NFL, MLB, CFL stats



 International League

2011 International League Official Preview

April 1, 2011 - International League (IL) News Release


BUFFALO BISONS

www.Bisons.comAffiliate: New York Mets

Year in IL (Buffalo, NY): 97th Record: 7,132-6,721

Governors' Cups: 6Last Cup: 2004

2010 Finish: 76-68, 3rd in North (-11.5)

Manager: Tim Teufel (1st year in Buffalo)

Coaches: Ricky Bones (3rd year), Mike Easler (1st year)

Ballpark: Coca-Cola Field (18,025)

Probable Starters: 1B - Val Pascucci/Chris Shelton; 2B - Justin Turner/Russ Adams;

SS - Ruben Tejada; 3B - Zach Lutz; C - Mike Nickeas/Raul Chavez;

LF - Fernando Martinez; CF - Jason Pridie/Kirk Nieuwenhuis; RF - Jesus Feliciano;

DH - Val Pascucci/ Russ Adams.

Key Pitchers: Starters - RH Dillon Gee, RH Jenrry Mejia, RH Josh Stinson, RH Boof Bonser, RH Tobi Stoner/LH Pat Misch. Relievers - RH Ryota Igarashi, RH John Lujan,

RH Manny Acosta, LH Mike O'Connor, LH Taylor Tankersley, RH Jose De La Torre.

Strengths of the Club: The Bisons will feature a solid lineup of Triple-A hitters who have the ability to hit for both power and average...... The Bisons appear to have a deep pool of talent in the starting rotation.

Weaknesses of the Club: While most of the offense is solid, don't expect much coming out of the catching slot in the order...... The bullpen is deep but there is no true closer among the Bisons relievers.

Top Prospects: Dillon Gee set a Buffalo franchise record with 165 SO last season and went

13-8. He would be the first called to New York...... 21-year-old Jenrry Mejia spent much of 2010 in New York as a reliever (0-4, 4.62 in 33 GP) before returning to the minors and will now work as a starter. In one Triple-A start he allowed one run in 8.0 IP...... 21-year-old Ruben Tejada is being groomed as Jose Reyes' potential replacement in New York. He hit .280 in Buffalo last season.

Other Organizational Prospects: OF/1B Lucas Duda will actually open the season in New York in the wake of Jason Bay's injury, but he will likely be returning to Buffalo. He hit .314 with 17 homers and 53 RBI in 70 games for the Herd last season before going to the big leagues.

Veterans to Watch: In 2009 Jesus Feliciano was the IL hits leader and Buffalo Bisons MVP. He batted .339 last year and has a .323 overall average in two years, second in franchise annals......

Longtime Triple-A slugger Valentino Pascucci became just the third Bison with a three-homer game in Buffalo last season (joining Jeff Manto and Dusty Wathan)...... Justin Turner had a 6-for-6 game in the regular season finale at Rochester, a first for a Bison since 1936...... Boof Bonser was a key free agent signee for a rotation that has solid IL experience. He had 11 wins in 2005 at Rochester and has pitched in 111 big league games for three teams...... Mike O'Connor will serve as a lefty specialist out of the bullpen.

Items of Interest: Tim Teufel takes over as manager for Ken Oberkfell (promoted to New York as bench coach). Teufel was a platoon second baseman on the Mets' 1986 World Series championship team and spent last year managing at Double-A Binghamton...... This will be the third year of the New York Mets affiliation with the Bisons. Buffalo has not made the playoffs since 2005 when the team was affiliated with Cleveland...... The team has made more than

$4 million in improvements to Coca-Cola Field in advance of hosting the 2012 Triple-A All-Star Game. Changes include a new field and drainage system, new lights and a new HD scoreboard billed as the largest in the minor leagues (80 feet by 33 feet, more than three times the size of the board that has been in place since 1999).

LEHIGH VALLEY IRONPIGS

www.IronPigsBaseball.comAffiliate: Philadelphia PhilliesYear in IL (Allentown, PA): 6th Record: 241-370

Governors' Cups: 0

2010 Finish: 58-86, 5th in North (-29.5)

Manager: Ryne Sandberg (1st year in Lehigh Valley)

Coaches: Rod Nichols (4th year), Sal Rende (1st year)

Ballpark: Coca-Cola Park (10,000)

Probable Starters: 1B - Jeff Larish; 2B - Josh Barfield; SS - Brian Bocock;

3B - Kevin Frandsen; C - Erik Kratz; LF - Brandon Moss; CF - Matt Miller;

RF - Cory Sullivan; DH - Tagg Bozied.

Key Pitchers: Starters - RH Vance Worley, RH Drew Naylor, RH Nate Bump,

RH Eddie Bonine, RH Brian Bass/LH Dan Meyer. Relievers - RH Scott Mathieson,

RH Michael Stutes, RH Michael Schwimer, LH Juan Perez, LH Mike Zagurski.

Strengths of the Club: Pitching should be strong, led by a deep bullpen...... The outfield looks solid with a set of newcomers plus Thompson...... Bozied, Miller, and Moss should provide punch in the middle of the order for a team that finished near the bottom in most offensive categories last year.

Weaknesses of the Club: The infield is unsettled with an injury to Bocock (expected to be back in two to three weeks) and uncertainty over the Chase Utley injury situation in Philadelphia...... There is a lack of young prospects.

Top Prospects: Reliever Scott Mathieson had 26 saves last year, 2nd in the IL. He has been working on adding a splitter to his fastball which is rated best in the organization...... Michael Stutes made the successful conversion to the bullpen last year...... Vance Worley, a former 3rd-round pick, is the most major league-ready starter in the organization. Worley made huge strides last year after losing some weight and developing the ability to pitch later into games. He appeared in eight games with the IronPigs, going 1-3 with a 3.77 ERA and 36 strikeouts in 45 innings.

Other Organizational Prospects: OF Domonic Brown, one of baseball's top prospects, is currently on the Major League DL and will come to the IronPigs for at-bats on rehab before joining the Phillies...... 1B Matt Rizzotti hit .343-17-76 at Clearwater-Reading-Lehigh Valley combined last year. He will likely begin this season at Reading.

