OGDEN -- The Ogden Raptors open the season on Monday with the first of three games on the road against the Casper Ghosts. Starting away from Lindquist Field might not be ideal for the young Raptors who are excited to play for the first time in front of their home fans.
"I think you'd prefer to start at home, but it is what it is," said Ogden manager Damon Berryhill. "You have to go out and win ball games so we're going to go to Casper and do their home opener up there. It's exciting to open the season anywhere, to get the season started. It doesn't matter if it's home or on the road."
But there are some advantages to beginning the season away from home.
"The best part about starting on the road is we get a couple of days to get the stadium ready," said team president Dave Baggott.
While the front office staff has been preparing Lindquist Field, and will continue to do so before Thursday's home opener against Orem, Berryhill and his staff have been assessing the group of players. So far, they like what they've seen.
"After the first week I'll have a better read," Berryhill said. "It's about getting the new guys to mesh with the kids that have been around a little bit and generally you don't have a problem because kids come ready to play and hungry to prove themselves."
So, is getting the newly formed team to gel the main goal at the start of the season?
"That's part of it," Berryhill said. "Obviously you want to get off to a good start. Our goal is to win a championship. We want to get off to a good start and play good baseball."
The roster looks promising, with a mix of returning players and newcomers. Six of the 16 pitchers who have already joined the team were part of last season's squad, which won the first-half title in the Pioneer League's south division.
Luis Ferreras and Greg Wilborn each had 2-1 records last season while Carlos Frias (5-6) is the most-experienced returner. Antonio Castillo (3-4), Nick Guadi (2-4) and Garrett Gould (0-1) also saw time on the mound last season for the Raptors.
The pitching staff is joined by several others this season, including John "Red" Patterson, who was 4-3 at South West Oklahoma State and had 103 strikeouts.
The lone retuning field player is shortstop Pedro Guerrero, who will be joined by several young, talented players.
Leon Landry, who was the third-round pick earlier this month by the Los Angeles Dodgers, entered the draft rated as the ninth-best center fielder and 100th overall prospect by Baseball America. The 20-year-old ranked third on LSU's squad with a .338 batting average and was second on the team with 16 stolen bases in 63 games. He had six home runs and 45 RBIs for the Tigers.
The Dodgers' ninth-round pick, catcher Steve Domecus, is also suiting up for the Raptors. The 6-foot-3, 215-pound catcher led Virginia Tech in batting average (.372), hits (83), home runs (11), doubles (25), runs (55) and slugging percentage (.641) last season.
But Berryhill isn't ready to single out anyone for the fans to be excited to see play.
"I think they should keep their eyes out for all of them," Berryhill said. "It's an expanded roster at this level and we've got a lot of young talent and young prospects, and you never know who's going to come up and have a big year. I'd keep my eyes open for all of them."
Whether they're in Ogden for the first time or have been here before, there is something that will be the same in every player.
"We're going to play hard, there's no question about it," Berryhill said. "We've got some good talent, some young pitching, good arms, so we're excited to see what we have out there. We're excited to get going. We're happy to be here. The players are ready to get out under the lights and get it going."