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Blue Jays announce 2012 Opening Day roster
Star-studded pitching staff headlines first Baby Jays roster
06/15/2012 10:56 PM ET
Come to Bowen Field on Saturday at 6 to meet the newest Bluefield Blue Jays!
Come to Bowen Field on Saturday at 6 to meet the newest Bluefield Blue Jays! (James Smyth)
It's finally here! The Appalachian League season starts on Tuesday and the Toronto Blue Jays have released their short-season minor league assignments, including the 2012 Opening Day roster for the Bluefield Blue Jays!

At the rookie level of the minor leagues, teams have 35-man rosters, of which 25 are deemed active for each game. The Baby Jays have 33 on the roster at the moment.

There will be a meet-and-greet event at Bowen Field on Saturday afternoon right when the players arrive at around 6 p.m. On Sunday they will take the field for the first time in an exhibition game against the Lexington Chops wood-bat collegiate team.

Opening Day of the Appalachian League season is on Tuesday, and the Blue Jays will open the 2012 campaign on the road against the Bristol White Sox. After a three-game series they'll head back to Bluefield for the Bowen Field home opener on Friday night against the Johnson City Cardinals in a rematch of last year's Appy League Championship Series.

Manager Dennis Holmberg returns for his second year at the helm after leading Bluefield to its first postseason berth since 2002. He's been with the Toronto organization since 1978 and has piloted ten playoff teams.

Antonio Caceres is back as pitching coach for his second year on Holmberg's staff. He pitched for four seasons in the Blue Jays farm system (1996-99) and has been a pitching coach in the organization ever since.

There is one newcomer to the coaching staff and that's new hitting coach Paul Elliott. Kenny Graham tutored the batters last season and earned a promotion to the low-A Lansing Lugnuts. The Sydney, Australia native is starting his 17th season as a Blue Jays minor league manager or coach.

He is no stranger to the Appalachian League, as he managed Pulaski in 2003 when they were a Blue Jays affiliate. He's spent the past two seasons in the Gulf Coast League before joining Bluefield for 2012.

Elliott was a coach for the Australian National Team in the 2004 Olympics and the 2006 and 2009 World Baseball Classic. He has also managed the Parramatta Patriots, Sydney Storm and Sydney Blues of the Australian Baseball League.

The new trainer is Jon Woodworth and Jason Quarles will return for his second season as strength and conditioning coach.

Toronto roving instructor Sandy Alomar Sr. will also join the 2012 field staff for the start of the season. Alomar played for 15 seasons in the major leagues from 1964-78, mostly for the California Angels. He was an All-Star in 1970 and was a standout in the field at second base.

Most fans know him as the father of two great players from the 1990's. Sandy Jr. was the 1990 American League Rookie of the Year and a six-time All-Star while catching for 20 seasons in the majors. Roberto won more Gold Gloves at second base (ten) than any player in major league history. The 12-time All-Star won two World Series titles with Toronto and in 2011 he became the first player to be inducted into the Hall of Fame as a Blue Jay.

So that's the 2012 field staff and without further ado, here is the Opening Day roster for the Bluefield Blue Jays:

PITCHERS

LHP Kyle Anderson
RHP Colby Broussard
RHP Julio Carmona
RHP Kevin Comer
LHP Shane Davis
RHP Brandon Dorsett
RHP Deivy Estrada
RHP Jeremy Gabryszewski
RHP Justin James
RHP Tucker Jensen
LHP Griffin Murphy
RHP Joe Musgrove
LHP Daniel Norris
RHP Roberto Osuna
RHP Tom Robson
LHP Joe Spano
RHP Denny Valdez
RHP Les Williams

CATCHERS

C Hector Alvarez
C Santiago Nessy

INFIELDERS

1B Art Charles
3B Matt Dean
2B Christian Frias
SS Jason Leblebijian
SS Christian Lopes
SS Chris Peters
SS Dickie Joe Thon

OUTFIELDERS

OF Jacob Anderson
OF Eric Arce
OF Alex Azor
OF Carlos Ramirez
OF Dwight Smith Jr.
OF Nico Taylor

Some familiar faces team up with recent draftees to comprise what looks to be a very exciting team! Slugging first baseman Art Charles is back while highly-touted arms like Daniel Norris, Kevin Comer, Roberto Osuna, Joe Musgrove and Tom Robson lead the pitching staff. Here's an in-depth look at all 33 of your Bluefield Blue Jays!

