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Introducing the 2021 Growlers Roster

May 13, 2021 - Northwoods League (Northwoods) - Kalamazoo Growlers News Release


KALAMAZOO, MI - The Kalamazoo Growlers are less than a month away from their 8th season. Time to meet this year's team. 11 players return from last year, including Mr. Growler himself, Kalamazoo native Adam Wheaton. Wheaton returns for his fourth season after an MVP like 2020 season. Wheaton finished last summer with a 0.60 ERA in 45 innings pitched. Wheaton tossed six, five-inning complete games. The Growlers closer Trey Nordmann also returns. The right handed pitcher with a rocket arm that throws in the mid-90s, recorded 36 strikeouts in 22.2 innings last season. At the plate, Anthony Calarco returns to Kalamazoo after playing for the MacDaddies in 2020. Calarco led the team in hitting with a batting average of .321 and recording 44 hits. Calarco also ranks in the top 10 in batting average in the Big Ten this season at Northwestern University. Perhaps the most exciting addition to the team is Portage Central's own Luke Leto. Leto was considered the number one prospect in the country and a top 10 MLB draft pick until his senior season was cut short due to COVID. Leto has committed to playing with LSU this fall but will remain here in Kalamazoo until then.

Returning Players:

The Growlers return 11 players from last year's team(s). Some of the star names from 2020 are back and promise to bring excellent baseball to Homer-Stryker Field.

Hayden Berg: RHP, Freshman, Western Michigan University (Granger, IN). Started the championship game for the Kalamazoo MacDaddies against the Traverse City Pit Spitters. Pitching 6 innings, allowing just one hit and striking out 9 batters.

Brooks Coetzee: OF, Junior, University of Notre Dame (Mahomet, IL). Coetzee played for the Growlers in 2019 and returns for 2021.

Michael Dunkelberger: LHP, Sophomore, Kalamazoo Valley Community College (South Bend, IN). Pitched for the Growlers in 2019 where he was named a Northwoods League All-star. Also pitched a limited 4 innings for the Kalamazoo MacDaddies in 2020.

Grant Jebbia: RHP, Junior, Davenport University (New Boston, MI). Jebbia returns for his 2nd season with the Growlers. He finished with an ERA of 5.35 last summer.

Trey Nordmann: RHP, Sophomore, Howard College (Dewitt, MI). Nordmann served primarily as the Growlers closer in 2020. Nordmann struck out 36 batters in just 22.2 innings.

Luke Scoles: RHP, Freshman, Central Michigan University (Richland, MI). Scoles was one of the youngest players on the 2020 roster. He returns with more experience for 2021.

Adam Wheaton: RHP, Senior, Trine University (Kalamazoo, MI). Mr. Growler. Wheaton is back for his 4th season with the Growlers. Wheaton posted an incredible 0.60 ERA in 45.0 innings pitched last season. He tossed six, five-inning complete games in 2020.

Brett Barrera: IF, Sophomore, Stanford University (Huntington Beach, CA). Barrera led the Growlers with 35 RBIs in 2020.

Anthony Calarco: IF, Junior, Northwestern University (Wilmette, IL). Calarco returns to Kalamazoo after playing with the MacDaddies in 2020. Calarco led the MacDaddies in hitting with a .321 batting average and 44 total hits. He currently holds a .336 batting average at Northwestern.

Cooper Doughman: C, IF, Sophomore, Chattahoochee Valley Community College (LaGrange, GA). Doughman joined the Growlers late in 2020 playing just 13 games. He still managed to lead the team in home runs with 4.

Ethan O'Donnell: OF, Freshman, Northwestern University (Highlands Ranch, CO). O'Donnell is another MacDaddies player turned Growler. O'Donnell had a strong showing at the plate in 2020 finishing with a .295 batting average.

Ricky Clark: RHP, Junior, Davenport University (Schoolcraft, MI). Clark was briefly with the Growlers in 2020. He pitched 3 scoreless innings in the Michigan Pod Championship game against Traverse City.

Tanner Knapp: RHP, Freshman, Kalamazoo Valley Community College (Portage, MI). Knapp finished with a 3.65 ERA for the MacDaddies last season.

Jack Huisman: RHP, Junior, Western Michigan University (Holland, MI). Pitched for the MacDaddies in 2020 and finished with a 3.20 ERA.

