DRS Amateur Baseball League Preview

By: 
Jay Schneider, The New Prague Times

Thirteen teams will be vying for the top spot in the DRS Amateur Baseball league this spring and summer.

Last year the league was as good as ever, with St. Patrick’s advancing all the way to the Class C State Championship.

Coaches/team managers were asked to fill out a short questionnaire about their teams and what they are looking forward to this season. Here are their responses:

Webster Sox Manager: GM Mike Prochaska and Manager Todd Klehn Last year’s record and accomplishments: I believe we were 4-9. We competed in several games that we lost last year and added a handful of new players that will definitely contribute in the future. Players who have left the team since last year: Adam Schmitz and Gage Berglund New players on the team this year, what position and where did they come from: Sam Norsted (senior Lakeville South) infield/pitcher, Cody Carlson (Lakeville South) infield/pitcher, Luke Allen (Lakeville South) outfield/pitcher, Billy Melius (Eagle Lake Expos) pitcher, Erin Foley (St Paul Mudhens) outfield.  Please name three or four top pitchers and three or four top position players, and what strengths they bring to the team. Pitchers: Jack Meyer is a veteran lefty with a lot of energy, Dave Picha is another veteran lefty with a bulldog mentality, Luke Allen is a rookie pitcher that has a lively arm. Position players: Jake Ekness is a solid outfielder and will be one of our top hitters we look for him to drive runs in. Brooks Prochaska is our everyday 2nd basemen that provides leadership on the field and also provides a solid bat. Sam Norsted is another rookie that has an above average bat. He will be playing 3rd & shortstop. General expectations about the team: I am looking for us to take another step this year and would like to finish above 500. I feel we are a team on the rise and look to compete in the playoffs this year. Who will be the top four teams in the league standings? 1st St Patrick 2nd Faribault 3rd New Prague 4th Montgomery.

Lonsdale Aces Manager: Dave Readmond Last year’s record and accomplishments:12-5 and lost the state qualifying game to Union Hill. We were just 4-21 in 2018. Players who have left the team since last year: Tyler Milford and Trevor Smrekar New players on the team this year, what position and where did they come from: Adam Fjerstad (P) Hayfield HS, Bethany College, Chad Vosejpka (2b, 3b, OF, C) Lonsdale, Carter Malecha (2B, OF) New Prague HS, and Derek Hoffman (2B, 3B, OF, P) Belle Plaine HS. Please name three or four top pitchers and three or four top position players, and what strengths they bring to the team. Pitchers: Isaac Pint-Ace of the staff. Workhorse, Phil Tisdel-Veteran who knows how to pitch. Bulldog, Adam Fjerstad-High velocity, College experience. Mentally strong. Position players: Ross Beumer. 5-tool player who also pitches. Zach Breedan. Plus power. Impressive bat speed. Jack Skluzacek. 4-hitter. When he hits the ball, it stays hit. Marty Kalina. Gamer. Every coach’s favorite player. Will do anything the coach needs. General expectations about the team: Make it to the State Tournament and go from there. Who will be the top four teams in the league standings? New Prague, Union Hill, St Patrick, Prior Lake.

