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Published: Sunday, 8/10/2008

Ryan overlooked among prospects

BLADE STAFF

When Baseball America magazine ranked the Tigers' top prospects before this season, Dusty Ryan wasn't on the list.

But if the Mud Hens' new catcher continues to play as he has, he definitely will earn a spot among the 30 best prospects in the organization.

"He's a big kid, and he's been swinging the bat well for us," manager Larry Parrish said of Ryan. "He's been impressive for us. So far, he's handling himself very well."

Ryan, who was not in the Toledo lineup for last night's game against Norfolk, has hit .391 in his first six games with the Hens with a home run and six RBI. Before his promotion, Ryan hit .253 with 15 homers and 50 RBIs in 82 games for Double-A Erie.

"Actually, when I was in Erie I was in a little bit of a slump [before I left]," Ryan admitted. "But so far up here I'm been seeing the ball well and swinging at good pitches, and that's when good things happen."

Not a lot of good things have happened for Ryan at the plate before this year. The 6-4, 220-pounder had a .225 career batting average entering this season and had not hit above .245 in any full season.

Last year he played in just 52 games and hit just .214 with Single-A Lakeland, although he was tied for the Florida State League lead with four home runs at the end of April.

"Last year I was off to a good start, but I tore my meniscus and missed three months," Ryan said. "This year I wanted to stay healthy and do what I can do, and so far I've done it."

The 23-year-old Ryan said he also made some changes to his swing in spring training.

"My stance is completely new," Ryan said. "I widened my stance, and I started a [front toe] tap, and I have a little bit of a wrap in my hands. It's stuff that's clicking right now."

It also helps that Ryan has long been considered a fine defensive catcher. He ranked third in the Eastern League after throwing out 39 percent of the baserunners who tried to steal and he has thrown out four potential base-stealers with the Hens.

"He's got a lot of arm strength, and he's always had that," Parrish said. "The thing with him has been the bat. His bat is improving every year."

NEW GUY ON THE ROSTER: Before yesterday's game the Mud Hens added pitcher Gary Glover to the roster.

Glover began the season with Tampa Bay, where he was 1-2 with a misleading 5.82 ERA in 29 appearances. Glover had a 3.34 ERA before his final two games, where he allowed nine hits and 10 runs in 12/3 innings before going on the disabled list July 11 with a left calf strain.

Glover, who has pitched in the big leagues with four other teams besides Tampa Bay, was designated for assignment by the Rays and released Aug. 2.

Parrish said Glover has not pitched in a game since going on the disabled list, so he won't have a defined role until he pitches some innings.

To make room for Glover on the roster, the Mud Hens released pitcher Brian Rogers, who was 0-1 with a 7.65 ERA in 16 games.

THREE-DOT DATA: Freddy Guzman stole a base in the first inning to give him 41 steals with the Hens this season. He leads the IL despite having not joined Toledo until May 7. With last night's crowd of 10,879 at Fifth Third Field, the Mud Hens have sold out 28 games this season, including the last 10 in a row and 21 times in the last 24 home games.

- John Wagner



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