Raptors' Ethier hopes to live up to big brother's name

Jun 17 2012 - 12:06am

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(NICHOLAS DRANEY/Standard-Examiner)
Ogden Raptors players practice at Lindquist Field in Ogden on Friday. The Raptors open their Pioneer-League season on Monday.
(NICHOLAS DRANEY/Standard-Examiner)
Ogden Raptors players practice at Lindquist Field in Ogden on Friday. The Raptors open their Pioneer-League season on Monday.

OGDEN -- If Devon Ethier makes it to the major leagues, it won't be because of his brother's talent.

Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Andre Ethier's five-year, $85 million extension with the Ogden Raptors' parent club, signed Tuesday, gives Devon all the motivation he needs to move up from the rookie league.

Born eight years apart, Andre and Devon Ethier have never played together on a competitive team, but it's 22-year-old Devon's dream now to wear Dodger blue in the same outfield as his brother.

"I've seen my brother every step of the way until now," Devon said. "He's still playing in the league and I'm trying to get there.

"(Andre's) deal is that much more of a drive for me to get up there and basically, do what he's doing. That's kind of been the thing, to make it where he's been, to compete with him and play with him, that's kind of the dream."

Devon Ethier, a 32nd-round draft pick by the Dodgers in 2010, arrived Thursday with his teammates to prepare for the Pioneer League season. The Raptors' home opener is Monday at 7 p.m. at Lindquist Field against the Grand Junction Rockies (formerly the Casper Ghosts).

Logan White, the Dodgers assistant general manager over scouting, has put a lot of stock in drafting baseball bloodlines -- several current and former Raptors have fathers who played in the major leagues.

For the Ethier brothers, their grandfather and great-grandfather on their father's side each reached Triple-A, Devon said.

"We have a pretty strong baseball bloodline, but (Andre) is the first to really make it up there and make a huge name for us.

"With the players whose dads had played in the league before, I think it's a little bit different, a little bit more pressure in a way; their dads played in the past, some people might not remember them, but my brother is playing right now. Everybody that plays knows who he is. There's definitely a little more pressure -- 'Hey, are you going to be as good as your brother?'

"There's a little bit of pressure out there, but I've just got to be myself and do what I can, do the things that I do best."

There are differences in their games, Devon says, starting with Andre's height and strength.

"He's a big left-handed power guy, he throws left-handed as well," Devon said. "I'm opposite, I hit right-handed and throw right-handed. We're both outfielders. I've always been more of a guy that's been able to bunt, just find my way on base; that way I can steal, unlike him, he's been a guy that can drive guys in. That's one of the big differences you can tell between me and him."

In 2009, Andre Ethier had six walk-off hits for the Dodgers, the most by an MLB player since at least 1974. He was originally signed by the Oakland Athletics in 2003 out of Arizona State and came to the Dodgers in a trade in 2005.

As a late signee out of GateWay Community College, Devon managed just five at-bats in two games in the Arizona League in 2010, but played 28 games there in 2011, playing for the AZL Dodgers in his hometown of Glendale, Ariz.

Despite living just across Utah's southern border, Devon Ethier says he'd never been to Utah before being assigned to Ogden.

He does have one distant connection to the state, again, through his brother: Andre married the niece of former Utah Blaze quarterback Joe Germaine.

With the Raptors and on the way up through Los Angeles' farm system, Devon Ethier has to stand on his own merits.

"I've got to prove myself, basically."

* RAPTORS NOTE: Ogden Raptors games will be broadcast this season on KZNS-AM 1280 and KZNS-FM 97.5 with play-by-play voice Brandon Hart back at the mic.

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