The Dunedin Blue Jays have announced their roster to start out the 2010 Florida State League season, with 21 players returning to Dunedin from the 2009 season. 33 players in all make up the Dunedin Opening Day roster.
Taking over for long time Dunedin manager Omar Malave will be Clayton McCullough, who will start his fourth year as a manager in the Blue Jays organization. McCullough managed the Single-A Lansing Lugnuts in 2008 and 2009. His coaching staff includes returning pitching coach Darold Knowles, who will celebrate his 50th season in professional baseball this year, and his 30th as a coach. The new hitting coach will be Justin Mashore, who worked with McCullough in their two years at Lansing.
The most notable newcomer to Dunedin is catcher Travis D'Arnaud, one of the three prospects received in the offseason trade that sent perennial Toronto Blue Jays ace Roy Halladay to the Philadelphia Phillies. D'Arnaud was named the #4 prospect in the Phillies organization by Baseball America before the trade was made, and his arrival in the Blue Jays organization creates quite the catching prospect tandem with Las Vegas 51's (Triple-A) backstop J.P. Arencibia, who is likely to make his Major League debut much sooner than later. Joining him behind the dish are returning catchers Matt Liuzza and C.J. Ebarb, along with newcomer Yan Gomes, a Florida native who had a great pro debut in 2009 and could be someone to watch.
The pitching staff sees returning hurlers Andrew Liebel, Ryan Page and Chuck Huggins in the starting rotation. Joining them will be Joel Carreno and the exciting young right-hander Henderson Alvarez, a 20-year-old who impressed at Lansing last season. Matt Daly will resume his closing duties that he inherited upon his late-season promotion to Dunedin in 2009. Returners Dan DeLucia, Alan Farina, Dumas Garcia, Kyle Ginley and Boomer Potts will join him in the bullpen. Newcomers to the Dunedin bullpen in 2010 include lefty specialist Frank Gailey and long-time minor leaguer B.J. Lamura, who pitched with Long Island in the Independent League last season.
The infield will be crowded to begin the year and will bring a lot of competition in the early part of 2010. Returning from last year's team are first round draft picks Justin Jackson and Kevin Ahrens. They'll be joined by former second round pick John Tolisano and former fifth round pick Tyler Pastornicky. All four players are expected to get significant playing time at second base, shortstop and third base and will be moved around to maximize their contributions. Ahrens begins the season on the disabled list, meaning that Tolisano might get the first crack at playing the hot corner to begin the year. Returning 2009 FSL All-Star Raul Barron will reprise his super utility role with the D-Jays in 2010. Justin McClanahan, Bryan Kervin and hulking first baseman Michael McDade will join him amongst the other infielders.
The outfield sees the return of Dunedin's R. Howard Webster Award winner from 2009, Moises Sierra. He will begin the season on the disabled list. Joining him are returners Bradley McElroy and Brain Van Kirk, along with newcomers Daniel Perales and Welinton Ramirez. Dunedin opens their season on Thursday, April 8, when the D-Jays take on the Clearwater Threshers for their Opening Night Celebration. Tickets are still available and can be purchased by calling (727) 733-9302.
33 players on a baseball team, 20 of the hitters? It's going to be difficult finding all these players at bats.
I am very much looking forward to reading about the progress of catcher Travis D'Arnaud. Earlier I did a detailed post about him on his birthday. If you want to see it, click here.