Golden Spikes Award Semifinalist Headlines Players to Join Osprey

By Missoula Osprey | June 11, 2018 3:33 PM

In partnership with the Arizona Diamondbacks, the Missoula Osprey announced Monday the partial release of their roster, headlined by Zack Shannon, an NCAA Golden Spikes Award Semifinalist and five returning players from a year ago. This year's returns are pitchers Edgar Martinez, Wilfry Cruz, Yeison Santana and Melvin Ovalles. Brandon Leyton is the lone position player returning from last season's team. The team is slated to have 13 additional free agent signings on the roster as well. 

A Golden Spikes Award Semifinalist this year out of Delta State, Zack Shannon clubbed a Delta State record 31 home runs and drove home a school record 93 runs. He totaled 193 bases on the season, ranking second in team history for a single season. At one point, Shannon clubbed a home run in eight straight games. In his two-year Delta State career, he finished with a .420 batting average, 26 doubles, 50 home runs, 181 RBI, and 359 total bases. Playing his first two years at Wabash Valley Community College in Mount Carmel, Illinois, Shannon established himself as an offensive powerhouse with seven home runs and a .392 average before transferring to Delta State. Shannon finished 2018 and 2017 as the NCBWA and D2CCA National Player of the Year. He also was named ABCA, NCBWA, and D2CCA All-American first-team this past spring. Shannon is the only player in the history of the Golden Spikes Award Semifinalists to be from the NCAA DII ranks.

Returners 

Joining the Osprey for the second consecutive season is infielder Brandon Leyton . The Leon Nicaragua native batted .280 a season ago, with four home runs and 23 RBIs in 52 games. One of the most consistent bats in the O's lineup, Leyton laced 10 doubles and four triples. The 19-year-old spend the first seven games of the season with the Arizona Dominican Summer League roster, but worked his way to Missoula and produced for the Osprey. His .756 OPS last year was the best mark of his professional baseball career.

Back for his second season with the Osprey, Edgar Martinez is now in his third season in the Diamondbacks system. The right-hander pitched in eight games with seven starts, owning a 4.76 ERA in 39.2 innings. The now 20-year-old went 3-3 with 27 strikeouts while walking just eight batters. Splitting time in the AZL, Martinez finished the entire 2017 season with a 3-5 record and a 4.19 ERA. In 66.2 innings, Martinez struck out 40 batters while issuing a mere 14 walks. The Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico native had four appearances last season where he did not issue a run, spanning over 10 innings. 

Wilfry Cruz appeared in two games for Missoula at the end of the 2017 season, coming out of the bullpen for four innings of work. The right-hander held a 4.50 ERA and earned a save. Cruz spent the majority of the season in the AZL, working as both a starter and a reliever. The 20-year-old posted nine starts and five games of relief. In 56.1 innings, Cruz struck out 52 batters and walked 32 men. Holding a 4.95 ERA, the Bani, Dominican Republic product earned a save and held opponents to a .257 batting average. 

Already in his fifth year of affiliated baseball with the Diamondbacks organization, Yeison Santana enters 2018 with a 10-12-career record with a 4.01 ERA. The right-handed reliever has compiled 202 innings with 216 strikeouts compared to 53 walks. He started his career as a 16-year-old in the DSL in 2014, making his way to Missoula last season for the first time. In 18 relief appearances, Santana owned a 1-2 record, spanning over 32 innings in which he racked up 30 strikeouts with only eight walks. Santana hails from Villa Jaragua, Dominican Republic. 

Also entering his fifth season in affiliated baseball, Melvin Ovalles returns to Missoula after spending two games with the team last year. Ovalles, from Moca, Dominican Republic, holds a career record of 5-6 with a 3.53 ERA in 120 innings. His career started in 2014 as a 16-year-old in the DSL. Ovalles boasts 90 strikeouts in his career. 

Free Agent Signings - Pitchers 

After spending the first year of his Minor League career in the DSL and AZL, Mailon Arroyo receives the call up to the Osprey. The right-handed pitcher pitched in 24 games combined in 2017, earning a 3-5 record with a 4.01 ERA. In 33.2 innings, Arroyo piled up 41 strikeouts with just 14 walks. In the DSL, Arroyo converted nine saves on 13 attempts, and added two more saves when he was promoted to the AZL. Opponents were able to hit just .230 off the Salcedo, Dominican Republic product. 

