LANSING, Mich. - The 12th overall pick in the 2018 Major League Draft, 19-year-old slugging infielder Jordan Groshans, headlines the Lansing Lugnuts' 2019 Opening Day roster, announced today in conjunction with the Toronto Blue Jays.
First-year manager Dallas McPherson's Lugnuts feature two Blue Jays Top 30 prospects: Groshans, the Blue Jays' No. 6 prospect overall and top infield prospect behind Vladimir Guerrero Jr., and Bo Bichette, and talented catcher Alejandro Kirk, the Blue Jays' No. 29 prospect, who batted .354 with 10 home runs for Advanced-Rookie Bluefield in 2018.
View the first Lugnuts roster of 2019!
Two Lugnuts return from the 2018 season: catcher Ryan Gold, who batted .264 in 56 games, and outfielder Reggie Pruitt, who stole 37 bases in 89 games.
The Nuts' third catcher, accompanying Kirk and Gold, Hagen Danner, the Blue Jays' 2nd-round draft pick and California's Mr. Baseball 2017 as the state's player of the year. Danner posted an .841 OPS in 2018 with Bluefield.
A trio of college products join Groshans in the Lansing infield: sluggers John Aiello (Wake Forest) and Jake Brodt (Santa Clara) and second baseman/third baseman Nick Podkul (Notre Dame). The Nuts' final infielder is liable to play everywhere and do a little bit of everything - super utilityman Otto Lopez , who starred at second base, shortstop, third base, left field, center field and right field in Vancouver last year and was named to the Northwest League Post-Season All-Star Team.
The Lugnuts' outfield, however, will be crowded with talent. Alongside Pruitt, fans will see Mc Gregory Contreras, who led Vancouver with eight homers and 99 total bases; Dom Abbadessa, who posted a .311 average and 100 total bases for Bluefield; and D.J. Neal, a former wide receiver for Steve Spurrier at South Carolina who notched nine triples and 15 steals in the Appalachian League.
The starting rotation will be headed by 20-year-old right-hander Josh Winckowski, honored as the 2018 Northwest League Pitcher of the Year after posting a 2.78 ERA with 71 strikeouts in 68 innings with Vancouver. Winckowski is joined in the rotation by a pair of strikeout machines in Joey Murray (8th-round, Kent State), the 2017 and 2018 Mid-American Conference Pitcher of the Year, and Sean Wymer, the Blue Jays' 4th-round draft choice last season from TCU.
The pitching corps includes one southpaw: Marcus Reyes, who recorded a 1.35 ERA in Vancouver last season. Among the other right-handers making their Midwest League debut, the 6-foot-9 Fitz Stadler and 6-foot-7 Sean Rackoski will stand out at the back end of the bullpen; Connor Law and Jackson Rees join Rackoski as nondrafted free agents; Cobi Johnson led Vancouver with 10 saves and was named a mid-season Northwest League All-Star; Will McAffer (North Vancouver) joins outfielder Kirwer in representing Canada; Mike Pascoe is a hard-thrower out of San Jacinto College, which also produced former Lugnuts Ryan Tepera and Joshua Palacios; Joey Pulido finished 2018 with a 0.00 ERA in Vancouver, allowing only two unearned runs in 24 2/3 innings; and Josh Hiatt, a North Carolina Tar Heel, who will be making his professional debut after not appearing in a game last year.
The Lugnuts open their 24th season in the Midwest League on the road: 7:05 p.m. on Thursday against the Fort Wayne TinCaps at Parkview Field.
This Saturday is the Opening Day Block Party, as the Lansing Lugnuts officially open the gates of Cooley Law School Stadium. Meet the Team is at 3 p.m. on Michigan Avenue, with entertainers, food, inflatables and more, followed by a team autograph session! Gates open at 5 p.m., with the first 1,000 fans receiving a special trapper hat presented by Auto-Owners Insurance. First pitch against Fort Wayne is at 6:05 p.m., with LAFCU Fireworks following the game!
Live the LugLife - purchase your tickets now via (517) 485-4500 or lansinglugnuts.com.
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