An interesting mixture of returning players a couple of high draft picks comprise the Asheville Tourists roster to begin the 2018 season.
The city’s Class A minor league baseball team begins play in the South Atlantic League next week, with Opening Day on April 5 in Salisbury, Maryland. The home opener is April 12 versus Columbia, the first Thirsty Thursday of the season.
The Tourists finished 68-70 last season.
Starting pitcher Riley Pint, the parent club Colorado Rockies’ top draft pick in 2016, returns to Asheville for more seasoning after struggling through a 2-11 season last year.
Reliever Ben Bowden, who pitched for the Tourists two years ago but missed 2017 with an injury, is also returning, along with pitchers Breiling Eusebio (3-3, 4.46 ERA), Antonio Santos (9-10, 5.39) and Erick Julio (7-11, 4.98).
Pint, Eusebio and Santos were members of the starting rotation last season in Asheville, starting a combined 75 games.
Shortstop Taylor Snyder (.275, 11 home runs) and catcher Robbie Perkins (.243, four homers in 29 games) are also back.
Ryan Vilade, the Rockies’ top draft choice in 2017, is a shortstop on the roster.
Also seeing time this season at McCormick Field is a pair of pitchers who are among the top 100 players drafted last summer, Tom Doyle (70th out of Virginia) and Will Gaddis (86th out of Furman).
Robert Tyler, the 38th selection in the 2016 draft, is also on the pitching staff.
Manager Robinson Cancel will begin his first season with the Tourists.