By HERB SWETT
For the Keizertimes
Tom Trebelhorn, manager of the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes, has his eye on the draft for this season.
Last year’s Volcanoes finished in the cellar of the Northwest League West, although they had a better win-loss record than the East division’s Yakima Bears. Starting pitching was the big problem, but Trebelhorn expects three veterans to return and help with their experience.
The three are Lorenzo Mendoza, Kendry Flores and Joan – yes, that’s how he spells it – Rodriguez. Trebelhorn sees potential in Lorenzo Montero and Mario Rodriguez, but he notes that the assignments are up to the headquarters of the parent club, the San Francisco Giants.
“We’ll wait and see what happens,” he said.
Raymundo Montero is expected to be a relief pitcher. Trebelhorn, again referring to headquarters, declined to name other possibilities.
Catching is also uncertain, largely because of injuries to prospects.
Looking at the infield, Trebelhorn sees Stephen Yarrow as a good prospect for third base, Cristian Paulino for second and Jonathan Jones for first. Shortstop is “up in the air,” with no one seeming comparable to Joe Panik, last year’s Most Valuable Player and now playing for the advanced class A San Jose Giants.
In the outfield, Chuckie Jones is expected to return and play center. Mike Mergenthaler is likely to start in left and Raffy Rodriguez in right, with both showing power potential. Two other outfield prospects who have power are Bryan Nicholson and Leonardo Fuentes.
“We’re going to be a little bit draft-dependent,” Trebelhorn said.
A former Major League Manager of the Year, he is not worried about his staff. Ricky Ward returns as batting coach and Jerry Cram as pitching coach. New to the staff is Hector Borg, whose title is simply coach, but he will have a variety of coaching responsibilities.
Asked how the rest of the league looks, Trebelhorn said, “It’s hard to handicap these things, because the draft is so critical.”
The Volcanoes open at home June 14 with a 6:35 p.m. pre-season game, facing college all-stars. League play starts at 7:05 p.m. June 15 against the Boise Hawks.