Ashland native Billy Hansen takes a cut during batting practice on Wednesday. Hansen and the Medford Rogues open the preseason tonight. - Photo by Andy Atkinson

Making an impression

Running a West Coast League baseball franchise offers several challenges for the collegiate wood-bat summer season, including fielding a competitive roster for opening day.

With top-tier Division I players typically unavailable until mid-to-late June due to extended seasons and travel complications, teams like the Medford Rogues are faced with the problem of essentially building two rosters.

That's where 10-day contract players come in. These fill-in players can make the difference between a smooth season and a frantic uphill climb in the final six weeks.

"Probably the toughest part about putting a summer league team like this together is trying to match up everybody's schedule," said Rogues manager Josh Hogan. "Fortunately for me, I've been in the league for seven years now as a player and coach so I kinda know what happens and how the deal goes."

"It's definitely a different process than most baseball teams," he added. "It's one guy in and one guy out to fill a spot, and then this 10-day guy might be good enough to make the full contract so you have to put that into it. It's different but it makes it fun."

Having fun is definitely the mindset of one of those 10-day players, former Ashland High standout Billy Hansen. A two-sport athlete at Regis College in Colorado, Hansen is one of 13 10-day players on Medford's roster who have been promised nothing more than an opportunity to play a few more ballgames this year.

"I'm really just excited to work as hard as I can to contribute as best I can to this new team," said Hansen, a 6-foot-3, 185-pound infielder. "I'm looking forward to meeting some of the players that I've been reading about and be a part of this awesome new organization."

Whether that's for the entire summer or just for a few weeks will be determined down the road.

For now, however, Hansen said he and the rest of the 10-day guys must take a simple approach to the games, which begin with tonight's preseason opener at Harry & David Field. The regular-season opener is Wednesday.

"I'm not going to try to control what I can't control," said Hansen. "I think me and the rest of the 10-day guys are going to play our best and have fun while doing it and whatever happens will be the best for us regardless."

"For me, I'm just really trying to not look at it as a 10-day," he added. "I'm looking at it as the start of a season, and I'm just looking forward to being out there with the guys. I'm just going to play my hardest and hopefully it will work out in the end. Hopefully I'll be a full-season player, that's my mindset heading into it and you kinda have to be that way."

Other 10-day contract players expected to begin the season with the Rogues are catcher Steven Kha (Corban University); infielders Nick Hall (Pacific Lutheran) and Corey Wynant (Lane JC); outfielders Vince Ampi (Western Oregon), Ryan Degner (Mt. Hood JC), Danny McNabb (Western Oregon), Spencer Smith (Lane JC) and Matt Taylor (Lane JC); and pitchers Connor Harris (George Fox), Jake Lessel (Lane JC), Keynan Middleton (Lane JC) and Christian Morrison (Linn-Benton JC).

Hall and Morrison are also from Ashland, and Wynant is from Central Point.

Of that group, Hansen likely will be making the biggest adjustment since he spent this past baseball season as a redshirt at Regis after playing for the men's basketball team during the winter as a freshman.

"I haven't played in a game since the state championship for the (American Legion Medford) Mustangs so I'm pretty excited to get back on the field and play in a full game," said Hansen, who was able to practice with Regis but little more.

"I didn't get any live at-bats, which makes it kinda hard," he added, "but I don't think anybody forgets how to hit."

If anybody can relate to the 10-day players, it's the Rogues' manager. Hogan was an all-state shortstop at Churchill High whose final prep game was at Harry & David Field, where South Medford earned a 5-1 win in the 2006 state playoffs. He played for the Eugene Challengers and later returned to the Medford area as part of the WCL's Corvallis Knights in 2007.

"I was actually in the same situation after my freshman year, being a 10-day guy from Mt. Hood for the Knights," said Hogan. "I honestly didn't expect to make the team. I was just happy with my 10-day contract and I was going to go out there and just play how I knew how to play. It ended up working out. I got first-team all-league and we had a great team and it was a great experience."

As for advice, Hogan said 10-day and full-contract players just need to be themselves.

"It really is just baseball and you can't put extra pressure on yourself because you're playing at a higher level," he said. "You just have to do you. I like the Chip Kelly quote of, 'Pressure is what you feel when you don't know what you're doing.' I don't feel pressure because I know what I'm doing, and no matter what the stage is. If you know what you're doing you don't need to try harder, your preparation is what put you in that spot."

That said, steady and confident play may not even be enough to complete the summer with the Rogues.

WCL team's are allowed to dress 25 players per game but often carry about 32 on the roster — switching out pitchers not expected to compete that night to provide more options.

Entering tonight's game against the Klamath Falls Gems at 6:35, the Rogues have 47 players tied to the roster among the 10-day and full-contract commitments.

"It's really tough because you can only keep so many players," said Hogan. "I've told a few of the 10-day contract guys that it's going to be really tough for them to actually make the team no matter how good they play or how hard they play just because of the prior commitments I have to other players and how many people we have in certain positions. You haven't promised playing time but a full contract's a little bit more of a commitment."

A good showing, however, could lead to more of a commitment next summer for those eligible to play again for the Rogues, and potentially a roster spot somewhere else this summer on another team.

"If there's a good 10-day guy," added Hogan, "we're going to try to get him somewhere else in the league if he's good enough to play, which a lot of our 10-day guys are. I've promised a lot of them that I'll do everything I can for that to happen because I don't see them making our team, not because they're not good enough but because we have too many numbers."

The five-game preseason schedule includes a road date with the Gems on Saturday, a return to H&D on Sunday for a game against the Alameda Seals and a Monday date with Alameda at Reinhart All-Sports Park in Grants Pass. The Rogues close the preseason with a home game against the Medford Mustangs on Tuesday.

Wednesday's regular-season opener against Bellingham begins a three-game series at Harry & David Field before the Rogues face their first true road trip.

For more information on the Rogues, including a full game schedule and ticket/merchandise information, go to the team's website at

Reach reporter Kris Henry at 541-776-4488,, or

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