Normal CornBelters Join the Fight Against Cancer

NORMAL, Illinois (February 6, 2018) – The Cornbelters and American Cancer Society have announced details on the annual Relay for Life of McLean County.

The Relay for Life Event will be on Friday, June 22, 2018.  Starting at 2:00 p.m. CT, there will be the opening ceremony, followed by the survivor/caregiver walk, the luminaria ceremony, and lastly the closing ceremony.  To register a team, join a team, or to volunteer for this event, visit the Relay for Life of McLean County online and click “Join this Relay.”

July 28th is another State Farm Saturday at The Corn Crib and Cancer Awareness Night, presented by Relay For Life of McLean County & American Cancer Society, featuring a postgame firework show. Gates open at 6:05 p.m. CT with the first pitch at 7:05.

The CornBelters will be recognizing the outstanding teams and participants of the June Relay For Life of McLean County event, as well as local cancer survivors and their families. Community partners will be present on the game night on the main concourse, distributing information on local services and support resources.

The team will also be hosting a fundraiser via ticket sales where fans can purchase tickets to the game night with a portion of each ticket sold going back to Relay For Life of McLean County. Details on ticket sales will be released soon at www.NormalBaseball.com.

“We are very thankful for the opportunity to partner with, and host, the Relay For Life of McLean County at The Corn Crib this June,” said Ryan Eucker, Cornbelters Vice President of Ticket Sales. “Beyond providing a new and unique venue for the event, we’re looking forward to partnering with the many teams and participants of Relay For Life to offer support in their fundraising efforts.”

In addition to hosting the event at The Corn Crib and the game night fundraiser leading up to Cancer Awareness Night on July 28, the CornBelters will be offering teams and participants the ability to sell tickets with a portion of each ticket sold being banked to their fundraising effort leading up to the Relay For Life event on June 22-23.

“We are extremely excited to partner with the Corn Crib for Relay For Life this year. This opens up many opportunities for us and hopefully opens us up to a larger crowd,” said Catina Struble, Event Lead for Relay For Life of Mclean County. “We look forward to meeting new relayers as well as offering our existing and dedicated relay family a little more variety.  I have no doubt we will meet and exceed our goal of $305,000.00 this year!”

McLean County’s Relay for Life event will be held at The Corn Crib, located at 1000 W. Raab Road, Normal, IL 61761.  This location has an abundance of parking available, including ADA parking.

For more information on fundraising or donating to the cause, please visit relay.acsevents.org.

Marino Returns to the Southern Illinois Miners as Hitting Coach

Marion, Ill. (February 5, 2018) – The Southern Illinois Miners announce that Steve Marino will return to Southern Illinois on their coaching staff, replacing Dave Schaub as the team’s hitting coach for the 2018 season.

No stranger to Southern Illinois, Marino spent all five of his professional seasons as a player in the Frontier League, the last three of which in a Miners uniform from 2014-16. A rock at the hot corner who played in 282 of a possible 288 regular season games at third base, Marino finished his career ranking in the Miners’ career top-10 in 12 different statistical categories, including second in games played (282) and RBIs (174), third in at-bats (1,048), doubles (59), homers (30) and extra-base hits (94), and fourth in total hits (278). Memorably, he clinched the Miners’ East Division title in 2015 with a walk-off homer against the Traverse City Beach Bums, and while serving as the team’s first-ever captain in 2016, led the team to a third-straight division championship by batting .288 with career-best totals of 23 doubles, 16 home runs and 79 RBIs, taking home both mid-season and postseason all-star honors at third base.

This past season, Marino joined the coaching ranks as an assistant at his alma mater, Stony Brook University in New York, where he worked with the Seawolves’ hitters, was in charge of all team stats and data during the season, and also coordinated the team’s summer and winter camps and clinics. In addition, he ran and organized Stony Brook’s hitting clinics for high school prospects.

“As the only captain in Miners history, Steve embodies what it means to be a Miner,” Southern Illinois manager Mike Pinto said. “The respect that Steve received from his teammates came from not only his exceptional work ethic and daily effort, but most-importantly from his ability to communicate with every player and member of the coaching staff. He captured the hearts of many of our fans with his spirit as well as his outgoing and friendly personality.”