Ben Mets: IF, Sophomore, Davenport University (Macomb, MI). Played in 22 games for the Growlers in 2020.

Carter Smith: OF, Junior, Grand Valley State University (Decatur, MI). Played in 24 games for the Growlers in 2020.

Local Players:

There are plenty of Kalamazoo and Michigan ties on the 2021 Growlers roster. Local talent like this is what makes baseball in Kalamazoo special.

Sam Benschoter: RHP, Senior, Michigan State University (Tecumseh, MI). Struck out 17 batters in 9.1 innings of relief against University of Nebraska on April 25th, 2021. The 17 strikeouts set an MSU record and tied the Big Ten Baseball record.

Hayden Berg: RHP, Freshman, Western Michigan University (Granger, IN).

Luke Leto: IF, Freshman, Louisiana State University (Portage, MI). Ranked the number one recruit in the country before COVID ended his 2020 season.

Michael Dunkelberger: LHP, Sophomore, Kalamazoo Valley Community College (South Bend, IN).

Grant Jebbia: RHP, Junior, Davenport University (New Boston, MI).

Trey Nordmann: RHP, Sophomore, Howard College (Dewitt, MI).

Luke Scoles: RHP, Freshman, Central Michigan University (Richland, MI).

Adam Wheaton: RHP, Senior, Trine University (Kalamazoo, MI).

Karter Fitzpatrick: RHP, Sophomore, Wayne State (Monroe, MI). Currently holds a 6.35 ERA in 34.0 innings pitched.

Luke Pappas: LHP, Freshman, Western Michigan University (Chicago, IL). Dad Erik played 3 seasons in the MLB for the Cubs and Cardinals.

Nolan McCarthy: IF, Freshman, University of Kentucky (Portage, MI). Ranked in the top 10 of high school players coming out of the state of Michigan. Attended Portage Northern High School.

Dylan Stanton: IF, Freshman, University of Michigan (Richland, MI). Graduated from Gull Lake High School.

Ricky Clark: RHP, Junior, Davenport University (Schoolcraft, MI).

David Toth: RHP, Junior, Hillsdale College (Grosse Pointe, MI).

Tanner Knapp: RHP, Freshman, Kalamazoo Valley Community College (Portage, MI).

George Ferguson: LHP, Freshman, Lansing Community College (Livonia, MI).

James Kohl: LHP, Sophomore, Davenport University (Warren, MI).

Jack Huisman: RHP, Junior, Western Michigan University (Holland, MI).

Alex Lord: RHP, Sophomore, Davenport University (Britton, MI).

Ben Mets: IF, Sophomore, Davenport University (Macomb, MI).

Cade Stanton: IF, Junior, Grand Valley State University (Kalamazoo, MI).

Carter Smith: OF, Junior, Grand Valley State University (Decatur, MI).

The Remaining Roster:

The Growlers have a lot of promising talent coming from all over the country this summer. The Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) provided a lot of players for the Growlers. Eight players from the ACC will be in Kalamazoo this summer. This includes players from the University of Virginia (3), Notre Dame (2), Duke University (2) and the University of Miami (1). The team also features a couple players from the University of Kentucky and four players from the Big Ten. The Growlers are also taking it international this year. Evan Kiser joins the team from Ontario, Canada and Luke Krkovski comes all the way from Australia.

Tate Ballestero: IF, Sophomore, University of Virginia (Morristown, NJ). Number one ranked catching prospect out of high school in New Jersey.

Devin Burkes: C, IF, OF, Freshman, University of Kentucky (Ocala, FL). Number 23 ranked catcher in the country out of high school.

David Coppedge: IF, Freshman, University of Virginia (Chesterfield, VA). Ranked number three high school player in state of Virginia.

Stephen Cullen: IF, Junior, Southeastern University (Cumming, GA). Hit .330 for the Prospect League Champion City Kings during the 2019 season.

Jake Gelof: IF, OF, Freshman, University of Virginia (Rehoboth, DE). Number one ranked high school prospect in the state of Delaware.

Don Goodes: OF, Sophomore, University of Northwestern Ohio (Wapakoneta, OH). Prep baseball Report named him First Team All-Ohio and Division II Player of the Year in 2018. Finished the 2019-2020 season with a .373 batting average.

Evan Kiser: RHP, Senior, Guelph University (Mono, ON, CAN). The resident Canadian. Currently features a 95 MPH fastball.

