20-year-old rated unanimous best prospect in baseball; Bulls open season in Memphis on May 4
The Durham Bulls, in conjunction with the Tampa Bay Rays, have announced their preliminary roster for the upcoming 2021 campaign. The roster, which is subject to change before the Bulls’ first game on Tuesday, May 4 in Memphis, features baseball’s unanimous top overall prospect in infielder Wander Franco, along with fellow top-100 overall prospects in infielder Vidal Bruján and two-way player Brendan McKay.
Franco has been recognized as baseball’s top overall prospect prior to both the 2020 and 2021 seasons by numerous publications, including MLB.com, Baseball America, and The Athletic. He is just the fourth player to earn that distinction from Baseball America in consecutive years, joining former Bulls outfielder Andruw Jones, as well as Joe Mauer and Bryce Harper. Franco is joined in the infield by Bruján, rated as the 43rd-best prospect by MLB.com, along with newcomer Tristan Gray, while 2019 Bulls Kevin Padlo, Dalton Kelly and Taylor Walls are all set to return to Durham.
Fans will recognize not just McKay but Bulls right-handers Brent Honeywell Jr. (2017), Phoenix Sanders (2019) and Tyler Zombro (2019) on the Durham pitching staff as well. In addition to McKay and Honeywell Jr., six other hurlers boast Major League experience, including Chris Ellis, Dietrich Enns, Devid Hess, Joey Krehbiel, Yacksel Rios and University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill alum Brian Moran, joined by fellow newcomers Stetson Allie, Adrian De Horta, Dalton Moats, Joe Ryan and Drew Strotman.
Nathan Lukes is set to return and patrol the Bulls outfield after playing in 91 games with Durham in 2019. Expected to join him are promising newcomers Josh Lowe, younger brother of former Bulls infielder Nate Lowe, and Ryan Boldt.
Catchers Joseph Odom, Joey Roach, Kevan Smith and Brett Sullivan complete the preliminary roster as Durham’s backstops, with all four set to make their Bulls debut in 2021. Both Odom and Smith boast Major League experience behind the plate, including four-plus years for Smith between the Chicago White Sox, Los Angeles Angels and Tampa Bay Rays.
The roster not only features three of MLB.com’s top 100 overall prospects, but also eight of the publication’s top 30 Rays prospects, including Franco (No. 1), Brujan (No. 3), McKay (No. 4), Walls (No. 8), Lowe (No. 12), Ryan (No. 13), Honeywell Jr. (No. 19), Strotman (No. 21), and Padlo (No. 24).
The Bulls are set to start the 2021 season on Tuesday, May 4 in Memphis before beginning their 2021 home slate at Durham Bulls Athletic Park on Tuesday, May 11 against the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp. First pitch is scheduled for 6:35pm. Tickets with socially-distanced seating for that series and all May contests are still available and can be purchased at durhambulls.com.
Thanks to DBBC’s Andrew Green for this Capcom story & graphic.