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  • Writer's pictureSteve Potter

4/6/22 : Minor League opening roster projections - Jersey Shore

We project the Jersey Shore roster as our third article in a series on discussing the 2022 opening day Minor League rosters. If you missed the first two articles here are links :

2022 Jersey Shore Blue Claws

The team opens the season on Friday, April 8th at home vs Aberdeen ( Orioles affiliate ).

Manager and Coaches :

Keith Werman (manager)

Ari Adut (hitting coach)

Pat Listach (bench/position coach)

Brad Bergesen (pitching coach)

Vanessa Escanilla (strength & conditioning coach)

Steve Torregrossa (athletic trainer)

Pitchers : full of strong arms - likely the highest upside staff in the organization

Starters :

RH Mick Abel - 20 years old - 1st round draft choice - 2020 - big arm capabilities ( 97-99 mph FB ) - is learning how to be a complete pitcher, great student and listener. I’ve heard scouts make comparisons to Roy Halladay. Had outings this spring where he dominated but also ones where there were struggles - all part of the development process. The talent, desire, makeup and moxy are all there.

RH Ben Brown - 22 years old - 2017 33rd round draft selection - had a strong mini and spring camp - was popping the mitt consistently in the 94-96 mph range. Ben throws a heavy sinker that gets on hitters quickly - uses his 6’6” frame for great extension. He had Tommy John surgery in 2019 but is now fully recovered. Has the complete package to be successful.

RH Cristian Hernandez - 21 years old - signed as an international free agent on 7/9/17 from Venezuela - had a strong 2021 season as part of the Threshers rotation - recorded 94 K’s in 75 2/3 IP ( 11.18 K/9 ) and posted a 3.57 ERA in 20 games. He has a three pitch mix with the fastball sitting 93-95 mph and a curve and changeup.

RH Christian McGowan - 22 years old - 2021 7th round draft selection - pitched five scoreless innings in four 2021 games ( 1 - FCL, 3 - Clearwater ) with a WHIP of 0.60 and 8 K’s, 1 BB. Four seam fastball is in the 94-97 range, sinker 93-96 and slider 81-85 , change-up is an out pitch that offsets the power arsenal - power arm that can dominate games. When he commands the strike zone he’s another hurler that can overpower opponents.

RH Griff McGarry - 22 years old - 2021 5th round draft selection - we saw Griff pitch a couple of times in Fall Instructs after he pitched in eight games with Clearwater and Jersey Shore ( 24 1/3 IP - 2.96 ERA - 43 K’s - 14 walks )- fastball is in the 93-97 ( sinker & four seamer ) range with life, also throws a change-up, curve and slider. Can be a quick riser, stuff is upper level ready. He was slowed this spring by an oblique injury but closed camp with a couple bullpens and is ready to start the season - initial game action will be monitored for pitch count until he builds up. A lot of scouts ask about him, is legit.

RH Victor Vargas - 21 years old - signed as an international free agent on 7/2/17 from Colombia - had an outstanding month of June in 2021 with Clearwater posting a 2.11 ERA in five games ( 21 1/3 IP ) with 22 K’s and 6 walks. Uses a Sinker, Slider and Change-Up mix with the heater ranging from 89-92 mph - smooth delivery, strong mechanics and high baseball IQ are assets for success. Attacks hitters to induce weak contact - generally throws strikes. We like his moxy and competitiveness.

Bullpen :

LH Erubiel Armenta - 22 years old - signed 7/11/19 as a free agent from Mexico - mid 90’s FB, big strikeout capabilities

RH Andrew Baker - 22 years old - 2021 11th round draft selection - upper 90’s FB that can overpower hitters

RH Carlos Francisco - 22 years old - 2019 28th round draft selection - mid 90’s FB and strong slider

RH Jonathan Hughes - 25 years old - signed as un-drafted free agent 2020 - high spin rates and movement

LH Ethan Lindow - 23 years old - 2017 5th round draft selection - excellent command - strong secondaries

RH Tyler McKay - 24 years old - 2018 16th round draft selection - mid 90’s flash, strong slider and changeup

LH Jhordany Mezquita - 24 years old - 2017 8th round draft selection - mid 90’s FB - battles control/command

RH Dominic Pipkin - 22 years old - 2018 9th round draft selection - will become a back end reliever - upper 90’s heater

RH Carlo Reyes - 23 years old - signed 10/8/18 as free agent from Dominican Republic - multi inning capabilities

RH Jason Ruffcorn - 23 years old - 2021 8th round draft selection - mid 90’s FB - comes from side arm slot

RH Matt Russell - 23 years old - signed as un-drafted free agent 2021 - mid to upper 90’s FB - gets after it

RH Andrew Schultz - 24 years old - 2019 6th round draft selection - upper 90’s FB - backend reliever

LH JP Woodward - 23 years old - signed as un-drafted free agent 2020 - multi inning capabilities - strike thrower

Catchers :

Karl Ellison - 26 years old - signed on 3/2/22 as a free agent - played in the Frontier League for Lake Erie in 2019/2021 and collegiately at Lynn University in 2017 after transferring from Vanderbilt where he played from 2014 to 2016. He was the starting catcher in the NCAA championship game for the 2014 Vanderbilt squad. Very outgoing personality - had a good spring camp - impressed defensively and hit a dinger in final intra squad scrimmage on Roberts Field.

