CHARLESTON, SC– With Opening Day this week, the New York Yankees have revealed the players who will don Charleston RiverDogs uniforms to open the 2015 season on April 9 at The Joe against the Lexington Legends.
Luis Dorante returns at the helm of the RiverDogs for the second-consecutive season and fields a team that has 10 players with prior experience in Charleston. Featured returners include the talented double-play combo of second baseman Gosuke Katoh and shortstop Abiatal Avelino and outfielder Dustin Fowler who tallied nine homers in a RiverDogs uniform during the 2014 campaign. Former University of South Carolina Gamecocks pitcher Jordan Montgomery will also be a RiverDog.
Highly touted shortstop Jorge Mateo breaks camp and heads to Charleston after spending the 2014 season with the Gulf Coast Yankees. Mateo (Yankees No. 3 prospect, Baseball America and MLB.com) signed with the Yankees in 2012, but made his U.S. debut last season playing in 15 games with the Gulf Coast League Yankees where he hit .276 with six extra-base hits and 11 stolen bases. His speed on the bases and range in the field highlight the great potential for his inaugural season in the South Atlantic League.
Avelino (Yankees No. 15 prospect, Baseball America, No. 21 MLB.com) returns to the RiverDogs’ roster after logging 53 games in Charleston during the 2014 season. He hit .232 with 15 extra-base hits and 11 stolen bases. His arm is well above average and defense solid as he committed just seven errors from one of the most-important spots on the diamond.
Katoh (Yankees No. 28 prospect, MLB.com) logged 121 games with the RiverDogs in 2014, third most on the team, and hit .222 with 28 extra-base hits, 37 RBI and 20 stolen bases in 30 attempts. He ranked second in the SAL with 71 walks.
Surrounding Katoh, Avelino, and Mateo on the corners of the diamond will be third baseman Allen Valerio and first baseman Connor Spencer. Valerio played the hot corner in 42 of his 43 Gulf Coast League games and committed just nine errors in the field. His offense was solid as he hit .292 with 19 extra-base hits, 24 RBI and an OBP of .404. Spencer, an 8th round pick by the Yankees in the 2014 draft, made his pro debut with Staten Island and paced the Yankees by hitting .364 with 14 doubles, a triple, and 11 RBI in 51 games in the New York-Penn League.
Jose Javier rounds out the infielding core for the RiverDogs. He spent 2014 with the Staten Island Yankees in the New York-Penn League where he hit .241 with 2 homers and 16 RBI.
Fowler, Austin Aune, Chris Breen, and Brandon Thomas will patrol the outfield at The Joe to begin the 2015 season. The duo of Fowler and Thomas, which combined for 14 home runs, 80 RBI, and 25 stolen bases, returns to Charleston for this season and will again split time in center. Aune and Breen both advance from Staten Island and will spend most of their time in the corner outfield spots for the RiverDogs. Aune, a second-round pick of the Yankees in 2012 hit .218 with 4 homers, and 23 RBI for the SI Yankees. Breen, a 12th rounder from the 2012 draft, crushed a team-high 8 homers and hit .281 with 16 doubles, 5 triples and 28 RBI in 63 games.
A pair of backstops break camp and head to the Lowcountry. Eduardo de Oleo returns to the South Atlantic League after playing in 78 games with the ‘Dogs in 2014. The 22-year old catcher clubbed a team-high 12 home runs and threw out a team-high 21 base stealers in his first year of A-ball. Alvaro Noriega makes up the other half of the catching duo and advances from the Gulf Coast League where he hit .252 and threw out 17 opposing base stealers.
The RiverDogs’ pitching staff is highlighted by native South Carolinian and former South Carolina Gamecock Jordan Montgomery who returns to his home state with the RiverDogs. The left-handed pitcher hails from Sumter and was selected by the Yankees in the fourth round of last year’s draft. He went 1-1 with a 3.79 ERA across 19.0 innings in 10 games (seven starts) between Staten Island and the Gulf Coast Yankees 2. Montgomery’s three-year college career saw him go 20-7 with a 2.87 ERA over 253.2 innings with the Gamecocks. The southpaw attended Sumter High School and earned 2011 Gatorade Player of the Year honors in South Carolina and was named to the 2011 All-USA baseball squad by USA Today. He tallied a perfect 11-0 record with a miniscule 0.38 ERA and struck out 114 batters over 74.1 innings during his senior season.
