April 5, 2010 - Midwest League (MWL) - Clinton LumberKings
Clinton, IA - The Clinton LumberKings, in conjunction with the Seattle Mariners, have announced the 2010 Opening Night roster. Six of the top prospects in the Seattle Mariners system, including 2009 first-round picks Nick Franklin and Steve Baron are slated to be amongst 10 players on the roster that have been drafted in the 10th round or earlier.
The 19-year-old Franklin hit .333 with a home run and 6 RBI between Peoria (AZ) and High Desert following his 27th-overall selection out of Lake Brantley High School last year. Baron, a 19-year-old backstop, hit .179 with 2 home runs and 13 RBI at Pulaski in his first action last year. He was Seattle's supplemental first-round pick (33rd overall) in '09 and was a non-roster invitee to Major League Spring Training.
Other high-rounders in manager John Tamargo's group include first-baseman Dennis Raben (2nd round in '08), outfielder Daniel Carroll (3rd round in '07), outfielder James Jones (4th round in '09), right-hander Tyler Blandford (6th round in '09) and infielder Shaver Hansen (6th round in '09).
Raben returns to action after missing all of last year following knee surgery. Ranked the 21st-best prospect in the Mariners' system by Baseball America, Raben hit .275 with 5 HR and 14 RBI with Everett in 2008. Carroll returns to Clinton after hitting .220 with 2 HR, 37 runs scored and 22 steals with the LumberKings in 2009. Jones, the 20th-ranked Mariners prospect by BA hit .311 with 3 HR and 24 RBI in his first pro campaign with Everett.
In addition to Carroll and Hansen, the LumberKings also welcome 10 additional returnees. Right-handers Daniel Cooper, Brandon Josselyn and Chris Kirkland, left-handers Jon Hesketh, Jose Jimenez, Brian Moran and Anthony Vasquez, infielder Mario Martinez, outfielder Kalian Sams and catcher Henry Contreras all spent parts of last season in LumberKings uniforms.
Martinez heads up a strong group of international players. The 20-year-old corner infielder hit .214 with 2 HR and 24 RBI in 61 games with Clinton, then settled in with Everett to the tune of a .308 average, 20 doubles, 3 HR and 33 RBI. Martinez is Clinton's second-highest ranked prospect at #12, following Franklin at #9. Talented shortstop Gabriel Noriega is another big name to watch. The 24th-ranked prospect in the Seattle system, Noriega hit .311 with 14 doubles, 4 HR and 26 RBI with Pulaski in 2009.
Infielder Vince Catricala (10th round in '09), outfielder Matt Cerione (13th round in '09) and catcher Brandon Bantz (30th round in '09) will be expected to provide additional power to the lineup. Catricala slugged 8 HR and drove in 40 RBI while batting a solid .301 with Pulaski, while Cerione cleared the fence with 7 HR while hitting .266 with Everett. Bantz logged 3 HR and 16 RBI while hitting .273 between Pulaski and Everett.
The starting rotation could include three returning Kings. Vasquez showed flashes of brilliance in seven starts with Clinton last year, going 3-3 with a 5.66 ERA and 24 strikeouts compared to just eight walks. The right-handed Kirkland went 4-5 with a 4.83 ERA and struck out 85 with Everett, following a four-game relief stint with Clinton. Hesketh was 1-1 with a 12.60 ERA as a LumberKing, but looked strong with Everett, going 1-0, 1.67 in the Northwest League.
Newcomers to the rotation could include Blandford, right-handers John Housey (3-2, 2.62 in 8 starts with Pulaski) and Taylor Stanton (5-3, 3.50 in 15 starts with Everett) and lefties Nick Czyz (2-2, 3.34 in 5 starts with Everett) and James Gillheeney (0-3, 4.84 in 6 games, 4 starts with Pulaski).
Right-handers Cooper (0-1, 9.28) and Josselyn (0-1, 0.75, 3 saves) and left-handers Jimenez (4-2, 3.38) and Moran (0-3, 2.89) are expected to anchor the bullpen.
A breakdown of the 2010 Opening Day Roster:
RH Pitchers (6)
LH Pitchers (6)
The LumberKings open the 2010 season on Thursday, April 8 at Alliant Energy Field against the Peoria Chiefs. The game begins at 6:30 PM. Listen to the action on AM 1390 KCLN in Clinton or live on the web at www.lumberkings.com.