Monday, March 31, 2014

Northwest Arkansas Naturals 2014 Preview

Defense
LF - Whit Merrifield
CF - Lane Adams
RF - Jorge Bonifacio
3B - Cheslor Cuthbert
SS - Orlando Calixte
2B - Justin Trapp*
1B - Mark Threlkeld*
C - Juan Graterol

Rotation
Jason Adam
Greg Billo*
Tim Melville
Noel Arguelles
Sugar Ray Marimon

Bench
C - Micah Gibbs*, C - Parker Morin*, IF - Angel Franco, IF - Yowill Espinal, OF - Ethan Chapman*,  OF - Roman Hernandez, OF - Edinson Rincon

Bullpen
Scott Alexander, Angel Baez*, Malcom Culver, Cody Fassold*, Andy Ferguson, Hassan Pena*, J.C. Sulbaran, Andrew Triggs

Notes:
  • There are 9 new faces that will put on a Naturals uniform for the 2014 season.  One of the more notable debuts is 23 year old pitcher Greg Billo.
  • To begin the year, the roster doesn't look all that great to those who pay attention to prospects and all things Minor Leagues, but with a fully loaded Wilmington Blue Rocks roster, there will be some big name players that could easily arrive in Springdale by mid-season (Dozier, Starling, Mondesi, Almonte, Manaea, etc.)
  • Top Prospect Kyle Zimmer, who ended last year's season with the Naturals, will stay in Arizona for extended Spring Training to get some work in while recovering from biceps tendinitis in his shoulder.  He is expected to join the Naturals on May 20th.
  • Jason Adam returns to the Naturals after throwing 144 innings in 2013.  Although Jason posted a career high K rate, he's coming off a disappointing year on the bump as he also logged career highs in ERA (5.13) and BB/9 (3.38).  As of now, his ceiling is that of a back-end starter.  His pitches are solid, but lack the flash as they once did back in his Instructional League days.  His fastball velocity has dipped the past couple seasons and if he can somehow work his way back to his rookie year throwing 98 mph, his status has a rotation candidate will rise drastically.
  • Adam won't be the only pitcher to watch at Arvest Ballpark.  Newcomer Greg Billo makes his Double-A debut coming off a successful 2013 campaign as he worked his back from Tommy John surgery.  In 40 innings for Lexington, he posted a 1.35 ERA, his best since 2011, 38 K's, 13 BB and 6 ER, along with a FIP of 2.93.  
  • Ranked as #4 in the Royals' Top 10 Prospects from Baseball America, RF Jorge Bonifacio will come back to Springdale for a second season only because age is definitely on his side.  The 20 year old has a pure swing with a lot of power potential.  Between Wilmington and a short stint with the Naturals in '13, his slash line was .298/.372/.429 with 4 HR and 55 RBI.  Scouts still say the power is there and will arrive soon.  It will be nice to see Bonifacio display that power in a full season at Arvest Ballpark.

1 comment:

  1. Where is Calixte? He hasn't played yet - not on any roster but his MiLB.com page has him flagged as active.

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