(Bradenton, FL) The Bradenton Marauders announced the team’s roster for the 2012 season Tuesday. Jameson Taillon and Gerrit Cole, the Pittsburgh Pirates 2010 and 2011 first round picks, will open the season as members of the Marauders starting rotation. Taillon struck out 97 batters in 92.2 innings pitched for single A West Virginia last season. Cole made five starts in the Arizona Fall League after signing in August, going 2-0 with a 3.00 ERA.
The opening day roster will feature eight right-handed pitchers and four left-handers. The lefties are Colton Cain, Porfirio Lopez, Eliecer Navarro and Jhonathan Ramos. Lopez, Navarro and Ramos all pitched for the Marauders in 2011. Cain is rated the 13th best prospect in the Pirates system by Baseball America. Right-handed pitchers Zach Foster, Quinton Miller and Tyler Waldron also return from last season. Hunter Strickland, who pitched in Bradenton in 2010, returns after a one-year hiatus due to injury. Casey Sadler and Jason Townsend round out the pitching staff.
At catcher, Carlos Paulino is back for a second season in Bradenton. Paulino hit .299 last year in 82 games. He is joined by Rule 5 draft pick Francisco Diaz, who comes over from the Phillies organization.
Benji Gonzalez returns for a second season in the Bradenton infield. He batted .222 with 19 stolen bases for the Marauders in 2011. He is joined by Alex Dickerson, who hit .313 at State College of Florida in Bradenton after being drafted in the third round out of Indiana last June along with Justin Howard, Drew Maggi, Gift Ngoepe, Andy Vasquez and Stefan Welch. Maggi led all Pirates minor leaguers with 32 steals in 2011 at West Virginia. Vasquez led the South Atlantic League in triples with 13. Welch, acquired in the offseason as a minor league free agent, hit 16 home runs for the St. Lucie Mets last year and is playing in the Florida State League for a fourth straight season.
Evan Chambers will play center field for the Marauders again in 2012. Chambers hit 11 home runs and stole 20 bases in 125 games for Bradenton last year. He is joined by two of West Virginia’s 2011 starters, Daniel Grovatt and Mel Rojas Jr. Grovatt hit 30 doubles last season for the Power. Rojas is the son of former major league pitcher Mel Rojas. Bradenton native Wes Freeman joins the Marauders after splitting 2011 between State College and West Virginia.
The Marauders open their season at home against the St. Lucie Mets on Thursday night at 6:30 p.m. The game will be broadcast online at www.BradentonMarauders.com beginning at 6:15 p.m. with Nathan March handling the play-by-play.