Biscuits ‘17 roster includes several returning players
Seven of the Tampa Bay Rays’ Top 30 prospects will be featured on the Montgomery Biscuits 2017 Opening Day Roster, which was announced by the Rays on Tuesday.
Of the talented, young group that makes up nearly a quarter of Tampa Bay’s top minor leaguers, the Rays No. 2 prospect, Brent Honeywell, and No. 9 prospect, Justin Williams, highlight the club.
Ranked by MLB.com and Baseball America as the Rays’ second-best prospect, Honeywell, 22, split time with the Biscuits and High Class-A Charlotte where he made a combined 20 starts and went 7-3 with a 2.34 ERA overall last season. That impressive stat-line garnered the young right-hander the 2016 Rays Minor League Pitcher of the Year Award. Honeywell, a 2014 second round pick, has gained notoriety throughout the pros for his devastating screwball, and is one of the only pitchers left in baseball who still throws the quirky pitch.
Williams, 21, will start his campaign in the Capital City for the first time after also playing for High Class-A Charlotte and Montgomery last season. The outfielder was a .330 hitter with the Stone Crabs before making his Biscuit debut on July 18. The young slugger showcased his incredible power upon his arrival at Riverwalk Stadium, homering three times in his first seven Double-A games, and knocking in a team season-high six runs against Pensacola on July 26. Williams was first acquired by the Rays in the 2014 Jeremy Hellickson trade with the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Joining Williams in the outfield will be three returners: Cade Gotta, Granden Goetzman, and Braxton Lee. Gotta was voted on to the end of season All-Star team, after being named the Southern League’s Best Hustler in 2016. Goetzman stole a team-high 24 bases last season, including four in an April game against Jacksonville, which tied a Biscuits team record, while Lee collected 11 outfield assists and 11 sacrifice hits, the second-most in team history.
The infield will look completely different from 2016, with all of last year’s starters having moved on to AAA Durham. The team will have plenty of corner infielders as Grant Kay, Joe McCarthy, and Michael Russell make their Double-A debuts.
The Biscuits will also get a look at shortstop Andrew Velazquez and second baseman Riley Unroe, in addition to shortstop Alec Sole, the lone returner in the infield, who hit a home run in his Biscuit debut last August. Nick Ciuffo (Rays No. 21 prospect) and Justin O’Conner will round out the positional players as the Biscuits’ catchers.
The pitching staff is made up of seven returners and six newcomers. Along with Honeywell, right-handers Hunter Wood, Yonny Chirinos, Kyle Winkler, Brad Schreiber return to the Biscuits, along with left-handers Kyle Bird and Jordan Harrison.
Wood enters the season as the No. 27 prospect in the Rays organization, while Winkler helped slam the door on the Biscuits first-ever combined no-hitter last July 11 at Jackson.
The newcomers include right-handers Fernando Baez, Diego Castillo, Edwin Fierro, Mike Franco, Greg Harris, and left-hander Jose Alvarado.
The roster also includes former Russell County star pitcher Cory Rasmus, who begins the season on the disabled list along with left-handed pitchers Grayson Garvin and Chris Kirsch.
Full Biscuits roster available here (click)