The Albuquerque Isotopes unveiled their preliminary opening day roster Sunday, with 24 of 25 spots filled.
To say that the roster is rather familiar might be an understatement. Six of the 12 position players and eight of the 12 pitchers spent part of all of last season in an Isotopes uniform. The top returnees, from a prospect standpoint, include center fielder Raimel Tapia, right-hander Jeff Hoffman and first baseman/outfielder Jordan Patterson, all of whom also debuted with the Rockies last season.
Other old faces will include right-handers Matt Carasiti, Shane Carle, Matt Flemer and Nelson Gonzalez, left-handers Ryan Carpenter, Sam Moll and Harrison Musgrave, infielders Pat Valaika and Rafael Ynoa and outfielders Noel Cuevas and Mike Tauchman. Tauchman brings a 25-game hitting streak into this season, which kicks off Thursday against Salt Lake.
New faces in Albuquerque will include right-handers Zach Jemiola, Johendi Jiminian and C.C. Lee, plus lefty Jerry Vasto. All but Lee, who pitched in Japan last season, have been promoted from Double-A Hartford.
Both catchers, Anthony Bemboom and Ryan Hanigan, are new to the organization, as are infielders Daniel Castro and Derrik Gibson and outfielder Chris Denorfia. Outfielder Rosell Herrera was promoted from the Yard Goats.
At this point, Hoffman, Jemiola and Musgrave appear to be locks to start for the Isotopes. Carle, Carpenter and Flemer all went back and forth between starting and relieving last season. Carasiti and Vasto figure to be in line to pick up saves, with Gonzalez, Jiminian, Lee and Moll working the middle innings.
Projecting a starting lineup is tricky at best, as the Rockies prefer to have their Triple-A players appear at as many positions as possible. Bemboom, a left-handed hitter, and Hanigan, a righty, figure to split time at catcher. Patterson should see the bulk of the time at first base, with the occasional corner outfield start mixed in here and there.
Castro, Gibson, Valaika and Ynoa should alternate between second base, third base and shortstop. Valaika, the only member of that group on the 40-man roster, figures to play almost every game somewhere.
Tapia should be entrenched in center and batting atop the lineup. The other four outfielders figure to rotate between the corners, with a few appearances as designated hitters against American League opponents, such as in the opening series against the Bees.