St Patrick Irish Manager: Brent Goracke Record and accomplishments: 16-6. The Irish won the DRS regular season. Placed 2nd in our regional. And placed 2nd in the state tournament in 2020. Three players being named to the 2020 state all-tournament team: Jordan Goracke, Jack Friedges, and Matt Ambroz. Players that moved on: Derrick Isaacson (retired), Will Walsh (retired), Christian Medick (out of town internship), and Josh Simon (taking a year off). New Players: Kal Brohmer comes from Lakeville South High School as a senior and will be playing baseball at Concordia St Paul next year. He is a middle infielder/ pitcher. Luke Tupy will come over from New Prague Orioles. He is a left-handed pitcher currently pitching for the St Cloud Huskies. Michael Lambrecht will come over from St Benedict. Pitchers: Collin Denk is a hard throwing right hander that attacks the strike zone and was the Irish ace last year. Zach Seuer is a tall right hander that has been a horse for the Irish for a couple years now that also got two wins in last year’s state tourney. Phillip Garcia is a right hander that got a hard-fought win in state last year beating Bluffton 2-1 and threw a lot of innings for the Irish in 2020. Nick Spitt will be back this year, Zak Endres, Blake Woodson, Bill Dunker, Kal Brohmer will all see time on the mound as well. Position Players: Jordan Goracke led the team in hitting last year and is an all over the field player that defends well playing in his many positions. Kyle Rhodus led the outfield last year and was the top outfield hitter as well. He also tied for the team high in homeruns. The infield is led by two sets of brothers. Jack and Ryan Friedges (SS and 3rd base) took charge of the left side of the infield and both are playing for the Minnesota State Mankato Mavericks this spring. Matt and Seth Ambroz (Catcher and 1st base) will be coming back after hitting all winter long and looking very strong and ready to go this summer as well. Expectations: Generally, we want to be able to play clean defensive baseball while throwing strikes from the mound. We defended at a .961 clip last year that kept us in a lot of games and that needs to happen again for any success. The Irish should be able to put runs on the board so if we pitch like we did last year we will have opportunities again. In a very tough and competitive DRS League we hope to be within the top five this year. Top 4 teams in standings: Prior Lake, New Prague, Union Hill, St Patrick.

Prior Lake Mudcats Manager: Greg Faue Last year’s record and accomplishments: 11-5 overall and 9th in State Players who have left the team since last year: Luke Weber (moved), Jake Lehrer, and Alex Wattermann (Wood Bat League). New players on the team this year, what position and where did they come from: Kobe McBroom SS High School Please name three or four top pitchers and three or four top position players, and what strengths they bring to the team. Pitchers: Ben MorrisonVeteran Pitcher and Gamer Position players: Jonny Houston-changes the game, Corbin Cross, Jerad Lehrer, and Cole Bjorge. General expectations about the team- Rebuilding year, change over in players. These are usually the fun years. Who will be the top four teams in t h e l e a g u e standings? St. Patrick, Faribault, Union Hill, Lonsdale.

Elko Express Manager: Terry Fredrickson, assisted by Corey Grisim and Mike Christenson Last year’s record and accomplishments: Won Section 1B, advanced to State Tournament, won first round game against Moorhead and lost in second round to Cold Spring. Players who have left the team since last year: Kyle Kalina New players on the team this year, what position, and where did they come from: Chase Hentges, pitcher-outfielder, moved to the area. Last played with Chaska. Please name three or four top pitchers and three or four top position players, and what strengths they bring to the team: Pitchers: Brady Brace coming back from Tommy John surgery, Alex Mach, Ross Baster, Nick Doorman, and Grant Gunderson. Position Players: Dylan Thomas, TJ Evanson and Chase Hentges will play several positions and are very explosive on offense. General expectations about this team: We compete in a very strong section and expect to be in a battle every section game. DRS is very well balanced also, I expect to see upsets over the year. Top teams: Faribault, New Market, New Prague, and St. Patrick.

