DRAFT — Season two for the Stuarts Draft Diamondbacks in
the Rockingham County Baseball League is two days away.The
Diamondbacks open the 2006 season 7 p.m. Tuesday against
Montezuma at The Diamond Club.
Stuarts Draft was supposed
to begin the season Saturday against the Bridgewater Reds, but
that game was postponed because the Reds lack enough players. The
game has been rescheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday, meaning the
Diamondbacks have three straight home games to open the new year.
They also host Elkton at 7 p.m. Saturday.
In their inaugural
RCBL season, the Diamondbacks finished fifth with a 13-15
“We had a successful first year,”
Stuarts Draft owner-manager Orvin Kiser said. “I had people
tell me we wouldn’t win but three or four games. I was very
pleased with the way the year turned out.”
thinks the Diamondbacks can contend for the RCBL
“Last year was a learning experience
for everyone,” he said. “I think a lot of players
were a little tentative and intimidated using the wooden bats,
but they got better as the season went on. With that year’s
experience under their belts, I’m pretty excited about this
The Diamondbacks’ biggest
signing during the offseason was former Waynesboro High School
and Bridgewater College slugger J.R. Estes.
a man-child,” Kiser said. “I’m not sure I can
afford to have him on the team the way he was hitting balls out
of the park during practice last week. His bat in the middle of
the lineup is going to be huge for us.”
Two of the
outfielders — Wilson grad Mark Balderson and former
Rockbridge County standout Brian Sandridge, who redshirted as a
freshman this season at Virginia Military Institute — are
also familiar names.
Buck Birkhead, who is the reigning
RCBL rookie of the year, will man right field.
outfielders include Barney Quick, another Waynesboro and
Bridgewater grad, and Derek Milecki. Kiser indicated that
Milecki, who graduated from Albemarle and is playing his college
ball in Indiana, could go in the baseball draft.
infield looks like a Stuarts Draft High School reunion with
Shelton Stevens, who is currently still in the postseason
playoffs at Palm Beach Atlantic University, expected to work at
short. Robbie Cook will also see time at short, while Kent
Burford is the second baseman.
Seth Berry, a former Wilson
standout, at third breaks up Draft’s infield monopoly,
while Estes works over at first.
Kiser thinks his pitching
ace will be Drew Dobbins. Dobbins, who played at Waynesboro, is
playing his college ball at Shenandoah University. When he’s
not pitching, Dobbins can also fill in at first.
Diamondbacks also are counting on returning veterans Dave
Waksmunski, Chris Henderson, Tyler Napier and Bubba Pulley to
give them innings.
Trip Kiser, who played last season, and
Jacob Leonard, a Riverheads grad, are expected to share the
Kiser, who will be assisted by Jeff
Templeton, said he has more players that are expected to sign
contracts, but can’t discuss them until the paperwork is
“This is a very talented league,”
Kiser said. “But there are a lot of different interests for
the players. A lot of them have jobs. In this league, you can’t
fill out a lineup card until five minutes before game time after
you check the parking lot to see who’s showing up to play
That uncertainty led Kiser, at age 51,
to become a player-manager late last season.
fun being out there pitching for a save,” Kiser said. “But
I don’t want to do that every day. Hopefully, I won’t
have to be on the field at all this season.”
also said Diamondback fans should enjoy the face-lift The Diamond
Club is undergoing with a new concession stand, restrooms and
press box. Construction is expected to be completed in early
“The ballpark is going to be great for fans
when everything is finished,” Kiser said.