some aches and pains and sores.’

"It never really hurt to the point where I couldn’t take the ball," he continued. "Once you get adrenaline going, you get on the mound you don’t feel anything until the next day. ... I was new at pitching, so I didn’t think anything of it."

But once the pain got too bad _ Mahoney said it hurt to shake someone’s hand or open a car door _ he opted for surgery. The problem was a tear of the ulnar collateral ligament. Although the MRI came back inconclusive and an X-ray came back negative, once the surgery took place Mahoney said they found 22 bone chips and two bone spurs that hadn’t shown up in the tests.

"It’s probably the best thing that happened to me," said Mahoney, who added the surgery is called a docking procedure, but is basically Tommy John surgery. "The doctor said it was an absolute mess in there."

Mahoney rehabbed last season and said he’s lost some velocity. But now that he’s back throwing again, Mahoney said he expects to regain his speed and power.

"I’m ready to get going again," Mahoney said. "It’s one of those things where they tell you that you can be competitive and game-ready in 12 months. I haven’t had one problem, one hiccup with anything in terms of my elbow. My arm feels fine. It’s the best it’s felt my entire life. They start talking about it takes two years for your velocity to come back. I’m still a little ways off on that. That’s now the most frustrating part. The fact that my arm doesn’t hurt is terrific, but it’s hard to just kind of say I don’t have my velocity, but this is the best my arm’s ever felt in my life.

"That sits weird with you when you were running it up there in the high-90s and I couldn’t bend my arm after the game," he continued. "It’s kind of weird, but it’s one of those things where I worked hard during the rehab process and I really got after it. Everyone says it’s patience and it will come back. It’s going to take two years. The more you try and force it, it won’t get there any faster. It’s a matter of time."

A former catcher at Clemson, Mahoney pitched his first professional season in Oneonta in 2004. He went 1-0 with a 4.94 ERA in 21 games. He had two saves and struck out 31 in 31 innings. He also walked 23 and had two saves.

He returned to Oneonta in 2005, going 0-1 with a 7.82 ERA in 18 games. He struck out 26 and walked 26 in 25 1/3 innings. Mahoney also pitched at West Michigan that season, going 0-2 with a 5.24 ERA in 25 games. He had 10 saves and struck out 23 and walked 21 in 22 1/3 innings.

"I don’t think velocity-wise he’s gotten back to where he needs to be, but he has a work ethic that is second to none in our organization," first-year O-Tigers manager Andy Barkett said. "He’s just a classy kid and he’s struggled at times with command. At times he shows us he’s a guy who has a chance to possibly move up the ranks. But right now, Collin has to prove himself at this level. The makeup is there, the ability is there. He just has to go out here and do it every day for us."

In his first outing this season, Mahoney pitched 1 2/3 innings against Lowell on Wednesday. He allowed two runs on four hits, walking one and striking out none.

Looking back, Mahoney said he’s grateful for was the way Detroit has helped him along.

"I have the utmost respect for the way they’ve handled me so far," Mahoney said. "I’m going in the wrong direction in the organization and then I get a surgery on top of that. They haven’t forgot about me and I don’t think I’ve fallen off the radar. They’ve treated me terrific. I appreciate all they’ve done and kind of let me get my feet back underneath me without saying 'Let’s cut our losses now and not worry about it.’ I give them a lot of credit."

___

P.J. Harmer can be reached at pharmer@thedailystar.com or 607-432-1000, ext. 229.

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http://www.thedailystar.com/sports/2007/06/22/19-otigs-224.html

6-22-2007

O-Tigers’ Vasquez hit hard by Lowell

Staff Report

Sendy Vasquez joined the Oneonta Tigers’ roster on Thursday, following a 50-game suspension for testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs, but lasted three innings in the Tigers’ 13-8 loss at Lowell.

Vasquez (0-1), who also pitched in Oneonta in 2005, allowed eight runs _ six earned _ on five hits and six walks.

Mike Sullivan went 3-for-4 and scored three times for the O-Tigers (1-2), who play their home-opener at 7 tonight against Tri-City at Damaschke Field. Teammates Ronnie Bourquin and Cory Middleton each went 2-for-5 with two RBIs.

The Spinners scored four runs in the sixth inning to take a 12-6 lead. They opened the inning with five straight singles off Adriano Santos. Yamaico Navarro and Dan Milano had RBI singles in the inning for Lowell.

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"I feel I probably hurt it in spring training of ’05, which was when I first started noticing that my elbow was bothering me," Mahoney said. "My velocity went up and it went down. I was inconsistent in the strike zone. I showed some of the signs of having a torn ligament, but everybody kind of told me, 'Hang in there, it’s your first full season and it will take a toll on your arm. Don’t worry about it, there’s going to be some aches and pains and sores.’

"It never really hurt to the point where I couldn’t take the ball," he continued. "Once you get adrenaline going, you get on the mound you don’t feel anything until the next day. ... I was new at pitching, so I didn’t think anything of it."