New Market Muskies Manager: Todd Bergstrom Last year’s record and accomplishments: 5-11; first season in Class B (Section 1B) Players who have left the team since last year: Nick Rost and Nate Rost New players on the team this year, what position and where did they come from: Carter Hendrickson, LHP, OF, Farmington, Alex Berreth, RHP, IF, Farmington, Lincoln Berry, IF, Eagan, Connor Wietgrefe, LHP, Prior Lake, Nolan Johnson, LHP, Lakeville, Tyler Wombacher, IF, C, Lakeville, Mason Trocke, IF, OF, Apple Valley, Steve McGuiggan, CF, Apple Valley, Aiden Oates, C, Rosemount, and Carter Hanson, OF, LHP, Bloomington. Please name three or four top pitchers and three or four top position players, and what strengths they bring to the team. Pitchers: Brett Herber - led the team in innings last year, Luke Crimmins - came on strong last year with three pitch mix, Nolan Johnson - young arm, hungry for innings, and Connor Wietgrege - young arm, hungry for innings. Position players: Brett Herber - power bat, RBI producer, Joe McKibben - great plate discipline and high on base percentage, Kyle Bergstrom - 90 career home runs. Great left handed bat with a big appetite for fastballs. General expectations about the team: Roster turnover with abundance of young talent. Commitment will be the key to success. Veteran mix with y o u n g core s h o u l d produce results. Who will be the top four teams in the league standings? Section 1B - Miesville and Elko and DRS: Faribault, St. Patrick, and Union Hill.

Shakopee Coyotes Manager: Tanner Graff Last year’s record and accomplishments: Last year was a weird year with COVID just starting so it was just nice to get out and play baseball. Players who have left the team since last year: We have cut a couple of guys that have been on the roster for a couple of years in order to open up a couple of slots for some new arms. New players on the team this year, what position and where did they come from: • Bennet Thurrow, pitcher and outfield, Burnsville, Gage Bergman, infield and pitcher, came over from Webster, Jack Jones, infield, Burnsville, and Zackari Hanssen, utility player, Prior Lake. Please name three or four top pitchers and three or four top position players, and what strengths they bring to the team. • Pitchers: • Chris Isensee, strong left handed pitcher with lots of stamina • Cody Pamperin, strong right handed pitcher and great at hitting his spots • Ben Fredenburg, right handed pitcher with a windup that throws batters off • Andy Lazzari, right handed pitcher with the knowledge of all the batters in the league • Position players: • Zak Hoffman, short stop with an unbelievable bat • Alec Pauly, outfield with great speed and baseball knowledge • Logan Becker, stud third baseman with a great swing of the bat General expectations about the team: Just hoping everyone on the team is happy with their roles and hoping to make a push back into the state tournament. Who will be the top four teams in the league standings? Top four teams will most likely be Faribault, St. Patrick, New Market, and Union Hill.

Union Hill Bulldogs Manager: John Masberg Last year’s record and accomplishments: Advanced to Class C State after placing third in the 2020 Region 3C Playoffs. 4th place with a 6-3 record in the DRS in 2020. P l a y e r s who have left the team since last year: Phil Giesen, Zach Dubanowski, Seth Hurias New players on the team this year, what position and where did they come from: Austin Bachman (OF), Matt Zweber (OF), Drew Otteson (P/IF), all New Prague kids. Please name three or four top pitchers and three or four top position players, and what strengths they bring to the team. Pitchers: Joe Becker, Conrad Masberg, Jack Kruetzian, Nathan Berg: Position players: Jacob Becker, Adam Giesen, Nathan Lee. Will Busch General expectations about the team: Hoping to compete with in the league with hopes of opportunity in State. Should be stronger with returning college players. Who will be the top four teams in the league standings? St. Patrick, Faribault, Montgomery, and Union Hill.

Montgomery Mallards Manager: Tyler Bednar, Assistant manager or coach; Tom Flicek Last year’s record and accomplishments: Season ending early for Covid Concerns Players who have left the team since last year: (state position, reason - retired, moved, injured, gone to a new team): None New players on the team this year: (positions and where they’re from) None as of now Please name three or four top pitchers and three or four top position players, and what strengths they bring to the team. Pitchers: Ted Christian – One of the league leaders in strikeouts. Has the stuff to overpower hitters. John Krocak – Has the ability to shut down any line up. Looking to build on a stellar 2nd half of last year. Jaron Christenson – Has a combination of speed and off speed pitches that keeps hitters guessing. Position players: John Krocak – Hits for power and average along with being able to play any position on the field. Continues to be one of the top players in the league. Cole Pint – Has the ability to play multiple positions in the infield. Very dangerous at the plate with power and speed combination. Pat Lloyd – The Mallards’ shortstop is looking to build on a fantastic 2019 season. Pat led the Mallards in doubles last season. General expectations about the team: State Tournament berth Who will be the top four teams in the league standings? Montgomery, Prior Lake, St. Patrick, and Faribault.

