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  • Writer's pictureSteve Potter

4/2/22 : Minor League opening roster projection - Lehigh Valley

Updated: Apr 6, 2022

Projecting rosters in February when minor league mini camp began would have been puzzling at best, I know because I tried. Now that we’ve progressed all the way thru minor league spring training it’s much clearer. In fact my initial thoughts in February on roster assignments as compared to what will become an actuality when the seasons open this coming week are a bit off 🥴.

The pragmatic approach to opening day roster assignments is to set players up to have early success with advancement within reach to higher levels thereafter. My tendency in the spring for roster projections is to think of more challenging competition … perhaps too early in the development process albeit in my minor league digest player profiles written last November I was much more conservative. We’ve observed camp breaks guided by three different player development directors - I don’t believe I’ve ever gotten any opening roster right yet 😁.

With major league spring training still ongoing the Iron Pigs roster is still unsettled. There are pitchers that were kept back in Clearwater to support the big club thru the final Grapefruit League games that will likely join LHV after Wednesday when big league camp breaks. There are also position players still in big league camp that will be either optioned or assigned to the Iron Pigs once the big club roster decisions have been made.

Therefore the Iron Pigs team that plays in the scrimmage tomorrow against Reading and opens the season on 4/5 at home against Columbus will be missing elements. In the interim here’s the best projection I can make until the big league roster settles and alterations are made.

Regardless this year’s Iron Pigs team is a veteran laden one - at least to start the season.

Manager and Coaches :

Anthony Contreras (manager)

Joe Thurston (hitting coach)

Greg Brodzinski (bench/position coach)

Cesar Ramos (pitching coach)

Bill Greenfield (development coach)

Mike Lidge (strength & conditioning coach)

Elliot Diehl (athletic trainer)

Meaghan Flaherty (assistant athletic trainer)

Pitchers :

Starters :

RH James Marvel - 28 years old - signed as a minor league free agent 3/4/22 - he’s pitched in the Pirates organization since 2016 - career minor league record of 47-33 in 117 games ( 113 starts ) with a 3.82 ERA in 645 IP. James made four MLB starts for the Pirates in 2019. He’s a sinker ball pitcher who generally sits in the low nineties with a curve and changeup as secondaries. He’s become a student at Driveline in hopes of increasing velocity and incorporating his lower half. Was 16-5 with a 2.94 ERA in his 2019 minor league season in 162 IP.

RH Hans Crouse - 23 years old - acquired in trade with Rangers 7/30/21 - was Rangers 2017 2nd round draft selection - worked on refining his delivery after being acquired and pitched six games for Reading before being promoted to LHV for one start, was called to the show on 9/26 and finished the season making two big league starts. Has a 93 to 95 mph fastball and usually good control and command. Slider is best pitch - has put away capabilities. Threw the ball very well in his last camp appearance this spring at Carpenter Complex.

RH Colton Eastman - 25 years old - 2018 4th round draft selection - suffered a broken finger attempting to bunt in a 2021 Reading game in June. He returned to action mid August and pitched very well ( 2.70 ERA in 4 games - 10 IP ) earning a promotion to Lehigh Valley in September where he continued to pitch well ( 3.00 ERA in 4 starts - 21 IP ). He’s shown very good command and control in his career to date with a four pitch mix, solid starter with fastball sitting low nineties.

RH Michael Mariot - 33 years old - veteran hurler who’s pitched in the majors with the Phillies and Royals. Was signed as a minor league free agent on 3/31/22. Was a starter last season at the AAA level with Louisville in the Cardinals organization making 18 starts ( 103 IP - 4.02 ERA ). Has pitched in 318 minor league games ( 705 IP )and 44 big league games ( 49 IP ). FB generally in the 91-92 area - touches 94 mph. Veteran presence.

LH Ricardo Sanchez - 24 years old - signed as minor league free agent 4/1/22 from Cardinals organization- originally signed by Angels in 2015 as an amateur free agent from Venezuela - He pitched in 111 minor league games ( 106 as a starter ) thru the 2019 season. Underwent Tommy John surgery in September of 2020 and didn’t pitch last season. When he’s healthy he’s been noted for a solid fastball, quality curve and changeup. The fastball is generally in the 90-93 range but has touched 96 mph, curve ball is his out pitch - big break and movement.

Bailey Falter, Nick Nelson and Christopher Sanchez are all likely to begin the season with the Phillies but two may join the Iron Pigs rotation once big league camp rosters decrease from 28 to 26 in May.

Bullpen :

RH Mark Appel - 30 years old - continues his comeback after previously retiring - pitched in LHV in 2021 as a starter.

