RedHawks announce opening day roster

Holland headlines a talented Triple-A staff

The Oklahoma City RedHawks, the Texas Rangers' Triple-A affiliate, announced their 2009 opening day roster on Monday afternoon. Lone Star Dugout brings you the roster along with the surprises, the stories to follow, and the players to watch.

The Oklahoma City RedHawks announced a 23-man roster on Monday afternoon. The roster includes 12 pitchers, two catchers, five infielders, and four outfielders.

Seven of the players appeared on Lone Star Dugout's Top 50 Rangers Prospects list. Two others -- Pedro Strop and Greg Golson -- would have made the list, but they joined the organization late.

A complete listing of the RedHawks' 2009 opening day roster is listed below.

Pitchers
Name Pos B/T HT WT DOB 2008 Club
Mike Ballard LHP R/L 6'2 180 06/06/84 FRI/OKC
Thomas Diamond RHP R/R 6'3 230 04/06/83 FRI
Neftali Feliz RHP R/R 6'3 180 5/02/88 CLI/FRI
Kason Gabbard LHP L/L 6'3 200 4/08/82 FRI/OKC/TEX
Brian Gordon RHP L/R 6'0 205 8/16/78 FRI/OKC/TEX
Derek Holland LHP B/L 6'2 185 10/09/86 CLI/BAK/FRI
Doug Mathis RHP R/R 6'3 220 06/07/83 AZL/OKC/TEX
Luis Mendoza RHP R/R 6'3 210 10/31/83 FRI/OKC/TEX
Elizardo Ramirez RHP B/R 6'0 190 1/28/83 OKC/TEX
Pedro Strop RHP R/R 6'0 160 6/13/85 TUL
Derrick Turnbow RHP R/R 6'3 220 1/25/78 NAS/MIL
Beau Vaughan RHP B/R 6'4 230 06/04/81 POR/PAW

Catchers
Name Pos B/T HT WT DOB 2008 Club
Emerson Frostad C L/R 6'1 210 01/13/83 FRI/OKC
Max Ramirez C R/R 5'11 175 10/11/84 FRI/OKC/TEX

Infielders
Name Pos B/T HT WT DOB 2008 Club
Joaquin Arias 2B R/R 6'1 165 09/21/84 OKC/TEX
Casey Benjamin SS L/R 6'2 190 09/01/80 FRI/OKC
German Duran 3B R/R 5'10 185 08/03/84 OKC/TEX
Royce Huffman 1B R/R 6'0 205 01/11/77 CHA
Scott Thorman 1B L/R 6'3 235 01/06/82 SPO

Outfielders
Name Pos B/T HT WT DOB 2008 Club
Brandon Boggs OF B/R 5'11 205 01/09/83 OKC/TEX
Julio Borbon OF L/L 6'1 180 02/20/86 BAK/FRI
Greg Golson OF R/R 6'0 190 09/17/85 REA/PHI
Ben Harrison OF R/R 6'4 203 09/18/81 FRI/OKC


Three surprises

1) Pedro Strop enters his seventh season in the U.S., but he's accumulated just 88 career innings. That's because Strop -- like current Rangers reliever Warner Madrigal -- began his career as a position player.

After that didn't work out, the former Rockies prospect moved to the bullpen in 2006. The 23-year-old has just seven innings of experience above the High-A level, but with a mid-90s fastball, an upper-80s slider, and a good splitter, Strop has the stuff to be a late-inning reliever in the Majors. An impressive Spring Training convinced the Rangers to put him in Oklahoma City.

2) For most of the offseason, the general thought was that one of the Feliz/Holland fireballing duo would begin in Triple-A and the other would go to Double-A. But both pitchers dominated the Texas League after their late-season promotions last season, and they had strong showings in Spring Training this year. Holland was especially good, as he ended his spring by tossing four innings of one-run ball against the Los Angeles Angels.

3) The Rangers signed 27-year-old first baseman Scott Thorman and assigned him to Triple-A Oklahoma City just the other day. A former first round pick of the Braves in 2007, Thorman appeared in a total of 175 games with Atlanta in 2006 and 2007, hitting .222 with 16 home runs and 50 RBIs. He spent last summer with Triple-A Richmond, batting .251 with 19 round-trippers. This season will be his tenth in professional baseball, but his first outside of the Braves' organization.

Three stories to follow

1) The Feliz/Holland Duo.

Obviously all Rangers fans will be looking north throughout the season to check up on the progress of uber-prospects Neftali Feliz and Derek Holland. If all goes according to plan, both hurlers should make their big league debuts in 2009, and they could easily open the 2010 season as members of the Rangers' starting rotation. They have a combined 14 regular season starts above the Single-A level, but neither pitcher had much problem against the Texas League hitters last summer.

2) Thomas Diamond's Impact.

Diamond will open the season in the RedHawks' bullpen, and he could give the Rangers' bullpen some much-needed help before the All-Star break. Diamond is fully healthy for the first time in a few years, but he hasn't worked out of the bullpen since his sophomore year at the University of New Orleans.

3) The outfield situation.

Between Boggs, Borbon, Golson and Harrison, the RedHawks have an excellent outfield, and all four players could get action with the Rangers in 2009. Borbon and Golson both profile as potential top-of-the-order hitters, but Borbon has better bat control and plate discipline while Golson has more power potential.

One to watch

Mike Ballard was a late scratch from his Major League debut last summer. He should finally get that opportunity this season. The 25-year-old southpaw isn't overpowering, but he has a plus changeup and an excellent curveball to go with his 86-90 mph fastball. While Ballard's ceiling is not particularly high, he could contribute quality innings for the Rangers in the near future.

Oklahoma City opens its 2009 season on Thursday, April 9 in a road matchup against the Memphis Redbirds.

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