To get ready for the minor league season, we’ve analyzed the rosters of every full-season minor league team, with an eye on which players’ assignments surprised and who is missing from the rosters. Click the team name for the team’s roster.
TRIPLE-A IOWA: Though RHP Jeff Samardzija was a key contributor in Chicago’s bullpen last year, the Cubs want to develop him as a starter this year, and they’ll do that in Iowa. RHP Kevin Hart missed out on a relief job and will join Samardzija.
DOUBLE-A TENNESSEE: The biggest name on the roster is the manager: Ryne Sandberg, who makes the jump from low Class A. The Cubs view Cs Welington Castillo and Steve Clevenger as potential regulars, and they’ll split time behind the plate while also seeing action at first baseman. Two 2009 draftees, RHPs Jay Jackson (ninth round) and Casey Coleman (15th), jump to Double-A after helping Daytona win the Florida State League title last September.
HIGH CLASS A DAYTONA: With 2006 first-round OF Tyler Colvin coming off a disappointing 2008 season and Tommy John surgery, he’s back in at Daytona, where he hit .306/.336/.514 two years ago. SS Starlin Castro has the highest ceiling among Chicago’s shortstop prospects, and he’ll jump from Rookie ball to high Class A at age 19.
LOW CLASS A PEORIA: Attention will focus on the left side of the infield, with the duo of 3B Josh Vitters and SS Ryan Flaherty. Another shortstop, Junior Lake, also can drive the ball and will play a variety of positions after moving up from Rookie ball as a 19-year-old.
EXTENDED SPRING/NOTABLE INJURIES: RHP Andrew Cashner, last year’s first-round pick, opened eyes in big league camp before straining an oblique muscle. He’s on Daytona’s disabled list and will miss a couple of weeks. RHP Dae-Eun Rhee has a month left on his rehab from Tommy John surgery last spring, then will join one of the Class A affiliates. SS Hak-Ju Lee is another Korean recovering from TJ, but the 18-year-old likely would have opened the year in extended spring training anyway before debuting with a short-season team.
TRIPLE-A LOUISVILLE: If the Reds need to call up a starting pitcher, they have plenty of options in Triple-A. RHP Homer Bailey had an outstanding spring, while RHP Ramon Ramirez pitched well in a late-season stint with the big league club last year.
DOUBLE-A CAROLINA: SS Zach Cozart opened last year in low Class A because of a logjam at the position, so the Reds made up for that this season by promoting him to Double-A. The position has opened up because Todd Frazier has moved from shortstop to left field, where he’ll play every day for the Mudcats, the Reds’ new affiliate.
HIGH CLASS A SARASOTA: The Reds’ last two first-round picks, C Devin Mesoraco and 1B Yonder Alonso, both start in Sarasota, although Alonso may hit his way to Double-A before too long. RHP Zach Stewart is another prospect to watch, as his stuff may allow him to move quickly in a relief role.
LOW CLASS A DAYTON: The Dragons continue their streak of sellouts, but to open the season they won’t have a single member of the Reds’ top 30 prospects. LHP Matt Fairel and OF Byron Wiley are two of the players to watch.
EXTENDED SPRING/NOTABLE INJURIES: OF Juan Duran wasn’t going to make a full-season roster anyway, but he’s out with a minor knee injury. RHP Carlos Sulbaran opens on the Dayton disabled list as he recovers from a blister. RHP Kyle Lotzkar is also expected to head to Dayton once he recovers from a tired arm.
TRIPLE-A ROUND ROCK: Hard-throwing RHP Bud Norris is the Astros’ best pitching prospect, and 3B Chris Johnson is their best power bat in the high minors. But Round Rock’s most intriguing player is 2005 first-rounder Brian Bogusevic, spending his first full season as a center fielder after ditching pitching last year.
DOUBLE-A CORPUS CHRISTI: A thin Double-A roster often indicates a thin farm system, and that’s the case here. OF Josh Flores blew out his left knee before the 2008 season and missed the whole year. OF Collin DeLome has a big bat but struck out 128 times in 463 at-bats last season in two Class A stops.
HIGH CLASS A LANCASTER: C Jason Castro, last year’s first-round pick who instantly became the organization’s top prospect, is one of six 2008 picks on the roster, including RHP David Duncan, Georgia Tech’s Friday night starter the past two years. RHP Chia-Jen Lo, signed for $250,000 out of Taiwan last November, also is on board.
LOW CLASS A LEXINGTON: Much of the hope for the future is here, led by 2008 high school RHPs Ross Seaton and Jordan Lyles. OF Jay Austin is an exceptional athlete, and 1B Phil Disher mashed at South Carolina.
