The Lehigh Valley IronPigs open their 15th season this afternoon in Rochester, NY. The temperature is predicted to be around 45-degrees with a 63-percent chance of “light” rain. While it is not exactly baseball weather, it is better than just a few years back when snow forced the opening series between the two teams to be moved from Rochester to Coca-Cola Park in the Lehigh Valley. The stadium was still having some finishing touches put on it for the season, so it was not deemed safe for fans to be in attendance, forcing the two teams to play in an empty ballpark. Nobody knew then that it would be a precursor for the COVID pandemic when fans were severely limited for the 2021 season.
As usual, this year’s roster has its share of veterans and younger players looking to make it to the big leagues. There are seven players – pitchers James McArthur, Luis Ortiz, Michael Plassmeyer, and Erich Uelman, infielder Kody Clemens, and outfielders Dalton Guthrie, Simon Muzziotti, and Jhailyn Ortiz – on the roster who are on the Phillies 40-man roster to open the year. Plassmeyer is the first up should the Phillies need another starter for the big league club, Clemens was in the running for a roster spot until the final couple days of camp, and Guthrie actually made the opening day Phillies roster before getting bumped back down to Lehigh Valley when the Phillies acquired Cristian Pache. Plassmeyer also gets the distinction of starting for the ‘Pigs on Opening Day.
Scott Kingery, who was also in the running for a roster spot in Philadelphia until the final days of camp, is back in Lehigh Valley this season after revamping his swing and approach at the plate over the season working with Phillies hitting coach Kevin Long in Arizona. Other returnees include: Hans Crouse, Jakob Hernandez, Francisco Morales, Plassmeyer, Noah Skirrow, Vito Friscia, Kingery, Muzziotti, and Dustin Peterson.
As for new faces, there are plenty. Left-handed pitchers: Nick Allgeyer (Buffalo-AAA), Ben Bowden (Albuquerque-AAA), and Kyle Hart (Worcester-AAA) are all on the rosters. Right-handers include: Trey Cobb (Syracuse-AAA), Jesus Cruz (Atlanta, Gwinnett-AAA), Jake Jewell (Columbus), James McArthur (Reading-AA), McKinley Moore (Reading-AA), Luis Ortiz (San Francisco, Sacramento-AAA), Uelman (Cubs, Iowa-AAA), Jeremy Walker (Sacramento-AAA). Catchers: Aramis Garcia (Cincinnati, Louisville-AAA) and John Hicks (Iowa-AAA), infielders: Clemens (Detroit, Toledo-AAA), Jim Hickey (Durham-AAA), Vimael Machin (Oakland, Las Vegas-AAA), Esteban Quiroz (Cubs, Iowa-AAA), and Weston Wilson (Nashville-AAA). Among the new outfielders: Jordan Qsar (Durham-AAA).
Game time for Friday is 4:05 with Saturday and Sunday games at 1:05. After a day off on Monday, the IronPigs have their home opener Tuesday when they host the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders at 6:45. They will also host Scranton Wednesday and Thursday at 6:45, Friday at 7:05, and then play a double-header Saturday April 8 with games at 12:35 and 5:35 p.m. The ‘Pigs are off on Easter Sunday and the day after before a road trip to Durham.