Veterans, top draft picks fill GreenJackets 2012 roster

Team expected to arrive in town tonight

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Several returners and a few top San Francisco Giants draft picks will make up a majority of the Augusta GreenJackets opening day roster.

The roster, released today by the Single-A minor league team, includes eight players with previous GreenJackets experience. Carlos Willoughby, a 2011 South Atlantic League all-star will return to the Augusta infield, along with Kelby Tomlinson, Ben Thomas and John Eshleman.

Left-handed pitchers Gaspar Santiago and Edwin Escobar return to the Augusta arsenal of arms, along with right-hander Andrew Berger. Outfielder Michael Mergenthaler also spent a portion of the 2011 season with the GreenJackets and will return this year.

Second-year manager Lipso Nava, who led Augusta to a South Atlantic League second-half championship last season, has been entrusted with several top draft picks this year. Lefty Bryce Bandilla, the Giants’ fourth round pick in 2011, and fifth-round right-hander Chris Marlowe will make their Augusta debuts on the mound this season.

The roster also includes a pair of 2010 top-10 draft picks. Eighth-rounder Joe Staley will catch for Augusta and seventh-round pick Chuckie Jones will roam the outfield.

The team is scheduled to arrive in Augusta later tonight and will hold closed practices at Lake Olmstead Stadium Tuesday and Wednesday.

Along with Nava, pitching coach Mike Caldwell and rookie hitting coach Nestor Rojas will help lead the 2012 GreenJackets.

Garrett Havig will be the team’s athletic trainer and Brad Lawson will serve as strength coach.

The 25th consecutive season of minor league baseball in Augusta begins Thursday on the road in Savannah. The team’s home opener follows next Thursday, April 12.


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