Columbia Fireflies announce 2021 roster
COLUMBIA, S.C. (Columbia Fireflies) – The Columbia Fireflies, in conjunction with the Kansas City Royals, today announced their 2021 roster. The first Fireflies roster as an affiliate of the Kansas City Royals is loaded with draft picks and international signees who are certain to make a splash in the team’s first season in the Low-A East League.
“I am very excited about our team this year,” Fireflies Manager Brooks Conrad said. “I am really looking forward to seeing them compete hard and have fun together. We have a really good bunch of guys that are ready to go after having no season last year.”
Soda City residents will certainly recognize a pair of players with SEC ties that will now be in the home dugout at Segra Park. Brady McConnell was selected in the second round of the 2019 draft (44th overall) out of the University of Florida. The shortstop terrorized SEC pitchers in 2019 hitting .332 while knocking 15 homers, the most for any shortstop in program history, and 48 RBI. It’s hard to forget the 2020 season Tucker Bradley had for the Georgia Bulldogs. The outfielder played in all 18 of the Bulldogs games and logged a .397 average to pair with six homers. He reached base safely in each game of the year.
The talent of this group runs beyond the SEC. The Fireflies boast a trio of the Royals’ top-30 prospects, including McConnell, who MLB.com ranks as the 20th-best prospect in the Royals’ system. Ben Hernandez was selected 41st overall (2nd round) of the 2020 draft out of De La Salle Institute. The 18-year-old fanned 67 batters in just 45 frames while maintaining a 1.80 ERA. He’ll bring his youth and one of the top change-ups in the 2020 draft class to South Carolina’s capital this season. He’s graded as the 15th-best prospect in the Royals’ system, according to MiLB.com. Lastly, but certainly not least, is 19-year-old outfielder Darryl Collins. His game mirrors his namesake, the former-New York Mets superstar Darryl Strawberry. As a 15-year-old in his hometown Spijkenisse, Netherlands, he had a .418/.510/.532 slash in the country’s top professional league. After being signed by Kansas City, he went state-side in 2017 and reached base safely in his first 24 games, rocking a very similar slash in the Arizona Rookie League, .398/.472/.548. What makes it all the more impressive is that the average age of the league was over two years older than Collins.
The Fireflies full roster is as follows:
Pitchers (16): RHP Adrian Alcantara, RHP Ismael Aquino, LHP A.J. Block, RHP Delvin Capellan, RHP Christian Cosby, LHP Luis De Avila, RHP Ben Hernandez, LHP Rylan Kaufman, LHP Emilio Marquez, RHP Cruz Noriega, RHP Anderson Paulino, LHP Walter Pennington, LHP Patrick Smith, RHP Matthew Stil, RHP Nathan Webb and LHP Marlin Willis
Catchers (3): Kale Emshoff, Felix Familia and Omar Hernandez
Infielders (7): Maikel Garcia, Herard Gonzalez, Rubendy Jaquez, Brady McConnell, Jake Means, Matt Schmidt and Tyler Tolbert
Outfielders (4): Tucker Bradley, Darryl Collins, Diego Hernandez and Juan Carlos Negret