Legends On Deck

Asheville Tourists Season Preview: The Hitters

Welcome to the the 2015 Asheville Tourists season preview. The season has begun this week and the Tourists are off to a fantastic start winning the first three games against the Rome Braves on the road in Rome, Georgia.

In the first of a two-part series, I’ll introduce the Tourist hitters.

The Asheville Tourists will look to repeat as South Atlantic League champs in 2015.  They’ll have to do it with a new manager however as Fred Ocasio has been promoted and is now the manager of the Modesto Nuts in the California league.  The powerful hitting nucleus of David Dahl, Raimel Tapia, Ryan McMahon and Correll Prime will no longer be terrorizing Sally league pitching, and the arms that came up so big down the stretch and in the playoffs Johendi Jiminian, Kyle Freeland and Antonio Senzatela have moved on as well.  Yes 2014 was a fun year to be a Tourist’s fan.

2015 looks very promising as well led by top hitting prospects, Forrest Wall, Dom Nunez, Kevin Padlo, Drew Weeks and Wes Rogers and a second group of interesting young hitters that could take a large step forward in 2015 such as Robbie PerkinsHenry Garcia, and Yonathan Daza to name a few.

The Tourists new manager is a familiar face to many fans.  Warren Schaeffer played for the Tourists during the 2008 season as a middle infielder, he’s bringing an aggressive style of play to the Tourists as the team has attempted 17 stolen bases in the 1st three games, and has successfully stolen 12 bags, led by Wes Rogers with six, a total of seven players have attempted a stolen base already.

Lets meet the hitters

Forrest Wall, 2B – Wall was taken 35th overall in the 2014 draft from a high school in Florida.  An exciting young prospect, Wall profiles as a contact hitter with a line drive stroke with developing power and electric speed.  He’ll be rocketing up prospect lists in short order

Dom Nunez, C – A sixth round pick in the 2013 draft, Nunez switched from middle infield to full time catching leading into the 2014 season.  Scouts say he has the skills to succeed behind the dish but being so new to the position he’s a little raw defensively.  The bat has a chance to be special, a sweet left-hand swing and line drive approach should lead to some lofty batting averages.

Kevin Padlo, 3B – Padlo was drafted in the fifth round of the 2014 draft out of high school in California.  Padlo is athletic with above average bat speed and he could develop plus power to go with his decent glove at the hot corner.

Drew Weeks, LF – A seventh round pick in the 2014 draft from North Florida,  Weeks hit  .430/.478/.606 as a Junior at North Florida University, he features a line drive stroke and above average speed.  Defensively he should be solid in left field.

Wes Rogers, CF – A fourth round pick in the 2014 draft from Spartanburg Methodist University.  A Greenville South Carolina native, he has a short ride home to and from Asheville.  Rogers is one of the fastest players in the minors, and he’s very efficient at stealing bases 15-16 successful last season in Grand Junction, and is six out of seven out of the gate in the 2015 season.  As you might expect Rogers covers a lot of ground in center field.

Robbie Perkins– One of the top catching prospects in Australia, in 2011 as a junior in high school, Perkins hit .327/.398/.548 with 17 doubles, 10 triples and six home runs, and 15 stolen bases.  His senior season was cut short because of a broken finger. He hasn’t hit yet for the Rockies but at 20 years old there’s plenty of time to figure it out.

Henry Garcia, 1B – Garcia came to the Rockies in 2012 out of the Dominican Republic. He has an aggressive approach, a line drive swing, and developing power.  Defensively he appears to be limited to first base.

Yonathan Daza, RF – Daza is Venezuelan, and after struggling for a couple of seasons his bat came to life in 2014. He features an advanced bat, doubles power and good speed.

Sean Dwyer, 1B/OF – Dwyer was an 11th round draft pick out of Florida Gulf Coast University in 2013. He got off to an excellent start in Short Season Single-A ball in 2014 and was promoted two levels to Modesto which didn’t go as well.  A fast start in Asheville and maybe Dwyer gets another crack at the California League in 2015.

Luis Jean, SS – From the Dominican Republic. A slick fielding middle infielder, Jean has excellent bat control, and good speed.

Omar Carrizales, LF/CF – Carrizales is Venezuelan, excellent speed and he can handle a bat too, limited power, he plays an excellent center field and left field.

Emerson Jimenez –  Jimenez got some time with the Tourists in 2014 which is why I listed him last. An impatient hitter, with pretty good bat control, and good speed.  At 160 lbs Jimenez just needs to fill out a little bit. Defensively he has all the tools to stick as short stop going forward.

There’s a ton of speed on this roster, and a bunch of guys who can handle a bat. I don’t think the 2015 Tourists have as much over the fence power as last season at least on paper, but this offense should still score a ton of runs.

This marks the end of part one.  Stay tuned for part two when I take a look at the pitching.

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