Gone are several seasoned bench veterans and some prospects graduated, but taking their place is a talented mix of young players.
THE STARTING ROTATION
Tossing a screwball is impressive, but it is probably just his third best pitch, after his dominant heater and heavy sinker. Biscuit fans will be looking forward to every fifth day as #HoneyDay
Hunter Wood is the second starter but that doesn't necessarily mean he is second best. Wood was having very few problems with Southern League hitters last year when a comebacker derailed his season and a potential no-hitter, sending to the DL.
Wood gives the Biscuits a one-two punch at the top of the rotation that is as good as any in the league.
Chirinos had a nice season last year between the Biscuits, High-A Port Charlotte and Single-A Bowling Green to earn a combined 3.36 Era.
This Harris has excellent strikeouts numbers and doesn't like to give up hits. He tossed a pair of shutouts last year for the StoneCrabs.
With the Biscuits, he has a chance to earn his keep in the rotation, at least until injured lefty Chris Kirsch returns from the DL and maybe even beyond that.
Pitching coach R.C. Lichtenstein seemed really high on his bullpen this year, though he admitted there would probably be a period of adjustment for some of them. "Each one of these guys comes out throwing gas, 94-96mph and up. Except Harrison, who slings it sidearm from his shoetops, which is just as tough to hit!"
Brad Schreiber, the big righthander returns to the Skitz having earned his spot in the pen. He had rough outings last summer and had to prove himself in spring, but his velocity is up and the cheerful reliever seems set to return to form.
Watching Brad throw a bullpen in early spring was more than encouraging for pitching coach Lichtenstein who knew right away he was back on track, saying "When he's right, he unhittable. And he looks right."
Entering his third year wearing the Biscuits uni, Winkler is ready to offer some shutdown innings and show he is up for the next challenge, success out of the Biscuits pen could lead to Winkler moving to Durham sooner rather than later.
Edwin Fierro was pitching at age 18 for Campeche and learned quickly about big games and competitive teams. Now Fierro comes to Montgomery with a talent for getting out of tight spots. His single-A stats don't pop off the page, just 17 strikeouts against 40 hits in 33 innings last year, but Edwin seems to be some sort of escape artist since his ERA was a tidy 3.78.
|Edwin Fierro, left, and Ciuffo|
Advancing four levels in two seasons, plus a trip to the Arizona Fall League, the Rays have yet to find a challenge that Diego can't overcome.
His stats ARE eye-popping - 70 strikeouts in 42 innings pitched, only twenty hits allowed in his 24 appearances.
|Jordan Harrison, lhp|
Stingy on allowing hits but occasionally prone to the base on balls, 'Arry kept hitters off balance and the bullpen guys loose with his sense of humor.
His numbers are fine, but he is due to give up a home run after not allowing a single long ball all last year.
|Lhp Kyle Bird|
One of just two Biscuit pitchers on the Rays 40 man roster, Alvarado could be on the fast track if he keeps striking out hitters at the same pace.
Nick Ciuffo, a top catching prospect, brings an excellent reputation for throwing out baserunners at an amazing 60% clip last season.
|Also able to catch popcorn like a boss, Nick Ciuffo|
Justin O'Conner returns to prove he is healthy and could easily be ready to retake his prospect label. One of the best arms in baseball from behind the plate, O'Conner is a threat to any baserunner and gives the Biscuits the most dangerous plate tenders in the league.
The all new infield is raw and will experience a few "growing pains" but has as much talent as any squad in the league.
Joe McCarthy - No, not the senator at the center of the 1950s communist hearings. Also no to the HOF former manager of the Cubs, Yanks and BoSox. This Joe Mac is a lefty first baseman in the Mark Grace style, he won't hit 25 hr's but he will still post a tidy OPS over .800. McCarthy, a 5th round choice by the Rays in 2015, played more outfield for Port Charlotte than he did at first base, making over 30 starts in the outfield.
A righthanded hitter, Michael appeared in nearly as many games at shortstop (38) as he did at first base (41) for the HotRods. He also made starts at third base and in left field, giving him a super utility factor.
Riley Unroe, a second round pick in 2013, Unroe's father Tim played for the Brewers, Braves and Angels. Riley, a New Orleans native, is a switch hitting middle infielder who could bring the team twenty steals. Unroe showed really well in the Australian League in 2015-16, offering timely hitting and fine defense.
Alec Sole, getting in just a handful of games with the Biscuits last year could earn the lefty hitting an edge in getting playing time early in the season. Sole brings a good eye to the plate and has nice speed, stealing 14 bags last summer.
Grant Kay is listed as a third baseman due to his 111 games there with Bowling Green in 2015, but last year with the StoneCrabs he played in nearly 80 games at first base and less than a dozen games at third. He also played a game or two at second base, shortstop, left field, fifteen games in right field, and even pitched twice.
Basically he is a baseball swiss army knife in the field. At the dish, the righthanded Kay has occasional pop and excellent speed.
All four outfielders return from last year to form the heart of the Biscuits lineup for 2017. Fans will enjoy watching the outfielders showcase their speed in the field as well as their development as batsmen.
Granden Goetzman, sporting a blond mohawk is a highlight reel waiting to happen. Stealing twenty-six bases last year was impressive but this year he appears more refined and ready to have a break out season.
Primarily a left fielder, the right handed hitting Goetzman has just twenty milb career home runs but could surpass that mark this season after cutting down on his strikeouts over the past two seasons.
Gotta stole 22 bases last year for Montgomery, plus seven in single-A before he got here to make a career high 29. Expect him to exceed that this year and for his batting average to improve in his return to the Skitz. Fielding? Just get out of his way!
|Braxton Lee & Cade Gotta|
Expect Lee to get back to being himself, likely playing a lot of center field to utilize his excellent speed and picking up plenty of infield hits.
|Justin Williams, left, and Andrew Velasquez|
The 6'2 lefthanded Williams cut his strikeouts nearly in half from 2015 to 2016 and has the look of a future impact player.