MIDLAND, Mich. - The Great Lakes Loons are excited to welcome the newest crop of Los Angeles Dodgers prospects to Midland, Mich., as Opening Day approaches for the ninth season of Loons baseball in the Midwest League.
The 2015 group boasts 11 players selected by the Dodgers in the 2014 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft, including pitcher Grant Holmes (1st round) and outfielder Alex Verdugo (2nd). The active roster has five players who rank among the Dodgers Top 30 Prospects according to Baseball America: Holmes (5), Verdugo (6), catcher Julian Leon (11), pitchers Jeff Brigham (27) and Brock Stewart (28).
Holmes was drafted 22nd overall in last summer's draft by the Dodgers out of high school in Conway, S.C. He spent the rest of the 2014 season with the AZL Dodgers and Rookie-level Ogden Raptors, compiling a 2-3 record in 11 games (10 starts), in which he struck out 58 batters in 48 innings pitched. Verdugo also was drafted out of high school last summer, a two-way player from Tucson, Ariz. Upon signing, the left-handed hitting teenager hit .353 in 190 at-bats with the AZL Dodgers and Ogden. Leon hails from Hemosillo, Mexico, and has been with Dodgers since signing in 2012. In 89 games with Ogden in 2014, the catcher hit .309 with 15 home runs and 76 RBI.
The Loons have six players returning who spent portions of 2014 in Great Lakes - pitcher Kyle Hooper, first basemen Justin Chigbogu and Josmar Cordero, infielders Faustino Oguisten and Tyler Wampler, along with outfielder Jacob Scavuzzo.
After 24 games with the Loons last season, Chigbogu displayed good power with Rookie-level Ogden leading the Pioneer League in home runs (20) and earning the Rookie MiLB Joe Bauman Home Run Award, along with being selected the Dodger Pride Award winner for June.
Luis Matos, former 10th round pick of the Baltimore Orioles in 1996, will serve as the sixth manager in Loons history in 2015. The 36-year-old was the hitting coach for Criollos de Caguas of the Puerto Rican Winter League this past season, and helped the team compile the league's best regular season record.
Glenn Dishman returns to Great Lakes as pitching coach for the first time since 2007 after spending the last four seasons in Triple-A Albuquerque in the same role. Jay Gibbons debuts as hitting coach following a nine-year Major League career with the Orioles (2001-07) and Dodgers (2010-11). Angel Sanchez joins the Loons staff in a coaching role after 14 MLB seasons.
Kalie Swain (athletic trainer) and Tyler Norton (strength and conditioning coach) are both back with the Loons in their roles for a second season. Trent Friedrich will serve as the team's video coordinator.
The full list of players who are tentatively expected to be arriving in Midland this week:
Pitchers (13): Jeff Brigham, Joseph Broussard, Victor Gonzalez, Yeuri Gonzalez, Kevin Guzman, Grant Holmes, Kyle Hooper, Karch Kowalczyk, Jose Molina, Trevor Oaks, Charles "Bubby" Rossman, Brock Stewart, J.D. Underwood
Catchers (3): Julian Leon, David Reid-Foley, Ryan Scott
Infielders (7): Michael Ahmed, James Allen, Justin Chigbogu, Josmar Cordero, Faustino Oguisten, Kelvin Ramos, Tyler Wampler
Outfielders (4): Scott DeJong, Yadir Drake, Jacob Scavuzzo, Alex Verdugo
The list is not the Loons' Opening Day roster. An update will be made available prior to the season opener with uniform numbers.
The Loons open the season April 9 at Dow Diamond against the Fort Wayne TinCaps at 6:05 p.m. The game will be broadcast live on ESPN 100.9-FM and ESPN1009.com with new play-by-play broadcaster Chris Vosters beginning his first season in the Great Lakes booth. All 140 games can be heard on ESPN 100.9-FM, the Loons flagship radio station, while all 70 home games can also be seen on MiLB.TV.
The Great Lakes Loons are a ninth-year Single-A partner of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Single game tickets are on sale and start at just $6.50. For the Loons full 2015 promotional schedule or to purchase tickets, visit Loons.com or call 989-837-BALL.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.