If Tri-City Dust Devils fans are looking for a reason to get excited for the 2014 season, here’s a good start: Ryan Warner and Mike Tauchman — the team’s top pitcher and hitter from 2013 — will be wearing the Dust Devils’ blue and gold on Opening Day.
Tri-City will open its Northwest League season at 6:15 p.m. Friday at Boise, and second-year manager Drew Saylor is thrilled to have both his NWL All-Stars back in Pasco.
“(Warner) had some good starts where he was lights out. It’s good to have a guy like that back,” Saylor said. “We’re going to be athletic. We ran a lot last year, and I look to be doing something similar to that this year.”
Tauchman, who finished among Northwest League leaders in batting (fifth, .297), runs (fifth, 38), hits (tied for fourth, 70) and stolen bases (tied for third, 20), is here on a rehabilitation stay and will be moved up the ladder when he gets healthy.
Warner, still just 20 years old, had a stretch of eight quality starts last season and led Tri-City starters with a 3.36 ERA and 88 1/3 innings pitched. The Colorado Rockies’ former third-round draft pick will be joined by what Saylor thinks could be an impressive group of pitchers, including Helmis Rodriguez and Blake Schouse, a fifth-round pick in 2013.
“Helmis is intriguing. He has the ability to pitch down in the zone and with traffic on the bases,” Saylor said. “He has a different gear. He’ll be jumping after balls in batting practice, and we’ll tell him, ‘Calm down, Helmis.’
“But that’s what we love about him.”
The pitching staff will also include Jared McCrummen and Marc Magliaro, two of Tri-City’s top relievers in 2013, as well as Huascar Brazoban, whose fastball topped 100 mph.
The Dust Devils, who begin workouts today at Gesa Stadium, will also feature some talent at the plate that includes returning players Cesar Galvez and Wilson Soriano.
Ryan Garvey, son of former Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres first baseman Steve Garvey, will begin his third year in the Rockies’ system after spending his first two years at Grand Junction.
The outfielder showed some of his dad’s trademark plate discipline, hitting .304 as a rookie in 29 games. His average dropped to .232 last season, but Saylor believes he will contribute in ways beyond the stats.
“The thing I like about Ryan is he’s all blue collar and hustle. He’s a max-effort type guy,” Saylor said. “It’s nice to have those guys on the ballclub.”
The Dust Devils will open their first homestand at Gesa Stadium on June 18 against Everett. First pitch is 7:15 p.m.