The Wingnuts have made all of their player acquisitions for the 2009 season. They’ll go to spring training in early May with 28 players, and they’ll have to reduce the roster to 23 players, then 22 early in the season. Here is a look at the roster, along with the list of players who won’t return to Wichita’s American Association team this season.
Good to be back, by the way. Now that the season is closer, I’ll be blogging a little bit. Then when the season starts, of course, I’ll be posting frequently.
Not returning: C Felipe Del Rosario; C Bernie Dennis; C Jeff Stevens; IF Kevin Hooper; OF Bub Bergstrom; OF Chris Colton; OF/P Blake Gailen; UTIL Vic Davilla; P Kevin Cheppenko; P Asher Demme; P Byron Embry; P Gustavo Mata.
Notes: Kevin Hooper ended his playing days and is now the Wingnuts’ manager, replacing Kash Beauchamp. On a personal note, it’s sad to see Chris Colton move on. I liked watching him play, even if he fell short of his potential — and he was one of the nicest guys on the team.
Returning: P Richard Salazar; P Brad Davis; P Doug Hurn; P Amad Stephens; P Justin Young; P Leonard Landeros; IF Michael Thompson; IF Brenan Herrera; UTIL Steve Pearson; OF Dustan Mohr.
Notes: The Wingnuts’ pitching was hit-or-miss last season, and fell off late in the season, but six members of the pitching staff return. Wichita will be benefitted from a full season in the rotation from Richard Salazar, a left-hander who began last year in the bullpen. Herrera moves from second base to shortstop, replacing Hooper, and Pearson will likely move from first base to designated hitter. Stephens moves from a setup role to closer, replacing Byron Embry.
New faces: P Jeff Reekers; P Gabe Medina; P Tyler Rhoden; P Nathan Parker; P Derek Blacksher; P Ronnie Morales; P Lance Odom; C Zach Goldberg; C Scott Daniels; C Joe Muich; IF Derek Jennings; IF Dustin Smith; IF Josh Horn; IF Kelly Hunt; OF Bill Duffy; OF Greg Porter; OF Louis Curcio; OF Nick Blasi.
Notes: Medina, a former Yankees farmhand, could emerge as the ace of the pitching staff. One other rotation spot is open and the rest of the pitchers who make the team will fill bullpen roles. Lots of local flavor, with former WSU players Muich and Blasi and Heights product Zach Goldberg. Josh Horn is a two-time Frontier League all-star who will play second base. Kelly Hunt is a middle-of-the-order hitter at first base, and Porter will play left field. He may be familiar to Wichita fans as a former Arkansas Traveler in the Texas League.
Rotation: LHP Richard Salazar; RHP Gabe Medina; LHP Brad Davis; RHP Derek Blacksher; LHP Leonard Landeros.
Bullpen: Amad Stephens; Jeff Reekers; Tyler Rhoden; Nathan Parker; Doug Hurn.
Batting order: CF Nick Blasi; SS Brenan Herrera; RF Dustan Mohr; 1B Kelly Hunt; LF Greg Porter; 3B Michael Thompson; DH Steven Pearson; C Joe Muich; 2B Josh Horn.
Bench: C Zach Goldberg; IF Derek Jennings; OF Bill Duffy.
There you have it. My best guess about the team you’ll be seeing on the field at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium this summer. This team seems to have a lot more stability than last season’s, and I think Hooper definitely won’t have the itchy trigger finger Beauchamp had in shuttling players in and out. The lineup should be among the best in the league, and the pitching staff should have plenty of depth, even if lacking dominance.