Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Meet the 2017 Greeneville Astros

The Greeneville Astros start their season at home against the Bluefield Blue Jays at 7:00. 


But, before I introduce you to the Appy Astros, I would like to introduce you to the town of Greeneville, Tennessee.

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.

Greeneville has been an Astros affiliate since 1999; they began in 1988 as a Phillies farm club and were originally located in Martinsville, Virginia before moving to Greeneville in 2003.

So now, let's meet the 2017 Greeneville Astros!

The roster is a mix of 2017 draftees along with players who are making the leap from the Gulf Coast League, a few who made cameos last season after spending most of 2016 in the complex leagues, and there are even some who have skipped the GCL altogether.

Of the 33 players currently on the roster, 25 are Hispanic (11 Dominicans, 5 Venezuelans, 3 Mexicans, 2 Mexican Americans, 1 Dominican American, 1 Puerto Rican, 1 Cuban and 1 Panamanian). The Astros have hit the international free agent market as hard as any team and it shows in Greeneville's roster composition. As I have said before, Oz Ocampo and his team have done an outstanding job in the IFA market and we are starting to see their efforts bear fruit, especially in the lower levels of the organization.

The biggest name in this contingent is probably Gilberto Celestino, a Dominican outfielder who signed for $2.25 million on July 2, 2015. Celestino isn't the typical Dominican bonus baby; the Astros were enamored with him after seeing his performances in youth tournaments. He's received critical acclaim for his defense in center as well.

One player who will be making the jump from the Dominican to East Tennessee is Enmanuel Valdez, who enjoyed a good debut season in 2016 after signing for $450,000. He did hit a wall after moving over to the DSL Blue team, but he certainly opened a few eyes within the organization.

Chas McCormick finished his college career as the PSAC's (Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference) hit king.

Juan Robles debuted in 2015 with a huge splash in the complex leagues and was rewarded with two appearances for Quad Cities. 2016 was a bit of a lost year for him, so he'll look to regain some momentum from his excellent debut season. Tim Hardy, the largest man on the roster, will be pitching in familiar surroundings; he played his college ball at Tusculum before the Astros picked him in the 18th round last week. Javier Navas excelled in his two years in the Dominican and that earned him a spot with the Appy Astros.

Bold - player bats/throws left-handed
Italics - player is a switch-hitter

Coaching Staff

In his first coaching job in the United States after starting his career in the Dominican Summer League, Danny Ortega will replace Josh Bonifay as the skipper of the Appy Astros. Ortega shared hitting coach duties with Omar Rosario on the DSL Blue team in 2016.

Erick Abreu and Ben Myers are moving up from the GCL. César Cedeño needs no introduction.

Manager: Danny Ortega
Pitching Coach: Erick Abreu
Hitting Coach: César Cedeño
Athletic Trainer: Ben Myers
Strength & Conditioning: Jacob Behara

Pitchers

Bryan Abreu - International free agent (DR), 2013; GCL/Greeneville
Dariel Aquino - International free agent (DR), 2013 (originally signed as an infielder); GCL/Greeneville
Johsson Arias - International free agent (DR), 2015; DSL Blue
Jesus Balaguer - International free agent (Cuba), 2017; pro debut
Adam Bleday - 27th round, 2017 draft (UPenn); pro debut
Gerardo Bojorquez - International free agent (Mexico), 2015; DSL Orange
Jheyson Caraballo - International free agent (Venezuela), 2015; DSL Blue
Willy Collado - International free agent (DR), 2016; DSL Orange/Blue
Ian Hardman - 36th round, 2016 draft (Seminole State, OK); GCL
Tim Hardy - 18th round, 2017 draft (Tusculum); pro debut
Javier Navas - International free agent (Venezuela) signed for $175,000 in 2014; DSL Blue
Hansel Paulino - International free agent (DR), 2014; DSL Orange/GCL
Noel Pinto - 34th round, 2017 draft (Connors State, OK); pro debut
Juan Robles - International free agent (Mexico), 2014; GCL/Greeneville
Francisco Villegas - International free agent (Mexico), 2015; DSL Orange

Catchers

Oscar Campos - International free agent (Venezuela), 2014; GCL/Greeneville
Martin Figueroa - 32nd round, 2017 draft (Rhode Island); pro debut
Orlando Marquez - International free agent (Venezuela), 2014; DSL Blue/GCL

Infielders

Reiny Beltre - International free agent (DR), 2014; GCL/Greeneville
Cody Bohanek - 30th round, 2017 draft (Illinois-Chicago); pro debut
Roman Garcia - 19th round, 2017 draft (San Diego); pro debut
Vicente Mota - International free agent (DR) signed for $7500 in 2015; DSL Orange
Juan Piñeda - International free agent (Panama) signed for $100,000 in 2015; DSL Blue/GCL
Colton Shaver - 39th round, 2017 draft (BYU); pro debut
Adrian Tovalin - 16th round, 2017 draft (Azusa Pacific) pro debut
Enmanuel Valdez - International free agent (DR) signed for $450,000 in 2015; DSL Orange/Blue
Brody Westmoreland - 30th round, 2016 draft (College of Southern Nevada, signed for $75,000); GCL

Outfielders

Wilson Amador - International free agent (DR) signed for $400,000 in 2013; GCL/Greeneville
José Benjamin - International free agent (DR), 2014; DSL Blue/GCL
Gilberto Celestino - International free agent (DR) signed for $2.25 million in 2015; DSL Orange/GCL
Carlos Machado - International free agent (Venezuela), 2014; GCL/Greeneville
Patrick Mathis - 22nd round, 2017 draft (Texas); pro debut
Chas McCormick - 21st round, 2017 draft (Millersville, PA); pro debut

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