The Tulsa Drillers 2013 Opening Day roster has been announced. The roster includes 12 players that have previously spent time in Tulsa, but first-year manager Kevin Riggs will also have several talented newcomers on his squad.
Of the players heading to Tulsa, five are ranked among MLB.com's Top 20 Prospects for the Rockies Organization, highlighted by right-handed starting pitcher Chad Bettis (#4) and outfielder Kyle Parker (#5).
Bettis was actually set to pitch for the Drillers in 2012 before a shoulder injury derailed his season. But after a solid spring, the Texas Tech product is healthy and expected to be a part of Tulsa's five-man starting rotation.
Since being drafted in 2010, Parker has lived up to the high expectations. Baseball America has him listed as the top power hitter in the Rockies farm system, as well as the organization's most disciplined hitter.
Other Rockies' Top 20 Prospects on the Driller roster are left-handed starter Tyler Matzek (#13), slick-fielding shortstop Cristhian Adames (#19), and right-handed reliever Joe Gardner (#18). Gardner started 23 games for the Drillers in 2012, but he will transition to the bullpen this season.
Along with Bettis and Matzek, right-hander Dan Houston will also take spot in the starting rotation. Houston is slated to be the Drillers opening night starter when they open the Texas League season on April 4 in San Antonio. Christian Bergman, who was named the California League's Pitcher of the Year in 2012 while with Modesto, will also be in the staring starting rotations, as will newcomer Timothy Gustafson.
In addition to Gardner, the Drillers bullpen will include several returning players. The list of bullpen members that previously pitched for Tulsa includes Isaiah Froneberger, Will Harris, Mike Marbry, Tim Sexton, Parker Frazier and Mike Solbach. Harris, who was just removed from Colorado's 40-man major league roster, is projected to be the team's closer. He appeared in 31 games for Tulsa last season before finishing the year in the majors with the Rockies.
Frazier, a Tulsa Bishop Kelley product, will fill a role in the bullpen to open the season. The right-hander spent all of last year in the Drillers starting rotation.
While there are only four pitchers on the 2013 roster who have not played in Tulsa previously, there are just four returning position players. This season will mark catcher Jose Gonzalez and first baseman Kiel Roling's third seasons with the Drillers, while second baseman Angelys Nina and outfielder Kent Matthes return for their second seasons.
Adames will be the club's starting shortstop while newcomer Henry Wrigley may see time at third base after hitting 13 home runs for Triple A Durham last year.
The outfield will include Matthes, Parker and 23-year-old Delta Cleary who hit .277 for Modesto last season.
Other position players include Jayson Langfels, Brett Tanos, Joey Wong and Jaron Shepherd.
Riggs enters his first season managing the Drillers after serving as hitting coach under Duane Espy in 2012. Aside from Riggs, Espy is the only member of the 2012 coaching staff to return, as he moves into the role of Development Supervisor, a new position created by the Rockies for the 2013 season.
Riggs and Espy will be joined on the staff by pitching coach Darryl Scott and hitting coach Darin Everson. Trainer Chris Dovey and strength coach Brian Buck will also be in their first seasons with the club.
The Drillers will begin the 2013 regular season on the road in San Antonio on April 4, while their home opener at ONEOK Field will be on Thursday, April 11 when the Missions come to Tulsa. The first home stand will run for six consecutive days through April 16. Tickets for all six games are currently on sale at TulsaDrillers.com.