A graduate of Northwood University, Tyler Jadron joins the Diamondbacks organization for his first season in the minors. Hailing from Negaunee, Michigan and graduating from UW-Parkside, Jandron posted a 9-3 record with an ERA of 2.44 in his senior season. In 81 innings, the lefty struck out 92 batters while issuing 34 walks for a K/9 rate of 10.22. In 2017, Jandron amassed a 12-1 mark with a career-best 2.37 ERA in 14 starts and one relief appearance. In 91 innings, he punched out 102 batters and tossed five complete games. In his career, Jandron has nine complete games and a 21-4 record in 28 appearances. His strikeout per nine innings for his career stands at 10.15, and an ERA of 2.41. 

Set to take part in his second Minor League season in the Diamondbacks system, Marcos Tineo looks to build upon a 2017 season where he pitched to a 3-2 record and a 3.92 ERA. In 13 starts, the right-hander tossed 59.2 innings and struck out a whopping 61 batters while walking 19. The 21-year-old starter from San Cristobal, Dominican Republic had three outing of six inning pitched with, giving up a combined one run in those three games. 

Joining the Osprey for the first time is Pedro Zorrilla , a right-handed pitcher out of El Seibo, Dominican Republic. The 22-year-old spent the first two seasons with the Diamondbacks organization at the DSL level, owning a career ERA of 3.30 is 28 starts. Zorrilla pitched 155 total innings in two seasons, striking out 88 batters and walking a meager 25. Last season, while is record was just 2-8, Zorrilla pitched to a 3.95 ERA in 14 starts, striking out 48 batters in 73 innings. 

Free Agent Signings - Infielders 

Cesar Garcia is a 20-year-old free agent signing by the Diamondbacks organization in September of 2017, and is set to make his Minor League debut. Garcia is from Boston, Massachusetts. 

After spending the final two games in Missoula due to a promotion from the AZL team, utility man Eddie Hernandez finished with a .200 average for the Osprey, including a home run and four RBIs in 10 at-bats. Splitting the 2017 with three teams, Hernandez compiled a .324 in his second minor league season, hitting six home runs and driving in 50. In 69 games, the Caracas, Venezuela native scared 37 runs; hit 12 doubles and eight triples. He ended the season with a modest six game hitting streak, including his two-game stint with Missoula. 

Playing for Lincoln at the AA level in Independent Baseball during the 2017 season, Joe Robbins enters his first year in affiliated ball. The 24-year-old batted to the tune of .302 last year, driving seven home runs and 23 RBIs. Robbins smacked 12 doubles and logged four triples in 169 at-bats. The University of Louisiana at Lafayette graduate owned an on-base percentage of .379 while his OPS floated at the .923 mark. 

Free Agent Signings - Outfielders 

At 19-year-old, Jesus Marriaga joins the Osprey for the first time. In his first season in the Arizona system in 2016, he hit .299 with the DSL DB and DSL DIA teams. Last season in a promotion to the AZL, Marriaga batted .205 with 15 RBIs. Signed in 2016 out of Cartagena, Colombia, Marriaga finished with nine multi-hit games last season. 

Entering his third season in the Dbacks organization is David Sanchez. The 19-year-old begins his first stint in Missoula after spending the past two season in DSL DIA. After a season where he hit .245 in 2016, Sanchez turned his bat around last season, hitting .314 with three home runs and 31 RBIs in 41 games. With only 20 strikeouts in 153 at-bats, Sanchez worked a .365 on-base percentage and scored 27 runs. The Higuey, Dominican Republic native has 60 career RBIs along with 11 doubles and a .275 average. 

Luis Cossio enters his second year in the Diamondbacks organization after spending the 2017 season at DSL DIA. As a 20-year-old, the Ensenada, Baja California product hit .266 with a home run and 19 RBIs. In 44 games, Cossio worked 34 walks to own a .411 on-base percentage in his first professional season. In a small sample size, Cossio notched 12 multi-hit games while producing 10 games where he walked two or more times. There were only 10 games last year where Cossio did not record at least one hit or a walk in a single game. Cossio has a knack for reaching base safely against right-handed pitching, holding a .419 on-base percentage last season in such situations. 

The Diamondbacks have promoted Jesus Munoz from the AZL after his short stint there last season. He appeared in just four games all of 2017, but played in 60 games during the 2016 campaign at the DSL level as a 17-year-old. Munoz batted .269 with a home run and 16 runs batted in while scoring 26 runs. Out of his 53 hits, he notched 48 singles and totaled 61 bases. Munoz flashed his speed, swiping 12 bases on 18 attempts. The Bani, Dominican Republic native improved his on-base percentage to .330 at season's end. Munoz compiled 12 multi-hit games during his 2016 season.

