Here’s a look at the Lexington Legends, who open the 2011 season Thursday night in Whitaker Bank Ballpark, opposed by the Charleston RiverDogs. A tip of the hat to sources Keith Elkins and the Lexington Legends, the Houston Astros and Baseball America.
Lexington Legends vs. Charleston RiverDogs
What: Four-game series
When: Thursday through Sunday (7:05 Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, 2:05 Sunday afternoon)
Where: Whitaker Bank Ballpark (formerly known as Applebee’s Park)
Major League affiliates: Houston Astros (Legends), New York Yankees (RiverDogs)
Radio: WLXG AM-1300
Probable pitchers (Legends listed first): Thursday, RH Mike Foltynewicz vs. RH Shane Greene; Friday, RH Tanner Bushue vs. LH Nik Turley; Saturday, LH Brad Dydalewicz vs. RH Mikey O’Brien; Sunday, RH Carlos Quevedo vs. LH Kramer Sneed.
Legends Coaching Staff
33 Rodney Linares, manager
Hometown: San Pedro de Macoris, Dominican Republic
The scoop on the skipper: Linares returns for his second season as manager of the Legends, having guided the team to a 71-68 mark last year. He also served as hitting coach in Lexington during the 2005-06 seasons. Before taking over as manager in Lexington, Linares managed the Greeneville Astros of the Appalachian League for three seasons. He also spent six years with the Astros Dominican Republic operations as a scout and hitting coach. Linares joined the Astros coaching staff in 1999, following a three-year minor-league career. Signed by the Detroit Tigers as a non-drafted free agent in 1997, he played in the Tigers system (1997-98) and finished his career in the Houston system (1998-99). His father, Julio, is a frequent visitor to Lexington in his role as Astros Special Assistant to the General Manager for Dominican Scouting and Development.
11 Joel Chimelis, hitting coach
Hometown: Brooklyn, N.Y.
The scoop: Beginning his sixth season in the Astros organization, Chimelis moves to Lexington after serving five seasons with the Tri-City ValleyCats of the New York-Penn League. Before that, he spent the 2004-05 seasons on the coaching staff of the Washington Nationals’ South Atlantic League affiliate, the Savannah Sand Gnats. Chimelis, an infielder, played 13 seasons in the minor leagues and was called up to the majors in 1995 by the San Francisco Giants. He was a 1988 11th-round draft pick of the Oakland Athletics, traded to the Giants in 1991 and spent the 1996 season in the New York Mets organization. He also played in Mexico, Puerto Rico, Taiwan, South Korea and Canada. In 2000, he posted career bests with 30 homers and 98 RBI for Dos Laredos of the Mexican Summer League. Before turning pro, Chimelis played for Howard Junior College in Big Spring, Texas, and the University of Texas. He was named to the 1988 NCAA Central Region team while playing for the Longhorns.
36 Dave Borkowski, pitching coach
The scoop: The former big-league pitcher retired as a player in 2009 after a 14-year career. He comes to Lexington after spending last season as pitching coach for the Greeneville Astros. Borkowski pitched in 181 Major League games (21 starts), as well as 264 contests in the minors. In the big leagues. He went 13-20 with one save and a 5.87 ERA over seven seasons combined with Detroit (199-2001), Baltimore (2004) and Houston (2006-08). The Tigers selected him in the 11th round of the June 1995 draft. In the minors, Borkowski compiled a 79-70 record, six saves and a 3.85 ERA. He spent 2009 with the Diablos Rojos del Mexico of the Mexican League.
20 Ruben Alaniz
Height/weight: 6-4, 195
Hometown: La Grulla, Texas
Acquired: Non-drafted free agent (Aug. 14, 2009)
The scoop: Debuted last season with Greeneville. Made 12 starts, going 6-4 with a 4.21 ERA. His six wins led the team. Struck out 42 and walked 10 over 57.2 innings. Ranked as the 15th-best prospect in the Astros system by Baseball America, which says “it’s understandable how Alaniz slipped through the cracks of the draft. The tall, projectable righty was injured midway through the 2008 high school season, then a swine flu outbreak in the Rio Grande Valley canceled his 2009 high school baseball season. … He touched 95 mph in the Astros workout (scout Rusty) Pendergrass set up, and Houston won his services with a $150,000 bonus.” Alaniz also throws a curveball and changeup.
26 Tanner Bushue
Height/weight: 6-4, 207
Hometown: Kinmundy, Ill.