“Steve had success in this league as a player both offensively and defensively, and was recognized throughout the league by players, coaches and umpires for his leadership and professionalism,” Pinto added. “I am extremely confident that his experience as a player, his knowledge of our systems, standards and expectations, and his coaching experience last year will help our players and our team in the season ahead. We are very excited to have Steve back with the Miners.”

“I’d like to send a huge thank-you to (team owners) John and Jayne Simmons, and especially Mike Pinto for the amazing opportunity to begin my professional coaching career with the Miners,” Marino said. “I couldn’t be more excited to return to such an outstanding organization, the wonderful city of Marion, and to reunite with all the great fans. It will be very special for me to put on the Miners’ uniform again and help the team extend its already-rich history of winning baseball.”

“I’m very excited and optimistic about the 2018 season,” Marino added. “I’m looking forward to the opportunity to help develop our returning players, as well as the future additions to the roster. I’m confident that my experiences on and off the field as a professional player, and as a college coach last year, will have a positive impact on our players offensively, defensively and in the clubhouse. I can’t wait to get to work.”

Evansville Otters Sign Kukura, McClain and Stagani

EVANSVILLE, Ind. – The Evansville Otters signed outfielder John Kukura and right-handed pitchers Josh McClain and Greg Stagani.

Kukura comes to Evansville after playing college baseball for the Setters of Pace University from 2014-17.

In 166 career starts with the Setters, Kukura finished fifth on the school’s all-time hits list with 205. He also set a new program mark with 11 career triples, including a single-season record of eight in 2016.

Kukura’s junior season in 2016 also included a .341 batting average, 33 RBIs and a .536 slugging percentage.

“He came highly recommended to us last year but we just didn’t have a need at the time,” Otters manager Andy McCauley said. “Then he played really well at a Diamondbacks workout last fall so he should compete for an outfield job this spring.”

McClain played collegiately at West Chester University from 2016-17 after beginning his career at Northampton Community College (2014-15).

As a senior with the Golden Rams in 2017, McClain finished with a 2.97 ERA and 11-2 record while making 29 appearances.

His senior season at West Chester was capped by a NCAA Division II national championship and he earned the victory in the title game, going four innings in relief in a 5-2 win over the University of California-San Diego.

In his two years with West Chester, McClain pitched 101.2 innings and struck out 89 batters while only walking 42. He also finished with 18 saves.

“We had a lot of interest in Josh after a very successful career at West Chester,” McCauley said. “I was very surprised he wasn’t drafted but we are looking forward to helping him get to the next level.”

Former Otter Matt Zielinski also played at West Chester as a graduate student in 2011 before joining McCauley’s team later that summer in Evansville.

Stagani played collegiately at West Liberty University from 2014-17 and as a senior he was named to the Mountain East Conference second team as a pitcher.

In 2017, he had a 2.60 ERA for the Hilltoppers and McCauley said a former player recommended Stagani to him.

“He will be looking to compete for role in spring training,” McCauley said. “He has shown well at a number of workouts.”

Traverse City Beach Bums Sign Three From California Winter League

TRAVERSE CITY, MI – The Traverse City Beach Bums are happy to announce the signing of three players currently playing in the California Winter League in Palm Springs. Infielder/Outfielder Raul Shah, along with pitchers Adam Cornwell and Sam Burton, will compete for roster spots during the Traverse City Beach Bums’ spring training. Also, they are scheduled to appear at the annual Traverse City Beach Bums Fan Fest, coming up in May.

Adam Cornwell is a right-handed pitcher from Bloomington, Indiana and completed his collegiate career with the University of Pittsburgh. Before pitching in four games with the Panthers, he spent three seasons with the University of Indianapolis. Overall in college, he pitched in 43 games, with 16 starts, and a record of 8-4 with a 5.66 ERA. In 101 innings, he struck out 80 batters. Currently, Adam is completing his winter season with the Alberta Grizzly of the California Winter League and he is 1-0 with a 5.09 ERA.

