SEVIERVILLE, Tenn. - The Tennessee Smokies, Class AA minor league affiliate of the Chicago Cubs, proudly announce today its 2009 Opening Day roster. This year's 25-man Smokies roster will take on a whole new look, as two-thirds of the players (17) arriving to East Tennessee will call Smokies Park "home" for the first time.
Headlining this year's roster is catcher Welington Castillo, rated the #5 Cubs prospect in Baseball America. A 2008 Futures Game participant and 2008 Florida State League Mid-Year All-Star, Castillo hit .298 with 25 runs and 24 RBIs in 57 games for Tennessee last year after being called up. Steve Clevenger, who also spent time with the Smokies last season, will join him behind the plate.
The 2009 crop of infielders looks to be strong as newcomers Darwin Barney, Tony Thomas and Jonathan Mota join returnees Matt Camp, Blake Lalli and Kyle Reynolds. Barney, Thomas and Mota all played together on the Florida State League title-winning Daytona Cubs (High-A) last season. Camp and Lalli move to the infield dirt from previous spots on the 2008 Smokies roster as outfielder and catcher, respectively.
The team's lineup in the outfield will look completely different than during any time in 2008, with newcomers Jim Adduci, Brandon Guyer, Richie Robnett and Ty Wright coming on-board. Adduci and Wright are making the jump to Tennessee from Daytona, while Guyer comes from the Peoria Chiefs (Low-A). Chicago acquired Robnett in the Michael Wuertz trade this past February.
On the mound, returnees Casey Lambert, Alex Maestri and James Russell will team up with Jay Jackson, rated the #9 Cubs prospect by Baseball America. Other newcomers to Smokies Park include Todd Blackford, Hung-Wen Chen, Casey Coleman, John Gaub, Jeremy Papelbon, Blake Parker, Vince Perkins, Jayson Ruhlman and Brian Schlitter. Every newcomer except for Gaub and Perkins moved up from Daytona; Gaub was acquired from the Cleveland Indians in the Mark DeRosa trade last December and Perkins from the Joliet Jackhammers (Northern League).
The Smokies kick off their 2009 season this Thursday, April 9, in Jacksonville against the Jacksonville Suns. Opening Night at Smokies Park is next Wednesday, April 15, as the team welcomes the Birmingham Barons. Tickets can be purchased at www.smokiesbaseball.com or at (865) 286-2300.