Former Polk County standout Joel Booker will open the 2019 minor league baseball season on Thursday with the Double-A Birmingham Barons.

Booker is one of a handful of Chicago White Sox outfield prospects on the Birmingham roster, which one publication recently called “the best outfield in the minors.”

The Barons open the season Thursday with the first of five games at Biloxi before returning April 10 for their home opener.

Booker spent the second half of the 2018 season at Birmingham, where he appeared in 66 games, hitting .266 with 12 doubles, two homers, 17 RBI and 12 steals.

The assignment to Birmingham reunites Booker with manager Omar Vizquel, who served as Winston-Salem’s manager last season when Booker spent a half-season there. It was Vizquel who gave Booker the green light to steal home with the winning run in the Dash’s home opener, a play that garnered nationwide attention.

Booker spent part of the 2019 preseason in the White Sox major league camp, appearing in eight spring training games. He went hitless in 11 at-bats.

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