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Luis Medina pitching for the Charleston RiverDogs in a minor league spring training game at the Yankees minor league complex on March 17, 2018. (Robert M. Pimpsner/Pinstriped Prospects)

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[RiverDogs Notebook] RiverDogs Rotation Will Bring the Heat in 2019

The Charleston RiverDogs will once again rely on their pitching staff in 2019. Pitching coach Gabe Luckert revealed his starting rotation during Media Day. Once again, the RiverDogs will start the season with a six-man rotation.

Just to start off right now, we have Luis Medina, Matt Sauer, Roansy Contreras, Tanner Myatt, Luis Gil, and Alexander Vizcaino,” Luckert said.

Luckert gave insight on each of the starters in the rotation.

The hard-throwing Luis Medina looked like a different pitch throughout spring training. He will join five other flame throwers in the RiverDogs starting rotation this season. (Robert M. Pimpsner)

Luis Medina is a hard thrower who can reach triple digits with his fastball and balances it out with a curveball and a changeup. “He’s young and working on his command. Trying to throw the ball over the strike zone,” Lukert said. “Right now he has flashes of a plus curveball which is still in development.

Roansy Contreras had a breakout season in 2018 and is looking to continue on the improvements he showed while in spring training. (Robert M. Pimpsner)

Roansy Contreras features a fastball he usually throws in the mid-90s along with a curveball and a changeup. “At this stage, his fastball continues to be his best pitch. He’s still developing the changeup which already in a good stage now, but he needs to develop his offspeed stuff,” Lukert said. “He’s continuing to develop the secondary stuff. Continue to work on controlling the running game, basic stuff for this level.

Matt Sauer could be the pitcher with the least hardest fastball in the Riverdogs starting rotation, but he is also the most refined. (Robert M. Pimpsner)

Matt Sauer was drafted out of high school by the New York Yankees. Don’t let his youth fool you though. “Out of the six guys, he’s the more polished one. Continues to make progress every outing and we are looking forward to seeing him on the mound,” Lukert said. Sauer’s fastball resides in the mid-90s, and his curveball and changeup are also very effective.

Tanner Myatt hit 101 mph in spring training and is still learning how to pitch. (Robert M. Pimpsner)

Tanner Myatt measures at 6’7” and looks every bit of it. He is very much in the mold of Medina, Gil, and Vizcaino. “Another power arm that struggles with command. In the same boat as those other three guys. It’ll be exciting for everyone to see Tanner Myatt on the mound,” Lukert said. Myatt throws in the high-90s with his fastball and is developing a curveball and changeup. He has struggled with command at times as Lukert mentioned.

Luis Gil was acquired by the Yankees for Jake Cave and has quickly made himself into a top prospect. (Robert M. Pimpsner)

Luis Gil is a pitcher the Yankees received from the Minnesota Twins for outfielder Jake Cave. He’s hit 101 on the gun with his fastball along with featuring a curveball and changeup. “Another power arm continues to struggle with command, strike zone. He needs to work on throwing the ball over the plate and controlling the running game,” Lukert said.

Alexander Vizcaino is a prospect not many fans know yet but he possesses a powerful fastball. (Robert M. Pimpsner)

Alexander Vizcaino rounds out the rotation. Vizcaino has spent the past two years at Rookie-level Pulaski. “Good arm with a solid changeup. He’s going to be a good piece of the rotation as well,” Lukert said.

A critical part of the puzzle for the pitching staff that is returning to Charleston is veteran catcher Eduardo Navas. Navas has value far beyond his catching skills. “He’s a valuable piece in this organization, and he’s been a great help to the younger pitchers coming into this league,” Lukert said.

Navas’ influence has already started to rub off on fellow catcher Josh Breaux, who the Yankees drafted in the second round of the 2018 MLB Amateur Draft. “Navvy is awesome. I love talking to him about catching, and he’s really good behind the plate. I’ve learned a lot from him so far,” Breaux said.

The way I see it, he’s going to be a great help to Breaux as far as calling the game,” Lukert said.

RiverDogs Manager Julio Mosquera is also looking forward to working with the young pitching staff. “I’m very excited. This is a game where you have to have some pitching. And to have some young guys on our team that have great talent, great future ahead of them and I think it’s exciting to have them. It’s the first time they’re going to be in this league. I think they’re going to do well. I’m very confident with our talent, and it’s fun to coach those guys,” Mosquera said.

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