2013 Kannapolis Intimidators Preview

Opening Day for the Majors has also brought the first look at the rosters for the minor league affiliates.

Kannapolis IntimidatorsThe Kannapolis Intimidators are up as our first team preview. The Intimidators begin play in the South Atlantic League Thursday, April 4, at Lakewood. The home opener is a week later against Hickory.

The Opening Day ages of the players are in parentheses unless otherwise noted. For the hitters position is also listed.

Kannapolis (2012 record: 61-78, no playoffs)

Pitching

Repeats: Myles Jaye (21), Euclides Leyer (20), Jefferson Olacio (19), Jason Van Skike (24 on April 10)

From Great Falls: Brandon Brennan (21), Joe Dvorsky (24), Brandon Hardin (23), Zachary Isler (22)

From Bristol: Jake Cose (22), Michael Gunter (22), Todd Kibby (21), Adam Lopez (23)

U.S. debut: Braulio Ortiz (21)

While there aren't any top prospects in this pitching staff, it has the look of one that can have plenty of success in the SAL. There's a number of talented arms and lots of experience for a Low-A ball team. Four pitchers are back with the Intimidators after logging notable innings with Kanny last year and three of those are the youngest on the staff.

Those three, Jaye, Leyer and Olacio, are all talented enough to improve on disappointing stints with Kannapolis in 2012. Leyer and Olacio had stints with Bristol last year as well. Olacio showed off a mid 90s fastball last season and is listed 40 pounds heavier than a year ago (6-7, 270). Jaye, who made 17 starts last year, will likely be in the rotation alongside Leyer and Olacio.

Some rate another likely starter, Brennan, as the best prospect on the team. He has a low 90s sinker and is the highest 2012 draft pick on the roster (5th round).

Cose and Kibby were both quality starters for Bristol last season so they will likely get some starts as well. It's possible Olacio, who is incredibly raw, starts the season in the bullpen with those two both making the rotation.

As for the bullpen, Hardin and Dvorsky had strong seasons for Great Falls last summer and should be productive for Kannapolis. Gunter, a signing from the White Sox's annual tryout in Birmingham, also profiles well to succeed for the I's. Ortiz is a Dominican that spent the last two years in the DSL with poor numbers. As always with those guys, who knows how he does.

Similar to last year, it should be a decent staff both performance and prospect wise. The rotation looks especially strong on both fronts.

Hitting

Repeats: Adam Heisler (OF, 24), Michael Johnson (IF, 24), Michael Marjama (C, 23), Rangel Ravelo (3B, 21 on April 24)

From Great Falls: Yoandy Barroso (OF, 24), Zachary Fisher (C, 21), Micah Johnson (2B, 22), Patrick Palmeiro (OF, 23), Tyler Williams (3B, 22)

From Bristol: Kale Kiser (OF, 23)

New to org.: Jean Almanzar (SS, 24)

Pro debut: Jason Coats (OF, 23)

The offensive side isn't as stocked with as much talent as the pitching, but there are a few interesting names. Ravelo is back in action after sitting out the second half of 2012. He was one of Kannapolis' best hitters early last year and will probably move up quickly. Maybe someone like Eric Grabe, who was one of the top rookie ball performers for the White Sox last summer, will come up to replace him. 2012 9th round pick Micah Johnson is a decent prospect and should be one of the team's best bats. Coats makes his pro debut after an ACL injury ended his senior year at TCU early and forced him to sit out last summer. He was once a highly regarded prospect, but a disappointing final two years didn't match a hot sophomore season and solid showing at the Cape Cod League.

After that it's less clear what to watch for. Marjama was solid in his time with Kanny last year (.737 OPS in 85 AB) and Barroso and Kiser are coming off solid debuts in rookie ball.

The Intimidators will need a few others to step up for this to be a competitive lineup. On paper it's not very inspiring, but it's hard to predict that at this level.

Top 25 Prospects: Rangel Ravelo (21), Jefferson Olacio (23)

Sleeper: Jason Coats

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