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Ogden Raptors outfielders making an impact on the team and on each other

By Michael Grennell, Standard-Examiner Correspondent - | Aug 22, 2016
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Ogden Raptors cheer left fielder Mitchell Hansen after hitting a home run during the first inning of the home game against the Billings Mustangs at Lindquist Field in Ogden on Saturday, August 13, 2016. At the bottom of the second inning the Raptors were leading 3-0.

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DJ Peters (27) runs the bases after hitting the ball out of the park for the Raptors at Lindquist Field in Ogden on July, 19 2016.

On game day, if you look at the Ogden Raptors outfield you are almost always going to see the same three guys: Mitchell Hansen, DJ Peters and Cody Thomas.

In their first season with the Raptors, they have already made a big impact on the team, the Pioneer League and each other.

“Those three guys, for this level, we’re really lucky to have,” Raptors manager Shaun Larkin said. “From a physical standpoint, to a leadership standpoint, to a personality standpoint, I’m not sure you’re going to find three outfielders of that caliber on one team at this level anywhere else.”

RELATEDManager Shaun Larkin making an impact in first season with the Raptors

After being drafted in the fourth round of this year’s MLB Draft, Peters has made a name for himself as one of the top players in the Pioneer League. Not only does he lead the Raptors with 69 hits, 49 runs, 19 doubles and 116 total bases, he also is tied for the league lead in runs and doubles and is second in total bases.

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“He’s one of those guys you got to slow down sometimes because he wants to go full bore,” Larkin said. “If I asked him to run through this wall and go play a game, he’s going to do it.”

Peters’ teammates have also noticed his high energy and enthusiasm.

“DJ — ‘Wild Man’ is what we call him — he’s all over the place. His motor just never stops,” Thomas said. “He’s definitely one of a kind, but he’s a great teammate and a great player.”

In contrast to “Wild Man” Peters, Hansen has also become one of the team’s leaders, but in a much quieter style. Larkin said that Hansen is always even keeled and always thinking, and doesn’t hesitate to speak up when something needs to be said.

“Mitch is a little bit more of a shy guy, keeps more to himself,” Thomas said. “Although I think I’ve sort of broken his shell a little bit, gotten him out more.”

Hansen, in his second season in the Dodgers’ organization, is tied for the team lead in home runs with 10, while having the second-most hits (67), total bases (108) and stolen bases (11). With these kind of numbers, Larkin says he has come to expect consistency from Hansen, while adding that he points to Hansen as an example for the other players.

“(I will say), ‘Just watch Mitch. Watch what he does and that’s what it’s supposed to look like,'” Larkin said.

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MATT HERP/Standard-Examiner

Mitchell Hansen of the Ogden Raptors and Pioneer League runs to first base in the second inning during the 2016 PBL vs. NWL All Star Game Tuesday August 2, 2016, at Lindquist Field in Ogden.

For Hansen, being able to have the success he’s had on the field while playing with Thomas and Peters has made the season all the more enjoyable.

“It’s super fun,” Hansen said. “(DJ and Cody) are light-hearted guys, and the whole clubhouse is a blast to be in. We’ve got music blaring always and we’re just having a good time.”

Thomas joined the Raptors near the beginning of July after starting the season in the Arizona League. Even though he didn’t start the year with them, he has still managed to form a tight bond with Peters and Hansen. 

“They’re definitely a couple of characters,” Thomas said. “All three of us, I think we all balance each other out out there.”

In the time that Thomas has been with the team, he has already jumped to the top of the team’s leaders on offense. He is tied with Hansen for the team lead with 10 home runs, and is third on the team with 29 RBIs, 85 total bases and six stolen bases.

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Brian Wolfer/Special to the Stan

Cody Thomas (46) gets a good hit bringing in two runs during the summer night game at Lindquist Field in Ogden on August 17, 2016.

Larkin pointed to Thomas’ experience as a quarterback at the University of Oklahoma as a big part of how Thomas is able to perform in big situations.

“He’s used to performing under pressure and he’s used to putting a team on his back and leading,” Larkin said. “He thrives for the big moment, he’s a great leader in the clubhouse and he’s got a really special future ahead for him.”

With the season coming to a close, the pressure is on for Hansen, Peters, Thomas and the Raptors as they make a push for a spot in the Pioneer League playoffs. But at the end of the day for the trio, individual success and playoffs don’t mean as much as the friendships they have all gained through the summer both on and off the field.

“Playing with these two guys in my first year is unbelievable,” Peters said. “Now I have two friends I can go through the system with and play with in the big leagues some day.”


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