Hudson Valley Renegades season preview: New faces hope to repeat 2012 NY-Penn League title
The Hudson Valley Renegades begin their 20th season Monday night, hoping to build on the momentum of a 2012 New York-Penn League championship.
The Renegades, the short-season Class A affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays, are bringing a new look to Dutchess Stadium for 2013. The team will debut new colors: light blue, silver and nlack, new uniforms and a new Rascal, the team's enduring mascot.
Like every new season, the Renegades roster will be filled with new faces as players move up through the Rays' farm system.
For 2013, the team will also have a new manager, as Mike Johns returns to the Hudson Valley after three years managing the Princeton Rays, Tampa Bay's rookie league affiliate in West Virginia. Johns, who will begin his sixth season in the Rays organization, served as the Renegades' hitting coach from 2008-09 before his promotions to manager in Princeton and now the Hudson Valley.
Johns will have plenty of familiar faces in the dugout in 2013, as eight everyday players from his 2012 Princeton Rays team make the move with him to the Renegades.
Among the players from Princeton are second baseman Julian Morillo, 21, who hit .303 in 38 games in 2012. Catchers Oscar Hernandez, 19, and Omar Narvaez, 21, also had productive seasons with the bat in Princeton in 2012. Hernandez hit five home runs and drove in 24 runs in 49 games in Princeton. Narvaez hit .305 in 43 games for the rookie class affiliate.
Two position players for the Renegades will be players that were selected by Tampa Bay in the 2013 MLB Draft earlier this month. Fifth-round pick second baseman Johnny Field, from the University of Arizona, is coming off a strong season for the Wildcats, in which he hit .347 with five home runs and 39 RBIs in 55 games. He also sported a .424 on-base percentage and stole 30 bases in just 37 attempts.
Shortstop Patrick Blair, the team's 12th-round pick out of Wake Forest, hit .283 for the Demon Deacons with three homers and 38 RBIs. He had a .459 on-base percentage and stole 19 bases in 21 attempts.
The Renegades' 2013 squad will be filled with plenty of pitchers making their professional debuts. Eight pitchers recently drafted by Tampa Bay were assigned to the Hudson Valley. Ninth-round pick Austin Pruitt and 10th-round pick Aaron Griffin headline the group that also includes 13th-rounder Ben Griset, 14th-rounder Jaime Schultz, 21st-rounder John Farrell, 22nd-rounder Andrew Hanse, 28th-rounder Derek Loera, and 30th-rounder Colton Reavis.
Pruitt, drafted out of the University of Houston, went 10-5 for the Cougars this season, with a 2.85 ERA and 92 strikeouts in 113 innings.
Aaron Griffin, the younger brother of Oakland Athletics pitcher A.J. Griffin, went 4-5 for Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. He had 72 strikeouts in 88 innings for the Lions.
The only holdover from the Hudson Valley's 2012 championship team is left-handed pitcher Jordan Harrison. Harrison, who was drafted in the 25th round last year, went 0-1 with a 4.00 ERA in four appearances for the Renegades last season.
The Renegades open their season Monday night in Aberdeen, Md., with a three-game series against the Ironbirds. On Thursday, the Renegades continue their road trip in Staten Island against the Yankees, before heading back to Dutchess Stadium on Friday night for their home opener against Staten Island.
Tags: Hudson Valley Renegades