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Morning Pitch: Opening Day finally arrives for Buffalo Bisons

After rain and snow the Buffalo Bisons are finally ready to open the gates on the 2017 season, their 30th at the downtown park, currently known as Coca-Cola Field.

With games Thursday and Friday postponed with the weather, the Bisons are holding Opening Weekend starting with Saturday's 1:05 p.m. game and a doubleheader on Sunday at 12:35 p.m.

Here's what you need to know for Bisons' Opening Day:

First pitch: The gates open at noon and fans are encouraged to come early as new security measures, including metal detectors, are at every entrance. Fans will only need to remove their cell phones and cameras for the screening. A full rundown of security procedures is available at Bisons.com.

Promotion: the first 10,000 fans will receive the Bisons 2017 Magnetic Schedule,.

Weather: Saturday's forecast calls for sun with a high of 43. Winds W at 10 to 20 mph..

New manager: The Toronto Blue Jays promoted Bobby Meacham to manage the Herd this season. Meacham, a former first-round draft choice by the St. Louis Cardinals who played with the New York Yankees from 1983-88, managed the organization's Double-A affiliate in New Hampshire for the past three seasons.

Q&A: Bobby Meacham takes the reins as manager for the Buffalo Bisons

New pitching rotation: The lone familiar face among the starters is Casey Lawrence, who will get the ball on Opening Day. Lawrence was named the Herd's Comeback Player of the Year in 2016 and impressed the Blue Jays during his first big-league camp. The rest of the rotation for the Bisons will be righty Mat Latos, lefty T.J. House, righty Jarrett Grube and lefty Brett Oberholtzer.

The process was ugly at times, but trust brought Casey Lawrence success on the mound

 

Top prospects: The roster features three players who rank among the Blue Jay's Top 30 prospects: infielder Rowdy Tellez (fifth), reliever Danny Barnes (21st) and outfielder Dwight Smith Jr. (26th.)

Tellez ranks 95th overall in MLB.com's Top 100 list. The 22-year-old racked up the all-star honors with Double-A New Hampshire last season, hitting 23 home runs. In his first three seasons of pro ball combined he had 22 homers. Tellez also set career highs in 2016 with the Fisher Cats in hits (130), doubles (29), runs batted in (81), walks (63) and slugging (.530).

Barnes started last season in New Hampshire earning a promotion to Buffalo in June after posting a 1.01 earned run average in 35 2/3 innings. With the Herd, Barnes allowed just one run in 17 games (25 2/3 innings pitched) for a 0.35 ERA.

Smith will make his Triple-A debut with the Herd after playing 126 games in Double-A last season. The son of former Major Leaguer Dwight Smith, he had a career-high 15 home runs and drove in 74 in 126 games with the Fisher Cats in 2016.

 

Defending champs: Scranton is coming off its best season in franchise history and has 17 players on the preliminary roster who appeared with the RailRiders during their run to the Governors’ Cup and Triple-A National Championship in 2016.

Yankees prospects: Clint Frazier is the Yankees’ No. 2 prospect and 39th in all of baseball, according to Baseball America. The 22-year-old outfielder made his Triple-A debut with the RailRiders last season

The homestand: The Bisons and RailRiders will play a doubleheader on Sunday (12:35 p.m.) The homestand continues with four games against the Rochester Red Wings beginning Monday. The games in that series are all scheduled for 1:05 p.m.

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