June 16, 2009 - New York-Penn League (NYPL) - Vermont Lake Monsters
BURLINGTON, VT --- The 2009 Vermont Lake Monsters opened mini-camp with 31 players in uniform, including nine players who spent time with the Lake Monsters in 2008, two players with New York-Penn League experience last season with Vermont opponents and 10 players taken in the 2009 Draft by the Washington Nationals.
Returning to Vermont for their second season are pitchers Johan Figuereo, Graham Hicks, Jose Pinales and Steven Stewart, catcher Ricky Nolan, infielders Dani Arias and Yeurys Tejeda, along with outfielders Yhonson Lopez and Brian Pruitt.
Hicks, the Nationals fourth-round pick in the 2008 draft, pitched in just one game for the Lake Monsters last season. The 19-year-old started the next-to-last game of the season on September 5th, allowing three runs (one earned) on three hits over three innings in a loss to Oneonta. He has been in extended spring training except for a spot start for Single-A Hagerstown on June 13th, allowing three runs over five innings with six strikeouts.
Pitcher Gary Amato appeared in 12 games for the State College Spikes in 2008, the New York-Penn League affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Amato\'s only win for the Spikes came against the Lake Monsters on July 4th as he tossed 4 1/3 innings of shutout relief.
Infielder Adam Amar hit .302 with 30 runs, 17 doubles, nine homers and 42 RBI in 67 games during the 2008 season with the Auburn Doubledays, the NY-Penn League affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays.
The highest of the 10 players from the 2009 draft is third-round pick Trevor Holder from the University of Georgia, where he was 7-5 with a 4.48 ERA in 15 games started this season. Other 2009 draftees include outfielder Justin Bloxom from Kansas State (11th round), pitcher Pat Lehman from George Washington (13th), infielder Sean Nicol from San Diego (16th) and pitcher Mitchell Clegg from UMass (21st).
Two other high draft picks from the 2008 draft in Vermont are outfielders J.R. Higley (9th round) and J.P. Ramirez (16th round). Higley hit .346 with 17 runs, 12 doubles and 16 RBI in 35 games for the Gulf Coast League Nationals in 2008 after hitting .303 with 60 runs, 14 doubles, nine homers and 43 RBI in 48 games at Sacramento CC.
Ramirez, ranked the 9th-best prospect in the Nationals organization by Baseball America, signed in mid-August last year before going 4-for-11 with eight RBI in just five games with the GCL Nationals. As a senior at New BraunfelsHigh School in 2008, the 19-year-old hit .521 (49-for-94) with 22 doubles, eight triples, eight homers and 48 RBI.
The Lake Monsters will practice at historic Centennial Field before beginning the 2009 season at Lowell on Friday, June 19th at 7:05 pm. After three games in Lowell, Vermont opens a six-game homestand on Monday, June 22th at 7:05 pm against Tri-City.