Luke Krkovski: LHP, Freshman, Howard College (New South Wales, Australia). Coming from the "land down under." Krkovski pitched for the Australian team in the Little League World Series in 2015.

Damon Lux: OF, Junior, Duke University (Shelbyville, IN). Played for the Bismarck Larks in the Great Plains division in 2019.

Jess Miller: RHP, Freshman, Centre College (Louisville, KY). Selected by the Growlers in the 2021 Thunder Bay Border Cats and Northwoods League Draft. Currently has a 2.65 ERA this season at Centre College.

Dominic Pitelli: IF, Freshman, University of Miami, (Miami, FL). Holds a .256 batting average with 4 home runs in his first year at Miami.

Luke Storm: IF, Freshman, Duke University (Easton, PA). Ranked the number two ranked shortstop high school prospect in Pennsylvania.

Austin Strickland: RHP, Freshman, University of Kentucky (Winchester, OH). Number two ranked pitching prospect out of Ohio.

TJ Williams: OF, Freshman, University of Notre Dame (Germantown, MD). Number two ranked outfielder out of Maryland. Led his high school team with a .454 average junior year and a .432 average sophomore year.

Satchell Wilson: IF, Junior, Huntington University (Anderson, IN). Leads Huntington University in hitting with a .396 batting average.

Collin Witzke: RHP, Freshman, Kalamazoo Valley Community College (Aurora, IL). ERA of 4.01 at KVCC this season.

Drew McDaniel: RHP, Sophomore, University of Mississippi (Lafayette, LA).

Nicolas Lopez: LHP, Junior, Stanford University (Redwood City, CA).

Nolan Lepkoske: RHP, RS-FR, University of Central Florida (Jacksonville, FL).

Carter Seabrooke: LHP, Freshman, Howard College (Ontonabee, ON, CAN).

Stephen Cullen: IF, Sophomore, Dryersburg State Community College (Atlanta, GA).

Henry Gargus: OF, Sophomore, Stanford University (Yakima, WA).

Coaching Staff:

The Growlers coaching staff is led once again by Cody Piechocki (Kalamazoo Valley CC) who will lead the team for his 5th season. Joey Romence (KVCC) joins as the pitching coach, Steve Bennecke (KVCC) will serve as the hitting coach and Alex Holley (Tiffin University) will be the assistant coach.

Standouts:

Let's take a look at some of the standout players on the Growlers roster this season. They all just so happen to all be returning players from 2020. That's not to say there isn't a lot of supreme talent that's new to the team or the Northwoods League, but these standouts have proven themselves in Kalamazoo.

Luke Leto: A Portage Central kid. Leto was once considered the number one prospect in the country and a top 10 pick in the MLB draft before a COVID shortened season. Leto will enroll at LSU this fall for his freshman season, but before then he'll suit up in a Growlers uniform.

Adam Wheaton: We've said it once and we'll say it again, Adam Wheaton is Mr. Growler. Wheaton is a Kalamazoo native and returns for his 4th season with the team. He will once again lead the Growlers pitching staff. Wheaton was named a Northwoods League Postseason All-Star after finishing with a microscopic 0.60 ERA in 45.0 innings pitched in the regular season. He struck out 47 batters and threw six, 5-inning complete games as well. The former Trine University righty will play at Lamar University (TX) for his final season.

Trey Nordmann: Nordmann served as the Growlers primary closer last season, we'll see where his role is in 2021. He posted a 3.18 ERA last season while striking out 36 batters in just 22.2 innings. He struggled with walks, giving up 19 of them, but when Nordmann was in the strike zone batters rarely got hits. Nordmann has an electric mid 90s fastball, he even reached 97mph this off-season.

Anthony Calarco: A MacDaddy turned Growler. This Northwestern Wildcat led the MacDaddies in hitting last season with a .321 batting average and 44 total hits. Calarco has ranked in the top 10 in batting in the Big Ten Conference this spring, where he currently holds a.336 batting average and 7 home runs.

 

The Growlers appear to be fielding and impressive team in 2021. After a COVID affected season in 2020, the Growlers return to a regular Northwoods League schedule and 9-inning games for the upcoming season. There will be exciting baseball in Kalamazoo this summer, plus entertainment that goes above and beyond anything the team has done in the past. Join the Growlers at Homer-Stryker Field this summer.

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