Dunedin, Florida -- The Dunedin Blue Jays will welcome back 16 players from the 2012 season this year for Opening Day.
The Blue Jays pitching staff is highlighted by top prospect Aaron Sanchez, 2012 Florida State League standout Jesse Hernandez and 2011 American League All-Star Ricky Romero.
PDF: 2013 Dunedin Blue Jays Roster
Sanchez, 20, is the No. 1 prospect in the Blue Jays organization and the No. 35 prospect in all of baseball, according to MLB.com. The right-hander from Barstow, CA spent the entirety of the 2012 season with Class-A Lansing, where he went 8-5 with a 2.49 ERA, striking out 97 hitters in 90.1 innings while allowing just three home runs all year long. The Midwestern League All-Star held opponents to a .204 batting average in his 25 appearances (18 starts). The Blue Jays selected Sanchez out of Barstow High School with their first-round pick (34th overall) in the 2010 draft.
Romero, 28, will start the season in Dunedin as he works his way back toward the majors. The 2005 first-round pick (6th overall) will look to regain his 2009-2011 form, when he compiled 42 wins and posted a 3.60 ERA. In 2011, he was named to his first All-Star team and finished among the top-10 vote getters for the Cy Young Award. In 2012, however, the Los Angeles, California native saw his ERA rise to 5.77 as he recorded a career-low win total.
Hernandez, 24, had one of the Florida State League's best single-game pitching performances on July 20th, when he tossed 8.2 no-hit innings against the First Half Southern Division Champion St. Lucie Mets. The performance highlighted an impressive month for Hernandez, as he allowed just two earned runs in 18.2 innings (0.96 ERA) over the course of four games in July.
The right-hander from Grand Rapids, Michigan will join 15 other players who spent time in Dunedin last season. Returning outfielders include Jonathan Jones, Marcus Knecht and Michael Crouse, while Jon Berti, Oliver Dominguez and Aaron Munoz will man the infield for a second-straight season. Five pitchers will return to Dunedin as well, including Hernandez, Casey Lawrence, Scott Gracey, Scott Copeland and Dustin Antolin.
Twenty-four-year-old slugger Kevin Patterson highlights the group of hitters who join the Blue Jays after spending the past season exclusively in Lansing. Patterson hit 22 doubles and blasted 19 home runs last season, ranking him 11th in slugging percentage and tied for second in homers in the Midwest League.
Dunedin also welcomes two new faces on the coaching staff as well -- manager Bob Meacham and hitting coach Stubby Clapp. Darold Knowles will return to Florida Auto Exchange Stadium for his eighth season as pitching coach.
For more information on the Dunedin Blue Jays, visit DunedinBlueJays.com.
Dunedin Blue Jays