Daytona Beach, FL - The Daytona Cubs Organization has announced its tentative 2014 Opening Day roster. With Manager Dave Keller and Hitting Coach Mariano Duncan returning for their second seasons, and Pitching Coach Ron Villone joining the Cubs from Kane County-A, Daytona welcomes back 10 players from the 2013 FSL Championship roster (five pitchers, five position players) and boasts 2012 first round draft pick (sixth overall) outfielder Albert Almora. The tentative Opening Day roster features five players selected in the first five rounds of the MLB Draft: Almora, LHP Rob Zastryzny (2nd '13), INF Dan Vogelbach (2nd '11), LHP Austin Kirk (3rd '09) and RHP Tayler Scott (5th '10). The roster features 13 pitchers and 13 position players.
Almora, 19, was selected by the Cubs in 2012 out of Mater Academy Charter School in Hialeah, FL. In 2013, the outfielder hit .329 with three home runs and 23 RBIs for Kane County, and scored 39 runs in 61 games (249 at-bats). He also boasted a .994 fielding percentage last season for the Cougars (one error in 172 chances). Almora was ranked 36th in Baseball America's 2014 Top 100 Prospects.
Zastryzny, 22, was selected in the second round of the 2013 draft by the Cubs out of the University of Missouri. In 11 appearances between Boise-A- and Kane County, the Corpus Christi, TX / Edmonton, Can native went 1-0 with a 2.25 ERA, including a 0.93 ERA for the Cougars in three appearances (ER over 9.2 innings).
Vogelbach, 21, who played in 17 games for Daytona after his promotion from Kane County last season, was selected in the second round of the 2011 draft by the Cubs out of Bishop Verot High School in Fort Myers, FL. Overall in 2013, Vogelbach hit .284 with 19 home runs and 76 RBIs and was named a Midwest League Mid-Season All-Star.
The Cubs return OF Pin-Chieh Chen who played 51 games for Daytona last season, and went 4-for-6 with four runs scored in the first inning throughout the 2013 FSL Postseason. Chen will be joined in the outfield by fellow 2013 Daytona Cub Bijan Rademacher who hit .310 in 113 at-bats against righties for Daytona last year. Rademacher also hit .365 in 16 games at Jackie Robinson Ballpark in 2013.
Other returning Daytona Cubs include Kirk, who pitched for Daytona in both 2012 (FSL Mid-Season All-Star Game starting pitcher) and 2013, RHP Zach Cates who will also be in Daytona for a third-straight season, RHP Starling Peralta, RHP Austin Reed, RHP Yao-Lin Wang, C Chadd Krist, and INF Tim Saunders who was sidelined mid-season to have Tommy John surgery.
2014 Cubs infielder/outfielder Rock Shoulders became only the 25th Kane County Cougar in franchise history to be named both a Mid-Season and Post-Season All-Star in the same season last year. The 22-year-old Tampa, FL native hit .258 with 17 home runs and 74 RBIs over 117 games. Shoulders joined Miguel Cabrera, Adrian Gonzalez, Dontrelle Willis and Kevin Millar among others who have accomplished the feat for the Cougars. Shoulders was selected by the Cubs in the 25th round of the 2011 draft out of the State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota.
LHP Andrew McKirahan, 23, had a standout 2013 season, pitching for Mesa-R, Boise and Kane County. Over 21 combined appearances, the Georgetown, TX native went 3-0 with a 2.79 ERA, and struck out 37 batters in 29 innings.
RHP Tayler Scott is attempting to become the first player ever to hail from South Africa (Roodeport) and make the Major Leagues.
Four players on the roster have experience beyond Advanced-A ball. Chen, Kirk and catcher Lance Rymel each spent time in AA with the Tennessee Smokies, and RHP Arodys Vizcaino made his Major League debut with the Atlanta Braves in 2011. He is rehabbing from Tommy John surgery.
The 2014 Daytona Cubs will feature players from seven different states (AR, CA, FL, MA, OH, OK, TX) and six different countries (Can, DR, S. Africa, Taiwan, US, VZ).
The youngest player on the tentative Opening Day roster is Almora (19) who was born April 16th, 1994, and the oldest is Cates (24) who was born on December 17, 1989.
The tallest player is RHP Starling Peralta at 6'4", and the shortest player is OF Oliver Zapata at 5'9".
Villone joins Daytona after spending a season each in Peoria-A and Kane County. The pitching coach replaces Storm Davis who will be in Tennessee with former Daytona Manager Buddy Bailey and former Daytona Hitting Coach Desi Wilson.
Daytona will play its annual exhibition game against Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University at Radiology Associates Field at Jackie Robinson Ballpark on Wednesday, April 2nd, with first pitch scheduled for 6:05 p.m. The seven-inning game will be a "Thirsty-Wednesday" featuring $1 small sodas and draft beers. The Cubs will open the Regular Season on Thursday, April 3rd at Space Coast Stadium against the Brevard County Manatees, and the 2014 Home Opener is scheduled for Friday, April 4th against the Manatees at 7:05 p.m. presented by the Daytona Auto Mall. Gates open at 5:30 p.m. and the night will feature a pregame concert and a postgame fireworks extravaganza.
Daytona Cubs 2014 Tentative Opening Day Roster
Manager - Dave Keller
Hitting Coach - Mariano Duncan
Pitching Coach - Ron Villone
Trainer - Pete Fagan
Strength & Conditioning Coach - Jason Morriss