LINCOLN – The Saltdogs have their Opening Day roster set at 23 players, and will feature former big league hurler RHP Joe Bisenius as the ace of the staff.
Joining the former Phillies and Nationals right-hander in the starting rotation will be RHP Pete Parise (three-year Triple-A vet and returning Saltdog), LHP Nathan Moreau (helped lead Georgia Bulldogs to 2008 CWS finals and five-year vet in Cardinals organization), RHP Ben Henry (averaged nearly a strikeout/inning over six seasons in Rangers system) and RHP Matt Bywater (led NCAA in 2010 with four shutouts while at Pepperdine).
Nine Saltdogs are returning to the 2013 club, including record-setting saves man RHP P.J. Zocchi, former first-round pick INF David Espinosa, and ’12 team player of the year INF Mike Provencher.
The outfielding corps figures to be a real strength for the 2013 Saltdogs: Daniel Carroll, who stole 62 bases in 2011 while in the Mariners organization will be flagging balls down in centerfield and should wreak havoc on the base paths. Manning the corners will be Stephen Douglas, 2011 American Association MVP candidate, and Matt Forgatch, who was outstanding for Lincoln after coming over in a 2012 mid-summer trade.
DH Ian Gac (hit 32 home runs and 96 RBI for White Sox org. in 2011 to earn Carolina League MVP honors) and 1B Dennis Raben (former Mariners 2nd round draft pick who hit 18 home runs in 76 games in 2011) will serve as middle-of-the-order thumpers.
C Jeremy Mayo, a Johnny Bench Award watch list member while at Texas Tech and former Nationals farmhand, will handle the pitchers.
Joining Zocchi in the bullpen is a talented group of arms led by RHP R.J. Rodriguez (104 saves in seven professional seasons) and RHP Eddie McKiernan (strong arm that spent the last few years at Triple-A Salt Lake and has been invited to several MLB spring training camps with the Angels). Local legend RHP Travis Parker (All State at Lincoln Northeast and D-1 All American at Saint Louis) and LHP Conor Spink (2012 Saltdogs rookie of the year) will return to log meaningful innings in relief as well.
To trim the roster to the American Association Opening Day maximum of 23, the Saltdogs released LHP Tony Butler, INF Jason White and OF Stephen Holdren. RHP Dustin Williams was traded to Laredo for a player to be named later.
The Saltdogs open the season Thursday night at 7:10 at Gary SouthShore. Radio coverage begins at 6:35 p.m. on KFOR 1240.
The Saltdogs home opener at Haymarket Park is May 23 against the defending champion Winnipeg Goldeyes. Get your May 24 Firework Family 4 Pack (four tickets, all you can eat Fairbury Brand hot dogs and all you can drink Pepsi fountain products for just $48!) now by calling 402-474-2255 or by visiting www.saltdogs.com.