Other members of the pitching staff include 2014 draftees Jordan Foley, Sean Carley, Justin Kamplain, Joe Harvey, and Andre Del Bosque.
The righty Foley was selected in the fifth round and is the second-highest draftee from the class of 2014 on the RiverDogs roster. He began his professional career last season with the Gulf Coast Yankees 2 and Staten Island Yankees and went 0-2 with a 4.10 era in 13 games across the two levels. Foley was initially drafted by the Yankees out of high school in the 26th round of the 2011 draft, but opted to attend and play baseball at Central Michigan University. Carley was selected in the 14th round out of West Virginia University, in his hometown of Morgantown, WV. The righty compiled a 1-4 record with a 5.19 ERA in 12 games, 6 starts, across two levels below the South Atlantic League.
Kamplain and Harvey were taken back-to-back in the 18th and 19th rounds respectively. Both pitched together in Staten Island before the lefty Kamplain progressed to Charleston to finish the season out. He started six games for the RiverDogs and went 0-0 with a 2.78 ERA in 22.2 innings in the South Atlantic League. Harvey had a stellar pro debut out of the bullpen and finished his first season 0-2 with two saves and a 1.74 ERA in 15 games between the Gulf Coast Yankees and Staten Island. Del Bosque was selected in the 38th round of the draft and pitched in four GCL games during his first pro season.
Right-handed pitcher Domingo Acevedo (Yankees No. 30 prospect, MLB.com) rounds out the four players on the roster recognized as top 30 prospects by either Baseball America or MLB.com. Acevedo is regarded as the hardest thrower in the Yankees system working 95-97 MPH and hitting 100 MPH on occasion. He started five games for the Gulf Coast Yankees 2 and went 0-1 with a 4.11 ERA across 15.1 innings striking out 21 hitters and walking just six. He will begin the season on the disabled list.
Rony Bautista, Cale Coshow, and Chaz Hebert is a trio of returners that make their way back to the Lowcountry following their 2014 stints with the RiverDogs. Bautista made his debut with Charleston on May 12th and made 10 appearances out of the ‘pen for Dorante’s club before he finished the season in relief for Staten Island. Coshow’s season took him to three stops across the Yankees’ minor league system, the second of which was Charleston. The burly righty pitched in six games out of the bullpen and went 1-1 with a 5.19 ERA. Of the returners on staff, Hebert made the most appearances last season with 15. The southpaw went 3-3 with a 2.49 ERA in 65.0 innings with the RiverDogs.
Righty David Palladino spent the last two seasons with Staten Island, but makes his way to Charleston’s staff to open up the 2015 campaign. The Yankees’ fifth-round pick of the 2013 draft and Emerson, New Jersey native earned a career-high six wins in 14 games last season, which marks the highest total of wins on the RiverDogs’ opening day staff.
Caleb Frare, Joey Maher, and Yoel Espinal round out the RiverDogs’ 13-man active pitching staff that will be under the tutelage of former RiverDog and current pitching coach Tim Norton (2005). Neither pitcher made has pitched in a game since 2012. Frare was drafted by the Yankees in the 11th round of the 2012 draft and went 2-1 with a 2.74 ERA in 10 GCL appearances during his first pro season, but missed both 2013 and 2014 seasons due to Tommy John surgery. Espinal was signed as a Minor League Free Agent in 2014 following his release from the Detroit Tigers. He looks to rebound from injury and get the 2015 campaign off on the right foot. Maher, a native of Bedford, NH, pitched for the Gulf Coast Yankees 2 team and went 1-0 with a 0.00 ERA in 3.1 innings pitched.
Pitchers Ty Hensley, Dallas Martinez, and Jose Pena along with infielder Ty McFarland are on the 60-day disabled list, but have been placed on the RiverDogs roster. Former Citadel standout and Greenville, South Carolina native, infielder Bo Thompson is on the RiverDogs roster as well, but remains on the suspended list.
The RiverDogs begin the 2015 campaign at The Joe with a seven-game homestand against the Lexington Legends and Augusta GreenJackets. Opening night is Thursday, April 9th, a Budweiser Thirsty Thursday, presented by 95SX, with $1 beers in the Ashley View Pub. Tickets may be purchased at the Riley Park Box Office, (843) 577-DOGS (3647) or on-line at www.riverdogs.com. If fans cannot make it to the ballpark, they are encouraged to tune in to all the action this year both home and away on 1250 WTMA, the radio home for RiverDogs baseball.