There will be plenty of new faces when the Garden City Wind open their third season in the Pecos League at 7 p.m. Thursday at Clint Lightner Stadium.

The most obvious new face is also a youthful face, that of first-year manager David Peterson, who graduated high school in 2009, played for the Wind in 2015 and offers a striking contrast to the Wind’s 2016 manager and long-time baseball coach Bill Moore, who is now the manager of the Pecos League’s Bakersfield Train Robbers.

Still, Peterson understands the progress the Wind made in 2016, winning the league’s North Division a year after finishing last with just 21 wins in the inaugural 2015 campaign.

Now, it’s trying to advance past the first round of the postseason, in which the Wind lost in three games in the 2016 postseason to Trinidad, which opens its season at Garden City Thursday.

“The goal is to win a championship,” Peterson said. “That’s it. If we don’t win a championship, we don’t see the season as a success.”

That lofty goal was one of the reasons Wind general manager Marcus Sabata settled on Peterson to replace Moore.

“David’s been here before, which is one of the big cards in bringing him back. He understands we’re trying to build a tradition here, that going backwards isn’t going to be acceptable,” Sabata said. “He’s going to make his mistakes — he’s young — but I think he’s going ot be really good for Garden City.”

Peterson will be joined by a couple of familiar faces, however, in shortstop Joey Cecere and outfielder Eli Roundtree, the only returners from the 2016 Wind.

In 2016, Cecere hit .348 with 16 doubles and stole 20 bases in 51 games. He was the starter for the North Division in the 2016 All-Star Game, as well, and was picked up by a Frontier League — a more prestigious independent league across the midwest — in the offseason. He eventually was released, however, and Cecere said he wanted to return to Garden City.

Now, he’ll be one of the leaders as the Wind attempt to defend their division crown.

“We finished pretty good (in 2016), won the division. We obviously didn’t win everything we wanted to, but I thought we played pretty well and put ourselves in a spot to go to that last series, which is all you can do,” Cecere said. “We’ll just build off that.”

Cecere is likely to start for the Wind in 2017, though Peterson said he was not quite finished with the starting lineup.

Roundtree is another likely starter, after hitting 12 home runs and driving in 43 RBIs in 56 games in 2016. He hit .287, had a .410 on-base percentage and a .537 slugging (total bases per at bat).

Peterson also brought over players who he coached as an assistant at Salina last season, including outfielder Taylor Zuetenhorst, second baseman and outfielder Morgan Blatnik and catcher Nick Wagner.

Zuetenhorst hit .373 with four home runs and four doubles in 71 plate appearances for the Stockade, while Blatnik hit .289 with a .392 on-base percentage. Wagner was a rookie in 2016, but hit .264 with a .369 OBP in 277 plate appearances.

Other former Stockade players were third baseman Ray Hernandez, first baseman Mike Rachun, shortstop Jean Carlos Peralta, left-handed pitcher Troy Mannebach and right-hander Dalton Bernardi.

The rest of the lineup is comprised of seven rookies, and a couple of Pecos League veterans from other teams.

On the mound for the Wind in their season opener against Trinidad will be Trent Carrier, who was recently released from the Mexican League’s Rojos de Caborca. Carrier did not allow a run in any of his four innings of spring ball with the Wind.

“David did a great job of putting this thing together,” Sabata said. “I’m really, really pleased with the quality of guys that he got into camp. It was a tough camp. We had 30 guys and quite frankly all of them could have made this team, which is something that is nice from years past. We had to let some really good ball players go.”

Notes: The Pecos League re-shuffled the divisions this season, moving from two, five-team North and South divisions in 2016, to two, six-team Mountain and Pacific Divisions this season. The Wind are in the Mountain Division, alongside Trinidad, Colo.; White Sands, N.M.; Roswell, N.M.; Santa Fe, N.M.; and Alpine, Texas. In the Pacific Division are Tucson, Ariz.; California City; Hollywood, Calif.; Bakersfield, Calif.; Monterey, Calif.; and High Desert, Calif.

All five of the California teams are first-year franchises in the Pecos League, while Tucson is a holdover. Gone from the league are Great Bend, Topeka and Salina.

Contact J. Levi Burnfin at

Contact J. Levi Burnfin at