In conjunction with the New York Mets, the Savannah Sand Gnats are pleased to announce their Official 2013 Opening Day roster. The roster is led by the two highest draft picks to play for the Gnats since the team became a Mets affiliate in the 2007 season: outfielder Brandon Nimmo and catcher Kevin Plawecki.
When he takes the field on Opening Night, 20-year-old OF Brandon Nimmo will become the highest draft pick to play for the Gnats since the team became a Mets affiliate prior to the 2007 season. The Mets selected Nimmo out of Cheyenne, Wyoming with the 13th overall pick in the first round in the 2011 draft. Nimmo hit .243/.365/.401 (AVG/OBP/SLG) with 20 doubles and six home runs in 69 games for the Brooklyn Cyclones in the New York-Penn League in 2012. Baseball America listed Nimmo as the #3 prospect in the Mets system, while Baseball Prospectus listed him #9. Nimmo will be joined in the outfield by two of his mates from the 2012 Brooklyn Cyclones: Eudy Pina and Stefan Sabol and Gregory Pron, one of the three returning Sand Gnats.
Behind the plate Plawecki will anchor both the pitching staff and the offense. The Mets drafted Plawecki in the supplemental first round in 2012, with the 35th overall pick out of the University of Purdue. Plawecki hit .250/.345/.384 in 61 games for Brooklyn in 2012 and drew more walks (25) than strikeouts (24). MLB.com ranked him as the #17 Mets prospect. Jeff Glenn and Nelfi Zapata will back up Plawecki, although Zapata will open the season on the disabled list.
Prior to Plawecki and Nimmo’s assignment to Savannah, the highest draft pick to play for the Gnats was supplemental first round pick Michael Fulmer, a Gnat in 2012, who was selected 44th overall.
The Gnats’ pitching staff, which again looks to be a team of strength, also features a player who was the Mets’ first pick in a draft: Steven Matz. The Mets selected Matz in the second round of the 2009 draft, in a year when they did not have a first round pick. Matz had Tommy John surgery in 2010 and rehab setbacks kept him from pitching in games in 2011. Matz made his exciting professional debut in 2012 with Kingsport in the Appalachian League pitching to a 1.55 ERA in 29 innings over six starts and striking out 34 batters in 29 innings.
Savannah will once again employ a six-man rotation under the eye of pitching coach Frank Viola. Three of the projected rotation members RHP Gabriel Ynoa (2.23 – 6th) RHPLuis Cessa (2.49 – 8th) and Rainy Lara (2.91 – 15th) finished in the top 15 in the New York-Penn League in ERA in 2012. Princeton product Matthew Bowman will earn the Opening Night start. Logan Taylor and 2012 3rd round pick Matt Koch out of Louisville will initially share the final rotation spot in a piggyback setup.
The top prospect in the Gnats infield will be SS Phillip Evans. The Mets selected Evans in the 15th round of the 2011 draft, signing him away from a commitment to San Diego State. In 73 games for Brooklyn in 2012, Evans hit .252/.328/.337 with an impressive 31 walks against 48 strikeouts. Jayce Boyd, the Mets sixth round pick in 2012 out of Florida State will play first.Cole Frenzel, a Gnat a year ago will move across the diamond and will play third base, while Chad Zurcher, Jeff Reynolds, a Harvard alumnus, and Yucarybert De La Cruz will share second base and the utility spots.
Only three of the 26 assigned players have played in Savannah prior to the 2013 season, and all 13 pitchers are new to Historic Grayson Stadium.