Hoover, AL - The Birmingham Barons begin their 126th season of professional baseball on Thursday with a 24-man roster that contains six Baseball America Top 30 prospects within the Chicago White Sox minor-league system. Led by manager Bobby Magallanes, hitting coach Andy Tomberlin, pitching coach J.R. Perdew, athletic trainer Josh Fallin and strength and conditioning coach Raymond Smith, the Barons are on the hunt for their 14th Southern League championship.
What looks to be a strength for the Barons on paper, the relief pitching staff includes a trio of arms that are on the White Sox 40-man roster. Kyle Cofield, 24 and a Gadsden, AL native, was acquired by the White Sox from the Atlanta Braves in the Scott Linebrink trade during the offseason. He enters 2011 as the White Sox No. 23 Top Prospect according to Baseball America. Gregori Infante, 23, saw action at three levels within the White Sox system including making three appearances with Chicago at the end of the season. The Caracas, Venezuela native is Chicago's No. 6 Top Prospect according to Baseball America. Nathan Jones, 25, posted an 11-6 record with a 4.08 ERA with Winston-Salem last year. The Butler, KY native begins the 2011 campaign as the No. 21 Top Prospect in the White Sox system according to Baseball America. Birmingham will have an Australian on the squad with the 26-year-old Melbourne native right-hander, Shane Lindsay. Former Barons starting pitcher, Johnnie Lowe, 26, tackles his new role as a reliever for the 2011 season. Right-handed pitcher Brian Omogrosso, 26, looks to rebound from an injured 2010 season. Cincinnati native Dan Remenowski, 24, collected 60 strikeouts in 39.1 IP while pitching last season in Winston-Salem.
The Barons starting rotation begins with right-handed pitcher Dylan Axelrod, 25, who will get the Opening Day nod on Thursday against the Montgomery Biscuits. The Santa Barbara, CA native collected an 8-4 record between Class A Winston-Salem and Birmingham during the 2010 season. Xavier University product and 24 year-old left-handed pitcher, Charlie Leesman, looks to build on his 5-2 record with Birmingham last year. The Cincinnati, OH native enters the year as Chicago's No. 11 Top Prospect by Baseball America. The second southpaw in the rotation, 23-year-old Justin Edwards, split the last season between Winston-Salem and Birmingham with an 8-12 record. Brandon, FL native, Nevin Griffith, 22, continues to develop from his 4-2 record with a 3.11 ERA last season with Winston-Salem in the Barons' rotation. Rounding out the rotation is right-hander Matt Zaleski, 29-years-old and a Plano, IL native, returns to Birmingham after earning a 7-8 record during the 2010 season with Triple-A Charlotte.
Birmingham's catching duo will be first-round draft pick Josh Phegley and Jared Price. Phegley, 23, returns after playing only 48 games between three levels in the White Sox minor-league system during the 2010 season due to a rare blood condition. The Indiana University product begins the 2011 campaign as the No. 26 Top Prospect in the White Sox system according to Baseball America. Price, 29 and a native of Rupert, ID, returns to the White Sox system after being acquired by the Oakland Athletics during the middle of last season.
Familiar faces return in the Barons infield as University of Alabama product and Hoover, AL resident, Greg Paiml, who will return to the infield for the Barons during the 2011 season. The 26-year-old split the 2010 campaign between Winston-Salem and Birmingham. Tyler Kuhn, 24 and a Louisville, KY native, returns after hitting .279 for the Barons last season. Power-hitting, 25-year-old first baseman, Seth Loman, hit 25 home runs with 88 RBI last year with Winston-Salem. Shortstop Drew Garcia, 24, collected 70 RBI for the 2010 Winston-Salem ball club. Infielder Christian Colonel, 29, split the 2010 season between the Atlanta Braves and San Diego Padres systems before joining the White Sox this year.
The Barons outfield will have plenty of speed and power with Justin Greene, Ozzie Lewis, Christian Marrero, Brandon Short and Kenny Williams. Greene, a 25-year-old Goose Creek, SC native, hit over .300 for Winston-Salem before finishing the 2010 season with Birmingham. Lewis, 25, was a .300 hitter for Winston-Salem last year in addition to being a key cog in Fresno State's 2008 College World Series Championship. A Miami, FL native, Marrero, 24, will split time between the outfield and first base for the Barons. Short, 22, ranks No. 8 in Baseball America's Top 30 Prospects in the White Sox system. Williams, 24 and the son of White Sox General Manager, roamed Winston-Salem's outfield last year.
Birmingham Barons tickets are currently available on the web, over the phone or by visiting the Regions Park Box Office. The 2011 Barons season commences on Thursday, April 7th against the Montgomery Biscuits, Double-A affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays, with the home opener set for Wednesday, April 13th versus the Chattanooga Lookouts, Double-A affiliate of the Los Angeles Dodgers. For ticket information, game schedule, or promotions calendar, call (205) 988-3200 or visit www.barons.com, www.facebook.com/birminghambarons or on Twitter: @bhambarons.