The pennant beyond the center field wall at Lake Olmstead Stadium will be one of the few remnants of a GreenJackets club that captured the South Atlantic League championship last season.
When the Jackets open the 2000 season Thursday on the road against the Hickory Crawdads, the lone holdover who spent the entire 1999 season in Augusta will be trainer Bill Coffey.
Manager Mike Boulanger managed in the Twins organization last season. Pitching coach Bob Kipper was at short-season Class A Lowell last season. Hitting coach Victor Rodriguez worked with young hitters at Fort Myers, Fla., with Boston's rookie club in the Gulf Coast League.
The majority of last year's club, including manager Billy Gardner, earned promotions this off-season. Gardner was promoted to Class AA Trenton, while many of last year's Jackets will open the season at high Class A Sarasota or in Trenton.
Boston's minor-league rosters for opening day should be set on Monday when Red Sox farmhands break in Fort Myers. The GreenJackets are scheduled to arrive on Tuesday and hold their first workout in Augusta at 7 p.m. on Wednesday at The Lake.
Several of Boston's top low-level prospects could open the season in Augusta, including outfielder Rick Asadoorian and shortstop Cesar Saba.
The 19-year-old Asadoorian was Boston's first-round pick in last year's draft and the 17th player selected overall. The Whitinsville, Mass., native was regarded as the best player in New England before the draft and turned down a scholarship to Florida to sign with the Sox.
The 18-year-old Saba was the MVP of the Red Sox's team in the Dominican Summer League in 1998, and jumped over the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League to play last season for Lowell in the New York-Penn League, a league traditionally filled with older, more experienced players.
The switch-hitting Saba batted .275 with two home runs, 30 RBI and 16 doubles in 284 at-bats, and displayed good range and an above-average arm in the field. He figures to improve, however, on his league-leading 35 errors in 69 game last season.
Augusta's pitching staff could be headlined by Boston's other first-round pick in the 1999 draft, right-hander Brad Baker. The 6-foot-2, 178-pounder was the 40th player selected overall and should make his pro debut with the Jackets after signing to late to play last summer.
Switch-hitting third baseman Brady Williams, the son of Red Sox manager Jimy Williams, also is expected to open the season with the Jackets. With the Gulf Coast Red Sox last summer, the 20-year-old Williams batted .256 with five home runs and 25 RBI in 39 games.
There also could be a few players returning who spent some time in a Jackets uniform last season, including infielder Chas Terni, outfielders Jose Pena and Carlos Rodriguez and pitchers Daniel Giese, Eric Glaser, Anastacio Martinez and Alex Solano.
The GreenJackets also underwent several changes in the front office this offseason.
With former assistant general manager Scott Skadan leaving to take over as GM of the Augusta Stallions arena football team, the Jackets promoted Tony DaSilveira and David Van Lenten to assistant general managers DaSilveira was the Jackets director of stadium operations last season, while Van Lenten worked as director of ticket sales last season.
General manager Chris Scheuer also promoted Eric Benge, an intern last season, to ticket director, and Jennifer Cogan, who also interned with the team last summer, as business manager. John Packer also returns for his fifth season as groundskeeper and director of field operations.
The team also added Scotty McDuffy as promotions director, Dominic Marshall as assistant promotions director, Ben McFerrin as assistant director of group sales and Lance Grantham as assistant concessions director.
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