By Andrew Green / Tennessee Smokies
The Tennessee Smokies kick off their 2014 campaign on the road this evening against the Pensacola Blue Wahoos, the Double-A affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds. First pitch is set for 7:30 p.m. ET at Pensacola Bayfront Stadium.
The Smokies are coming off a 76-62 record (.551) in 2013, the second-best overall record in the Southern League, in addition to their fourth postseason appearance in five years. Pensacola, meanwhile, finished last season with a 59-79 mark (.428), which tied with the Huntsville Stars for the second-worst clip in the Southern League last season.
Right-hander Dae-Eun Rhee is anticipated to get the start for the Smokies in tonight’s season opener. In 11 starts for Tennessee last year, the South Korea native compiled a 5-1 record and 3.34 ERA (22 ER in 59.1 IP), missing part of the year due to injury. In three career outings against the Blue Wahoos dating back to 2012, the 25-year-old owns no record and a 1.88 ERA (3 ER in 14.1 IP).
Reds right-hander Mat Latos is slated to take the mound for Pensacola this evening as part of a Major League Rehab Assignment. Last year with Cincinnati, the 26-year-old posted a 14-7 mark and 3.16 ERA (74 ER in 210.2 IP) in 32 outings. Overall in 137 Major League starts, the Virginia native has accumulated a 55-40 record and 3.35 ERA (316 ER in 849.0 IP).
Fans can listen to the broadcast on the Smokies Baseball Network, with the “Voice of the Smokies” Mick Gillispie entering his eighth season as Tennessee Director of Broadcasting. Gillispie is assisted by Greg Young and Keith Brake. The Pilot/Oscar Meyer Pre-game Show will begin at 7:15 p.m. ET.
Below are more notes on Tennessee’s contest this evening, direct from the club’s Game Notes, compiling by Director of Media Relations Andrew Green. The entire game notes can be viewed byclicking here.
HE’S BAAAAAAAACK!: Tennessee manager Buddy Bailey returns to the Smokies for his fourth season at the helm, including his third straight…Bailey previously managed the club for the 2008, 2012 and 2013 campaigns…Overall with the Smokies, Bailey has accumulated a 210-207 regular season mark (.507)…This year marks Bailey’s 26th as a Minor League manager, with previous stops in the Braves and Red Sox organizations before jonininng the Cubs organization in 2006…He has skippered for Single-A Sumter (1985, 87), Durham (1986, 88), Double-A Greenville (1988-90), High-A Lynchburg (1991-92), Triple-A Pawtucket (1993-96, 2002-04), High-A Daytona (2006, 09-10), and Triple-A Iowa (2007)…Bailey also served as Boston’s Minor League catching instructor, Minor League field coordinator, roving catcher instrctor, and as an advanced scout in the Red Sox organization.
TIME TO GO PROSPECTIN': The 2014 Smokies Opening Day roster is arguably the most prospect-laden roster in the Minor Leagues, with a total of three of Baseball America’s Top 100 Prospects appearing in a Smokies uniform…INF Kris Bryant was rated the eighth-best overall prospect by the publication prior to this season, while RHP C.J. Edwards (28th), and OF Jorge Soler (41st) were also ranked among the best 100 prospects in the game by Baseball America…This comes one year after former Smokies INF Javier Baez, then the 16th-best overall prospect, played for Tennessee.
GO CUBS GO!: This season marks the eighth year the Smokies have been the Double-A affiliate of the Chicago Cubs…Since the partnership began in 2007, Tennessee owns a 537-450 record (.570) in regular season contests…The .570 winning percentage is higher than any other previous affiliation the Smokies have been partnered with…Coming into this season since 2007, 43 players have gone on to make their Major League debuts with the Cubs after wearing a Tennessee Smokies jersey.
INTERNATIONAL LOVE: The 2014 Smokies’ Opening Day roster features quite an international flavor, with seven different countries listed as birthplaces, including Australia (RHP Ryan Searle), Canada (INF Wes Darvill), Cuba (RHP Armando Rivero, along with outfielders Rubi Silva & Jorge Soler), the Dominican Republic (right-handers Lendy Castillo & Ivan Pineyro, along with INFJeudy Valdez), South Korea (RHP Dae-Eun Rhee), Venezuela (INF Jonathan Mota), and the United States (16 players).
DON’T I KNOW YOU FROM SOMEWHERE?: A total of 11 Smokies on this year’s Opening Day roster appeared in at least one game last year for Tennessee, including pitchers Hunter Cervenka(30 app), P.J. Francescon (16 app), Matt Loosen (16 app, 13 GS), Dae-Eun Rhee (11 GS),Armando Rivero (6 app) and Tony Zych (47 app), along with catchers Taylor Davis (6 G) andRafael Lopez (95 G), in addition to INF Jonathan Mota (109 G), and outfielders John Andreoli (59 G), Anthony Giansanti (40 G) and Rubi Silva (126)…Altogether, those 11 players participated in a combined 561 contests for the Smokies in 2013.
Tonight’s broadcast will air on the Smokies Radio Network’s flagship station 99.1 WNML The Sports Animal, plus online at http://www.smokiesbaseball.com, as well as via the Smokies’ mobile app. Click the link below to listen live online.