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Spring Training News & Notes

News & Notes

Spring training for the 2017 Frontier League season is just over a week away!  Let’s get ready for some ThunderBolts’ baseball by checking out our new player acquisitions as well as two new coaches for this summer.  Highlighting the new player roster is a Chicago White Sox 1st round draft pick and the Big Ten Conference Player of the Year.  Finally we have ballpark improvements to announce as well as our 2017 Exhibition Schedule.

New faces for 2017…

Devin Carter is a rookie outfielder from Point Loma Nazarene University. He hit .349 as a senior at Point Loma with eight home runs, 12 stolen bases and a 1.021 OPS, and was a .322 hitter overall in two seasons there. He also played at Division I Pepperdine University for two years.

Austin Darby is entering his second professional season out of the University of Nebraska. He played in 55 games as a rookie in 2016 for the Lincoln Saltdogs in the American Association. At Nebraska, he hit .291 with a .352 on-base percentage over 215 career games and drove in 108 runs while stealing 26 bases.

Tyler Hunt returns to baseball this year after primarily playing football for four years at the University of Missouri. He ran for 195 yards in his career, an average of 5.0 per carry, and one touchdown. He appeared in one game for the Missouri baseball team in 2016. He pitched for the Toronto Rush in the California Winter League and posted a 3.60 ERA in seven games.

David Kerian joins the ThunderBolts after two years playing for the low-A affiliate of the Washington Nationals. He was a ninth round draft pick in 2015 out of the University of Illinois, where he hit .316 over four years. In his senior season, he was named the Big Ten Player of the Year and a First Team All-American when he hit .367 with 16 home runs and 52 RBIs.

Will Krug played with David Kerrian on the University of Illinois’s Big Ten champion team in 2015. He stole 45 bases over his four year career there and hit .281, including a career-high .307 as a junior in 2014. He resumed his baseball career this year in the California Winter League, hitting .432 for the Canada A’s with six RBIs and nine stolen bases in 11 games.

Scott Kuzminsky has pitched in 67 games over his first two professional seasons in the American Association and Can-Am Association, 61 in relief. He has a career 5-5 record and 4.54 ERA and 82 strikeouts to only 32 walks. He pitched for two years collegiately at the University of Hawaii and posted an ERA of 3.25 with two complete games as a senior.

Joey Miller played four games in 2016 for the Trois-Rivieres Aigles in the Can-Am Association after spending parts of three seasons in the Pecos League, where he hit .383 over 95 games with the Roswell Invaders. Last year, he had 21 home runs and 75 RBIs in only 46 games for Roswell.

Scott Morton is a rookie out of Briar Cliff University in Iowa. In two years at Briar Cliff, he was named the player of the year in the Great Plains Athletic Conference twice and was an NAIA First Team All-American in 2016, when he hit .413 with 17 home runs and an .804 slugging percentage. He also played at Ventura College.

Ricky Santiago is getting his first professional opportunity after four years at Florida Atlantic University. He hit .280 over his career, including .322 as a senior in 2015. That year, he also set career highs with eight home runs and 52 RBIs. He has spent this spring as an assistant coach at Nova Southeastern University.

Lance VanNoy is a rookie outfielder from Davis & Elkins College in West Virginia. He hit .360 there last year with four home runs, 42 RBIs and a .523 slugging percentage on his way to being named First Team All-GMAC. He appeared in 13 games this offseason in the California Winter League and hit .371 with three stolen bases and 11 RBIs.

Keenyn Walker joins the ThunderBolts after spending six years in the Chicago White Sox organization. He was the Sox' first pick in the 2011 MLB Draft, the 47th selection overall. Walker was named a top ten prospect in the White Sox organization in both 2012 and 2013 by Baseball America. He had the top rated outfield arm in their system in 2014 and was named their fastest baserunner in 2012 and 2013. He stole 204 bases over his 605 career games, including a career-high 56 in 2012. Last year, in Double A Birmingham, Walker hit .240 with a .330 on-base percentage and 21 steals over 95 games.

Some new coaches…

Erik Lis, Hitting Coach:  2017 will be Erik Lis's first season as hitting coach for the ThunderBolts and second season as a professional coach.  Lis began his coaching career while he was still playing in the Frontier League when he was named a player/coach for the Joliet Slammers in 2012. He has also served as lead hitting instructor at the Baseball Institute.

