The Silver Hawks’ season is now three games old, but South Bend fans have yet to get a peek at their team.
Much has been made of the off season change in ownership and the promotional and facility upgrades that followed. Yet another key change that will be evident when the Silver Hawks take to Coveleski Stadium for the first time in 2012 on Monday is the on-field product.
"It's going to be a fun team,” said Silver Hawks manager Mark Haley. “It's an older team. I'm usually used to some younger guys but we've got 10 guys repeating coming back, so it's easier for me because those 10 guys are going to teach the new guys the way we do it here in South Bend."
One of the new guys on the roster is 18-year-old pitcher Archie Bradley, who routinely hits 100 miles per hour on the radar gun. He’s one of the game’s top pitching prospects and will anchor the pitching staff.
"He is right up there,” said Haley of the hurler. “His maturity level, his understanding of who he is for being that young, is way ahead of the curve and he could be one of the better ones that we've had."
"Being a first round pick, being a top prospect, being a guy that got a lot of money, there is a lot of pressure from the organization, your teammates, the fans,” said Bradley. “Just everyone is expecting something out of you but you just have to embrace it and accept it."
At the plate, the Silver Hawks will begin looking for a replacement for Yazy Arbelo, who set the team record for home runs (31) last season.
"We're not going to have the pop obviously when you lose a guy like Yazy Arbelo,” said Haley, “but what we will have is guys that know how to put the ball in play. We've got occasional thump, but we're going to have guys that are very knowledgeable at the plate."
The question remains whether the talent on the Diamondbacks affiliate can mesh together and become one of the best South Bend squads in recent memory. Either way, Haley said fans can expect a bunch of “dirt balls” that are going to grind out every game.
The Silver Hawks’ home opener is set for Monday, with the first pitch scheduled at 7:05p.m.
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