Veterans to Watch: OF Brandon Moss led the International League in RBI for Indianapolis last year...... OF Matt Miller was a Pacific Coast League All-Star last year at Colorado Springs with the Rockies organization...... 1B/DH Tagg Bozied led the Double-A Eastern League in hitting (.315) and added 27 HR and 92 RBI in his first season in the organization. He re-signed in the winter...... RHP Nate Bump was an IL All-Star with the IronPigs last year (8-4, 3.35). He also re-signed with the organization...... C Erik Kratz is a two-time IL All-Star at Indianapolis......

OF Rich Thompson, back for a fourth year, has 387 career steals including 77 (in 87 attempts) over the last three years.

Items of Interest: New manager Ryne Sandberg will obviously generate some attention. He is a member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame...... The IronPigs led all of Minor League Baseball in attendance last year but will be challenged by a front-loaded schedule that features 50 home games by July 4.

2011 International League Preview - North Division

PAWTUCKET RED SOX

www.PawSox.comAffiliate: Boston Red Sox

Year in IL (Pawtucket, RI): 39th Record: 2,643-2,749

Governors' Cups: 2Last Cup: 1984

2010 Finish: 66-78, 4th in North (-21.5)

Manager: Arnie Beyeler (1st year in Pawtucket)

Coaches: Chili Davis (1st year), Rich Sauveur (4th year)

Ballpark: McCoy Stadium (10,031)

Probable Starters: 1B - Lars Anderson; 2B - Nate Spears; SS - Jose Iglesias;

3B - Yamaico Navarro; C - Mike McKenry; LF Daniel Nava; CF - Ryan Kalish;

RF - Josh Reddick; DH - Aaron Bates.

Key Pitchers: Starters - RH Brandon Duckworth, LH Andrew Miller, RH Alfredo Aceves,

LH Kris Johnson, RH Adam Mills. Relievers - LH Hideki Okajima, RH Scott Atchison,

RH Michael Bowden, LH Rich Hill, LH Randy Williams, RH Jason Rice.

Strengths of the Club: The PawSox biggest strengths heading into the 2010 season appear to be the outfield and the bullpen.

Weaknesses of the Club: The PawSox biggest weakness heading into the 2010 season appears to be a starting rotation that is unproven in spots.

Top Prospects: Shortstop Jose Iglesias is in only his second year of pro ball and is rated as Boston's No. 1 prospect by Baseball America. He's already considered to be Boston's shortstop of the not-too-distant future...... Catcher Luis Exposito rates high in all defensive categories...... Versatile infielder Yamaico Navarro appeared at three levels last season, in Portland, Pawtucket, and Boston. In 16 games with Pawtucket, he hit .283 with three home runs...... Ryan Kalish is capable of playing all three outfield spots and also jumped from Portland to Pawtucket to Boston. He hit .294 with five homers and 18 RBI in 37 games with Pawtucket.

Other Organizational Prospects: Che-Husan Lin is rated as having the best arm of any outfielder in Boston's farm system and also is rated as a plus-defender...... Catcher Ryan Lavarnway is rated Boston's No. 16 prospect by Baseball America. Heading into this season, his offense is considered to be ahead of his defense...... Alex Wilson consistently reached 93 MPH last season at Portland and displayed a plus-slider.

Veterans to Watch: If Alfredo Aceves remains healthy and even comes close to approximating his performance with the Yankees in 2009, he could prove to be a "steal" for Boston. He's capable of starting and pitching in long relief...... On Tuesday Boston acquired catcher Mike McKenry from the Rockies and in the process designated Mark Wagner for assignment. McKenry will likely do a fair share of the catching for Pawtucket. 26-year-old McKenry hit .265 for Colorado Springs in the Triple-A Pacific Coast League last season...... Andrew Miller, a lefty who's pitched for Detroit and Florida, tops out in the mid-90s and is a side-armer who could be tough on left-handed batters...... Josh Reddick has shown all the tools in the minors. This may be the year he has to convince Boston he's major league ready.

Items of Interest: Former Pawtucket third baseman Wade Boggs has been elected to the International League Hall of Fame Class of 2011. He'll be honored in a ceremony at McCoy Stadium later this year...... 2011 marks thirty years since The Longest Game between Pawtucket and Rochester in 1981...... The PawSox have announced that every player will wear a patch with the name "BEN" on their right uniform sleeve this season in honor of late PawSox owner Ben Mondor who passed away October 3. The patch will be worn on each home uniform and will measure 5.5" long by 3.25" high. "Ben always wore his love of the PawSox on his sleeve so it's only fitting that we carry BEN on our sleeve for the 2011 season," said team president Mike Tamburro.

ROCHESTER RED WINGS

www.RedWingsBaseball.comAffiliate: Minnesota Twins

Year in IL (Rochester, NY): 124th Record: 9,071-8,679

Governors' Cups: 10Last Cup: 1997

2010 Finish: 49-95, 6th in North (-38.5)

Manager: Tom Nieto (2nd year in Rochester)

Coaches: Bobby Cuellar (3rd year), Floyd Rayford (2nd year)

Ballpark: Frontier Field (10,840)

Probable Starters: 1B - Jeff Bailey; 2B - Luke Hughes; SS - Trevor Plouffe;

3B - Chase Lambin; C - Steve Holm/Rene Rivera; LF - Brian Dinkelman;

CF - Bandon Roberts/Ben Revere; RF - Dustin Martin; DH - Matt Brown.

Key Pitchers: Starters - RH Kyle Gibson, RH Anthony Swarzak, RH Eric Hacker,

LH Scott Diamond, RH Yorman Bazardo. Relievers - RH Kyle Waldrop, RH Anthony Slama, RH Alex Burnett, LH Chuck James, RH Carlos Gutierrez, RH Andy Baldwin,

LH Phil Dumatrait,, RH Jim Hoey.

Strengths of the Club: Positives include the team's veteran leadership, power, a strong rotation and a strong back end of the bullpen with Waldrop and Slama.

Weaknesses of the Club: There is not much speed...... There are plenty of questions about whether team chemistry will be there with so many free agent signees.