Erik played his high school ball in nearby Oak Lawn at Richards High School, where he was a three time All-Conference selection and two-time All-State player. He went on to the University of Evansville, where he put up huge numbers for three years. He hit .342 with 25 homers and 147 RBIs in 165 total games. In 2004, he was named a First Team Summer All-American by Baseball America after hitting .418 in the Texas Collegiate League. He was selected in the ninth round of the 2005 MLB Amateur Draft by the Minnesota Twins.

He spent six years with the Twins, rising as high as Triple A. He hit .276 overall in the Minnesota system and a career-best .326 in Class A Beloit in 2006. The next year, he hit 18 homers and knocked in 97 runs for High-A Fort Myers. He smacked 89 career home runs in his affiliated career, which also included 26 games for the Florida Marlins Double A affiliate in 2011. He joined the Frontier League in 2011 and in two years as a first baseman for the Slammers, hit .282 with 28 home runs. He was named the All-Star Game MVP in 2011 and helped the Slammers win the Frontier League championship later that year.  Lis finished his playing career in 2013 with the Camden Riversharks of the Atlantic League. In nine years of professional baseball, he hit 117 homers and drove in 531 runs.

Devin DeYoung, Assistant Coach:  2017 will be Devin DeYoung's first season as an assistant coach with the ThunderBolts and his second season coaching at the professional level.  He spent the 2015 season in the CanAm Association as an assistant coach on the Rockland Boulders staff under former Frontier League manager Jamie Keefe. The Boulders went 63-34 that year and won the league championship. They led the league in almost all offensive categories, including batting average, runs scored, home runs and stolen bases.

DeYoung moved to the Northwoods League in 2016 and became the hitting, catching and outfield coach for the Wisconsin Rapids Rafters. His team finished second in the league in hitting and won both the first and second half division titles. For the second straight year, he was on the staff of a team that finished with the best record in the league and won the league championship. The Rafters amassed a team batting average of .282 and scored 5.5 runs per game.

Devin DeYoung is a local product, who attended Lake Central High School in St. John, Indiana. He started his college career at the College of Lake County, where he was a Region Four All-Star before transferring to NAIA powerhouse Cumberland University in Tennessee. He also spent time working as a bullpen assistant for the Gary SouthShore RailCats.

2017 Exhibition Schedule...

Your 2017 ThunderBolts report to Crestwood on Wednesday, April 26th and training starts the next day.  The Bolts will quickly see exhibition baseball with six exhibition games scheduled as they prepare for the May 12th season opener.

-       A nationally known prospect club will visit Crestwood for a couple of games before Frontier League exhibition begins.  Black Sox Premier will take on the Bolts at Standard Bank Stadium Friday, April 28th at 2 pm and Saturday, April 29th at noon.

-       League exhibition begins on Thursday, May 4th at 2 pm vs. Schaumburg in Crestwood. 

-       The ThunderBolts hit the road at Schaumburg on Friday, May 5th at 2 pm

-       After a day off the ThunderBolts head to Joliet Sunday, May 7th at 2 pm.

-       Finally the Slammers return the favor in Crestwood on Monday, May 8th at 2 pm to close out the exhibition schedule.

Tickets to the home exhibition games will not be sold.  The ThunderBolts will open the ballpark and all fans are free to walk in and watch this exhibition in a general admission set-up.  Please understand that there will be no concessions, promotions, or anything like a normal ThunderBolts game.  Only the gates and the restrooms will be open.  Food and drink is allowed into the ballpark on this date and we ask that you keep Standard Bank Stadium clean and throw out all trash.

2017 Ballpark Improvements…

-       Two new wooden pavilions have been added to the ballpark for 2017.  One is located right as you walk in replacing the white tent in the Left Field Picnic Pavilion.  This will allow for bigger sized groups to have cover during their outing.  The second roof is down the right field line where the hot tub used to be.  This new cover is part of the new #WinCity Party Patio which is an all-inclusive area with unlimited food, wine, and any beer in the ballpark.

-       The protective netting behind home plate has been extended.  The old set-up only protected between sections F – L which was between the dugouts.  The new net will extend through the sections behind the dugouts.  Now sections D – N have foul ball protection.  That is a total of 436 additional seats in the ballpark that will be protected from foul balls in the ballpark.

-       Finally all or the railing and steel façade of the ballpark will be repainted its current green and the parking lot is scheduled to be repaved this summer.


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