Teenage prospects Juan Soto and Carter Kieboom headline the Hagerstown Suns projected Opening Day roster, released in conjunction with the Washington Nationals on Tuesday.
Soto arrives in Hagerstown after earning Gulf Coast League MVP in 2016. The 18-year-old native of the Dominican Republic led the league in batting average (.361) and slugging percentage (.550) before earning promotion to Class A Short Season in Auburn, New York. He's currently ranked the #3 prospect in the Nationals system by MLB.com
19-year-old Kieboom (#4 Nationals prospect) was a first-round pick by the Nationals in 2016 and batted .244 with four homers and 25 RBI in the Gulf Coast League last season. A well-rounded shortstop from Marietta, Georgia, Carter is the younger brother of former Suns catcher Spencer Kieboom, who made his Major League debut with the Nationals in 2016.
In total, six Suns players are ranked in the Nationals top 20 prospects with Sheldon Neuse (#6) and Anderson Franco (#15) playing on the left side of the infield.
Four teenagers begin the 2017 season in Hagerstown including 19-year-old starting pitcher Tyler Watson. Drafted out of Perry High School in Gilbert, Arizona with a 34th-round pick in 2015, the 6-foot-5-inch lefty is now ranked #19 in the Nationals system.
Watson will be one of two southpaws in the starting rotation with McKenzie Mills. Righties in starting roles include newly-added Weston Davis and Carlos Pena, plus Carlos Acevedo, who pitched in a Suns uniform last year.
The Suns outfield depth chart will feature three Nationals draft picks from the first five rounds. Blake Perkins is a switch-hitting speedster who returns to Hagerstown after the Nationals selected him with a second-round pick in 2015. Nick Banks and Daniel Johnson were picked back-to-back by the Nationals in the fourth and fifth rounds of the 2016 draft.
Ten Suns from the 2016 roster return to Hagerstown on Opening Day including relief pitchers James Bourque, Sam Held, Mick VanVossen, and Jorge Pantoja, who posted a 9-1 record in 28 appearances with the Suns last season. They'll join first-time Suns relievers AJ Bogucki, Hayden Howard, Sterling Sharp, and Kyle Simonds in the bullpen.
Hagerstown welcomes six foreign-born players with three from Venezuela including lefty infielder Aldrem Corredor and catcher Jorge Tillero, who will share duties behind the plate with Adderling Ruiz and 2016 Nationals sixth-round pick Tres Barrera from the University of Texas.
Eight different states are represented on the Suns Opening Day roster with a team-high four players from Texas and three from Florida including 2016 Suns alum Jake Noll, who will rejoin Angelo La Bruna in the Hagerstown infield.
To see the full Suns roster for Opening Day, click here.
Patrick Anderson returns for his fourth season as Suns manager, making him the longest-tenured skipper in team history. Pitching coach Sam Narron, hitting coach Amaury Garcia, and athletic trainer Don Neidig also return to Hagerstown after compiling the best regular season record in the South Atlantic League last year (83-57). First-year strength and conditioning coach Jorge Vasquez completes the 2017 coaching staff.
The Suns open play in the South Atlantic League on Thursday, April 6 with first pitch against the Asheville Tourists at 6:05 p.m.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.