Cougar Diamond Classic Kicks Off Summer Baseball in the Tri-Cities

The second annual Cougar Diamond classic at Gesa Stadium gave the 2,500+ fans in attendance an early glimpse of summer baseball in the Tri-Cities. A beautiful day with the sun beaming throughout set up a great day for baseball as the Washington State Cougars defeated the Portland Pilots 4-2. Not quite the sellout of the previous year, the 2012 Cougar Diamond Classic crowd still had an impressive showing, making Cougars’ baseball head Coach Donnie Marbut take note.

“The best thing about tonight was being in the Tri-Cities,” said Marbut in a story in the Tri-City Herald. “I just love the Tri-Cities Cougars, and we won that game tonight because of this crowd. We wish we could have this crowd in Pullman.”

Although none of the three Tri-City natives, pitching brothers Bryce and Ty Jackson of Kennewick, or outfielder Brett Jacobs of Richland, played in the game, the obvious Tri-City support of the Cougars was shown throughout Gesa Stadium, with crimson and gray taking over the stands.

The win gives the Cougs a 1-1 record in the Cougar Diamond Classic, following their 4-2 loss to the University of Washington last year.

Following the Cougar Diamond Classic, Tri-City baseball fans can look forward to the 2012 MLB First-Year Player Draft. The draft will provide a preview of potential Dust Devil players for the upcoming season, with much of the roster supplemented by rookies each season. This year the draft takes place from June 4th through the 6th, with the Colorado Rockies, the Dust Devils’ Major League affiliate, owning the 10th pick in the first round and the 46th pick in the “sandwich round” between the first and second round of the draft.

With around a month until the draft, various publications are coming out with their mock drafts of who they think teams will pick in the first round. Past Rockies’ first round picks that have spent time with the Dust Devils in recent years include pitchers Casey Weathers (2007), Christian Friedrich (2008), Rex Brothers (2009) and outfielder Tim Wheeler (2009).

 In these mock drafts there are a few names most often associated with the Rockies’ picks for the upcoming season.

 Deven Marrero – SS – Arizona State

Marrero is a six-foot-one-inch 194-pound junior infielder who most mock drafts have going in the top 10 of the draft. Named 2011 Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year, Marrero was drafted previously in 2009 in the 17th round (509th Overall) by the Cincinnati Reds, before choosing to attend Arizona State rather than go pro. Coming into his junior year with the Sun Devils, Marrero had a .349 batting average in 96 appearances (91 starts) with a .390 on-base percentage and 64 runs scored and 62 runs batted in. His numbers have dropped off this year, as he’s batting .276 in his 44 appearances, all starts, with an on-base percentage of .335. He’s also tallied 30 runs scored and 26 runs batted in while helping lead ASU to a 29-17 record thus far.

 Addison Russell – SS – HS (Fla.)   David Dahl – OF – HS (Ala.)

 The other prospects mentioned in some mock drafts are a couple of Auburn University commits, infielder Addison Russell and outfielder David Dahl. Russell, a six-foot-one-inch right-handed shortstop from Florida, was named a 2012 Rawlings 1st-Team All-American and was ranked by ESPN as the third best high school middle infielder this year. An excerpt from the rankings described Russell this way: “Russell looks more like a third baseman than a shortstop, and his power follows suit. But he moves his feet well and has terrific hands, so there’s a chance for him to stick at short in pro ball as long as he remains in top condition. Auburn will miss out on a premium recruit if Russell signs a pro deal this summer.”

 Meanwhile, Dahl is a six-foot-two-inch outfielder from Birmingham, Alabama. He too was named a 2012 Rawlings 1st-Team All-American while being named the second best high school outfield prospect in the country by ESPN. His skillset was described by ESPN in this way: “Dahl is a multi-talented athlete, but his best asset may be his eye for the strike zone. He can throw and run, projects to hit for average and power and should get on base with regularity. He’s likely to end up in right field but could play some center early in his career. Dahl is an Auburn commit, but is a good bet for the first round and is a possible top-10 pick.”

The versatile infield prospects all seem to fit into the future Rockies’ plans, with Marco Scutaro, Chris Nelson and Jonathan Herrera as the preferred trio of players filling in at third and second base around franchise-shortstop Troy Tulowitzki. The thought of taking outfielder David Dahl makes sense as well, with a lack of outfield depth becoming an issue for the club.

The Dust Devils’ 2012 season begins on June 15th against the Everett AquaSox. Ticket packages are on sale now and start at just $49, with full-season tickets available for as low as $259. Special ticket rates are available for groups of 20 or more. Season tickets, mini-plans, and group tickets can be purchased by contacting the Dust Devils front office at (509) 544-8789 or at the Gesa Stadium box office.

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