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South Atlantic League leaner, younger
Teens Mier, Valle, Flores spark excitement in 14-team circuit
04/07/2010 10:00 AM ET
Jiovanni Mier had an .864 OPS in his debut season at Greeneville.
Jiovanni Mier had an .864 OPS in his debut season at Greeneville. (Tony Farlow/MiLB.com)
With the Bowling Green Hot Rods and Lake County Captains -- the northernmost and westernmost clubs in the circuit -- moving over to the Midwest League this season, the South Atlantic League has a much leaner look.

And thanks to prospects like Jiovanni Mier, Sebastian Valle and Wilmer Flores, it should be a lot younger, too.

Here's a team-by-team look at what else to expect in the South Atlantic League in 2010:

Asheville Tourists
2009 record: 68-70, First-half South Division champs
2010 manager: Joe Mikulik
What's on deck: Asheville hopes to rebound from a disappointing postseason run that ended on a walk-off homer in Game 2 of the semifinals. ... Mikulik, the winningest manager in team history, is back for an 11th season with the Tourists. ... On the field, expect to see former 12th-round pick 1B Jared Clark, who hit .348 with 11 homers in 58 games in the Rookie-level Pioneer League last summer. ... On the mound, LHP Wes Musick and RHP Dan Perkins move up from short-season Tri-City, where Musick was 3-0 with a 2.49 ERA and Perkins was 3-2 with a 2.80 ERA.

Augusta Greenjackets
2009 record: 76-63
2010 manager: Dave Machemer
What's on deck: After falling 1 1/2 games from taking the second-half Southern Division crown in 2009, the Greenjackets are hoping to return to their championship form of 2008. ... Dave Machemer is back for his second season as manager. ... RHP Dan Wheeler was selected sixth overall by the Giants in last year's Draft but signed late and will be making his professional debut this spring. ... OF Rafael Rodriguez, signed by the Giants as a non-drafted free agent in 2008 batted .299 in 35 games in the Rookie-level Arizona League last year.

Charleston RiverDogs
2009 record: 74-65
2010 manager: Greg Colbrunn
What's on deck: When the Yankees moved Torre Tyson, the winningest manager in RiverDogs' history, to Class A Advanced Tampa, Greg Colbrunn was promoted from hitting coach to manager. ... The RiverDogs should see more than a few of the players who helped short-season Staten Island capture the New York-Penn League championship last summer. Among them are All-Star OF DeAngelo Mack, who was second in the circuit with 30 extra-base hits and sixth in batting (.306), and RHP Sean Black, who was 6-0 with a 1.62 ERA 10 starts.

Delmarva Shorebirds
2009 record: 66-70
2010 manager: Ryan Minor
What's on deck: Another franchise that promoted from within, the Orioles moved bumped Orlando Gomez to Class A Advanced Frederick and replaced him in the Shorebirds dugout with Ryan Minor. Former Orioles outfielder Mike Devereaux is Delmarva's new hitting coach. ... DH Levi Carolus was a New York-Penn League All-Star after hitting .320 at short-season Aberdeen last summer. He should return to Delmarva after batting .250 in a 17-game stint. ... RHP Matt Hobgood, the fifth overall pick in last year's Draft, is ticketed for Arthur W. Perdue Stadium after going 1-2 with a 4.73 ERA in eight starts at Aberdeen. ... There'll be a familiar name in the Shorebirds outfield as Steven Bumbry, the son of longtime Oriole Al Bumbry, moves up from Aberdeen.

Greensboro Grasshoppers
2009 record: 66-74
2010 manager: Andy Haines
What's on deck: Haines will be a new face in Greensboro after managing the short-season Jamestown Jammers last season. ... The Grasshoppers should have a couple of former first-round picks on the roster. C Kyle Skipworth, selected sixth overall in 2008, hit just .208 in 70 games at Greensboro last year. But he homered in an exhibition game against the parent Marlins earlier this month. ... LHP Chad James went 18th overall last June but signed late and will be making his professional debut this season. The Oklahoma native throws a fastball in the mid-90s.

Greenville Drive
2009 results: 73-65, South Division champs
2010 manager: Billy McMillon
What's on deck: One year after losing to Lakewood in the Championship Series, the Drive return with rookie manager Billy McMillon, a former big league outfielder who spent the last two seasons as the team's hitting coach. ... OF Reymond Fuentes, a 2009 first-round pick, hit .290 with 14 RBIs in 40 games in the Gulf Coast League last year. He's the cousin of Mets All-Star Carlos Beltran. ... Joining Fuentes in the outfield is Wilfred Pichardo, who set a team record with 32 steals at short-season Lowell. ... OF Ryan Westmoreland may have started the year with the Drive but is recovering from brain surgery.