But once the pain got too bad _ Mahoney said it hurt to shake someone’s hand or open a car door _ he opted for surgery. The problem was a tear of the ulnar collateral ligament. Although the MRI came back inconclusive and an X-ray came back negative, once the surgery took place Mahoney said they found 22 bone chips and two bone spurs that hadn’t shown up in the tests.

Remember this article next time a pitch count debate comes up. Hopefully it was fellow players that were advising him to continue pitching through pain, and hopefully the culprit, if it's a coach or staff member, is gone from the organization.

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Good to see Damaschke receive a face-lift. I have heard that place is a dump compared to our other minor-league facilities.

Might be time for my first road trip to Oneonta in the near future.

I've never been to Oneonta but it's an hour from Cooperstown where I've been several times. I've always meant to check out Oneonta but can never pull myself away from Cooperstown once I get there.

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http://www.thedailystar.com/sports/2007/06/23/c1-otigs-230.html

6-23-2007

O-Tigers quick to win

By P.J. Harmer

Staff Writer

ONEONTA _ Kody Kaiser finally heard some cheers.

He certainly earned them Friday night.6-23-20070622tigers1.tif.jpg

Star photo by Julie Lewis Oneonta Tigers left fielder Mike Sullivan makes a diving catch for an out in the first inning of Friday�s New York-Penn League game against the Tri-City ValleyCats at Damaschke Field. The O-Tigers needed 1 hour, 59 minutes to win their home opener, 3-1. Oneonta visits Tri-City on Saturday, then hosts the ValleyCats on Sunday.

Kaiser went 2-for-4 with two doubles, an RBI and a run, and three Oneonta pitchers combined on a five-hitter as the Tigers won their home opener, 3-1, over the Tri-City ValleyCats in front of 1,134 fans at Damaschke Field.

"We finally had some fans on our side," said Kaiser, a 15th-round draft pick out of Oklahoma City University earlier this month. "It was exciting to (open the New York-Penn League season) in Lowell, but it’s nice to get some support."

The O-Tigers scraped together three runs despite getting four-hit by three Tri-City pitchers in a game that took 1 hour, 59 minutes to complete.

"They got the big hit when they needed it and we couldn’t put ourselves in a position to get a big base hit," said Tri-City manager Pete Rancont, whose team fell to 0-4. "They did a nice job defensively and pitched us well. We’ve played four games like that but just haven’t got the big pitch or hit when we need it."

The O-Tigers (2-2) travel to Tri-City for a 7:05 p.m. game Saturday. Guillermo Moscoso, Oneonta’s opening-day starter in 2005, will start for the Tigers.

Oneonta returns home at 6 p.m. Sunday to play the ValleyCats, then heads to Vermont for a three-game series. The Tigers complete a four-game road trip Thursday at Tri-City, then host the ValleyCats on Friday.

"It’s good to get the opening-night victory," first-year O-Tigers manager Andy Barkett said. "When you have good pitching, it makes games go."

Oneonta starter Mark Brackman allowed three hits and struck out one in four innings. Winning pitcher Jose Fragoso (1-0) yielded one run on two hits over the next four innings. He struck out five and walked one.

Collin Mahoney earned the save with a 1-2-3 ninth inning. Each batter drew counts of 2-2 or more against Mahoney, who missed last season as he underwent Tommy John surgery.

"It was nice to get him in that situation to register a save for us," Barkett said.

Kaiser opened the bottom of the first with a double to left and moved to third when Mike Sullivan grounded out to second. Ronnie Bourquin followed with a sacrifice fly to the warning track in center field for a 1-0 lead.

Devin Thomas led off the second with a walk and went to second when Cory Middleton singled down the third-base line. Orlando Rodriguez then bounced a shot back to pitcher Luis Pardo, looked to second and third before getting Middleton on a forceout at second. Rodriguez beat the ensuing throw to first, giving the O-Tigers runners at the corners as Thomas made it safely to third.

Jorge Patino followed with a chopper to third baseman Charlie Gamble, who had no shot at Thomas as he broke for home on contact. Patino’s groundout gave Oneonta a 2-0 lead.

Oneonta got its final run in the fifth.

With two out, Tri-City’s Bryan Hallberg struck out Chris White swinging at a pitch in the dirt, but the ball scooted past catcher Kevin Carkeek and hit the backstop. White, who reached first on the play, then stole second to set up switch-hitter Kaiser. Batting lefty, Kaiser faced a dilemma.

"The third baseman (Gamble) was playing back a little, so I was thinking drag bunt," Kaiser said. "But with two outs, it makes more sense to drive the run in."

Kaiser hit the third pitch from Hallberg to the base of the right-field wall, scoring White for a 3-0 lead.

The ValleyCats made it 3-1 in the sixth. With one out, Collin DeLome walked against Fragoso, who then struck out Russell Dixon swinging. Gamble followed with an RBI double to right that scored DeLome from first.

Fragoso, who threw 32 of 54 pitches for strikes, retired his next seven batters.