Sam Burton, also a right-handed pitcher, comes to the Cherry Capital from the Utica Unicorns of the United Shore baseball League. In 2017, he appeared in seven games, going 2-1 with an ERA of 5.40. In 21.2 innings, he struck out 25 while only walking 10. Collegiately, he pitched for Walters State Community College, Georgetown College, and he finished at Winston-Salem State University. While at Walter, the team was ranked first in the nation, and while at Georgetown, he appeared in the 2014 College World Series. As a senior of Winston-Salem State, he was 6-1 with a complete game and a 2.37 ERA. Currently, he is with the Oregon Lumberjack of the CWL, and is 2-1 with a 2.80 ERA.

Finally, Raul Shah will begin his second professional season, coming from the Plattsburgh Redbirds of the Empire Baseball League. Last season, he hit .314 with five doubles, three triples, and 32 RBI in 57 games. Before embarking on his pro career, he graduated from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore where, in his senior season, he hit .360 with five homers, 14 doubles, and 40 RBI in 45 games. He had an on-base percentage of .415 with a slugging percentage of .537, while stealing seven bases in eight attempts. This winter, he’s playing for the Toronto Rush of the CWL, hitting .233 with two extra base hits in eight games.

Normal CornBelters Sign Michael Centeno For 2018 Season

NORMAL, Illinois (February 2, 2018) – The CornBelters, presented by Illinois Corn Growers, have signed infielder Michael Centeno for the 2018 season.

Centeno (5-9, 180, St. Thomas) will enter his first season as a member of the Frontier League in Normal. He attended St. Thomas University in Miami Gardens, Florida where he earned 1st team All-Conference, Athletic All-American, and Academic All-American honors.

During his 2017 season, Centeno led the St. Thomas Bobcats with 18 HR, 54 RBI, a batting average of .366 and an impressive .733 slugging percentage.

Michael attended Miami Sunset High School in Miami, Florida. He was born on November 8, 1994.

Normal CornBelters Add Ryan Caporice and Nick Cain to 2018 Roster

NORMAL, Illinois (February 1, 2018) – The CornBelters, presented by Illinois Corn Farmers, have signed right-handed pitcher Ryan Caporice and outfielder Nick Cain.

Caporice (6-0-, 210, Lynn) will enter his first season as a member of the Frontier League with the CornBelters in 2018. He attended Lynn University in Boca Raton, the same school as CornBelters Field Manager Billy Horn, and majored in Sports Management. Ryan is originally from Thonotosassa, Florida and was born on August 31, 1992.

During his senior season at Jesuit High School Caporice posted a 1.40 ERA and limited opposing batters to a .062 batting average, while also lettering in football. In 2014 at Lynn University, he appeared in 12 games and posted a 3.32 ERA with four strikeouts and 17 hits allowed in 19 innings of work.

Cain (6-4, 220, Faulkner) played two seasons at Faulkner University (AL) after transferring from the University of North Georgia. During his senior season, he hit .351 with 17 doubles, 19 home runs, 51 runs scored and 72 RBIs.

While at Faulkner, Cain helped lead his team to the SSAC regular-season and tournament championships, and a runner-up finish at the Avista-NAIA World Series.

Cain was drafted in the 27th round of the 2016 MLB Draft by the Milwaukee Brewers and went on to spend 2017 as a rookie in the Arizona League where he appeared in 34 games. Nick is native of Xenia, Ohio and was born on September 9, 1993.

 

 

Wild Things Add Matt Kaster From the California Winter League

WASHINGTON, Pa. (Jan. 31) – Today the Washington Wild Things announced the acquisition of a second pitcher from the California Winter League, as right-hander Matt Kaster has signed with the team.

Kaster played four seasons of collegiate ball at Wilkes University, spent a season (2016) playing for the Purcellville Cannons in the Valley Baseball League (summer ball) and had a brief stint in his first taste of pro ball with the Florence Freedom in 2017.

