Ex-Coug Prince on Indians roster

Outfielder helped WSU finish second in Pac-10 play

Former Washington State standout Jared Prince and two other players with ties to junior colleges in the state are among the players the Texas Rangers have assigned to the roster of the Spokane Indians to start the 2009 Northwest League baseball season.

Prince, an outfielder from Poulsbo, Wash., batted .343 and drove in 38 runs as a senior at WSU this spring in helping the Cougars to a 32-25 overall record, a second-place finish in the Pacific-10 Conference and an at-large berth in the NCAA Division I Championship. He tied for the team lead with 21 extra-base hits that included seven home runs.

Prince was selected by the Rangers in the 34th round of the 2009 Major League Baseball draft that concluded last week, and couldn’t be happier about his first professional assignment.

“It was really exciting for me when I was drafted by Texas, because I knew I would be coming here to Spokane, where a bunch of my friends and family could watch me play,” Prince said Tuesday afternoon after making the long drive from the west side of the state. “I’ve always heard about how the city of Spokane is with this team and how the people rally around the Indians, so I’m very, very happy to be where I am.”

Prince doesn’t mind making his professional debut at Avista Stadium, where the Indians will open their season at 6:30 p.m. Saturday against the Yakima Bears.

“We used to play Gonzaga there all the time before they moved into their new field, so I’m very familiar with it,” he said, adding he plans to embrace the vast outfield expanses of Avista both at the plate and in the field.

“I like to spray the ball, so that extra room out there plays to my advantage,” Prince said. “And, defensively, I like to runs balls down and make plays, so it absolutely fits my game.”

Prince said his former college coach Donnie Marbut has told him he plans to be in attendance at Saturday’s opener, which will feature a postgame fireworks display.

“And I’ve got a lot more members of my Cougar family around here, too,” he said. “I’ve got friends in Pullman and some family in Wenatchee – as well as all my family on the west side – so I feel very fortunate to be playing here in a spot where they can come and watch me play.”

Prince will be joined on the Indians short-season Class A roster by first-year right-hander Braden Tullis, who finished 9-2 with a 1.56 earned-run average as a freshman at Skagit Valley College in Mount Vernon, Wash., this spring, and Keith Campbell, from Everett Community College.

Among the other new players assigned to the defending NWL-champion Indians is highly touted left-handed pitcher Robbie Ross, who was a second-round pick of the Rangers last summer. Ross, who reportedly agreed to a $1,575,000 signing bonus in late August after going 5-2 and posting a 1.51 ERA with 75 strikeouts and only six walks in 51 innings as a senior at Lexington (Ken.) Christian Academy in 2008, spent the winter in the Rangers’ instructional league and will make his minor league debut with the Indians.

Players returning from last year’s championship team include catcher Zack Zaneski, who played in 30 games and batted .252 last summer, and infielder Edward Martinez, who joined Spokane in late August and played in only five games.

The Indians, with Tim Hulett Sr. returning for his third season as manager, will practice for the first time tonight. Additional players are expected to be assigned to the roster in the next few days as they sign professional contracts.

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