St Benedict Manager: Wade Olson Last year’s record and accomplishments: 4-6 last season. Defeated Veseli in playoff series. Eliminated by Lonsdale in Regions. Top pitchers are Tanner Oakes, Matthias Duevel, Alex Donkers, Nick Holland, and Jeremy Heitkamp. Top hitters include Zach Bakko, Mitchell Martin, Andrew Huss, and Ryan Gale We have basically the same team as a season ago We’ll try and survive the regular season and prepare to make a 2-week playoff run. St. Patrick and Faribault are big favorites to make State. Union Hill, Montgomery, New Prague, and Prior Lake are in the next tier.

New Prague Orioles Manager: Nick Schoenecker assisted by Dan Shekta and Ryan Kubes Last year’s record and accomplishments: 4-6 in the DRS, 9-9 overall. Qualified for state as the Region 3C Champions. Players who have left the team since last year: Luke Tupy. New players on the team this year, what position and where did they come from: Adam Schmitz, infielder and outfielder, previous team was Webster. Pitchers: Nathan Sprouls will once again be our ace. He throws four pitches for strikes, when he is on he’s up there with some of the best pitchers in the state. Bryce Novak will be our number 2 starter. Other pitchers expected to see a lot of innings this year are Wes Kemming, TJ Bergland, Zach Sirek, Frank Ruzicka, Max Fierst, Mitch Shambour and Gavin Bergman. Position players: Outfielders Eric Wagner, Bryce Novak and first baseman James Fuerniss will be a few of our top hitters. We expect Jake Deutsch, Jacob Mader, Spencer Kajer, Patty Timmer, Simon Solheid and Bergman to see a lot of action and hold down most of the infield spots. Benny Buthe, Collin Dorzinski, Adam Schmitz, Nathan Osborne will take care of the outfield. Anthony Mader will handle most of the catching duties. General expectations about the team. We expect to be competitive in the league this year and fight for a top 4 finish. The main goal is to show up, work hard, play good fundamentally sound baseball and have fun. Who will be the top four teams in the league standings? There are a lot of very good teams but St. Patrick, Faribault, Union Hill, and Lonsdale are looking like the top four.

Veseli Warriors Manager: Corey Friedges and assistant coach Matt Parkinson Players who have left: Cody Shimota, Kevin Dudley, and Jason Kazlauskas. New players: Matt Friedges (IF/P), first contract, Nathan Simon (C) returns after two years off. Top Pitchers: Matt Perkinson, Will Forberg, Jackson Jirik, Nate Picka, Beau Brantner, and Nick Friedges. Perkinson leading the way - our pitching staff appears to be very solid this year. Top position players: 3B: Nate Picka and Mike Nezerka, SS - Drew Picka and Matt Perkinson, 2B - Beau Brantner, Rylie Jacobson, and Ethan Simota; 1B - Corey Friedges, Will Forberg, and Sam Kjos, Cather - Nathan Simon, OF - Emmett Bartyzal, Kurt Kline, Billy Geis, Mason Mayer, Nick Friedges, and Andrew Geis. With the continued uncertainty the COVID 2020 season combined with the limited number of ball players at games, we did not have a very successful season. That is behind us now and we have a good group of young ball players eager to get out on the field and play ball. Led by veterans Corey Fridges and Matt Perkinson, we are looking forward to a more successful season. Top four Class A teams: St. Patrick, Faribault, Montgomery, and one of the teams that typically finishes on the bottom of the league will be one of the top four this year.

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