“Matt has the arm to be a quality bullpen piece. He showed the ability to dominate his junior year at Wilkes and that carried over to a strong summer in the Valley League,” said general manager Steven Zavacky. “There were some academic requirements his senior year that disrupted his baseball routine but he showed flashes in outings over his first pro season. We stressed a focus of consistency for Matt and hopefully with our staff’s guidance, we can put him in position to succeed.”

In four years at Wilkes, Kaster logged 92 innings in 61 appearances. All but two of those outings were in relief. Kaster was a two-time all-conference selection, and had a career ERA of 3.82. In 2016, he enjoyed his best year, when he was 3-3 in 20 outings with a 1.59 earned run average in 34 innings. That season, he gave up just six earned runs, walked 12 and struck out 43 batters, his highest strikeout total by 13 in his four seasons with the Colonels. He was a first-team selection that year.

After graduation, Kaster signed with the Freedom, who play in the West Division of the Frontier League, and made eight appearances, spanning 5.2 innings. He surrendered six runs on eight hits and struck out two batters.

Kaster said he is “excited and humbled” to be joining the Wild Things, after getting his first glimpse of the professional game.

“The biggest difference [between the college and pro game] was the approach and patience of the hitters where I might have had more guys chasing in college,” said Kaster. “Pro guys wouldn’t bite.”

After the successful season in Washington last year, Kaster said he hopes to learn from the coaches and teammates, in an effort to continue that success in 2018 from an organizational standpoint.

“The facilities and town are beautiful, which all add to a great organization and make coming to Washington an easy decision,” he added.

On the mound, he thinks of himself as a “bulldog.”

“[I] definitely feed off the energy of the crowd and don’t back down from anyone or any situation,” said Kaster. “[I hope to] be a guy that can be relied on and trusted in any situation and help the team in any way possible in order to win.”

Kaster joins Mike Castellani as pitchers to sign with Washington from the California Winter League.

Evansville Otters Trade Veteran Josh Allen to St. Paul Saints

EVANSVILLE, Ind. – The Evansville Otters have finalized a deal to send second baseman Josh Allen to the St. Paul Saints of the American Association, ending a four-year stay in Evansville. In return, the Otters received catcher Michael Rizzitello and a player to be named later from the Saints.

“As tough as it is to trade Josh, we realize it’s the best thing for him as a player,” Otters manager Andy McCauley said. “He had nothing left to prove in the Frontier League and will now take on the challenge of the American Association.

“He will be playing for a great manager in George Tsamis in one of the finest ballparks in independent baseball after Bosse Field.”

Allen, a Fort Meade, Fla. native, leaves the franchise as the all-time leader in triples (19), stolen bases (76) and hit by pitches (51).

He is second in several other career statistical categories; including games played (347), at bats (1,222), hits (374), doubles (70), RBIs (171), runs (261) and total bases (596).

Allen is third in career home runs and walks with 38 and 191, respectively.

His best season in Evansville came in 2016, when he set a single-season franchise record with a .354 batting average in earning the FL Most Valuable Player award. He also set the season record for doubles that year, finishing with 34.

“We wish Josh the best and will always remember his toughness, his timely hits and his stellar defense,” McCauley said. “His records will last for a long time.”

With Allen, Evansville made the playoffs three times and won the 2016 Frontier League title.

A Frontier League All-Star selection in 2014, 2016 and 2017, Allen joined the Otters in 2014 after playing collegiately at the University of West Florida.

Sagara Named Cubs’ Minor League Pitching Coordinator

CHICAGO – Former Evansville Otters pitcher and pitching coach Brendan Sagara has been named the Chicago Cubs’ minor league pitching coordinator.

Sagara played for the Otters in 1999, appearing in four games while accumulating a 1.69 ERA. In his 5 1/3 innings on the mound, he struck out four batters, allowed eight hits and surrendered one earned run.

The Wahiawa, Hawaii native later served as Evansville’s pitching coach in 2008 under manager Jason Verdugo and also served as acting manager briefly during that same season when Verdugo was ill.

