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Mudcats unveil opening day roster

Posted March 31

— The Carolina Mudcats are excited to announce their Opening Day roster for 2014. First-year manager Scooter Tucker and his staff will guide a club that includes 19 returning players.

This year’s roster is highlighted by the return of infielder Erik Gonzalez. Baseball America lists Gonzalez as the 19th best prospect in the Cleveland Indians Player Development System. The publication also named the 22-year-old has having the best infield arm in the organization. Gonzalez hit .242 over 39 games with the Mudcats last summer. He finished second on the team with five triples.

Joining Gonzalez in the infield will be three players who saw time with the Mudcats in 2013: Todd Hankins, Yhoxian Medina and Joe Sever. Hankins ranks among the Indians best base stealers for the past two seasons with 33 in 2012 and 31 in 2013. Yandy Diaz, who signed with the Indians out of Haiti during the offseason, will make his Carolina League debut.

Carolina will have three catchers, including two returners. Jeremy Lucas will make his Mudcats debut this season after playing for the Lake County Captains in 2013. Alex Monsalve previously caught for the Mudcats in 2012 and heads back to Zebulon after catching for the Akron RubberDucks in 2013 Monsalve batted .295 in 21 games with Akron. Charlie Valerio opens with the club after hitting .238 with 26 RBI in 2013 before missing the rest of the season with a thumb injury.

LeVon Washington, a second round draft pick in 2010 out of Chipola Junior College, highlights a talented outfield. Joining him will be Logan Vick, a 2012 Midwest League All-Star, Cleveland native Anthony Gallas and Ollie Linton. Linton was a Southern League All-Star in 2010 and 2011 while playing in the Arizona Diamondbacks organization.

Shawn Morimando leads the starting rotation for the Mudcats. The left-hander posted eight wins with a 3.27 ERA over 27 starts. Right-hander Michael Peoples, southpaw Ryan Merritt and right-hander Cole Sulser fill out the rest of the rotation. A fifth starter is to be determined.

The Mudcats’ bullpen will feature several returning hurlers, including Grant Sides, Josh Martin, Jacob Lee, Elvis Araujo, Benny Suarez, Rob Nixon and Louis Head. In 21 relief appearances for Carolina in 2013, Head recorded four wins and three saves to go with a 3.11 ERA. Joining the group will be right-hander Carlos Melo and D.J. Brown. Brown posted a 2.71 ERA over 27 relief appearances with the Lake County Captains in 2013.

The Mudcats will host the Potomac Nationals on Opening Day, April 3, 2014. Season and single game tickets, along with Muddy “Unreal Deals” are on sale now. Call the box office at (919) 269-2287 for more information or visit carolinamudcats.com. The Carolina Mudcats are the A-Advanced affiliate of the Cleveland Indians, beginning their third season in the Carolina League.

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