Rochester announces roster with 10 on IL, plus other minors notes

After Opening Day across the major leagues Thursday, the minor league season officially gets underway Friday with Triple-A teams starting their 2023 campaigns.

The Nationals’ affiliate at Triple-A Rochester announced its Opening Day roster ahead of this afternoon’s game at newly named Innovative Field.

The Red Wings will start the season with 18 pitchers (14 right-handers and four left-handers), three catchers, 11 infielders and six outfielders. That seems like a lot because 10 of them are starting the season on the injured list.

Right-handers: Cory Abbott, Joan Adon, Anthony Castro, Paolo Espino, Cole Henry, Jake Irvin, Jesus Liranzo, Andrés Machado, Gerson Moreno, Jose Mujica, Wily Peralta, Tommy Romero, Jackson Tetreault and Jordan Weems

Left-handers: Alberto Baldonado, Matt Cronin, Sean Doolittle and Jose A. Ferrer

Catchers: Francisco Arcia, Ivan Murzi and Onix Vega

Infielders: Matt Adams, Jake Alu, Darren Baker, Franklin Barreto, Travis Blankenhorn, Jeter Downs, Lucius Fox, Wilson Garcia, Carter Kieboom, Erick Mejia and Jake Noll

Outfielders: Donovan Casey, Jack Dunn, Stone Garrett, Yadiel Hernandez, Derek Hill and Chad Pinder

(Note: Kieboom was actually listed as an outfielder twice in Rochester’s official release, but we’re assuming that’s a mistake. The Nationals listed him as a third baseman yesterday when announcing he was being placed on the 10-day IL with right shoulder impingement on their own Opening Day roster release.)

Update: The Red Wings just corrected the Kieboom mistake. He is an infielder.

Castro, Henry, Tetreault, Doolittle, Alu, Mejia, Noll, Casey, Hill and Kieboom are all on the injured list and not with the team while rehabbing at the Nationals’ facility in West Palm Beach.

Abbott, Adon, Cronin, Alu and Downs are all on the Nats’ 40-man roster.

Murzi is on the developmental list.

Baker makes his first jump to Triple-A and joins Downs, Fox and Adams in the infield. The 24-year-old son of former Nationals manager and current Astros manager Dusty Baker hit .290 in 43 games with Double-A Harrisburg last year.

Irvin, the Nats’ No. 20-ranked prospect per MLB Pipeline, also makes his first jump to Triple-A, presumably joining the rotation with Abbott and Adon, who gets the Opening Day nod against the Lehigh Valley IronPigs (Phillies). The 26-year-old was impressive in spring training in allowing just one run with seven strikeouts over five innings of Grapefruit League action.

Espino, Abbott and Peralta will start the Red Wings' next three games.

Matt LeCroy is back for his third season as Red Wings manager. They finished 67-81 in the International League last year.

Opening Day on March 31 is set to be the earliest start in franchise history and marks only the third time since 1997 that Rochester has opened a season in front of its home crowd (the previous being 2018 against Syracuse, ironically the last season the Chiefs were the Nationals’ Triple-A affiliate). The last time the Red Wings opened up at home and secured a victory was 2007, when LeCroy batted fifth and went 1-for-3 with three RBIs in a 12-11 win over the Ottawa Lynx (Phillies).

The seasons for Harrisburg, High-A Wilmington and Single-A Fredericksburg don’t start until next week, so we won’t know their rosters until then.

But Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo confirmed yesterday that top prospects Robert Hassell III and Jackson Rutledge will begin the season at Harrisburg; James Wood will start at Wilmington; and Elijah Green, Brady House and Jarlin Susana will report to Fredericksburg.

Hassell, the Nats’ No. 2 prospect per MLB Pipeline, is still working his way back from a hand injury and won’t be ready for the start of the Senators’ season.

“He’s good. He’s swinging the bat with two hands,” Rizzo said, “and he’ll be probably about two weeks behind the rest of the players reporting.”

While recovering from a back injury that limited him to 45 games last year, House (No. 5) is also adjusting to third base with the FredNats. Drafted as a shortstop with projections predicting a move to the hot corner, the Nationals made that official over the offseason and in spring training.

“Brady's been doing great. Healthy, happy,” Rizzo said. “I think he embraced the shift to third base. I think that he felt all along that he belonged there, and I think that it's been a positive move for him, both offensively and defensively.”

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