Tri-City Dust Devils

Dust Devils Saylor positive despite slow start

The Tri-City Dust Devils may not have the record they were hoping for after completing their first road trip of the season, but first-year Dust Devils manager Drew Saylor doesn’t believe in dwelling on negatives.

That’s a good thing, considering Tri-City (5-6) ranks near the bottom of the Northwest League in most of the key offensive categories such as batting average (.214, sixth), runs scored (33, seventh) and hits (66, seventh) through the season’s first 10 games. The Dust Devils also are looking for their first home run of the season.

“One of the things about being a skipper is looking at every silver lining,” Saylor said after Sunday’s 6-0 loss to the Eugene Emeralds. “I’m disappointed we didn’t score any runs today, but if we continue to look at negatives, we’re going to find ourselves being negative. I’m looking forward to getting ourselves back to being a winning ball club. We’re going through a situation where we’ve got to grow up a little.”

The Dust Devils begin a three-game series with North Division rival Everett at 7:15 p.m. today at Gesa Stadium. Left-hander Jayson Aquino (0-1, 4.09 ERA), will get the start for Tri-City in the opener. He’ll go up against AquaSox right-hander Lars Huijer (1-0, 4.63 ERA).

Saylor, a former All-American second baseman at Kent State, kept the offensive struggles in perspective. He knows the first few weeks are an adjustment period for NWL players, many of whom are getting their first taste of professional baseball.

“Until you get 100 at-bats, it’s so volatile,” he said. “I think we’ve got a really good pulse on this team right now. We’re getting into our own rhythm, finding our proper routines. Right now we’re pressing, but hitting goes in ebbs and flows.”

Saylor has been impressed with rookie outfielders Sean Dwyer (.280, 3 doubles, 4 RBIs) and Michael Tauchman (.286, .394 on-base percentage), who have hit the ground running in their first eight games.

“Tauchman is swinging the bat pretty well. He’s a guy that can do a lot of things. Dwyer is a calm, reserved guy who can hit with an 0-2 count or a 3-1 count,” Saylor said. “Michael Benjamin has played good defense (at third) for us, but he’s had some tough luck offensively, hitting balls right at guys.”

Alec Mehrten, who hit .244 in 28 games with Tri-City last season, has been one of the biggest surprises so far, leading Dust Devils regulars with a .286 batting average and seven RBIs.

Prospect watch: Fans on the lookout for future major leaguers should have several to keep an eye on over the next three days. AquaSox third baseman D.J. Peterson, the Seattle Mariners’ first-round pick, signed for $2.759 million just 12 days ago, and he’s already paying dividends for Everett with two home runs and eight RBIs through his first five games. The Sox also feature the M’s second-round draft pick, outfielder Austin Wilson, and fourth-round selection RHP Ryan Horstman. Dust Devils fans could get their first look at LHP Sam Moll, the Colorado Rockies’ third-round pick out of Memphis.