DURHAM, NC - The Durham Bulls today announced their 2012 Opening Day Roster. The Raleigh area native, RHP Chris Archer, will anchor a team which will be led by Manager Charlie Montoyo. The Bulls skipper returns for his sixth season with the club, after leading the Bulls to five consecutive International League South Division titles and a Triple-A Championship in 2009.
Archer, the #3 prospect in the Rays system according to Baseball America and MLB.com, will lead a rotation that includes the #6 prospect in the Rays system LHP Alex Torres and RHP Alex Cobb. Both Torres and Cobb started the 2011 season with the Bulls, but saw action in the Tampa Bay starting rotation. Cobb went unbeaten in his first seven starts of his MLB career, going 3-0 and maintaining a 2.57 ERA. He became the first AL pitcher do to so since 2007 as well as the first Rays player in the history of the club. Torres returns to the franchise in which he currently holds the single season record for strikeouts with 156. The rotation is filled out with RHP Matt Torra, who over his last 6 starts with the Bulls last season went 5-0 with a 1.95 ERA (37-IP, 8-ER) and newcomer RHP Bryan Augenstein.
The #4 prospect in the Rays system according to MLB.com, SS Tim Beckham will command the Durham infield. The number one overall pick in the 2008 June Draft returns to the Bulls after hitting five home runs with the team in his late season call-up last year. Beckham is joined by fellow infielders, Leslie Anderson, Shawn O'Malley, Juan Miranda, Will Rhymes and Matt Mangini. Mangini is another Bull with Triangle roots, having graduated from Apex High School in 2004, while also playing at NC State University for his first two college seasons.
2011 International League midseason All-Star OF Brandon Guyer will man centerfield this season for the Bulls. He returns for his second season with the club, after posting a .312 (121-for-388) average in 107 games and finishing 5th in the IL batting race and 3rd among Rays minor leaguers. He is joined in the outfield by IL veterans Jesus Feliciano and Kyle Hudson.
The Bulls will welcome 2011 Rays Minor League Player of the Year Stephen Vogt to the team. Vogt will defend the backstop along with Nevin Ashley and one of the newest members to the Rays organization, Chris Gimenez. Vogt was promoted to the Bulls in July last season from the Biscuits, where he was named as the team's MVP. He led all Rays minor leaguers in RBI with 105 in 2011, which also ranked him 11th in all of the minors.
LHP Cesar Ramos and RHP Brandon Gomes will work the late innings for the Bulls this season. Both Gomes and Ramos were key members of the Rays last season. Ramos led Rays left-handed relievers in appearances with 59, while Gomes led all Rays relievers in appearances after the All-Star break with 29. They will be joined by minor league free agents, RHP Jhonny Nunez, and RHP Romulo Sanchez. RHP Dane De La Rosa, RHP Marquis Fleming and RHP Ryan Reid return to the Bulls in 2012. RHP Jose Lueke, joins the organization after being dealt to the Rays by the Seattle Mariners during the offseason.
On the 2012 Opening Day Roster, 13 Bulls played on the 2011 squad. In addition, 16 players have major league experience. A total of nine players on the Tampa Bay 40-man roster will begin their season in Durham as well.
Pitching Coach Neil Allen returns for his second season with the club, while Hitting Coach Dave Myers returns for his fourth. They are joined by Pat Trainor in his 3rd season as the team's Strength and Condoning Coach and new Athletic Trainer, Mike Sandoval.
The Durham Bulls open 2012 International League on Thursday, April 5th when they host the Gwinnett Braves. Season ticket, mini-plan packages, and individual game tickets are now available at durhambulls.com, at the DBAP Box Office or by calling 919.956.BULL.