Biscuits Opening Day Lineup Released

The following is a news release.

Opening Day Roster Announced
Rays unveil Biscuits roster for Thursday's season opener

MONTGOMERY, AL – A starting pitching staff some experts are touting as the best in the minors highlights the 2011 Montgomery Biscuits Opening Day roster, released Sunday afternoon by the Tampa Bay Rays.

22-year-old lefty Matt Moore, ranked by Baseball America as the #2 prospect in the Rays system, will take the ball on Opening Night Thursday against the Birmingham Barons. Moore has led the minors in strikeouts each of the last two seasons.

Also in the starting rotation will be Chris Archer, acquired from the Cubs in the Matt Garza deal. Archer was the Cubs Minor League Pitcher of the Year last season, and was set to enter the 2011 season as the Cubs top overall prospect. Another pair of prized prospects in Nick Barnese and Joe Cruz will also take spots in the rotation.

In the infield, a couple of familiar faces will take on new roles. Matt Sweeney, who played 3B for the Biscuits last season, dropped 15 pounds in the off-season and has moved to 1B. And last season's starting 2B, Cody Cipriano, has moved across the diamond to 3B.

Thursday night will see 2008 top overall draft pick Tim Beckham make his Biscuits debut at SS. Former Padres farmhand Cole Figueroa, a career .296 hitter, will be Beckham's double-play partner at 2B.

With the departure of Matt Gorgen at the back end, Zach Quate will fill the closer spot. In two pro seasons since getting drafted out of Appalacian State in 2009, Quate has coverted 38 of 40 save opportunities to the tune of a 1.19 ERA.  Ryan Reid and Paul Phillips return to the bullpen, and Jeremy Hall and David Newmann will both transition from the rotation to the bullpen to give manager Billy Gardner some long-relief options to begin the season.

Nevin Ashley returns to Montgomery behind the dish along with utilityman Stephen Vogt, who led the Rays organization with a .345 average last season in Port Charlotte. Vogt will also provide depth in an outfield that breaks camp with only three true members - Reid Fronk and Kyeong Kang (both making their Double-A debuts), and newly acquired John Shelby, who played against the Biscuits as a Birmingham Baron while in the Chicago White Sox organization last season.

Three of the 24 active players are members of the Rays 40-man: Archer, Ashley, and relief pitcher Matt Bush.

The Opening Day roster also sees an incredible seven players on the DL, setting the roster total at 31. Four of those seven made significant contributions in Montgomery last season - Emeel Salem, John Matulia, Shawn O'Malley, and Henry Wrigley.

Fans will have a chance to get to know these Biscuits at Meet the Team Wednesday at the Eastdale Mall beginning at 6:00 p.m. First pitch Thursday night is scheduled for 7:05, with a MAX Fireworks Spectacular to follow the game.