Boomers look to bounce back after time in basement
Injuries hampered his squad last year, so Schaumburg Boomers Manager Jamie Bennett focused on increasing depth and versatility this offseason.
As the 2017 baseball season draws near, Bennett feels good about having accomplished that, as well as getting some offense to help the solid pitching staff.
“We're a lot more balanced and just brought in more experienced guys to camp this year,” Bennett told the North Cook News.
Some of the new faces that will impact the lineup include infielder Seth Spivey, who spent three seasons in the Texas Rangers organization; outfielder David Harris, who had four seasons in the Toronto Blue Jays system; and outfielder Shawn Godfrey, who reached AA in the Atlanta Braves organization.
The Boomers also welcome back infielder Josh Gardiner, who signed with the club early last season before moving on to the New York Yankee' system.
“Just having those guys have a significant amount of pro ball under their belts immediately just changes the way our lineup looks from where it ended last year,” Bennett said.
In 2016, the Boomers were last in the Frontier League in runs, home runs and on-base percentage en route to a league-worst 41-55 record. Ten players spent time on the disabled list.
Starting pitchers Gunnar Kines and Kagen Hopkins are back and keys to the rotation, Bennett said. Hopkins was 5-6 with a 4.39 earned-run average last season, while Kines also had a 5-6 record to go with a 2.96 ERA and 104 strikeouts in 112⅔ innings.
A newcomer to the rotation is Isaac Sanchez, who spent several years with the Pittsburgh Pirates organization before joining the Seattle Mariners system in 2016. His combined statistics last season were a 3-6 record with a 4.44 ERA and 81 strikeouts in 73 innings. Bennett said Sanchez was released from the Atlanta Braves organization during spring training this year.
The Boomers' bullpen has some experience back as well. Derek DeYoung (2-2, 4.46 ERA), Kenny Knudsen (0-2, 5.30 ERA) and Jake Joyce (7-3, 2.36 ERA) spent last season with Schaumburg.
The pitching staff did lose two key members in closer Dexter Price and starter Seth Webster.
"There's no doubt -- as it always is -- you're always going to lose key players, but feel good about the guys coming in just really focusing on guys that are strike-throwers and kind of give us chances to win every day, especially hoping with the offense being in a better spot than it was,” Bennett said.
Schaumburg opens the season with a home series against Traverse City on May 12.
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