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MoonDogs Unveil 2010s All-Decade Team

January 6, 2020 - Northwoods League (Northwoods) - Mankato MoonDogs News Release

It may be a new decade, but we're not ready to let go of the old one just yet.  The MoonDogs have had some amazing players come to Mankato over the last ten years, so we just had to make an All-Decade team.  It's impossible to compile a perfect list (there were so many players!), but here it is!

Position Players

C:  Robbie Robinson (2010), Valparaiso:  As a catcher, Robinson finished in the top three in both hits and at-bats for the MoonDogs, earning himself a spot in the Northwoods League All-Star Game, where he produced a hit in his only at-bat.  Robinson's .293 average was the highest of all MoonDogs players who appeared in more than half of the team's games.

-Runner-Up:  Craig Lepre (2014), Albany:  Lepre finished with a .309 average for the MoonDogs, appearing in 40 games.  In the game that sent the MoonDogs to the NWL Championship, Lepre contributed three hits and two RBIs.

1B:  Kyle MacDonald (2018), Arkansas St.:  The fearsome slugger made his presence known during the 2018 season, leading the Northwoods League in both home runs (16) and RBIs (75), the latter of which is the second-highest total in Northwoods League history.  The NWL all-star now holds the MoonDogs single-season record for RBIs, at-bats (281), and tied Tyler Sullivan for games played (69).

-Runner-Up:  John Michael Twichell (2012-13), UT Arlington: The first two-year player on this list, Twichell holds the MoonDogs career home run record with 25.  Over his two summers in Mankato, he hit .322, drove in 86 runs, and even stole 10 bases.  He was an all-star selection in 2012.

2B:  David Metzgar (2015-16), Cal St. Bakersfield:  Another two-year player, Metzgar holds the MoonDogs record for career batting average (using MLB's eligibility requirements), hitting .326 during his time in Mankato.  In 2016, his .356 average led all MoonDogs, and his runs, hits, and RBI totals were all second to Jake Shepski (who you just might see on this list).

-Runner-Up:  Nick Ratajczak (2012), Louisville:  Ratajczak led all 2012 MoonDogs in runs scored (38).  He finished the season with a .329 average, second-highest of all players who appeared in over half the team's games, and was also second on the team in hits (Twichell led both categories).

3B:  Tanner Rockwell (2014), Arkansas Little Rock:  On a pretty stacked 2014 team, Rockwell led the MoonDogs in home runs (8) and doubles (16).  He also appeared as a pitcher in six games, throwing ten innings during the regular season and only allowing one earned run, for an ERA of 0.90.

Runner-Up:  Chase Simpson (2012), Oklahoma:  Simpson played 44 games for the MoonDogs in 2012, finishing with a .307 average, the third-highest of eligible players.  He also led the team in doubles (14).

SS:  Peter Maris (2014), UC Santa Barbara:  Although he didn't arrive in Mankato until mid-June, Maris started off on a tear, posting an absurd 14 hits in his first five games.  He finished the season with a .337 average and 21 games with multiple hits, and was awarded a spot in the NWL All-Star Game.  In five playoff games, Maris accumulated seven hits and six runs.  His regular season average and 45 RBIs were both second-highest on the team that summer.

-Runner-Up:  Nick Novak (2018-19), Angelo St.:  The defensive wizard made the MoonDogs' highlight reel plenty of times over the last two summers, and he wasn't a slouch at the plate either.  He averaged .306 over his career, and led the 2019 team in both hits (61) and stolen bases (20).

OF:  Shaun Cooper (2011), Utah:  Cooper had arguably the best Northwoods League season ever.  His 20 home runs were a Northwoods League record.  His 55 runs and 61 RBIs also led the league.  He finished the season leading the MoonDogs in virtually every category:  Batting average (.335), runs (55), hits (81), doubles (14), triples (4), home runs (20), RBIs (61), games played (63), at-bats (242).  He even stole 15 bases!  He was, of course, an All-Star, as well as the 2011 Northwoods League MVP.

Tyler Sullivan (2014), Pacific:  Sullivan was also at the top of the leaderboard for multiple categories.  He led the entire Northwoods League in hits (92), runs (65), and stolen bases (36), while playing in 69 games.  These are ALL MoonDogs single-season records.  He also led the team with a .352 average.  He was awarded with an All-Star Game selection, where (surprise!) he had three hits and stole a base.

Jake Shepski (2016-18), Notre Dame/Xavier:   Shepski is another player who has rewritten the MoonDogs record book.  Playing in Mankato for three summers, he holds nearly all MoonDogs career batting records.  They are:  Hits (183), runs (123), RBIs (110), doubles (34), triples (7), walks (115), at-bats (624), and games played (174).  He was a two-time NWL All-Star (2016, 2018), and was the 2016 Northwoods League MVP, finishing with a .333 average, 11 homers, and 55 RBIs.

-Runners-Up:  Cody Ferrell (2011-12), Oklahoma City:  Ferrell played two seasons in Mankato, leading the team in stolen bases both years.  His total of 50 stolen bases is the MoonDogs career record.

