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RiverDogs Release 2022 Opening Day Roster

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By: RiverDogs Media

The Charleston RiverDogs, in conjunction with the Tampa Bay Rays, announced their opening day roster on Thursday afternoon in advance of the team’s April 8th season-opener.  The RiverDogs initial group of 30 players includes 16 pitchers and 14 position players. Manager Blake Butera and pitching coach R.C. Lichtenstein will be joined by nine returning players who helped the 2021 team claim the franchise’s first ever championship. All but three of the players assigned to Charleston played for the Florida Coast League Rays last season and helped that affiliate to a league-best 42-15 record. The roster also includes 18-year-old Carson Williams, whom the Rays selected with the 28th overall pick in the 2021 MLB Amateur Draft and FCL standout Willy Vasquez, who provided a three-run triple in the decisive game of the Low-A East championship series last season.

Despite featuring only seven players with collegiate experience and four that were drafted out of a Division 1 program, there are six players that were selected in the top five rounds of their respective drafts. Williams was the highest draft pick among the group of 30, pinpointed by the Rays after starring at Torrey Pines High School in San Diego.  He hit .282 in his professional debut last season.  Pitcher JJ Goss, a Competitive Balance Round A selection out of Cypress, Texas in 2019, will open the season in the Holy City after missing much of the 2021 campaign with a shoulder injury. Another prep standout, Ryan Spikes was a 2021 third round pick of the Rays out of Parkview High in Lilburn, Georgia.  The 19-year-old hit .250 with three doubles and a home run in 11 games with the FCL Rays.

The outfield at The Joe will be manned by three high draft picks that enjoyed outstanding seasons in the FCL last year.  Shane Sasaki was grabbed in the third round of the 2019 draft out of Iolani High School and hit .290 in 33 games last season.  Sasaki also stole 22 bases to finish second in the circuit.  Dru Baker was a fourth round pick out of Texas Tech last summer and posted a .289 average and 10 RBI in 12 games. Finally, Mason Auer heard his name called in the fifth round.  The product of junior college powerhouse San Jacinto College, Auer posted a .265 average and 10 stolen bases in 11 contests.

Neraldo Catalina, Sandy Gaston, Antonio Jimenez, Victor Munoz and Juan Rivera each return to the Lowcountry after toeing the rubber for the RiverDogs last season.  Gaston, a hard-throwing 20-year-old from Cuba, made 14 appearances in Charleston in 2021, going 2-1 with a 3.86 earned run average. Munoz posted a 2.79 ERA in three starts late in the season. Catchers Michael Berglund and Luis Leon, as well as infielders Willy Vasquez and Jelfry Marte will be familiar position players to RiverDogs fans. Vasquez was voted as the FCL Rays MVP following a campaign in which he hit .288 with 11 extra-base hits and 31 RBI in 40 games.  Berglund was behind the plate in three of the five games in the championship series and appeared in 50 games total, throwing out 12 runners attempting to steal a base.

On the mound, a trio of 2021 draft picks figures to play a big part in recording outs.  Left-hander Patrick Wicklander, an eighth-round choice from Arkansas, averaged nearly two strikeouts per inning and has not allowed a run in 11.1 professional innings. Seventh round pick Logan Workman, from Division II Lee University, allowed just one run in 10.1 innings for the FCL Rays.  North Carolina Central product Austin Vernon, chosen in the 10th round, also allowed just one run in his 11.1 innings last season while recording 17 punchouts.

In total, the opening day roster features four players that are ranked by various publications as Top 30 Rays prospects.  Infielders Williams (#7 Baseball America, #9 MLB Pipeline) and Vasquez (#10 in both) are both consensus top 10 selections.  Joining them are a pair of pitchers in Gaston (#13 in both) and Goss (#17 Baseball America, #19 MLB Pipeline).

The complete roster can be viewed here.  As was the case in 2021, all teams at the Single-A level are allowed a maximum of 30 players on the active roster.

Individual tickets for the season’s first homestand, April 8-17, are still available! Visit riverdogs.com to secure your seats now.

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