2015 was mostly a season to forget for the Brevard County Manatees as the team went just 55-80, finishing with the worst record in the Florida State League.
Things should be looking up in 2016 however. The Manatees return several of their offensive weapons from last season in outfielders Clint Coulter, Johnny Davis and Omar Garcia and will also feature a pitching staff that is loaded with many talented prospects.
Starting Rotation: The Manatees starting staff should be one of their strengths this year with a pair of high draft picks, Kodi Medeiros and Cody Ponce leading the way. They will be joined by Bubba Derby, who was acquired from Oakland as part of the Khris Davis trade this offseason, as well as fellow right-handers Angel Ventura and Brandon Woodruff.
Bullpen: Brevard’s bullpen features a mix of old and new this season. Kaleb Earls, Zach Hirsch and Tyler Spurlin are all familiar faces to Manatees fans after spending a portion of last season with the team. On the other side of he spectrum, Brad Kuntz, Jon Olczak and Junior Rincon will all be making the jump from Helena, skipping over Low-A Wisconsin.
Catchers: Former eighth round pick Dustin Houle should get the majority of the starts behind the plate for the Sea Cows after briefly seeing action with the team at the tail end of the 2015 season. He’ll share the catching duties with newcomer Fidel Pena, whom the Brewers signed as a free agent during the offseason.
Infield: The Manatees infield will feature a trio of 2015 draft choices, with Blake Allemand moving up from Wisconsin and George Iskenderian and Jose Cuas both making the leap from Helena. They will be joined by Taylor Brennan and Angel Ortega who spent last season in Brevard, as well as Dustin Demuth, who played with Wisconsin in the Midwest League in 2015.
Outfield: Brevard’s outfield should look fairly familiar with three of the four players assigned there returning from last season. Johnny Davis suffered a torn ACL early in the season but after a year of rehab, he’ll be back in center field for the Manatees. Former first rounder Clint Coulter will also be back, as will speedster Omar Garcia. The fourth outfielder in the mix will be Brandon Diaz, a former eighth rounder, who spent last season at Wisconsin.
Coaching Staff: Joe Ayrault will be back for his fifth season as skipper of the Manatees in 2016. He’ll be joined once again by pitching coach Dave Chavarria and hitting coach Ned Yost IV as well as former Brewers infielder Edwin Maysonet.
The Manatees begin their season on the road at Daytona on Thursday night against the Cincinnati Reds High-A affiliate. The game is scheduled for a 6:05 PM CST start time.