The Blue Wahoos appear to join the organization at a good time, as there’s a few top prospects in all the minor leagues that could spend a lot of time with them during the 2019 season. They appear to have a strong roster at the outset but may be even better in the second half if and when players are promoted.
So here’s a look at the inaugural Pensacola Blue Wahoos roster and coaching staff for the 2019 season. Feel free to share any thoughts you may have on the team and as always, ask questions in the comments!
Manager Ramon Borrego comes to Pensacola after spending seven years as the Twins manager in the Gulf Coast League, and then the 2018 season at the helm of the Fort Myers Miracle where he led them to the Florida State League championship. Steve Singleton will be the hitting coach and is very familiar with Borrego, as they’ve been together at both the GCL and FSL levels in the past few years. They’ll be joined by pitching coaches Cibney Bello and Justin Willard who worked together last year with the Cedar Rapids Kernels.
The Blue Wahoos will be represented on the Twins 40-man roster by two players to start the season. There is not a member of the team who has played in the majors yet, though eight players have spent some time at the Triple A level, with 11 more having spent at least some time with the Chattanooga Lookouts in 2018 or at Double A in the past. Note that this is a tentative roster and can be updated before the minor league season starts on Thursday.
Catchers: Brian Navarreto, Mitchell Kranson, Caleb Hamilton
Infielders: Luis Arraez, Brian Schales, Drew Maggi, Jordan Gore, Taylor Grzelakowski (also Catcher)
Outfielders: Jaylin Davis, Jimmy Kerrigan, Ernie De La Trinidad, Tanner English (IL), Alex Kirilloff (IL)
Starting Pitchers: Brusdar Graterol, Jorge Alcala, Griffin Jax, Devin Smeltzer, Sean Poppen, Tyler Wells (IL), Daniel Camarena (IL), Randy LeBlanc (IL)
Relief Pitchers: Tyler Jay, Sam Clay, Jovani Moran, Jeff Ames, Adam Bray, Andro Cutura, Dusten Knight, Ryan Mason, Cody Stashak, Williams Ramirez (IL)
CF – Jimmy Kerrigan
2B – Luis Arraez
OF – Jaylin Davis (Alex Kirilloff)
1B – Taylor Grzelakowski
DH – Mitchell Kranson
OF – Ernie De La Trinidad / Jaylin Davis
3B – Drew Maggi / Brian Schales
SS – Jordan Gore
C – Brian Navarreto
- Alex Kirilloff (Twins Daily #2 Prospect) – Best hitter not named Vlad Guerrero Jr. in all of MiLB last season.
- Brusdar Graterol (Twins Daily #3 Prospect) – Graterol is the Twins top pitching prospect. Blessed with a triple-digit fastball as well as improving breaking ball and changeup.
- Jorge Alcala (Twins Daily #19 Prospect) – Like Graterol, Alcala can hit triple-digits with his fastball and will continue to work on his secondary offerings.
- Tyler Wells – Twins Daily’s 2018 MiLB Starting Pitcher of the Year. Has dedicated himself to fitness and diet as a pro and the big righthander will look to continue his rise among pitching prospects.
- Luis Arraez – Professional hitter with a .329 career batting average in the minors tied with only an 8.5% strikeout rate.
- Jovani Moran – Lefty reliever was nearly unhittable last year at Cedar Rapids, then improved when promoted to Fort Myers. Has a 12.6/9IP strikeout rate in the minors thus far. Arrow pointing firmly up.
- Taylor Grzelakowski – .828 OPS in pitcher friendly Florida State League in 2018. Standout in MiLB reports last year could improve that number even more in Southern League.
- Griffin Jax – Jax re-joined the organization in late-April as part of the Air Force’s World Class Athlete program. He joined the Miracle in mid-May and spent the rest of the season with the team. He posted a 3.70 ERA over 87 2/3 innings with the Miracle and then threw another 21 innings in the Arizona Fall league.
- Jaylin Davis – Strongly built outfielder will likely slot somewhere in middle of Blue Wahoos order. Power is tool to keep an eye on in 2019.
- What else can one say about Alex Kirilloff at this point? He’s the must-watch prospect for Pensacola to start the season, and it’s fun to speculate on if he can repeat the success he had last year in the upper levels of the minor leagues. He’ll start the year on the injured list but shouldn’t be on the shelf long.
- Brusdar Graterol and Jovani Moran are being challenged with the assignment to Double A to start the year after fantastic campaigns in 2018, how will they respond?
- The Fort Myers Miracle won the FSL championship in 2018 in part because of several players added to the roster in the second half of the season. A lot of those same guys are starting the year back with Fort Myers, with the potential to make the same type of impact with the Blue Wahoos in the latter half of this summer. Hear it from the Championship organization themselves:
- Tyler Wells was fantastic during the 2018 season and is arguably the top pitcher on the staff to start the year. Will he be able to keep his arrow pointing upward as he faces stiffer competition in the Southern League?
- Can Tyler Jay reclaim any of his former top-prospect-shine in the mold of Kohl Stewart from the 2018 season?
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