RH Aaron Barrett - 34 years old - signed as free agent 3/16/22 - 2.13 ERA in 38 IP last season in the minors

RH Tyler Cyr - 28 years old - signed as free agent - FB sits 96-97 mph - touches 99. Minor league veteran - 179 games

LH Kyle Dohy - 25 years old - 2017 16th round draft choice - coming off solid 2021 season - strikeout pitcher - battles command

RH Nick Duron - 26 years old - signed as free agent - sits 92-95 with FB - flashed higher this spring

RH Joe Gatto - 26 years old - signed as free agent - features a power curve, FB in 91-94 range.

LH Jakob Hernandez - 25 years old - 2017 21st round draft choice - innings eater - big break slider as out pitch

LH Scott Moss - 27 years old - waiver claim from Guardians - will be a multi inning reliever - sits 90-93 with FB

RH Jake Newberry - 27 years old - signed as free agent - features power slider - 255 minor league appearances over 9 seasons

LH Braedon Ogle - 24 years old - had an impressive spring camp - back end reliever - mid to upper 90’s FB

LH Jeff Singer - 28 years old - returns for 2nd season with LHV - multi inning capabilities - FB - 90-93 mph range.

Pitchers left in Clearwater to finish big league camp include LH Jonathan Hennigan, RH Tyler Carr, LH Ethan Evanko and RH Austin Ross. Some could be assigned to LHV after 4/6 else even Reading. There are also relievers on the 40 man and non roster invitees still in Clearwater that may be assigned to the Iron Pigs when big league camp breaks.

Catchers :

Edgar Cabral - 26 years old - re-signed as free agent 3/9/22 - 2015 11th round draft choice - good defender with strong arm - came back from Tommy John surgery last season.

Donny Sands - 25 years old - acquired from Yankees in off season trade - had a solid 2021 season at the AAA level with 18 home runs. Good receiver who was originally drafted as a third baseman by NY in the 8th round of the 2015 draft.

Austin Wynns - 31 years old - signed as free agent 3/19/22 from Orioles organization. Played in 115 big league games from 2018 to 2021. Noted as a strong defensive catcher and take charge presence.

Rafael Marchan stayed back in Clearwater to work back from a hamstring/quad injury. Colby Fitch also remains in CW to conclude big league camp - could be assigned to either LHV or Reading.

Infield :

Ali Castillo - 32 years old - UTL fielder - signed as free agent 12/8/21 - played with Iron Pigs in 2019 - is a veteran leader who is a .278 career minor league hitter in 3,926 AB’s - will play multiple positions - smart player.

Dalton Guthrie - 26 years old - UTL - 2017 6th round draft selection - had a very good 2021 season for Reading and Lehigh Valley including a torrid month of July when he posted a .354/.393/.506 slash line in 79 AB’s including hitting 12 doubles. Lost time this spring after incurring a back injury - returned to make multiple appearances in Grapefruit League games - excellent defender who can play all the infield positions along with capabilities to play the outfield.

Will Toffey - 27 years old - acquired from SF Giants in Luke Williams trade. He’s primarily a third baseman who also plays first base. Was the Athletics 2017 4th round draft choice - traded to Mets and later to Giants. Has some pop but is more noted for his defense.

Darick Hall - 26 years old - 1B - 2016 14th round draft choice - had a solid mini camp and big league spring training camp - I’m sure he made good impressions as a fielder and power bat. Has shown he’s capable of hitting big league pitching. Will return to LHV for second season as a middle of the order bat. Is a solid run producer.

Ronald Torreyes and Yairo Munoz are still in CW with the big club, they may eventually be coming to LHV. Scott Kingery also remains in Clearwater working his way back from last year’s shoulder surgery. Nick Maton, Bryson Stott or Alec Bohm are possibilities to be assigned to the Iron Pigs once big league decisions are made.

Outfield :

John Andreoli - 31 years old - signed as free agent 3/10/22 - veteran minor leaguer who has also played in 33 big league games with Mariners, Orioles and Padres. A career .265 minor league hitter in 939 games - 3,322 AB’s - spent last season in the Padres organization at the AAA level.

Jorge Bonifacio - 28 years old - re-signed as free agent 3/31/22 - had a solid 2021 season with Reading and LHV - also played in 7 games with the Phillies. Has veteran leadership skills - hit 17 home runs and drove in 62 runs in 2021 - will hit in the middle of the order.

Drew Maggi - 32 years old - signed as free agent 3/4/22 - played last season in the Twins organization for AAA level St Paul. He’s a career .258 hitter in 3,523 AB’s - is primarily a middle infielder but has also played over 670 innings in left field - will likely play multiple positions.

Justin Williams - 26 years old - signed as free agent 3/3/22 - played last season with the Cardinals and appeared in 51 big league games accumulating 119 AB’s. Was the Diamondbacks 2nd round draft choice in the 2013 draft. He’s a career .294 hitter in the minors in 2,366 AB’s. Primarily a right fielder but can play all three positions.

We will review Reading in our next article.

Happy Day, Happy Baseball ⚾️

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