Top Prospects: There's a decent chance Ben Revere will make the club. He is a rising star with the Twins who jumped from Double-A New Britain to Minnesota last September. He has a .328 career average in four minor league seasons, with 146 stolen bases. The speedy center fielder doesn't turn 23 until May 3...... Kyle Gibson is the top pitcher in the farm system. He was named the Twins Minor League Pitcher of the Year for 2010, his rookie year in baseball. He went a combined 11-6 with a 2.96 ERA in stops at Single-A Fort Myers, Double-A New Britain and Triple-A Rochester...... Anthony Slama was an IL All-Star last year, posting a 2.20 ERA with

17 saves for the Red Wings. He has a career 1.95 ERA in the minors and will be the closer again...... Setup man Kyle Waldrop returns. He was 5-3 with a 2.57 ERA in 59 appearances for Rochester...... The Twins signed a dozen free agents to bolster the Red Wings, so there aren't many true "prospects" in the lineup.

Other Organizational Prospects: David Bromberg is a 6-foot-5, 247-pound right-hander who pitched in nine games for the Wings last year (1-4, 3.98). He's 40-26, 3.45 for his five-year career...... RHP reliever Deolis Guerra also saw time with Rochester last year. He's the last player leftover from the four-player deal to the Mets for Johan Santana in 2008. He owns a 4.85 ERA in five seasons.

Veterans to Watch: Jeff Bailey was the 2008 IL MVP with Pawtucket. He's a solid hitter with home run power...... Chase Lambin's 136 games with Syracuse last year were the fourth-most in the IL. He led the Chiefs in home runs (15) and RBI (58)...... Holm and Rivera are both defensive-minded catchers who will share time behind the plate...... Luke Hughes led the Twins with six home runs this spring. Injuries have hindered him the past three seasons.

Items of Interest: The Wings finished 49-95 last year, the franchise's worst mark since 1920. The team owns a record 10 Governors' Cups but has none since 1997...... Rochester will be celebrating the 15th season at Frontier Field this year. Marv Foley, the manager of the 1997 championship club, will be inducted into the Red Wings' Hall of Fame on July 8 along with late catcher/outfielder Gene Green.

2011 International League Preview - North Division

SCRANTON/WILKES-BARRE YANKEES

www.SWBYankees.comAffiliate: New York Yankees

Year in IL (Scranton/WB, PA): 23rd Record: 1,645-1,499

Governors' Cups: 1Last Cup: 2008

2010 Finish: 87-56, North Champs, lost to COL in first round

Manager: Dave Miley (5th year in Scranton/WB)

Coaches: Scott Aldred (3), Frank Menechino (1), Butch Wynegar (5)

Ballpark: PNC Field (10,310)

Probable Starters: 1B - Jorge Vazquez; 2B - Kevin Russo; SS - Ramiro Pena;

3B - Brandon Laird; C - Jesus Montero; LF - Chris Dickerson; CF - Justin Maxwell;

RF - Greg Golson; DH - Jordan Parraz.

Key Pitchers: Starters - RH David Phelps, RH J.D. Mitchell, RH Hector Noesi,

RH Andrew Brackman, RH Adam Warren. Relievers - RH Luis Ayala, RH George Kontos,

RH Lance Pendleton, LH Jose Ortegano, LH Andy Sisco, RH Eric Wordekemper.

Strengths of the Club: The starting rotation can be dominant if the five starters pitch to their talent level (but not necessarily their experience level)...... The middle of the lineup, with Montero, Vazquez and Maxwell, potentially could be the best in the International League when it comes to run-producing capability...... Outfield defense, with Greg Golson, Chris Dickerson and Justin Maxwell patrolling, should be a strength at cavernous PNC Field.

Weaknesses of the Club: Can the bullpen, which is almost completely rebuilt, be as dominant as it was in 2010' Probably not.

Top Prospects: Jesus Montero, the No. 4 prospect in all of baseball and the game's top catching prospect according to Baseball America, returns for his second Triple-A season. He hit .351 with 14 homers and 38 RBI after the All-Star break, with a 1.040 OPS...... Brandon Laird, the 2010 Eastern League MVP, is now looking to establish himself in Triple-A where he struggled last season (.246 average, 12 RBI in 31 games)...... RHP Andrew Brackman, the 6'11" right-hander, had a breakout season in 2010. The former first-round pick finished with a 3.01 ERA in 15 games at Double-A Trenton, striking out 70 batters in 80 2/3 innings...... RHP Hector Noesi established himself as one of the Yankees' best pitching prospects by working his way through three minor league levels in 2010. He had a 2.72 ERA at Class-A Tampa and followed that by posting a 3.10 ERA at Trenton. He went 1-1 with a 4.82 ERA in three starts for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

Other Organizational Prospects: LHP Manny Banuelos, one of the top pitching prospects in all of baseball, was a star of Yankees training camp this spring. He didn't win a game in 2010, but at just 19 years old he struck out 85 batters in 64 2/3 innings with a 2.51 ERA in 15 starts at Tampa and Trenton. Baseball America rated him the No. 41 prospect in baseball...... RHP Dellin Betances is finally healthy after battling arm injuries. Betances had a breakthrough 2010 season, when at just 22 he was 8-1 with a 2.11 ERA combined at Tampa and Trenton with 108 strikeouts in 85 1/3 innings. Baseball America rated him the No. 43 prospect in baseball.

Veterans to Watch: 29-year-old 1B Jorge Vazquez didn't join the Yankees until June, but he still finished second on the club with 18 homers and 62 RBI in 2010...... Kevin Russo struggled to find his rhythm at the plate in 2010, but he played well defensively at three infield positions and in the outfield. He's hoping to regain the form that helped him to a .397 on-base percentage in 2009...... OF Greg Golson, a solid all-around contributor, quietly had a solid run after the All-Star break for the Yankees in 2010, hitting .302 with six homers and 18 RBI.

Items of Interest: The Yankees have won four straight International League North Division championships, and the franchise has five straight dating back to 2006 and the final season as the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Red Barons...... Manager Dave Miley is 13 wins away from reaching the 1,100-win plateau at the Triple-A level.

SYRACUSE CHIEFS

www.SyracuseChiefs.comAffiliate: Washington Nationals

Year in IL (Syracuse, NY): 97th Record: 6,511-7,038

Governors' Cups: 8Last Cup: 1976

2010 Finish: 76-67, 2nd in North (-11.0)

Manager: Randy Knorr (1st year in Syracuse)

Coaches: Greg Booker (2nd year), Jerry Browne (2nd year)

Ballpark: Alliance Bank Stadium (11,071)

Probable Starters: 1B - Chris Marrero; 2B - Seth Bynum; SS - Brian Bixler;

3B - Michael Aubrey; C - Jesus Flores; LF - Roger Bernadina; CF - Jeff Frazier;

RF - Jonathan Van Every; DH - Buck Coats.

