2014 Preview: Sheboygan A’s
May 28, 2014
Sheboygan A's general manager Denny Moyer was thrilled with the season his squad had in 2013. That said, Moyer thinks this year's team could be even better.
Sheboygan A’s general manager Denny Moyer was thrilled with the season his squad had in 2013.
That said, Moyer thinks this year’s team could be even better.
Finishing 37-25 last year — tying for the Frank Langsdorf League of Southeastern Wisconsin regular season championship with the Kenosha Kings and falling to the Kings in the tournament title series — the A’s kick off their 2014 campaign at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday as they travel to take on the Manitowoc Bandits in a Northeastern Wisconsin League matchup.
The A’s finished third in the NWL last year, losing in the title round to Menasha. The A’s also compete in the Wisconsin State League.
But while the success was certainly welcome, Moyer said he’s still looking for his team to achieve the ever elusive 40-win season.
“I expect we’re going to win. That’s my goal anyway,” Moyer said. “I think we’re going to compete this year.”
Moyer said he likes this year’s team slightly better than last year’s, mostly due to the offensive production the roster can create.
Returning is the team’s most valuable player Cole Heili, a Sheboygan Falls grad who spent the offseason recovering from a shoulder injury last summer. The outfielder hit .335 last summer with a team-high .548 slugging percentage with 108 total bases. He finished the season with 21 doubles.
Harry Steldt, who led the team with a .347 batting average and was an All-WSL performer, will be back for his fourth season in Sheboygan. Steldt plays third base, first base and catches. He has a career .328 average in 134 games with the A’s.
“I like the team. We’ve got some guys in the middle who can hit, we have some rabbits who can hit at the top of the order and we have our pitching back,” Moyer said. “Cole was unknown last year, the big question was could he hit in this league, and it turns out, he certainly can.”
Also back is last year’s most valuable pitcher as Taylor Schwartz returns for his seventh season with the local ball club.
Schwarz, a Sheboygan South grad, went 5-2 last year and finished with a 2.77 ERA and two shutouts.
He led the club with 62 strikeouts and had only 13 walks in 65 innings on the mound, and was named to the Northeastern Wisconsin League’s first team as a pitcher. He can also double as an infielder.
Pitcher Ben Stanczyk, who has a 19-3 record, 1.63 ERA and a career .340 batting average, is also brings a lot to the A’s pitching rotation. In four seasons with the A’s he has yet to see a 2.00 ERA as he went 7-1 and 1.52 in 2002, 1-0 and 1.50 in 2008, 6-0 and 1.50 in 2011, and 5-2 and 1.59 in 2012.
“We have a lot of good players returning and a lot of new players that will be good additions, so expectations are high,” Heili said. “We just have to do what we know we can do.”
For now, the biggest problem the A’s may be facing entering the season is knowing one another. Full squad practices have been scarce due to weather issues and many players still playing out their college schedules.
The team’s first official practice will be tonight despite months of group workouts.
Pitchers Derek Loomans and Taylor Ditter and infielder Trevor Theissen will help with continuity, as will catcher Bryce Skelton, pitcher Zach Brenner and infielder Pete Hofman
First-year A’s players slated to join the club’s roster include: Ryan Blise, catcher; AJ Alessi, pitcher; TJ McCoy, first baseman; Blake Fleischman, first baseman.
A’s veterans Brandon Winfield and Bryce Taylor will also join the pitching lineup, and the team has also added returners Sam Mattheis to the outfield and Jordan DeBoer to the infield
The club will also welcome additional first-year player and outfielder-pitcher Darius Holman.
Returning from last year are pitchers Max Kramsky and Peter Sommerfeld and catcher Ben Gordon. Logan Benish, Trevor Ebetz and Josh Stanisch are new to the team.
“It’s always tough putting guys together right away at the beginning, so its a learning period, but I expect us to get into the swing of things and win some ballgames,” Heili said.
Moyer, for one, isn’t concerned, and believes second-year manager Tyler Martin has the expertise that will lead to putting the best possible lineup on the field.
“The first two weeks are about getting to know each other, it happens every year, getting to know who can run, who can’t, knowing the arms, but that’s Tyler’s job,” Moyer said with a laugh. “He does a nice job, happy to have him back with us.”
Moyer said he was thrilled with how Martin ran the team last year and he envisions the continuity only helping the team to get better. Martin also served under Kyle Trewyn as a bench coach for the A’s in 2012.
“Tyler will be stronger, knowing the kids more, he will be able to read pitchers better, and there isn’t anything as far as I’m concerned he needs to improve upon,” Moyer said.
The A’s home opener will be Friday against Menasha at Wildwood Park at 7:30 p.m. The team will play 58 regular season games in 2014, and could play as many as 70 with postseason success.
