PEARL, MS - The Mississippi Braves, Double-A Affiliate of the Atlanta Braves are pleased to announce the Opening Day roster. The 2018 season begins with Opening Night presented by Ritchey Automotive at Trustmark Park tonight at 7:00 pm against the Tennessee Smokies.
Click here to view a printable roster.
The M-Braves welcome back 16 players from the 2017 club and will boast 21 players with Double-A experience. Among the returning players, nine are pitchers. Those include left-handers Corbin Clouse, Max Fried, Michael Mader and Tyler Pike. Right-handed pitchers returning are Josh Graham, Jason Hursh, Wes Parsons, Jacob Webb and Touki Toussaint.
There are eight returning position players and include infielders Austin Riley and Luis Valenzuela; outfielders Travis Demeritte, Connor Lien and Tyler Neslony; catchers Alex Jackson and Jonathan Morales.
Nine newcomers will make their first appearance with the Mississippi Braves to begin the 2018 season, with five of those being new to the Atlanta Braves organization but having previous Double-A experience. Those include infielders Cleuluis Rondon (Birmingham and Jacksonville), Mike Snyder (Arkansas) and Daniel Lockhart (Jackson); outfielder Michael Reed (Biloxi and Huntsville), and catcher Tyler Marlette (Jackson & Arkansas).
Newcomers set to make their Double-A debuts are left-handed pitchers Ricardo Sanchez and Adam McCreery, right-handed pitcher Kyle Wright and infielder Alay Lago. Reed will be the lone non-returning outfielder for the M-Braves on Opening Day.
The Atlanta Braves farm system is ranked by MLB Pipeline as the second-best in Major League Baseball entering the 2018 season. The M-Braves roster features three of MLB's top 100 prospects in Wright (No. 30), Fried (No. 83) and Riley (No. 97). The roster has seven of Atlanta's top 30 prospects in Wright (No. 2), Fried (No. 7), Riley (No. 8), Toussaint (No. 11), Jackson (No. 14), Demeritte (No. 21) and Sanchez (No. 27).
Wright will be the Opening Day starter for the M-Braves tonight against Tennessee. The Huntsville, AL native was a first-round draft pick (5th overall) by the Atlanta Braves in 2017. The former Vanderbilt Commodore began his career within the Atlanta Braves organization with the GCL Braves where he appeared in 3 games and posted a 1.59 ERA in 5.2 IP. Wright was promoted to High-A Florida in 2017 at the age of 21 and appeared in 6 games posting a 3.18 ERA and a 0-1 record in 11.1 IP.
Fried spent time in Pearl during the 2017 season before becoming the 21st M-Braves player to be promoted directly to the Atlanta Braves in August. Fried was also a first-round draft pick by the San Diego Padres (7th overall) in 2012. During his time with Atlanta, Fried appeared in 10 games with four of those appearances being starts and had a 1-1 record in 26.0 IP and posted a 3.81 ERA.
Riley, the Hernando, MS native and Desoto Central HS alum appeared in 48 games with the M-Braves in 2018 and served as the primary third baseman after being promoted from High-A Florida. Riley recorded 56 hits in 178 at-bats (.315 AVG) with the M-Braves in 2017. The former first-round draft pick by the Atlanta Braves in 2015 (41st overall) also collected nine 2B, one triple, eight home runs, and 27 RBI during his time with the M-Braves in 2017.
Three players will begin the season on the M-Braves DL in LHP Chase Johnson-Mullins, C Sal Giardina, and RHP Matt Withrow.
The M-Braves will be led on the field by Jackson, MS native Chris Maloney. The Mississippi State product has won over 1,300 games at the minor league level. He spent his last five minor league seasons with the Cardinals' farm system as the Memphis Redbirds (AAA) manager, leading his teams to winning records in four of those five seasons, a Pacific Coast League Championship Series appearances in 2010, and a PCL title in 2009.
The Mississippi Braves will open the 2018 season tonight at 7:00 p.m. against the Tennessee Smokies (Double-A Affiliate of the Chicago Cubs). Tonight the first 1,500 fans will receive M-Braves wall calendars and the first 2,500 will receive magnetic schedules. It will also be the first Thirsty Thursday of the season and Post-Game fireworks will follow the game. Click HERE for tickets. The homestand with the Smokies will continue through Monday, April 9.
Fans can guarantee the same great seat for every promotion at Trustmark Park this season by purchasing 2017 Season Tickets. Mini plans, flex plans, and single-game tickets are on sale now. For more information, call 888-BRAVES4 or stop by the M-Braves Front Office Monday through Friday, 9 am to 5 pm.
The Mississippi Braves are the Double-A affiliate of the Atlanta Braves and will open their 14th season on Thursday, April 5 against the Tennessee Smokies at Trustmark Park. Since the inaugural 2005 season, over 125 M-Braves have gone on to Major League Baseball. The M-Braves have made postseason play four times and went on to win the Southern League Championship in 2008. Stop by Trustmark Park or call 888-BRAVES4 Monday through Friday, 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. For the latest news and updates, visit mississippibraves.com or connect with @mbraves on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.