Under his leadership in 2008, the Otters pitching staff finished with a 4.78 team ERA with 661 strikeouts and 355 walks. Evansville native Adam Rogers started 20 games for the Otters that season, finishing 8-7 with a 4.19 ERA.

“I really enjoyed my time there as a player,” Sagara said. “I have always maintained a strong affinity for the city and its people.

“Evansville is truly one of the special places in professional baseball.”

He was also an associate scout for the New York Mets from 2006-09 and a part-time scout for the Atlanta Braves from 2010-11. He was the pitching coach for five other Frontier League teams including; Dubois County (2001-02), Kenosha (2003), Springfield/Ozark (2004), Windy City (2007) and Southern Illinois (2009).

While coaching for Windy City he was named Coach of the Year (2007) and lead Windy City to the lowest team ERA, league record in wins, and won the Frontier League Championship.

“I’m very excited about the new job (with the Cubs),” Sagara said. “I would not be where I am now without the Frontier League.”

Normal CornBelters Announce Billy Horn as Manager

NORMAL, Illinois (January 25, 2018) – The CornBelters, presented by Illinois Corn Growers, announced Billy Horn as the team’s new Manager in preparation for the 2018 Frontier League season.

Billy joins the CornBelters as the third manager in team history as the team enters their ninth season of operations.

“I was very impressed with not only Billy’s baseball background and knowledge but his interest and desire to be involved in our community,” said CornBelters President and General Manager Steve Malliet. “We believe he will be an incredible addition to our organization, on and off the field.”

This will be Horn’s first appointment as a manager, but he arrives in Normal with extensive coaching and playing experience.

“I’d like to thank Steve Malliet and the rest of the Normal Cornbelter organization for this tremendous opportunity to manage the ball club in the 2018 season,” said Horn. “My goals are simple – to promote as many players to MLB organizations as possible and to put a competitive team on the field in search of a Frontier League Championship.”

Last season with the Long Island Ducks of the Atlantic League, another independent baseball league, Billy served as the pitching coach and assisted in player procurement related activities under manager Kevin Baez. Billy oversaw the entire 2017 pitching staff for the Ducks, which included eight pitchers with MLB experience and a CY Young Award Winner. MLB organizations signed three of his players (RHP Henderson Alvarez, RHP Tim Melville, and OF Quintin Berry), and all three reached the MLB in the 2017 season.

During the 2015 and 2016 seasons, Billy was the pitching coach and oversaw player procurement for the Ottawa Champions of the Canadian American League (CanAm) as a part of Manager Hal Lanier’s staff. In 2016, Billy helped Ottawa to a CanAm League Championship.

Hal Lanier was a former infielder, coach, and manager in Major League Baseball. He was also the first-ever manager for the CornBelters (2009).

The 2012 season marked Billy’s transition as a professional player and collegiate coach to the professional coaching ranks, as he stepped into the role of pitching coach and assisted with player procurement for the Roswell Invaders of the Pecos League.

Billy spent the 2009 season as the pitching coach for his alma mater, the Lynn University Fighting Knights, where he produced the NCAA Division II National Pitcher of the Year (Dan Wright) and coached current New York Yankees right-handed relief pitcher Tommy Kahnle.

As a player, Billy played three seasons in the Italian Professional Baseball League, including time with the Grosseto Orioles (2010) and the San Marino Titans (2003, 2004). In 2005, he played under MLB great Darrell Evans as a member of the Long Beach Armada in the Golden Baseball League.

Billy resides in Boca Raton, Florida. He earned his Bachelor of Science Degree in Sports Management from Lynn University with a Minor in Hospitality and Tourism while also being a four-year member of the men’s baseball team. Billy is also currently studying Spanish and has been utilized by his past teams as a translator for non-English speaking players.

 

 

Washington Wild Things Sign Mike Castellan to His First Pro Contract

WASHINGTON, Pa. (Jan. 25) – As the 2018 season creeps closer, the Wild Things’ spring-training roster has once again continued to take shape, as today the team announced the signing of left-handed pitcher Mike Castellani to his first professional contract. Castellani is a 2017 graduate of Bucknell University, where he had a successful four-year career, and is currently playing in the California Winter League.

