Friday, April 8, 2016

A Look at the Lancaster JetHawks Opening Day Roster

There are not a lot of repeat customers on the Opening Day JetHawks line-up as many players were either promoted to Corpus or (sadly) released. The 'Hawks started their season on the road, losing 4-3 to Giant's affiliate San Jose. Lancaster's home opener will be next Thursday, the 14th, when they will face High Desert, the High A affiliate of the Texas Rangers.

Josh James and Elieser Hernandez - August 2015
Photo by Jayne Hansen

Pitching in Lancaster is always an adventure, but when only four healthy pitchers on your Opening Day roster have experience in the California League, it could get downright scary! With Bryan Radziewski, Evan Grills and Christian Powell starting the season on the DL, Akeem Bostick is the only starter with experience at the level. That would certainly explain why Bostick wasn't promoted to Corpus; the JetHawks need an experienced hand. (There is a bit of a logjam in front of him as well.)

Bostick is joined by Elieser Hernandez, Brock Dykxhoorn, Josh James and hard throwing Dean Deetz, all of whom played at Quad Cities in 2015. Trent Thornton, a 2015 fifth round draft pick out of UNC, appeared in Tri-City last year and is leap-frogging Quad Cities in his assignment to Lancaster. Deetz had one of the highest groundball out rates in the system in 2015 and Elieser Hernandez had one of the highest flyball out rates; it will be interesting to see how those tendencies may translate at The Hangar.

Kevin Comer spent time in Lancaster last season in both the starting rotation and in relief. Riley Ferrell, the 3rd round pick from 2015, was used out of the bullpen (when he wasn't on the DL), but he may very well be given a rotation spot if he's gained consistency in a heretofore seldom used changeup. I wouldn't be surprised to see Comer or Ferrell go back and forth from bullpen to rotation as the need arises, but I remain unconvinced that both aren't better suited for the 'pen.

Andrew Walters, a 2015 JetHawk, will return as will Ryan Thompson who appeared for Lancaster at the end of the 2015 season. Angel Heredia and Eric Peterson, two of the more consistent relief pitchers in the organization in 2015, arrive from Quad Cities and Scott Weathersby, a 2015 10th rounder who started a couple of games in addition to his relief work, arrives from Tri-City. As you may have noticed, there is a complete lack of left-handed pitching on the staff. I wouldn't be surprised to see assistance on that front arrive from the 2016 Quad Cities staff sooner rather than later.

Jamie Ritchie is the experienced hand behind the dish for Lancaster, having played for the JetHawks the latter third of the 2015 season. Garrett Stubbs is another 2015 draft pick (8th round) who merited a promotion to Lancaster in only his second season. Stubbs was the 2015 Johnny Bench winner for outstanding college catcher and is definitely a player to watch. Also catching on the squad will be the less experienced Richard Gonzalez who topped out at Tri-City last season.

Marc Wik returns to the 'Hawks after a terrific winter campaign in Australia. He is a true utility player who can play most infield and outfield positions. Jose Fernandez, a journeyman Astro, is in his seventh season. They will be joined by 2015 Quad Cities farmhands 3B Nick Tanielu, 1B Bryan Muniz and SS Kristian Trompiz.

The entire outfield will be new this year (except for utility player Wik). Arriving from Quad Cities are Jason Martin, Bobby Boyd, Ramon Laureano and Drew Ferguson (19th round 2015). Alejandro Garcia, a 24-year old Cuban signing who spent his 2015 season with the DSL, will start his first domestic season with the Astros in Lancaster. I expected Garcia to be moved very aggressively this season and that is definitely the case.

It could be an interesting season for the JetHawks with the lack of experience at the level. Don't be surprised to see a rough start for a few of these players with things leveling out later in the year.


RHP Akeem Bostick
RHP Kevin Comer
RHP Deen Deetz
RHP Brock Dykxhoorn
RHP Riley Ferrell
RHP Angel Heredia
RHP Elieser Hernandez
RHP Josh James
RHP Eric Peterson
RHP Ryan Thompson
RHP Trent Thornton
RHP Andrew Walter
RHP Scott Weathersby

C Richard Gonzalez
C Jamie Ritchie
*C Garrett Stubbs

IF Jose Fernandez
1B Bryan Muniz
3B Nick Tanielu
SS Kristian Trompiz
*IF/OF Marc Wik

*OF Bobby Boyd
OF Drew Ferguson
OF Alejandro Garcia
OF Ramon Laureano
*OF Jason Martin

Starting the season on the DL

LHP Evan Grills
RHP Christian Powell
LHP Bryan Radziewski


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