Acquired: 2nd round, 2009 draft
The scoop: Drafted out of South Central (Ill.) High School, where he also played basketball, Bushue broke into pro ball in 2009 by going 1-0 with a 2.42 ERA over five starts with the Gulf Coast League Astros. He struck out 19 and walked five over 22.1 innings. Last year, with the Legends, Bushue led the team in innings pitched (133.2) but also led the league in homers allowed (18). Last year’s opening day starter. He made 25 starts, compiling a 7-8 record with a 4.11 ERA, 114 strikeouts and 48 walks. He missed two weeks of action due to a toe injury that required post-season surgery. Ranked by Baseball America as the eighth-best prospect in the Astros system, he features a fastball, curve and change.
21 Jason Chowning
Height/weight: 6-4, 186
Acquired: 28th round, 2010 draft
The scoop: A three-year letter-winner and two-time team MVP at Eastern High School in Louisville, Chowning went on to Texarkana College and the University of Oklahoma. Drafted by the Astros last year, he was assigned to Tri-City. Over 16 relief appearances, Chowning went 2-2 with a 3.22 ERA. He struck out 23 and walked nine of 22.1 innings.
32 Jorge DeLeon
Height/weight: 6-0, 182
Hometown: La Cega Azua, Dominican Republic
Acquired: Non-drafted free agent (May 30, 2006)
The scoop: After four lackluster seasons — .213 batting, with 173 strikeouts — as a shortstop, DeLeon was converted to pitcher last year. The results were outstanding as DeLeon went 2-1 with six saves and a 0.64 ERA over 23 relief appearances for Tri-City. Armed with a top-end 98 mph fastball, he struck out 29, walked 12 and earned a spot on Houston’s 40-man roster. Baseball America rates him as the 20th-best prospect in the Astros system. His infielder days included a 43-game tour with the Legends in 2009, when he hit .187 and drove in nine runs.
25 Brad Dydalewicz
Height/weight: 6-1, 195
Hometown: Spicewood, Texas
Acquired: 8th round, 2008 draft
The scoop: Drafted out of Lake Travis High School in Texas, Dydalewicz broke into pro ball with Greeneville in 2008 — four starts, 10 innings, 0-0, 2.70. His first full season came as a key ingredient in a very good Legends rotation in 2009. He made 22 starts, working 110 innings, while going 8-5 with a 3.93 ERA, 78 strikeouts and 51 walks. Last year, however, saw a different pitcher. He began the season with the Lancaster JetHawks of the High-A California League. After 11 starts, with a 1-6 record and 11.39 ERA, plus more walks (34) than strikeouts (32), he was demoted to Lexington. His struggles waned, but did not end. He made 18 appearances, including six starts, going 1-4 with a 6.46 ERA. Manager Rodney Linares says last season was “a hiccup” and that he expects good things from Dydalewicz this season.
25 Mike Foltynewicz
Height/weight: 6-4, 200
Hometown: Minooka, Ill.
Acquired: 1st round (19th overall), 2010 draft
The scoop: From Minooka Community High School in Illinois, Foltynewicz was ticketed for college ball at Texas. The Astros changed those plans, signing him for a $1.305 million bonus. He will be looking for his first professional victory when he gets the start in Thursday’s season opener. He made 12 starts for Greeneville last season, going 0-3 with a 4.03 ERA over 44.2 innings. He struck out 39 and walked 15. Baseball America rates Foltynewicz the fourth-best prospect in the Astros system and says he “has the best raw arm in the system and flashes three plus pitches” — a fastball that has reached 96 mph, changeup and a slurvy breaking ball.
8 Gabriel Garcia
Height/weight: 5-11, 164
Hometown: Charallave, Venezuela
Acquired: Non-drafted free agent (May 18, 2007)
The scoop: Signed a week after his 18th birthday, Garcia sepnt two seasons with the Venezuelan Summer League Astros, then two with the Greeneville Astros. With the VSL Astros, he fashioned back-to-back 3-3 seasons with ERAs of 3.58 and 3.46 and combined totals of 64 strikeouts and 13 walks. At Greeneville, he went 0-4 with a 7.91 ERA, then 0-1 with a 3.86. Twenty-one of his 47 professional appearances have been starts. His four-season strikeout/walk totals: 113 to 22.
