July 17, 2013
ALLENDALE, Mich. - A number of Grand Valley State baseball players have branched out across the country to play in summer collegiate baseball leagues in 2013, utilizing their talents against some of the top collegiate baseball players in the country across all divisions.
Two of the Lakers' most successful players in the last two years are teaming up for the La Crosse Loggers (La Crosse, Wis.) of the Northwoods League. Kevin Zak is hitting .293 on the team (43-for-147) with 26 runs, seven doubles, six home runs, 26 RBI and two stolen bases. Laker lead-off hitter Mike Nadratowski joins him on the team, hitting .268 (41-for-153) with 28 runs, one home run, 11 RBI, 20 walks and eight stolen bases.
Two more Lakers are playing with the Chillicothe Paints (Chillicothe, Ohio) of the Prospect League, a team which has seen a multitude of GVSU student-athletes in the past couple years. Stuart Eisler holds the second-highest average on the team, hitting .295 with 18 runs, five doubles, three home runs, 11 RBI and six stolen bases. GVSU power hitter Giancarlo Brugnoni has scored 16 runs with four doubles, five home runs, 18 RBI, 23 walks and two stolen bases.
Also in the Prospect League, playing for the Danville Dans (Danville, Ill.), is Taylor Banks. Banks is hitting .256 with five runs scored and four RBI in limited action.
Arguably the best numbers of any Laker in summer league action come from Ariel Aracena-Sanchez, who is playing with the Redding Colt .45's (Redding, Calif.) of the Far West League. Aracena-Sanchez is batting .330 (37-for-112) with 28 runs, 11 doubles, seven home runs, 22 RBI and six stolen bases.
Alex Trautmann is competing with the Crystal Lake Cardinals (Crystal Lake, Ill.) of the Chicago Suburban Baseball League, where he is hitting .258 with eight runs, two RBI and two stolen bases in 19 games.
Chris Ward is also competing, playing with the Butler BlueSox (Butler, Pa.) of the Prospect League. Ward has appeared in only one game in relief, striking out two in an inning of work.
Those who are playing in college summer leagues where stars are not available are Kevin Carroll (Michigan Bulls - Novi, Mich.), Mitchell Kozlowski (Michigan Blue Knights - Livonia, Mich.), Skylar Hoke (Peppino's Pizza - Grand Rapids, Mich.), Jesse Abel (Lewis & Clark Explorers - St. Louis, Mo.), Dan Saier (Michigan Monarchs - Ann Arbor, Mich.), Sean Clancy (Battle Creek Behnke - Battle Creek, Mich.), Jamie Potts (Muskegon Marlins - Muskegon, Mich.) and Matthew Schuch (Muskegon City League - Muskegon, Mich.).
Grice has played at three different levels in the New York Yankees organization, spanning from high-A to triple-A. Grice began the year at high-A Tampa, where he played in 21 games, collecting 11 hits, seven runs, five RBI and six stolen bases. From there, he was promoted all the way to triple-A Scranton-Wilkes Barre, where he took over as a starting outfielder. In 17 games, Grice hit .246 (15-for-61) with nine runs, two triples, two home runs, nine RBI and two stolen bases. Grice had a two-homer, six-RBI game for the RailRiders that included a grand slam. Grice now currently is seeing major playing time with the Trenton Thunder in double-A, where he is hitting .250 (9-for-36) with seven runs, four RBI and four stolen bases. In his time at Trenton, Grice has been playing with potential MLB Hall of Famer Alex Rodriguez, who has been competing in rehab games for the Thunder.
Schepel made his season debut with the South Bend Silverhawks of the low-A Midwest League, where he twirled a seven-inning no-hitter in only his second start of affiliated professional baseball. Shortly after, he was promoted up to high-A Visalia of the California League, where Schepel appeared in nine games with seven starts, striking out 32 over 40 innings of work. After being sent back down to South Bend, Schepel has continued to dominate. He has appeared in 12 games (five starts) with a 2-0 record, 2.65 ERA and 32 strikeouts in 37.1 innings.
The most established former Laker, Matt Thornton, had a change of scenery recently, getting traded from the Chicago White Sox to the Boston Red Sox just before the All-Star break. Thornton, a one-time All-Star himself in 2010, is carrying a 4.08 ERA with 21 strikeouts in 28.2 innings of work this season between the two clubs and remains one of the top lefty relievers in Major League Baseball.