Geraldo Sanchez enters his first season in Missoula after spending the first two years of his Minor League career in the DSL. In his career, the right-hander possesses a 4-5 mark complimented by a 3.72 ERA in 101.2 innings. Sanchez, from San Jose de Ocoa, Dominican Republic, has 87 strikeouts compared to 37 walks. Last season, Sanchez started in all 14 games he appeared in, working 69 innings and recording a 4-3 record and 4.04 ERA. The 20-year-old put up a career-best 63 punch-out's while holding opponents to a .257 batting average.

The Osprey announced Tuesday the release of more of their roster, led by infielder Buddy Kennedy and 2018 Osprey Opening Day starter, Deyni Olivero. Missoula also announces the addition of 12 former collegiate players for the 2018 season, including 10 pitchers and two catchers. 

Buddy Kennedy, who is the highest former draft pick of the Diamondbacks to play for Missoula this year, joins the company of Shannon and the infielders group. The 19-year-old completed his first season of professional baseball last year with the Arizona League after being the organizations fifth-round selection in 2017. The Millville, New Jersey High School product (same high school as Los Angeles Angels star outfielder Mike Trout) hit .270 in his first season with 20 RBIs in 50 games. Scouts rave about his offensive ability, and he plays with a smooth step defensively. Kennedy is the grandson of longtime Major Leaguer Don Money, who spent 16 seasons in the majors with Philadelphia and Milwaukee and hit .261 lifetime with 176 home runs. 

Since joining the Diamondbacks organization as a free agent in 2016, Deyni Olivero continues to improve in the minor leagues. Starting his career in the DSL, Olivero went 5-1 with an ERA of 4.99 in 39.2 innings. However, at the start of 2017 in the DSL, the right-hander went 3-2 and a 3.58 ERA. In 10 starts, he posted 50 innings and 33 strikeouts. Earning a promotion to the AZL, Olivero showed his best pitching. Through six appearances and three starts, the Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic product went 3-0 with a 1.75 ERA in 25.2 innings. Olivero struck out 15 batters and gave up five earned runs. In his minor league career, Olivero is 16-13 with a 2.96 ERA with 25 appearances and 19 starts. The 20-year-old ended the 2017 season with six straight appearances with one or zero earned runs, three of those games were starts. Olivero is slated to be the Osprey Opening Day starter when Missoula travels to Billings Friday. 

Catchers

A 35th round pick of the Diamondbacks in 2017, Zachery Almond finished his first season of professional baseball with the organization's Arizona League affiliate with a .260 batting average and five RBIs. In 19 games, Almond worked 11 walks in 61 plate appearances while holding an on-base percentage of .387. As a senior in college during the 2017 season Catawba, Almond batted .364 with 17 home runs and 61 RBIs. In his two-year career, the catcher hit 30 home runs while compiling 101 RBIs.

Undrafted out of college, 23-year-old Zack Jones joins the Diamondbacks in his first season of affiliated baseball. After spending two season's in Independent Baseball, most recently with the Windy City Thunderbolts, Jones joins the Osprey catchers group. Jones hit .250 with two home runs and five RBIs in 13 games. This season, he hit .125 with Visalia in the California League, but saw action in just three games with 10 plate appearances. Jones graduated from Trinity Christian College where he earned CCAC All-Conference honors in 2015 and 2016, CCAC Gold Glove team in 2016 and an NCCAA All-America in 2015 and 2016. 

Pitchers

A recent graduate from the University of Missouri, Andrew Toelken finished his two-year career with Missouri as an 11-6 pitcher with a 3.24 ERA in two seasons. The right-hander appeared in 21 games, starting five in 57.1 innings. Working 48 strikeouts as a senior, Toelken finished his Missouri career with 100 strikeouts and 43 walks. Before attending Missouri, Toelken pitched at St. John's for two seasons. He was named as one of the nation's best impact junior college transfers by PerfectGame, and finished his career with an 18-2 record and a 2.00 ERA. His 18 wins set a new school record for most in a career.

