Getting an earlier-than-usual start on the season, what with an all-new coaching staff and a 33-36 1989 record to live down, some of the 1990 Salt Lake Trappers made their practice debut at Derks Field Thursday.
New pitching coach Mark Brewer, son of 14-year major-league pitcher Jim Brewer, greeted six pitchers, two catchers and a third baseman and put them through a look-see workout.The rest of the Trappers and new Manager Nick Belmonte will arrive over the weekend following tryout camps at Pepperdine College in California. Belmonte and Trapper front-office boss Van Schley are looking over potential talent, having invited players to the tryouts following the baseball draft earlier this week.
Those they're interested in will have a first workout Monday at Derks.
Opening day is June 20 at home.
The Trappers are an all-independent club playing in the rookie-class Pioneer League. Schley's Texas Star Baseball Inc. signs players that big-league clubs may have overlooked in the draft, grooms them and then sells their contracts to interested big-league clubs.
The Trappers rarely report more than a week or so before the first game because of the draft, but Brewer said he and Belmonte decided, "We want to know what we've got before it starts."
Schley signed a number of players ahead of the draft, including some veterans, and they're the ones working out with Brewer this week.
"I'm here. They're here. We wanted to take a look," says Brewer. "I want to be a step ahead of anybody I can be a step ahead of."
Working out Thursday were veteran Trapper pitchers Dave Alexander, Willie Ambos, Fred Riscen and Mike Steinkamp plus Randy White (1989 Idaho Falls), Gino Mirabella (1989 Cleveland organization) and Don Emery (1990 U. of Utah). The catchers are Rob Beck of Utah and Steve Keighley of Memphis State. Third baseman Tom Duffin, drafted earlier by both Cleveland and Seattle, also attended the workout.
Alexander (3-1, 6.21 ERA) and Steinkamp (3-3, 5.61) pitched for the Trappers last season. Riscen (6-1, 5.61) and Ambos (9-2, 4.58) were '88 Trappers. Riscen has since had two shoulder operations that kept him inactive. Ambos played Class A ball last season but was released this spring too late to hook up with another big-league organization. He wintered in Salt Lake City and will join the Rowland Hall-St. Mark's athletic staff in the fall.
"I like Willie's attitude already," said Brewer. "He's been around a while and will make everyone feel comfortable."
Brewer also feels comfortable in Derks Field. He says there's a bat rack in the Trapper clubhouse that was built by his father when he was a member of the 1962 Salt Lake Bees. Rebuilt, actually. Jim Brewer destroyed the previous bat rack following a bad outing, then built a new one.
It's a fond memory for the younger Brewer, as is the fact that he's managing in the same league where his father finished.
Jim Brewer was pitching coach for the Great Falls Dodgers in 1987, the year of the Trappers' 29-game win streak. Jim Brewer died Nov. 16, 1987, of injuries suffered earlier that day in a head-on automobile collision as he was driving to a pitching clinic in Louisiana.