By: Kyle Crooks / Jacksonville Suns
With the 2015 Jacksonville Suns roster in-tact, we take a deeper look at those who will try to defend the Suns 2014 Southern League Championship.
PITCHERS: In 2014, the Suns pitching staff finished knotted in first in the Southern League in shutouts tossed (16), tied for first in total saves (40), first in innings pitched (1233), allowed the fewest number of walks (307), were second in team WHIP (1.24), fourth in ERA (3.58), and tied for third in complete games thrown (3). Here we take a look at some of the hurlers that will start the year in the black and yellow of Jacksonville.
#43 RHP Trevor Williams:
According to Baseball America, Williams is ranked as Miami’s eighth best prospect. His 6’3 frame and solid command of his fastball, changeup, curveball, and slider have some projecting him to land with the big club as early as this season. He manufactured a 0-1 mark while sporting a 6.00 ERA over 15.0 innings and three starts in his time with Jacksonville in 2014. The former 2013 2nd round pick of the Marlins is saddled with high expectations in his second stint with the double-A club.
#12 RHP Kendry Flores:
Flores was acquired in 2014 by the Marlins along with right-hander Luis Castillo in a deal that sent INF Casey McGehee to San Francisco. He posted a career best K/9 rate (9.5) in 2014 w/ San Jose. He finished the season 4-6 with an ERA of 4.09. Prior to 2014 he was labeled as the #14-ranked prospect by Beyond the Box Score. He originally was signed as a 17-year-old by the Giants out of the Dominican Republic.
Watch Flores with single-A Augusta collect his 15th strikeout in a stellar eight-inning winning effort over the Lexington Legends on Aug 23, 2013:
#38 RHP Jake Esch:
Esch spent all of 2014 with Jupiter posting a 6-6 record attached with a 4.05 ERA in 24 starts and 135.2 innings pitched.His 24 starts in ’14 mark the most of his minor league career. His last two seasons with Jupiter have accounted for 43 of his 49 career starts as a minor leaguer.Esch took the ball for the Suns in their exhibition game against the parent club Miami Marlins on 4/4. In the 14-8 Suns win,Esch lasted 3.2 innings relinquishing eight hits and six runs (all earned) on two walks while striking out three Marlins.
Watch as Jake Esch with Greensboro strikes out his eighth batter in a 5-1 win over Lexington:
#22 LHP Chipper Smith:
This will mark Smith’s second straight season with double-A Jacksonville. Last season he sported a 3-4 mark alongside a 4.27 ERA in 14 starts and 65.1 innings pitched. Smith figures to play an important role during his second tour of duty with the Suns, and he will be slated as one of the few lefty hurlers on the roster. In his two prior stops with Jupiter and the GCL Marlins last year, he would only toe the rubber for three starts, in 14 total appearances, and 35.1 innings pitched before getting the call up to double-A.
Smith fans nine as a member of Greensboro in ’13 in a 5-1 victory over the Hickory Crawdads:
#40 RHP Austin Brice:
Coming into the 2015 season, Brice is ranked by Baseball America as the Marlins’ 29th best prospect. With a fastball in the mid-90’s and growing improvement in his secondary pitches, Brice looks to make an impact in Jacksonville. Injuries in 2010 and ‘11 forced some inconsistencies after being drafted in ‘10 as a 9th round selection by the Marlins. Some have touted his curveball as the best in the Marlins’ farm system.
Brice sat down with MiLB.com’s Matthew Stucko to talk about life as a Marlins Prospect:
#4 RHP Lay Batista:
He split 2014 between the Mississippi Braves and Lynchburg Hillcats, in his sixth year in the minors. In 2014, Batista spent time on the disabled list with a right triceps strain only making 11 appearances (9 starts) last year. He earned ‘Pitcher of the Week’ honors on 5/12. A year prior, he started a career-high 22 games and a career-best 122.2 innings with the double-A Arkansas Travelers. He was signed by the Los Angeles Angles of Anaheim in ’07 as a free agent on 6/11, and was rated to have the ‘Best Changeup’ within the Angels organization after 2011 season.
#30 RHP Sean Donatello:
He split 2014 between Greensboro and Jupiter earning a 3.86 ERA in a career high 53.2 innings pitched. In ’14 Donatello compiled a (3-0) record with 11 saves and a remarkable 47 strikeouts and 5 walks in 36 innings pitched at Greensboro. Between May and June of 2014 he only walked one batter in 22 innings.
#37 RHP Brian Ellington:
Ellington was a 2015 Non-Roster Invitee to Marlins Spring Training. He spent 2014 with Jupiter where he finished with a 2-2 mark accompanied by a 4.75 ERA in 35 games. In ’14,he was chosen as an Arizona Fall League ‘Rising Star’ with the Salt River Rafters. Dating back to 2007 he received Tommy John surgery forcing him to sit out his senior season at Oak Hill high school.
#32 RHP Blake Logan:
Drafted by the Marlins in the 13th round of the 2012 MLB June Amateur Draft out of East Oklahoma State College. Logan went in a short sample size with Jacksonville pitched 11.0 innings in 2014 not surrendering a run while allowing six hits and striking out eleven. With Greensboro he went 1-1 and was saddled with a 5.93 ERA in 13.2 IP and 10 games that included one save. With Jupiter he manufactured a 1-3 mark to go with a 3.45 ERA in just over 44 innings and 22 games along with two recorded saves.
#34 LHP Greg Nappo:
Drafted by the Marlins in the 18th round of the 2011 MLB June Amateur Draft out of the University of Connecticut. Nappo spent time on the disabled list with Jacksonville in August of 2014 with a lower back strain. With the Suns he finished 2-0 with a 1.74 ERA in 46.2 innings pitched while going 1-for-1 in save attempts. He had a short sample size at AAA New Orleans going 1-0 while being tagged for an 8.44 ERA in 5.1 frames pitched.
#31 RHP Frankie Reed:
In 2014, Reed spent time with the Suns going 2-0 alongside a 3.86 ERA in 30.1 innings and 20 appearances. His first stop in ’14 with advanced-A Jupiter, he finished with a 2-2 record posting a 3.22 ERA in 36.1 innings tossed over 20 games while reeling in a single save in the process. He earned mid-season all-star honors with single-A Greensboro in 2013 nailing down a career-high 12 saves.
#45 RHP Craig Stem:
Stem was acquired in the 2014 offseason by the Marlins from the Los Angeles Dodgers for minor-league outfielder Kyle Jensen. He split 2014 between the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes and Chattanooga Lookouts. In 2013 he converted 17 of his 23 career saves between Rancho Cucamonga and the Great Lakes Loons. Over four minor-league seasons, Stem has gone 6-9 with a 4.28 ERA in 136 apperances that included one start. He looks to build on his short sample size (19 games) at double-A with Jacksonville in 2015.
#18 LHP Matt Tomshaw:
Tomshaw is returning to Jacksonville after playing college ball at Jacksonville University. He was originally drafted by the Minnesota Twins in the 42nd round of the 2011 June Amateur Draft. He was acquired by the Marlins via the Triple-A phase of the 2014 Rule 5 draft. In ’14, the left-hander went 11-6 with advanced-A Fort Myers assembling a 3.50 ERA in 136.1 innings pitched while collected two saves along the way.
#33 RHP Nick Wittgren:
Wittgren was a non-roster invitee to 2015 Marlins spring training. Last season Wittgren led the Marlins’ farm system in saves with 20 collected in 25 chances. Over the last two seasons, he has notched 46 of his 59 career saves, while jumping between Jupiter and Jacksonville. He’s was honored in ’13 as MiLB.com Organization All-Star with Miami. Also Wittgren earned honors in the same year as MiLB.com Staff Choice Best Relief Pitcher, FSL Mid-Season All-Star, and Post-Season All-Star with Jupiter.
Watch as Wittgren nailed down a division title for Jacksonville last season:
POSITION PLAYERS: In 2014 the Suns lead the Southern League in runs scored (618), were second in walks generated (546), tied for third in RBI (572), and knotted in the third position for on-base percentage (.331). Here we take a look at the position players starting out the year with the Jacksonville Suns.
#35 INF David Adams:
Adams came to Miami as a minor league free agent signing on January 30, 2015. In 2013, Adams made his major league debut with the New York Yankees playing 43 games collecting 27 hits, 40 total bases, five doubles, one triple, two home runs, 13 RBI, and a .193 batting average. His first career major league hit came off of current Seattle Mariners pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma in a 12-2 Yankees loss on May 15, 2013. Adams spent 21 games in Norfolk before playing with Bowie for 84. In Bowie, he was eighth in at-bats (306), ninth in runs scored (36), eighth in hits (81), seventh in doubles (16), third in triples (3), sixth in home runs (7), sixth in RBI (40), eighth in total bases (124), fifth in walks generated (26), eighth in on-base percentage (.333), and eighth in OPS (.739) with the BaySox.
David Adams hit his first major league home run on 5/22/13 against the Orioles:
#11 C Brandon Bantz:
Bantz signed with the Marlins as a minor league free agent on January 12,2015. In 2013 he played one game in the majors with the Seattle Mariners where he went 0-for-2 in a 3-1 win over the New York Yankees. He’s had time in double-A during the 2011 and 2013 seasons with the Jackson Generals, totaling 374 at-bats while tallying 62 hits in Southern League play.
Watch as Bantz delivers a walk-off home run with Tacoma in ’13:
#6 C Sharif Othman:
Othman was invited to 2015 Marlins Spring Training as a non-roster invitee. He split time in 2014 w/ Jupiter and Greensboro. In 2014, he set career highs in at-bats (163), hits (28), total bases (48), RBI (17), and walks generated (18). He was drafted in the 32nd round of the 2011 MLB draft by the Marlins.
#13 INF Justin Bohn:
Bohn was a 2015 non-roster invitee to Marlins spring training. He ranked #20 among prospects in the Marlins organization according to MLBpipeline.com. The double-A newcomer split 2014 between Jupiter and Greensboro. In 63 games with Greensboro he ranked: 10th in hits (70), ninth in home runs (6), sixth in RBI (47), 10th in total bases (108), fourth in walks (39), seventh in stolen bases (4), third in OBP (.397), fourth in slugging percentage (.452), ninth in batting average (320), and fourth in OPS (.849) on the team. Last year he was labeled as Miami’s Organizational All-Star for 2014.
#20 INF Zack Cox:
Cox was acquired by the Marlins from St. Louis in exchange for RHP Edward Mujica on July 31, 2012. He spent all of 2014 with triple-A New Orleans and hit .282 with eight homers and 35 RBI, to go along with 18 doubles, and three triples in 104 games. Cox was rated as Miami’s #15 best prospect by Baseball America prior to 2013. Pre-2012 he got noted as Baseball America’s #62 prospect.
Watch Zack Cox Blast a long ball with Triple-A NOLA, to help defeat Round Rock 7-5 on 6/5/14:
#16 INF Terrance Dayleg:
Dayleg spent 2014 between Jupiter and Jacksonville. Last year he tallied a career high in RBI (48) for a single season. In a Suns uniform in ’14, Dayleg was, 10th in at-bats (446), 10th in runs scored (25), sixth in doubles (15), and eighth in RBI (33). In ’10 and ’13 he suffered ACL injuries that would put him down for both seasons. He earned the honor of 2011 Mid-Season All-Star with Jamestown of the New York Penn League. The minor league veteran is entering his seventh-year and has amassed 1,365 career minor league at-bats, a career batting average of (.250), on-base percentage (.311), and a slugging percentage of (.342).
Dayleg hits a RBI double in a 4-2 win over Pensacola on 7/17/14:
#36 INF Austin Nola:
Nola was a 2015 non-roster invitee to Marlins spring training. Nola with Jacksonville last season hit .259 while knocking in 53 baserunners and mashing 22 doubles in a MIA farm system leading 134 games played. Before working his way up the system, he enjoyed success at Louisiana State University where he was the recipient of the Wally Pontiff Academic Achievement Award as LSU baseball’s top scholar athlete. The four-year minor leaguer was also rewarded as the 2012 NCAA Baton Rouge Regional Most Outstanding Player, Perfect Game Second-Team All-American, and a finalist for Lowe’s Senior CLASS award. In 2010, Nola obtained the SEC Tournament Most Valuable Player Award.
