Bulls Announce 2023 Opening Day Roster
The Back-to-Back Triple-A National Champion Durham Bulls, in conjunction with the Tampa Bay Rays, have announced their Opening Day roster for the 2023 season. The starting roster features four of the top 100 prospects in baseball according to Baseball America, as well as two former International League Most Valuable Player
The Back-to-Back Triple-A National Champion Durham Bulls, in conjunction with the Tampa Bay Rays, have announced their Opening Day roster for the 2023 season. The starting roster features four of the top 100 prospects in baseball according to Baseball America, as well as two former International League Most Valuable Player winners, as well as 15 returning members of the 2022 Triple-A National Championship Bulls squad.
Four of the top 100 prospects in baseball as rated by Baseball America prior to the season are set to begin in Durham, including infielder Curtis Mead (No. 37), right-hander Taj Bradley (No. 44), infielder Kyle Manzardo (No. 60), and infielder Jonathan Aranda (No. 96). Mead, Bradley and Aranda all wore Bulls uniforms as part of the Bulls’ 2022 Triple-A National Championship season, with Aranda earning International League Most Valuable Player honors. Manzardo, meanwhile, was tabbed the Rays’ Minor League Player of the Year at the end of the 2022 campaign after combining for a .327 average (106-324) with 71 runs, 26 doubles, one triple, 22 homers and 81 RBI in 93 games between High-A Bowling Green and Double-A Montgomery.
Joining Bradley on the pitching staff are fellow 2022 returnees Trevor Brigden, Yonny Chirinos, Cooper Criswell, Jose Lopez, Evan McKendry, Chris Muller and Luis Patino. Criswell is one of two former University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill standouts, along with Trevor Kelley, who is joined by fellow newcomers Braden Bristo, Zack Burdi, Ben Heller, Heath Hembree, University of North Carolina – Wilmington alum Josh Roberson, Hector Perez, and Elvin Rodriguez.
Catcher Rene Pinto, who has won Triple-A National Championships with the Bulls in each of the last two seasons is joined by newcomer Nick Dini behind the plate. Dini played at the Triple-A level last season with Syracuse and saw Major League action with the Kansas City Royals in 2019.
In addition to Mead and Aranda, Tristan Gray, whose 33 home runs last year led all Triple-A hitters and ranked tied for fifth-most in a season in Durham franchise history, and Vidal Brujan are set to return to the Bulls infield in 2023. Manzardo and Osleivis Basabe, meanwhile, are set to play at the Triple-A level for the first time this year.
Bulls fans will see familiar faces patrolling the outfield as well, with Ruben Cardenas and Niko Hulsizer returning to the Bull City from last year’s title-winning squad. Ben Gamel, the International League’s Most Valuable Player Award winner in 2016, and Kameron Misner round out the outfield.
Bulls manager Michael Johns is set to begin his first year at the helm for Durham after serving as Tampa Bay Rays Minor League Field Coordinator. He is joined by first-year hitting coach Kenny Hooks, while pitching coach Brian Reith and Bench Coach Reinaldo Ruiz are back in Durham for their second and third seasons, respectively.
The Bulls begin their back-to-back Triple-A National Championship defense at Durham Bulls Athletic Park on Opening Night 2023 tonight, against the Norfolk Tides, the Triple-A affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles. First pitch is scheduled for 6:35pm ET.
Tickets for that game and all 2023 Durham Bulls home games are available, and can be purchased at DurhamBulls.com, or by calling 919.956.BULL.