LINCOLN, Nebraska – The Lincoln Saltdogs have announced the 24-man Opening Night roster ahead of the first game Friday night against the Sioux Falls Canaries.
The ‘Dogs return 11 players to Lincoln from last year’s team, and 13 new faces will debut for the club this weekend.
Josh Altmann returns after his record-breaking 2021 in which he hit a franchise-best 29 homers and became the first 20/20 player in ‘Dogs history. Along with Altmann, both Justin Byrd and Ryan Long – who featured heavily at the top of Lincoln’s lineup last year, are back for 2022. Last year, Byrd was one of the premier leadoff hitters in the league while Long hit 17 homers in his first full American Association season.
Skyler Weber, who featured in 75 games as Lincoln’s primary backstop, is also back for another year.
Kyle Kinman headlines the list of returning pitchers, and will get the nod as Lincoln’s Opening Night starter. Kinman led the league with a 2.90 ERA in 19 starts a year ago, and this season will be his fourth in Lincoln. Greg Minier, who finished sixth in the league with a 3.87 ERA, also returns to the starting rotation.
Carter Hope, Jesse Stallings and Carson Lance are three relievers with a plethora of pro experience all returning to the Lincoln bullpen, while Garett Delano and David Zoz are two rookies back for their second season with the ‘Dogs.
For the newcomers, Lincoln added two ex-Major League pitchers in Buddy Baumann and Brandon Cunniff, both of whom should be significant pieces in 2022. Baumann appeared in 38 career MLB games, while Cunniff has 54 career appearances.
Lincoln also added Sam Bragg, who last pitched with the Sioux Falls Canaries in 2020, but carries a healthy amount of experience and a Triple-A pedigree into 2022. Jonathan Cheshire is also a former Triple-A arm joining the Lincoln bullpen this year, while Steffon Moore – with a career 12.5 K/9 ratio in affiliated baseball – should also contribute significantly.
The ‘Dogs also added Tucker Smith, who impressed in his rookie season with the traveling Houston Apollos last year.
Lincoln’s newcomers on offense bring a mix of youth and experience to the lineup. Veteran and former Double-A Cubs farmhand Eddy Martinez is part of a stacked outfield that also includes Hunter Clanin – who spent the last three seasons with the Cleburne Railroaders. Randy Norris, a former San Francisco Giants farmhand, will make his debut in the American Association after spending 2021 with High Point in the Atlantic League.
Jacob Olson – a University of South Carolina product who also spent time in the Cubs organization — will split catching duties with Weber.
On the infield, the ‘Dogs added three rookies eager for a chance to play in the American Association. JR DiSarcina had an impressive professional debut in High Point a year ago after a successful collegiate career, while former Arkansas standout Matt Goodheart signed with the Phillies organization in 2021 and appeared in eight games at the rookie level. Sherman Graves impressed in spring camp after not playing since 2019 – and he’s playing at by far the highest level of pro baseball he’s seen in a short career.
The ‘Dogs are led by second-year skipper Brett Jodie, who took over a month before the season began in 2021 and nearly managed Lincoln to its first playoff berth since 2017 before an unfortunate loss in the season finale. Jodie managed the Somerset Patriots in the Atlantic League for seven years before the club became the Double-A affiliate of the New York Yankees, and under his direction the Patriots did not have a losing season – winning a league title in 2015.
Bench Coach T.J. Zarewicz is back for a second season after joining midway through 2021. Zarewicz helped guide the ‘Dogs through a COVID-19 outbreak within the team in July and quickly became a favorite among the players and fans.
Adam Donachie is entering his first season as the ‘Dogs hitting coach. Donachie spent five years as a player with Jodie in Somerset, the last coming in 2017 when he served as a player-coach in the final season of a 15-year playing career.
In total, the ‘Dogs feature 15 players who were drafted by MLB organizations at one point in their career, including a pair of former MLB’ers, three who reached Triple-A, and four more who reached Double-A.
The Saltdogs open the 2022 season against the Sioux Falls Canaries at Haymarket Park on Friday, May 13! Check out saltdogs.com for all information regarding the upcoming schedule, promotions and more.