It was media day for the Scranton Wilkes-Barre RailRiders and the excitement for the new season is running high. The only thing putting a damper on everyone’s spirits was the cold, wet, and rainy weather present at PNC Field Tuesday.
Despite the canceled on-field practice and the wet weather, new Scranton Wilkes-Barre manager, Bobby Mitchell, was upbeat and ready for his new challenge at the Triple-A level.
“I’ve heard nothing but good things about the team, the setting, how it’s run, and the town itself,” Mitchell said. “It’s really exciting for us to get started.”
Mitchell managed the Yankees’ Double-A affiliate Trenton Thunder for the past two seasons. He led the Thunder to a total of 179 wins and two Eastern League division titles. He also managed the team to two straight appearances in the Eastern League Championship Series and he’s eager to carry that success with him to the next level of the Yankees’ organization.
“I’m really excited,” Mitchell said. “I’ve always been a big Yankees fan. Even growing up I was a Yankees fan. So this is a really great opportunity for not only the players but me coming here.”
Mitchell’s job won’t be as difficult as some other’s as his roster will be loaded with talent throughout the year. Not counting top prospects that will undoubtedly be called up and sent down all season, his current roster is filled with exciting players. Headlining the group are Yankees’ top prospects Gleyber Torres and Chance Adams.
“I’ve been doing this awhile and this is probably the most talented organization I’ve been in up and down each level,” Mitchell said. “The talent level is very elite and you don’t see this every day.”
The RailRiders’ roster will also feature it’s fair share of veteran players. Recent signings such as catcher Erik Kratz, infielder Jace Peterson, and reliever Oliver Perez will go a long way to teaching the young talent how to go about their business. Mitchell said the most important part of Triple-A is preparing guys how to win and to develop and the veteran players on the team will be key to accomplishing that.
The roster isn’t without it’s questions though. As of April 3rd the roster only has 23 spots certain. Outfielder Mark Payton will start the year on the DL and pitcher Giovanni Gallegos is uncertain. Mitchell said the Yankees’ front office was working on it and that may have come in the afternoon when they acquired outfielder Trayce Thompson off waivers.
When asked about a potential opening day lineup Mitchell joked about only having nine position players to begin with.
“I was looking at it and I only have 9 players so it’s just a matter of putting them in the right order,” Mitchell said.
He did mention he would like to get a player with more speed because he likes to run on pitchers and put pressure on the other team.
Regardless of how the roster shapes up with the talent they possess the RailRiders are poised for another solid campaign.
The RailRiders’ will open their season on Friday, April 6th at home against the Syracuse Sky Chiefs at 7:05pm
- OF Mark Payton is expected to miss about 6 weeks with a knee issue
- The plan for Gleyber Torres is to split the majority of his time between shortstop and second base with limited time at third base.
- Mitchell expects the opening day outfield to be Zack Zehner in LF, Shane Robinson in CF, and Ryan McBroom in RF.
- Although McBroom played mostly 1B in his career Mitchell said he thinks he could be “surprisingly good” in the outfield.
- Outfielder Clint Frazier is doing baseball activities and getting close to returning. The main concern is the negative impact from the concussion of playing under the lights as opposed to sunlight.
- RailRiders’ pitching coach Tommy Phelps said, while not final, he expects Daniel Camerena to be the 5th man in the rotation.
- Ben Heller was moved to the 60-Day DL with bone spurs.
- Mitchell said Giovanni Gallegos’ injury is a groin issue but says he feels fine.
- Thairo Estrada is hitting and fielding after being shot in the hip in the offseason. He’s getting closer to a return, but Mitchell says they are waiting for the wound to heal before he can.
Possible SWB Rotation:
Possible SWB Lineup: