Wilmington, DE - With Opening Day in the Carolina League less than a week away, the Wilmington Blue Rocks are proud to announce the young, talented roster making their way to the Riverfront in 2015. The Rocks' 2015 Opening Day roster will include three of the Kansas City Royals' top-30 prospects according to Baseball America and 11 players who have spent time in Wilmington previously. While some of the players may be used to playing on the Riverfront, manager Brian Buchanan will have to adjust to life in the Carolina League. Buchanan, who played parts of five seasons at the Major League level, enters his sixth season as a Minor League Manager, all of those spent in the Royals Organization.
The Blue Rocks pitching staff contains one of the Royals' top-30 prospects, Eric Skoglund. Skoglund, a lefty, was a third-round draft pick in 2014 out of Central Florida. Last year, he pitched in nine games (eight starts) for Rookie-Level Idaho Falls where he struck out 25 in 23 innings pitched. Returning for another year on the Rocks pitching staff are relievers Yender Caramo, Andrew Edwards, and Robinson Yambati. Caramo, who started off last season in the starting rotation, ended up being an important part of the Rocks' bullpen. He made 31 appearances out of the pen last season, posting a 3.59 ERA. Most impressively, Caramo walked just 12 batters in 82.2 innings pitched. Edwards spent part of last season in Wilmington, making 11 appearances. Yambati, who split time between Rookie-Level Idaho Falls and Low-A Lexington in 2014, spent time on the Riverfront in 2012 and 2013.
Joining the pitching staff in Wilmington for the first time will be a slew of southpaws, including Estarlin Cordero, Nick Green, Cody Reed, Luis Rico, and Eric Stout. Stout was drafted in 2014 and made his professional debut with Idaho Falls. He went 5-2 with a 3.58 ERA out of the bullpen. Green was a tenth-round draft pick out of the University of Utah. He pitched to a 3.52 ERA in 14 games for Idaho Falls. Reed and Rico will most-likely find their way into Wilmington's starting rotation. They both spent all of 2014 with Lexington making 35 starts between them. Anchoring the bullpen will most-likely be Cordero who spent all of last season with Rookie-Level Burlington. He made 15 appearances, collecting five saves with an impressive 2.70 ERA. Benino Pruneda also joins the Rocks bullpen after being a part of the Lynchburg Hillcats pitching staff last season. Pruneda closed out the second of two consecutive no-hitters thrown by the Hillcats against the Blue Rocks in June.
In the starting rotation, Alec Mills will make his Advanced-A debut on the Riverfront. Last year was a tale of two seasons for Mills as he struggled at Rookie-Level Idaho Falls, posting a 4.66 ERA, but was phenomenal with Low-A Lexington, turning in a sparkling 1.18 ERA in seven games. Luke Farrell and Matt Alvarez may also be joining Mills in the rotation. Farrell posted a 5.25 ERA in 23 games (19 starts) for Low-A Lexington before finishing the season with Double-A Northwest Arkansas where he made two starts. Alvarez was a spot-starter for Lexington in 2014, giving up just 63 hits in 73.1 IP. Jakob Junis may also join the starting rotation; he makes his Advanced-A debut after going 9-8 at Low-A last season.
The Blue Rocks roster will feature three catchers, including two returners in Cam Gallagher and Zane Evans. Gallagher enters the season as the No. 28 prospect in the Royals' organization, via Baseball America. He was a Carolina League All-Star in 2014, throwing out 40 percent of all base runners attempting to steal. Evans was impressive offensively, collecting 36 RBIs.
In the infield, Jack Lopez, Kenny Diekroeger, Frank Schwindel, and Ramon Torres return for another stint in Delaware. Lopez will enter his third season in Wilmington, moving from shortstop to second base last year. Diekroeger started 2014 in Wilmington before finishing the season at Low-A where he batted .265. Schwindel was a late addition to the Rocks last season, racking up 14 hits in 16 games in Advanced-A. Torres finished the season in Wilmington after hitting .304 at Low-A. Joining them in the infield will be Robert Pehl and Mauricio Ramos. Ramos has been impressing in the minors, batting over .300 for both Burlington and Idaho Falls in 2013 and .279 with 54 RBIs last season with Lexington. Pehl, an 11th rounder last season, opened eyes with his professional debut, batting .332 with 41 RBIs in 61 games for Rookie-Level Idaho Falls.
The outfield will be anchored in center by the returning Bubba Starling, the No. 18 prospect in Kansas City's system according to Baseball America. Starling struggled at the plate last year--batting just .218--but manned a flawless centerfield and was first in the Carolina League in games played (132). Daniel Rockett also returns to the Riverfront after collecting 72 hits last year. Dominique Taylor and Logan Moon will be joining them. Taylor has been exceeding expectations as a 15th-round draft pick. He batted .322 in his professional debut with Idaho Falls in 2013, and then hit .300 at Lexington last season. Moon, a sixth-round draft pick in 2014, tore up Appalachian League pitching in his pro debut. He batted .332, tallying 75 hits in just 59 games.
The Blue Rocks open their 2015 campaign on the road at Myrtle Beach on Thursday, April 9th. The 23rd season of Blue Rocks baseball at Frawley Stadium begins with their home opener against the Frederick Keys on Thursday, April 16. Regular season tickets are on sale now and can be purchased by calling 302-888-BLUE, visiting BlueRocks.com, or by visiting the Blue Rocks Box Office at Frawley Stadium.
Blue Rocks Baseball = The Royal Treatment