EXTENDED SPRING/NOTABLE INJURIES: LHP Luis Cruz, a ninth-round pick last June, will play in extended before joining a Rookie-level club.
TRIPLE-A NASHVILLE: This is a prospect-heavy roster, particularly for Triple-A, with three of the Brewers’ top four position prospects: SS Alcides Escobar, 3B Mat Gamel and C Angel Salome.
DOUBLE-A HUNTSVILLE: RHP Jeremy Jeffress earned a late promotion to Double-A last year and returns to open 2009. C Jonathan Lucroy, who hit 20 home runs between two Class A stops last year, gives the Brewers catching depth and will focus on improving his defense in Double-A.
HIGH CLASS A BREVARD COUNTY: The Manatees will have plenty of offense, featuring OFs Caleb Gindl and Lee Haydel, SS Brent Brewer and 2B Eric Farris. Brewer spent the second half of last season in Brevard, but will return to continue working on his plate discipline. OF Cole Gillespie also opens here because an elbow strain is limiting him to DH duty. He’s expected to move up to Nashville when he’s fully healthy.
LOW CLASS A WISCONSIN: Brett Lawrie. last year’s first-round pick, has already moved from catcher to second base even though he hasn’t made his pro debut yet. He’ll be joined by ’08 second rounder Cutter Dykstra as the Brewers have moved their low Class A affiliation close to home. LHP Evan Frederickson returns to low Class A after battling control problems at the end of 2008.
EXTENDED SPRING/NOTABLE INJURIES: 3B Taylor Green is recovering from wrist surgery and is out until June. OF Lorenzo Cain is on the DL at Huntsville with a hamstring injury. RHP Jake Odorizzi, a supplemental first round pick last June, did not make a full-season roster.
TRIPLE-A INDIANAPOLIS: OF Andrew McCutchen returns to Indianapolis for a third consecutive season, but may not be around for a long after an impressive .318/.423/.561 showing in spring training. Steven Pearce looks to regain his 2007 form and shifts full-time to first base, and SS Brian Bixler and 3B Neil Walker round out the infield.
DOUBLE-A ALTOONA: OF Jose Tabata returns to Altoona after resurrecting his career with the Curve late last season. First-rounders Brad Lincoln (2006)—who made strides in his first healthy season last year—and Daniel Moskos (2007) highlight the pitching staff.
HIGH CLASS A LYNCHBURG: 3B Pedro Alvarez makes his much-anticipated professional debut and could move quickly if an impressive spring is any indication. RHP Bryan Morris, acquired in the Jason Bay deal last year, will continue his return from Tommy John surgery in the Lynchburg rotation, along with hard-throwing Venezuelan Ronald Uviedo.
LOW CLASS A WEST VIRGINIA: The Pirates’ new low Class A affiliate inherits the bulk of a short-season State College team that went 18-56 last summer OF Robbie Grossman, a 2008 sixth-round pick, makes his full-season debut, as does SS Chase D’Arnaud, a fourth-rounder.
EXTENDED SPRING/NOTABLE INJURIES: 2B Shelby Ford opens on the Indianapolis disabled list with inflammation in his left wrist. SS Jarek Cunningham tore his ACL during a drill early in spring training and will miss the season. RHP Quinton Miller and OF Wesley Freeman, a pair of 2008 high school picks, will await short-season assignments.
ST. LOUIS CARDINALS
TRIPLE-A MEMPHIS: A prospect-heavy roster tilts toward a pitching staff that includes RHPs P.J. Walters and Clayton Mortensen. The Cardinals also have bullpen help in waiting with RHPs Chris Perez—who lost the big league closer battle to Jason Motte—and Jess Todd, who got moved to a relief role in spring training.
DOUBLE-A SPRINGFIELD: 3B Brett Wallace, a first-round pick last June, teams with athletic OF Daryl Jones to lead the offense. RHP Francisco Samuel has terrific stuff as a closer.
HIGH CLASS A PALM BEACH: RHP Adam Reifer will anchor the bullpen with an assassin’s fastball, while RHP Lance Lynn, a 2008 supplemental first-round pick, teams with LHP Nick Additon in the rotation. SS Pete Kozma returns after a late-season cameo last year.
LOW CLASS A QUAD CITIES: SS Niko Vasquez hit .317/.416/.462 last year at Rookie-level Johnson City before getting a late-season push to Quad Cities. Oft-injured RHP Gary Daley is on the staff, and 2B Aaron Luna, a ninth-round pick in 2008, moves in from the outfield.
EXTENDED SPRING/NOTABLE INJURIES: RHPs Scott Gorgen, a 2008 fourth-rounder out of UC Irvine, and Eric Fornataro, a sixth-rounder out of Miami-Dade CC, did not earn full-season assignments.
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