JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp, Double-A affiliate of the Miami Marlins, announced the Opening Day roster for the 2018 season on Tuesday morning. The 2018 season begins on Thursday April 5 at 7:05 p.m. eastern against the Jackson Generals at The Ballpark at Jackson in Jackson, Tennessee, while Jacksonville's Opening Day presented by Firehouse Subs at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville will be on Wednesday April 11 at 7:05 p.m. against the Mobile BayBears.
Nine of the 25 players on the roster have played for Jacksonville before, including three of Jacksonville's four outfielders.
"Whether it's new faces, returning faces, collectively we've just got to come together," said Jumbo Shrimp manager Randy Ready, in his second year as Jacksonville's skipper. "I'm looking forward to it, that's the biggest challenge for any staff; trying to get our players to improve and come together."
Right-handed pitcher Cody Poteet will get the Opening Night start for the Jumbo Shrimp. Poteet comes to Jacksonville after a 2017 campaign that saw him named a Florida State League Midseason All-Star and Marlins Organizational All-Star, going 3-7 with a 4.16 ERA in his 14 starts. Poteet will be followed in the starting rotation by right-hander and Marlins No. 5 prospect Nick Neidert, acquired by the Marlins in the Dee Gordon trade with the Seattle Mariners last December. Other newcomers to the rotation include right-hander Jeff Brigham, right-hander and Marlins No. 15 prospect and member of Miami's 40-man roster Merandy Gonzalez, and right-hander Max Duval.
The Jumbo Shrimp bullpen is highlighted by right-hander Esmerling De La Rosa, who collected three saves for the Jumbo Shrimp last season. Other bullpen options for the Jumbo Shrimp include right-handers Brandon Barker, Jorgan Cavanerio, Marcus Crescentini, Kolton Mahoney, and Jose Pena. Left-handed options out of the bullpen include 2017 Jumbo Shrimp Jeff Kinley and Jose Quijada.
Both of Jacksonville's catchers have spent time in a Jumbo Shrimp uniform before, with Rodrigo Vigil and Chris Hoo returning to Jacksonville. Vigil hit .306 as Jacksonville's primary catcher in the second half of 2017, and Hoo has spent parts of two seasons previously with Jacksonville.
The infield features all new faces except for shortstop Chris Diaz. He was the primary shortstop in the second half of the 2017 season before injury ended his campaign in late August. Former Pensacola Blue Wahoos first baseman Eric Jagielo and Colby Lusignan will log time at first base for the Jumbo Shrimp in 2018, while newcomer Brian Schales expects to man third base to begin the year for Jacksonville.
At second base, the Jumbo Shrimp will feature one of the most exciting prospects in the Marlins organization in Isan Diaz. The native of Puerto Rico is regarded as MLB.com's No. 9 Marlins prospect, and he was acquired by the Marlins from the Milwaukee Brewers in the Christian Yelich trade in January. Diaz was exceptional at High-A last season, being named a Carolina League Midseason All-Star for his work with the Carolina Mudcats, hitting 13 home runs and driving in 54 runs. Mason Davis will also provide depth in the infield as a utility player, with the ability to play in Jacksonville's outfield as well.
Most of Jacksonville's roster buzz surrounds the impressive group of outfielders that will patrol spacious Bragan Field at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville. The buzz begins with MLB.com's Marlins No. 2 prospect Monte Harrison, who was acquired with Isan Diaz from the Brewers in the Christian Yelich trade in late January. Harrison is a talented athlete who led the Brewers farm system with 21 home runs last year, being named a 2017 Midwest League Midseason All-Star that was also the Most Valuable Player of the Midwest League All-Star Game. Harrison finished 2017 in High-A with the Carolina Mudcats, and this will mark the first time he's played at the Double-A level.
John Norwood quickly became a fan favorite in Jacksonville in 2017, being named a Southern League Midseason All-Star after hitting 19 home runs and driving in 62 runs for the Jumbo Shrimp. He also led the Marlins organization in games played (135), hits (135), total bases (217), runs scored (68), slugging percentage (.459), second in home runs (19), strikeouts (134), fourth in batting average (.285) Responsible for all three walk-off home runs for Jumbo Shrimp in 2017 (April 30, May 20, July 12).
Another fan favorite will be in left field for the Jumbo Shrimp, as Austin Dean returns for his third consecutive season in a Jacksonville uniform. After he was a 2016 Southern League Midseason All-Star, Dean's 2017 season got off to a challenging start with a right wrist injury that landed him on the disabled list from April to early July. Dean would battle back, hitting .282 with his four home runs and 30 RBI helping Jacksonville return to the Southern League playoffs.
Kyle Barrett will provide outfield depth for Jacksonville after spending the second half of the 2017 season in a Jumbo Shrimp uniform. Barrett's first half of the season with High-A Jupiter netted him Florida State League Midseason All-Star honors, hitting .297 with the Hammerheads. With Jacksonville in the second half, Barrett primarily came of the bench as part of double switches and as a pinch-hitter, hitting .230 with five doubles and six runs batted in.
The Jumbo Shrimp also have three players on the disabled list to start the year in right-handed pitchers Pablo Lopez and Andy Beltre, and left-handed pitcher Miguel Del Pozo.
The Jumbo Shrimp will bus to Jackson, Tennessee on Wednesday before beginning the 2018 campaign against the Jackson Generals on Thursday April 5 at 7:05 p.m. eastern at The Ballpark at Jackson. The game will be broadcast on the Jumbo Shrimp Network, presented by Community First on Sunny 102.3 FM, with coverage starting with "Shrimp on Deck" at 6:50 p.m. Jacksonville's Opening Day presented by Firehouse Subs at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville will be on Wednesday April 11 at 7:05 p.m. against the Mobile BayBears.
ABOUT THE JUMBO SHRIMP: The Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp offer affordable family fun at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville. Their inaugural season garnered the Southern League's Don Mincher Organization of the Year, Promotional Trophy, and Jimmy Bragan Executive of the Year, won by General Manager Harold Craw. To experience the excitement with the terrific value of ticket and group options, call the Jumbo Shrimp at (904) 358-2846 or visit www.jaxshrimp.com.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.