Hot Rods Unveil 2023 Roster
Bowling Green, Kentucky– The back-to-back South Atlantic League champion Bowling Green Hot Rods, High-A Affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays, are excited to announce their 2023 roster. Led by Rafael Valenzuela, eighth manager in Bowling Green franchise history, the Hot Rods will feature five players ranked within Baseball America’s Rays top 30 prospects.
As a duo of 19-year-olds, Carson Williams (#4) and Junior Caminero (#8) will make their High-A debuts with the Hot Rods. Williams played 113 games in 2022 with the Low-A Charleston RiverDogs and was awarded a Minor League Rawlings Gold Glove for his efforts at shortstop. Caminero split his season between the FCL and Charleston, but capitalized on his time in Low-A, batting .299 with six homers and 20 RBI.
Other notable players who are listed on the Rays top-30 according to Baseball America are infielder Willy Vasquez (#15), outfielder Shane Sasaki (#24), and Austin Vernon (#30). Vasquez managed a .256 average over 113 games, collecting 10 homers and 73 RBI with Charleston last season. In the same lineup, Sasaki hit .324 over 89 games, adding 27 doubles, three triples, and nine home runs.
Along with the new faces, the Hot Rods welcome 14 returners to Bowling Green Ballpark. All returning pitchers played for the Hot Rods in 2022, including Franklin Dacosta, Antonio Menendez, Victor Munoz, Ben Peoples, Jack Snyder, Graeme Stinson, Kyle Whitten, Patrick Wicklander, as well as Vernon.
Peoples will rejoin the Hot Rods after starting the series-deciding game three of the SAL Championship. Vernon spent 20.0 innings with Bowling Green, holding opponents to a .176 batting average. Menendez shined over his six games, logging a 3.24 ERA and 11 strikeouts over 8.1 innings.
Five position players also return to the Hot Rods this season. Infielder Tanner Murray is set to play with the Hot Rods for his third consecutive, trying to build off the 2022 season where he hit .276 with six home runs and 38 RBI over 66 games. Outfielders Dru Baker and Matt Dyer also rejoin the team.
Nate Soria is back for a third season after spending parts of 2022 and 2019 with Bowling Green. Also a part of the 2019 Hot Rods, the 2018 first round pick Nick Schnell returns to Bowling Green to make his High-A debut.
The Hot Rods begin their home schedule with a six-game series on Tuesday, April 11 against the Rome Braves, High-A Affiliate of the Atlanta Braves.