Evan Longoria will return to Durham on the 2008 Bulls roster.
Evan Longoria, the #2 prospect in all of Minor League Baseball according to Baseball America, is one of 11 members of the 2007 Bulls returning to Durham as Manager Charlie Montoyo and his staff look to defend their South Division Title when the Bulls open the season against the Toledo Mud Hens this Thursday, April 3, 2008, in Toledo.
- Longoria joined the Bulls in August of last season after batting .307 with 21 home runs and 76 RBI with Double-A Montgomery, good enough to win the Southern League MVP Award.
- He helped the Bulls make a late push to win the South Division and get within a game of their first Governors’ Cup Championship since 2003.
- Longoria batted .375 and led the Bulls with six extra-base hits in the post-season.
The 22-year old third baseman will be joined in the infield by another highly-touted player in shortstop Reid Brignac.
- Brignac led the Southern League with 91 runs scored, 228 total bases and 52 extra base hits last season, leading the Montgomery Biscuits to their second straight Southern League Championship.
- In four minor league seasons he carries a .301 batting average with 57 home runs and 271 RBI.
Veteran infielders Jeff Bannon, Andy Cannizaro, Joel Guzman and Chris Richard round out the Bulls infield.
Speedy outfield prospect Fernando Perez joins the Bulls a season after making the Southern League and Baseball America All-Star teams.
- Perez batted .308 last season with 32 stolen bases in only 102 games.
He’ll be joined by 2007 Bulls MVP Justin Ruggiano, the first Bull since Ron Gant in 1986 to hit 20 home runs and steal 20 bases in a single season. Returnee Jon Weber and newcomer John Rodriguez make up the rest of the active outfield. 2007 Bull and Team Spirit Award winner Jeremy Owens will travel to Durham but is not currently on the roster.
The Bulls will have a pair of veteran catchers to start the season including 39-year old Mike DiFelice, one of the original Tampa Bay Devil Rays.
- DiFelice spent the past three seasons in the New York Mets organization, and has played in parts of 11 big league seasons with St. Louis, Tampa Bay, Arizona, Kansas City, Chicago, Detroit and the Mets.
He’ll be joined by Hector Gimenez, a catcher that spent his entire career in the Houston Astros organization but missed all of 2007 with a partially torn labrum in his right shoulder. Catcher Alex Jamieson will also make the trip to Durham, but is not on the roster.
Finally, the Bulls pitching staff will be anchored by 2007 Team Pitcher of the Year Jeff Niemann.
- The 6-9, 260 lbs. Niemann was second on the Bulls staff with 12 wins last season and was third on the team with 123 strikeouts.
- He was 2-0 with a 2.08 ERA in the post-season for the Bulls.
Starters Jae Kuk Ryu and Mitch Talbot join Niemann in the rotation, as will Raleigh-native Mike Prochaska, who pitched in parts of the last three seasons for the Bulls. The pitching staff also returns relievers Calvin Medlock and Dale Thayer along with newcomers Nick Debarr, Brian Henderson, Ben Hendrickson, Kevin Lynn, Chris Mason and Scott Munter.
Changes may be made to the roster anytime before noon on Thursday, April 3rd without qualifying as an official roster move.
The Bulls will host their annual “Meet the Team” event on Tuesday, April 1st at 6:30pm at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park. The event is free to the public and will feature the team’s first full practice together in Durham. For more information, contact the Bulls at (919) 956-BULL.
Thanks to DBBC’s Matt DeMargel for this capcom story & photo.