A’s loaded bullpen to kick off season tonight

May 29, 2013

The Sheboygan A's really couldn't be much happier with their lineup in the bullpen this summer.

Wisconsin State League

The Sheboygan A’s really couldn’t be much happier with their lineup in the bullpen this summer.

The pitching rotation is expected to include two former minor league hurlers — including Ben Stanczyk, named the A’s most valuable pitcher last season and who’s had experience on several Milwaukee Brewers-affiliated teams, and Brandon Magee, a Sheboygan North grad who played several seasons in the minors after the Toronto Blue Jays picked him in the fourth round of the 2006 amateur entry draft.

“I think that our veteran presence on the mound will be a strong point of ours,” first-year A’s manager Tyler Martin said last week, pointing specifically to Stanczyk and Magee as potential anchors in the bullpen.

The A’s are scheduled to kick off their season tonight at Wildwood Baseball Park against the Northeastern Wisconsin League’s Menasha Macs. Sheboygan also plays in two other leagues — the Wisconsin State League and the Frank Langsdorf Baseball League of Southeastern Wisconsin. The A’s finished second in the Langsdorf last season.

If it’s rainy, tonight’s game could get pushed to Thursday.

The team’s deep pitching roster is getting preseason kudos from team officials. But there’s less certainty about the A’s offense, which includes some strong hitters but lacks a consistent hit-’em-out-of-the-park batter.

Stanczyk, who signed with the Brewers as a non-drafted free agent in 2004 and played several seasons in the minors, most recently in 2008 with the Brewers’ Double-A Huntsville Stars, is starting his fifth season with the A’s this summer. He’s compiled a 19-3 record so far with Sheboygan and finished last season with a 1.50 ERA, according to team records.

Magee, who developed into a starter at Illinois’ Bradley University before getting drafted, finished the 2009 season with a 4.92 ERA in more than 71 innings on the mound with two Toronto-affiliated minor league teams — including the Double-A New Hampshire Fisher Cats, according to online Bradley University and MLB records.

Magee has played in Sheboygan before, but it’s been years since he put on an A’s uniform. He was with the team between 2001 and 2004, posting a 17-8 record with a 3.04 ERA, according to the A’s website. He had his best year in 2003, when he finished with a 10-4 record, a 2.84 ERA and pitched 120 strikeouts in 98 innings.

A’s general manager Denny Moyer said he’s excited about the team’s deep pitching lineup, which also includes strong hurlers Mitch Gardner, Taylor Schwarz and Lucas Wilsing.

Gardner threw a no-hitter in last year’s season opener and finished with a 3-3 record and a 3.94 ERA. Schwarz finished the season with a 2-2 record and a 3.57 ERA.

And Wilsing, one of only a few left-handed pitchers on the team and who’s shown strength on offense, is back in the lineup after an injury-shortened season last summer. He pitched just one game last season before bowing out with a hurt shoulder. But he’s built a 14-6 record and a 2.23 ERA — and compiled a .318 batting average — in four seasons with Sheboygan.

Moyer said the A’s pitching is expected to be the team’s biggest strength this summer, but noted there are question marks on offense.

“We just don’t have any Ryan Brauns,” Moyer said, noting the team lacks a consistent power hitter.

Martin also said the team won’t likely have much powerful hitting in the lineup this year, but noted the A’s offense won’t be weak.

“We’ll have some pop in the middle of the order,” he said.

Indeed, the A’s have some strong veteran batters in the lineup. Harry Steldt, the A’s most valuable player last season, batted in 31 runs, belted one homer and compiled a .337 batting average last year. And teammate Chad Langley averaged .259 with 29 RBIs and a home run last year.

“We will compete,” Moyer said. “We’re young, we’re quick and we’ll be strong defensively.”

Story by: The Sheboygan Press

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