Sock Puppets announce initial 2024 roster

Check out the first look of the 2024 Burlington Sock Puppets Roster
2024 Roster Release

Burlington, NC. - The start of the 2024 Appalachian League season is now within a month away and with that, the initial Burlington Sock Puppets roster is set. This season’s roster features a pair of returning 2023 Sock Puppets, 10 players from North Carolina based schools, and nearly two dozen former top-50 ranked players in their respective high school state recruiting classes. Heading into the 4th year as the Sock Puppets, the Burlington club is ready to chase their 3rd straight division championship.

“I am really excited to get started with this year’s roster,” Anthony Essien, the Burlington Skipper, said. “We have a good mix of players from all over the country and they’ll get a chance to play for the best organization in the league.”

The Sock Puppets open the 2024 campaign on the road before their Home Opener on Friday, June 7th.


  • Cooper Allen (UNC - Wilmington) -* A two-way player out of Wake Forest, N.C., Allen will be joining the Sock Puppets after completing his freshman season at UNC Wilmington. In his 2023 Recruiting Class, he was the 28th-ranked player in the state (PBR), and 1st-ranked 3B. Allen last played at Burlington Athletic Stadium in the NCHSAA 4A Championship series where he hit .375 and struck out 10 in a 1-run complete game win.
  • Cruz Cabral (Reedley JUCO - CA) - Cabral, a 6’5 RHP, posted a 13.50 K/9 in his freshman season for Reedley JUCO in California. The Clovis East High School graduate appeared in 12 games this season for the Tigers.
  • Kyle Emmons (Towson) - Ranked the 12th best RHP in Maryland for the Class of 2023, Emmons is in his Freshman year at Towson University. The 6’4, 210 pound righty has made 12 appearances striking out 12 over 11.2 innings for the Tigers.
  • Ryan Hench (UNC - Chapel Hill) - A Hillsborough, N.C. native, Hench was a highly decorated High School pitcher. He was the 2022 Central Carolina 3A Pitcher of the Year, 2021 Big-Eight Conference Pitcher of the Year, All-State as a Sophomore and a Junior, and finished his senior season striking out 40 over 25.1 innings. Hench was also the 17th ranked RHP in North Carolina for the Class of 2023.
  • Jerek Hobb (Stony Brook) - Hobb, a Sophomore at Stony Brook, has appeared in 9 games this season. The Rotterdam, NY native was a 4-year letterwinner for Schalmont where he still holds the career strikeout record (238). Hobb was also ranked 10th among all LHP in the state of New York.
  • Johnny Joseph (Queens University - Charlotte) - Joseph is a 6’1 RHP for Queens University where he has made 15 appearances in his Freshman year. Prior to joining the Royals, Joseph won two high school state championships while at Charlotte Christian.
  • Brady Louck (Florida State) - Louck joined the Seminoles as Illinois’ top LHP (39th ranked nationally) for the Class of 2023. As a Freshman, he has appeared in 10 games, starting 4 of them, and striking out 22 batters in 16.0 innings.
  • Jimmy Lovelace (Radford) - Currently a Freshman at Radford University, Lovelace has made 16 appearances posting a 3.60 ERA. Prior to college, Lovelace led Wake Forest High School to a North Carolina State Championship appearance alongside another 2024 Sock Puppet, Cooper Allen.
  • Gabe Magallan (Biola - CA) - Magallan is a 5’10 RHP out of Hanford, Calif. Currently, in his Sophomore year at Biola, Gabe has appeared in 17 games, posting a 3.95 ERA, with 29 strikeouts in 27.1 innings pitched.
  • Chris Massey (Central Missouri) - One of three Central Missouri pitchers on the roster. Massey has made four appearances this season for the Mules. He was also the 18th ranked LHP in Missouri for the Class of 2023
  • Payton Messer (Central Missouri) - The second LHP from Central Missouri, Messer is a 6’2 Sophomore that has appeared in 4 games so far this season. Messer was First Team All-State in Missouri Class 6A his Senior year.
  • Jobe Olson (Reedley JUCO - CA) - Olson is finishing his Sophomore year at Reedley (Calif.). He made 19 appearances striking out 50 over 55.2 innings. Olson is a Laton, California Native.
  • Ty Panariello (Stony Brook) - Panariello was the 38th ranked RHP in New York for the Class of 2023. He has currently made 10 appearances so far this season.
  • Reid Plum (Central Missouri) - The third pitcher from Stony Brook, Plum is a 6’5 righty from Kansas City, Mo.. The 29th ranked RHP in Missouri for the Class of 2022, Plum led Liberty High School to a state championship, his junior year, in 2021.
  • Andrew Steinhaus (Radford) - Ranked as the 5th RHP in Delaware for the Class of 2023, Steinhaus has made 13 appearances for Radford his Freshman year. The Middleton, DE native spent last summer with the Pulaski River Turtles in the Appalachian League.
  • Bromley Thornton (UNC - Wilmington) -* Bromley was the 39th ranked RHP prior to his Freshman year at UNCW. A two-way player for the Seahawks, Thornton has 4 appearances on the mound and 24 games in the lineup hitting .297/.405/.447.
  • Austin Turkington (California - Berkeley) - The fourth ranked 3B in California (22nd in the nation), Turkington has made all of his collegiate appearances on the mound for the Cal Golden Bears. Featuring a mid-90s fastball, Austin has posted a 3.75 ERA, striking out 21 over 24.0 innings in his Sophomore season.
  • Mason Yokum (UNC - Chapel Hill) - A Holly Springs, N.C. native, Yokum graduated from Pro5 Academy in 2023 ranked as the 4th best LHP and 16th overall player in North Carolina, and the 50th best LHP in the nation. The 6’3 lefty is currently a Freshman at UNC.


