Gettys, VanMeter highlight Fort Wayne roster
Bill Center, longtime sportswriter for U-T San Diego, is an employee of the Padres.
Top 10 prospect Michael Gettys and native son Josh VanMeter head the 25-man roster of low Class A Fort Wayne heading into the TinCaps' Midwest League opener at Great Lakes on Thursday night.
The TinCaps will have 12 players who spent time in Fort Wayne last season as they reached the Eastern Division Championship Series for the fourth straight season. It was their sixth straight appearance in the Midwest League playoffs.
Fort Wayne won the Midwest League title in 2009 as a Padres affiliate.
Francisco Morales enters his first season as the TinCaps' manager. Former Major League catcher Lance Burkhart joins the Padres organization as Fort Wayne's hitting coach, while Burt Hooton, who won 151 games in 15 seasons as a Major League pitcher, is starting his third season as the TinCaps' pitching coach.
Last season, Fort Wayne led the 16-team Midwest League in team batting average (.263), hits, total bases and RBIs and set a franchise record with 102 home runs, despite posting a 63-76 regular-season record.
Gettys, 19, was San Diego's second-round pick in the 2014 First-Year Player Draft. The Georgia product hit .310 (66-for-213) with eight doubles, five triples, three home runs, 14 steals, 29 runs scored and 38 RBIs in 52 games for the Arizona Rookie League Padres last summer. He had a .353 on-base percentage and a .437 slugging percentage. The outfielder led the Arizona Rookie League in hits and finished second in total bases.
VanMeter, 20, was San Diego's third-round pick in the 2013 Draft. The second baseman is from Ossian, Ind., which is near Fort Wayne. He hit .254 in 116 games last season as the first everyday player from the Fort Wayne area to play for the TinCaps.
Two other Top 25 Padres prospects -- shortstop Franchy Cordero and outfielder Franmil Reyes -- will open the season with Fort Wayne.
Cordero, 20, opened the 2014 season with Fort Wayne, but he was sent to short-season Class A Eugene after hitting .188 while committing 18 errors in 22 games with the TinCaps. He hit .279 with nine homers and 35 RBIs with Eugene. He also committed a league-high 34 errors in 61 games, although he was still selected to the Northwest League All-Star Game and named the seventh-best prospect in the league.
Reyes, 19, like Cordero, is a native of the Dominican Republic. The 6-foot-5, 240-pound Reyes batted .248 for Fort Wayne last season with 11 homers and 59 RBIs in 128 games.
The TinCaps' roster
Pitchers (13): Taylor Aikenhead (L), Payton Baskette (L), Yimmi Brasoban, Taylor Cox (L), Thomas Dorminy (L), Danielson Lamet, Walker Lockett, Seth Lucio, Kyle McGrath (L), Ernesto Montas, Wilson Santos, Bryan Verbitsky and T.J. Weir.
Catchers (2): Miguel Del Castillo and Jose Ruiz.
Infielders (5): Felipe Blanco, Franchy Cordero, Duanel Jones, Trae Santos, Josh VanMeter.
Outfielders (5): Henry Charles, Michael Gettys, Edwin Moreno, Franmil Reyes and Nick Torres.