‘NWL Alumni in Spring Training’ – Oakland Athletics
The Oakland Athletics will begin Spring Training play in three days in Phoenix, AZ and a familiar NWL face will be on their 40-man roster. That familiar face will be Josh Willingham who played in the NWL in 1998 and 1999 for the Austin Southern Minny Stars.
The thirty-two year old has spent the past seven seasons in the National League between the Florida Marlins and Washington Nationals. Willingham spent five years with the Marlins and the last two with the Nationals.
The former North Alabama product was drafted by the Florida Marlins during the 2000 draft in the 17th round. Willingham was traded to the Oakland Athletics this past December and is expected to start in left field for the A’s. Willingham’s career .265 batting average and .367 on-base percentage will help the Oakland A’s who hit .248 as a team in 2010 which ranked 11th out of 14 in the American League.
Willingham is expected to provide power to an offense that finished second to last in the American League in home runs in 2010 with only 109. In Willingham’s previous seven seasons in the Major Leagues he hit more than 15 home runs in all but two seasons. The 6’2’’ righty hit 26 homers in 2006 and 24 in 2009 which were his two best power seasons.
Willingham is looking to get the A’s over the hump as they finished nine games behind the American League Champion Texas Rangers in the AL West. The expected Oakland Athletics left fielder will start next to speedster Coco Crisp in center field and former Kansas City Royals outfielder David DeJesus who is expected to start in right field.
Other former NWL Alumni to watch in the Athletics organization – Lance Sewell
Lance Sewell played for both Mankato (2005) and La Crosse (2006) during his time in the Northwoods League. Sewell had a huge 2010 in the Minor Leagues as he finished 2010 with a 7-0 record. The 7th round pick in the 2007 MLB Draft was 7-0 for the Single-A Advanced Stockton Ports of the California League. The 6’3’’ lefty has a career 13-7 MiLB record with a 3.08 earned run average.
Check in Friday, February 25th as the NWL dissects the Toronto Blue Jays of the powerful American League East.