The Lexington Legends’ opening day roster will include two players with strong local ties, two top returnees from last year’s pitching staff and some prospects in the Kansas City Royals’ system who are moving up from the rookie leagues.
The Legends, who open their 2016 season Thursday night at Whitaker Bank Ballpark, finalized their roster Monday.
Outfielder Anderson Miller, who last year became the first player from Lexington to play for the Legends, returns in 2016. Miller played at Lafayette High School and Western Kentucky University before being selected by the Royals in the third round of last year’s June draft.
Pitcher Jacob Bodner (pronounced BODE-ner) is a graduate of Boyle County High School who played for Xavier University and is joining the Legends for the first time. He was drafted in the 27th round last June and pitched for Burlington of the Appalachian League, where he was named Burlington Pitcher of the Year by the Royals. He also made two late-season appearances for Idaho Falls in the Pioneer League.
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Foster Griffin and Scott Blewett, two highly regarded pitching prospects who were in Lexington last year, will open 2016 with the Legends. Griffin, a left-hander, was a first-round choice in 2014, and Blewett, a right-hander, was chosen in the second round in 2014. Both were drafted out of high school.
Right-hander Nolan Watson, a first-round pick in 2015 by the Royals, is also on the staff. Watson was the 33rd overall pick after finishing his high school career at Lawrence North in Indianapolis.
The roster, as always, has an international flavor, and this season that includes shortstop prospect Marten Gasparini, a native of Italy who signed with the Royals at age 16 and played for Idaho Falls last season.
Catcher Chase Vallot, the 40th pick in the 2014 draft, returns after hitting 13 home runs for the Legends last season.
Other players on the opening day roster who were with Lexington for at least part of the 2015 season include pitchers Torey Deshazier, Yunior Marte, Jake Newberry, Emilio Ogando, Corey Ray and Nik Stephenson; first baseman-outfielder Samir Duenez; and Michael Hill, who saw action at third base, first base, shortstop, left field, right field and catcher in 2015.
“This roster of players should bring some exciting baseball to Whitaker Bank Ballpark,” said Legends president/CEO Andy Shea. “It looks like a great combination of top prospects and experience. That just adds to our anticipation of the 2016 season.”
Omar Ramirez returns for his second season as manager of the Legends. Glenn Hubbard is back for a third season as bench coach. Damon Hollins returns for a second season as hitting coach, and Mitch Stetter joins the Legends as pitching coach after serving in that role for Surprise of the Arizona League last season.
Pine Bluff, Ark.
Santo Domingo Notre, D.R.
San Joaquin, Venz.
Las Matas de Farfan, D.R.
Rio Piedras, P.R.
Catia La Mar, Venz.
Kansas City, Mo.
Ciudad Bolivar, Venz.
Round Rock, Texas
Lakewood BlueClaws at Lexington Legends
What: Season opener
Where: Whitaker Bank Ballpark
When: 7:05 p.m.
Radio: WLXG-AM 1300