PEARL, MS (WLBT) - The Mississippi Braves, Double-A affiliate of the Atlanta Braves, announced today the initial roster for the 2019 season.
The roster consists of 14 pitchers, two catchers, seven infielders, and four outfielders. The roster also features nine of Atlanta’s top 30 prospects according to MLB.com.
Pitchers: RHP Ian Anderson, RHP Jason Creasy, LHP Tucker Davidson, RHP Josh Graham, LHP Jordan Harrison, RHP Jason Hursh, LHP Mike Mader, LHP Kyle Muller, LHP Phil Pfeifer, RHP Ben Rowen, RHP Jeremy Walker, RHP Patrick Weigel, LHP Joey Wentz.
Catchers: Carlos Martínez, Jonathan Morales.
Infielders: C.J. Alexander, Ray-Patrick Didder, Daniel Lockhart, Alejandro Salazar, Luis Valenzuela, Andy Wilkins.
Outfielders: Connor Lien, Cristian Pache, Garrison Schwartz, Drew Waters.
The club will be led by a dynamic pitching staff headlined by Opening Day starter Ian Anderson. The No. 3 prospect for the Braves and No. 32 prospect in all of baseball was the third overall selection in 2016 and will be joined in the rotation by fellow 2016 draftees Kyle Muller and Joey Wentz. Wentz is the No. 12 prospect in the organization and Muller ranks at No. 13. The pitching staff will also see the return of No. 19 prospect Patrick Weigel from Tommy John surgery. Wentz and No. 22 prospect Tucker Davidson will be making their Double-A debuts.
Mississippi veterans Jason Hursh, Josh Graham, Mike Mader, and Phil Pfeifer will solidify a bullpen that boasts lots of experience. Minor league free agents Jordan Harrison and Ben Rowen join the Braves’ organization in 2019, and all have pitched at the Triple-A level.
Veteran catchers Carlos Martínez and Jonathan Morales will handle the talented pitching staff coming off invites to major league spring training for the Braves.
Shortstop Ray-Patrick Didder will anchor an impressive group of infielders. Didder, the No. 30 prospect in the organization, will be joined on the dirt by C.J. Alexander, the Braves’ No. 23 prospect, who led the entire organization in 2018 with a .352 batting average over three levels. Alejandro Salazar returns to Mississippi after batting .299 from Independence Day to the end of the season in 2018, ranking second-best among Southern League hitters. Southern League All-Stars Daniel Lockhart and Luis Valenzuela return as well. Valenzuela led the M-Braves with a .282 batting average last season. Andy Wilkins was signed by the Braves in the offseason and adds experience and depth to the club. The 30-year-old Wilkins has 149 minor league home runs over nine seasons and broke into the big leagues in 2014 with the Chicago White Sox and again with the Milwaukee Brewers in 2016.
The outfield could be one of the most dynamic in minor league baseball on defense and at the plate. Coming off a brilliant spring with a pair of home runs for the Braves, Cristian Pache, the No. 4 prospect in the organization will not turn 21 until November but is penciled in as a future cornerstone in the Braves outfield. Flanking Pache in the outfield will be No. 8 prospect Drew Waters, who won’t turn 21 until December. After being taken with the 41st overall pick in the 2017 draft, Waters has risen quickly in the organization. On the other side of Pache will be Mississippi veteran, Connor Lien. Garrison Schwartz makes the jump to Double-A in the talented outfield after a solid campaign in Single-A last season.
Overall the initial roster has 14 players returning to Mississippi from 2018, 13 that were drafted by the Braves, four minor league free agents, four non-drafted free agents, three acquired via trade and one selected in the Rule 5 draft. The roster contains two with MLB experience (Hursh, Wilkins), seven countries represented (United States, Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Aruba, Columbia, Mexico and the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico), nine top 30 prospects according to MLB.com (Anderson (3), Pache (4), Waters (8), Wentz (12), Muller (13), Weigel (19), Davidson (22), Alexander (23) and Didder (30), and three top 100 prospects in baseball according to MLB.com (Anderson (32), Pache (36) and Waters (84)).
The M-Braves will open the 2019 season on the road against the Tennessee Smokies, April 4-8, before beginning the 15th season at Trustmark Park against the Mobile BayBears, April 10-14.