Key Pitchers: Starters - RH Collin Balester, LH Ross Detwiler, RH J.D. Martin,

RH Yunesky Maya, RH Luis Atilano. Relievers - LH Atahualpa Severino, RH Josh Wilkie,

RH Joe Bisenius, RH Tim Wood, RH Adam Carr, RH Cole Kimball, LH Lee Hyde.

Strengths of the Club: The projected roster has improved some say to become even better than last year's 76-67 club, which fought for a playoff berth until the final weekend. As the Washington Nationals continue to make moves to bolster their major league roster, there is a trickledown effect that benefits the Chiefs. "All the competition is only going to make us stronger at the lower levels,'' said Syracuse manager Randy Knorr. "It gives us a chance to get these guys prepared for the big leagues and while they're here and we should have good teams at the minor league levels. We're here to win ball games, too, and learn how to win at the same time.''

Weaknesses of the Club: As Knorr attempts to formulate his roster for the coming season, he still has more questions than answers. Projected starting pitchers Collin Balester, Ross Detwiler and Yunesky Maya all were with the Nationals until late in spring training...... Other players are still in the mix for the Nationals and may or may not end up with the Chiefs. Some of those with question marks include closer Drew Storen, outfielder Roger Bernadina and shortstop Brian Bixler. The Chiefs could have all of them, or none of them. Bernadina, a solid reserve outfielder with Washington last season, looked to be the odd-man out this year after the acquisitions of outfielders Jayson Werth and Rick Ankiel at the major-league level, but a late trade of Nyjer Morgan to Milwaukee may keep Bernadina or Bixler in Washington.

Top Prospects: RHP Cole Kimball projects as a future set-up man for Drew Storen in Washington. The 25-year-old was a starter for his first three professional seasons but in 2009 he settled into a role in the bullpen.

Other Organizational Prospects: C Bryce Harper, who had already graced the cover of Sports Illustrated before the Nationals made him the first overall selection of the 2010 draft, could realistically make it to Syracuse (or beyond) in his first season as a professional.

Veterans to Watch: There are several players with big league experience who appear headed to Syracuse this season. There are even more who have put up respectable Triple-A numbers who might be pushed back to Double-A. Outfielder Boomer Whiting, for example, a starter with Syracuse last season when he hit .255 and stole a team-high 36 bases, may not make the Triple-A club.

Items of Interest: Fans of the Syracuse Chiefs are hoping the misery will stop. There has been no Governors' Cup since 1976, the longest stretch of any team in the IL. There hasn't even been a playoff appearance since 1998. Can it happen this season' Both the Chiefs and their parent club, the Washington Nationals, are hopeful. That's apparent by the Chiefs' slogan for the 2011 season, "The Quest Begins Now.''

2011 International League Preview - West Division

COLUMBUS CLIPPERS

www.ClippersBaseball.comAffiliate: Cleveland Indians

Year in IL (Columbus, OH): 51st Record: 3,778-3,432

Governors' Cups: 8Last Cup: 2010

2010 Finish: 79-65, Wild Card, def. SWB, DUR for Gov. Cup

Manager: Mike Sarbaugh (2nd year in Columbus)

Coaches: Lee May, Jr. (2nd year), Ruben Niebla (1st year)

Ballpark: Huntington Park (10,100)

Probable Starters: 1B - Jordan Brown; 2B - Jason Kipnis; SS - Luis Valbuena;

3B - Lonnie Chisenhall; C - Paul Phillips/Luke Carlin; LF - Chad Huffman;

CF - Ezekiel Carrera; RF - Jerad Head; DH - Wes Hodges.

Key Pitchers: Starters - RH Jeanmar Gomez, LH David Huff, RH Alex White,

RH Zach McAllister, RH Corey Kluber. Relievers - RH Josh Judy, RH Zach Putnam,

RH Jess Todd, RH Jensen Lewis, RH Joe Martinez, RH Bryce Stowell.

Strengths of the Club: The Columbus offense should look electric and will get better when outfielder Nick Weglarz returns from a knee injury...... The starting rotation and bullpen look solid.

Weaknesses of the Club: This is another season when a lot of movement appears likely between Cleveland and Columbus. The emotions of coming and going can weigh on a team. Manager Mike Sarbaugh handled it well a year ago.

Top Prospects: Lonnie Chisenhall was Cleveland's first-round pick in the 2008 first-year player draft and is the top prospect in the organization. He is touted to be the next everyday third baseman. It could happen by the All Star break. In the meantime, he could be one of the International League's best hitters. He hit 17 homers with 84 RBI for Double-A Akron last season...... Jason Kipnis, a second-round pick in 2009, also is close to breaking into the Cleveland lineup at second base. He made the transition to Triple-A surprisingly well last September when he joined Columbus for the playoffs...... Alex White was the first-round pick in 2009 and is the top pitching prospect in the organization. He also is on the fast track. Cleveland initially projected White as a reliever, but the plan now is to continue to develop him as a starter. His fastball tops out at 95 MPH.

Other Organizational Prospects: RHP Joe Gardner, a third-round pick in 2009, will open the season in Double-A Akron. He was 13-6 last season at Class-A Lake County and Kinston in his first year playing professionally. A ribcage injury prevented him from making his pro debut until 2010...... LHP Nick Hagadone came in the trade that sent Victor Martinez to the Boston Red Sox in 2009. He will begin the season in the Akron rotation. If the Tribe decides he is a relief pitcher, he could get to Columbus quickly. Hagadone missed nearly the entire 2008 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery.

Veterans to Watch: Hodges, a first baseman/DH, has fallen off the prospect list but had a strong finish with the Clippers last season. He showed the power that had been his calling card before injuries in 2009 slowed his progress...... Jordan Brown was the International League batting champion in 2009.

Items of Interest: The Clippers are the defending Governors' Cup and Triple-A Baseball National Champions...... Former Columbus slugger Steve Balboni will be inducted into the International League Hall of Fame this season. Balboni led the IL in home runs in 1981 and

1982.

