The Greeneville Astros head into the 2016 season as the defending champions of the Appalachian League, and tonight, they will take the first step towards defending their crown as they play host to the Johnson City Cardinals. For those who are not familiar with the town of Greeneville, Tennessee, here is a little introduction.
Greeneville is located in the far reaches of East Tennessee, in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. The town prides itself on being the only "Greeneville" in the United States, as it was named for Nathanael Greene, a general in the American Revolution. Former President Andrew Johnson, Abraham Lincoln's successor, considered Greeneville to be his hometown.
In addition, the USS Greeneville, a submarine of the United States Navy, is named for the town.
The Appy Astros play their home games at Pioneer Park, located on the campus of Tusculum College, the oldest institution of higher learning in the state of Tennessee. They play in the Appalachian League's West Division, along with the Bristol Pirates, the Elizabethton Twins, the Kingsport Mets, and the Johnson City Cardinals.
For some of these players, Greeneville is their first stop on the road to Houston. Others are continuing their journey to the Majors, and Greeneville is serving as their next stop. You can learn more about some of these players by purchasing the 2016 Houston Farm System Handbook, a must-have for Houston Astros fans who want to learn more about the players in the Minor League system.
So, without further ado, your 2016 Greeneville Astros!
Italics - player throws/bats left-handed
Asterisk - player is a switch-hitter
Manager - Josh Bonifay
Hitting Coach - César Cedeño
Pitching Coach - Bill Murphy
Coach - Wladimir Sutil
Josh Bonifay returns for his second stint as Greeneville manager after spending 2015 as the manager at Quad Cities. Prior to his managerial career, he was Greeneville's hitting coach in 2011 and was the hitting coach at Lexington in 2012.
Anyone claiming to be a Houston Astros fan surely has to know César Cedeño, who was one of the first superstars in Astros history. Cedeño is in his fifth season as Greeneville's hitting coach.
Bill Murphy is the Appy Astros' new pitching coach. Before joining the Astros organization, he was the pitching coach at Brown and was co-manager and pitching coach of the Battle Creek Bombers in the Northwoods League. He pitched at Rutgers for three years, graduating in 2010. Murphy transferred to Wagner, and earned his MBA there. He also played his final collegiate season for Wagner as a first baseman.
Wladimir Sutil has spent much of his baseball career with the Astros organization; he signed with Houston in 2003 and played in the Astros system until 2011. After spending the 2012 season in the D-Backs organization, Sutil concluded his career with Southern Maryland of the independent Atlantic League in 2013 before returning to the Astros to begin his coaching career.
Diogenes Almengo - International free agent (DR), 2014; played with the DSL Blue team, the GCL team, and Greeneville in 2015
Howie Brey - 31st round, 2016 draft, Rutgers; making professional debut
Tyler Britton - 23rd round, 2016 draft, High Point; making pro debut
Devon Carr - NDFA, 2016, Florida Atlantic
Ricardo Castro - International free agent (Mexico), 2015; appeared in 1 game with Quad Cities and 1 game with Tri-City before being assigned to Greeneville
Carlos Hiraldo - International free agent (DR), 2013; GCL/Greeneville
Colin McKee - 18th round, 2016 draft, Mercyhurst; making pro debut
Salvador Montaño - International free agent (DR), 2013; Greeneville
Devin Raftery - NDFA, 2016, Nova Southeastern; making pro debut
Abdiel Saldaña - International free agent (Panama), 2013; GCL
Carlos Sanabria - International free agent (VZ), 2014; GCL
Patrick Sandoval - 11th round, 2015 draft, Mission Viejo High School, Mission Viejo, California; GCL
Angelo Serrano - International free agent (DR), 2015; DSL Blue/Orange
Sean Stutzman - NDFA, 2016, Dallas Baptist; making pro debut
Nathan Thompson - 27th round, 2016 draft, Oklahoma Baptist; making pro debut
Framber Valdez - International free agent (DR), 2015; appeared in 1 game with Tri-City before being assigned to Greeneville
Lucas Williams - 40th round, 2016 draft, Central Missouri; making pro debut
Gabriel Bracamonte; International free agent (VZ), 2014; Greeneville
Ruben Castro - 19th round, 2014 draft, Puerto Rico Baseball Academy and High School
Ray Henderson - 22nd round, 2016 draft, Grayson College; making pro debut
Jonathan Arauz - Acquired from the Phillies, along with Ken Giles, in a trade for Brett Oberholtzer, Mark Appel, Vince Velasquez, Harold Arauz, and Thomas Eshelman in December 2015. Originally signed with the Phillies in 2014 out of Panama. Played with the GCL Phillies in 2015.
*Wander Franco - International free agent (DR), 2013; GCL/Quad Cities
Justin Garcia - 17th round, 2015 draft, Nova Southeastern; Greeneville
Connor MacDonald - International free agent (Australia), 2012; GCL
Miguelangel Sierra - International free agent (VZ), 2014; DSL Orange/GCL
Tyler Wolfe - 39th round, 2016 draft, Kansas State; making pro debut
Bryan De La Cruz - International free agent (DR), 2013; GCL
Frankeny Fernandez - International free agent (DR), 2013; GCL
Spencer Johnson - 16th round, 2016 draft, Missouri State; making pro debut
Chaz Pal - 38th round, 2016 draft, South Carolina—Aiken; making pro debut
Luis Payano - International free agent (DR), 2013; appeared in 1 game for Tri-City before being assigned to Greeneville
Vicente Sanchez - International free agent (DR), 2014; GCL