STONE CRABS: Introducing the 2016 roster

By Josh Vitale, SunCoast Sports

PORT CHARLOTTE — The Charlotte Stone Crabs open the 2016 season Thursday night in Jupiter against the Palm Beach Cardinals.

Here’s a look at the 25 players who will be on the roster:

PITCHERS

Kyle Bird, LHP
Drafted: Round 35 (2014, TB)
Went 4-0 with a 2.60 ERA for Low-A Bowling Green last year, saving nine games in nine chances.

Damion Carroll, RHP
Drafted: Round 6 (2012, TB)
Used high-90s fastball to pile up 53 strikeouts in 54 1/3 innings out of Hot Rods’ bullpen last season.

Yonny Chirinos, RHP
Drafted: International FA (2012)
Started 13 games last year, going 5-5 with a 1.82 ERA. Will start the season in the bullpen.

Edwin Fierro, RHP
Drafted: International FA (2014)
Appeared in three games for the Stone Crabs, going 1-1 with a 4.15 ERA. Had a 1.85 ERA overall.

Mike Franco, RHP
Drafted: Round 7 (2014, TB)
Was a crucial piece of Charlotte’s postseason bullpen. Finished 2015 with a 1.47 ERA and five saves.

Greg Harris, RHP
Drafted: Round 17 (2013, LAD)
The son of former big-leaguer Greg Harris went 8-9 with a 2.57 ERA in 24 starts between Bowling Green and Charlotte.

Brent Honeywell, RHP
Drafted: Round CB-B (2014, TB)
Went 9-6 with a 3.18 ERA and 129 strikeouts in 130 1/3 innings last year. Rays’ No. 2 prospect.

Jeff Howell, RHP
Drafted: Round 10 (2005, KC)
A 33-year-old former catcher converting to knuckleball pitcher. Compiled a 3.45 ERA in eight games last year.

Brandon Koch, RHP
Drafted: Round 4 (2015, TB)
Flame-throwing right-hander skips a level after saving six games for Hudson Valley. Rays’ No. 17 prospect.

Brian Miller, RHP
Drafted: Round 15 (2014, TB)
Saved seven games in eight tries for Bowling Green while compiling a 1.85 ERA.

Benton Moss, RHP
Drafted: Round 6 (2015, TB)
Will start in the rotation after striking out 66 in 58 1/3 innings for Hudson Valley as a rookie.

Chris Pike, RHP
Drafted: Round 9 (2014, TB)
Also slated to be a starter. Went 10-7 with a 3.13 ERA for Bowling Green in second pro season.

Hunter Wood, RHP
Drafted: Round 29 (2013, TB)
He and his cement-mixer curveball had a 2.79 ERA in seven second-half starts for the Stone Crabs.

POSITION PLAYERS

Nick Ciuffo, C
Drafted: Round 1 (2013, TB)
Hit .258 with one home run and 32 RBIs for Bowling Green last year. Rays’ No. 26 prospect.

Jace Conrad, 1B/2B/3B
Drafted: Round 13 (2014, TB)
Brings power-speed mix after hitting 11 home runs and stealing 32 bases between Bowling Green and Charlotte.

Cade Gotta, OF
Drafted: Round 26 (2014, TB)
Batted .280 with two home runs, 23 RBIs and 15 stolen bases between Husdon Valley and Bowling Green.

Bralin Jackson, OF
Drafted: Round 5 (2012, TB)
Should hit near the top of the order after hitting .274 with three home runs and 41 RBIs for Hot Rods.

Mac James, C/1B
Drafted: Round 6 (2014, TB)
Will back up Ciuffo at catcher and play some first base. Hit .257 with three home runs and 32 RBIs last year.

Grant Kay, 1B/SS
Drafted: Round 27 (2014, TB)
Utilityman known for hitting cycle in first pro game hit .251 with 30 doubles last season.

Thomas Milone, OF
Drafted: Round 3 (2013, TB)
Strong defensive center fielder had eight outfield assists and stole 26 bases for Bowling Green last year.

Alec Sole, 1B/SS
Drafted: Round 18 (2014, TB)
Can play multiple infield positions and hit .299 with 29 RBIs between three levels in 2015.

Cristian Toribio, 3B
Drafted: International FA (2012)
Athletic prospect will hit near the heart of the order after hitting eight home runs for Hot Rods.

Riley Unroe, 2B
Drafted: Round 2 (2013, TB)
Starred in offseason Australian Baseball League, hitting .318 and stealing 14 bases. Rays’ No. 30 prospect.

Andrew Velazquez, SS
Drafted: Round 7 (2012, ARI)
Hit .286 in injury-marred season last year and stole 50 bases in Low-A in 2014. Rays’ No. 29 prospect.

Justin Williams, OF
Drafted: Round 2 (2013, ARI)
Another ABL star. Returns to Charlotte after hitting .342 with 10 home runs for Brisbane. Rays’ No. 14 prospect.

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