INDIANAPOLIS INDIANS

www.IndyIndians.comAffiliate: Pittsburgh Pirates

Year in IL (Indianapolis, IN): 15th Record: 1,014 - 1,003

Governors' Cups: 2Last Cup: 2000

2010 Finish: 71-73, 3rd in West (-8.5)

Manager: Dean Treanor (2nd year in Indianapolis, 1st as manager)

Coaches: Jeff Branson (3rd year), Tom Filer (1st year)

Ballpark: Victory Field (14,500)

Probable Starters: 1B - Matt Hague; 2B - Brian Friday; SS - Chase d'Arnaud;

3B - Andy Marte; C - Dusty Brown; LF - Alex Presley; CF - Gorkys Hernandez;

RF - Andrew Lambo; DH - Josh Fields.

Key Pitchers: Starters - RH Brad Lincoln, LH Rudy Owens, LH Justin Wilson,

LH Aaron Thompson, LH Brian Burres. Relievers - LH Justin Thomas, LH Daniel Moskos,

LH Tony Watson, RH Sean Gallagher, RH Daniel McCutchen, RH Tyler Yates,

RH Ramon Aguero.

Strengths of the Club: Indianapolis' rotation should be strong, and Pirates fans would be glad to know that it's made up mostly of legitimate prospects this season. Presley, Hernandez and Pedro Ciriaco will give the club lots of speed, and the back of the bullpen should be strong with Moskos, Aguero and Thomas.

Weaknesses of the Club: There aren't any prolific power hitters in that lineup, so the club will need a balanced attack in order to do well.

Top Prospects: OF Andrew Lambo was acquired by the Pirates in a three-player deal with the Dodgers last July. He could be the team's best outfield prospect. He missed 50 games while serving a drug suspension and it wasn't the first time the 22-year-old has had off-the-field issues. If Lambo can stay on track away from the park, the Pirates are intrigued by his offensive potential. He also plays first...... Though Chase d'Arnaud had a down year in 2010, he is still viewed by many as the Pirates' next shortstop. He needs to cut down on the errors (28 at short last year) and significantly reduce the number of strikeouts in order to take the next step forward...... Rudy Owens was the organization's Minor League pitcher of the year in 2009 and 2010 and appears to be the closest pitching prospect to the Majors. Owens led the Eastern League with a 2.46 ERA last season (26 starts)...... Bryan Morris regained his prospect status with an impressive 2010 season. He dominated in Single-A (0.60 ERA) before being promoted. Though Morris faced some fatigue issues late in the season, he still fared well in his first taste of

Double-A competition...... Daniel Moskos was the No. 4 overall pick in the 2007 Draft. He gets a second shot at success in Triple-A. He thrived in Double-A Altoona last year (1.52 ERA and 21 saves in 37 appearances) but struggled during a brief call to Indianapolis. Command was Moskos' primary issue. He'll likely be a late-inning reliever for Indianapolis.

Other Organizational Prospects: Tony Sanchez will begin the year in Double-A, where he would have been late last year had he not suffered a broken jaw in June. The former No. 4 overall pick (2009 Draft) performed extremely well offensively in High-A...... It could be argued that Jeff Locke is ready to start in Triple-A, but the Indians don't have a spot in the rotation for him just yet. Still, the Pirates like a lot about this left-hander. He has terrific command and was recognized by Baseball America for having the best changeup of any pitcher in the organization.

Veterans to Watch: Tyler Yates is back in Triple-A after successfully recovering from Tommy John surgery (July 2009). He had some command issues in Spring Training which left the Pirates not ready to put Yates back in the Major League bullpen.

Items of Interest: 2011 marks the 125th consecutive season of baseball in Indianapolis. Several special activities are planned throughout the historic anniversary season.

2011 International League Preview - West Division

LOUISVILLE BATS

www.BatsBaseball.comAffiliate: Cincinnati Reds

Year in IL (Louisville, KY): 19th Record: 1,356-1,222

Governors' Cups: 1Last Cup: 2001

2010 Finish: 79-64, West Champs, lost to DUR in First Round

Manager: Rick Sweet (7th year in Louisville)

Coaches: Smokey Garrett (9th year), Ted Power (6th year)

Ballpark: Louisville Slugger Field (13,131)

Probable Starters: 1B - Yonder Alonso; 2B - Chris Valaika; SS - Zach Cozart;

3B - Juan Francisco; C - Devin Mesoraco; LF - Todd Frazier; CF - Dave Sappelt;

RF - Danny Dorn; DH - Michael Griffin.

Key Pitchers: Starters - LH Matt Maloney, RH Sam LeCure, RH Matt Klinker,

RH Chad Reineke, LH Tom Cochran, RH Justin Lehr. Relievers - LH Philippe Valiquette,

LH Jeremy Horst, LH Daniel Ray Herrera, RH Jerry Gil.

Strengths of the Club: The biggest strengths for the Bats are experience, defense, depth, and power.

Weaknesses of the Club: Louisville's biggest weakness heading into the season are youth in certain parts of the lineup and at the end of the bullpen.

Top Prospects: C Devin Mesoraco enters the season ranked by Baseball America as the third-best prospect in the organization. He received the 2010 Sheldon "Chief" Bender Award as the Reds Minor League Player of the Year...... 1B Yonder Alonso returns to Louisville ranked as the fourth-best prospect in the Reds farm system. The former Florida State League All-Star was Cincinnati's first round choice in 2008...... 3B Juan Francisco was the organization's Minor League Hitter of the Year in both 2008 and 2009, and in 2010 he was the Player of the Month for July. Francisco has been an All-Star in the Midwest and Florida State Leagues. It appears he'll start the year in Cincinnati due to an injury to Fred Lewis...... SS Zack Cozart took home the Mary E. Barney Award as Louisville's Most Valuable Player and was a Baseball America

Triple-A All-Star in 2010. That came on the heels of being a Double-A Southern League All-Star in 2009...... OF Todd Frazier is ranked as the ninth-best prospect in the Reds organization. During the winter he played for Team USA in the COPABE Pan American Games in Puerto Rico. He was a Baseball America Double-A All-Star in 2009.

Other Organizational Prospects: RHP Brad Boxberger was a Reds supplemental first round pick in 2009, and last year he was a Carolina League All-Star. In his first full professional season, he ranked fifth among Reds farmhands in strikeouts...... C Yasmani Grandal was the Reds first round pick in 2010. The former All-American from the University of Miami is generally rated among the franchise's top prospects.