LHP Kyle Anderson
This lefty from Aptos, CA wasn't drafted in 2012 out of Cal Poly, but the Blue Jays signed him up right after the draft two weeks ago. He went 10-1 with a 3.40 ERA and two complete games as a senior this spring for the Mustangs. As a youngster, Kyle played in the 2002 Little League World Series.

RHP Colby Broussard
This 2011 draftee (44th round) moves up after a successful debut season in the Gulf Coast League. The reliever posted a 1.85 ERA and allowed only 12 hits in 24.1 innings, holding opponents to a .145 batting average. The Luling, LA native finished tied for seventh in the league with seven saves and tied for third with 16 games finished.

RHP Julio Carmona
Julio was signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2010 and began his pro career by leading the Dominican Summer League Blue Jays in starts with 14. He didn't allow a home run while posting a batting average against of .189. He came stateside in 2011 and transferred to a bullpen role. Carmona appeared in 23 games, one off the GCL lead in that category.

RHP Kevin Comer
Kevin makes his professional debut this season after being taken with the 57th-overall pick in 2011. The Shamong, NJ resident had committed to Vanderbilt before signing with the Jays. He starred at Seneca High School in Tabernacle, NJ and was ranked as the 35th-best high school prospect by Baseball America in 2011. Comer stands to be one of the top hurlers in the Bluefield staff.

LHP Shane Davis
This Canadian southpaw is coming off a Northwest League championship season with Vancouver. Taken in the 42nd round last year, Shane broke school records at Canisius for career wins, strikeouts, innings, starts and complete games. He was dynamite in summer ball, tossing a no-hitter in the New York Collegiate Baseball League and being named Pitcher of the Year in 2008.

RHP Brandon Dorsett
The former Indiana State Sycamore signed with the Blue Jays after the draft two weeks ago after a stellar senior season. He put up a paltry 1.61 ERA in 26 games. The Terre Haute, IN native hopes to follow in the footsteps of his father, Brian, who also played at ISU and played in parts of eight seasons as a catcher in the majors.

RHP Deivy Estrada
Mercer Cup hero Deivy Estrada is back for 2012. On August 10 last year, he beat Princeton in the Mercer Cup clincher by holding the Rays to four hits in five scoreless frames, striking out six without walking a batter. He suffered a tough-luck loss in Game Two of Appy League Championship Series, holding Johnson City to one earned run in five innings, but the Cardinals won 4-1 to clinch the title.

RHP Jeremy Gabryszewski
The 2011 second-round pick returns after three relief outings for the Baby Jays last year. Two came in the postseason, he allowed two runs in four and two-thirds innings.

RHP Justin James
The righty signed with the Jays after the draft coming off a terrific season at Ave Maria University in Florida. He registered a 2.99 ERA and 86 strikeouts in 90.1 innings as a senior, taking home Second Team All-Sun Conference honors. He led the conference in strikeouts per nine innings as a junior (10.9) and tossed a 19-strikeout gem that season against Webber International. James was also a two-time All-Star in summer ball in the New York Collegiate Baseball League.

RHP Tucker Jensen
The Ormond Beach, FL native is back at Bowen Field. He struck out 56 hitters in 57 innings while splitting time between the GCL, low-A Lansing and Bluefield. Jensen attended Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach and helped the Eagles win four straight regular season conference titles and three straight conference tournaments. His grandfather was Jackie Jensen the 1958 AL MVP with the Red Sox and the first man to play in the Rose Bowl (1949 Cal), World Series (1950 Yankees) and MLB All-Star Game (1952).

