North Little Rock, Arkansas
- The Arkansas Travelers, in conjunction with the Los Angeles Angels, announce their opening day roster for the 2011 season. In his first year taking over the Travs managerial duties Bill Mosiello brings a versatile club that includes eight newcomers to the Double-A level including top-rated prospect Mike Trout who opens the season as the team's centerfielder. A total of 16 have already seen action at Double-A including 12 who have wore the Travelers uniform in 2010.
The spotlight is unquestionably shining on Trout as MLB.com, MLB Network and ESPN.com all named the 19-year old from Millville, New Jersey native the Top Prospect in Baseball but he is certainly not the only prospect on the roster. The Travs feature three of the Angels top pitching prospects in their starting rotation including right-handers Garrett Richards and Orangel Arenas, and 2009 Texas League All-Star left-hander Trevor Reckling.
Trout is joined in the outfield by Angel Castillo, who's 21 home runs were fourth amongst Angels minor league players. Clay Fuller, who tore up the California League after a mid-season demotion in 2010, returns to the Travelers' outfield while six-year free agent Marvin Lowrance joins the Travs after spending the previous seven seasons in the Washington Nationals organization.
The Travelers infield features a host of familiar names including first baseman Jay Brossman, who's 2010 season was cut short due to a back injury after opening the year as the Travs starting third baseman. After initially struggling at Double-A, returning utility infielder Roberto Lopez was the Travs hottest hitting in the last month of the 2010 season. Luis Jimenez, rated 22nd amongst Angels prospects by Baseball America, takes over at third base. Shortstop Darwin Perez is one of the most highly touted fielders in the Angels organization and is joined by second baseman Ryan Mount who attempts to come back from an injury-filled 2010.
Alberto Rosario will open the season as the Travs starting catcher again. He was sent down at mid-season in 2010, but responded with an outstanding second half in the Advanced-A California League. Nine-year veteran Orlando Mercado was signed in late March as the backup catcher.
Richards (7th), Reckling (11th) and Arenas (20th) are all ranked by Baseball America amongst the Angels top prospects. Richards led all Angels farm hands with 149 strikeouts between the Angels' Cedar Rapids and Rancho Cucamonga affiliates last year. His 3.52 ERA was second-lowest while Orenas was third in the organization at 3.64. Reckling finished 2010 in the Travs rotation after suffering through a rough few months at Triple-A last year. Right hander Kyle Hurst also joins the starting rotation while the final spot will be filled by a piggyback combo of right hander Eddie McKiernan and lefty Andrew Taylor. McKiernan was the top closer in the Angels organization with 28 saves, while Taylor ranks 28th amongst Angels prospects according to Baseball America.
The bullpen is expected to be anchored by Ryan Brasier, who moves to the role of closer after making 23 starts last year. Robert Fish, who was returned to the Angels organization last month by the Royals, and Matt Meyer work as the Travs left-handed relievers. Daniel Sattler, who the Angels selected in the Minor League Rule Five draft from Oakland, Christian Scholl and Tim Kiely are the Travs' right handed relief options.
After spending the past month at Angels spring training in Tempe, the Travelers are about to embark on a whirlwind few days. Monday afternoon the team arrives at Little Rock National Airport then will report to Dickey-Stephens Park briefly. Tuesday the Travs have a 2:00 p.m. practice scheduled before boarding the team bus for a ten-hour drive to Midland, Texas. Another practice Wednesday night at Midland's Citibank Ballpark is followed by Thursday's Texas League opener against the Midland RockHounds. The Travs visit Midland for three games then head to Frisco for a three-game series against the Frisco RoughRiders before heading back to Central Arkansas. The home opener at Dickey-Stephens Park awaits on Thursday, April 14.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.