The Shuckers inaugural season in Biloxi ended a game shy of a championship, as they fell three games-to-two to Chattanooga in the Southern League Championship. Nevertheless, it was an impressive campaign for the Shuckers, which saw them go 78-59 despite beginning the season with a 55 game road trip.
This year’s squad will feature some familiar faces for Shuckers fans, such as Brett Phillips, Josh Hader and Tyrone Taylor, as well as some exciting new prospects like Jacob Nottingham and Javier Betancourt.
Starting Rotation: The Shuckers Opening Day starter will be Josh Hader, who has been getting more and more love from prospect followers after a strong performance in the Arizona Fall League. Following Hader in the Shuckers rotation will be Javi Salas, Adrian Houser, Wei-Chung Wang and Jorge Ortega. Houser was acquired along with Hader from Houston last season, while Wang spent most of the 2014 season in the big leagues after being taken in the Rule 5 Draft from Pittsburgh.
Bullpen: Jaye Chapman should get the chance to close again for Biloxi in 2016. It’s a role he handled well last season before a promotion to Triple-A Colorado Springs. He’ll be joined in the bullpen by lefties Jed Bradley, Hobbs Johnson and Stephen Peterson as well as right-handers Tristan Archer, Drew Gagnon, Daniel Tillman and Martin Viramontes.
Catchers: Another exciting prospect who Shuckers fans will get a chance to see develop is Jacob Nottingham, whom the Brewers acquired prior to the start of Spring Training in exchange for Khris Davis. Nottingham is a big slugger who should continue to put up big offensive numbers while also working on his defense behind the plate. He’ll be spelled by Parker Berberet and Rene Garcia.
Infielders: The Shuckers will feature a talented double play combination this season with Javier Betancourt and Chris McFarland on the middle infield. While both players are better suited for second base, Betancourt can also play some shortstop and should see significant time there. The first base job will be shared by the right-handed hitting Garrett Cooper and left-handed hitting Nick Ramirez. Biloxi also has a veteran presence on the infield with utility men Nate Orf, Nick Shaw and Brandon Macias all sure to see time as well.
Outfielders: The Shuckers outfield is loaded with prospects including Brett Phillips, Tyrone Taylor, Victor Roache and Kyle Wren. Phillips, one of the top prospects in Milwaukee’s system should see most of his playing time in center, bumping Taylor to right. All four players were with the Shuckers at one point or another last season and as a unit, they should be one of Biloxi’s strengths this season.
Coaching Staff: Mike Guerrero begins his first season as the skipper in Biloxi after Carlos Subero was promoted to join Craig Counsell’s staff in Milwaukee. Guerrero will be joined by his brother, Sandy Guerrero, who returns as hitting coach, as well as Chris Hook, who is once again back as Biloxi’s pitching coach this season.
The Shuckers kick off their 2016 season on Thursday evening at home at MGM Park, looking for revenge, when they welcome the 2015 Southern League Champion Chattanooga Lookouts to town. The contest is slated for a start time of 6:40 PM CST.