The predecessors of the Chinooks — the AIA Fire — have always been a fun team to watch because of the variety of players they pull in from around the country (sometimes beyond) and throughout baseball. They have cast a wider geographical net than most ABL teams while, at the same time, have recruited players from all levels of collegiate play from the big-name Division I programs to the most modest community colleges. The result is an intriguing mix of ballplayers…a mix that is often hard to read before they come together in Alaska.
As a result, I’ve gone a little bit deeper into the college baseball stats to try and figure out who’s who on this team. I’ve been a bit hesitant to do so just because the college game is so different than the ABL game, which more closely approximates the rules of pro ball. But I’ve been careful to pick only stats that I think suggest something useful so I think I have an analysis that is actually a bit deeper than the others I have done so far.
Of course the usual caveats apply: this is a pre-season roster. It can and will change. You know the drill by now, if you’ve read my reports on previous incarnations of the CER/AIA teams or the other ABL teams.
So, what kind of arms do they have?[stextbox id="49hbstandard" caption="2012 Chinooks Pitching Staff" float="true" width="280" align="right"]As of 5/24/2012 (subject to change):
RHP Evan Rahn – SO Wheaton
LHP Andrew Work – JR Master’s
LHP Kelby Deerman – JR Alabama
RHP Tommy Kister – SO Master’s
RHP Tim Duxbury – JR Dennison
RHP Mike Jeffreys – SO Geneva
RHP Billy Marsh – Liberty
RHP Kevin Korkate – JR Oakland
RHP Jacob Howell – RSSR Milligan [/stextbox]Leading the charge in the starting rotation for the Chinooks this year will be a returning 2011 AIA player, lefty Andrew Work. Work tied for the team-high in starts last season with 8, lasting a third-best 48.1 innings pitched while holding opposing batters to an average of just .219. His collegiate stats this season were consistent; as a NAIA Junior at the Master’s College he threw 98 innings, started 14 games, while posting a 1.102 WHIP with 55 strikeouts versus 15 walks.
Evan Rahn, the Wheaton College sophomore, will be another significant starter for the Chinooks. He’s a workhorse with the ability to eat up a lot of innings, including the endurance to pitch a complete game when called upon. He has summer ball experience, playing for Alfred of the NYCBL last summer. In 21.2 innings pitched, Rahn sat down 22 batters on strikes and ended up with an ERA of 2.09 on the summer.
[stextbox id="49hbstandard" caption="2012 Chinooks Batters" float="true" align="right" width="280"]As of 5/24/2012 (subject to change):
C Chris Matthews – JR Hardin-Simmons
C David Mitroff – JR Olivet Nazarene
C Shane Street – JR Spring Arbor
IF Brent Fukushima – SO Westmont
IF Adam Humes – JR Northwood
IF Kristopher Kwak – JR North Dakota
IF Drew Shields – JR Georgia State
IF Tyler Shryock – SO CSU Bakersfield
IF Stockton Taylor – FR Everett CC
IF Drew Turbin – FR Yavapai
OF Griffin Gum – FR Alabama Birmingham
OF Scott Kalamar – JR Seton Hall
OF Steven Karkenny – FR Master’s
OF J.J. Turbin – SR Westmont
On the back end of the pitching staff are a couple of guys who are experienced in summer leagues. Tommy Kister out of The Master’s College had a great collegiate year, logging a solid 40 innings in relief. For the AIA-affiliated Xenia Scouts of the Great Lakes League he had an All-Star season and tied the franchise record with 7 saves. Standing 6’2″ and a solid 210 lbs, he’s one of the bigger guys on the team. Joining him will be a Division I product — Kevin Korkate, a junior — out of Oakland. Last year in the Cal Ripken League Korkate racked up 25 strikeouts in 24 innings of work. The season before that he was a member of the Lima Locos in the Great Lakes League. So the Chinooks will have some solid, proven late-inning options to turn to.
Update 5/25/2012: I have obtained some information on another pitcher, Milligan redshirt senior Jacob Howell. His pitching coach, Chris Gordon, also happens to be the skipper of the Miners this upcoming season, so I asked him on Twitter for his thoughts on Howell. To paraphrase his tweet, Howell hits 88-90 MPH with great sink and backs it up with a hard curve. He’s a great, strike-throwing competitor who saved 12 games in 13 opportunities on the collegiate season. So that’s a little something to expect from Howell.
As for the batters, there are a few who are already on my “stopwatch list”.
One has an arm, or so I hear: junior Shane Street is said, by his coach at NAIA Spring Arbor, to possess the type of arm that MLB scouts love to see in a catcher. I’m eager to be the judge of that! But Street has also logged some time in some other established summer-ball leagues, last season with the Scouts of the Great Lakes League, and with Battle Creek of the formidable Northwoods League in 2010.
The other player I want to get a clock on is Drew Turbin, the Yavapai Freshman. This season in the junior college circuit the younger Turbin stole 20 bases on 26 attempts, in just 44 games. He was listed by Perfect Game as a “National High Follow” as a graduating high schooler, so I’m eager to see what other tools he brings to the table. Of course we all know that fellow member of the Turbin clan, J.J. Turbin — who will be returning from the 2011 AIA Fire — is no slug either. He stole a team-best 9 bags for the ABL club last year, and another 13 on this spring’s college season. In addition he has committed just two errors in both of those seasons combined, one a piece, so J.J. definitely brings a solid defensive game.
Besides J.J. Turbin, the roster currently features another trio of batters who are coming back from last year’s AIA squad: David Mitroff, Tyler Shryock, and Scott Kalamar. Kalamar, a Division I junior out of Seton Hall, brings back his solid defensive skills; last year in the ABL he committed a mere 2 errors and went on to post a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage on the 2012 collegiate season.
Finally, one last player I want to shine a spotlight on is Steven Karkenny, another Master’s College player. He’s hit five homers on the NAIA season which is not insignificant considering they’ve followed the NCAA’s lead in introducing BBCOR bats, which more closely resembles the power characteristics of wood. He’s also stolen 11 bases on 12 attempts. Although he appears to be a bit of a free swinger I think he’ll bring a bit of speed and a bit of power to bolster the Chinooks’ offense.
So what does it all boil down to? I like the pitching staff; they’ve got some durable starters and some potential lights-out relievers to work with. I think defensively they’ve also got some steady gloves, so overall, I don’t imagine that opposing batters will be able to rack up a huge run tally on them. I don’t see a lot of power, but I do see some high-average guys and speedsters, so they might have to play small-ball but if they can manufacture runs they could be formidable on offense. Overall, I’m excited about this club. Let’s be honest; the Chinooks’ predecessors (AIA) have lurked around the bottom rungs of the ABL ladder the past several seasons. But I think they’ve got some of the pieces here to climb out of the basement this season. These guys will be the first ones to wear those new Chinooks jerseys and play the first real game in their new digs, so maybe with a real home to call their own they’ll have a bit of a boost over previous teams as well. This will be a fun team to watch for sure.