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Bisons set initial Opening Day roster

STAFF REPORTS



BUFFALO -- The Buffalo Bisons, Triple-A affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays, today announced their initial roster for their 134th season of professional baseball in Buffalo, NY. Manager Bobby Meacham will have a squad that features 16 returning players and 18 with big league experience when the Herd opens the season, Friday, April 6 in Rochester (6:05 p.m.).
The roster is scheduled to feature six of the Toronto Blue Jays' top 20 prospects, as ranked by MLB.com. The list includes C Danny Jansen (#6), LHP Ryan Borucki (#8), INF Richard Urena (#11), C Reese McGuire (#14), 1B Rowdy Tellez (#15), and RHP Carlos Ramirez (#17). After a six-game roadtrip in Rochester and Pawtucket, the Bisons' Home Opener at Coca-Cola Field is Thursday, April 12 against Indianapolis (2:05 p.m.).

Catchers

Jansen rose through three levels of the Blue Jays' organization in 2017, which included 21 games with the Bisons after stops in Single-A Dunedin and Double-A New Hampshire. He hit a combined .323 in 104 games. He is joined by McGuire, who played in 34 games for the Fisher Cats in 2017, his first full season in the Toronto organization after being acquired in a trade with the Pirates in 2016.

Infielders

Jason Leblebijian returns to the team after being named a Triple-A All-Star in his rookie campaign with the Herd. Tellez also returns for his second season in Buffalo, after leading the Herd with 29 doubles a season ago. Urena is scheduled to start the season on the disabled list, but had 44 extra-base hits with New Hampshire a season ago. Danny Espinosa is an eight-year MLB veteran who joins the Bisons after appearing in 93 games in the big leagues in 2017. The infielder made the postseason in three of his seven years with the Washington Nationals. Jon Berti was fourth in the IL in steals in 2017 with 23 for the Herd. Tim Lopesrounds out the infield after spending all of 2017 in New Hampshire. He is the brother of former Herd infielder, Christian Lopes.

Outfield

2017 team MVP Roemon Fields will be returning to the Herd after leading the International League with 43 steals, 12 more than anyone else in the league. Fields also finished the season fifth in batting with a .291 average in 103 games. He is a part of a group of eight position players that spent time in Buffalo last season. Teoscar Hernandez played in 26 games for the Herd after being acquired in a trade with the Houston Astros, but had 14 extra base hits and 22 RBIs with the Bisons. He will also be joined by Dwight Smith Jr. and Ian Parmley. Both players made their Bisons' debut in 2017 as well as their Major League debuts with the Blue Jays.

Starting Rotation

The starting rotation is led by RHP Joe Biagini, who spent the majority of the last two seasons in Toronto. The twenty-seven year-old was selected in the Rule-V draft in 2015 from the San Francisco Giants, and made 60 relief appearances for the Blue Jays in 2016. He followed it up with 44 games and 18 starts in Toronto last season. Biagini also made four starts for the Herd in 2017. He is joined by Borucki who struck out 157 batters last season, including six in his Bisons debut on Fan Appreciation last year. Veterans RHP Chris Rowley and RHP Deck McGuire are joined by RHP Taylor Guerrieri to help round out the starting rotation. Rowley re-joins the Herd after a successful 2017 that also saw the West Point graduate make his MLB debut. McGuire was originally drafted by Toronto in the 1st Round of the 2010 Draft and also was a member of the Bisons' pitching staff for 10 starts in 2014.

Bullpen

LHP Matt Dermody is back with the Bisons for his third season at Triple-A. The left hander has also appeared with the Blue Jays in each of the last two seasons, including 23 relief appearances in 2017. Ramirez capped off a successful 2017 season with a promotion to Toronto in September. The righty did not allow a run, earned or unearned, in seven relief outings with Buffalo. He then pitched in 12 games in September for Toronto. The bullpen boasts several other pitchers with MLB experience, including RHP Al Alburquerque who has spent parts of the last seven seasons in the big leagues. The right handed pitcher appeared in the postseason with the Detroit Tigers, including a relief outing in the 2012 World Series against the Giants. The pen also includes LHP Chad Girodo, LHP Tim Mayza, RHP Sam Gaviglio, RHP Luis Santos, RHP Jake Petricka (DL) and RHP Rhiner Cruz (DL). LHP Sam Moll was claimed off of waivers in March, and will start the 2018 season with the Herd.