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Published: Sunday, 4/10/2005

International League lineup: Indianapolis has a new parent club

BY JOHN WAGNER
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

As the International League begins the 2005 season, the biggest change is in Indianapolis.

The Indians changed their major league affiliation after last season, switching from Milwaukee to Pittsburgh. And the Pirates have stocked the Tribe with prospects, as four players Baseball America has ranked among Pittsburgh's top 14 prospects have begun the season in Indianapolis.

The rest of the Mud Hens' opponents this season will look familiar, however; in fact, nearly every IL club has at least one former Hen on the roster.

Here is a look at the Mud Hens' competition entering the 2005 season:

BUFFALO

Affiliate: Cleveland Indians

Last year's record: 83-61 (first, North Division)

Manager: Marty Brown (third year)

Top prospects: RHP Andrew Brown, RHP Fernando Cabrera, C Ryan Garko.

Familiar faces: 2B Warren Morris played in Toledo the previous two years; OF Ernie Young was a Mud Hen two years ago.

Fast fact: Last year's Governors' Cup title gives the Bisons three championships in the past eight years.

CHARLOTTE

Affiliate: Chicago White Sox

Last year's record: 68-74 (fourth, South)

Manager: Nick Leyva (third year)

Top prospects: SS Pedro Lopez, RHP Brandon McCarthy.

Familiar faces: Three former Hens are on the roster in 2B Trace Coquillette, 1B Jorge Toca and C Raul Casanova.

Fast fact: Among the major-league veterans who will begin the season on the Knights' disabled list are RHP Robert Person and OF Jeremy Giambi.

COLUMBUS

Affiliate: New York Yankees

Last year's record: 80-64 (first, West)

Manager: Bucky Dent (sixth year)

Top prospects: 2B Robinson Cano, RHP Chien-Ming Wang.

Familiar faces: C Dave Parrish is the son of Tigers bullpen coach Lance Parrish; LHP Buddy Groom pitched for the Hens from 1991-95.

Fast fact: While the Clippers have won seven Governors' Cup titles since 1979, last year Columbus made its first postseason appearance since 1999.

DURHAM

Affiliate: Tampa Bay Devil Rays

Last year's record: 77-67 (second, South)

Manager: Bill Evers (eighth year)

Top prospect: OF Jonny Gomes

Familiar faces: RHP Jimmy Haynes pitched part of last season for the Hens, while 1B Eric Munson played here in 2002. C Tim Laker played for Cleveland last year.

Fast fact: The Bulls' coaching staff consists of two former Tigers in pitching coach Joe Coleman and hitting coach Richie Hebner.

INDIANAPOLIS

Affiliate: Pittsburgh Pirates

Last year's record: 66-78 (third, West)

Manager: Trent Jewett (first year)

Top prospects: LHP Zach Duke, RHP Ian Snell, OF Nate McLouth, C Ryan Doumit.

Familiar face: LHP C.J. Nitkowski pitched in Toledo in 1996 and 2001.

Fast fact: 1B Graham Koonce is a former Tigers draft pick who was named Pacific Coast League MVP in 2003.

LOUISVILLE

Affiliate: Cincinnati Reds

Last year's record: 67-77 (second, West)

Manager: Rick Sweet (first year)

Top prospects: 3B Edwin Encarnacion, RHP Todd Coffey, IF William Bergolla, RHP Elizardo Ramirez.

Familiar faces: OF Pedro Swann played for the Mud Hens in 1998-99; LHP Jeriome Robertson pitched briefly for Cleveland last season.

Fast fact: Last season Bats manager Sweet managed Detroit's Double-A team in Erie to a spot in the Eastern League playoffs.

NORFOLK

Affiliate: New York Mets

Last year's record: 72-72 (third, South)

Manager: Ken Oberkfell (first year)

Top prospects: 1B Craig Brazell, LHP Blake McGinley, OF Angel Pagan.

Familiar faces: Both C Mike DiFelice and SS Benji Gil played for the Hens last season.

Fast fact: The Tides begin the season with seven RHPs on the disabled list, including Orber Moreno, Jerrod Riggan, Grant Roberts, Jose Rosado and Scott Strickland.

OTTAWA

Affiliate: Baltimore Orioles

Last year's record: 66-78 (T-fifth, North)

Manager: Dave Trembley (first year)

Top prospects: RHP John Maine, C Eli Whiteside, 1B Walter Young.

Familiar faces: RHPs James Baldwin and Dave Borkowski have pitched for the Mud Hens.

Fast fact: The Lynx have six players on the roster who have stolen at least 28 bases in a season, led by Tim Raines Jr. and his 81 steals in 2000.

PAWTUCKET

Affiliate: Boston Red Sox

Last year's record: 73-71 (T-second, North)

Manager: Ron Johnson (first year)

Top prospects: C Kelly Shoppach, LHP Abe Alvarez.

Familiar faces: RHP Jack Cressend is a former Indian; OF George Lombard and Billy McMillon are former Hens.

Fast fact: 1B Roberto Petagine returns to the IL after playing six seasons in Japan, including an MVP season there in 2001. Petagine won back-to-back IL MVP honors in 1997-98.

RICHMOND

Affiliate: Atlanta Braves

Last year's record: 79-62 (first, South)

Manager: Pat Kelly (third year)

Top prospects: 3B Andy Marte, RHP Kyle Davies, OF Kelly Johnson.

Familiar faces: Three pitchers - RHPs Seth Greisinger and Chris Mears, as well as LHP Andy Van Hekken - have spent time with the Hens, as has 1B Carlos Mendez.

Fast fact: Only three IL teams have earned more playoff berths than the Braves' 21, but last year Richmond made its first playoff

appearance since 1995.

ROCHESTER

Affiliate: Minnesota Twins

Last year's record: 73-71 (T-second, North)

Manager: Phil Roof (third year)

Top prospects: RHP J.D. Durbin, RHP Scott Baker, 3B Terry Tiffee.

Familiar faces: IF Brent Abernathy spent spring training last year with the Mud Hens, then spent the season in the Cleveland organization.

Fast fact: Red Wings OF Jason Tyner has played with the last three Governors' Cup champions (Buffalo in 2004, Durham in 2002-03).

SCRANTON / WILKES-BARRE

Affiliate: Philadelphia Phillies

Last year's record: 69-73 (fourth, North)

Manager: Gene Lamont (first year)

Top prospects: 1B Ryan Howard, C Carlos Ruiz, LHP Eude Brito, OF Shane Victorino.

Familiar faces: Manager Lamont was a Hens catcher in 1970, while C A.J. Hinch caught here two seasons ago.

Fast fact: Lamont became the first new manager for the Red Barons in nine seasons after Marc Bombard joined Charlie Manuel's Phillies coaching staff as first-base coach.

SYRACUSE

Affiliate: Toronto Blue Jays

Last year's record: 66-78 (T-fifth, North)

Manager: Marty Pevey (second year)

Top prospects: SS Aaron Hill, RHP Francisco Rosario.

Familiar face: Pevey spent two seasons as a catcher for the Mud Hens (1992-93).

Fast fact: The SkyChiefs' disabled list includes a pair of Toronto's top prospects in C Guillermo Quiroz and RHP Dustin McGowan.

Contact John Wagner at: jwagner@theblade.com or 419-724-6481.



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