TAMPA, Fla. -- The Tampa Tarpons released their Opening Day roster on Thursday, including 15 returners and 10 newcomers. Top prospects Estevan Florial and Freicer Perez highlight the first Tarpons roster since 1987.
Among the players are five of Baseball America's Top 30 Yankees prospects, including Florial (2nd), Perez (13th), Trevor Stephan (18th), Jonathan Loaisiga (25th) and Diego Castillo (28th).
Florial, 20, (NDFA/2015) played a majority of 2017 with Single-A Charleston, batting .297 with 11 homers and 43 RBI in 91 games. The native of Haiti earned both Mid-Season and Post-Season South Atlantic League All-Star honors and was also selected to play in the All-Star Futures Game. Florial joined Tampa in August and hit .303 with 14 RBI in 19 games. He also went 4-for-10 with a home run in three postseason games with the T-Yanks before even getting a taste of Double-A ball, going 1-for-4 in a pair of playoff games with Trenton. After the season, Florial played 19 games in the Arizona Fall League, batting .286 and being named to the AFL Top Prospects Team.
At 6-foot-8 and 240 pounds, Perez, 22, (NDFA/2014) will be the biggest presence in the clubhouse. The right-hander owns a four-pitch mix, highlighted by a fastball that can touch triple-digits. Perez spent all of 2017 with Charleston, making 24 starts and going 10-3 with a 2.84 ERA and 117 strikeouts while holding opponents to a .213 batting average. He finished the season on a high note, dealing six scoreless innings (4H, 0BB, 9K) and taking a no-decision in a playoff start in G1 of the SAL Semifinals vs. Greenville.
Stephan, 22, (3rd/2017) enters his first full season of professional baseball after being drafted out of the University of Arkansas last season. The 6-foot-4 right-hander owns a mid-90s fastball as well as a slider and a changeup. Between the Gulf Coast League and short-season, Single-A Staten Island, Stephan finished 1-1 with a 1.31 ERA and an outstanding 44/6 K/BB ratio in 11 games (10 starts) in his pro debut.
The Yankees added Loaisiga, 23, (FA/2016) to their 40-man roster in November after the right-hander put up impressive numbers in 2017. An elbow injury sidelined him for most of 2016, but Loaisiga returned from Tommy John surgery and went 1-1 with a 1.38 ERA and a 33/3 K/BB ratio in 32 and two-third innings between the GCL and Staten Island. The Nicaragua native was originally signed by the Giants in 2012, but was released after missing all of 2014-15 due to injuries.
Castillo, 20, (NDFA/2014) joins Tampa after playing all of 2017 with the RiverDogs, batting .263 with 42 RBI and 66 runs scored in 118 games. The Venezuelan impressed with his defense, but Castillo's eye at the plate is what stuck out the most as he struck out a mere 51 times in 463 plate appearances, finishing with the second-best PA/SO ratio (10.00) in the SAL.
Among the pitchers set to make their Tampa debuts are southpaw Phillip Diehl and right-handers Nick Green and Michael King .
Diehl, 23, (27th RD/2016) went 9-3 with two saves and a 3.16 ERA in 28 games (five starts) with Charleston last year. Green, 23, went 8-9 with a 4.49 ERA in 26 starts with the RiverDogs. He joined the Yankees from Texas as part of the Carlos Beltrán trade in 2016. King, 22, was also received via trade when the Yankees dealt INF Garrett Cooper and LHP Caleb Smith to Miami last November. The right-hander went 11-9 with a 3.14 ERA in 26 games (25 starts) with the Greensboro Grasshoppers in 2017.
Right-handers Matt Frawley , Hobie Harris , and Adonis Rosa , along with southpaw Trevor Lane all return to Tampa after ending last season with the T-Yanks.