Used as a starter and reliever during his collegiate career, Samford's Erin Baldwin completed his senior season by throwing to a 2-1 record and a 2.72 ERA. Baldwin appeared in 25 games while starting seven, tossing 56.1 innings. The right-hander struck out 48 batters with a meager eight walks. Before his two-year career at Samford, he spent the 2015 and 2016 seasons at LSU Eunice, ranking as one of the top starting pitchers among junior college teams. He led the No. 1 ranked JC team in the nation with a 2.63 ERA and finished 8-0. Baldwin struck out 44 batters in 51 innings, helping lead the team to a national title during his two-year career.   

The ninth collegiate arm selected by the Diamondbacks on day three of the 2018 MLB Draft, Jacob Stevens ended his junior season at Boston College with a 4.84 ERA in 13 games started. The right-hander went 3-7, and tossed 70.2 innings on the season. In his three-year career with the Eagles, Stevens struck out 213 batters in 228 innings. With a 12-18 record and a 4.18 career ERA, Stevens started 43 of 44 games he appeared in. As a freshman in 2016, Stevens earned Freshman All-American Second-Team honors from D1Baseball and baseball America. He was the first Boston College player to earn such honors since 2002. He was also tabbed to the Atlantic Coast Conference All-Freshman Team. 

A native of Chester, South Carolina and a graduate of Florence-Darlington Tech, Trent Autry begins his second year of Minor League Baseball and his first with the Osprey. In the AZL in 2017, the right-hander appeared in six games, starting three. With nine innings logged on the season, Autry struck out six and earned a 1-0 record. At Darlington Tech in 2017, Autry pitched in 15 games (13 starts) and posted a 6-3 record along side a 4.08 ERA. Showing his power, he piled up 115 strikeouts in 75 innings. 

Right-handed pitcher Bryan Menendez recently completed his college career at UNLV, posting the best season of his career. With a 3-2 record and a 2.41 ERA, Menendez was one of the top arms selected out of the Rebels bullpen all season. With 25 appearances, the righty set the new UNVL saves record with 12 as the team's closer, pitching 41 innings and striking out 36 batters. Hitters swung at a mark of .207 against Menendez, and the closer allowed just seven extra base hits all season. Menendez was selected as a Mountain West All-Conference Second Team performer. He finished his Rebels career with the second most saves program history with 17.  

After two seasons of collegiate baseball at Richmond and McLennan Community College, respectfully, Justin Garcia transferred to the University of Arkansas Little Rock for his final two seasons. As a junior in his first season with the Trojans, Garcia went 2-1 with a 3.02 ERA in 33 appearances, all out of the bullpen to set a new team record for most appearances in a single season. Opponents hit .163 off the right-hander. This spring, Garcia continued to throw out of the bullpen, breaking his own record for appearances in a season with 36. Owning a 4-5 record and a 3.38 ERA, Garcia earned 10 saves in 58.2 innings pitched. Garcia completed his two-year career with the Trojans with 100 innings and a 3.23 ERA. 

Landon Whitson dominated out of the bullpen as a closer for Lenoir-Rhyne in his senior season. With an ERA of 2.01 and a 3-1 record, Whitson broke the programs record for most saves in a season with nine. In 23 appearances, the right-hander pitched 31.1 innings and struck out 42 batters while walking just eight all season. Opponents had a hard time seeing the ball vs. Whitson, hitting .208 against him as a senior this spring. To complete his career, he finished with a 4.65 ERA and a 9-9 record in 50 appearances. Whitson started 12 games, with eight of those coming as a sophomore in 2016.   

An undrafted free agent following the 2018 MLB Draft, California's Matt Ladrech has signed with the Diamondbacks and been assigned to Missoula. As senior this spring, the Lafayette, California product started all 15 games he appeared in on his way to a 7-5 record and a 5.12 ERA in 77.1 innings. He posted six games pitching six or more innings, and three games of seven frames. Ladrech struck out 53 batters while issuing a career-low 13 free passes. In his Golden Bears career, Ladrech amassed a 19-15 record, 4.05 ERA 120 strikeouts in 275.1 innings.

Looking to rise back to the top of the Pioneer League, the Missoula Osprey open the 2018 season in Billings, Montana June 15th at 7:05 p.m. The O's home opener is slated for June 19th vs. Helena at 7:05 p.m. Individual game tickets for all 38 Missoula Osprey regular-season home games are on sale now at the MSO Hub, online at MissoulaOsprey.com, and by calling 406-543-3300. Group, season, and other packaged tickets, including the flexible Any Game, Any Time Plan, are also on sale.

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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