34 Murilo Gouvea
Height/weight: 6-2, 208
Hometown: Sao Paulo, Brazil
Acquired: Minor-league free agent (Jan. 14, 2010)
The scoop: Lexington’s first Brazilian player broke into pro ball with the Dominican Summer League White Sox in 2007. He progressed to Bristol in 2008 and part of 2009. Also in 2009, he reached the South Atlantic League with the Kannapolis Intimidators. With the Astros system, he has appeared with Greeneville and Tri-City. His four-season totals include 61 games, 22 starts, a 9-12 record, two saves, a 5.49 ERA, 206 strikeouts and 87 walks.
35 David Martinez
Height/weight: 6-2, 215
Hometown: Cumana, Venezuela
Acquired: Non-drafted free agent (March 3, 2005)
The scoop: Groomed for four seasons with the Venezuelan Summer League Astros, Martinez made his North American debut in 2009 with Greeneville, where he went 1-4 with a save and a 4.50 ERA. Last year, with Tri-City, he improved to 5-2 with a 3.02 ERA and finished on a high note by earning ValleyCats Pitcher of the Month honors in August. His overall minor-league totals include 89 games, 26 starts, a 22-11 record, 3.44 ERA, 261.1 innings, 196 strikeouts and 63 walks.
46 Juan Minaya
Height/weight: 6-4, 193
Hometown: Maimon, Dominican Republic
Acquired: Non-drafted free agent (Sept. 3, 2008)
The scoop: Minaya returns to the Legends’ starting rotation after going 4-12 with a 4.79 ERA over 26 starts and 127.2 innings last season. He made his pro debut in 2009 with the Gulf Coast League Astros. There, he worked 52.2 innings over 12 starts, compiling a 3-3 record, 4.27 ERA, 30 strikeouts and 18 walks. His strikeout and walk totals ballooned with the Legends — 96 whiffs and 73 passes. Minaya will need to cut down on the free passes this time around.
27 Carlos Quevedo
Height/weight: 6-2, 239
Hometown: Valencia, Venezuela
Acquired: Non-drafted free agent (July 3, 2006)
The scoop: Quevedo earned Pitcher of the Month for Tri-City last July, during a season that he finished 7-3 with a 3.06 ERA. That came over 15 starts and 85.1 innings, with 55 strikeouts to eight walks. He broke into pro ball in 2007, his first of two seasons with the Venezuelan Summer League Astros. He went 4-0 with a 2.32 ERA in his debut season, then earned league MVP honors by going 4-2 with a 1.98 ERA in 2008. He came to North America in 2009, the one blip on his radar. With Greeneville, Quevedo struggled to a 2-7 finish with a 5.60 ERA. His four-year totals include 188 strikeouts to 43 walks over 53 games (51 starts) and 252.2 innings.
44 Alexander Sogard
Height/weight: 6-3, 222
Hometown: Austin, Texas
Acquired: 26th round, 2010 draft
The scoop: Drafted out of North Carolina State University, Sogard made 22 appearances for the Tri-City ValleyCats last season, including three starts. He totaled 41 innings, going 1-2 with a 3.51 ERA. He finished with 36 strikeouts to 12 walks. At N.C. State, he came on late in the 2010 season after early struggles while recovering from shoulder surgery. He finished with a 2-2 record and 5.26 ERA over 15 games, including 11 starts. His last four games, including three starts, saw him compile a 2-0 mark with a 3.12 ERA. Began his collegiate career at Oregon State.
31 Brian Streilein
Height/weight: 6-4, 211
Hometown: Point Pleasant, N.J.
Acquired: 37th round, 2010 draft
The scoop: Streilein made his pro debut last season by making 20 relief appearances with Greeneville, going 2-1 with a 5.06 ERA. He pitched 32 innings, notching 35 strikeouts to eight walks. He also worked a scoreless inning for Tri-City, with a walk and a strikeout. Earlier in the year, he was the ace of the staff with Villanova University, going 6-3 with a 4.20 ERA over 13 starts and 90 innings. Over four seasons, he won 20 games and struck out 224 over 59 games and 289.2 innings. He ranks second in school history in career strikeouts, is tied for third in victories and fourth in innings pitched.
10 Roberto Pena
Height/weight: 6-0, 210
Hometown: Caguas, Puerto Rico
Acquired: 7th round, 2010 draft
The scoop: Baseball America rates him as the best defensive player in the Astros’ 2010 draft class, noting he “shows flashes of plus-plus arm strength and threw out 44 percent of basestealers in his pro debut. He’s also intelligent and bilingual, and he has a feel for game-calling.” His father, Bert, is a former major leaguer. Roberto played four games for the Legends last season, in addition to 23 games with the Gulf Coast League Astros and a dozen games with Greeneville. Overall, he hit .227 over 39 games, driving in 17 runs.