"I felt good and was happy I gave the team the chance to win," Fragoso said through an interpreter. "I was focused on my job."

___

P.J. Harmer can be reached at pharmer@thedailystar.com or 607-432-1000, ext. 229.

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http://www.thedailystar.com/sports/2007/06/23/c4-wells-221.html

6-23-2007

Wells seeks a turn for the better

By P.J. Harmer

Staff Writer

ONEONTA _ Since his selection in the 14th round of the 2005 draft, Schenectady High graduate Casper Wells said he hasn’t taken full advantage of his opportunity in professional baseball.

After earning the Colonial Athletic Conference’s Player of the Year as a junior at Towson State, the Detroit Tigers selected Wells and sent him to the Gulf Coast League Tigers _ a rookie-level team in Lakeland, Fla.

"I had a terrible attitude because I didn’t feel I deserved to be there," said Wells, an outfielder who’s beginning his second year with the short-season Single-A Oneonta Tigers of the New York-Penn League. "I didn’t really understand professional baseball. I’m coming out of college thinking I’m on top of the world getting drafted, I had a great year (in college). ... Coming in and going to Gulf Coast felt like a step back. I was playing every day there and if I took it for what it was worth, I probably could have moved up later that year."

Instead, he hit .220 (31-for-141) in 45 games that season with nine doubles, five triples and five homers, and had 20 RBIs.

That chip on his shoulder remained last season, when he split time between Oneonta and Single-A Lakeland.

"Last year I went to Oneonta and the attitude was better, but days I wouldn’t play, I wouldn’t go at it like lineup-ready," Wells said. "Every day should be the same. It’s just one day your name’s on that list, in the lineup. But you should take the same approach every day. I didn’t do that, so some days I wasn’t as prepared as I could have been when I was playing. It kind of showed with opportunities."

Wells, 22, hit .229 (24-for-105) in 35 games for Oneonta last season and played in 11 games for Lakeland, hitting .152 (5-for-33). This season, Wells said he’s taking a more positive approach and added that his new outlook will help him move through the ranks.

"This organization has a lot of outfielders and I know it doesn’t fare too well for me, but you have to produce," said Wells, who hit .215 (60-for-279) in his first two professional seasons. "I feel great physically. In the outfield, I feel like I can field the position. I made vast improvements over the last two years and I feel like I’m at the height of my game outfield-wise.

"If you’re consistent with your bat, you’ll play," he continued. "The thing for me is I want to have the opportunity. If I have a bad game, I want to have the opportunity to get back in there and redeem myself because I know I’ll be able to. I have that confidence right now. Maybe I just didn’t see pitches that day or missed a couple of pitches. But confidence is high right now and I’m feeling great about my approach and I’m just a much different player than I have been."

First-year O-Tigers manager Andy Barkett said he expects Wells to be a major contributor this season.

"Casper has done everything we’ve asked him to do," Barkett said. "He’s worked hard. I look forward to him being a big part of this team. He has a lot of ability and I don’t think he has really had a chance to play a lot to show what he can do. I do feel his attitude is good. I feel like he’s come here with an open mind and ready to get after it and help us win a championship."

Added Wells: "My swing is great. Professionally, I’m probably at the height of my ability right now. It’s exciting to have that confidence and go out and play. When you are doing well, you don’t think about moving up. It might cross your mind, but it seems like if you are doing well and don’t think about it, that’s when things happen."

___

P.J. Harmer can be reached at pharmer@thedailystar.com or 607-432-1000, ext. 229.

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http://www.thedailystar.com/sports/2007/06/25/14-otigers_sat-5.html

6-25-2007

O-Tigers rally past ’Cats

Staff Report

Jorge Patino reached on a fielder’s choice in the top of the eighth inning Saturday to give the Oneonta Tigers a 3-2 victory over host Tri-City in the New York-Penn League.

Cory Middleton led off the eighth with a walk and went to second when Casper Wells reached on an error by second baseman Matt Cusick. Orlando Rodriguez followed with a sacrifice bunt to move both runners up. Patino then grounded a ball to shortstop Cat Everett and Middleton scored.

Oneonta opened the scoring in the third. Sullivan doubled to lead off and moved to third when Ronnie Bourquin grounded out to first. Chris Carlson singled to center to make it 1-0.

The ValleyCats took the lead in the bottom of the inning. Craig Corrado was hit by a pitch and Cusick bunted for a single to put runners on first and second. After Steve Brown struck out, Collin DeLome hit a two-run double to left.

The Tigers tied it in the seventh. With one out, Sullivan singled and scored on Bourquin’s double to right. Sullivan and Carlson each had two hits to lead the O-Tigers.

Eric Crichton earned the victory, pitching 1 2/3 innings of relief. He allowed two hits, striking out one and walking two. Noah Krol got the save with 1 1/3 innings of hitless ball. He struck out one.

Guillermo Moscoso started for Oneonta and allowed two runs on four hits. He struck out five and walked one.

Paul Hammond followed with 1 1/3 innings

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