Yankees not budging on Thunder roster; Prospects abound in Eastern League
Still, some EL clubs have released their rosters, and there are some pretty darn nice names to anticipate seeing this season.
We'll start with Erie, which plays Trenton on Opening Day, April 8.
The Seawolves announced their rotation will be:
LHP Jon Kibler
LHP Duane Below
RHP Thad Weber
LHP Andy Oliver
Three lefties in one rotation is pretty rare, and pretty nasty.
As for position players, Erie features returnee Cale Iorg, outfielders Deik Scram and Wilkin Ramirez. Amazingly, 17 of the SeaWolves' 24 players spent time in Double-A last season.
PORTLAND: The Sea Dogs' roster is stocked, period. Confirmed players include super-prospects Casey Kelly, Jose Iglesias, Lars Anderson, Luis Exposito and Ryan Kalish. For those counting, that's one pitcher, two infielders, a catcher and an outfielder. So, yeah, Portland manager Arnie Beyeler has a few names to play with.
Felix Doubront, Ryne Miller, Stephen Fife and Kyle Weiland join Kelly in the starting rotation.
Che-Hsuan Lin, the 2008 Futures Game MVP, will also roam with Kalish in the Sea Dogs outfield.
READING: With the R-Phils now in the Thunder's division (the EL East), there should be some concern over how flush with talent they are. Their roster includes two of the three players acquired in the Cliff Lee trade -Phillippe Aumont and Tyson Gillies - outfield stud Domonic Brown, as well as 20-year-old shortstop Freddy Galvis.
Yohan Flande (and his wonderfully childish hair), Drew Naylor, Mike Cisco and Vance Worley finish the rotation.
NEW HAMPSHIRE: The biggest surprise, to me at least, is that Kyle Drabek is back in Double-A. This is especially shocking when you consider he made it to Triple-A last season with the Phillies. Maybe they just want to keep him away from Las Vegas.
Robert Bell, Zach Stewart (the Jays' top prospect before the Halladay trade), Luis Perez and Marty McLeary join Drabek in the starting five.
Also joining the Fisher Cats are slugging first baseman David Cooper, center fielder Darin Mastroianni, second baseman Brad Emaus and pitcher-turned-outfielder Adam Loewen. For what it's worth, I think Loewen's story is just as interesting as Pat Venditte's.
RICHMOND: The team formerly known as the Defenders boasts a cadre of position players, especially on the infield, in its inaugural season. Shortstop Brandon Crawford, second baseman Nick Noonan and third baseman Conor Gillaspie - their ninth, eleventh and seventeenth best prospects, according to Baseball America - will ply their trade with the Flying Squirrels (I love that name) in 2010.
Their outfield is even better, with Thomas Neal (No. 4 according to BA), Roger Kieschnick (No. 7) and Darren Ford (No. 13, and a Vineland native) slated to start.
Even though they don't have nearly the pitching of a year ago, the Flying Squirrels could make some noise in 2010.
Oh, I would be remiss if I didn't report that Richmond has Tony Pena Jr, son of the Yankees bench coach, on its roster.
HARRISBURG: Let's see, who are some big names you might like to see with the Senators this season. Well, there's Drew Storen, the closer and son of former XM host Mark Patrick. There's also Danny Espinosa, a slick fielding shortstop, as well as slugging first baseman Chris Marrero.
Oh, yeah, Stephen Strasburg, he's probably worth seeing. He'll make his first home start on April 16 against New Britain. His first overall start is April 11 at Blair County Ballpark in Altoona. Those might be your best chances to see him if you're a Thunder fan. I can't imagine he'll still be in Double-A when the Senators come calling on July 1.
ALTOONA: Although the final roster doesn't appear to be released yet, Jim Lane reports that prospects Tim Alderson and Gorkys Hernandez will start with the Curve. He also adds that Tony Sanchez, expected to start in Double-A, will begin with High-A West Virginia. Disappointing for sure, but don't be surprised to see him on June 15, when Altoona come to Waterfront Park for a three-game set.