The New Orleans Zephyrs released the team's preliminary Opening Day roster for the 2010 season on Monday, which includes one of baseball's most heralded prospects and nine players returning from last season's squad.
Logan Morrison, a Northshore High School graduate who is ranked among the top prospects in baseball, will be the Zephyrs' first baseman. Morrison was the 2008 Florida State League Most Valuable Player, when he hit .332 with 38 doubles for Class A Jupiter.
Joining Morrison in the Zephyrs' infield will be Danny Richar, Donnie Murphy, Hector Luna, Ryan Klosterman, Vinny Rottino and Alejandro Machado. Brett Hayes returns as the primary catcher, with Brad Davis serving as the backup.
The outfield will be manned by Scott Cousins, Bryan Petersen and Jason Lane. Cousins is listed by Baseball America as the ninth-best prospect in the Florida Marlins system, while Petersen is coming off a stint in the Arizona Fall League where he hit .379. Lane played for the Zephyrs in 2002 and 2003, and ranks 10th in club history with 122 career RBI.
Anchoring the pitching staff will be Ryan Tucker, who made just four starts for the Zephyrs last year while battling knee and oblique injuries. Tucker is listed as the Marlins' sixth-best prospect by Baseball America. Joining Tucker in the starting rotation is Rick VandenHurk (5-2 with a 2.87 ERA in 11 starts with the Z's in 2009), Brian Lawrence (3-0, 3.00 ERA in five starts) and former first-round draft pick Andrew Miller.
The bullpen will be headed by Scott Strickland, the Pacific Coast League's saves leader last year with 32 for Albuquerque.Jay Buente and Brett Sinkbeil return to New Orleans, while Hunter Jones, Chris Leroux, Kasey Olenberger and Taylor Tankersley are newcomers to the Zephyrs' relief corps.
Edwin Rodriguez returns for his second season as Zephyrs manager, and is once again joined by pitching coach Scott Mitchell, athletic trainer Steve Miller and strength coach Gary McCoy. After ending his playing career following the 2009 season, Greg Norton steps in as the Zephyrs' new hitting coach.
The Zephyrs open the season at 7:00 p.m. on Thursday night against division rival Round Rock. Tickets are available by calling (504) 734-5155, by visiting the Zephyr Field box office or any Ticketmaster location, or by logging on to www.zephyrsbaseball.com.