2014 Preview: Huntsville Stars (AA)

Outfielder Mitch Haniger split last season between Class-A affiliates Wisconsin and Brevard County.  (Photo: Brad Krause)

Outfielder Mitch Haniger split last season between Class-A affiliates Wisconsin and Brevard County. (Photo: Brad Krause)

The Huntsville Stars finished the 2013 season with a record of 59-79 overall, after going 29-39 in the first half of the season, and 30-40 in the second half of the year.

Last year’s Stars squad was led by first baseman Jason Rogers, who hit .270 with 22 home runs en route to being named the Milwaukee Brewers Minor League Player of the Year.

The 2014 Stars roster looks very similar to the 2013 squad as 21 of 28 players who broke camp with the team spent at least a portion of 2013 in Huntsville as well.

Here is a breakdown of the Stars roster that will begin their final season in Huntsville.

Starting Pitching: The starting rotation will once again be anchored by Taylor Jungmann, who went 10-10 with a 4.33 ERA in 26 starts for the Stars in 2013. He will be joined by Drew Gagnon, Brent Suter, Brooks Hall and Andy Moye.

Bullpen: Huntsville’s bullpen will also include plenty of familiar faces as righty Tyler Cravy is the only newcomer. David Goforth, Greg Holle, Brent Leach, Arcenio Leon, Johnny Lowe, Eric Marzec, Casey Medlen and Kevin Shackelford all return for the Stars. Goforth figures to get the first crack at the closer’s role.

Catchers: The Stars return a trio of catchers from last year’s roster as Joey Paciorek, Adam Weisenburger and Shawn Zarraga all return for another go in Huntsville. Zarraga hit .292 in 74 games last season.

Infield: The Stars infield features a couple of new faces in utility men Greg Hopkins and Hainley Statia, and first baseman Nick Ramirez. Ramirez led Brevard County in home runs last season with 19 long balls. Jason Rogers, Josh Prince, Nick Shaw and Shea Vucinich all return to the Stars lineup as well. Rogers will be taking on a new position, playing some third base, while Prince could see time at both shortstop and second base.

Outfield: The strength of this year’s team could be the outfield, where exciting prospects like Mitch Haniger and D’Vontrey Richardson will join returnees Kentrail Davis and Brock Kjeldgaard. Davis and Kjeldgaard were both named to the Southern League’s All-Star team in 2013.

Coaching Staff: There will be a new man at the helm for the Huntsville Stars in 2014, as Carlos Subero joins the team after managing for five seasons in the Los Angeles Dodgers organization. He will be joined by pitching coach Chris Hook and hitting coach Sandy Guerrero.

Prospect to watch: Mitch Haniger – The 23-year-old Haniger opened some eyes this spring after receiving an invite to big league camp. After hitting .297 in 41 games with the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers last season, Haniger received a promotion to Brevard County and had similar success, batting .250 with six home runs in 88 games.

Keep an eye on: D’Vontrey Richardson – Richardson was out of baseball in 2012, but returned in 2013 and didn’t seem to miss a beat, batting .325 in 52 games at Brevard County. This will be a telling season for the 25-year-old Richardson as he makes the jump to Double-A. He should be the Stars every day center fielder this season.

The Stars begin their season on Thursday night in Florida as they take on the Jacksonville Suns, a Miami Marlins affiliate, at 6:05 pm CST.