LHP Griffin Murphy
The left-hander was Baseball America's 14th-ranked Blue Jays prospect in 2011 after being chosen in the second round of the 2010 draft. He spent last season in the GCL and finished tied for fourth in the league in starts (11) while striking out 39 in 41 innings.

RHP Joe Musgrove
A supplemental first round pick (46th overall) in 2010, Joe was great for the GCL Jays in 2011. In eight appearances (seven starts) for GCL Blue Jays, allowed only 17 hits and four walks in 21.2 innings. He moved up to Bluefield for one regular-season relief appearance and shut out Danville for three innings on August 28. Joe then worked three and two-thirds innings of one-run ball in Game Two of the Appy League semifinals against Elizabethton. After the season, Musgrove was placed 15th on Baseball America's list of top Gulf Coast League prospects.

LHP Daniel Norris
This southpaw from Johnson City, TN is the most highly-touted player on the Opening Day roster. Baseball America ranked him as the second-best high school prospect and 91st among all MLB prospects in 2011. Toronto took him in the second round last year after Daniel struck out 123 batters in 68 innings as a senior at Science Hill High School. Norris will make his professional debut as perhaps the best pitcher on what should be a strong staff.

RHP Roberto Osuna
Only 17 years old, Osuna comes to Mercer County from Los Mochis, Mexico, the hometown of former Brewers star Teddy Higuera. Toronto signed him out of the Mexican League, which is thought to be AAA-level, last year when he was just 16. His uncle, Antonio, was a reliever for 11 seasons in the majors (1995-2005).

RHP Tom Robson
A six-foot-four righty from British Columbia, Tom was a fourth-round pick last year and was ranked 72nd on Baseball America's list of top high school prospects.

LHP Joe Spano
Verona, NJ resident and former Notre Dame pitcher Joe Spano signed as an undrafted free agent two weeks ago. He missed the 2011 season due to Tommy John surgery, but returned in 2012 to post 3.43 ERA in 29 games for the Fighting Irish. As a high schooler at Seton Hall Prep, he won back-to-back state titles in 2006 and 2007, the last on the nation's top-ranked team.

RHP Denny Valdez
This Dominican righty is still coming back from Tommy John surgery, he missed the entire 2010 season and returned briefly in 2011 in the GCL. Prior to the injury, he held Dominican Summer League opponents to 24 hits in 32.2 innings and pitched to a 2.20 ERA in 2010.

RHP Les Williams
A Toronto native, Les was drafted by his hometown team in the 37th round in 2011. He went 2-2 with a 4.46 ERA in 17 games in Bluefield in his first professional action last summer. As a high schooler he played for the Canadian Junior National Team and went on to become the all-time innings pitched leader at Northeastern University.

C Hector Alvarez
The Venezuelan backstop joins the Toronto organization after being selected in the Rule 5 draft at December's Winter Meeting in Dallas. He hit .240 in four seasons in the Mets' system prior to this year.

C Santiago Nessy
Hailing from Caracas, Venezuela, Santiago is coming off a U.S. debut in which he hit .306 for the Gulf Coast League Jays at the age of 18. He signed with Toronto in 2009 and played in the Dominican Summer League in 2010.

1B Art Charles
The reigning Appy League RBI champ returns to Bluefield in 2012. A six-foot-six slugging lefty, Art was a 2011 All-Star and helped lead the Baby Birds to the Championship Series with a league-high six runs scored in the playoffs. Hailing from Bakersfield, Charles ranked in the Appy League's top ten in most offensive categories.

3B Matt Dean
This highly-touted prospect will man the hot corner for Bluefield. Matt was selected in the 13th round in 2011 and was Baseball America's 60th-best high school prospect in America. The Highland Village, Texas product excelled in baseball and football at The Colony High School.

2B Christian Frias
A switch-hitter from Puerto Rico, Christian moves up after two years in the GCL. He signed with Toronto in 2010 after leading the University of Rio Grande RedStorm to its first NAIA Tournament. He is the godson of Hall of Famer Roberto Alomar.

