CHARLESTON, SC - With the start of the season less than a week away, the New York Yankees have announced the Charleston RiverDogs' Opening Day roster for Charleston's inaugural contest against the Columbia Fireflies at Joseph P. Riley, Jr. Park on Thursday, April 7.
Third-year RiverDogs skipper Luis Dorante will field a team that features five of the Yankees top 30 prospects according to MLB.com including right handed hurler Domingo Acevedo, who ranks as the fifth best prospect in the Yankees system according to Baseball America. The RiverDogs infield will include Korean teenage phenom Hoy Jun Park along with last year's 30th overall pick in the draft, shortstop Kyle Holder.
A pair of former South Carolina collegiate products, James Reeves of The Citadel and Brody Koerner of Clemson, will also comprise the RiverDog's pitching staff.
Acevedo (Yankees No. 5 Prospect, Baseball America; No. 7, MLB.com) figures to anchor the RiverDogs pitching staff after making one road start for Charleston to begin last season. The 6'7" righty out of Villa Los Almacigos, Dominican Republic boasts a 4-3 record and 2.46 ERA with 118 strikeouts in 106.0 career innings in the minors. Last season, the 22-year old flamethrower was named a New York-Penn League All-Star after finishing with a 3-0 record and a 1.69 ERA, good for 10th in the league while racking up 53 strikeouts in 48.0 innings.
Park (Yankees No. 14 Prospect, MLB.com) and Holder (Yankees No. 23 Prospect, MLB.com) highlight a talented infield to start the season. A high school signee out of Seoul, South Korea, Park enters just his second season in the minors after signing with the Yankees for upwards of $1 million in 2014. Last season in Pulaski, the 19-year-old hit .239 with five home runs in 54 games as the team's everyday shortstop. Another top ranked Yankees prospect lauded for his glove, Holder was selected 30th overall out of the University of San Diego in last year's draft and debuted in Short Season Staten Island where he hit .213 in 56 games while committing just seven errors in 56 games at short.
Ashley Ridge High School product and former Citadel standout James Reeves makes his return to The Joe and is one of two lefties on the Opening Day staff. The Southern Conference Pitcher of the Year and 10th round pick by the Yankees in 2015 made his pro debut in Staten Island last season where he accumulated a 1-1 record with a 3.08 ERA in 26.1 innings in relief. As a senior at The Citadel, Reeves ranked first in the SoCon in strikeouts (115), averaging nearly 11 K's per nine innings, good for 19th in the NCAA. Reeves already has plenty of fond memories at The Joe including tossing the sixth no-hitter in school history on March 21 against Mercer.
Koerner, the Yankees 17th round selection in 2015 after his junior year at Clemson, returns to Charleston after appearing in eight games for the RiverDogs in his first pro season. The Winchester, VA native went 3-1 with a 1.23 ERA while logging 29.1 innings split between rookie ball Pulaski and Charleston.
Other arms coming to the Lowcountry from last year's Staten Island team include right handers Will Carter and Travis Hissong along with southpaw Josh Rogers. Carter, the Yanks' 14th round selection in 2015 out of the University of Alabama, accrued a 1-1 record with a 2.04 ERA in his pro debut. Hissong recorded an impressive 29 strikeouts in 23.1 innings of relief with the Baby Bombers to go along with a 3.09 ERA. Rogers allowed six runs over 13.1 innings split between Staten Island and Charleston after two years at the University of Louisville.
Right-handed hurlers Cody Carroll, Simon De la Rosa, Willie Gabay, David Palladino, and Andrew Schwaab all join the staff after toeing the rubber in rookie ball Pulaski last season. Southern Miss product and a 22nd rounder in 2015, Carroll made the most of his brief pro debut, touting a 1-1, 1.75 ERA mark in 14 relief appearances. De la Rosa enters his fourth season in the Yankees system after striking out 67 in 53.1 innings to go along with a 3.71 ERA last year. Gabay enters his fifth minor league season and sixth with Yankees after posting a 5.25 ERA in 24.0 innings. Palladino returns to Charleston after appearing in 18 games as a RiverDog in 2015 with a 4.57 ERA. Schwaab, a former Missouri Tiger, will don the Holy City uniform after posting a sparkling 1.16 ERA with 32 strikeouts in 23.1 innings in rookie ball last season.
Dominican righties Claudio Custodio and Anyelo Gomez will round out the RiverDogs staff, each having made appearances in High-A Tampa last season. Custodio begins his first year full-time as a pitcher after transitioning from a position player midway through last season and logging 22.2 innings with a 6.75 ERA in the GCL. Gomez begins his fourth season off the mound in the Yankees system after posting a career-low 3.38 ERA in 2015 split between rookie and Single-A.
Radley Haddad, who served as the RiverDogs' primary backstop for much of last season, returns accompanied by 19-year-old native Venezuelan Eduardo Navas. Last season for the RiverDogs, Haddad hit .209 with one home run in 43 games behind the plate. Navas gets the call up to Charleston after hitting .218 in 35 games in rookie ball last year.
Joining Holder and Park in the infield will be Thairo Estrada, Chris Gittens, and Connor Spencer. Estrada (Yankees No. 28 Prospect, MLB.com) earns promotion from Short Season Staten Island where the Venezuelan native hit .267 with a pair of home runs in 63 games playing second and short. Gittens, the Yankees' 12th round pick out of Grayson County College in 2014, posted an impressive .341/.429/.594 line with eight home runs in 46 games mostly at the rookie ball level. UC Irvine's Spencer joins Charleston after appearing in the RiverDogs lineup at first base in 49 games while hitting .290.
The outfield features plenty of talent to start the season with three members of the Yanks' 2015 draft class in Trey Amburgey, Jeff Hendrix, and Jhalan Jackson, along with a 2013 pick, Kendall Coleman. Amburgey (Yankees No. 30 Prospect, MLB.com) will patrol The Joe's outfield after posting impressive numbers to end the season in Staten Island in his first taste of pro ball last year. The Junior College product out of St. Petersburg College led the Yankees organization with a .346 batting average on the year, including a .367/.391/.684 line in 21 games in the NYPL. A teammate of Amburgey's in Staten Island, Hendrix hit .229 with 17 stolen bases in 65 games after being taken in the fourth round out of Oregon State. Jackson, the Yankees 7th round selection last summer, also joins his former Staten Island teammates after a season in which he hit .266 with five home runs in 49 games for the Baby Bombers. At 20 years old in his third season in pro ball, Coleman rounds out the Yankees outfield after hitting .236 with five homers in Pulaski a year ago.
The RiverDogs, the Class A affiliate of the New York Yankees, begin their season - the 20th in their history at The Joe - on April 6 with an exhibition game against the Myrtle Beach Pelicans at 7:05 pm and then follow that with Opening Night, also at 7:05 pm, that begins a seven-game homestand. Ticket information may be secured by contacting the box office at (843) 577-DOGS (3647) or online at www.riverdogs.com. Those that can't make it out the ballpark, the exhibition opener on April 6 and the 11:05am contest against Asheville on Wednesday, April 13 will be streamed exclusively on riverdogs.com, with all remaining games of the opening homestand also available on WTMA 1250 AM in the tri-county area.
RiverDogs 2016 Opening Day Roster
Simon De la Rosa
Hoy Jun Park