Hagerstown Suns
2009 record: 56-78
2010 manager: Matt LeCroy
What's on deck: Former big league catcher Matt LeCroy didn't reach .500 in his first year as Suns manager, but he'll have plenty of talent to work with this season. ... Talented but enigmatic LHP Jack McGeary will return after posting a 6.79 ERA in 13 starts at Hagerstown last summer. ... OF Destin Hood is a converted shortstop who passed up a football scholarship at Alabama. He batted .330 in the Gulf Coast League, then cooled off at short-season Vermont. ... The Suns will also be unveiling three new Hall of Fame statues this season -- Brady Anderson, May 29; Michael Young, June 12; and Jim Palmer, July 17.

Hickory Crawdads
2009 record: 63-76
2010 manager: Bill Richardson
What's on deck: Set to begin their second season as the Rangers' Class A affiliate, the Crawdads welcome back manager Bill Richardson, who led the team to a seventh-place finish in the North Division in 2009. ... Half of the players on the roster spent time in Hickory a year ago, including Opening Day starter RHP Joe Wieland. ... Among the newcomers is 17-year-old SS Jurickson Profar, who'll be making his professional debut and already has drawn comparisons to Rangers SS Elvis Andrus. ... LHP Robert Erlin and RHP Andrew Doyle were taken in the third and fourth round of the 2009 Draft, respectively.

Kannapolis Intimidators
2009 record: 82-57, North Division champs
2010 manager: Ernie Young
What's on deck: Former Minor League home run king Ernie Young returns for his second season in the dugout. ... Top prospect C Miguel Gonzalez, who hit .311 at Rookie-level Bristol, will make his full-season debut with the Intimidators. The 19-year-old will handle a staff that includes 2009 Draft picks Kyle Bellamy (fifth round) and Justin Collop (sixth round) .

Lakewood BlueClaws
2009 record: 78-58, South Atlantic League champs
2010 manager: Mark Parent
What's on deck: The defending South Atlantic League champions will hoist their second banner since 2006 at their home opener on April 16 against Asheville. ... That also will be the first game for new manager Mark Parent following the promotion of Dusty Wathan to Clearwater. ... Parent, a former Major League catcher, will work with New York-Penn League All-Star C Sebastian Valle, who had 11 homers and 29 RBIs during winter ball in Mexico. ... OF Jiwan James is a converted pitcher who batted .264 with eight extra-base hits, 13 RBIs and seven steals at short-season Williamsport last summer. ... Control specialist LHP Matthew Way anchors the starting rotation. Across two levels last season, he struck out 85 while walking only 12 in 75 1/3 innings. ... RHP Jarred Cosart got his feet wet in the Gulf Coast League, going 2-2 with a 2.22 ERA in seven appearances.

Lexington Legends
2009 record: 68-72
2010 manager: Tom Lawless
What's on deck: SS Jiovanni Mier, the 21st overall pick in the 2009 Draft, will make his full-season debut with the Legends. Considered a strong defensive shortstop, he ranked 13th in slugging percentage in the Rookie-level Appalachian League last year while stealing 10 bases for Greeneville. ... OF J.D. Martinez will step up a level after raking in both the Appalachian and New York-Penn leagues in 2009. He combined to hit .348 with 12 homers and 56 RBIs in 72 games.

Rome Braves
2009 record: 66-63
2010 manager: Randy Ingle
What's on deck: One constant in the Braves organization has been Rome manager Randy Ingle. He's served as a player, coach or manager in the Atlanta system for 30 years. ... RHP Julio Teheran will start the season in Rome, but he may not stay long. Only 18, he has electric stuff that helped him post a 2.68 ERA and .229 average against at Rookie-level Danville. He was inconsistent in seven starts with the R-Braves. ... C Christian Bethancourt made his American debut last year at the age of 17 but already is regarded by some as the heir apparent to Brian McCann. He combined to hit .277 with four homers and 27 RBIs in 46 games at two levels.

Savannah Sand Gnats
2009 record: 65-72
2010 manager: Pedro Lopez
What's on deck: Pedro Lopez returns to the dugout after spending last season managing short-season Brooklyn. ... SS Wilmer Flores and 3B Jefry Marte are both 18 years old as they begin their second seasons with the Gnats. Flores was a 2008 Futures Game selection. ... The pitching staff will include RHP Brandon Moore, who last August pitched the first no-hitter in Brooklyn history. He went on to finish fifth in the New York-Penn League with a 2.09 ERA.

West Virginia Power
2009 record: 67-70
2010 manager: Gary Green
What's on deck: RHP Hunter Strickland returns to Appalachian Power Park after combining with Diego Moreno on a no-hitter against Charleston last July 27. ... 3B Jesus Brito makes the jump to full-season ball after hitting .366 in 35 games in the Rookie-level Arizona League. He followed that up with a .325 average at short-season State College. ... The Opening Day roster also includes 2009 third-round pick OF Evan Chambers, who had a .393 on-base percentage at State College, where he hit four homers and drove in 22 runs in 58 games. ... SS Jarek Cunningham, a 2008 18th-round pick, returns after missing all of last season due to a torn ACL.

Alex Raskin is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.
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