Top Prospects And Familiar Faces Highlight 2014 Squad
By Memphis Redbirds | March 30, 2014 9:09 PM ET
MEMPHIS, Tenn. - The Memphis Redbirds - the Triple-A affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals - have announced their tentative Opening Night roster, highlighted by a talented group of outfield prospects, 15 returnees from the 2013 squad, and eight members of St. Louis' 40-man roster.
Three of the top six prospects (as ranked by Baseball America) in the loaded Cardinals' system open the season in Memphis, highlighted by #1 prospect Oscar Taveras. The 21-year old outfielder hit .306 over an injury-shortened campaign in Memphis in 2013 and was added to St. Louis' 40-man roster in the offseason.
Taveras will be joined in the Redbirds outfield by St. Louis' #5 prospect Stephen Piscotty, who enjoyed a breakout campaign while rising to Double-A in his first full professional season in 2013. The former No. 36 overall pick in the 2012 First-Year Player Draft hit a combined .295/.355/.464 with 40 extra-base hits. As a follow-up, the former Stanford Cardinal went to the Arizona Fall League and scored a team-high 20 runs on his way to a .371/.430/.506 line.
Another outfielder to watch is the newly-acquired Randal Grichuk (pronounced GRICH-ick), who was obtained by the Cardinals in the offseason trade that sent David Freese to the Angels. Grichuk led the 2013 Texas League with 57 extra-base hits at Double-A Arkansas, including 27 doubles and a team-leading 22 home runs in 128 games. He also received the 2013 Rawlings Minor League Gold Glove Award for his defense in playing both center and right field.
Former Mississippi State Bulldog and Olive Branch High School graduate Ed Easley will split catching duties with Audry Perez. Easley - the former Mississippi Gatorade Player of the Year - signed with St. Louis in the offseason after hitting .334 in 87 games for Triple-A Reno, in addition to throwing out a league-leading 36% of attempted base stealers.
Projected to anchor the Memphis starting rotation while also providing depth for St. Louis if needed is Tyler Lyons. The left-hander was 7-2 with a 3.32 ERA and 86 strikeouts in 17 games (16 starts) for the Redbirds a season ago while also making his Major League debut.
Lyons will be joined in the Memphis rotation by Angel Castro, Boone Whiting, Tim Cooney, and former Memphis Tiger Scott McGregor. Last season, McGregor co-led the Cardinals organization in wins (13) while Whiting recorded the second-most strikeouts (133).
Ranked by Baseball America as possessing the organization's "Best Control," Cooney co-led the Cardinals organization in wins and recorded 148 strikeouts against only 22 walks in 154.1 innings of work last season.
Fifteen players return to Memphis from last year's squad, including starting pitchers Lyons, McGregor, and Whiting; relievers Jose Alamarante, Sam Freeman, Eric Fornataro, Nick Greenwood, Jorge Rondon and Lee Stoppelman; catcher Perez; infielders Jermaine Curtis, Greg Garcia, and Luis Mateo; outfielders Tommy Pham and Taveras.
Seven members of the Redbirds' tentative roster have Major League experience: pitchers David Aardsma, Freeman, and Lyons; catcher Perez; infielders Curtis and Scott Moore, and outfielder Joey Butler.
Manager Pop Warner returns for his third season at the helm in the Bluff City and will be joined on the Memphis bench by returning pitching coach Bryan Eversgerd, hitting coach Mark Budaska, athletic trainer Jeremy Clipperton, and strength and conditioning coach Sean Johnson.
After an eight-game road trip to begin the 2014 regular season campaign, the Redbirds will celebrate AutoZone Park's 15th Anniversary season beginning with a 7:05 p.m. home opener on Friday, April 11th against the Iowa Cubs (Triple-A Cubs).
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This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.