TULSA, Oklahoma - For the first time since 1999, the Tulsa Drillers are opening the season as defending Texas League champions. They were to kick the season off with a championship parade down Greenwood, onto Archer to at the oil derrick entrance to the stadium.

As is the case in minor league baseball, the Drillers' roster was just finalized earlier this week. Fans will meet the team as they're announced one-by-one, then right before first pitch, the Texas League Championship banner will be unveiled.

That's a moment Manager Scott Hennessey has been looking forward to.

"It is special," he said. "We can reminisce one more time from last year's team and hand out the rings in front of all the great fans that we have - then put it to bed, and it's on to 2019."

The team, at least to start the year, will look pretty familiar. Eighteen players on the opening day roster saw time in Tulsa last year.

Eleven of those 18 are on the pitching staff, including Mitchell White and opening day starter Dustin May. May threw so well in spring training, Hennessey said he was surprised he was here and not in Triple-A.

Outfielder D.J. Peters is back too and is a big fan of the club's makeup. Former OU quarterback Cody Thomas joins the 2019 Drillers as an outfielder. It isn't the first time he's played at ONEOK Field. Thomas helped lead the Sooners to a Bedlam win in his last visit in 2016.

There will also be a familiar face in the Arkansas dugout this weekend. Former OSU and Bishop Kelley standout Donnie Walton is back for his second season with the Travelers. Walton hit 236, with a home run and 22 RBIs in 62 games with the Travs.

The festivities last all weekend. Players get their rings Friday night, and it's fireworks night at the ol' ballpark.