Prior to the home opener, people may see results of the local “Project G.R.I.L.L.,” a program that saw teams of students work with area workers design and build grills. The grills will be on display from 5 p.m. to the start of the game.
On Saturday, the A’s will dedicate their new scoreboard between games of a doubleheader with the West Allis Nationals. The next day, the A’s will host the Chicago Clout and a new Donor Wall will be dedicated to the memory of Chuck Zeichert and Joe Udovich, whose families funded the project that recognizes donors to Wildwood Rally as well as those fans who participated in the A’s bonding program.
Don Diener will be inducted into the A’s Hall of Fame between the games of a doubleheader with the Addison Braves on Saturday, June 28. And the popular Bud Light Night will be Friday, July 18 for a game against Manitowoc.
“We have some kids that can play. Defensively we will be strong, offensively we will be strong,” Moyer said. “We should be alright. We have good guys back. It will be an exciting season and as a club we’re making progress. I think it’s going to be a good year for us.”
2014 Sheboygan A’s Schedule
May 28, at Manitowoc Bandits, 7:30 p.m.
May 30, vs. Menasha Macs, 7:30 p.m.
May 31, vs. West Allis Nationals, 5 p.m.
May 31, vs. West Allis Nationals, 7:30 p.m.
June 1, vs. Chicago Clout, 1:30 p.m.
June 4, vs. Northern Illinois Legends, 7:30 p.m.
June 5, at Kenosha Kings, 7:30 p.m.
June 7, at Eau Claire Cavaliers, 5 p.m.
June 7, at Eau Claire Cavaliers, 7:30 p.m.
June 8, at Eau Claire Cavaliers, noon
June 8, at Eau Claire Cavaliers, 2:30 p.m.
June 10, at Manitowoc Bandits, 7:30 p.m.
June 11, vs. Oshkosh Giants, 7:30 p.m.
June 14, at Lombard Orioles, 5 p.m.
June 14, at Lombard Orioles, 7:30 p.m.
June 15, at Lombard Orioles, 1 p.m.
June 15, at Lombard Orioles, 3:30 p.m.
June 17, vs. Green Bay Storm, 7:30 p.m.
June 18, vs. Kenosha Kings, 7:30 p.m.
June 19, at West Allis Nationals, 7:30 p.m.
June 20, vs. Northern Illinois Legends, 7:30 p.m.
June 21, vs. Burlington Barons, 5 p.m.
June 21, vs. Burlington Barons, 7:30 p.m.
June 23, at Menasha Macs, 7:30 p.m.
June 24, at Oshkosh Giants, 7:30 p.m.
June 25, at Appleton Legends, 7:15 p.m.
June 26, at Kenosha Kings, 7:30 p.m.
June 28, vs. Addison Braves, 6 p.m.
June 28, vs. Addison Braves, 8:30 p.m.
June 29, vs. Addison Braves, 1 p.m.
June 29, vs. Addison Braves, 3:30 p.m.
July 1, vs. Appleton Legends, 7:30 p.m.
July 7, vs. Green Bay Storm, 7:30 p.m.
July 8, vs. Oshkosh Giants, 7:30 p.m.
July 9, at Appleton Legends, 7:15 p.m.
July 10, at Oshkosh Giants, 7:30 p.m.
July 12, vs. Kenosha Kings, 6 p.m.
July 12, vs. Addison Braves, 8:30 p.m.
July 13, vs. Eau Claire Cavaliers, 1:30 p.m.
July 13, vs. Lombard Orioles, 4 p.m.
July 15, vs. Appleton Legends, 7:30 p.m.
July 16, vs. Kenosha Kings, 7:30 p.m.
July 17, at Green Bay Storm, 7:30 p.m.
July 18, vs. Manitowoc Bandits, 7:30 p.m.
July 19, vs. Genoa City Red Dogs, 5 p.m.
July 19, vs. Genoa City Red Dogs, 7:30 p.m.
July 20, vs. Northern Illinois Legends, 1 p.m.
July 20, vs. Northern Illinois Legends, 3:30 p.m.
July 22, vs. West Allis Nationals, 7:30 p.m.
July 23, vs. Menasha Macs, 7:30 p.m.
July 24, at Green Bay Storm, 7:30 p.m.
July 26, at Burlington Barons, 5 p.m.
July 26, at Burlington Barons, 7:30 p.m.
July 27, at Genoa City Red Dogs, 1 p.m.
July 27, at Genoa City Red Dogs, 3:30 p.m.
July 29, vs. Manitowoc Bandits, 7:30 p.m.
July 30, at Menasha Macs, 7:30 p.m.
July 31, at Oshkosh Giants, 7:30 p.m.
Story by: Scott Hansen, The Sheboygan Press
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