AKRON, OH - Cleveland Indians vice president of player development Ross Atkins and Akron Aeros manager Edwin Rodriguez have announced the season-opening, 25-man roster for the 2013 Akron Aeros.
The Aeros begin defense of their 2012 Eastern League championship this Thursday, April 4th, at 6:35 p.m. when they host the Binghamton Mets at Canal Park in the first game of a four-game series.
The Aeros roster features a mix of youth and experience. A total of 15 players return from last year's club. Of the 10 newcomers, six will be making their debut at the Double-A level. The initial 25-man contingent also sports six of the top 20 prospects in the Indians organization as ranked by MLB.com.
The pitching staff features returning starters TJ House and Danny Salazar, both of whom are on the Tribe's 40-man roster. House made a team-high, 23 starts last season, going 8-5, with a 3.98 ERA, while Salazar was a perfect 4-0, with a 1.85 ERA in six starts after a promotion from Class-A. Other starting candidates include righthander Paolo Espino, who has 22 career wins in an Aeros uniform, lefty Matt Packer, righthander Brett Brach and righthander Toru Murata, who was the winning pitcher in the Aeros' pennant-clincher against Trenton last September.
In the bullpen, righthanders Shawn Armstrong, Kyle Landis and Bryce Stowell all return from last year's squad. Landis appeared in 41 games and was a member of the Western Division All-Star team at midseason. Armstrong went 1-0, with a 0.89 ERA in 17 games after spending the first half of the season at Class-A Carolina. Stowell, one of the hardest throwers in the organization, was limited to 25 games due to an arm injury, but recorded 44 strikeouts and walked only nine in 29 innings. Rounding out the bullpen are right-handers Cole Cook and Jose Flores, as well as free agents Fabio Martinez and Edward Paredes.
Catching duties will be handled initially by returner Roberto Perez and Double-A rookie Alex Laviskey. Perez appeared in 95 games for the Aeros last season, and threw out 41 percent of potential base-stealers, which ranked third in the EL. Laviskey, a native of Northeast Ohio, who played his high school baseball at powerhouse St. Edward High School in Lakewood, hit .246 with 12 homers and 49 RBI in 93 games at Class-A Lake County last season.
The Aeros infield will feature some of the youngest and brightest prospects in the Indians organization. First basemen Jesus Aguilar and Chun Chen will split duties at first base and DH. Aguilar made his Double-A debut late last season and clubbed three homers in 20 games. Chen, back for his third season in Akron, made a position switch from catcher to first base last year, and hit .308, which ranked fifth in the EL. A pair of 20-year-olds will anchor the middle of the infield with Ronny Rodriguez at shortstop and Jose Ramirez at second. Rodriguez emerged as a prospect last season, blasting 19 home runs and 20 doubles at Class-A Carolina. He spent the postseason with the Aeros, and scored one run in a pinch-running appearance. Ramirez, a switch-hitter, played the second half of the season at Class-A Lake County, where he hit .354 in 67 games. Third base will be manned by 21-year-old Giovanny Urshela, who smacked 14 homers while playing alongside Rodriguez at Carolina last year. Matt Lawson, who hit .327 for the Aeros last year and then added a homer and five RBI in the playoffs, rounds out the infield corps.
In the outfield, centerfielder Tyler Holt returns for his second season with the Aeros. After starting the season with Carolina last year, Holt came to the Aeros, and hit .250, with 13 stolen bases in 55 games. He was a key contributor in the playoffs, hitting .333 (11-33) in the postseason. Delvi Cid will make his regular-season Aeros debut. Cid enjoyed a breakout year at Class-A Carolina, hitting .281, with a career-high five homers. As a member of the Aeros playoff roster last year, Cid appeared in five games, going hitless in one at-bat. Rightfielder Carlos Moncrief continues his climb through the organization. A lefthanded hitter, Moncrief hit .249, with 15 homers and 53 RBI at Carolina last season. Newly acquired Quincy Latimore will round out the Aeros' outfield contingent. Latimore was acquired from the Pittsburgh Pirates organization in the Jeanmar Gomez trade. A versatile defender who can play all three outfield positions, Latimore played in the EL for Altoona last season, hitting .252, with 15 home runs and 71 RBI.
Members of the Aeros who are listed on MLB.com's ranking of the Indians top 20 prospects include Rodriguez (4), Salazar (8), Ramirez (9), Aguilar (12), Chen (19), and Urshela (20).
The Aeros will be managed by Edwin Rodriguez, who enters his second season in the Indians organization. Rodriguez managed at Carolina last year, and recently served as the manager for his native Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic. Rodriguez will be assisted by pitching coach Greg Hibbard and hitting coach Jim Rickon.