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Missoula Osprey set roster for 2019 season opener

(Editor’s note: Missoula Osprey release)

MISSOULA – The Arizona Diamondbacks and Missoula Osprey announced the first additions to the 2019 Missoula Osprey roster on Sunday and experience is the name of the game. 12 former Osprey highlighted by 1B Francis Martinez, infielder Cesar Garcia, starting pitchers Wilfry Cruz and Edgar Martinez, and relievers Ezquiel De La Cruz and Liu Fuenmayor will be wearing Osprey uniforms when workouts begin on Tuesday at Ogren Park Allegiance Field along the Clark Fork River. Rounding out the returnees will be pitchers Mailon Arroyo, Landon Whitson, Pedro Zorrilla, and Oliver Rosario, catcher Douglas Lanza, and 2018 everyday outfielder David Sanchez. In all, the 12 players have a combined 24 seasons of experience in the Arizona Diamondbacks system at the Arizona Rookie League affiliate or higher levels.

“I can not remember getting as many as 12 players back from the previous season before,” explained Matt Ellis, Osprey Vice President. “We are truly excited to get this talented group of 12 players back to Missoula. When you combine this prospect group with the collegiate players we will get assigned tomorrow, we will have arguably the most experienced team in our history.”

Francis Martinez returns to Missoula two seasons removed from a successful 2017 Osprey season where he hit .271 with 6 homeruns. The big 1B spent last season with the Dbacks affiliate in Hillsboro where he hit 8 homeruns and drove in 33 runs. Still only 21 years old, Martinez will be a middle of the order bat Missoula will be counting on.

Cesar Garcia played a key role as a utility infielder for the Osprey and was productive with a .346 on base percentage and 12 stolen bases. He also had a .736 OPS with 11 doubles, 3 triples, and 2 homeruns. The 21 year old will once again demonstrate his any where any time versatility role who can play second, short, and third.

Wilfry Cruz is currently being tabbed as the probable Opening Day starting pitcher when the season begins on Friday in Great Falls. Cruz is a 21 year old righty who will be in Missoula for his third season. He made a brief appearance in 2017 with 2 relief appearances and a 4.50 ERA. He returned last season and was a member of the starting rotation all season making 14 starts. He was 5-2 with a 5.27 ERA last season and finished the season strong only allowing 7 earned runs in his last 23 innings pitched (2.74 ERA).

Another veteran right hander in the Osprey rotation this season will be Edgar Martinez who will also be entering his 3rd season as an Osprey. Martinez was 5-6 with a 5.94 ERA in 15 starts last season for Missoula. Martinez’ numbers were a little misleading last season as he had a bad run of four starts mid season that pushed his ERA up. He started the season on fire with a 2.00 ERA through 5 starts. In 2017 he had a 4.76 ERA in 7 starts. He will most likely pitch game two of the season on Saturday in Great Falls.

The bullpen returns two exciting arms in Liu Fuenmayor and Ezquiel De La Cruz. Both 20-year old arms spent most of last season in the Arizona Rookie League Dbacks affiliate before being promoted late in the season to Missoula. Both were very successful in both stops. Fuenmayor brought a 1.95 ERA in 14 appearances from the Arizona League to Missoula and didn’t give up a run in his only Osprey appearance. De La Cruz had a 3.10 ERA in 16 appearances for the Arizona League and a 2.45 ERA in 2 appearances for the Osprey.

Overall, De La Cruz struck out an impressive 43 in 32 innings combined last year. Promising young 20 year old outfielder David Sanchez will roam the outfield again for the Osprey in 2019. Last season, Sanchez, hit .259 with 14 doubles, 3 triples, and 2 homeruns in 53 games.

Landon Whitson, a 25th round draft pick from 2018, returns to the bullpen this season. Whitson made 17 appearances, all in relief, and had a 5.23 ERA. He struck out 31 in 32 innings pitched.

Pedro Zorrillo returns after a solid season in 2018 where he bounced between reliever and starter during the season. He made 16 appearances and 6 starts for the Osprey with a solid 3.91 ERA in 46 innings.

Oliver Rosario is an exciting lefty out of the bullpen. He had a great season in the Arizona Rookie League with a 2.08 ERA in 8 appearances before being promoted at the end of the season to Missoula for two appearances that didn’t go to well. One of the youngest players on the team at 19, Rosario has a huge upside and showed last season plenty of talent.

Mailon Arroyo, like Rosario, had great success in the Arizona Rookie League last season but struggled at times after his promotion to Missoula. Arroyo has great strikeout numbers and will look to build off his success last season here with the Osprey. Last season combined at both stops, Arroyo struck out 43 in just under 30 innings.

Catcher Douglas Lanza rejoins the Osprey after limited duty as the backup catcher in both the Arizona League and Missoula last season. Lanza will be one of three catchers on the roster.

The Arizona Diamondbacks and Missoula Osprey have announced the newest members of the 2019 roster to go along with the veteran leadership that was announced on Sunday. With a combination of 2019 draft picks, free agents, and veteran Diamondbacks prospects, the Osprey are hoping these fresh faces will bring a Pioneer League crown home to Missoula. Among the newest talent are 2019 draft picks Denson Hull, Dustin Lacaze, Carson Maxwell, Josh McMinn, and Tyler Poulin. Although some of the newly announced roster are new to the Osprey, they are no strangers to the Diamondbacks’ system, as Axel Andueza, Liover Peguero, Jose Reyes, Luvin Valbuena, and Kevin Watson have all moved up the ladder to the Pioneer League. Free agent
pickups like Tristen Carranza, Kevin Lachance, Nick Marchese, Chris Williams, and Patrick McGuff will only add to a varied and experienced team.