Veterans to Watch: C Corky Miller has played in over 1,000 games during the past 13 seasons, a career which has included multiple All-Star appearances in the minor leagues. In a past USA Today Baseball Weekly poll he was voted as the "Player You Most Want in Your Clubhouse" and "Player Who Will Make the Best Future Manager" by his peers...... RHP Justin Lehr was the 2009 IL Most Valuable Pitcher. He's been the starting pitcher at the Triple-A All-Star Game twice (once for each league). Lehr has been named the International League Pitcher of the Week on four occasions.

Items of Interest: With 466 victories, Rick Sweet is already the winningest manager in Louisville history. He is a two-time International League Manager of the Year, and his 1,515 wins as a minor league skipper rank fifth among active field managers...... The Bats enter the 2011 season as the three-time defending champion of the IL West Division.

TOLEDO MUD HENS

www.MudHens.comAffiliate: Detroit Tigers

Year in IL (Toledo, OH): 48th Record: 3,148-3,490

Governors' Cups: 3Last Cup: 2006

2010 Finish: 70-73, 4th in West (-9.0)

Manager: Phil Nevin (1st year in Toledo)

Coaches: Leon Durham (11th year), A.J. Sager (4th year)

Ballpark: Fifth Third Field (10,300)

Probable Starters: 1B - Ryan Strieby; 2B - Scott Sizemore; SS - Cale Iorg; 3B - Danny Worth; C - Omir Santos; LF - Timo Perez; CF - Clete Thomas; RF - Andy Dirks;

DH - Scott Thorman.

Key Pitchers: Starters - LH Andy Oliver, LH Charlie Furbush, LH Adam Wilk,

RH Thad Weber, LH Duane Below. Relievers - RH Robbie Weinhardt, RH Al Albuquerque,

LH Fu-Te Ni, RH Brendan Wise, RH Chris Oxspring, RH Jose Ortega.

Strengths of the Club: The young rotation (Weber is the oldest member at 26 - Oliver and Wilk are 23) features some highly regarded pitchers in Oliver and Furbush...... The bullpen has some experienced pitchers in Oxspring, Ni, Weinhardt and Wise...... The offense has some experienced hitters in Perez, Thorman and Thomas...... Home runs shouldn't be a problem with Strieby and Thorman...... Plenty of defensive flexibility with Worth and Diaz, among others.

Weaknesses of the Club: There are not many running threats beyond Thomas and perhaps Iorg (stole 12 bases last season)...... The pitching staff is young, with only two pitchers older than 26 (Oxspring is 33, Ni is 28)...... There isn't a traditional third baseman on the roster.

Top Prospects: LHP Andy Oliver is ranked as Detroit's third-best prospect by Baseball America. Last year he was3-4 with a 3.23 ERA in nine late-season starts for the Hens......

RHP Jose Ortega begins the season in the Hens' bullpen. With a fastball that hits 94-95 MPH and even touches 98, he was rated the Tigers' tenth-best prospect by BA...... OF Andy Dirks is ranked as the 11th-best prospect. Detroit's Minor League Player of the Year last season, he hit .375 with four homers and 17 RBI in a 22-game Toledo cameo...... RHP Robbie Weinhardt, who split time between Toledo and Detroit last season, is ranked as the Tigers' 12th-best prospect...... 1B Ryan Strieby, who has hit as many as 29 home runs in a season, is listed as Detroit's 14th-best prospect...... Overall, nine of Detroit's top 30 prospects as determined by Baseball America will begin the season in Toledo.

Other Organizational Prospects: RHP Jacob Turner, considered the Tigers' top prospect, will begin the season at Double-A Erie. The Tigers do have a history of promoting top pitchers from Erie directly to Detroit...... RHP Chance Ruffin, the Tigers' seventh-ranked prospect, also will begin the year in Erie...... Among position players, 3B Francisco Rodriguez, Detroit's fourth-best prospect, also is expected to start the season with the SeaWolves.

Veterans to Watch: OF Timo Perez has played for the Hens before, hitting .309 and earning IL mid- and post-season All-Star honors in 2007 before batting .302 with Toledo in 2008......

IF Scott Thorman finished with 22 homers and a career-best 85 RBI for Omaha in the PCL last season...... 2B Scott Sizemore hit .308 in 71 games for the Hens in 2009 and was voted the top

2B prospect in Minor League Baseball that season...... OF Clete Thomas has stolen 56 bases in just 142 Toledo games spread over three seasons.

Items of Interest: The Mud Hens will be celebrating the tenth anniversary of the opening of Fifth Third Field...... Toledo will have a new manager for the first time since Larry Parrish took over in 2003. Parrish, now the hitting coach in Atlanta, has been replaced by Phil Nevin. Nevin's staff is familiar, though: hitting coach Leon "Bull" Durham is in his 11th season with the Hens, as is trainer Matt Rankin, while pitching coach A.J. Sager is in his fourth season with the Hens.

2011 International League Preview - South Division

CHARLOTTE KNIGHTS

www.CharlotteKnights.comAffiliate: Chicago White Sox

Year in IL (Charlotte, NC): 19th Record: 1,250-1,314

Governors' Cups: 2Last Cup: 1999

2010 Finish: 67-77, T-3rd in South (-21.5)

Manager: Joe McEwing (1st year in Charlotte)

Coaches: Rich Dotson (4th year), Tim Laker (1st year)

Ballpark: Knights Stadium (10,002)

Probable Starters: 1B - Daryle Ward; 2B - Gookie Dawkins; SS - Eduardo Ascobar;

3B - Robert Hudson; C - Tyler Flowers; LF - Alejandro De Aza; CF - Jordan Danks;

RF - Stefan Gartrell; DH - Michael Restovich.

Key Pitchers: Starters - RH Lucas Harrell, RH Jeff Marquez, RH Philip Humber,

RH Brandon Hynick, LH Wes Whisler. Relievers - RH Anthony Carter, RH Kyle McCulloch,

RH Brian Bruney, RH Jeff Gray, RH Josh Kinney, RH Derek Rodriguez, RH Miguel Socolovich.

Strengths of the Club: The Knights' outfield has a lot of potential with Gartrell, De Aza, and Danks. Veteran Michael Restovich will add depth. De Aza was a leadoff man for most of his 79 games in Charlotte last year. He hit .302 with 16 steals before finishing the season in Chicago. Danks spent all of 2010 in Charlotte. His numbers (.245, 8 HR, 42 RBI) should improve across the board...... Catcher Tyler Flowers has tremendous power potential evidenced by his 16 homers in 346 at bats a year ago.

