Rodriguez, the Angels 2006 Minor League Player of the Year, returns to Arkansas following an impressive 18-game stint in the Texas League at the end of last season. Combined between Arkansas and Class A Rancho Cucamonga Rodriguez hit .314-29 hr-86 RBI and a Minor League best 291 total bases. An infielder during his first two seasons with the Travs, Greg Porter has switched to the outfield after a successful 2006 campaign where he hit .298 and set career highs with 20 home runs, 71 RBI and 28 doubles. C Bobby Wilson, stuck behind a string of talented catchers in the Angels system, will be the starting backstop again following a .286-14 hr-53 RBI season. C Tim Duff, with 15 games as a Trav in 2005 and 2006, will be Wilson's backup. OF Aaron Peel also returns after a good all-around 2006 season that included .285-16 hr-66 RBI and 37 doubles. 1B/OF Matt Pali rejoins the club as does INF Ryan Leahy who is back following thyroid cancer treatment.
Pride, 38, in his fourth season with the Angels system played 22 games in Los Angeles in 2006 marking his 11th season of Major League service. He hit .311-8 hr-44 rbi in 87 games at Salt Lake in 2006 plus .222 in 22 games for the Angels. Pride holds a .250 batting average with 20 home runs in 421 big league games.
One newcomer to the Travs roster is certainly not new to the league. INF Adam Morrissey will be playing for his third Texas League team in five years. Morrissey, who plays three infield positions, was with Midland (2002-2003, 2005) and Frisco (2006). 3B Freddy Sandoval, .258 avg-5 hr-54 RBI and 30 stolen bases at Rancho last year, takes over at the hot corner. Michael Collins a first baseman and designated hitter, hit .291-7 hr-82 RBI for Rancho as well. Collins also was hit by a Minor League-leading 33 pitches last year. OF Cody Fuller ranked eighth in the Minors getting plunked by 23 pitches at Rancho, but also hit .284-5 hr-36 RBI.
Apart from Adenhart, who posted a 15-4 record and 2.56 ERA between Cedar Rapids and Rancho Cucamonga, ten pitchers return to the Travs staff from the 2006 season. RHP Nick Green and RHP Jesse Smith and LHP Daniel Davidson return to the Travs rotation. Green posted an 8-5, 4.41 ERA in 17 starts at Arkansas last year while Smith led the Travs with 28 starts, going 8-13, 5.22 ERA. Smith was also the winning pitcher in the last game at Ray Winder Field. Davidson comes back for a third year to Arkansas. He split time between the starting rotation and the bullpen in 2006 finishing 2-8, 5.64 ERA in 29 games. RHP Chris Saenz rounds out the Travs rotation after missing the 2005 and 2006 seasons following elbow surgery. Saenz is a former prospect out of the Brewers organization who earned a win in his Major League debut in 2004 for Milwaukee.
All of the seven pitchers in the bullpen pitched for the Travs in the 2006 season. Angels 40-man roster members RHP Jose Arredondo and RHP Steven Shell along with RHP Rafael Rodriguez, have been converted to relief from starting roles. Arredondo threw a one-hitter for the Travs last year and finished 2-3, 6.53 ERA in 11 Texas League starts. For the third straight year, Shell begins the season in Arkansas. He made just three starts for the Travs (1-2, 4.00 ERA) last year before heading to Class AAA Salt Lake (4-9, 6.16 ERA). Rodriguez suffered through a tough 2006 campaign going 5-10, 6.63 ERA but showed good stuff. RHP Bill Edwards (8-7, 5.71 ERA in team-high 52 games), RHP Aaron Pullin (2-0, 4.70 ERA), RHP Kyle Edens (3-3, 6.46 ERA) and RHP Miguel Gonzalez (0-2, 3.88 ERA) all return to the Travs' bullpen.
The Travs will hold a free practice Tuesday, April 3 from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Fans are welcome to enter Dickey-Stephens Park at no charge and watch the Travs take swings under-the-lights. Limited concessions items will be on sale.