Here Nola ripped an important two-run double in a 9-1 victory over Mobile on 9/8/14:
#23 INF Ryan Rieger:
Rieger split 2014 between Jacksonville and Jupiter. In 100 at-bats with the Suns in 2014 he hit .250 with 25 hits and 39 total bases. In Rieger’s stop in Jupiter he hit .220 in an 18 game period. A year prior with the Hammerheads, he finished first on team in home runs (7), second in hits (108), runs (52) and total bases (150), third in RBIs (38). He was the highest draft pick out of the College of Sequoias in 25 years (Randy Robinson – 1986) when elected in 2008.
#44 INF Viosergy Rosa:
Rosa is ranked by Baseball America as the Marlins’ 23rd best prospect in the organization. During an exhibition game against the parent club on 4/4, Rosa ripped a grand-slam home run to right field amidst a nine-run seventh for the Suns. The rising star fueled the Suns Southern League championship run in 2014, posting a .379 post-season average (11-29) en-route to claiming Southern League Championship Series Most-Valuable Player. He finished last year with the team’s second best slugging-percentage (.458) and .OPS (.874), and fifth best batting average (.292). He also led Miami’s minor league system with 95 runners knocked in for the season.
Watch Rosa smash a three-run homer in game 3 of the Southern League Championship Series en-route to a Suns victory:
#26 OF Issac Galloway:
Galloway spent all of 2014 with Jacksonville appearing in 110 games .He finished first in RBI (40), tied for first in triples (6), fourth in stolen bases (8), fifth in total at-bats (314), sixth in RBI (39), sixth in total bases (103), seventh in runs scored (38), seventh in hits (68), seventh in doubles (11), and eighth in home runs (4) with the Suns. He saw success with Jupiter in 2013 when he was elected as a Mid-Season All-Star finishing as the team’s leader in stolen bases (26) and doubles (24) while being knotted for second in home runs (5), and third in total bases (141).
Watch Galloway rip an RBI triple on 7/7/14 in a 3-2 win over Chattanooga:
#15 OF Matt Juengel:
Juengel split 2014 between Jupiter and New Orleans. The right-handed slugger played 132 games in Jupiter and three contests in New Orleans. Last year Juengel lead Jupiter in total at-bats (511), runs scored (80), hits (139), doubles (32), triples (6), total bases (201), and stolen bases (23) while also placing second in RBI (65), third in home runs (6), and third in walks generated (36) on the team. In ’14 he was elected as a Mid-Season All-Star w/ Jupiter. His college days at Texas A&M University provided him with honorable mention All-Big 12 accolades in 2011, in a season where he started 68 games as a junior (55-DH, 13-3B), batted .308 (78-for-253) for the year with 13 doubles, six triples, and a team-leading seven home runs. He also drove in 50 runs, just two off the team lead, while scoring 46 himself stealing 15 bases (out of 22 attempts), and collected 20 multi-hit games and a team-high 13 multi-RBI contests.
Juengel’s first Triple-A home run with New Orleans on 7/20/14:
#7 OF Carlos Lopez:
Lopez in 2014 led Miami’s minor league system in hits (164), runs scored (85), and B.A. (.323) while placing second in total at-bats (507), third in walks generated (59), third in on-base percentage (.392), fourth in total bases (222), and fifth in RBI (74). He was honored as an organization all-star with Miami, to go along with post-season and mid-season all-star honors for his play with Greensboro.
Here Lopez puts an exclamation point on a 6-for-6 night with a two-run double in a victory:
#3 OF Kenny Wilson:
Wilson was a 2015 non-roster invitee to MIA spring training. Wilson signed a minor-league deal with Miami on Nov, 14, 2014. He had five different stops in ’14 including Midland (AA) , New Britain (AA), Sacramento (AA), New Hampshire (AA), and Buffalo (AAA). Last year he was claimed off of waivers by three different parent clubs including the Toronto Blue Jays, Minnesota Twins, and Oakland Athletics.
Here watch Kenny Wilson smashes a three-run homer with the New Hampshire Fisher Cats in a 6-5 loss to Reading: