Highlighting the Drive roster will be eight players who were selected in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft, including four of the Red Sox' top five picks - outfielder Bryce Brentz (Supplemental Round, 36th overall), pitchers Anthony Ranaudo (Supplemental Round, 39th overall) and Brandon Workman (2nd round), and infielder Sean Coyle (3rd round). The Drive's Opening Day roster also includes six players who saw action in Greenville during the 2010 season as the Drive repeated as South Atlantic League Southern Division Champions - pitchers Jordan Flasher, Manuel Rivera and 2010 South Atlantic League All-Star Dennis Neuman, catcher Christian Vazquez, infielder Jose Garcia, and outfielder Felix Sanchez.
Drive General Manager, Mike deMaine noted, "The Red Sox are among the best in the game at scouting, drafting and developing major league talent as evidenced by the number of players on their current roster who were selected and developed via the draft and their minor league system. Examples of players in this category include Drive alumni Clay Buchholz, Daniel Bard, Ryan Kalish, Josh Reddick, Felix Doubront, Lars Anderson, and Yamaico Navarro. The 2011 Drive roster will feature some of the organization's brightest prospects and I know our fans will enjoy watching these players perform and will encourage their development by cheering them on."
"The Boston Red Sox minor league system is recognized as one of the strongest player development systems in all of baseball and we are very proud to be an integral part of the Red Sox development system" added Co-Owner and Team President, Craig Brown. "The 2011 edition of the Drive will feature some of Boston's top prospects who will jump start their careers in Greenville before reaching Fenway and helping the Red Sox contend for World Championships."
The Drive pitching staff will be comprised of nine right-handers - Anthony Ranaudo, Brandon Workman, Dennis Neuman, Jordan Flasher, Miguel Celestino, Keith Couch, Tyler Lockwood, Juan Rodriguez, and Kyle Stroup - and a trio of southpaws - Manuel Rivera, Hunter Cervenka, and Mike Hacker.
Both Ranaudo and Workman will be making their professional debuts after stellar collegiate careers for the LSU Tigers and Texas Longhorns, respectively. As a sophomore in 2009, Ranaudo won the clinching game for LSU in the College World Series. Workman boasted a Big-12 best 12 wins a year ago as a junior.
Assuming the catching duties will be Carson Blair, Leonel Escobar, and Christian Vazquez. Vazquez, 9th round selection out of Puerto Rico in 2008, spent all of last year with the Drive where he led the team with 60 games behind the plate. He also posted a career-best 14-game hitting streak from May 31st to July 3rd, hitting .370 (20-for-54) over that span.
The infield will be filled of fresh faces, as Jose Garcia is the only player who saw action in Greenville in last year, joining the Drive prior to the 2010 South Atlantic League Playoffs. He will be joined by Sean Coyle, Miles Head, Drew Hedman, James Kang, David Renfroe, and Jason Thompson.
As a member of the Lowell Spinners, Garcia was named a New York-Penn League All-Star, and accounted for the eventual game-winning RBI. As a senior at Germantown (PA) Academy, Coyle was named Pennsylvania's Gatorade Player of the Year and was selected to Baseball America's All-America High School First Team.
Patrolling the outfield will be Bryce Brentz, Brandon Jacobs, Lucas LeBlanc, and Felix Sanchez. Sanchez, who also joined the Drive prior to the playoffs last season, boasts tremendous speed after swiping a New York-Penn League high and Lowell Spinners record 38 bases, in just 57 games.
A power hitter who totaled 61 home runs in three seasons at Middle Tennessee State, Brentz collected 23 extra-base hits for the Spinners in 69 games, including a team-high four triples and 39 runs batted in.
"We have a great group of young, talented prospects that will comprise the Drive's roster this season," commented Drive Manager Billy McMillon. "The offense will have a very balanced attack with power and speed, while the pitching staff features many hurlers with electric pitches. I'm excited for the start of the 2011 season, and the potential in this year's team."
Opening Day at Fluor Field at the West End is Thursday, April 7th, as the Drive host the Augusta GreenJackets (San Francisco Giants) at 7:05 PM. Single-game tickets, ticket plans, luxury accommodations, and group outings, can be purchased by calling (864) 240-4500 or by visiting www.GreenvilleDrive.com.