Class AA

Reds return as Lookouts, Smokies home, Generals travel

The Southern League opening day Thursday sees the Chattanooga Lookouts host Montgomery, the Tennessee Smokies host Mississippi and the Jackson Generals visit Jacksonville. (photo by Mike Morrow)

The Chattanooga Lookouts are beginning their new Class AA affiliation with the Cincinnati Reds on Thursday, hosting Montgomery in the first of a five-game series.

Other Southern League openers Thursday include the Tennessee Smokies, the AA affiliate of the Chicago Cubs, opening at home against Mississippi and the Jackson Generals, an affiliate of the the Arizona Diamondbacks and reigning Southern League champions, opening on the road at Jacksonville.

Mississippi is an affiliate of the Atlanta Braves, and Jacksonville is an affiliate of the Miami Marlins.

Chattanooga’s agreement with the Reds is for two years. It’s not the first time the Lookouts have been affiliated with the Reds. Chattanooga won a Southern League title as a Reds team in 1988, and the two teams were link for 21 years, 1988-2008.

Former major leaguers in the Reds organization who played for Chattanooga include Hall of Fame pitcher Trevor Hoffman, Joey Votto, Deion Sanders, Aaron Boone, Edwin Encarnacion, Jay Bruce, Adam Dunn, Justin Turner, Johnny Cueto, Homer Bailey and Corky Miller.

David Paschall of the Chattanooga Times Free Press quoted manager Pat Kelly this week saying, “The Southern League is a tough league, and I don’t think people really understand that a lot of pitchers you see in the first half in this league are going to be in the big leagues next year. That’s how good the arms are, so the first two weeks are very important in terms of getting their feet wet and getting them comfortable.”

The Lookouts’ roster currently boasts Taylor Trammell, an outfielder, who is currently ranked the second best prospect in the Reds organization behind former University of Tennessee star Nick Senzel and the 16th best prospect overall by MLB Pipeline.

Jackson will have a new manager, Blake Lalli. The pitching coach will be former big league star Doug Drabek.

The Generals’ shortstop, Jazz Chisholm, is ranked the top Diamondbacks prospect by MLB Pipeline. He is ranked 59th overall. Other top Diamondback prospects currently on the Jackson roster are right-handed pitcher Taylor Widner, ranked No. 3 for the Diamondbacks; catcher Daulton Varsho, No. 4; right-handed pitcher Emilio Vargas, No. 16; outfielder Marcus Wilson, No. 20; and right-handed pitcher Kevin Ginkel, No. 30.

The Tennessee Smokies are entering their 20th year at Smokies Stadium in Sevierville. The team’s players through the years have included Kris Bryant, Yadier Molina and Roy Halladay.

The current Smokies roster includes shortstop Nico Hoerner, ranked No. 2 in the Cubs’ organization; left-handed pitcher Justin Steele, No. 8; right-handed pitcher Cory Abbott, No. 9; right-handed pitcher Tyson Miller, No. 19; and catcher Jhonny Pereda, No. 29.

The Smokies are managed by Jimmy Gonzalez.

Categories: Class AA

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