Weaknesses of the Club: This team may not hit for a high average. With the exception of De Aza, the Knights returning players - Flowers, Danks, Gartrell and INF Robert Hudson - combined to hit just .239 in 2010.

Top Prospects: P Anthony Carter made 44 relief appearances last season for Birmingham, going 1-4 with a 3.92 ERA. The 24-year-old made four Cactus League appearances for the White Sox this spring as he compiled a 1.93 ERA...... OF Stefan Gartrell hit .255 with 20 doubles, 27 home runs, and 80 RBI in 139 games in 2010 with Charlotte. Gartrell ranked second in the International League in home runs and total bases (239) and led the League in games played. The 25-year-old made nine appearances for the White Sox in the Cactus League this spring hitting .313 with two home runs and four RBI......INF Eduardo Escobar spent time with Winston-Salem and Birmingham in 2010, batting .277 with six home runs and 61 RBI in 136 games. Escobar made 13 Cactus League appearances this spring and batted .190. The 22-year-old enters 2011 ranked by Baseball America as the Best Defensive Infielder in the White Sox system...... 3B/OF Dayan Viciedo was impressive in Spring Training playing right field until a thumb injury sidelined the slugger. Viciedo, who hit 20 home runs in 86 games with Charlotte last season, may begin the year with the Knights until his thumb is fully healed.

Other Organizational Prospects: P Gregori Infante was converted to a reliever last season and made 55 appearances between Class-A Winston-Salem and Double-A Birmingham. He had 12 saves and fanned 60 in 60 innings. Baseball America has him ranked as the White Sox No. 6 prospect.

Veterans to Watch: The White Sox signed several veteran pitchers to bolster the bullpen in Charlotte and/or Chicago. Brian Bruney, Jeff Gray and Josh Kinney are among them.

Items of Interest: Knights Stadium's outfield walls got a facelift during the offseason. The home run walls had stood at 10 feet since the stadium was built in 1989. Center field, beneath a brand new video scoreboard, is the only section that remains at 10 feet. Home runs will need to carry over 30-foot walls in right and left fields.

DURHAM BULLS

www.DurhamBulls.comAffiliate: Tampa Bay Rays

Year in IL (Durham, NC): 14th Record: 1,002-860

Governors' Cups: 3Last Cup: 2009

2010 Finish: 88-55, South Champs, lost to COL in finals

Manager: Charlie Montoyo (5th year in Durham)

Coaches: Neil Allen (1st year), Dave Myers (3rd year)

Ballpark: Durham Bulls Athletic Park (10,000)

Probable Starters: 1B - Casey Kotchman/Chris Carter; 2B - Felipe Lopez; SS - Rey Olmedo;

3B - J.J. Furmaniak; C - Robinson Chirinos; LF - Justin Ruggiano; CF - Desmond Jennings;

RF - Brandon Guyer; DH - Joe Inglett.

Key Pitchers: Starters - RH Richard De Los Santos, RH Alex Cobb, LH Alex Torres,

RH Dirk Havhurst. Relievers - LH R.J. Swindle, RH Mike Ekstrom, RH Rob Delaney,

RH Cory Wade, RH Brandon Gomes, RH Dane De La Rosa, RH Chris Bootcheck.

Strengths of the Club: The Bulls will have plenty of experience in the bullpen, plus a host of strong prospects in the starting rotation.

Weaknesses of the Club: Team speed is just average...... There is some lack of experience among the position players.

Top Prospects: OF Desmond Jennings was named the No. 3 prospect and best defensive outfielder in the Rays' system as well as the best base runner, defensive outfielder and most exciting player in the International League by Baseball America. A wrist injury limited Jennings output in the 2010 season. The former Junior College All-American wide receiver is a natural athlete.... OF Brandon Guyer was named the No. 10 prospect in the Cubs' system by Baseball America, as well as the Cubs' minor-league player of the year, a Double-A All-Star and Southern League All-Star. He hit .344 with 13 homers, 58 RBI, and 30 stolen bases for Tennessee......

C Robinson Chirinos has twice been rated as the best defensive catcher in the Cubs' system, which is amazing considering he wasn't a catcher until the recent years of his career. He's a former Double-A Southern League All-Star. In his first taste of Triple-A last season with Iowa, Chirinos hit .364 with 3 home runs and 10 RBI in 15 games..... C Jose Lobaton was named the best defensive catcher in the Padres' system in 2009.

Other Organizational Prospects: RHP Chris Archer was named the Cubs Minor League Pitcher of the Year. Baseball America has him as the No. 1 prospect in the Cubs' system and says he owns the best slider in Cubs' organization.

Veterans to Watch: OF Justin Ruggiano has spent the last two full seasons with the Bulls and part of the previous two before promotions. In fact, he is the club's all-time leader in hits and runs scored. Can he impress the Rays enough to get a permanent promotion, or someone else enough to give up goods in a trade' Ruggiano was an International League Postseason All-Star in 2007.

Items of Interest: Durham has played in four straight Governors' Cup Finals under manager Charlie Montoyo, winning it in 2009. In 13 years in the International League, the Bulls have never finished below 2nd place in the South Division. Durham is the four-time defending champion of the division heading into the 2011 season.

2011 International League Preview - South Division

GWINNETT BRAVES

www.GwinnettBraves.comAffiliate: Atlanta Braves

Year in IL (Lawrenceville, GA): 3rd Record: 153-134

Governors' Cups: 0

2010 Finish: 72-71, 2nd in South (-16.0)

Manager: Dave Brundage (3rd year in Gwinnett)

Coaches: Jamie Dismuke (3rd year), Marty Reed (1st year)

Ballpark: Coolray Field (10,427)

Probable Starters: 1B - Barbaro Canizares; 2B - Diory Hernandez; SS - Tyler Pastornicky;

3B - Ed Lucas/Shawn Bowman; C - Wilkins Castillo/J.C. Boscan; LF - Jose Constanza,

CF - Jordan Schafer; RF - Wilkin Ramirez/Joe Mather; DH - Brent Clevlen/Mauro Gomez.

