2015 Kannapolis Intimidators season preview

The minor league season started last night, but we still have one more team preview to finish up. The Kannapolis Intimidators started the season last night in a 2-1 loss, unable to take advantage of six scoreless innings from Jordan Guerrero. Let's take a look at how the Intimidators figure to stack up in the South Atlantic League.

Opening Day ages of the players are listed in parentheses, along with position for non-pitchers.

Kannapolis Intimidators (2014 record: 62-75, no playoffs)

Top 30 prospects: Spencer Adams (4), Luis Martinez (23), David Trexler (25), Jordan Guerrero (26), Andrew Mitchell (29), Eddy Alvarez (30)

Pitchers (* denotes LH; # denotes starting season on DL)

Returners: Tyler Barnette# (22), Jordan Guerrero* (20), Thad Lowry (20), Andrew Mitchell# (23), Jacob Morris (24), Brad Salgado (23)

From Great Falls: Devon Davis* (23), Luis Martinez (20), David Trexler (24)

From Arizona White Sox: Spencer Adams (19 on April 13), Brett Bruening (26), Yelmison Peralta (20), Kelvis Valerio (23)

New to org.: Yency Almonte (20), Peter Tago (22)

Unlike the other full season affiliates, Kannapolis' pitching staff has a number of newcomers to the team. Even among the six returners there are some interesting prospects. At 20, Jordan Guerrero and Thad Lowry still have some upside. Guerrero's Opening Day start showed what he is capable of. Andrew Mitchell has a good, but erratic arm in the bullpen. Jacob Morris also has converted from an outfielder to a pitcher.

The biggest name and prospect on the team is Spencer Adams, a personal favorite of mine. His dominant pro debut after being taken in the second round of the draft (59 K, 4 BB, 3.67 ERA in 41.2 IP for the Arizona White Sox) will lift expectations this season as well. Adams makes his season debut tonight.

Also of note are Luis Martinez, who showed good stuff but inconsistent command in rookie ball last summer, and reliever David Trexler, who has drawn some praise for his stuff out of the bullpen. Peter Tago was a first round pick in 2010 and already made his Kannapolis debut in the opener out of the bullpen.

Hitters

Returners: Brett Austin (C, 22), Eddy Alvarez (SS/2B, 25), Christian Stringer (2B, 24), Toby Thomas (2B/SS, 21), Tyler Williams (1B, 24), Nolan Earley (OF, 24), Hunter Jones# (OF, 23)

From Great Falls: Zach Fish (C, 22), Ethan Gross (SS, 23), Louie Lechich (OF, 23), Mason Robbins (OF, 22)

From Arizona White Sox: Michael Suiter (OF, 23)

From Birmingham: Chris Curley (3B, 27)

New to org.: Sean O'Connell# (C, 23), James Baldwin# (OF, 23)

The offense looks to be built more around returning players than the pitching staff. Brett Austin was drafted in the fourth round last year and received an aggressive assignment to Kannapolis and struggled. Hopefully he can hit the ground running having been with the Intimidators last year. Eddy Alvarez probably will be a big hitter for the team, having hit .431 in 80 plate appearances last season with the Intimidators.

There isn't a lot in the way of prospects in the lineup though. Austin's slow pro debut scared off our voters and Alvarez just sneaked in at No. 30. For some reason Chris Curley is back in Kannapolis after posting a .721 OPS in Birmingham last season. If he stays long he should put up big numbers for Kannapolis.

James Baldwin is the son of the former White Sox pitcher. He was drafted by the Dodgers in the fourth round in 2010.

Overall

The Intimidators have one of the tougher paths to making the playoffs out of White Sox affiliates with just four of the 14 South Atlantic League teams making the postseason. For that reason, and a roster that doesn't have a lot of players that jump out at you, making a postseason push seems like a stretch. However, Spencer Adams should be fun to follow and there are a few potential sleeper breakout players on the pitching staff.

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