19 Chris Wallace
Height/weight: 6-0, 212
Hometown: Cypress, Texas
Acquired: 16th round, 2010 draft
The scoop: Hit a team-leading 10 home runs last year to go along with a .388 on-base percentage and .486 slugging as a senior at the University of Houston. The Astros then started him off in Greeneville, where he hit .310 with eight homers and 32 RBI over 47 games. He also showed good speed with three stolen bases and three triples. He was the team’s Offensive Player of the Month for July and was named an Appalachian League All-Star. He also got in 20 games with Tri-City, batting .250 with two homers and eight RBI.
12 Tyler Burnett
Height/weight: 6-0, 205
Hometown: Murfreesboro, Tenn.
Acquired: 17th round, 2010 draft
The scoop: Also a quarterback and punter in high school, Burnett went on to his hometown university, Middle Tennessee State. As a senior third baseman last year, he earned all-Sun Belt Conference honors while batting .351 with 12 homers, 46 RBI and 56 runs. The Astros assigned him to Tri-City, where he hit .250 with six homers, 31 RBI and 39 runs over 71 games. He stole six bases and had 45 walks versus 56 strikeouts. He was named a New York-Penn League all-star.
2 Delino DeShields Jr.
Height/weight: 5-9, 203
Hometown: Ocala, Fla.
Acquired: 1st round (eighth overall), 2010 draft
The scoop: The No. 2 prospect in the Astros system, according to Baseball America, which also pegged him as the top 12-year-old prospect in 2005. Really. His father, Delino Sr., also was a first-round draft pick (12th overall in 1987) and played 13 seasons in the major leagues, stealing 463 bases. Delino Jr., who signed for an Astros draft-record $2.125 million out of Woodward Academy, could see action in center field or at second base. He debuted last season with two games in the Gulf Coast League and 16 with Greeneville, combining to hit .289 with eight RBI, 11 runs, six doubles, a triple and five stolen bases in six attempts. Baseball America also rates him as Houston’s fastes runner, best athlete and best pure hitter in the 2010 draft and writes: “He has quick hands, lets the ball travel deep and doesn’t get out on his front foot. He has shown the ability to catch up to premium fastballs with excellent bat speed.” Also was recruited for football by Georgia and Ole Miss.
24 Enrique “Kike” Hernandez
Height/weight: 5-11, 170
Hometown: Toa Baja, Puerto Rico
Acquired: 6th round, 2009 draft
The scoop: Drafted out of the American Military Academy school in Puerto Rico, Hernandez made his pro debut in 2009 with the Gulf Coast League Astros. Over 53 games, he went 61-for-207 (.295), knocking a homer, three triples and 12 doubles. He drove in 27 runs, scored 35 and stole eight bases. Last year at Tri-City, he was the team’s Offensive Player of the Month for August. Overall, he hit .280 with three homers, 33 RBI, 31 runs and three stolen bases over 60 games.
7 Mike Kvasnicka
Height/weight: 6-2, 208
Hometown: Lakeville, Minn.
Acquired: 1st round supplemental (33rd overall), 2010 draft
The scoop: What’s not to love about a switch-hitting third baseman who can also play outfield and catch, and has pop in his bat? Like his father Jay, Kvasnicka played collegiate ball at Minnesota. (Dad was an eighth-round pick of the Twins in 1988 and advanced to Triple-A ball.) Mike was a three-year starter for the Gophers, a two-time all-Big Ten outfielder and led the conference in doubles as a junior. Signed for $936,000, he reported to Tri-City last summer and hit .234 with five homers, 36 RBI and 31 runs over 68 games. He is rated by Baseball America as the 14th-best prospect in the Astros system.
14 Jhonny Medrano
Height/weight: 6-1, 223
Hometown: Tucupita, Venezuela
Acquired: Non-drafted free agent (Feb. 21, 2005)
The scoop: This will be Medrano’s seventh season in the organization. He spent three years with the Venezuelan Summer League Astros, then missed all of 2008 due to injury. He came to North America in 2009, hitting .213 with a homer and 23 RBI over 47 games with Tri-City. He bumped that up considerably last year at Greeneville, going .295 with seven homers and 24 RBI. His overall minor-league totals include a .266 average, 271 games, 143 RBI, 13 homers, 142 runs and 49 stolen bases. Has played third base in about half of his 265 games, but has also played first, shortstop, left field and right.
