Pelicans announce 2014 opening day roster

ryoung@thesunnews.comMarch 26, 2014 

The bottom of the ninth inning was loaded with Myrtle Beach Pelicans, but they couldn't score. The Pelicans' season ends in a 4 to 3 loss at the bottom of the tenth inning. The Red Sox went through four pitchers and Myrtle Beach went through five in the game. Photo by Janet Blackmon Morgan / jblackmon@thesunnews.com

JANET BLACKMON MORGAN — jblackmon@thesunnews.com Buy Photo

  • NameBats/ThrowsHeightWeight
    Cody BuckelR/R6-1185
    Ryan BoresR/R6-3190
    Cody EgeL/L6-1185
    Andrew FaulknerR/L6-3180
    Alex GonzalezR/R6-3200
    Ryan HarveyL/R6-2220
    Keone KelaR/R6-1190
    Jason KnappR/R6-5235
    Jose LeclercR/R6-0165
    Luis ParraL/L6-2160
    Victor PayanoL/L6-5180
    Sam StaffordL/L6-4200
    Sam WolffR/R6-1190
    Catchers
    Jorge AlfaroR/R6-2185
    David LyonS/R6-0200
    Infielders
    Hanser AlbertoR/R5-11170
    Preston BeckL/R6-2190
    Chris BostickR/R5-10185
    Joey GalloL/R6-5205
    Edwin GarciaS/R6-1169
    Outfielders
    Royce BolingerR/R6-2200
    Zach ConeR/R6-2205
    Chris GariaR/R6-0165
    Odubel HerreraR/R6-0165
    Nick WilliamsL/L6-3195
  • More information

    2014 Myrtle Beach Pelicans

The Myrtle Beach Pelicans announced their 2014 opening day roster Wednesday, and once again the Class A-Advanced affiliate of the Texas Rangers will boast several of the organization’s top prospects.

In fact, four of the Rangers’ top six minor league prospects – as ranked by Baseball America – will start the season with the Pelicans, who also welcome in a new manager.

Joe Mikulik, a longtime manager of the Class A Asheville Tourists in the Colorado Rockies organization, takes over for former Pelicans manager Jason Wood, who moves up to Class AA Frisco.

Mikulik, who spent last season as a roving outfield instructor, will be tasked with developing a roster led by promising catcher Jorge Alfaro (Texas’ No. 2 prospect, according to Baseball America), outfielder Nick Williams (No. 4), third baseman Joey Gallo (No. 5) and right-handed pitcher Alex “Chi-Chi” Gonzalez (No. 6).

“We’re very excited about the players that are going there. We’re excited about the staff,” said Mike Daly, the Rangers’ senior director of minor league operations. ... “Obviously what Joe did there in Asheville with the players that he influenced and developed for the Rockies, you can’t question it. I know a couple guys personally who played for Joe and they still talk about what a positive experience it was, how much they learned from Joe and how much better they got.

“This Myrtle Beach team, we think it’s an extremely talanted team we’re sending there, and someone of Joe’s caliber who has the experience and someone who’s positively impacted so many players, we thought it was a real good fit.”

Alfaro, a 20-year-old out of Colombia, is rated as the 54th overall best prospect by Baseball America, which notes his “tools are second to none among minor league catchers.” He spent most of last summer with Class A Hickory, where he batted .258 with 16 home runs, 22 doubles, 53 RBIs and 16 stolen bases. He played three games with the Pelicans last year, as well.

Gallo is another 20-year-old Rangers farmhand on the overall top-100 prospects list, checking in at No. 60. Baseball America says of the third baseman: “No one in the minors can match Gallo’s raw power.” He crushed 40 homers last season, 38 of those coming for Hickory, while totaling 88 RBIs.

Williams is ranked No. 97 on Baseball America’s overall list despite being placed higher than Gallo in the organizational rankings. The 20-year-old spent all of last season with Hickory, hitting 17 homers, 19 doubles and 12 triples while collecting 60 RBIs and 70 runs scored to go with a .293 average.

And Gonzalez is the Rangers’ 2013 first-round draft pick, selected 23rd overall out of Oral Roberts. He’s the top-ranked pitching prospect in the organization and started five games for the Pelicans late last season.

A couple other players on the opening day roster have received accolades from Baseball America as well, as outfielder Chris Garia is listed as the fastest baserunner in the Rangers organization, right-hander Keone Kela is considered to have the best fastball and Preston Beck is rated as the prospect with the best outfield arm in the system despite being listed on the roster as an infielder this year. Gallo (best power hitter and best infield arm) and Gonzalez (best slider and best control) are also on that list of organizational superlatives.

Meanwhile, fellow right-hander Cody Buckel, who was ranked among the Rangers’ top-eight prospects entering the last two seasons, is back with the Pelicans while looking to rejuvenate his stock after struggling with his control (35 walks and 25 earned runs in 10 2/3 innings) and confidence in eight games last year between the Rangers’ rookie-level team and Class AA Frisco. He had pitched for Myrtle Beach in 2012, posting a sterling 1.31 earned-run average in 13 starts while rising up the minor league prospect charts and will look to put his lost 2013 season behind him.

“Cody has had a very positive camp,” Daly said. “He came in there and he’s pitched well. He’s in a great spot from both on the field and off the field.”

Overall, the roster features 13 players who have previously played for the Pelicans, including 12 familiar from last season.

Another interesting name on the roster is 23-year-old right-hander Jason Knapp, who is attempting a comeback after last pitching in the minor leagues in 2010. Knapp, a second-round draft pick of the Philadelphia Phillies in 2008 was a key piece in the Phillies’ 2009 trade with the Cleveland Indians for ace pitcher Cliff Lee before soon being derailed by shoulder injuries. He’s never pitched above Class A ball and will work out of the bullpen to start the season.

“Knapp’s got real good stuff and [when we had] the opportunity to sign him, we couldn’t pass it up,” Daly said. “He had a real good camp. Just trying to find a good spot for him to get back into it, we felt Myrtle Beach and working with [Pelicans pitching coach] Steve Mintz was the right opportunity for him.”

The Pelicans, who are seeking their fourth-straight postseason appearance, open their season April 3 with the start of a four-game homestand against Salem at TicketReturn.com Field.

Contact RYAN YOUNG at 626-0318, or follow him on Twitter at Twitter.com/RyanYoungTSN.

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