Flyers 2010 Roster Finalized, Season Opens Friday In St. George
The Orange County Flyers' opening day roster is finalized as the team prepares to depart for St. George to open the 2010 campaign. Manager Paul Abbott and Executive VP of Player Personnel Harris Tulchin have assembled a squad that features local standouts, MLB experienced veterans, and notable returning stars. Friday's season-opener in St. George kicks off an 18-game road trip that will take the Flyers to all three Canadian markets before the team's home opener on Tuesday, June 15.
Tickets for the home opener are available through the Flyers website at www.orangecountyflyers.com. All games, home and away, will be carried live online with the broadcast available through the team's website via Live365.
THE COACHES Former 11-year MLB veteran and Sunny Hills (Fullerton) High School stand out Paul Abbott takes the reins as manager after serving as the Flyers' pitching coach in 2009. Abbott, who pitched for the Flyers during their inaugural 2005 campaign, appeared in 162 Major League games, most notably with the Seattle Mariners (1998-2002). His 17 wins in 2001 helped lead the Mariners to a remarkable 116-win season and an AL West Division title. In addition to his time as pitching coach with the Flyers, Abbott was an assistant coach for the Fullerton Junior College Hornets. This is Abbott's first opportunity to manage.
Returning from last season to coach alongside Abbott are third base coach Robert Bafia and first base coach Kevin Clancy, both in their second seasons with the Flyers.
THE PLAYERS The "Trains" made a splash locally when the team announced the signing of former Major League infielder Keith Ginter, who spent six seasons in the majors with Houston, Milwaukee and Oakland. Ginter, who graduated from Fullerton High School, earned Texas League (AA) MVP honors while with the Astros in 2000. He played primarily second base for the Brewers in 2003 and 2004. In 2003, he played in a career-high 127 games in the big leagues, batting .257 with 14 home runs and 44 RBI. In 2004, Ginter put up a .262 batting average and had 19 homers and 60 RBI in 113 games. Ginter has played Triple-A ball for Oakland, Cleveland, Boston and the Chicago White Sox during the past four seasons.
Former National League All-Star and World Series Champion pitcher Byung-Hyun Kim also joins the Flyers for 2010 having spent nine seasons in the Major Leagues as both a starter and a closer for Arizona, Boston, Colorado and Florida. The submarine-style pitcher won the World Series with the Diamondbacks in 2001 over the New York Yankees in a back-and-forth 7-game series. The reliever followed his World Series championship with the best season for a closer in Diamondbacks history, recording a team-record 36 saves on his way to a career-best 2.04 ERA and 8-3 record in 2002, earning a spot on the National League All-Star team.
Another big acquisition for the 2010 Flyers is reining GBL Championship Series MVP Sergio Pedroza, who was a GBL All-Star outfielder last season with the Calgary Vipers. Pedroza led the league in home runs with 20, and was tied for second in the league with 81 RBI. The outfielder played for the 2004 Cal State Fullerton Titans team that won the College World Series.
Returning from 2009 is a strong core of players, headlined by former Major League outfielder Ben Johnson who played for the Padres and Mets, and joined the team late last season. The St. Louis Cardinals selected Johnson in the 4th round (127th player taken overall) of the 1999 draft. In 2005, Johnson was a Triple-A All-Star outfielder and the San Diego Padres Minor League Player of the Year.
On the mound, the Flyers return the No. 1 and No. 2 starters from last season's rotation. Right-handers Matt Durkin and Jesse Smith led the GBL in wins in 2009, finishing 1-2 respectively. Durkin won a league-best 11 games and was named GBL Pitcher of the Year in 2009, posting an 11-4 record with a 3.88 ERA. Smith went 10-5 with a 4.44 ERA last season. Both pitchers were members of the 2008 Flyers team that won the GBL Championship. Durkin, a former 2nd round draft pick of the NY Mets, missed the GBL record for wins by one.