Nick Matera - 25 years old - 2018 34th round draft selection - Solid defender behind the dish who has a game presence, strong arm and good receiving skills. At the plate we’ve seen the ability to hit the ball hard and out of the park. He’s a grinder that can handle and guide a pitching staff.

Andrick Nava - 20 years old - signed as an international free agent on 7/2/18 from Venezuela - missed almost the entire 2021 season with a shoulder issue. We saw him in 2019 GCL action as a 18 year old when he hit .314 in 156 AB’s - good hitting skills who is also capable defensively - having two older receiving teammates with him will allow him to continue to learn his craft.

Infield :

Luis Garcia - 21 years old - SS/2B - signed as an international free agent on 7/2/17 from Dominican Republic - outstanding fielder, in our opinion the best all-around ( hands, arm, range, savy ) middle infielder in the minor league system - had a breakout ‘21 season in regards to driving the baseball with authority - hit 13 home runs, 18 doubles and 5 triples for Clearwater/Jersey Shore in 103 games ( 391 AB’s ). Is on the 40 man roster, we are very high on his abilities and see a major league future for him as a middle infield regular.

Casey Martin - 22 years old - 2B/SS - 2020 3rd round draft selection - had a strong month of June in 2021 with Clearwater ( .357 average in 56 AB’s ) that earned him a promotion to Jersey Shore. He suffered a season ending injury in early September. Had a good mini camp and spring training, is ready to go. He is a good defender at both shortstop and second base, wide range at either position and good arm. Has decent speed - perhaps a refined hitting approach could lead to top of the order capabilities.

DJ Stewart - 23 years old - 3B/1B/OF - 2017 39th round draft selection - had a strong year in 2021 in regards to power numbers, playing time and run production. He appeared in 94 games with Clearwater and Jersey Shore compiling 358 AB’s and hit 13 doubles, 3 triples and 14 home runs. Had a torrid month of May with Clearwater ( .353 in 68 AB’s ) which earned him a promotion to Jersey Shore where he remained a lineup regular. Defensively can play 1B,3B and LF - very strong young man who generates high velocity bat speed, can hit the ball a ton. Doesn’t strike out at a high rate, puts the ball in play.

McCarthy Tatum - 25 years old - 3B/1B/OF - 2019 10th round draft selection - began the 2021 season with Reading and was transferred to Jersey Shore on 7/27/21 - 352 AB’s, 11 HR and 34 RBIs in his first full season of play. Plays 3B primarily defensively but also will play 1B. Good defender at either corner.

Nicolas Torres - 22 years old - UTL - signed as an international free agent on 7/2/16 from Venezuela - upon promotion to Jersey Shore from Clearwater in August of last season he took off offensively and posted a .388 batting average in 27 games with the Blue Claws including a .429 OBP, overall hit .286 for the season in 96 games ( 329 AB’s ) - very versatile defender who has played every position on the field except pitcher and catcher. Great team player, keeps head down, works hard and takes on any role without hesitation, winning attitude and solid skill set.

Outfield :

Carlos De La Cruz - 22 years old - signed 8/23/17 as an un -drafted free agent - first saw Carlos on the backfields in 2018 GCL play, he’s got the ability to drive the baseball a very long way. He showed that again this spring with multiple drives beyond the outfield fences. He finished the 2021 season strong by hitting .346 in September with Jersey Shore. Defensively he plays all three outfield positions.

Baron Radcliff - 23 years old - 2020 5th round draft selection - power is very evident, had a “loud” spring camp launching many baseballs well beyond the right field fences - he’s a left handed hitter - 13 home runs and 42 RBIs in 87 games ( 257 AB’s ) with the FCL Phillies and Clearwater in 2021. He also has a keen eye - 71 walks led the minor league organization and .371 OBP was third. Has displayed good defensive skills, robbed a home run with a leaping catch against the left field fence in a ‘21 game at Clearwater. The strikeouts are too high, sometimes swing gets long - albeit typical of long ball hitters. Works hard and is very coachable, both assets to further development.

Johan Rojas - 21 years old - signed as an international free agent on 1/18/18 from Dominican Republic - turned heads in both mini camp and spring training - outstanding skills and loves to play - it shines thru as bright as his smile - very solid 2021 season - 18 doubles, 4 triples, 11 home runs, 52 RBIs and 34 stolen bases in 96 games ( FCL, Clearwater & Jersey Shore ) - 381 AB’s. Is an exceptional fielder, range, reads, speed, arm, all there - also uses his speed very well on the base paths - is fun to watch. Has all the tools to advance to the majors and excel when he gets there.

Ethan Wilson - 22 years old - 2021 2nd round draft selection - Won the 2022 Bill Giles award for best minor league spring camp - he’s a ballplayer who gets after it - very quick hands as a hitter, powerful swing - drives thru the ball. Will take the outside pitch the other way - is a left handed hitter. Also seems to be selective, won’t get himself out on bad pitches. Defensively we’ve seen him in all three outfield spots, good reads and strong arm, he’s not a burner but can handle all three spots.

Next we will preview Clearwater.

Happy Day, Happy Baseball ⚾️

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