COLUMBUS, OH - The Columbus Clippers are pleased to announce the 2018 Opening Day roster that will take the field against Indianapolis for Friday's regular season opener. The Clippers, ten-time Governors' Cup Champions, will return only 8 players who have previously worn the capital city anchor.
Chris Tremie returns for his sixth season as the Clippers manager. Steve Karsay runs the Clippers pitching staff for the 3rd consecutive year. Johnny Narron joins the staff this year as hitting coach and Bobby Magallanes will be the bench coach. Chad Wolfe returns as trainer and Scott Nealon is back as strength coach.
The 2018 roster is highlighted by the Indians' top prospect, the reigning IL batting Champion, and several veteran additions:
Starting pitchers Shawn Morimando and Adam Plutko return to lead the rotation. Morimando was 10-9 with a 4.41 ERA on the season, but went 8-0 from 5/25 to 7/14, with a 1.67 ERA. Plutko finished strong with a 1.42 ERA in his last three starts of '17. They will be joined in the rotation by some new faces. RHPs Stephen Fife and Alexi Ogando and LHP Adam Wilk all enter the organization as free agents.
The relief corps will look similarly unfamiliar as only RHP Louis Head returns to the Clippers pen. Head (along with departed relievers Jeff Johnson and Kyle Crockett) became the 1st Clippers pitcher since Josh Judy in 2011 to appear in 50 games. Joining the Indians organization this year are RHPs Evan Marshall, Preston Claiborne, Neil Ramirez, Ben Taylor and LHPs Jeff Beliveau, Jack Leathersich and Robert Zarate.
Yandy Diaz is the plum among returning position players. A post season All-Star at 3B, Diaz set Clippers franchise records for career BA (.331) and single-season (.454) and career (.419) OBP. He hit .350 in '17, but without the required number of plate appearances to qualify, his average was readjusted to .340, which still led the IL and was one point shy of a Clippers record. First Baseman Nellie Rodriguez looks to bounce back from a rough Triple-A rookie season that showed promise with 17 HRs. He will share time at 1B with Mike Napoli, who returns to the Indians organization after helping the Tribe win the 2016 AL pennant. Napoli has 267 HRs in his Major League career. Adam Rosales joins the Clippers and is expected to man 2B. Rosales, a veteran of ten Major League seasons, split last year between Oakland and Arizona. He has a .227 average in MLB. Shortstop Yu Chang earned a promotion from Double-A Akron by banging out 53 extra-base hits for the RubberDucks last season. Utility man Todd Hankins has played for the Clippers in three previous seasons, but this will be his 1st year on the Opening Day roster.
In the outfield, Brandon Barnes joins the organization after playing last year in Triple-A New Orleans (MIA). Speedster Greg Allen made his MLB debut last year, vaulting over Columbus to help the Indians in their playoff run. Allen has 145 SB in four pro seasons. The hold-overs in the outfield are IL All-Star Richie Shaffer, who blasted 30 HRs and drove in 89 runs for Columbus last season and Mike Papi who hit .235 as a Clipper last year.
The catching tandem is new and young, with #1 prospect Francisco Mejia and Eric Haase expected to split duties. Mejia was a mid and post season All-Star as well as EL Rookie of the Year. Haase was 2nd in HRs & SLG in the EL and a post season All-Star.
The season begins on Friday, April 6th at 7:15pm at Indianapolis. For more information, log on to clippersbaseball.com or call (614) 462-5250.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.