SS Jason Leblebijian
The former Bradley Brave was taken in the 25th round this month. A two-time team co-captain, he was an All-Missouri Valley Conference honorable mention at shortstop twice. Jason was a two-sport star at Prospect High School in Arlington Heights, IL, getting it done on the basketball court as well as the diamond.

SS Christian Lopes
A 2011 seventh-round pick, Lopes was a First Team Rawlings preseason All-America selection. Last year, Baseball America ranked him as the 43rd-best high school prospect in the country. He attended Edison High School in his hometown of Huntington Beach, CA, the same high school as Jeff Kent.

SS Chris Peters
Chris walked on at the University of Cincinnati and wound up playing four seasons with the Bearcats. He played every single game during his last three years there and ranks in Cincy's top ten in several statistical categories. He was a Second-Team All-Ohio selection as a senior at Tipp City High School after hitting .430. He debuted with the Blue Jays in the GCL last year. Peters knocked his first professional homer on August 22 against the GCL Tigers, and it was a grand slam.

SS Dickie Joe Thon
A fifth-round draft pick in 2010, Thon was ranked as the 16th-best prospect in the Toronto organization by Baseball America in 2011. He played 45 games in the GCL last year despite a blood disorder that sidelined him in spring training. He bounced back to bat .348 in the month of June. His father was former big leaguer Dickie Thon, who played shortstop in the 1980's, mostly for the Astros. He came up as one of the best young infielders in the game, but on April 8, 1984, he was hit in the eye by a Mike Torrez pitch and sadly was never the same. He did come back and play another nine seasons.

OF Jacob Anderson
Jacob has only played nine games as a pro, but he impressed in a brief stint in the Gulf Coast League last year. The 35th-overall pick of the 2010 draft went 15-for-37 for a batting average of .405. Last year the Chino, CA native was ranked by Baseball America as the 30th-best high school prospect in the country.

OF Eric Arce
Eric is coming off a monster year in the Gulf Coast League. He earned a six-game call-up to Bluefield at the end of the season and went 1-for-3 in one playoff game. The Tampa native looks to build on a season in which he led the GCL in home runs (14), walks (38) and OPS (1.058). He was in the league's top ten in runs batted in (2nd, 40), slugging percentage (2nd, .621), on base percentage (3rd, .437), runs (T-10th, 34) and total bases (4th, 95). That earned him an All-Star nod at designated hitter and Baseball America deemed him a Rookie Classification All-Star in the outfield.

OF Alex Azor
A lefty-swinging center fielder from Miami, Alex attended the Naval Academy in Annapolis and was taken in the tenth round of this month's draft. He ranks fifth on Navy's all-time hit list and was the highest-drafted player in school history after earning two All-Patriot League First Team selections.

OF Carlos Ramirez
This left-handed bat hails from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, cradle of MLB superstars like Albert Pujols, Manny Ramirez and Jose Bautista. He signed with the Jays in 2009 and spent the 2011 season with Bluefield, hitting .232 with two homers in 40 games.

OF Dwight Smith Jr.
Baseball America's 30th-ranked high school prospect is from Peachtree City, GA. Chosen in the first round (53rd overall), he is the son of the former major leaguer of the same name. Dwight Sr. broke in with the Cubs in 1989 and finished second to teammate Jerome Walton in the NL Rookie of the Year voting for the division champs. He later won a World Series with the Atlanta Braves in 1995 and hung up his cleats in 1996 after an eight-year career.

OF Nico Taylor
A native of McKinney, TX, Nico hit .319 in 30 games in the GCL last year and made only one error in the outfield. The highlight of his season was on August 15 against the GCL Phillies, when he broke a 6-6 ninth-inning tie with a two-out, three-run walk-off homer. He attended Northwood University and hit .418 on his was to being named an NAIA Second-Team All-American.

These guys will help make 2012 a great summer at Bowen Field. Come be a part of the fun and excitement! Season ticket books are still available, with 35 tickets for only $65. Stop by Bowen Field, call 304-324-1326, or visit the Tickets page on BluefieldJays.com.

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.
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