Hagerstown, MD - The Hagerstown Suns, in conjunction with the Washington Nationals, today announced the 2012 Hagerstown Suns projected Opening Day roster, headlined by top prospects P Alex Meyer, OF Brian Goodwin and seven returning players.
A pair of the Nationals' top-10 prospects, according to MLB.com, will begin the season in Hagerstown, topped by third-rated prospect RHP Alex Meyer. Meyer, a 6-foot-9, 220-pound starting pitcher, was selected in the first round (23rd overall) of the 2011 Major League Draft from the University of Kentucky. The 22-year old native of Greensburg, IN, pitched three seasons for the Wildcats where he led the South East Conference in strikeouts (110) and paced the Kentucky staff with 14 starts, seven wins, a 2.94 ERA and four complete games in 2011. Meyer, who was drafted by the Boston Red Sox (20th round) in 2008, was an All-SEC second team selection following his junior season.
Outfielder Brian Goodwin, the 34th overall pick of the 2011 draft (supplemental first-round), is rated as the Nationals' 8th best prospect by MLB.com. The 21-year old outfielder, regarded as a five-tool player, joined the Nats' organization after posting a .382 average with Miami-Dade College with eight home runs, 37 RBIs and 16 stolen bases in 157 at-bats last season. In one season at the University of North Carolina, Goodwin batted .291 and led the Tar Heels with 63 RBIs in 2010, en route to a 2010 Louisville Slugger Freshmen All-America selection.
The projected Suns starting rotation is comprised of Meyer, RHP Christopher McKenzie, RHP Wirkin Estevez, RHP Brian Dupra, and LHP Kylin Turnbull. McKenzie returns to the Suns after spending most of the 2011 season with Hagerstown along with a stint on the Gulf Coast League Nationals roster. He posted a 4-7 record with Hagerstown in 13 games total games. Turnbull, the Nats' fourth-round pick in 2011 (127 overall), compiled a 2.47 ERA over 80 innings for Santa Barbara City College last season, racking-up 92 strike outs while walking only 17 batters. Turnbull, currently ranked at the Nationals' 17th top prospect by MLB.com, was previously drafted by the Chicago White Sox in the 30th round in 2010. Estevez, entering his third season in the Nats' organization, joins the Suns after spending 2011 with the Auburn Doubledays (Short Season-A, New York-Penn League) where he went 6-3 with a 4.01 ERA in 14 games (13 starts). Dupra, selected in the seventh-round (217th overall), also toed the rubber for the Doubledays in 2011 going 4-4 with a 3.46 ERA in 13 games (9 starts).
Both catchers assigned to begin the season in the Hub City, Cole Leonida and Adrian Nieto, are making return appearances with the Suns. Leonida, entering his third season in the Nats' organization, batted .240 in 39 games for Hagerstown in 2011. Neito, a fifth-round pick in 2008, played at three different levels last season including 27 games with the Suns, 30 with Auburn and a pair of games with Potomac. Overall, he batted .278 with seven home runs and 34 RBIs (3 HR, 12 RBIs with Hagerstown).
Two of the six infielders assigned to Hagerstown are returning for a second straight season, led by shortstop Jason Martinson, who played 129 games for the Suns in 2011. Martinson blasted 19 home runs to go along with 22 doubles and 64 RBIs in his second professional season. 1B Brett Newsome enters his fourth season with the Suns, sixth within the Nationals' organization. Newsome, a 6-foot-2, 210-pound corner infielder, batted .273 with six home runs and 38 RBIs for Hagerstown. Making his debut with the Suns this season will be Cutter Dykstra, son of former Phillies All-Star Lenny Dykstra. Cutter spent 2011 with the High-A Potomac Nationals after being acquired in a trade from the Milwaukee Brewers. Dykstra was selected in the second-round (54th overall) of the 2008 draft by the Brewers. 3B Matthew Skole joins the Suns after an impressive 2011 campaign with Auburn where he led the New York-Penn League in RBIs (48) and doubles (23) while finishing second in extra-base hits (29) and third in total hits (79). Skole was selected in the fifth-round (157th overall) of the 2011 draft by the Nationals. He is joined by former Doubledays SS Bryce Ortega and 1B Justin Miller. Ortega led Auburn both in average (.314) and stolen bases (23 of 25) last season while finishing second in the NYPL with a .410 on-base percentage. Miller, an 18th-round pick (536th overall) in 2010, led the Doubledays with seven home runs and finished second in the NYPL behind Skole with 47 RBIs.
Joining Goodwin in the outfield are Angelberth Montilla, Caleb Ramsey, and J.P. Ramirez. Ramirez, who patrolled the Municipal Stadium outfield in 2010, joins the Suns after spending last season with Potomac where he batted .223 in 85 games with seven home runs and 29 RBIs. Montilla and Ramsey both advance to the South Atlantic League from Auburn, Montilla entering his seventh season with the organization. The Maracay, VZ native spent the 2006-08 seasons in the Dominican Summer League and then moved to the Gulf Coast League Nationals for the 2009-10 seasons before batting .249 for Auburn in 2011. Ramsey, an 11th-round pick (337th overall) in 2011, batted .280 with 15 stolen bases with the Doubledays in his first professional season.
The Suns bullpen consists of one returning Suns pitcher, seven former Doubledays, two former GCL Nationals and one pitcher set to make his professional debut. Returning righty Greg Holt pitched ten games for Hagerstown in 2011 and is the only reliever with SAL pitching experience. RHP Nathan Karns was dominant for the GCL Nationals to begin last season, earning a promotion to Auburn where he went 3-2 with a 3.44 ERA in eight starts. RHP Aaron Barrett converted 9-of-11 saves for the Doubledays and compiled a 1-2 record to go along with a 4.05 ERA in his second pro season. LHP Todd Simko was 1-2 with a 6.75 ERA in his first five professional games with the GCL Nats. His 2011 GCL teammate and Baltimore, MD native, LHP Bobby Lucas, went 1-1 with a 1.69 ERA and a save in his first professional season (11 games). Former Doubledays RHP Alex Kreis (1-1, 5.97 ERA, 18G, 2SV), RHP Taylor Hill (0-2, 3.16 ERA, 9G/5GS), and LHP Christian Meza (1-1, 5.68 ERA, 11G/10GS) will all make the jump to the SAL for the first time with the Suns.
As previously announced, the Suns will be led by second-year manager Brian Daubach. Mark Harris will serve as the hitting coach and Franklin Bravo returns to Hagerstown for a second stint as pitching coach.
The Suns invite all fans to the annual Meet the Team Autograph Party at Cancun Cantina West in Hagerstown tonight, Tuesday, April 3. Doors open for Suns ticket plan holders at 6:00pm; each ticket plan holder will also be provided with a complimentary drink ticket upon entering. Doors open to the public at 6:45pm. Fans are encouraged to seek autographs, but are asked to limit their requests to one autograph per player.
Opening Day at Municipal Stadium for the 2012 season is on Thursday, April 5, against the West Virginia Power at 7:05pm. Individual game tickets, season tickets, mini-plans, and group are now on sale. For more information and to reserve your seat at Municipal Stadium, call 301-791-6266, or www.hagerstownsuns.com. The Hagerstown Suns are owned by Hagerstown Baseball, LLC.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.