As Opening Night of the 2015 season quickly approaches, the Windy City ThunderBolts have been busy this winter. This news and notes article includes details on changes to the player roster, front office additions, promotions, and more. Enjoy!
The ThunderBolts recently announced their weekly promotional schedule at the ballpark. We now have some more details on these days as the season gets closer.
· Every Tuesday at the ballpark will feature $2 tickets. These tickets can be purchased in advance or on the day of the game.
· If the Bolts win on Wednesday nights then you win. “Win It Wednesdays!” are sponsored by JULIE, Inc. If the ThunderBolts come away with a victory, then your game ticket becomes a voucher for a free ticket at any remaining ThunderBolts game in 2015.
· Thursday nights at the ballpark will once again feature former WWE superstars and Pro Wrestling Blitz post-game wrestling. Last season’s wrestling legends included Jake “The Snake” Roberts, Hacksaw Jim Duggan, Demolition, Rhyno and Buff Bagwell. The ThunderBolts are all in for 2015 with seven wrestling nights and this year’s roster of superstars will be bigger than ever! We can’t forget about Bud Light Thirsty Thursday, where $1.25 drafts and $2.25 bottled domestic beer will be served all night long. After the game Pro Wrestling Blitz will hold a one-hour show behind home plate.
· Budweiser “Fill ‘R Up!” Fridays are also back this season. Every Friday home game will feature $1.25 drafts and $2.25 bottled domestic beer.
· Saturday night at the ballpark will feature our signature postgame fireworks show, but various nights will features special themes and activities. A full promotional schedule will be announced soon but special firework nights activities will be…
o June 13th: Beatles Night with a pregame concert and Beatles themed giveaway
o June 27th: Princess Night featuring music and appearances from your favorite movie princesses. More details to come soon and make sure to dress like a princess for this night!
o July 11th: Christmas comes early with Christmas in July at the ballpark! This night will have holiday music, a food drive, a Christmas themed giveaway and a visit from Santa himself!
o August 1st: Camp Out Night moves to a Saturday night for 2015 and it will be combined with Super Hero Night. Meet all of your comic book heroes at the ballpark as they join the fun. After the game all fans will be allowed to sleep under the stars and watch a movie on the video board. Breakfast will be served in the morning.
o August 15th: Elvis Night makes its annual return to the ballpark. All the Elvis music you can handle including a pre-game Elvis show.
· Finally Sunday nights at the ballpark will be our popular Family Days sponsored by Standard Bank. Get four tickets, four hot dogs, and four sodas for only $30. After the game all kids may run the bases and all fans can get ThunderBolts’ autographs and play catch in the outfield.
· Church Night, Pet Day, and various giveaways are planned for the 2015 season and those details will be announced soon.
2015 Ballpark Improvement Updates…
· The installation of the brand new artificial turf field is suspended for the winter freeze. There is about 3 to 4 weeks remaining in the project and the completion date is still expected between March 15th and April 1st.
· While the ThunderBolts only scratched the surface of the new video board’s abilities at the ballpark this past August, the 2015 season will see the board used to its fullest. All of the extra equipment, including a wireless camera, were delivered to the ballpark this fall and we are very excited to add more elements to the fan experience in 2015.
· Ballpark exterior improvements are planned for spring time.
2015 ThunderBolts Exhibition Schedule…
· The ThunderBolts will travel to Schaumburg on Sunday, May 3rd and the Boomers will head to Crestwood on Monday, May 4th. Both games will start at 1 p.m..
· Another exhibition will be played against the Joliet Slammers on Friday, May 8th (at Silver Cross Field) and Saturday, May 9th (in Crestwood). Both games will start at 7 p.m..
· A fifth exhibition game is expected to be added at a later date.
2015 Player Contracts…
· Exercised the 2015 contract options on RHP Dyllan Nuernberg, RHP James Ferguson, RHP Jesse Snodgrass, LHP Pete Whittingslow, RHP Jason Kafka, RHP Chris DeBoo, RHP Travis Tingle, RHP Reese McGraw, LHP Jake Fisher, RHP Eli Anderson, LHP Zak Wasserman, INF Mike Torres, INF Garrett Carey, INF Ryan Soares, INF Tony Viger, OF Ryan Tufts, OF Kyle Robinson, OF Ryan McIntyre, and OF Max White.
· Declined the options or released OF Daniel Aldrich, catcher Michael Allen, OF Andrew Brauer, OF Evan Button, OF David Kuhne, RHP Victor Larez, catcher Mike McGuckin, RHP Brian Oliver, 1B Davidson Peguero, LHP Hein Robb, LHP Josh Spence, and OF Deaun Williams.
· Traded RHP Jessie Snodgrass to the Gary-SouthShore RailCats of the American Association for RHP Coleman Stephens. Traded RHP Coleman Stephens and their 2nd round pick in the 2015 Frontier League draft to the Florence Freedom for 3B Jacob Tanis. Tanis is a former 13th round selection by the Oakland Athletics in 2011 after finishing up his college career at Mercer University. He hit .264 with 17 HR and a league-leading 72 RBI for the 2013 Florence Freedom in 95 games on his way to the Frontier League MVP Award.
Welcome to the 2015 Club…
· The ThunderBolts made their first roster addition in preparation for the 2015 season when they signed Alex Chittenden out of the University of Louisville on November 12. Chittenden is coming off of a First Team All-American Conference season at Louisville, where he hit .294 as a senior while slugging a career-high .365. A four-year player and three-year starter for the Cardinals, he hit .271 in college with 22 extra-base hits and 68 RBIs in 222 games. Chittenden, who has been known for his strong glove, is expected to contribute around the infield for the ThunderBolts. He is the third alumnus of Louisville to join the Bolts in the past three seasons following Travis Tingle and Zak Wassermann.
· The ThunderBolts added veteran catcher Tyler Clark on December 8th. Clark spent last season as an organizational catcher, rising as high as Triple A, where he played one game for the Reno Aces. He appeared in 21 games overall, batting .265 among four different levels. Clark finished his college career at Dominican College in 2014, where he was a Second Team All-Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference selection while also being named to the ABCA/Rawlings Gold Glove Team.
· The Bolts also signed outfield Zach Esquerra on December 8th. Esquerra, an outfielder, is a veteran of two seasons in the Diamondbacks system. He hit .283 with a .500 slugging percentage in 2013 for the low-A Hillsboro Hops. In 2014, he hit six homers and drove in 40 runs in 83 games between two levels. Esquerra was a 24th round draft pick of Arizona’s in 2013, following a senior season at California Baptist University in which he hit .388 with 17 home runs.
2015 Front Office Additions…
· The ThunderBolts added former Joliet Slammers’ President Bill Waliewski as Senior Sales Executive. Bill was named executive of the year in 2011 and his experience will be important in developing new relationships in the area.
· Ryan Syring, who has been with the club in some capacity since 2005, was promoted to the administration level as Group Sales Coordinator.