Also returning to the Flyers pitching staff are relievers Kevin Altman, Manny Ayala and Andre Simpson. Altman made seven starts for the Flyers in 2009, going 2-4 with a 3.68 ERA in 13 games. A Texas Rangers draft pick from 2003, Altman should provide the Flyers with a reliable spot-starter and reliever this season. Ayala was a California League All-Star pitcher in 2007, going 11-3 in 17 starts for the Padres' Lake Elsinore Storm. He played briefly for San Diego's Triple-A affiliate in Portland, Ore. The right-hander began his professional career with the GBL's Mesa Miners during the inaugural 2005 season, going 12-4 with three complete games and tying the league record for wins in a season. Simpson, a former Chicago White Sox draft pick, is going into his third season with the Flyers. He is a two-time GBL All-Star .
Relievers Mike Koons and Bryan Harris each return to the Flyers' bullpen for a second season. Harris, who spent time in Double-A with Seattle in 2008, recorded a team-best 12 saves as the closer in 2009. Koons appeared in 29 games for the Flyers last season, finishing the year with a 3.03 ERA. The two right-handers will have a familiar target behind the plate in returning catcher Jim Goethals, who brings strong defense and timely hitting back for a second year in OC.
A pair of new pitchers will bolster the Flyers pitching staff. Brett Smith will compete for a spot in the starting rotation. The former second-round draft pick of the New York Yankees shined while playing for the UC-Irvine from 2002-04. Brandon Pullen provides the Flyers a reliable left-hander out of the bullpen. He spent the 2009 season in the Northwest League in the Seattle Mariners' farm system. Outfielder David Harris had a productive training camp and will compete for a playing time as a rookie. Catcher Kylee Hash is going into his fifth season of professional baseball, having previously played in the Frontier and United leagues in 2009. Before that, he spent time in the Appalachian rookie league with the Marines and White Sox.
Outfielder Steve Boggs returns for his second season with the Flyers and fourth in the Golden League. The 26-year-old San Diego native won the GBL Championship with the Chico Outlaws in 2007. Last season Julian Benavidez led Orange County with nine homeruns while batting .310 with 38 RBI. A former 3rd round pick of the San Francisco Giants, Benavidez played for the Giants Double-A affiliate in 2004-05. He spent the 2008 season with the Chico Outlaws before joining the Flyers in 2009. Shortstop Jimmy Rohan hit .324 with Orange County in 2009. The infielder with Triple-A experience spent six years in the Dodgers farm system. Former USC Trojan Derek Perren is also back to bolster both the infield and outfield.
A pair of Arizona Winter League standouts will shore up the Flyers defense. Zach Mandelblatt's speed and strong arm will be an asset covering ground in the Flyers outfield, while Tyler Keeble brings consistent hitting along with solid fielding skills in the middle infield. Both are going into their rookie season of professional baseball.
With proven Major League talent, a strong returning cadre of former Flyers and a talented group of newcomers, Paul Abbott's squad has its sights set on returning to the GBL Championship Series for a league-record third appearance. Year six of Orange County Flyers baseball is here. ALL ABOARD!
Orange County Flyers / GBL information The Orange County Flyers - the 2008 Golden Baseball League Champions - are an independent, professional minor league baseball team, which plays home games in Fullerton, Calif. The team will be managed in 2010 by 11-season MLB veteran and Sunny Hills (Fullerton) High School alum Paul Abbott. Past managers include former Major League stars Garry Templeton, Gary Carter and Phil Nevin. The league, which was founded in 2005, consists of 10 teams from California, Arizona, Utah, Western Canada and now Hawaii and Mexico. The GBL is widely considered one of the most talent-laden independent leagues in the nation, with former major leaguers on most every roster. Notable former Major Leaguers to play in the GBL include Rickey Henderson, Jose Canseco, Jose Lima, Hideki Irabu, Junior Spivey and Scott Speizio. This season, former NL All-Star Byung-Hyun Kim will take the mound for the Flyers as one of three former big-leaguers on the squad.
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