This year's opening day roster includes three top prospects in the Brewers organization, ten members of Milwaukee's 2011 draft class, ten players who played with the Timber Rattlers in 2011, and one native of Fond du Lac, Wisconsin.
Baseball America's Prospect Handbook rates the top 30 prospects in each Major League organization. In their 2012 edition, they placed shortstop Yadiel Rivera (#15), pitcher David Goforth (#17), and pitcher Drew Gagnon (#23) on the Brewers Top 30 List.
Rivera, who turns 20 on May 1, was the unanimous choice of Pioneer League managers as the best defensive shortstop in 2011. He also hit eight homers with 38 RBI for the Helena Brewers after he played 32 games for Wisconsin last season.
The Handbook mentions that Goforth, who also played in Helena after being drafted out of the University of Mississippi, has a fastball that ranges between 94mph and 99mph. He appeared in 19 games as a reliever with Helena in 2011.
Gagnon was a college teammate of TJ Mittelstaedt, a Rattlers outfielder last year, when both played at Long Beach State University. He saw action in Helena last season - appearing in eight games and making seven starts - with 27 strikeouts in nineteen innings pitched.
Players from the 2011 draft: Pitchers Gagnon (3rd round), Goforth (7th), Tommy Toledo (11th), Jacob Barnes (14th), Andy Moye (15th), Brandon Williamson (20th), and Chad Pierce (38th); catcher Parker Berberet (25th); infielder Adrian Williams (45th); and outfielder Ben McMahan (23rd).
Rivera is one of the returning players for 2012. Fellow infielders Carlos George, Greg Hopkins, Brandon Macias, and Jason Rogers played for the Timber Rattlers in 2011. Also returning are: Pitchers Seth Lintz, and Matt Miller; catchers Rafael Neda and Tyler Roberts; and outfielder Chad Stang.
Chad Pierce played high school baseball for Fond du Lac and earned Wisconsin Baseball Coaches Association All-State honors three times with the Fox Valley Association school. He played two seasons at Arkansas before transferring to play two seasons at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee where he would become the Horizon League Pitcher of the Year in 2011.
Other players on the team include: Pitchers Seth Harvey, Stephen Peterson, Kevin Shackelford, and Mark Williams and outfielder John Dishon.
Fans will get a chance to see the 2012 Timber Rattlers in action at Time Warner Cable Field on Tuesday during Fan Fest from Noon until 5:30pm. The team will practice and play an intrasquad game during the day. Plus, there will be plenty of opportunities for autographs.
The Timber Rattlers begin the 2012 season with a three game series against the Cedar Rapids Kernels at Time Warner Cable Field from Thursday through Saturday. Opening Night is April 5 at 6:35pm with an All Fan Bobblehead Giveaway. Friday night's game also is scheduled to start at 6:35pm. The opening series concludes with a 1:05pm game on Saturday afternoon.
Tickets for all Timber Rattlers home games are available on timberrattlers.com, by calling 800-WI-TIMBER or by stopping at the Time Warner Cable Field ticket office from 9am to 5pm Monday through Friday and Saturdays between 10am and 3pm.