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Minor League Opening Night

Four of Houston's minor league affiliates were scheduled to open their seasons tonight, a year after five of six affiliates reached their league playoffs, and one--the Corpus Christi Hooks--took home their league championship.

Rosters for all four teams had been announced on Monday, but if you didn't catch it, I thought it might be good to get them onsite.

Round Rock opens up against Iowa, and Fernando Nieve will get the Opening night starting assignment. I don't make a habit of studying the AAA competition, but is any PCL team likely to have a better front three than Nieve-Albers-Gutierrez?

Round Rock won the PCL American South divsion in 2006, and went on to play in the PCL Championship Series before bowing out. The Express starting pitching and its outfield (plus Brooks Conrad) must make them favorites to repeat at least the division championship, seems to me, unless Houston decimates the Express roster through frequent callups (which is a distinct possibility).

Round Rock Express Roster
LHP Philip Barzilla
LHP Mark McLemore
RHP Matt Albers
RHP Fernando Nieve
RHP Juan Gutierrez
RHP Chad Reineke
RHP Chance Douglass
RHP Stephen Randolph
RHP Paul Estrada
RHP Miguel Asencio
RHP Jose Rodriguez
RHP Jared Gothreaux
Eric Munson
Danny Ardoin
Mark Saccomanno
Brooks Conrad
Danny Klassen
Cody Ransom
Eric Bruntlett
Jesse Garcia
Josh Anderson
Hunter Pence
Mike Rodriguez
Barry Wesson

Corpus Christi was set to reprise their 2006 Texas League championship series victory over the Wichita Wranglers by opening at Wichita, but it turns out the games was snowed out. Troy Patton would have started for CC against Wichita's Luke Hochevar (whom they rocked last September, by the way), and I'm sure he'll do so if they get it in tomorrow.

Patton and Barthmaier will anchor a rotation that should be very good for Corpus, but the outfield is strictly retread, and though they may put up decent onbase numbers, no infielder will slug very much, aside from perhaps Drew Sutton.

Corpus Christi Hooks Roster
Jimmy Barthmaier, RHP
Evan Englebrook, RHP
Tip Fairchild, RHP
Ronnie Martinez, RHP
German Melendez, RHP
Josh Miller, RHP
Josh Muecke, LHP
Troy Patton, LHP,
Enyelbert Soto, LHP,
Robert Stiehl, RHP
Ryan Thompson,
Jeff Wigdahl, LHP
Kevin Davidson
Lou Santangelo.
Jonny Ash
Osvaldo Fernando
Edwin Maysonet
Todd Self
Neil Sellers
Drew Sutton
Francisco Caraballo
Tim Raines Jr.
Ray Sadler
Noochie Varner.

The Salem Avalanche won the Carolina League Southern division second half title last year, and they look to be pretty interesting this year as they try for a followup. My personal opinion is that JR Towles should be playing at Corpus instead of Kevin Davidson, but Towles helps make this an intriguing team. We're looking for a bounceback from Josh Flores, continued improvement from Iorg and some kind of statement as to whether last year's excellent campaign was a fluke from Ole Sheldon.

This, while we look to see whether or not Bogusevic finally sinks without a trace, and whether Salamida can be anywhere near as good as he was at Tri-City in '06 in the Carolina League this year.

The Avalanche have already thrown their first pitch of the 2007 season as I write. The pitch belonged to Raymar Diaz, and the Avs are hosting the Frederick Keys at Salem Memorial Baseball Stadium like, right now.

Salem Avalanche Roster
Chris Blazek, LHP
Brian Bogusevic, LHP
Ryan Owens, LHP
Chris Salamida, LHP
Nick Cavanagh, RHP
Raymar Diaz, RHP
Samuel Gervacio, RHP
Brad James, RHP
Ryan McKeller, RHP
Sergio Perez, RHP
Rory Shortell, RHP
Sean Walker, RHP
Jose Lopez
J.R. Towles
Billy Hart
Eric King
Thomas Manzella
Mark Ori
Ole Sheldon
Wladamir Sutil
Mitch Einertson
Josh Flores
Eli Iorg
Ryan Reed
Orlando Rosales

Lexington, has also begun their season as Casey Hudspeth threw the first pitch earlier this evening as the Legends host the Delmarva Shorebirds. What's cool here besides the return of Koby Clemens, and the watch on 2006 NYPL MVP Jordan Parraz, is that Legends president Alan Stein has promised to get a pink mohawk if Lexington loses tonight . . .

I say Drayton should make the same guarantee about taking the series from the Cardinals. . . .

Lexington Legends Roster
Douglas Arguello, LHP
Victor Garate, LHP
David Qualben, LHP
Polin Trinidad, LHP
Corey Bass, RHP
Kyle DeYoung, RHP
Bryan Hallberg, RHP
Casey Hudspeth, RHP
Santo Luis, RHP
Cesar Mayora, RHP
Bud Norris, RHP
Chad Wagler, RHP
James Goethals
Ralph Henriquez
Max Sapp
Koby Clemens
Greg Buchanan
Jhon Florentino
Chris Johnson
Eric Taylor
Tim Torres
Andrew Holder
Nicholas Moresi
Jordan Parraz
Cesar A Quintero
James Van Ostrand