  • Koby Kropf (USC-Upstate) - The 2023 Appalachian League All-Star is set to return to Sockville for his second season as a Sock Puppet. After slashing .263/.381/.305 last summer, Kropf has carried over his success, and then some, this spring for the USC Upstate Spartans. So far, in his redshirt junior season, Koby has slashed .372/.450/.767 clubbing a Big South Conference leading 18 HRs, and top 3 in the conference in Hs, 2Bs, RBIs, SLG, and OPS.
  • Garrett Garfield (Reedley JUCO - CA) - A Sophomore at Reedley (Calif.), Garfield hit .259/.445/.402 this spring for the Tigers. He was 8th in the conference in 2Bs and 5th in HBP. Garfield is a native of Clovis, CA.
  • Brian Heckelman (Towson) - Heckelman is a Sophomore catcher for the Towson Tigers. He has started 43 of 45 games this spring, posting a .988 FLD%, while slashing .239/.369/.420. A Mineola, NY native, Heckelman was the 23rd ranked catcher in his state for the Class of 2022.


  • Carter Bailey (California - Berkeley) - The 4th ranked SS in Arizona for the Class of 2023, Bailey is currently in his Freshman season for the Cal Golden Bears. He went to Mountain Pointe High School in Chandler, Arizona, where he also made the Arizona State Tournament in golf.
  • Joe Delanzo (Stony Brook) - Delanzo is in his Sophomore year at Stony Brook, appearing in 14 games, so far this season. Prior to joining the Seawolves, the Nutley, NJ native ranked as the 13th best SS in the state for the Class of 2022, but can play across the field at 3B/2B and in the OF.
  • Michael Elko (Richmond) - Elko started his college career at Northwestern before transferring to Richmond for his Sophomore year. Originally from College Station, TX, Elko saw a lot of success in high school as a 3-year letterwinner on his way to being ranked the 52nd SS in Texas. Elko is also the son of Mike Elko, former Duke and now-current Texas A&M Head Football Coach.
  • Gage Miller (Queens University - Charlotte) - An Asheboro, NC native, Miller is in his Freshman year for Queens University in Charlotte. He was the 6th best 3B in North Carolina for the Class of 2023.
  • Trey Tiffan (Elon) -* Tiffan is a two-way player in his Freshman year at Elon University. The 6th best 3B in Pennsylvania coming out of high school, Trey has logged 4 appearances on the mound, and 19 games in the field.
  • Lee Trevino Jr. (Fresno State) - Lee Trevino Jr. is returning for his second season in Burlington after joining the club in July 2023 and helping take the Puppets back to Appy League Championship game. Now in his Sophomore season at Fresno State, Trevino Jr. has started 5 games, appearing in 13, and batting .240/.240/.320.


  • Nick Allen (North Carolina A&T) - The 14th ranked outfielder out of Milton, Ga., Allen is in his Freshman year at North Carolina A&T. The 6’2 speedster posted a 6.50 second 60 time on his way to playing Division I baseball in the Tarheel State.
  • Brody Block (Reedley JUCO - CA) - Brody Block dominated for the Reedley Tigers in his Sophomore season, this spring. Posting a .391/.490/.550 slash line to go with a 14:33 K:BB ratio, 3 HRs, and 14 2Bs. Block also stole 18 bases in 20 opportunities.
  • Charlie Granatell (Elon) - The former 5th ranked outfielder in New Jersey for the Class of 2021, Charlie Granatell has made himself home at Elon University. He is currently having a career best season as Junior for the Phoenix, hitting .339/.419/.529 and leading the team in Hs, Rs (tied with ‘23 Sock Puppet, Kenny Mallory Jr.), 2Bs, HRs (tied with another ‘23 Sock Puppet, Vince Fattore), RBIs, and SLG%.
  • Cole Nelson (UNC - Wilmington) -* Nelson is a two-way player in his Freshman season for the UNCW Seahawks. The 6’3 righty features a mid-90s fastball on the mound, that helped rank him as the 59th RHP in North Carolina. Nelson was a 3-year starter for Hickory Grove Christian School, earned All-State honors his Junior and Senior seasons and led the Lions to a 3A State Championship Title in 2023.