Jackson, Tenn. - Prior to Opening Day on Thursday, the Arizona Diamondbacks have announced the initial roster for the Jackson Generals in 2017. The team kicks off a brand new affiliation with three of Arizona's top ten prospects according to Baseball America along with a pair of players on the D-backs' 40-man roster.
Infielder Dawel Lugo is the most highly-acclaimed prospect slated to open the season with the Generals, ranked second in the organization by Baseball America. The 22-year-old hit .311 last year between Visalia and Mobile, and was named a Mid-Season All-Star in the California League.
Video: Mobile's Lugo plates go-ahead run.
Two of Arizona's top pitching prospects figure to anchor Jackson's rotation this season. Taylor Clarke made it to Double-A Mobile last year after starting the season with Class A Kane County. Righty Brad Keller will be the youngest player on the roster at 21. Clarke and Keller are widely considered two of the top three pitchers in Arizona's system.
Jared Miller will be a force in the bullpen. The tall southpaw starred for Vanderbilt in college, helping the Commodores win a College World Series in 2014. Southpaw Alex Young is also considered one of the team's best pitching prospects. Brooks Hall was a Southern League Mid-Season All-Star with Biloxi two years ago, while lefty Eric Jokisch threw a no-hitter in the circuit for Tennessee as a Cubs' farmhand in 2013. Miller Diaz, Joey Krehbiel, Gabriel Moya, Yuhei Nakaushiro, Grant Sides, Gabe Speier and Josh Taylor round out the staff for the Generals.
Joining Lugo on the infield is Kevin Cron, the only Southern League player to hit more home runs than 2016 General and Southern League MVP Tyler O'Neill last year. Cron, who's older brother C.J. plays for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, has combined for 53 minor league home runs over the past two seasons. Rudy Flores adds some pop, having accounted for 19 homers over two levels last season. Jamie Westbrook and Kevin Medrano both return to Double-A after spending much of last year with Mobile. Both Travis Denker and Colin Walsh have Major League experience.
Catcher Óscar Hernández played in four big league games last year. He'll be joined behind the dish by Michael Pérez, Arizona's top defensive backstop according to Baseball America, and José Queliz.
Víctor Reyes headlines the crop of outfielders coming to West Tennessee. Reyes hit .303 while leading the California League with 12 triples last year to go along with 20 stolen bases for Visalia. Stewart Ijames, Evan Marzilli and Kelly Dugan all bring Double-A experience into 2017.
Four of the players to start 2017 with the Generals have played in the majors. Fifteen of the 27 on the squad spent at least part of last year with Arizona's Double-A affiliate in Mobile. Just four have not played at the Double-A level before. In addition to boasting a number of Baseball America's top prospects, the Generals feature six of Arizona's top 15 farmhands per MLB Pipeline.
The Generals will open 2017 with 25 active players and two on the disabled list. Numbers will be assigned prior to the team's opener Thursday night against Birmingham. You can download a PDF of the Opening Day roster here.
Baseball season is right around the corner! The Generals get things started on Tuesday, April 4 with an exhibition game against Jackson State CC at 6:05 pm CT! Tickets are just $5 with all proceeds going to the Generals Care Foundation. On Wednesday, April 5, the community can meet the team at Englewood Baptist Church at 6:00 pm! The Southern League season begins on Thursday, April 6 at 6:05 pm against the Birmingham Barons.
Get your tickets to see the 2017 Generals defend their Southern League Championship now! It's the 20th season of professional baseball in Jackson, and you can purchase tickets by calling the team at (731) 988.5299, stopping by The Ballpark or going online to jacksongeneralsbaseball.com!
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.