Kinston, N.C. (DEWDS) - WOOD DUCKS ANNOUNCE 2019 ROSTER
Squad includes Seven MLB Pipeline Top-30 Prospects
Today, the Down East Wood Ducks announced their roster for the 2019 season. The team will be led by Manager Corey Ragsdale, who enters his first season in Down East. The roster is highlighted by seven players on MLB Pipeline's Top-30 Prospect List for the Rangers organization, including returners Leody Taveras and Anderson Tejeda. The duo is joined by newcomers Bubba Thompson, Tyler Phillips, Diosbel Arias, A.J. Alexy, and Demarcus Evans.
Tejeda is the fourth ranked prospect in the Rangers organization. Last season with Down East, he was named to the mid-season, and postseason All-Star teams, finishing among Carolina League leaders in runs (2nd, 76), total bases (2nd, 205), RBI (3rd, 74) and home runs (T-5th, 19). His RBI total also led all minor leaguers in the organization. This year Tejeda has incorporated switch hitting into his game, after exclusively batting from the left side of the plate a season ago.
Taveras, also a switch hitter, returns to Down East where he represented the Wood Ducks in the Carolina League All-Star game a season ago. He also ranked among league leaders in games played (T-2nd, 132), hits (T-4th, 128), triples (T-4th, 7), and stolen bases (T-9th, 19). Taveras also represented the World Team in the 2018 Futures Game played at Nationals Park. The 20-year-old outfielder is the sixth ranked prospect in the Rangers organization.
Thompson joins Taveras to make up a very talented Wood Ducks outfield. A first round pick by the Rangers in the 2017 MLB Draft, Thompson played last season at Single-A Hickory, where he slugged .446 and stole 32 bases in 84 games played. Thomson is the fifth ranked prospect in the Rangers organization, and was recruited to play both baseball and football out of McGill-Toolen High School (AL), where he was named the Alabama Sports Writers Association Player of the Year, and First Team All-State.
Arias will be making the jump from Short-Season Spokane, after leading the Northwest League with a .366 batting average in 2018. Arias also ranked among league leaders in OBP (1st, .451), OPS (2nd, .942), RBI (2nd, 44), hits (3rd, 82), and walks (4th, 33). The native of La Habana, Cuba was named to the Northwest League mid-season and post-season All-Star teams, and was recognized as a Rangers organizational All-Star MiLB.com
On the mound the Woodies will be led by Phillips, who last season was honored as the organization's Nolan Ryan Pitcher of the Year, compiling the third highest strikeout-to-walk ratio (7.94) of all minor league pitchers with a least 130 innings of work. The right-hander won a league best 11 games with Single-A Hickory, before closing out the season with one start in Down East, in which he went five innings, giving up just one run on two hits, striking out three, and earning the victory. Phillips was a South Atlantic League All-Star, and ranked among league leaders in ERA (3rd, 2.67), WHIP (4th, 1.02), innings (6th, 128.0), and strikeouts (7th, 124).
Another presence on the mound for Down East will be another righty, in Alexy. Last season with Single-A Hickory, he led the organization in strikeouts, with 138, which was also the fourth highest total in the South Atlantic League. The 20-year-old was also named a Texas Organizational All-Star by MLB.com, posting a strikeout-per-nine-innings rate of 11.5 while giving up just five home runs in 108 innings of work.
Out of the bullpen the team will be led by Evans, the Rangers Reliever of the Year in 2018. The Petal, MS native struck out 103 batters in 56 innings of work, the highest SO/9 (16.55) of any minor league pitcher in 2018 (min. 50 IP). Evans also limited opponents to an average of just .149, good for second best in the South Atlantic League, and tenth lowest in all of Minor League Baseball, helping him to post-season All-Star recognition.
In addition to having the Ranger's minor league Pitcher of the Year in Phillips, and Reliever of the Year in Evans, they also have the organization's Defender of the Year in infielder Ryan Dorow.
The Wood Ducks open the season at Grainger Stadium on Thursday, April 4, against the Carolina Mudcats. For tickets and more information visit woodducksbaseball.com or call (252) 686-5172.