Barring any late signings or some surprise retirements the Milleteers look to be heading into the season with the status quo as just about everyone is returning, with a few minor tweaks.
This is not necessarily a bad thing when you are the defending champs that boast a roster with a lot of depth and a good mix of veterans and youth. Here is a look at the lineup that the Milleteers will be bringing into camp this spring.
The Milleteers will return all there starters from last year. This year they will look to go with a four man rotation. The staff will again be lead by Steven Pahl who had a dominating season last year, and with the emergence of Walker and the career resurection of Brinkworth the Milleteers can afford to limit his innings a bit this year to make sure he is fresh for the playoffs now that he is on the wrong side of thirty.
Peterson continues to show that he still has plenty left in the tank as the future PBL Hall of Famer continues to show impeccable control. His return to his hometown mound was a good one and he should continue to see success as now he settled into the Milleteers rotation.
Rookie sensation Ryan Walker should see a bigger role this year as he has a rubber arm and good stuff. He started off as a middle reliever last season before stepping up when the injury bug hit the Milleteer’s staff halfway through the season and he turned into a dominating hurler as he held opponents to a 0.145 batting average.
When matched up against the PBL’s best like Joel Boetger and Donny Oslund the precousous youngster rose to the occasion, often besting his more accomplished foes. There was some talk about moving him into the closer’s role, but it remains to be seen what management will do with the talented young arm.
Rounding out the rotation will be veteran Shawn Brinkworth. The Milleteers have eased Brinkworth back into the lineup the last two seasons as he was a little out of shape after not playing for over a decade. He continued to improve everytime out last season, and as long as he can cut down on the walks he should give them some quality starts. He was once a dominant pitcher on a AA Provincial championship team and his fastball and curveball started to show signs of returning late last season.
With the Doyle brothers are back again this year the bullpen should again be a strength, although there was some talk of moving Kevin to the rotation. Kevin has been a big reason why the Milleteers have seen some real success in close games as he has gone 7 for 8 in save situations the past two seasons. His brother Murray looked strong at the start of last season, but his effectiveness faded as his arm began to get sore in the second half of the year. The big righty needs to work a bit on his mechanics and command, and could also benefit from tightening up his breaking ball, but with a little work he should have a real bright future.
Lanky lefty Greg Zilkie brings plenty of potential as he throws fairly hard and has a breaking ball from the left side, he just needs to gain some experience and some better control. He could grow into a real weapon out of the pen with some hard work and some coaching.
The rest of the bullpen consists of some hard throwers that haven’t had to pitch much in the last few years. Shortstop Trevor Pahl has really got stuff and some experience on the mound, but his glove is usually needed in the field so he doesn’t get to pitch very often.
Ryan Swenson has a really good fastball as well, he just needs to clean up his mechanics a bit as he tends to short arm the ball. Super utility man Brad Engel has probably the best pure stuff in the league and has pitched in the Sunburst League, but he seems to have a bit of Rick Ankiel syndrome as he just couldn’t put it together last season in game action. If he can right the ship PBL hitters could be in real trouble. If he can’t right the ship they should still be in trouble as he will have no idea where his mid eighties fastball might end up. Management has yet to hear from veteran Karl Zimmer.
The big righty has the ability to start or relieve and his presence on the staff would give the Milleteers another reliable option than can pitch effectively against the top teams in the league.
The Milleteers will be a little thin on the left side of the infield with the departure of Greg Jackson. They return only Trevor Pahl and Ryan Walker that saw significant time at short. Utility man Brad Engel has shown that he can play all over the infield and and outfielder Kevin Doyle has filled in there before. With Karl Zimmer still undecided, barring a big free agent signing, the Milleteers can ill afford an injury to either Trevor Pahl or Walker.
The right side of the infield has many returning options. First baseman Murray Doyle looks primed for a big season if he hits like he did in the playoffs where he started showing some patience and the ability to really drive the ball.. It will be hard to duplicate the career year at the plate last season for Steven Pahl, but the Milleteers might need it anyways as they often struggle with run production. At second the Milleteers have a glut of veteran options. Although their range might not be what it used to be, they all have good hands and know how to handle the bat.
The catching position was a real stregnth last year as both Gerein and Engel provide excelletn defense and offense. They both block well and have good enough arms to deter runners. They both have been around and know how to guide a pitching staff. They both can hit and have the athletisism play all over the diamond when not behind the plate. Engel played just about every position last year and will get time all over the infield this year, while Gerein can play all three outfield positions.
The Milleteers typically use their outfield to just try in mix and match and get some bats into the game, with the exception of Zilkie and Adam Pahl, who are the only true outfielders on the team. Those to can really run and help make for the lack of range of some of the other outfielders. If they can stay healthy and find ways to get on they can really be a headache for opposing defenses as they like to steal at will. Kevin Doyle has turned himself into a pretty good defensive outfielder, after just being put there to get his bat into the lineup every day.
He can still fill in the infield when needed. Ryan Swenson will probably see some significant time in the outfield, but has also played some second base. After taking last year off, he should be well rested and hopefully will provide the offense he did in 2008 when he was a fixture in the middle of the order. Rounding out the outfield should be old school Millet Minor Ball products Tyler Bienert and Brent Thomas.
Posted on March 8, 2010 by Steven Pahl