MEMPHIS, Tennessee – The initial 2018 Memphis Redbirds roster features 11 of the top-30 prospects in the St. Louis Cardinals system according to Baseball America in C Carson Kelly (#3), OF Tyler O’Neill (#4), RHPDakota Hudson (#7), OF Adolis Garcia (#9), OF Randy Arozarena (#11), OF Oscar Mercado (#13), LHP Austin Gomber (#14), INF Luke Voit (#16), INF Max Schrock (#19), RHP Connor Jones (#22), and RHPDerian Gonzalez (#27). The roster showcases 18 players who appeared at the Triple-A level a year ago, including 17 who played in Memphis.
The 2018 Redbirds will be led by second-year manager Stubby Clapp. Clapp, the reigning PCL Manager of the Year and Baseball America Minor League Manager of the Year, led the Redbirds to a 91-50 regular season record, a PCL Pennant, and an appearance in the Triple-A National Championship Game in 2017. Clapp spent 1999-2002 with Memphis, appearing in 425 games while sitting at the top of the Redbirds’ career leaders in walks (222) and triples (19). He’s joined on the coaching staff by hitting coach Mark Budaska in his 11th season with Memphis, pitching coach Dernier Orozco in his first season, and coach Brian Burgamy in his initial campaign.
On the field, the squad will employ 13 pitchers, two catchers, six infielders, and four outfielders on the initial roster. Ten of the 13 hurlers have garnered Triple-A experience, with eight players returning to Memphis in John Brebbia, John Gant, Sean Gilmartin, Kevin Herget, Dakota Hudson, Andrew Morales, Daniel Poncedeleon, and Arturo Reyes. Two of the pitchers spent time with St. Louis last year, Brebbia and Gant. Austin Gomber, Derian Gonzalez, and Connor Jones will be making their Triple-A debuts. Preston Guilmet and Edward Mujica are joining the staff after having previously spent time in the majors and Triple-A with different organizations.
Carson Kelly returns Memphis after spending the second half of the season on the St. Louis roster in 2017. Kelly, the top catching prospect in the organization, will handle the bulk of the duties. Veteran reserve Steven Baron, in his first year in the Cardinals’ organization, will help balance out the duties at catcher.
The infield unit features five players returning to Memphis. Luke Voit, the lone Memphis infielder on the Cardinals’ 40-man roster, returns, as well as PCL Championship Series MVP Patrick Wisdom, Rangel Ravelo, Wilfredo Tovar, and Alex Mejia. Voit, Mejia, and Tovar come into the year with Major League experience. Max Schrock will join the team, making his Triple-A debut.
The outfield features two members of the Cardinals’ 40-man roster in Oscar Mercado, and Tyler O’Neill. O’Neill played with Memphis last season after being traded from Seattle. Adolis Garcia also returns to the Redbirds after debuting with Triple-A last season. Mercado and Randy Arozarena are the newcomers to the Memphis outfield this season.
The experience does not stop at the minor league levels as 10 players have appeared in a Major League game, combining for 809 appearances, headlined by Mujica’s 499 career appearances in the big leagues.
The 2018 season begins tomorrow with the opener of a five-game road series against the Round Rock Express (Rangers) at 7:05 p.m. (CT). After the brief trip, the Redbirds home opener is set for Tuesday, April 10 at 7:05 p.m.against the Omaha Storm Chasers (Royals). For more information on single-game tickets and ticket mini-memberships, visit www.memphisredbirds.com/tickets.