Frawley, 22, joined the Yankees as part of a trade with Pittsburgh last June. He ended 2017 with Tampa, going 1-1 with one save and a 2.21 ERA in 12 games. In two stints with Tampa, Harris, 24, (31st RD/2015) went 2-3 with a 2.89 ERA in 16 games. Rosa, 23, (2013/NDFA) won all three starts he made with Tampa in 2017, going 3-0 with a 4.32 ERA. After earning SAL Mid-Season All-Star honors with Charleston, Lane, 23, (10th RD/2016) joined the T-Yanks and went 2-2 with one save and a 3.15 ERA in 13 games.
RHP Christian Morris and RHP David Sosebee both rejoin Tampa after making cameos with the T-Yanks last season. Morris, 24, (33rd RD/2015) tossed 4.0 shutout innings with Tampa before posting a 2.39 ERA in 27 games between Charleston and Staten Island. Sosebee, 24, (28th RD/2015) dealt one scoreless frame with Tampa after posting a 2.32 ERA and a team-high 13 saves with the RiverDogs.
RHP Chase Hodson and LHP Justin Kamplain originally made their Tampa debuts with scoreless relief efforts in 2016. Hodson, 25, (NDFA/2016) went 1-1 with a 1.08 ERA in 17 games between Staten Island and Charleston, logging a 37/5 K/BB ratio. Kamplain, 25, (18th RD/2014) went 3-1 with five saves and a 1.41 ERA in 18 games (one start) with Staten Island last season, holding opponents to a .162 batting average.
Francisco Diaz and Keith Skinner open the season as the Tampa catchers. Diaz, 28, spent time in the Pittsburgh and Philadelphia farm systems before signing with the Yankees in 2016. The veteran backstop hit .261 with 27 RBI in 58 games across four levels last season, including six games with the T-Yanks where Diaz hit .364 with 2 doubles, 1HR and 7RBI. Skinner, 23, (7th RD/2016) played at three levels in 2017, hitting .250 in 31 games (nine with Tampa).
Along with Castillo, Brandon Wagner is set to make his Tampa debut in the infield. Wagner, 22, (6th RD/2015) played all of last season with Charleston, batting .277 with 7HR and 51RBI in 110 games, hitting .307 against right-handers. The New Jersey native finished second in the SAL in OBP (.380) and fifth in walks (57).
Angel Aguilar , Tim Lynch , and Hoy Jun Park all return after spending time with Tampa in 2017.
Aguilar, 22, (NDFA/2012) began and ended the season with Charleston, batting .265 in 66 games. After being named an SAL Mid-Season All-Star, Aguilar played 44 games with Tampa, batting .199 before returning to the RiverDogs. Lynch, 24, (9th RD/2016) played a pivotal role in Tampa's offense, batting .310 with 13HR and 40RBI in 57 games. Park, 21, (NDFA/2014) began the season with the RiverDogs, batting .262 with 6HR and 34RBI in 86 games. The South Korea native hit just .213 in 24 games with Tampa, but drew 13BB against just 14K and was a perfect 7-for-7 in steal attempts.
Newcomers Isiah Gilliam and Pablo Olivares join Florial and Alexander Palma in the outfield.
Gilliam, 21, (20th RD/2015) ranked second among all Yankees minor leaguers in RBI last season, driving in 85 runs while batting .275 with 15HR in 125 games with Charleston. The switch-hitter batted .317 against lefties. Olivares, 20, (NDFA/2014) is the youngest Tarpon, having been born in 1998. Last season, he hit .363 in 23 games with Rookie-level Pulaski before batting .160 in 36 games with Charleston. Palma, 22, (NDFA/2012) joined Tampa last July and hit .277 with 3HR and 19RBI in 47 games.
The 2018 season begins on Thursday in Lakeland at Publix Field at Joker Marchant Stadium, when the Tarpons square off against the Flying Tigers at 6:30 p.m. Live play-by-play audio will be available on the Tarpons Radio Network beginning at 6:15 p.m.
Tampa's home opener is set for Saturday at 6:30 p.m., when the Tarpons continue the series against the Flying Tigers. Single-game tickets are now available and may be purchased at the George M. Steinbrenner Field Box Office or by visiting TarponsBaseball.com.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.