The Kane County Cougars opener starts in just a few hours — at 6:30 p.m. today (Thursday, April 6, 2017) against the Clinton LumberKings at Northwestern Medicine Field.
And when the Cougars take the field, they will do so with one of the more interesting and eclectic rosters in their storied history.
The incoming group of 25 players arrived from the D-backs spring training complex in Arizona earlier this week, led by new Cougars manager Butch Hobson, who served as manager of the Boston Red Sox from 1992 to 1994. The former Major Leaguer will be joined in the dugout by pitching coach Rich Sauveur, hitting coach Jose Amado, coach Darrin Garner, athletic trainer Joe Rosauer and strength and conditioning coach Matt Tenney.
The 2017 Cougars pitching staff features many familiar faces with nine players who have spent time in Kane County over the past two seasons including Cody Reed, Sam McWilliams, Emilio Vargas, Tyler Mark, Austin Mason, Ryan Burr, Jeferson Mejia, Jose Martinez and Wei-Chieh Huang.
New to the rotation this season is right-handed pitcher Jon Duplantier. Selected by the D-backs in the third round of the 2016 draft, he enters the season ranked as the organization’s No. 8 prospect by MLB.com and No. 9 by Baseball America.
Some new faces will be behind the plate for the Cougars in Alexis Olmeda and Jose Herrera. Herrera is listed as the D-backs No. 23 prospect by MLB.com. In 36 games with Missoula last season, he batted .277 with 18 RBI and 5 home runs.
Four position players return to Kane County, including Luis Basabe, Ramon Hernandez, Jason Morozowski and Marcus Wilson. Highlighted newcomers include infielder Jasrado Chisholm and outfielder Anfernee Grier.
Chisholm, named the Best Defensive Infielder by Baseball America, is currently listed as the D-backs No. 3 prospect by MLB.com. He posted a .281 batting average with 37 RBI, 9 home runs and 13 stolen bases for Missoula last season. Grier enters the season ranked as the D-backs No. 6 prospect by Baseball America and No. 9 by MLB.com.
Splitting his time last year between Hillsboro and Missoula, Grier posted an overall batting average of .236 with 8 RBI, 9 stolen bases and 10 runs scored. Baseball America rated him as the Fastest Runner, Best Defensive Player and Best Athlete among the D-backs rookie class in 2016.
- 2014 Alabama HS Gatorade Player of the Year Cody Reed enters the season ranked as the D-backs’ No. 15 prospect by MLB.com.
- Infielder Paxton De La Garza, selected in the 33rd round of the 2016 draft out of Angelo State University, was named the 2015 Lone Star Conference Player of the Year.
- Marcus Wilson enters the season as the D-backs Best Strike-Zone Discipline by Baseball America.
Gates Open at 5:30 PM
Gates for the Cougars 2017 Opening Night festivities will open at 5:30 p.m. The first 1,500 fans in attendance will receive an Opening Night cap, courtesy of Northwestern Medicine. Fans can participate in a pre-game autograph session with the opportunity to run the bases following the game (weather permitting). Thirsty Thursday specials, presented by Miller Lite, will also be available with $1 beers, sodas and hot dogs. Tickets can be purchased by calling 630-232-8811 or by visiting kccougars.com<http://www.
About the Kane County Cougars
The Cougars, Class-A Minor League affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks, have been at the forefront of family-friendly entertainment since 1991. In 2015, the franchise became the first Class-A team in Minor League Baseball history to welcome 11 million fans through the gates. A total of 152 former Cougars have reached the Major Leagues including Miguel Cabrera, Nelson Cruz, Josh Beckett, Adrian Gonzalez and Kyle Schwarber.