Castellani was 15-6 over the course of four years for the Bison, and sported a career earned-run average of 3.64. The 15 wins are good for 7th all-time at Bucknell, while the ERA is ranked 11th in the school’s history. His 56 appearances, in which he totaled 222.2 innings, are good for 8th in program history.

Bucknell baseball dates back to 1886, and the program has had 23 players make it to the Major Leagues, most notably pitcher Christy Mathewson, who was a part of the first Baseball Hall of Fame class along with Ty Cobb, Walter Johnson, Babe Ruth and Honus Wagner in 1936.

Over his four-year career, Castellani struck out 136 batters and walked no more than 19 in any season. He also pitched three summers in collegiate baseball leagues, with his best two coming in his final two with the Wilmington Sharks of the Coastal Plain League. He was 10-5 over two seasons with the Sharks, and had an ERA of 2.62 over 39 appearances (14 starts, 11 in 2016) to go along with 87 strikeouts and 27 walks in 117 innings. He started the 2016 Coastal Plain League All-Star Game on the mound.

“Mike quickly checked all the boxes for us in the evaluation process. We certainly value his impressive college career with the Bison and respect his dominant summers throwing in the Coastal Plain League,” said general manager Steven Zavacky. “Talking to Mike, it was clear we were dealing with a pitcher with a plan. His pitch ability is something that really stood out and his numbers reflect his makeup.”

Zavacky continued, “Additionally, the staff from Bucknell gave us such a strong endorsement of Mike on and off the field. We appreciate the team mentality he carries as a pitcher and we look forward to watching him compete in 2018.”

The Wild Things’ front office isn’t the only one excited for the opportunity, as Castellani said he is looking forward to competing for a championship and living out his dream of playing professional baseball.

“I am very excited to join such a fantastic team in one of the best Independent leagues in the country,” said Castellani. “[Like] most guys, I grew up dreaming of playing professional baseball and to get this opportunity is something I had nearly given up on after not getting [drafted]. At Bucknell, I was able to get a top-tier education as well as play at the Division I level.”

He continued on saying the academic rigors made juggling baseball with his studies challenging, but said it resulted in him becoming more “mentally tough,” which translates very well into his work on the mound.

The Avon, Connecticut, native attended Avon Old Farms Prep School, which is the same high school Houston Astros’ player George Springer went to. Castellani said he has always been focused on team success, even before high school, and that it’s something that he thinks is very important.

“My only goal is to win the league title. Personal stats get in the way of team success and all I can say is that I want to be the guy everyone trusts with the ball in his hand,” said Castellani. “To be a successful pitcher you have to have trust from your coaches, teammates and most importantly, the fans. That trust is earned and I will make it my goal to earn it and re-earn it every time I take the mound.”

Castellani hopes to come in to Washington and help take the team to the next level, while bringing a high level of intensity.

“I live for big moments and having the ball with the game on the line. While not pitcher can be perfect every day I promise my energy and fight will always be a consistent staple of my game,” said Castellani. “I look forward to showcasing my ability in front of the great Washington Wild Things’ crowds and spreading the fire I have throughout the stadium.”

He spoke to his versatility on the mound as well, saying he feels comfortable starting and coming out of the bullpen, allowing him to be slotted anywhere the team needs. Castellani will join the spring-training roster, which reports near the end of April, as the Wild Things get ready to make a run for another playoff appearance, and potentially, a run at the franchise’s first championship.

 

2018 FRONTIER LEAGUE TRYOUT CAMP & DRAFT APRIL 23-24

The 26th annual Frontier League Tryout Camp and Draft will be held on Monday, April 23 and Tuesday, April 24 at UC Health Stadium in Florence, Kentucky, home of the Florence Freedom.

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER FOR THE 2018 FRONTIER LEAGUE TRYOUT CAMP AND DRAFT

All 12 Frontier League teams will be represented at the workouts, and scouts from multiple Major League Baseball teams also attend.  Representatives from other independent league participate as well.  Advance registration is available at www.frontierleague.com/tryouts while walk-up registration will begin at 8:00 AM on Monday, April 23.

