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Blue Wahoos Have 27 Former Players On MLB Rosters To Begin Shortened Season

Luis Arraez, left, and Jaylin Davis, part of the Blue Wahoos 2019 season-opening roster, are now part of 27 former players on rosters for eight different MLB teams to begin 2020 season. (Daniel Venn)
July 23, 2020

The Pensacola Blue Wahoos decorated history was further recognized Thursday with 27 former players set on eight different teams’ opening day rosters for the shortened 2020 Major League Baseball season. The group is led by 11 former Blue Wahoos players now part of the Cincinnati Reds, 30-player active roster, as

The Pensacola Blue Wahoos decorated history was further recognized Thursday with 27 former players set on eight different teams’ opening day rosters for the shortened 2020 Major League Baseball season.

The group is led by 11 former Blue Wahoos players now part of the Cincinnati Reds, 30-player active roster, as the Reds begin their 60-season at home Friday against the Detroit Tigers.

That game at Cincinnati’s Great American Ballpark at 5:10 p.m. will also mark a debut for Tommy Thrall, the former Blue Wahoos play-by-play announcer, who is taking over the lead play-by-play role from Hall of Fame broadcast legend Marty Brennaman.

Thrall, a Blue Wahoos fixture from the team’s inaugural 2012 season through 2018, officially becomes the new voice of the Reds after the 77-year-old Brennaman held the role from 1974 through the end of last season.

The Reds were the Blue Wahoos’ Double-A affiliate for the first seven years of the franchise.

In addition, there are eight players who played in Pensacola last year and wore Blue Wahoos uniforms for an extended time, all of whom now part of MLB teams' 30-player opening rosters.

Six of those are with the Minnesota Twins – the Blue Wahoos current affiliate -- and led by 2019 star rookie infielder Luis Arraez. His .342 batting average since his big league debut on May 18, 2019 led the team and set a record for the best in Twins history.

The Twins will begin their season Friday on the road against the Chicago White Sox.

“That doesn’t happen often, for sure,” said former Blue Wahoos pitcher Randy Dobnak, who made his MLB debut last August to complete an improbable rise from being on an Independent League team and former Uber driver in 2017.

“It’s just really awesome,” said Dobnak, now part of the Twins starting pitching rotation. “Not just for us, but for everyone else involved.

“(Blue Wahoos) front office, fans, people who worked at the stadium, who got to know us off the field and on the field. Just people to be able to share moments like that is pretty cool for everybody involved.”

Arraez went from Pensacola to compile the fifth-best, rookie batting average in the past 100 years of MLB. That batting average trails only a group headlined by baseball legends Ted Williams, Stan Musial and Joe DiMaggio.

The other Twins who rose from the Blue Wahoos last season into making their MLB debuts are pitchers Devin Smeltzer, Randy Dobnak, Cody Stashak.

They were joined by reliever Brusdar Graterol, who made his MLB debut last year with the Twins and is now part of the Los Angeles Dodgers’ 30-player roster, along with outfielder Jaylin Davis, who went from being a Southern League All-Star for the Blue Wahoos to making his debut with the San Francisco Giants

Also part of the Twins roster announced Thursday is former Blue Wahoos outfielder Aaron Whitefield, an Australian, who began as a softball player in his native country. Whitefield will be the 79th former Blue Wahoos player to reach the big leagues if he makes his debut Friday.

Former Blue Wahoos catcher Joe Hudson, who played for the Blue Wahoos in 2016 and 2017 and was a fan favorite in signing autographs, is now part of the Seattle Mariners roster.

Hudson, who played in nine MLB games, including eight with the LA Angels in 2018, signed with Mariners in January. He was a late add to the opening day roster when Mariners starting catcher Tom Murphy went on the injured list with metatarsal bone in his left foot.

Also with the Mariners are former Blue Wahoos infielder Shed Long, who played in 126 games for the Blue Wahoos in 2018 – their last as a Reds affiliate, plus reliever Matt Magill, who appeared in nine games for the team in 2016.

The 30-player rosters on MLB teams will be allowed for the first two weeks of the abbreviated season. The rosters will then be trimmed to 28 players, followed by a 26-player roster on August 20.

Teams are permitted to have a 40-man roster with the other players practicing and staying near the team’s home city. For the Twins, that group includes former Blue Wahoos pitchers Jorge Alcala, Jhoan Duran, Dakota Chalmers and Sean Poppen, along with infielder Travis Blankenhorn.

The season will be the shortest in MLB history which extends more than 150 years.

“I think there’s always going to be an asterisk next to it,” said Smeltzer, speaking to Blue Wahoos’ season ticket holders during a Zoom video conference in June, moderated by Blue Wahoos broadcaster Chris Garagiola. “But in my eyes, I think it’s going to be kind of a cool spin on the sport.

“(MLB season) has always been a marathon. You can hit a 25-game skid in a 162 game season and (still) be the World Series champions. That’s not going to happen in a short season.

“You are going to have to come out hot, you have to stay hot and you have finish hot. In a 60-game season, we are going to be all-hands-on-deck all 60 games.”

BLUE WAHOOS ALUMNI

CINCINNATI REDS – Pitchers: Luis Castillo, Amir Garrett, Michael Lorenzen, Tyler Mahle, Cody Reed, Robert Stephenson.

Catcher: Tucker Barnhart. Infielder: Josh VanMeter. Outfielders: Philip Ervin, Nick Senzel, Jesse Winker.

MINNESOTA TWINS – Pitchers: Randy Dobnak, Devin Smeltzer, Cody Stashak. Infielder: Luis Arraez. Outfielders: Lamonte Wade Jr., Aaron Whitefield.

LOS ANGELES DODGERS – Pitcher Brusdar Graterol.

MIAMI MARLINS – Infielder Miguel Rojas, Catcher Chad Wallach.

PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES – Infielder Didi Gregorius

SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS – Pitcher Wandy Peralta, Outfielder Jaylin Davis

SEATTLE MARINERS – Catcher Joe Hudson, Infielder Shed Long, Pitcher Matt Magill.

WASHINGTON NATIONALS – Pitcher Tanner Rainey.