Baby Cakes unveil preliminary 2019 roster

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New Orleans Baby Cakes

The New Orleans Baby Cakes, in conjunction with the Miami Marlins, have released their preliminary roster for the 2019 season. The projected Opening Day roster includes three prospects ranked among the top six in the Marlins organization by MLB Pipeline, and seven players among the top 30.

The pitching staff is headed by returning Pacific Coast League All-Star Zac Gallen, who finished second among the league’s qualifiers last year with a 3.65 ERA and also ranked second in the league with 136 strikeouts. The system’s fourth-rated prospect, Nick Neidert, is set to see his first Triple-A action after being named the Marlins’ Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2018 by going 12-7 with a 3.26 ERA in 26 starts with Double-A Jacksonville. Jeff Brigham was named the New Orleans team MVP last season en route to making his major league debut, having gone 10-3 with a 2.36 ERA at three stops in the Marlins system. Elieser Hernandez spent all of 2018 in Miami after making the jump from Low-A as a Rule 5 draft selection, and brings both starting and relieving experience to the Baby Cakes staff, as do returning right-handers Ben Meyer and Joe Gunkel. A veteran of six big league campaigns, Hector Noesi returns stateside after winning 46 games in Korea over the last three years. The bullpen includes R.J. Alvarez, who was named the PCL’s top relief pitcher last season after pacing the circuit with 24 saves for Round Rock. Left-handers Jarlin Garcia, Mike Kickham and Jose Quijada return to New Orleans to join right-handers Tommy Eveld and Brian Moran.

A deep outfield includes last year’s Marlins Minor League Player of the Year Austin Dean, who spent the bulk of 2018 in New Orleans and ranked fourth in all of the minors by hitting .345 to earn his first major league call-up. Isaac Galloway returns to New Orleans for a fifth season, having already set the franchise’s career stolen base record and also making his MLB debut last year. The organization’s third-ranked prospect, Monte Harrison, fell one home run shy of a 20/20 season with Jacksonville, slugging 19 homers to go with 28 stolen bases. Harold Ramirez, the reigning Eastern League batting champion, and Gabriel Guerrero, who led all Cincinnati minor leaguers in RBI, join the Marlins after signing as free agents.

Second baseman Isan Diaz is rated as Miami’s top infield prospect and returns to New Orleans to hold down the keystone. Yadiel Rivera and Devan Marrero both bring extensive big league experience, while Jon Berti reached the majors last September after eight seasons in the Blue Jays organization.

Bryan Holaday spent all of 2018 as the Marlins’ backup catcher and finished sixth in the National League with 15 caught stealings. Wilkin Castillo enters his 16th season as a professional after catching in the Yankees system the last two years.

The Baby Cakes open the season on Thursday at 7 p.m. against the Round Rock Express, Triple-A affiliate of the Houston Astros. The first 1,000 fans will receive a replica ‘Cakes jersey courtesy of Silver Slipper Casino, and a fireworks show will follow the final out. Tickets can be purchased online, at the stadium box office, or by calling the ‘Cakes at (504) 734-5155.

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