Sock Puppets gear up for 2024 Appy League season

The Sock Puppets 2024 Season is Here

BURLINGTON, N.C. – The Burlington Sock Puppets and the Appalachian League are gearing up for an exciting summer, marking the start of their fourth baseball season this Tuesday. The Sock Puppets are ready to hit the ground running, opening up their season on the road with a two-game road trip to face the Bluefield Ridge Runners.

This year's roster features 30 players from 11 states representing 17 schools. Six players are from Power 5 schools, from the ​​University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, California Berkley and Duke University. Eleven players hail from the Tar Heel state, playing at schools across the state.

On the mound this season will be, will be Cooper All (UNC - Wilmington), Trey Cooper (Liberty), Kyle Emmons (Towson), Ryan Hench (North Carolina), Jerek Hobb (Stony Brook), Johnny Joseph (Queens U of Charlotte), Jimmy Lovelace (Radford), Gabe Magallan (Biola (CA.)), Chris Massey (Central Missouri), Payton Messer (Central Missouri), Jobe Olson (Reedley JC (CA)), Ty Panariello (Stony Brook), Reid Plum (Central Missouri), Andrew Steinhaus (Radford), Bromley Thorton (UNC - Wilmington), Aidan Weaver and Mason Yokum (North Carolina).

Burlington will have three catchers this season catching balls and strikes: Garrett Garfield (Reedley JC (CA)), Brian Heckelman (Towson), and Koby Kropft (South Carolina - Upstate).

Inside the diamond, the Sock Puppets will have seven infielders, starting with Carter Bailey (California - Berkeley), Joe DeLanzo (Stony Brook), Michael Elko (Richmond), Gage Miller (Queens U of Charlotte), Noah Murray (Duke), Trey Tiffan (Elon) and Lee Trevino Jr. (Fresno State).

In the outfield, Burlington will have Tyler Albright (Duke), Nick Allen (North Carolina A&T), Brody Block (Reedley JC (CA.)), Charlie Granatell (Elon) and Cole Nelson (UNC - Wilmington).

The Sock Puppets will be guided by fourth-year manager Anthony Essien. Essien, a seasoned professional, returns for another year in Burlington, his third season as full-time manager, after leading the team to back-to-back division titles in 2022 and 2023 and a championship game appearance in 2022.

"I like being able to help develop these guys because this is a development league," Essien said. "It's nice to be able to help these young men on their journey. And you know, on top of it, it's the best organization in the league, and the City of Burlington is really nice. I've made several friends over the years, so it's my summer home."

Pitching coach Jason White, hitting coach Rob Selna, and bench coach Torrey Pettiford will join Essien in the dugout this year. Athletic trainer Angela Talaganis, data coordinator Todd Daugherty, and bullpen catcher Matt Martinez will also assist the coaching staff this season.

The Sock Puppets will play two games against the Ridge Runners before the team returns to Burlington for opening weekend for their first home series against Johnson City. The first pitch is at 6:30 p.m. Eastern and will be available on the MLB.TV app.