Key Pitchers: Starters - LH Mike Minor, RH Julio Teheran, RH Rodrigo Lopez,

RH Todd Redmond, LH Johan Flande. Relievers - RH Jairo Asencio, RH Juan Abreu,

RH Cory Gearrin, RH Stephen Marek.

Strengths of the Club: Pitching, pitching and more pitching. The Atlanta organization is pitching rich and Gwinnett will be the beneficiary. The starting rotation has talented young arms plus a dash of Major League experience and the bullpen could be shut-down good with a number of potential closers and set-up men.

Weaknesses of the Club: The G-Braves won't hit a lot of home runs, but Coolray Field isn't a homer haven anyway. Playing solid defense will be a key.

Top Prospects: Minor, 23, set an Atlanta rookie record with a 12-strikeout game against the Cubs last year and would be in the Braves rotation now if not for the emergence of Brandon Beachy...... Teheran, 20, is rated the top pitching prospect by Baseball America and considered a possible future Atlanta ace. He was expected to start this season in Double-A but made a push for Triple-A this spring...... Pastornicky, 21, came to the Braves from Toronto in the Yunel Escobar trade last July. If he doesn't start the season as the Gwinnett shortstop, he will be there at some point this season. Last year he hit .254 at Double-A was his season was cut slightly short by a hamstring injury. Tyler is the son of former Royal Cliff Pastornicky, who now scouts for the Toronto Blue Jays.

Other Organizational Prospects: The next wave of Braves pitching prospects after Teheran and Minor are Arodys Vizcaino, 20, and Randall Delgado, 21. They will start the season at Mississippi, but could be Triple-A ready before the end of the year. Both are just a step behind Teheran as right-handed power arms.

Veterans to Watch: Canizares won the IL batting title with a .341 average last season and was the DH on the All-Star Team. He has played in the Triple-A All-Star Game three straight years...... Constanza also made the IL All-Star Team last season when he hit .319 and stole 34 bases for Columbus...... Asencio is the pitcher formerly known as Luis Valdez, who saved an IL-best 27 games for Gwinnett in 2009 and was named the All-Star relief pitcher. He didn't play last season because of visa problems caused by his identity issue. Asencio had used a false name and birthday to help get signed by the Braves ...... Lucas hit .307 last year for Omaha in the Pacific Coast League and can play any of the infield positions.

Items of Interest: The G-Braves hope for an attendance boost in North Johnson's second year as GM after ranking next-to-last in the IL a season ago despite having a top prospect to watch in Freddie Freeman, named IL Rookie of the Year. ... Coolray Field is just 37 miles from Turner Field in Atlanta and it has taken time for the G-Braves to begin building a fan base of their own.

NORFOLK TIDES

www.NorfolkTides.comAffiliate: Baltimore Orioles

Year in IL (Norfolk, VA): 43rd Record: 3,042-2,890

Governors' Cups: 5Last Cup: 1985

2010 Finish: 67-77, T-3rd in South (-21.5)

Manager: Gary Allenson (5th year in Norfolk)

Coaches: Mike Griffin (3rd year), Brad Komminsk (1st year)

Ballpark: Harbor Park (12,067)

Probable Starters: 1B - Brandon Snyder; 2B - Ryan Adams; SS - Brendan Harris;

3B - Josh Bell; C - Craig Tatum; LF - Nolan Reimold; CF - Matt Angle;

RF - Tyler Henson; DH - Rhyne Hughes.

Key Pitchers: Starters - LH Zach Britton, RH Wynn Pelzer, LH Troy Patton,

RH Ryan Drese, RH Rick Vandenhurk/RH Chorye Spoone. Relievers - RH Armando Gabino, LH Alberto Castillo, RH Pat Egan.

Strengths of the Club: The Orioles depth at the major league level should prove to be strength for the Tides this year. The acquisitions of Derrek Lee, Vlad Guerrero and Mark Reynolds have blocked the path for a number of solid prospects like Nolan Reimold and Josh Bell. Having hitters of that caliber in the lineup every night will be a big plus for the team.

Weaknesses of the Club: The bullpen roles are still up in the air. It remains to be seen who will assume the 9th inning responsibilities for the club.

Top Prospects: Zach Britton is the organization's top pitching prospect and number 2 prospect overall behind Manny Machado. The left-hander was named the 3rd best pitching prospect by MLB.com and the 24th best prospect in all baseball by MLB Network. He was the Orioles Minor League Pitcher of the Year last season. He appeared in his first 12 games at the Triple-A level in 2010 with the Tides, going 3-4 with a 2.98 ERA and 56 strikeouts...... Wynn Pelzer is the 6th best prospect in the Orioles organization according to Baseball America and the 3rd best pitching prospect. He was acquired in 2010 in the deal that sent Miguel Tejada to San Diego. He has spent most of his career as a starting pitcher, but he worked as a reliever during the second half of 2010...... Ryan Adams is the 8th ranked prospect in the system. He has experience at third base and second base, but will more than likely play third base with Josh Bell manning the hot corner. Adams was a 2nd round pick of the Orioles in 2006. He spent all 2010 at Bowie where he hit .298 with 15 HRs and 68 RBI.

Other Organizational Prospects: Joe Mahoney is the 11th ranked prospect in the system. He was a 6th round pick out of Richmond in 2007. A first baseman, he split last season between Bowie and Frederick and was the Orioles Minor League Player of the Year after hitting 18 home runs and driving in 78 runs...... Xavier Avery is the 3rd ranked prospect in the system. He was a 2nd round draft pick in 2008 out of Georgia where he also played football. He spent most of 2010 at Frederick but was promoted to Bowie for the final month of the season. A center fielder, he stole 38 bases between the two clubs.

Veterans to Watch: Nolan Reimold will more than likely play in Norfolk for the third year. He has hit 19 home runs with 86 RBI in 125 games between his first two stints with the Tides. He has also clubbed 18 home runs with 59 home runs in 143 big league games for the Orioles.

Items of Interest: This year marks Dave Rosenfield's 50th year as the general manager in Norfolk...... Gary Allenson enters the year with 948 managerial wins, putting him 52 wins short of �                                          �                     


• Discuss this story on the International League message board...

International League Stories from April 1, 2011


The opinions expressed in this release are those of the organization issuing it, and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts or opinions of OurSports Central or its staff.


Sports Statistics from the Stats Crew
OurSports Central