With the 2019 baseball season starting up over the next week, the Down East Wood Ducks released their Opening Day roster Wednesday afternoon.
The Wood Ducks first game of the season is Thursday Apr. 4 at home versus the Carolina Mudcats at 7 p.m.
Two of last year's productive players are back (Leody Taveras and Anderson Tejeda) along with one of the Texas Rangers organization's highest-rated prospects, outfielder Bubba Thompson.
Thompson, from Jacksonville, Fla., was a first-round pick by the Rangers in the 2017 draft and played last season in Hickory with the Crawdads.
He slugged .446 and stole 32 bases in 84 games.
Thompson is still just 20 years old and is the fifth-ranked prospect in the Rangers organization by MLB.com.
Together, the Wood Ducks start with seven of Texas' top 30 prospects on this year's team.
Taveras (No. 6), Tejeda (No. 4), right-handed pitcher Tyler Phillips (No. 14), infielder Diosbel Arias (No. 19), righty A.J. Alexy (No. 20) and righty Demarcus Evans (No. 24).
The team will have just three left-handed pitchers in Sal Mendez, Tyler Thomas and Francisco Villegas.
The three catchers will be Melvin Novoa, Clayton Middleton and Yohel Pozo.
There is a total of 16 pitchers (13 right-handers), the three catchers, six infielders and three outfielders.
All of this talent will be at the disposal of first-year manager Corey Ragsdale.
Pitching coach Steve Mintz is back for a third year, Chase Lambin is the hitting coach and Turtle Thomas is the bench coach.
There are other returning Wood Ducks players in addition to Tejeda and Taveras that include pitchers Kaleb Fontenot, Peter Fairbanks and former Duke hurler Michael Matuella.
A fan favorite outfielder and N.C. native Eric Jenkins from Cerro Gordo is back with the team for another year.
The international flavor is strong once again as the team will have three players from the Dominican Republic, two Cuban-born players, two from Venezuela, and one each from Mexico and Nicaragua.
The Wood Ducks won the Carolina League championship in their first year of existence but then finished last in their division the back half of last season at 24-46.
With a wave of new talent coming in from Hickory, mixing with returning Wood Ducks players, the club hopes for a better 2019.
Jordan Honeycutt can be reached at 252-635-5670 or at firstname.lastname@example.org