Tim Arakawa (2013), Oklahoma St.:  Arakawa had a stellar 2013 season, leading the MoonDogs in average (.346), runs (56), hits (88), doubles (16), walks (45), stolen bases (30), at-bats (254), and games played (65).  He was an easy choice as a 2013 NWL All-Star.

Daniel Amaral (2017), UCLA:   Although he was only in Mankato for half a season, Amaral had quite the impact.  He finished his year with a .347 average and led the team in stolen bases (23).  While his seven triples are the MoonDogs' single-season record, he is also tied for the most triples in a MoonDogs CAREER.

DH:  Toby Hanson (2017), Minnesota:  It's an absolute travesty that Hanson's season was cut short by injury, because here are some of his accomplishments:  He had at least one hit in 27 of his 29 games.  He had at least two hits in 19 games.  He had three hits in seven games.  He had a seven-game streak with multiple hits (including four in a row with THREE hits).  He was hitting .442 at the time of his injury, heading home after playing in the 2017 NWL All-Star Game (where he got another hit).  He also has an active 21-game hitting streak.

-Runner-Up:  Jonathan Rodriguez (2013), Oklahoma City:  Rodriguez's season in Mankato was a good one.  He finished second on the team in average (.330) and hits (73), and was third in home runs (6), RBIs (40), games played (59), and at-bats (221).  He was a 2013 NWL All-Star.

Pitchers

SP:  Blake Schwartz (2010-11), MSU-Mankato:  Schwartz, who played his college ball in Mankato, was another two-year MoonDog.  In both years, he was the team leader in wins, innings pitched, and starts.  While he was a solid pitcher for both summers, he was truly unstoppable in his second year.  Schwartz was a NWL All-Star, going 6-1 with a 1.71 ERA, striking out 75 while only walking 15.  The highlight of his year was a complete-game shutout of the Thunder Bay Border Cats, striking out 14 while allowing just two hits.  At the end of the season, Schwartz was named the Northwoods League Pitcher of the Year.

Brett Newberg (2016-19), Austin Peay:  The first four-year player in MoonDogs history, Newberg was the model of consistency in a league that sees hundreds and hundreds of players every year.  For four years, he ate up innings and racked up wins, posting a 2.94 career ERA.  He was a two-time team leader in both innings pitched and strikeouts, and now holds the MoonDogs record for total wins (20) and games started (29).  His 20 wins are tied for the Northwoods League career record.

Adam Lukas, (2018), Evansville:  A true fireballer, Lukas was frustrating for Northwoods League hitters.  His 6-0 record was aided by his heater, which reached 99 mph at times, and the fact that he never allowed more than five hits in any start.  With a 1.10 WHIP, Lukas simply kept hitters off the basepaths.  He was a 2018 NWL All-Star.

RP:  Patrick Goelz (2011-12), Oklahoma City:  Goelz is what you think of when you think of the classic, everyday closer, earning a MoonDogs-record 23 saves over two summers.  His 2011 season featured nine of those saves, with the addition of a 1.83 ERA and 38 strikeouts in 39.1 innings.  Goelz struck out 34 more hitters in 2012, over 32.2 innings, adding 14 saves, including a streak of ten saves in ten consecutive appearances.  For his efforts, Goelz was named as a 2012 NWL All-Star.

Tyler Mark (2014), Cal St. Dominguez:  Mark's 2014 season was perhaps the most dominant season a relief pitcher can have.  To start, he led the team with 45 strikeouts, despite being a closer and only throwing 27.2 innings.  Secondly, he only allowed two earned runs all year.  If you do the math, that's a 0.65 ERA (as well as a 0.88 WHIP).  Hitters simply could not touch Mark.  He accumulated nine saves on his way to earning a spot on the NWL All-Star team.

-Runners-up (all pitchers):  Jess Amedee (2013), UT-Arlington:  Another solid MoonDogs closer, Amedee was a saves machine as well, with 13.  He struck out 48 batters in just 27.2 innings (good for second-highest on the team, as a closer), and finished the season with a 1.95 ERA and 1.41 WHIP.  He was a 2013 NWL All-Star.

Andy Fisher (2017), Illinois:  Fisher quietly had a very solid season for the 2017 MoonDogs, with a 6-1 record over eight starts, leading the team in wins.  His 51 strikeouts were second only to Brett Newberg's 54, and his 1.92 ERA was the best of all MoonDogs starting pitchers.

Zach Hardy (2018), New Mexico St.:  Hardy was another MoonDogs closer who simply did not let the other team score.  He allowed just three earned runs all year, over 23.2 innings for a 1.14 ERA, with 10 saves and 23 strikeouts along the way.  On an impressive side note, Hardy made a few appearances at the plate for the MoonDogs, going 5-5 with a triple, home run, four RBIs, and four runs scored.  His 1.000 batting average in five at-bats (six plate appearances with his sac fly!) is almost certainly some kind of record (needs verification, but come on).

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