The workouts officially begin at 9:00 AM on April 23 and will feature a 60-yard dash, fielding and throwing drills for infielders, outfielders, and catchers, and batting practice for position players while pitchers will throw 15-20 pitch bullpens.  Following the first day, the field managers will post a list of players invited back for inter-squad games on April 24.  At the conclusion of the games, action will break for 30 minutes as clubs and prepare for the draft.

An average of 35 players each season have been drafted and signed to spring training contracts over the past eight years.  Each year, at least one tryout camp participant has appeared in the Frontier League’s All-Star Game. Several draftees have gone on to be signed by Major League Baseball organizations, with three draftees having ascended to the Major Leagues (Chris Jakubauskas, Seattle/Pittsburgh/Baltimore; Josh Smoker, New York Mets; and Chris Smith, Toronto).

Eleven tryout attendees have been signed by MLB clubs during the season over the past six years.

“Florence is a great location for our Tryout Camp and Draft, and we had strong results the two previous times that the Freedom have hosted,” commented Deputy Commissioner Steve Tahsler.  “Home to the 2017 West Division champions, UC Health Stadium is a top-notch facility and easily accessible from I-71/75 along with being just 15 minutes from the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport”.

The Frontier League is entering its 26th season in 2018 and features 12 teams stretching from Pennsylvania to Missouri and from Kentucky to northern Michigan.  The Frontier League annually advances the most players to MLB organizations of any of the independent leagues. Over 100 players have signed with MLB clubs since the start of the 2015 season, and 32 former Frontier League players have played in the Major Leagues.

UC Health Stadium is located at exit 180 off I-71/75 in Kentucky, about 12 miles south of downtown Cincinnati.  For more information, please visit www.frontierleague.com or contact the Frontier League offices at 618.215.4134 or office@frontierleague.com.

IMPORTANT: As per the manufacturer’s warranty for the artificial playing surface at UC Health Stadium, all players trying out must wear turf shoes or molded cleats. No metal cleats will be allowed. This policy is the same that is in effect for all events at UC Health Stadium. Players attempting to enter UC Health Stadium with metal cleats will be immediately disqualified from the workouts.  In addition, there is a strict NO SEED policy at the stadium, and all tryout hopefuls, and fans watching, are not permitted to bring seeds into the facility.

Normal CornBelters Add Derek Lee to Legends Game Roster

NORMAL, Illinois (January 22, 2018) – The CornBelters announced the addition of Derek Lee to the 3rd Annual Legends Game lineup at The Corn Crib, presented by Illinois Corn Growers.

The 2018 edition of the Legends Game will be held on Saturday, August 4th. Gates and parking will open at 5:00 p.m. CT. The game will begin at approximately 7:00 p.m.

Lee, or “D-Lee,” played a total of 15 seasons in Major League Baseball. A native of Sacramento, California, Derek was drafted in the first round (14th overall) of the 1993 MLB draft by the San Diego Padres and made his major league debut on April 28, 1997.

Derek was traded to the Florida Marlins in 1998, where he would spend the next five years of his career and was a member of the 2003 World Series Marlins championship team. He also earned his first Gold Glove during that same season.

In 2004, Lee was traded to the Cubs where he would post some of the most productive numbers of his career, including an average of .278, 32 home runs, and 98 RBIs in his first year.

The 2005 season was one of D-Lee’s standout years. Halfway through the season he led the MLB in batting average (.376), RBIs (72), and was tied for the lead in home runs. He went on to be named an All-Star for the first time while winning a National League batting title and his second Gold Glove of his career. He also finished the year with a career-high 46 home runs.

Following the 2006 season, Lee was named to the U.S. roster for the 2006 World Baseball Classic and was the first Team USA player to hit a home run.

Derek went on to play five more seasons in Chicago. He was named an All-Star for the second time in his career in 2007 and also won his third Gold Glove. After posting two solid seasons in 2008 and 2009, which included a run to the National League central championship (2008), Lee hit his 300th career home run on June 9, 2010, against the Milwaukee Brewers, which would be his final season in Chicago.

