Here’s Your 2015 Blue Rocks
By …. Tim Sullivan
There is nothing better than the beginning of Baseball Season and recently our local team has been forgotten. The Wilmington Blue Rocks have compiled a record of 6-7 going into tonight’s game. Dwindling ticket sales and lack of playoff appearances have contributed to the recent decline in folks being interested in this team. We forget that their parent club, The Kansas City Royals appeared in the World Series last year. Some of the current players on that Roster also shared time in Wilmington playing for the Blue Rocks. Let’s get familiar with this 2015 team which I believe is loaded with talent. So here they are and please go out to watch these kids play, they give the fans everything they have every night. Perhaps you will be seeing some of these kids play in the Major League Level some day and you can say you saw them develop.
The Blue Rocks pitching staff contains one of the Royals’ top-30 prospects, Eric Skoglund. Skoglund, a lefty, was a third-round draft pick in 2014 out of Central Florida. Last year, he pitched in nine games (eight starts) for Rookie-Level Idaho Falls where he struck out 25 in 23 innings pitched. Joining the pitching staff in Wilmington for the first time will be a slew of southpaws, including Estarlin Cordero, Nick Green, Cody Reed, Luis Rico, and Eric Stout. Stout was drafted in 2014 and made his professional debut with Idaho Falls. He went 5-2 with a 3.58 ERA out of the bullpen. Green was a tenth-round draft pick out of the University of Utah. He pitched to a 3.52 ERA in 14 games for Idaho Falls. Reed and Rico will most-likely find their way into Wilmington’s starting rotation. They both spent all of 2014 with Lexington making 35 starts between them. Anchoring the bullpen will most-likely be Cordero who spent all of last season with Rookie-Level Burlington.
The Blue Rocks roster will feature three catchers, including two returners in Cam Gallagher and Zane Evans. Gallagher enters the season as the No. 28 prospect in the Royals’ organization, via Baseball America. He was a Carolina League All-Star in 2014, throwing out 40 percent of all base runners attempting to steal. Evans was impressive offensively, collecting 36 RBIs.
In the infield, Jack Lopez, Kenny Diekroeger, Frank Schwindel, and Ramon Torres return for another stint in Delaware. Lopez will enter his third season in Wilmington, moving from shortstop to second base last year. Diekroeger started 2014 in Wilmington before finishing the season at Low-A where he batted .265. Schwindel was a late addition to the Rocks last season, racking up 14 hits in 16 games in Advanced-A. Torres finished the season in Wilmington after hitting .304 at Low-A. Joining them in the infield will be Robert Pehl and Mauricio Ramos. Ramos has been impressing in the minors, batting over .300 for both Burlington and Idaho Falls in 2013 and .279 with 54 RBIs last season with Lexington. Pehl, an 11th rounder last season, opened eyes with his professional debut, batting .332 with 41 RBIs in 61 games for Rookie-Level Idaho Falls.
The outfield will be anchored in center by the returning Bubba Starling, the No. 18 prospect in Kansas City’s system according to Baseball America. Starling struggled at the plate last year–batting just .218–but manned a flawless centerfield and was first in the Carolina League in games played (132). Daniel Rockett also returns to the Riverfront after collecting 72 hits last year. Dominique Taylor and Logan Moon will be joining them. Taylor has been exceeding expectations as a 15th-round draft pick. He batted .322 in his professional debut with Idaho Falls in 2013, and then hit .300 at Lexington last season. Moon, a sixth-round draft pick in 2014, tore up Appalachian League pitching in his pro debut. He batted .332, tallying 75 hits in just 59 games.
So this is your team for the Season. I’m sure they will send some of these prospects up to the next level and we will meet some new kids. Either way, they are living their dream of becoming a major league ball player. They sacrifice their time and energy on becoming an elite player. Not all of them will get to live their dream, but it’s better than working any nine to five job, isn’t it? Go to the park and support these kids, they deserve the best we can give them.