Axel Andueza moves up the ranks after spending the last two seasons in the Dominican Summer League and the Arizona Rookie League. The catcher sports a career batting average of .319 while adding 18 doubles, 4 triples, and 43 RBI in 101 games.

Joining Axel behind the plate is fellow former Arizona Rookie League product Luvin Valbuena. A career .245 hitter, the 19 year old begins his 4th season as a professional, starting off in the Dominican Summer League.

Tristen Carranza will join the Osprey outfield corps, signing as a free agent after completing his senior season at New Mexico State University. In 186 games in four seasons, Tristen hit .327 with 44 home runs, 34 doubles, 182 RBI, and 157 runs. After hitting .371 this season, with 18 homers, and 73 RBI, the California native was named to the All-WAC first team.

2017 D-Backs draft pick, outfielder Kevin Watson, moves up to the Osprey after splitting last season between Hillsboro and the Arizona Rookie League. Combined, he hit .242, improving his average almost 70 points from his rookie year. He add 13 extra base hits and 25 RBI and had an OPS of
.725.

Kevin Lachance, after starting the season in independent baseball in Winnipeg, will join the Osprey as a second baseman. In 13 games this year, he hit .372 after hitting .267 last year at Lake Erie, another independent team. After four seasons at the University of Maryland-Baltimore County, he
was drafted by the Dodgers in 2016, spending one season with Ogden in the Pioneer League before moving on.

Carson Maxwell was drafted by the Diamondbacks out of McNeese State in the 25th round of this year’s draft. This past season, he hit .281 with 10 home runs, 14 doubles, and 46 RBI. The Houston native wrapped up his senior season by garnering All-Southland third team honors and a spot on the conference’s All-Defensive team.

Shortstop Liover Peguero split last season between the Dominican Summer League and the Arizona Rookie League. In 41 games between the two levels, he hit .259 with seven extra-base hits, 21 RBI, 22 runs, and he stole 7 bases. Peguero is considered one of the bright young prospects in the Dbacks system.

Jose Reyes makes the move up to Missoula after spending the last three years in the Dominican Summer League. Last year, he hit .310 with 5 homers, two doubles, nine triples, 32 RBI, and 48 runs. The middle-infielder has impressive speed, nabbing 22 bases in 32 attempts a season ago.

Pitcher Denson Hull was drafted by the Diamondbacks in the 28th round of this year’s draft out of Creighton University. The All-Big East 2nd team member had a 5-4 record with a 5.75 ERA. He had 58 strikeouts in 78 innings in his 19 appearances. 18 of those appearances were starts and he picked up one complete game.

Dustin Lacaze, out of Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, was drafted in the 21st round of this year’s draft. He compiled a record of 4-5 with a 3.87 ERA this past season. In 79 innings, he struck out 81 while only walking 37.

Nick Marchese went undrafted out of the University of North Florida and was signed by the D-Backs after an impressive 7-0 record this season. In 17 appearances and 13 starts, he had a 3.01 ERA, including a complete game shutout.

Josh McMinn, another Arizona draft pick, comes to Missoula after four years at Oral Roberts University. The 27th round choice finished his collegiate career with a 28-15 record and a 3.75 ERA. The righty fanned 92 hitters in 91 innings this past year, on his way to a 7-5 record and selection to the All-Summit League Second Team.

New Jersey native, Tyler Poulin was a 29th round selection by the D-Backs out Quinnipiac College in Connecticut. He finished the 2019 college season with a 7-2 record and a 3.83 ERA in 15 starts. Over two seasons with the Bobcats, Tyler struck out 168 batters in 167.2 innings.

Chris Williams, an undrafted free agent from the University of Central Florida, joins the Osprey after a 6-5 mark in his senior season. His 5.38 strikeout-to-walk ratio was tops in the nation. Overall, in four seasons with the Knights, he went 16-12 with a 3.60 ERA, starting 39 games in 70 total appearances.

Free agent signee, Patrick McGuff, rounds out a large class of pitchers, new to the Pioneer League level. A Twins draft pick of 2016, the Ohio native comes to the Osprey after spending last year and the start of this year with Evansville of the Frontier League. There, he compiled an 8-1 record with a 1.25 ERA. This year, he was 5-0 with a miniscule 1.05 ERA. In 43 innings this season, he struck out 60 while walking just 17. He picked up two complete games, including one shutout, in six starts for the Otters.

These additions will certainly augment the large veteran presence on this year’s edition of the Missoula Osprey. The Diamondbacks and Osprey will be announcing more additions to the roster, including some potential big bats to bring more power to the lineup. The Osprey will take the field for
the first time Tuesday at 4pm for their first workout at Ogren Park Allegiance Field.

The Osprey open the season on Friday, June 14th in Great Falls. After a six game road trip to open the season, the Osprey will celebrate their Home Opener on Friday, June 21st at 7:05pm. Tickets are on sale for the Home Opener and all Osprey home games this season at www.missoulaosprey.com,
the MSO Hub downtown, or by calling (406) 543-3300.

Derek Buerkle

Derek Buerkle

Derek has worked in sports at KPAX-TV in Missoula since 2007. He grew up in Big Timber, Montana, and attended the University of Montana journalism program.
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