2011 Bristol Season Preview

Bristol was the last White Sox affiliate to get the season underway on Tuesday night and won 13-4 at home against Greeneville (Astros). They followed that up with a 4-3 win in 12 innings last night. Bristol is used as the second rookie league team for the White Sox, Great Falls gets the more experienced players, and the Appalachian League features a lot of affiliates that receive more experienced players. As a result the BriSox usually struggle to compete, but that could change this year. The Sox drafted a large number of college players this year and that should show up in the win column for Bristol.

The full roster is here. I did not list the full pitching staff. The roster is currently at 34, including one on the disabled list and four pitchers on rehab assignments.

Roster breakdown
2011 draft picks: 12
2011 UDFA: 2
Returnees: 9 (2 of which are DSL alums)
2010 draft picks: 9 (7 of which are returnees)
US debuts: 4
Rehabs: 4
Other non-rookies: 1

Pitching
Returnees: Darwin Matos (Dominican) and Ethan Icard (13th round, 2010)
Matos made his US debut last year after strong numbers in the DSL in 2009 (82 K, 34 BB, 3.57 ERA in 68 IP). The 20-year-old did alright, but only pitched 11.1 innings. Hopefully we can get a more extended look of him this summer.

2011 draft picks: Andrew Virgili (12th), Chris Bassitt (16th), Bryan Blough (18th), Jake Cose (27th), Todd Kibby (37th), Keegan Linza (38th)
Virgili will probably get some starts, but the rest all look like relievers. Linza started in college, but has already made a relief appearance for Bristol.

US debuts: Ricardo Andres (20 years old), Jean Duque (21), Euclides Leyer (18)
Duque got the win in the opener by giving up one run in five innings. He dominated in the DSL last year (82 K, 27 BB, 1.21 ERA in 74.1 IP), but making his US debut at 21 means he will have to move quickly. Leyer pitched well last night (6 IP, 1 R) with no strikeouts or walks, but 11 groundouts. He had a 2.65 ERA last summer in the DSL and is youngest on Bristol's roster so he is definitely worth following.

Rehabs: Jacob Petricka, Jhonny Nunez, Garrett Johnson, Stephen Sauer
Each of these four has had some prospect status recently so it's nice to see them back in action. Petricka was having one of the best season's among Sox pitching prospects until his injury in May,

Catchers
Kevan Smith (7th, '11), Cory Farris (45th, '11), Jose Ramos (20th, '10), Sean O'Connell (15th, '10)

Smith is the highest 2011 draft pick on the team and is already off to a hot start (4-8, HR, 2 BB). He should have a strong season in rookie ball. Ramos and O'Connell bring a bit more experience to the table. Ramos played for Great Falls last season while O'Connell returns to Bristol.

Infielders
Grant Buckner (26th, '11), Michael Johnson (31st, '11), Rangel Ravelo (6th, '10), Michael Schwartz (17th, '10), Ethan Wilson (25th, '10), Bradley Salgado
(38th, '10), Carlos Sanchez (Venezuela), Daurys Mercedes (Venezuela)

The infield should be the strength of the offense. Buckner, who has DH's so far, is coming off a fantastic season for West Virginia (.995 OPS) and homered in his first professional at-bat.

Ravelo and Salgado were both drafted out of high school as well thought of prospects and had below par debuts with Bristol last year, but Ravelo is off to a 6-7 start.

Mercedes and Sanchez are DSL alums with potential. Mercedes, a second baseman, hit .319 in 2009, but only .256 last year to go with a pair of games for the BriSox. He's now 21 so if he is a legit prospect, he will need to have a strong season. Sanchez turns 19 on the 29th, but showed great plate discipline in the DSL last year (41 BB, 26 K in 156 AB) despite hitting just .269. The Venezuelan third baseman already has four walks and is 2-6.

Outfielders
Collin Kuhn (17th, '11), Kyle Robinson (28th, '10), Jordan Keegan (24th, '10), Dusty Harvard (34th, '10)

Kuhn and Robinson were teammates at Arkansas and both have some power. Harvard spent last year with Great Falls while Keegan is returning to Bristol.

Outlook
The pitching is pretty unknown with lower draft picks, a few rehabs and some foreigners that could carry the load. However, the offense looks pretty loaded. With Smith at catcher and potentially 4-5 solid prospects in the infield, Bristol should have no problem scoring runs. As long as the pitching is average, this team should be able to post its first winning record since 2002.

For more info on the team follow tricitiessports.com throughout the year. They have a nice piece on Pete Rose Jr. as the team's manager.

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