CHARLESTON, WV (April 5, 2018) - The West Virginia Power, in conjunction with the Pittsburgh Pirates, are proud to announce their 2018 Opening Day roster. The team features six of the parent club's top 30 prospects, according to MLB.com, as well as four returning players to the Kanawha Valley.
Lolo Sanchez, the Pirates 10th-best prospect per MLB.com, headlines a star-studded group that will begin the year in Charleston. Sanchez is one of 11 players challenged with the task of jumping from rookie ball to the Low-A level, bypassing the West Virginia Black Bears in Morgantown. The Santo Domingo, D.R., native averaged .284 in 2017, reaching base safely in his last 26 games. Other prospects joining Lolo in West Virginia include Oneil Cruz (#14), Calvin Mitchell (#16), Travis MacGregor (#25), Mason Martin (#26) and Braeden Ogle (#29).
Cruz is the only one of those prospects with previous time logged with the Power, as the 19-year-old was traded to the Pirates in late July along with RHP Angel German in exchange for LHP Tony Watson. In his 16 games donning a Power uniform, Cruz hit .218 with a pair of homers and eight RBI.
The two other returners are two members of the Power staff: Blake Cederlind and Dylan Prohoroff.
Cederlind struggled in 2017, as the 22-year-old went 2-3 with a 7.76 ERA in 25 outings for the Power, tossing 58.0 innings and fanning 55 batters. Meanwhile, Prohoroff made 40 relief appearances with the Power in 2017, striking out 65 over 58.2 innings while notching four saves.
The rest of the Power arms include: Joel Cesar, Sergio Cubilete, Adam Oller, Evan Piechota, Domingo Robles, Ike Schlabach, Jacob Taylor, Gavin Wallace and Blake Weiman. Robles, Schlabach and Weiman join Ogle as the Power's southpaw quartet, while Wallace follows in his brother Mike's footsteps, who turned in a 5-6 record with a 3.47 ERA in 26 games for the Power last season.
The 19-year-old Robles will get the Opening Day nod for the Power against Greenville. The Dominican Republic native went 4-8 with a 4.83 ERA for the Bristol Pirates in 2017. The southpaw will make his second consecutive Opening Day start of his career, as the 2014 free agent signee toed the slab on June 22 for Bristol's 2017 season opener. Robles spun five innings and allowed just two hits in the no-decision.
Rafelin Lorenzo and Deon Stafford will split the catching duties in Charleston in 2018. Stafford enters his second year in the Pirates system after posting a .280 stroke in 2017 with the Black Bears, while Lorenzo was claimed off waivers after spending his first four professional seasons in Tampa Bay's system.
The club sports a developing infield core, with Ben Bengtson, Dylan Busby and Kyle Watson, three 2017 draft picks, joining Cruz and Rodolfo Castro on the clay in 2018. Bengtson and Watson went through a tour of duty in Bristol, Virginia, in 2017, while Busby, a third-round selection by the Pirates a year ago, hit .188 over 41 games in Morgantown.
Three prospects highlight the Power outfield in Martin, Mitchell and Sanchez, with Ryan Peurifoy and Chris Sharpe rounding out the five-man group. Peurifoy turned in a very respectable 2017, as the Georgia Tech product collected a .305/.354/.427 slash line in 36 games with rookie-level Bristol. Sharpe spent 2017 in Morgantown with the Black Bears, batting .234 with three homers and 15 RBI and getting hot down the stretch, as the 2017 14th-round selection recorded a 12-game hitting streak from August 3-19, during which he hit .340 (16-for-47).
The Power open the 2018 campaign today, Thursday, April 5, at Appalachian Power Park, as they welcome the defending South Atlantic League champion Greenville Drive for a four-game series before a three-game set with the Lakewood BlueClaws. For tickets and more information on a jam-packed Opening Weekend in Charleston, call the Power at 304-344-BATS (2287) or visit www.wvpower.com.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.