MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (MARCH 26, 2014) - With Opening Night only eight days away, the Myrtle Beach Pelicans, Class A-Advanced affiliate of the Texas Rangers, are excited to announce their Opening Day roster for the 2014 season. Under first-year manager Joe Mikulik, the Pelicans return 13 players with previous experience in Myrtle Beach, as the team seeks their fourth straight postseason appearance.
This year's Opening Day group features six players from Baseball America's Top 30 prospects in the Texas Rangers organization, including three from the publication's Top 100 Prospects list. Four of those Top 30 prospects are among the top five in the Rangers system.
Jorge Alfaro (ranked No. 2 in the Rangers Top 30, No. 54 in the overall Top 100) is the highest ranked player on the roster. The Columbian catcher finished last season with the Pelicans. He was ranked No. 54 in the publication's Top 100 prospects in all of baseball released in February. Outfielder Nick Williams (3, 97) is also listed in the Top 100. Third baseman Joey Gallo (4, 60) rounds out the trio from the Top 100. Gallo led all minor leaguers in home runs last season with 40, doing so in just 111 contests, and was tabbed by Baseball America as the "Best Power Hitter" and "Best Infield Arm" among Rangers farmhands. 2013 first round selection Alex "Chi-Chi" Gonzalez (5) is the highest ranked pitching prospect in the Rangers system and returns to Myrtle Beach after a five-start showcase with the Pelicans in 2013. Gonzalez has the "Best Slider" and "Best Control" according to Baseball America, and Keone Kela (18) has the "Best Fastball". Jose Leclerc (16) also makes the jump to Myrtle Beach this season after posting 77 strikeouts in 59 innings of work a year ago. Preston Beck (unranked), this season listed an infielder by Texas, is ranked as having the "Best Outfield Arm" for the second straight year.
The Pelicans return 13 players, including 12 from last year's team. Twelve others will play their first Class A-Advanced baseball this season, but three members of the Opening Day roster have Double-A experience. Cody Buckel, who pitched for the Pelicans in 2011 on his way to the Nolan Ryan Minor League Pitcher of the Year Award, returns after a brief stay in Double-A in 2012. Hanser Alberto and Odubel Herrera both return to Myrtle Beach for a third year after spending the first fourth months of last season with the Rangers Double-A Frisco RoughRiders.
While the majority of the roster has played only in the Rangers system, a couple have come in via trade and free agency. Chris Bostick was acquired by Texas from Oakland, along with Michael Choice, in exchange for Craig Gentry and Josh Lindblom in December 2013. Jason Knapp, ranked by Baseball America as their No. 64 overall prospect in 2010, was signed by Texas just last month and will be making his first appearances after multiple shoulder surgeries knocked him out of professional baseball after the 2010 season. As a member of the Phillies organization, Knapp was traded to the Indians, along with Carlos Carrasco, Jason Donald, and Lou Marson for Cliff Lee and Ben Francisco.
Additional Notes from this year's Opening Day roster:
- Seventeen players hail from the United States from 14 different states, while eight are foreign-born, from four different countries.
- Four Pelicans are from the Dominican Republic (Alberto, Leclerc, Luis Parra, and Victor Payano), two are from Venezuela (Herrera and Garcia), and one each from Columbia (Alfaro) and the Dutch island of Curaçao (Chris Garia).
- Andrew Faulkner is the lone player from South Carolina (Aiken, SC).
- Garia, from Willemstad, Curaçao, will be the second player from the Kingdom of the Netherlands to play for the Pelicans. Ardley Janson, a Pelicans outfielder from 2004-2006, was not only from Curaçao but also from Willemstad.
- Twelve players return from last year's team: Alberto, Alfaro, Beck, Royce Bolinger, Zach Cone, Cody Ege, Edwin Garcia, Gonzalez, Ryan Harvey, Herrera, Parra, and Payano.
- The average age of the incoming Pelicans is 22.28. One of five 20-year-olds, Leclerc is the youngest on the roster. He does not turn 21 until December 19. At 24 years of age, catcher David Lyon is the oldest on the roster.
- Three players on the roster were drafted less than a year ago-all pitchers. Gonzalez (1st round), Sam Wolff (6th round), and Ege (15th round), and three Pelicans were former first round picks (Cone, Gallo, and Gonzalez).
- The Pelicans boast five hitters from last year's Hickory Crawdads team, which broke the South Atlantic League record with 178 home runs: Alfaro (16 HR for Hickory in 2013), Gallo (38), Garia (0), Lyon (9), and Williams (17).
- Of the position players, four bat left-handed (Beck, Gallo, Herrera, and Williams) and three are switch hitters (Garcia, Garia, and Lyon). The rest are righties. Williams is the only left-handed throwing position player.
- Of the 13 pitchers, five are left-handed (Ege, Faulkner, Parra, Payano, and Sam Stafford).
Joining new Pelicans manager Joe Mikulik is returning hitting coach Joe Perez, returning pitching coach Steve Mintz, first-year coach Ryan Leake (brother of major leaguer Mike Leake), first-year trainer Jacob Newburn, and returning strength and conditioning coach Anthony Miller.
The Pelicans begin their season on April 3rd when the Salem Red Sox visit TicketReturn.com Field at Pelicans Ballpark. Season Seats, Mini Plans, Flex Books, and single game tickets for the 2014 season are on sale now. For more information on tickets to see the Pelicans in 2014, please call (843) 918-6002, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, visit www.MyrtleBeachPelicans.com, or visit the Pelicans box office, which is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.