OGDEN —The Ogden Raptors entered Wednesday with the best record in the Pioneer League at 8-1 and made a splashy player signing official as they opened their first full homestand of the season with a couple thousand fans in the stands, beginning a six-game set with the visiting Grand Junction Rockies.
The Raptors announced the signing of Miguel Tejada Jr., son of former MLB MVP Miguel Tejada, who was a six-time All-Star during his 15-year baseball career, mostly as a shortstop with the Oakland Athletics and Baltimore Orioles.
Tejada Jr. is 19 years old and was signed by the Philadelphia Phillies as a 17-year-old in 2019. The 6-foot-1 outfielder played the 2019 season with the Phillies team in the Dominican Summer League. He appeared in 46 games and batted .156 as a minor in the minor leagues. The Phillies released him in January.
Two years older, the Raptors hope the young Tejada Jr. is more seasoned and ready to contribute to a winning team.
Tejada Jr. didn't start but did play late Wednesday, having just arrived in town. Who did make his professional and Raptors debut was another new signee in David Maberry, a stocky slugger from Valdosta State.
Maberry made his debut subbing for Josh Broughton in the designated hitter spot in the sixth inning, getting the call with the bases loaded and the game tied 3-3.
On a 1-1 count, Maberry swung it like Paul Bunyan, sending a fastball well over 400 feet to center field, crushing a grand slam and breaking open a game in which the Raptors had just one hit through five innings.
Maberry's swing propelled the Raptors to a 9-1 record and a 10-3 win Wednesday night.
Owen Taylor hit Ogden's fourth homer of the night in the seventh, going opposite field to left-center on a two-run dinger for a 9-3 lead.
With two runners on in the eighth, Tejada Jr. pinch hit for Cory Wills and punched a single through the right side, scoring Pavin Parks for the final 10-3 margin.
The game was controlled by starting pitchers early.
Ogden starter Cole Stringer was perfect through 3 2/3 innings before Grand Junction second baseman Vinny Esposito singled to right field with two outs in the top of the fourth. Stringer struck out the next batter to end the frame, his fifth strikeout in four innings of work.
Isaiah Ramos was equally as good on the bump for Grand Junction. He allowed no hits through four innings and just one baserunner, reaching via error.
Rockies designated hitter Dondrei Hubbard broke the deadlock with a one-out, solo shot to left field, giving GJ a 1-0 lead in the fifth. Three singles later, Conner Uselton poked a bloop to right field to score two more Rockies for a 3-0 lead.
Ogden finally got to Ramos in the fifth when catcher Tim Susnara yanked a fastball to right-center, banging a solo shot off a light pole to cut it to 3-1.
The Raptors broke it open against Ramos in the sixth when Frankie Jezioro led off with a solo homer to center field. Singles from Raul Shah and Owen Taylor set up a sacrifice fly for Nick Michaels, tying the game 3-3 and setting up Maberry's grand slam.
Bradly Gonzales gave up one run in 1 2/3 innings of middle relief for Ogden. Chris Campbell shut the door with three shutout innings, giving up one hit, to close it.
The Raptors announced the signing of Tejada Jr., Maberry and pitcher Michael Agis on Wednesday.
Maberry is a college signee, who played at the University of North Florida before finishing his career as a senior at Valdosta State in a season that ended last month. Maberry hit .356 and drove in 40 runs in 35 games, hitting seven home runs and six doubles.
Right-handed, free-agent pitcher Michael Agis was added to the team. The 2017 draft pick of the Colorado Rockies appeared in 45 minor league games, mostly in Grand Junction. He holds a career ERA of 3.27 with a .280 average against, and is the brother of Raptors infielder Caine Agis, who started the season in Ogden after making the team via tryout.
Infielder/DH Ernie Geraci and pitcher Greg Leban were released. Geraci batted .321 in eight games, driving in five runs. Leban logged six innings in two appearances, striking out 14 with an ERA of 3.00.
Ogden entered Wednesday leading the Pioneer League in several offensive categories, owing to 72 runs in their last four outings.
Most notably, infielder Raul Shah entered Wednesday leading the league in home runs with three, and in RBIs with 21 in just nine games.
As a team, Ogden is averaging 12.1 runs per game, leading second-place Idaho Falls at 10.8. The Raptors lead the league with a team batting average of .355, an on-base percentage of .456, and 12 home runs.