OREM — Strong pitching has always been a trademark of the Orem Owlz and a big reason the rookie league team has won three Pioneer League titles in eight seasons in Utah.
This season, Orem's pitching has the potential to be the franchise's best ever. Seldom has a first-round draft pick begun his career at Orem, but one — and maybe two — will this season.
Also, with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim taking 12 pitchers in the draft two weeks ago and with six free agents on Orem's roster, the Owlz should have a strong rotation and deep bullpen.
"You are what your pitching is," said Owlz manager Tom Kotchman, back for his 26th year with the Angels organization and 31st year in professional baseball.
Tyler Kehrer, a hard-throwing lefty from the Eastern Illiniois University picked in the supplemental first round with the 48th overall pick, is scheduled to make his professional debut on Wednesday night at Ogden.
"With the coaches I have and the work in the bullpen, I feel like I'm ready to go," Kehrer said Monday at Owlz media day.
Also anchoring Orem's strong pitching is Buddy Bosher, a fourth-round choice a year ago who pitched for the Owlz last season and spent time this season with the Salt Lake Bees. Second-round pick Patrick Corbin, another lefty from Chipola Junior College, is also with the Owlz, as is quickly rising prospect Orangel Arenas, a flame-throwing righty from Venezuela.
Another first-round supplemental pick who might end up in Orem if he signs with the Angels is 42nd pick is Garrett Richards, a right-hander from Oklahoma.
Leading the position players is Pac-10 batting champion Dillon Baird, an 11th-round pick from Arizona who plays the hot corner. He's one of many making the transition from metal bats to wood bats.
"Hopefully, that transition will be short and I'll get it done," Baird said.
Jean Sergura, who also spent time with the Bees this year, and seventh-round pick Jon Karich from Santa Clara, and returner Michael Wing will handle the other infielder duties. Former fourth-round selection Trevor Pippin is back for another season in the outfield, as is outfielder Marcel Champagnie and catcher Braulio Pardo.
"Right now, all we can do is put them out there and see what we've got," Kotchman said.