homepage logo

Plenty of new faces as Ogden Raptors ready to defend Pioneer League title

By BRETT HEIN - Standard-Examiner | May 18, 2024
1 / 3
Ogden Raptors pitcher Quinn Waterhouse throws a pitch late in the 2023 season at Lindquist Field in Ogden.
2 / 3
Ogden's Matthew Hess pitches against Billings in Game 1 of the Pioneer League championship series Saturday, Sept. 16, 2023, in Ogden.
3 / 3
Ogden Raptors pitcher Quinn Waterhouse throws a pitch late in the 2023 season at Lindquist Field in Ogden.

OGDEN — There will be plenty of new faces on the field for the Ogden Raptors this year after the team claimed its second Pioneer Baseball League championship in 2023.

There’s no strict age limit in the PBL but the league has tightened up “service time” restrictions — how many seasons a player has played in the league — that has required several mainstays to move on. The Pioneer League hopes to give more players exposure and chances to be scouted by Major League teams, somewhat stepping into the hole left by MLB’s abandonment of the short-season rookie level of affiliated minor league ball.

That’s a good thing, says Raptors manager Evan Parker. Older players are better able to suit their career prospects by playing in leagues with similarly aged players — or, in the case of Mr. Raptor himself, Reese Alexiades, reach a small level of stardom with the hit traveling exhibition team Savannah Bananas.

So despite the addition of a “franchise player” designation that allows each PBL team to add a fourth year of service to one player per year, Ogden won’t be using it this time.

One first-season Raptor was so thrilled with his experience in Ogden that he stayed here the entire offseason to prepare for the 2024 campaign. Quinn Waterhouse, a 6-foot-4 lefty reliever, is an Iowa native who played college ball in Illinois and Texas, and quickly loved everything about Ogden.

Waterhouse worked out at Parker’s training facility in Ogden and held down jobs as a junior high substitute teacher, a cashier at a sporting goods store and as a security guard while continuing to live with his host family, Jeff and Suzanne Mount.

“I love Ogden. We won a championship,” Waterhouse said. “Ogden is beautiful, the fan base is phenomenal, they know you by name. The ballpark has a really big-league feel.”

Waterhouse became a staple for the Ogden bullpen, a hard-throwing setup guy in the seventh or eighth innings to get to ace closer Dan Kubiuk. Waterhouse threw 37 1/3 innings over 32 appearances (fourth-most on the team), struck out 32 batters, allowed just two home runs, and gave up just one earned run in his final 7 1/3 innings of the regular season.

With Kubiuk gone, Parker says Waterhouse is the leader in the clubhouse to take over as closer.

“He joined us out of college and simply got better as the year went on. He’s super coachable. He absolutely works, he wants the ball and he’s a competitor,” Parker said. “He was throwing 95 this offseason and looking really good, so he’s a major part of this team.”

Waterhouse said he hopes to help newer players manage the grind of a 96-game independent baseball season.

“You have to keep your mentals right, keep working hard and know you’re one opportunity away, one call away,” he said.

Other returners vying to make the team in spring training include Matt Hess, the big righty starter who joined the team late and made some big starts down the stretch; Clearfield native and lefty pitcher Chase Stratton; catcher/third baseman Landen Barns, and outfielder Nick Ultsch.

Coaches will trim the opening-day roster to 26 after Saturday’s exhibition.

Parker is also a returner. While it’s his first season as manager, it’s the Bonneville High alum’s fourth season with the Raptors in some capacity as a player or coach, including as pitching coach the last two years.

“I have an office in my favorite baseball stadium ever — sitting in the manager’s office now where I spent many days talking to my mentors,” Parker smiled.

A new face likely to land on the roster is a young right-hander named Gabriel Pacheco. At this spring’s Pioneer League tryout camp in Arizona, Pacheco’s arm and command were impossible to miss.

So for the post-camp draft, Parker traded up for the No. 1 pick and took the 21-year-old Texan who seemed to have gotten lost in the post-COVID world of recruiting.

“As live of an arm as I’ve seen on a 21-year-old frame. He’s mechanically sound, very polished for a guy who had essentially no stats on his name past high school,” Parker said.

It hearkened back to when the Raptors saw how the ball jumped off Alexiades’ bat and drafted him in the first league-wide tryout camp in 2021.

“You see something that pops off the field like that and you start thinking about how to trade up for him,” Parker said.

Parker will remain as pitching coach with Mason Ross, a Clearfield native who’s been on the field every year in the independent era, acting as an assistant involved with catching and coaching first base.

With the retirement of manager Kash Beauchamp, Parker hired Ed Campaniello as hitting and bench coach. Campaniello has coached for 20 years at the minor league level with the Reds, A’s and across independent leagues.

“He’s a baseball guy through and through and will be an integral part of a winning staff, for sure,” Parker said.

Ogden opens the 2024 season at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 21, starting a 12-game homestand with the first six against the Northern Colorado Owlz. The ring ceremony for the 2023 league championship will take place on the field before the opener.


Adding to experiments like the Knockout Round home run derby for tie games, the Pioneer League has added the ability for teams to challenge ball/strike calls this season.

Using the live strike zone from the TrackMan system already installed in each ballpark, teams can challenge a ball/strike call at least three times during one game. Teams retain their challenges, if successful, up to a maximum of six challenges in one game.

The pitch clock remains in effect for 2024.


The additions of the Oakland Ballers and the Yolo High Wheelers (Davis, California) grow the Pioneer League to 12 teams. (The Raptors do not player either this season.)

With that comes a new format: for the first time in maybe forever, there will be no divisions in the PBL.

For postseason qualification, the season will still be played in two halves. The top two teams league-wide from each half earn playoff bids, with necessary tiebreakers in the event of repeat top-two finishers. So a league that once sent 50% of its teams to the playoffs will now see 33% make the postseason.

Semifinal playoff series will still be best-of-three but the championship series will be best-of-five starting this season.


Join thousands already receiving our daily newsletter.

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)