Thursday, March 29, 2012

50 Days Until Gateway Grizzlies Opening Day/Starting Rotation

Hello all!

Only 50 days away until Gateway Grizzlies opening day.  Grizzlies sixth-year manager Phil Warren (photo courtesy of Paul Baillargeon/ has done an outstanding job getting the roster ready for the upcoming season.  As we near the start of April, it appears that very few changes will be made to the roster heading into spring training.  When spring training is completed, Warren will have the task of getting the roster trimmed to 22-24 players.

The Grizzlies skipper has put together a different type of Gateway team.  With the dimensions @ GCS Ballpark the way they are, the team has typically been built around a powerful offense, and in particular a lefty heavy offense with the short porch in right.  Phil has told me, he's building a team that can compete on the road this season, which means more gap hitters and also some speed.  Fans will see more speed than recent years and they will also see more 'small ball'..moving runners over, stealing bases, etc.  This team has a different feel and I'm all for this 'change' that Phil is implementing.  He wants balance on his team, not just hitting.

When looking at the roster, it's evident that experience is on the side of the pitchers.  Phil has brought in arms with experience at high levels.  He has a deep staff with numerous pitchers competing for just five spots in the starting rotation..that's a good thing.  In year's past, depth has been an issue in the starting rotation.  That shouldn't be the case this season.  Below is a list of the guys who appear to be competing for 5 spots in the rotation.

  *RHP Tim Brown (Experienced righty from St. Louis who has excelled in professional baseball)
Zach Robertson
  *LHP Zach Robertson (overpowering lefty who had flashes of dominance w/ RCY last of my favorite arms in the Frontier League last season
  *RHP Alex Kaminsky (Indians organization product with a smooth delivery and success at every stop)
Erik Carillo
  *RHP Cale Johnson (Greenville native who threw at McKendree University and in the Cardinals organization..looking for a fresh start and some innings..GWY gives him that)
  *RHP Erik Carillo (Could also be used in the 'pen, but is a guy who Warren really wants in the rotation.  Outstanding 'stuff')
  *RHP Pat Arnold (Had Tommy John in '10 and threw limited innings in '11 in the Nationals organization..could be the wildcard in the rotation.  If healthy, he has top-notch talent)
Chris Enourato
  *RHP Chris Enourato (Was the Grizzlies closer in '11..Warren has said in the offseason he's going to see if Chris can start.  Either way, he's an outstanding righty who will be one of the biggest pieces of the pitching staff.)
Jordan Cudney
*RHP Jordan Cudney (started a game the final weekend last season and threw 6 one-hit innings..has a low 90's heater with a good breaking ball.  Has shown he can be dominant in the bullpen, but should get the chance to start) 
Ryan Juarez
  *RHP Ryan Juarez (won 4 starts in a row at one point during his rookie on his game when he's spotting his pitches well.  Phil has always been high on Juarez, who is a bulldog on the hill.  Could have a big 'sophomore' season in the pro's)

That's a quick breakdown of the guys who appear to competing for a spot in the starting rotation.  Bottom line is:  pitching could be as good as ever in 2012 for the Gateway Grizzlies.  Can't wait to see it all unfold in spring training!

      -Voice of the Grizzlies, Adam Young

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