NASHVILLE, Tenn. - The Nashville Sounds - the Triple-A affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers - have announced their tentative 25-man Opening Day roster, a group highlighted by 16 returning players from the 2011 squad and nine members of Milwaukee's 40-man roster.
Three of the Brewers' top 10 prospects (as ranked by Baseball America) will open the season in Nashville, highlighted by top prospect and right-handed pitcher Wily Peralta. The 22-year-old combined to go 11-7 with a 3.17 ERA and 157 strikeouts in 26 starts between Double-A Huntsville and Triple-A Nashville last season, setting career highs in nearly every category, including wins, ERA, starts, strikeouts, and average against. Peralta, who led the Southern League in ERA, was selected to the league's mid-season All-Star team and recognized as the circuit's 8th-best prospect following the year.
Peralta will be joined in the Nashville rotation by right-handed pitcher Mike Fiers (#12 prospect), who enjoyed breakthrough 2011 season and was named the Brewers' Minor League Pitcher of the Year after leading the minors with a 1.86 ERA. The 26-year-old combined to go 13-3 with his 1.86 ERA in his 34 games (18 starts) between Double-A Huntsville and Triple-A Nashville before joining the Brewers in September to make his MLB debut. Fiers has been recognized by Baseball America as having the best control in the Milwaukee farm system.
Two-time Brewers Minor League Player of the Year and infielder Taylor Green (#8 prospect) returns to Music City after being named to the 2011 All Pacific Coast League Team and as a Baseball America Second Team Minor League All-Star. The 25-year old led all Brewers minor leaguers with a .336 average between Double-A Huntsville and Triple-A Nashville while establishing new single-season career highs in home runs, doubles, RBIs, runs scored, hits, and batting average. He wrapped up his stellar 2011 campaign with Milwaukee, where he appeared on the Brewers' postseason roster.
Recognized as the best defensive outfielder in the Milwaukee chain for the second straight year, outfielder Logan Schafer (#6 prospect) returns after batting .315 with five home runs, 43 RBIs, and 16 stolen bases in 99 games among Advanced-A Brevard County, Double-A Huntsville, and Triple-A Nashville last season before a September call-up to Milwaukee. The 25-year-old was rated as the 18th-best Pacific Coast League prospect by Baseball America at conclusion of last season.
Sixteen players return to Music City from the 2011 Sounds squad, including starting pitchers Josh Butler, Fiers, and Peralta; relievers Zach Braddock, Donovan Hand, 2010 PCL All-Star Mike McClendon, Dan Meadows, and Amaury Rivas; catchers Dayton Buller and Martin Maldonado; infielders Erick Almonte, Eric Farris, Green, and Edwin Maysonet; and outfielders Caleb Gindl and Schafer.
Two additional recognizable faces return to Nashville and rejoin the Brewers organization: outfielder Corey Patterson and pitcher Seth McClung. Patterson hit .331 in 29 games for Nashville in 2009 before appearing in 11 September games for Milwaukee. McClung pitched for the Sounds in five games in 2007, earning a PCL Pitcher of the Week nod, and made 78 relief appearances and 14 starts for Milwaukee from 2007-09, where he last appeared in the Majors.
New Sounds pitching coach Fred Dabney has a veteran staff to work with in 2012. All 13 of Nashville hurlers have previously appeared at the Triple-A level in their career, while eight Sounds pitchers have Major League experience.
Two new additions to the Sounds bullpen are relievers Victor Garate and Vinnie Chulk. Southpaw Garate made the 2011 PCL mid-Season All-Star squad while pitching primarily in a setup role with Triple-A New Orleans, going 3-3 with a 2.72 ERA and 59 strikeouts in 43 games. Chulk, a veteran right-hander, recorded a 3.36 ERA and 55 strikeouts in a team-leading 54 appearances for Sacramento last season while ranking fourth in the PCL in both average against and fewest baserunners per 9/IP.
One player will make his first stop at the Class AAA level with the Sounds in 2012: infielder Sean Halton, a powerful right-handed slugger who ranked 4th in the Southern League in doubles (39) and 11th in batting average (.298) last season.
Nashville will be guided by a new coaching staff in 2012. Mike Guerrero becomes the 23rd manager in the Sounds' 35-year franchise history after guiding the Double-A Huntsville Stars to a combined 131-146 record over the past two seasons.
Guerrero will be joined on the Nashville bench in 2012 by three new faces: pitching coach and former Sound Fred Dabney, hitting coach Al LeBoeuf, and athletic trainer Greg Barajas. Strength and conditioning coach Andrew Emmick returns for his third year with Nashville to round out the 2012 coaching staff.
The tentative 2012 Nashville Sounds Opening Day roster is available at the link below.
The Sounds open their 35th Anniversary season on Thursday, April 5 at Zephyr Field in Metairie, Louisiana with a 7:05 p.m. matchup against the New Orleans Zephyrs, the Triple-A affiliate of the Miami Marlins.
Baseball returns to Music City on Friday, April 13, when the Sounds host New Orleans in their 7:05 p.m. home opener at Greer Stadium.
Ticket packages are currently on sale. Call (615) 690-HITS or visit the Sounds' website at www.nashvillesounds.com to order or for more information.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.