The Tulsa Drillers 2016 Opening Night roster has been set. The roster for new manager Ryan Garko is highlighted by ten returning Drillers from last year along with five of the Los Angeles Dodgers Top 20 Prospects.
Headlining the list of returnees from last year's squad are starting pitchers Chris Anderson and Jeremy Kehrt. Anderson enters the year ranked as one of the Top 20 Dodgers prospects after leading the Drillers in wins in 2015. Kehrt was fourth in the Texas League with a 3.46 ERA.
Joining Anderson and Kehrt on the Drillers will be both new and familiar faces. In addition to the two hurlers, players returning to Tulsa in 2016 include pitchers Rob Rogers, Ralston Cash, and Caleb Dirks along with position players Kyle Farmer, Erisbel Arruebarrena, Brandon Trinkwon, Adam Law and Yadir Drake.
Newcomers will include a pair of southpaw hurlers in Michael Johnson and Jordan Schafer. Schafer will be making the transition to pitching this season after playing in the big leagues for the Atlanta Braves, the Houston Astros and the Minnesota Twins as a center fielder.
The list of pitchers appearing in Tulsa for the first time also includes Chase De Jong, Logan Bawcom, Scott Barlow, Red Patterson, Seth Frankoff, Dale Thayer and Mexico native Felipe Gonzalez.
Thayer will bring a vast amount of major league experience to the Tulsa bullpen. The right-hander has spent parts of seven seasons in the big leagues, compiling a 3.47 career ERA. Last year, Thayer appeared in 38 games for the San Diego Padres.
2016 will mark a homecoming of sorts for Patterson as the right-hander was originally drafted by the Dodgers out of Southwestern Oklahoma State University in 2010. He will begin the season on the disabled list as he continues his recovery from Tommy John surgery in 2015.
First baseman Cody Bellinger is the highest ranked prospect on the Drillers roster as MLB.com ranks him as the #6 overall prospect in the Dodgers organization. The lefty-swinging son of former MLB veteran Clay Bellinger shot up the prospect list after batting .264 with 30 home runs and 103 RBIs at Single-A Rancho Cucamonga in 2015.
Baseball America also gives a promising forecast for the Drillers lineup as Bellinger will be joined by the #7 prospect in outfielder Alex Verdugo, the #13 prospect in infielder Willie Calhoun and the #18 prospect in outfielder Jacob Scavuzzo.
The quartet of sluggers all saw various levels of success at Rancho Cucamonga last season and will look to translate that to the Double-A level with Tulsa in 2016.
Other newcomers who could make an impact offensively are former University of Oklahoma catcher Tyler Ogle, outfield speedster Devan Ahart and former Arkansas Travelers infielder Drew Maggi.
Joining Patterson on the disabled list to open the season will be southpaw reliever Alex Burgos and catcher Spencer Navin.
To view the entire Drillers roster for 2016 click HERE.
Texas League teams can carry 25 active players throughout the season.
The Drillers will open the 2016 regular season on the road in Corpus Christi Thursday night as they take on the Hooks at 7:05PM for the start of a six-game road trip. The home opener for Tulsa will be exactly one week later on Thursday, April 14 when Corpus Christi will come to town. First pitch for the home opener at ONEOK Field is also scheduled for 7:05PM.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.