3 Jiovanni Mier
Height/weight: 6-2, 180
Hometown: Las Vegas
Acquired: 1st round (21st overall), 2009 draft
The scoop: The smooth shortstop returns for a second season in Lexington. Still highly rated (No. 5 in the Astros system) by Baseball America, which writes: “The first prep shortstop drafted in 2009, Mier signed for $1.358 million, then ranked as the top position prospect in the Rookie-level Appalachian League after hitting .276/.380/.485 (average, on-base percentage, slugging with Greeneville). His first full pro season was rougher, as he was hitting .199 as late as June 17. He grinded his way through the season, however, batting .260 in the second half and ranking sixth in the low Class A South Atlantic League with 63 walks.”
Height/weight: 6-2, 220
Hometown: Belleview, Fla.
Acquired: 3rd round, 2010 draft
The scoop: Drafted out of high school in Griffin, Ga., where he was a teammate of 2008 overall No. 1 pick Tim Beckham. Also played offensive and defensive end in football. Rated by Baseball America as the 13th-best prospect in the Astros system and with the “best raw power” in the system. Can play first base or left field. After hitting .218 with a homer and 20 RBI over 40 games with the Gulf Coast League Astros in 2008, showed spark last year. Had 57 games with Greeneville, hitting .265 with 12 homers and 39 RBI. Greeneville’s Offensive Player of the Month for August. Also played four games with Tri-City, going 4-for-13 (.308), including a homer, triple and double.
9 Ben Orloff
Height/weight: 5-11, 171
Hometown: Simi Valley, Calif.
Acquired: 9th round, 2009 draft
The scoop: A Lowe’s Senior CLASS All-Senior All-America first-teamer (based on excellence in the classroom, character, community and competition) with Cal-Irvine. The all-American shortstop won the 2009 Brooks Wallace Award. Was drafted by the Colorado Rockies in 2008, but opted to return for his senior season and earn his degree in criminology. Led the Anteaters to a No. 1 ranking and their first Big West Conference championship. Finished as the school’s all-time leader in multiple categories, including hits (281) and runs (178). Also stole 61 bases, second in school history. Split the summer of 2009 between Greeneville (11 games) and Tri-City (28 games), hitting below .200 with both clubs. Turned that around last year at Tri-City, where he was an all-star and team MVP, winning both a team Defensive Player of the Month (July) and Offensive Player of the Month (August) award. Finished with a .307 average, 16 RBI and 52 runs scored over 63 games, with 23 stolen bases.
30 Daniel Adamson
Height/weight: 5-11, 215
Hometown: Spring, Ala.
Acquired: 20th round, 2010 draft
The scoop: A first-team all-Ohio Valley Conference pick last year for Jacksonville State, where he batted .349 with 13 homers and 53 RBI in helping the Gamecocks with the OVC Tournament championship and earn a berth in the NCAA tournament. Did not commit an error all season, nor in his final 244 chances (spanning two seasons). With Tri-City last season, he went 66-for-252 (.262) with nine homers, 11 doubles, four triples, 35 RBI and 33 runs over 69 games. He also stole 11 bases.
13 Adam Bailey
Height/weight: 6-1, 192
Hometown: Monument, Colo.
Acquired: 23rd round, 2010 draft
The scoop: A 38th round draft pick in 2009, Bailey opted to play his senior season at the University of Nebraska. He earned all-Big 12 honors, batting .368 with 18 homers, 69 RBI and 57 runs over 54 games. For two seasons with the Cornhuskers, hit batted .348 with 30 homers and 199 RBI over 104 games. The Astros assigned him to Tri-City last season, where he went 55-for-234 (.235) over 66 games. Included were four homers, a triple and 15 doubles. He drove in 33 runs, scored 20 and stole three bases.
15 Bryce Lane
Height/weight: 6-0, 180
Hometown: Phenix City, Ala.
Acquired: 41st round, 2010 draft
The scoop: A Junior College All-American for Gulf Coast Community College, Lane had committed to continuing his career at Auburn until the Astros came along. Lane set Gulf Coast school records with 26 homers and 90 RBI his sophomore season. He then played for three Astros affiliates last summer — Gulf Coast League Astros (.333 over eight games), Greeneville (.202 over 37 games) and Lancaster (.356 over 15 games). Overall, he batted .268 with a homer, 20 RBI, 17 runs and four stolen bases.