Suns Opening Day Roster Announced
Suns Opening Day Roster Announced
Local flavor and familiar faces define the Hagerstown Suns' 2009 Opening Day roster, with four players hailing from within a 100-mile radius of Municipal Stadium and nine Suns returning to the team from last season.
A trio of Maryland natives - first baseman Robert Jacobsen, from Waldorf; outfielder Marcus Jones, from Bethesda; and infielder Stephen Lombardozzi, from Fulton - will have the chance to play in front of a home-state crowd this season. But the Sun who will be straying the shortest distance from his hometown to play for the Suns will be relief pitcher Kevin Light, whose birthplace of Mechanicsville, Virginia is just an hour's drive south of the Hub City.
Of the nine members of the 2008 Suns returning to Hagerstown, six are pitchers, making up almost half of the Suns' 13-man staff. The brightest star of that staff, however, looks to be a newcomer: left-handed starting pitcher Jack McGeary, a 6th round pick of the Nationals in 2007 who is rated by Baseball America as the fifth-best prospect in Washington's system.
McGeary, who attends classes at Stanford University in the fall and spring while spending his summers as a professional hurler, has been rated as having the Best Control in the Nationals' system, as well as the Best Curveball. In 13 starts last season with the GCL Nationals and Vermont, McGeary fanned 69 batters, next to just 16 walks.
Candidates to join McGeary in the Hagerstown starting rotation include returning Suns Osvaldo Rodriguez, Brad Peacock, and Terrence Engles. After three years out of Minor League Baseball prior to the 2008 season, Rodriguez was highly impressive in his three starts for Hagerstown last year, posting an earned run average of 1.06 while striking out a batter per inning.
Peacock opened the 2008 season in Hagerstown before finishing the season strong with a 3.12 ERA over 14 starts with Vermont. Fellow right-hander Engles split time between Hagerstown and Potomac last season, pitching more innings for the Suns in 2008 than any other returning player.
The other Suns pitchers who will be returning from 2008 will be right-handers Justin Phillabaum and Chris Lugo and lefty Ricardo Pecina. Phillabaum made 27 relief appearances for Hagerstown last season, while Lugo is among the longest-tenured Suns, having registered 68 appearances over the 2007 and 2008 seasons, picking up six saves. Pecina was an 8th round pick by the Nationals in the 2008 Draft, and could also challenge for a spot in the starting rotation.
Among the newcomers, local product Light figures to be a fixture of the Suns' bullpen, having compiled a 1.80 ERA over 19 appearances with Vermont last season. Austin Garrett, David Slovak, and Carlos Peralta were also key contributors to Vermont's 2008 relief corps, and all three will be joining the Suns this season. Peralta held opponents to a batting average of .188 while posting a 5-0 record out of the pen, while Slovak pitched to a 2.37 ERA over 38 innings. The left-handed Garrett picked up three saves in his 21 appearances for Vermont.
Right-handers Marcos Frias and Patrick Arnold round out the Hagerstown pitching staff, and both could spend time in the starting rotation as well as the bullpen.
Serving as batterymates for the entire Suns staff will be a pair of catchers who figure to be bright spots among Hagerstown position players. Derek Norris is the top catching prospect in the Nationals system, and was rated by Baseball America as their sixth-best prospect overall. A fourth-round pick in the 2007 Draft, Norris clobbered 10 home runs for Vermont last season while getting on base at an impressive .444 clip.
While Norris looks to occupy a central position in the Suns' lineup, fellow catcher Sandy Leon is known more for his stellar glove, having been declared the Best Defensive Catcher in the Washington system.
The Suns' infield will feature 2008 returnees Jacobsen and Steven Souza. Jacobsen, a right-handed hitting first baseman, has played for Hagerstown in parts of the last two seasons. A 3rd round pick of the Nationals in 2007, Souza is a legitimate threat on the basepaths, having stolen eight bases for the Suns last year in just 23 games. He spent time in 2008 at both third base and shortstop.
Souza will be joined on the left side of the infield by third baseman Ronnie Labrie, who hit .324 for the GCL Nationals last year and posted a .423 on-base percentage. Lombardozzi, Jose Lozada, and Nick Arata round out the Hagerstown infield corps.
The Suns will open 2009 with four outfielders, Stephen Englund being the only familiar face from 2008 among them. Englund will be joined by Chris Curran, who put together an excellent season for the GCL Nationals in his first year of professional ball out of Miami Dade Community College. Curran led the GCL with 65 hits and 55 runs scored while hitting .311 and stealing 14 bases. For his accomplishments, Curran was named to the GCL All-Star team.
Maryland-native Jones also had a fine 2008 campaign, hitting .333 for Vermont in just 14 games following his junior season at North Carolina State University. Rounding out the Hagerstown roster is outfielder Michael Guerrero, who drove in 41 runs in just 69 games for Vermont last season.