Late in the 2010 season, Lee was traded to Atlanta where he would finish the year with the Braves, including postseason play. He played his final season in 2011 with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

 

 

Fernando Tatis Joins Normal CornBelters Legends Lineup

NORMAL, Illinois (January 19, 2018) – The CornBelters announced the addition of Fernando Tatis to the 3rd Annual Legends Game lineup at The Corn Crib, presented by Illinois Corn Growers.

The 2018 edition of the Legends Game will be held on Saturday, August 4th. Gates and parking will open at 5:00 p.m. CT. The game will begin at approximately 7:00 p.m.

Tatis, an 11-year veteran of Major League Baseball, played for five clubs (Texas, St. Louis, Montreal, Baltimore, New York) over the course of his career which included three-years with the Cardinals (1998-2000).

In 1999, Fernando had the best season of his career with 34 home runs, 107 RBIs, 21 stolen bases, and finished the season with a .298 batting average. He made baseball history on April 23, 1999, when he hit two grand slams against Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Chan Ho Park in one inning, becoming the only player in Major League history to do so and setting the record for RBIs in an inning.

After being traded to Montreal following the 2000 season, his last year in St. Louis, Tatis played three years in Montreal before taking a two-year break from baseball and returned to his home country of the Dominican Republic. Fernando returned in 2006, in part to raise money to build a church, and played most of the season in AAA before being called up by the Orioles.

Tatis went on to spend time with the New York Mets AAA affiliate, the New Orleans Zephyrs in 2007. He was called up during the 2008 season, and on May 28, hit his first career walk-off hit with a double to defeat the Florida Marlins in the bottom of the 12th inning. Despite suffering an injury later that same season, Tatis was named Sporting News Comeback Player of the Year for the National League.

In 2009, Fernando was named to the Dominican Republic national baseball team for the 2009 World Baseball Classic. He went on to play two finals years in the Mets organization in 2009 and 2010. He officially announced his retirement on October 5, 2014, and ended his playing career batting .265 with 113 home runs and 448 RBIs.

Just over a week ago (January 2018), the Boston Red Sox announced that Tatis will manage one of their two Rookie-level Dominican Summer League affiliates.

Normal CornBelters Add Outfield Duo to 2018 Roster

NORMAL, Illinois (January 18, 2018) – Through a slew of offseason transactions, the CornBelters have signed rookie Zach Rapacz and Roberto Gonzalez to their 2018 Frontier League roster.

Gonzalez, who typically plays left field, arrives in Normal with experience in the Gulf Coast League and the Appalachian League. At the age of 19, Roberto was drafted by the Minnesota Twins in the 15th round of the 2014 Draft. The highly talented outfielder went on to play two years for the Twins in the Gulf Coast League and ended with an OPS of .622.

In 2017, Roberto went on to sign a one-year deal with the Elizabethton Twins of the Appalachian League, a rookie-level farm club of the Twins located in Elizabethton, Tennessee.

In addition to the signing of Gonzalez, the CornBelters also signed rookie Zach Rapacz.

Rapacz, a 25-year old from the state of Washington, played four years of college baseball: two years at Columbia Basin College (2012-13) and two years at George Fox University (2014-15). Last year, Zach played one year for the Pittsburg Diamonds, an independent professional baseball team and member of the Pacific Association of Baseball Clubs.

While in college, Rapacz found success for both teams. In 2013 while attending CBC, he hit .311 with ten doubles and only eight strikeouts in over 60 at-bats. As a member of the Bruins of George Fox, Rapacz’s success took off. In 2014, he played all 39 games and recorded a .303 batting average while being ranked third on the team in doubles, home runs, and brought in a .437 slugging percentage. At the conclusion of his junior season, Zach was named second-team All-NWC as an outfielder.

In his final collegiate season, Rapacz blew by his previous statistics as he hit .342 with 16 doubles, five home runs, and brought in 29 RBIs.