The 2001 roster has a good mix of veterans and rookies and even one player from Ohio.
By BRIAN RICHESSON
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
NILES -- Ten former Mahoning Valley Scrappers, one from their inaugural season, are included on the 2001 roster.
A native each from Ohio and Pennsylvania also help compose the team that will begin Class A short-season play next Tuesday in Utica, N.Y.
Of those returning, catcher Angel Bastardo, pitcher Luke Field and outfielder Dennis Malave played most of the innings last season.
By the numbers: In 182 at-bats, Bastardo recorded a .176 average, with two home runs and 25 RBIs. The right-handed Field had a 4.89 earned-run average in 492/3 innings. Malave, who is currently on the disabled list, batted .298 in 178 at-bats, with two home runs and 26 RBIs.
They are joined by pitchers Ron Colvard, Brian Curtin, Victor Kleine and Johri Litman; infielder Francis Finnerty; and catcher Charlie Scott.
Colvard made his name with the Scrappers during the 2000 Pinckney-Stedler Division playoff series against the Batavia Muckdogs. The 6-foot-4 Colvard came on in Game 1 and helped preserve the Scrappers' 3-2 victory in Batavia, N.Y.
The other returning player is Curtis Gay, a first baseman from the 1999 season. Gay spent last season at Class A full-season Columbus (Ga.), where he hit .169 with seven home runs and 37 RBIs.
Not far from home: For the second straight year, the Cleveland Indians drafted a player from Cleveland State University.
Jeff Haase was a regular at first base last season. He's followed this season by shortstop Keith Lillash, of Mentor and Lake Catholic High, a 30th-round choice who is the lone Scrapper from the Buckeye State.
Lillash was the 2000 Midwestern Collegiate Conference player of the year and a first-team all-conference pick. During his senior season, he batted .337 with five home runs and 39 RBIs while leading the team with 16 doubles.
"It was a big relief," Lillash said in a CSU press release. "It's a great situation because the Indians only drafted one other middle infielder ahead of me."
Representing Pennsylvania is left-handed pitcher Chris Cooper of Sewickley, Pa., and the University of New Mexico. The Indians' 35th-round pick, Cooper went 6-7 with a 5.48 ERA as a senior, with 82 strikeouts in 111.2 innings.
The Indians' highest draft pick playing for the Scrappers is outfielder Luke Scott of Deleon Springs, Fla., and Oklahoma State University. Scott was drafted in the ninth round.
As a senior, Scott led the Cowboys with 20 home runs and 62 RBIs while batting .323.
In all, 12 of the Indians' draft picks are beginning their professional baseball careers at Mahoning Valley.
Coaching staff: Dave Turgeon is the Scrappers' first-year manager; he replaces Ted Kubiak, who led them to consecutive Pinckney-Stedler Division championships. Turgeon will be assisted by pitching coach Ken Rowe and coach Rick Gutierrez.
The team, which arrived in town for today's Media Day, begins the season with a four-game road series next Tuesday against the Utica Blue Sox. The home opener is June 23 at Cafaro Field against the Williamsport Crosscutters.