Greenville, SC - In conjunction with the Boston Red Sox, the Greenville Drive have announced their Opening Day roster for the 2018 season as the team looks to defend their 2017 South Atlantic League Championship.
The roster features two of Boston's top five draft picks from 2017, including outfielder Cole Brannen, a second round choice out of a Georgia high school, and right-handed pitcher Alex Scherff, a fifth round selection from high school in Texas.
Also highlighting the roster are eight players who saw time in Greenville during last year's championship season. Among those players is shortstop C.J. Chatham, a second round selection by Boston in 2016, left-handed pitcher Jhonathan Diaz, who was among the Drive's most consistent starting pitchers down the stretch, right-handed pitcher Juan Florentino, a key member of the Drive bullpen during the championship run, and outfielder Jagger Rusconi, a former fifth round selection in 2015 who played in 45 games with the Drive last season.
"We are extremely excited about the 2018 season as we look to defend our South Atlantic League title, and the release of our Opening Day roster puts us one step closer to another great season in Downtown Greenville," said Drive General Manager, Eric Jarinko. "The current Red Sox roster features so many terrific young players who blossomed in Greenville during their minor league careers, and this year's Drive roster features more exciting young talent who we hope to see in Boston for years to come."
The Drive's preliminary roster features 26 players, and will be narrowed down to 25 active players by Opening Day.
The roster includes 10 right-handed pitchers: Kutter Crawford, Nick Duron, Devon Fisher, Florentino, Alberto Franco, Hunter Haworth, Marcos Lantigua, Denyi Reyes, Scherff and Lukas Young; as well as three left-handed pitchers in Diaz, Brendan Nail and Angel Padron.
Florentino posted a 2.12 ERA in 10 appearances with the Drive last season, and he will forever be etched in Drive history as the pitcher who logged the final out of the Drive's championship-clinching win.
Reyes was a New York-Penn League All-Star in 2017 after posting a 9-0 record with a 1.45 ERA in 15 relief appearances for the Lowell Spinners.
Scherff passed on a Texas A&M commitment to sign with the Red Sox in the 5th round. He did not pitch after signing.
Diaz went 6-6 in 18 starts for the Drive last season with a 4.57 ERA, and he delivered six and one-third scoreless innings with seven strikeouts in game two of the South Atlantic League Championship Series last year.
Nail joined the Drive roster shortly before the South Atlantic League postseason last year, and pitched in three games for the Drive overall.
Isaias Lucena, Charlie Madden and Samuel Miranda will serve as the Drive's catchers to begin the 2018 season.
Lucena played in 53 games in Greenville in 2017, hitting .251 with five homers and 21 RBI.
Miranda joined the Drive roster during the postseason but did not log any game action.
The Drive infield will feature Pedro Castellanos, Chatham, Everlouis Lozada, Michael Osinski, Frankie Rios and Kervin Suarez.
Castellanos played in two regular season games for the Drive in 2017 and started all seven postseason games.
Chatham was a second round choice from Florida Atlantic in 2016, and he played in just one game with the Drive last season due to a hamstring injury.
Rounding out the Drive's roster are four outfielders: Victor Acosta, Brannen, Marino Campana and Rusconi.
Brannen was selected in the second round by Boston last summer and passed up a commitment to Georgia Southern. He played in 42 games in his pro debut last season.
Rusconi battled injuries last season in Greenville that limited him to 45 games, but he delivered a key RBI single in the championship-clinching victory last season.
Under the guidance of new Manager Iggy Suarez, as well as Pitching Coach Bob Kipper, Hitting Coach Wilton Veras, and Assistant Coach Bryan Anderson, the Drive roster looks ready for a successful 2018 campaign.
"The 2018 season is finally here, and this year's roster features an exciting blend of top draft picks and returning talent that will ensure we see another exciting year of Drive baseball," said Drive Owner and President, Craig Brown. "We look forward to welcoming these players into the Greenville community and helping them spring forward in their careers as they look to reach Boston and help the Red Sox compete for World Series championships."
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.