OREM — Among those who will be in uniform tonight when the Orem Owlz open their 2007 Pioneer League season against the Ogden Raptors is a familiar face to local college baseball fans.

Former University of Utah outfielder Jay Brossman, who was drafted in the 36th round of the June draft by the Los Angeles Angels, is happy to be a member of the Owlz, the Angels' rookie league affiliate.

"It was kind of surprising that out of all the teams that could pick me up, it was the Angels," Brossman said Monday. "It's kind of coincidence, I guess you could say. It's great to be here in what is somewhat my hometown. I played for the University of Utah for four years, so I feel at home. It's a great area."

A Pullman, Wash., native, Brossman is expecting some support in the stands from former Ute teammates and coaches as he makes his professional debut at Brown Ballpark at Utah Valley State College.

"I'm thrilled. It's been a dream of mine since I can remember to play baseball on the professional level," he said. "I'm ecstatic about being here and starting my pro career. I hope it goes for a while."

Brossman is one of 30 players that Owlz manager Tom Kotchman welcomed to Orem on Sunday.

As usual, there's an eclectic mix on the Owlz roster, including Young-il Jung, an 18-year-old pitcher from South Korea. Because he doesn't speak English, the organization has hired a trans-

lator.

"The interesting kid is the Korean guy," Kotchman said. "I've never had a player where you have to have an interpreter. I'm in unchartered waters there."

There's also a relief pitcher taken in the 10th round who recently pitched for Army (Milan Dinga), and a 49th round draft pick from 2006 who played for the Owlz a year ago (Gordie Gronkowski). The highest draft pick on the roster is Trevor Pippin, an outfielder from Peachtree, Ga., who was selected in the fourth round.

Kotchman is hoping to mold this varied collection of players into a team this week.

"It's the same thing every year. You put them out there and see what happens," he said. "You learn from your mistakes and other teams' mistakes. The sooner you learn, the better off you're going to be and the better you might get. We've been competitive the last few years here and that's what we plan on doing (this year)."

No matter where they're from or what their background is, Kotchman's players know what the expectations are for a franchise that has made the playoffs the last six years and won Pioneer League championships in 2004 and 2005.

"Kotch told us, 'The ring's the thing.' That's kind of the theme," Brossman said. "We're not here to joke around. This is our job now. Everybody knows we're not here to mess around. We're here to win the league and win the ring and keep up our reputation of being the best team in the Pioneer League. Hopefully, we can live up to that."

Taking the mound for the Owlz on opening night is Michael Davitt, a 6-foot-6, 215-pound righthander from Mobile, Ala., who is adapting to his new surroundings in Orem.

"It's beautiful here. I love it," said Davitt, a 29th round draft pick in 2006. "I got away from all the humidity and heat where I'm from. I had never seen mountains before I came here. It's a gorgeous place. I'm very excited to be here."

Davitt's family and friends will be following tonight's game via the Internet, he said, and he can't wait to make the start for the Owlz tonight.

"It's every kid's dream. I won't be able to sleep (Monday night)," he said. "I'll be too anxious. But I'm ready for it."


E-mail: jeffc@desnews.com