First-year Charleston RiverDogs manager Pat Osborn revealed his starting rotation Monday during Media Day at Joe Riley Park.
“Nick Green, who pitched a little bit here last year and came over in the (Carlos) Beltran trade, Freicer Perez, Albert Abreu who was in the Brian McCann trade, Nick Nelson, who was a draft pick last year and Jio Orozco who was in the Ben Gamel trade, we got him from the Mariners. Those six, and Mr. (Brian) Keller, he was drafted last year, a right-handed pitcher.”
A six-man pitching rotation is quite unusual, but Osborn explained the reasoning behind it. “Those decisions are made by our pitching coordinator, Scott Aldred, Danny Borrell, Gary Denbo and Eric Schmitt; they make the call on that. I do not know the exact reason, but I would have to think that one of them is for their health and gives them an extra day’s rest. We have six guys that need to start.”
Nick Green will be the opening night starter against the Lexington Legends Thursday, April 6 in Charleston. Green went 3-0 with a 1.06 ERA after coming over from the Texas Rangers organization. He is not big in stature but throws in the mid-90s with his fastball while keeping hitters off balance with his changeup and curveball.
Jio Orozco is slated second in the rotation. He pitched in the Rookie-level Arizona League his first two years. He is a big right-handed pitcher at 6’1” tall and 210 lbs. He throws his fastball in the mid-90s and like Green, also features a curveball and changeup.
Brian Keller will be third in line and was a New York Yankees 39th round draft pick in the 2016 draft. He split time between the Yankees West Gulf Coast League team, Staten Island and Pulaski. In those three stops combined, he posted a 1-0 record with a 0.88 ERA. He pitched 41 innings, allowing only 28 hits and seven walks while striking out 51 batters. He is a lanky right-hander at 6’3”, 190 lbs.
Nick Nelson fills the fourth slot in the rotation. He was selected by the Yankees in the fourth round of the 2016 draft and features a mid-90s fastball counteracted with a curveball. He pitched last year with Pulaski in Rookie ball where he posted a 0-3 record in 10 starts with a 3.38 ERA.
Freicer Perez is in the fifth spot and throws in the upper-90s with his fastball. Last year at short-season A Staten Island, Perez posted a 2-4 record with a 4.47 ERA. He had some issues with his command as he walked 25 batters in 52 and one-third innings pitched. He also throws a curveball, slider, and changeup.
Rounding out the rotation in the sixth spot is Albert Abreu. Another hard-throwing right-hander, Abreu gets his fastball up close to the 100 mile-per-hour mark. He also features the slider along with a changeup. He spent last year between Quad Cities of the low-A Midwest League and Lancaster of the high-A California League. Between the two stops, he posted a 3-8 record with a 3.72 ERA. He struck out 115 batters in 101 and two-thirds innings but also walked 58 batters.
Manager Pat Osborn is excited about the potential of this group of starters. “The pitching is going to be very good, a lot of velocity, hard throwers. The starting rotation, bullpen, we have a good mix of older guys that are a little more experienced that can help out when need be. The six-man rotation could be a little different. These young kids develop with extra days rest. I am looking forward to watching these kids. Justin Pope, our pitching coach, does a tremendous job and he was here last year, and I am looking forward to working with him. I know he is excited about the pitchers that are here and he gets to work with.”
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