Rafters Announce First Set Of Returning Players
Gold Glove Winning First Baseman And Key Bullpen Arm Return To Wisconsin Rapids
Wisconsin Rapids, Wis. – Following a season in which the Rafters set a new franchise record for wins in a season, they have announced two integral members will be returning to Wisconsin Rapids for the 2016 season. 2015 Northwoods League ‘Finest In The Field’ Award winning first baseman Ryan Cleveland (Georgia Southern), and right-handed pitcher John Jaeger (Sterling College) have signed contracts to rejoin the Rafters.
“We are extremely excited to have Ryan and John back for another summer,” said Rafters general manager John Fanta. “Both players are very talented but, even more importantly, they possess tremendous character on and off the field which will set a great example for our entire team next year.”
1B – Ryan Cleveland, 6’3”, 240 lbs (L/L) Junior, Georgia Southern
Upon arriving in Wisconsin Rapids at the end of May, Ryan Cleveland quickly took hold of the first base position. Providing a strong left-handed presence in the batters box and tremendous defense, Cleveland became a fixture in the Rafters lineup. In 58 games, he tied for the team lead with nine home runs while also sporting a .236 batting average, 14 doubles and 31 runs batted in. Cleveland’s greatest asset to the team was his glove. In winning the Rawlings ‘Finest In The Field’ Award as the Northwoods League’s top defensive first baseman, he committed just five errors in 483 chances to finish with a .990 fielding percentage. Cleveland will be a junior at Georgia Southern this spring.
Rafters Manager Craig Noto on Cleveland: "Ryan proved himself to be one of the best pure power hitters in the league the second half of last season. On top of the presence he brings to the lineup every day, he possesses Gold Glove defensive skills at first base. To see a player at 6'5"/235 play with the athleticism and effort he does day in and day out is astonishing. We're excited to have Ryan returning to Wisconsin Rapids in 2016."
RHP – John Jaeger, 6’2”, 175 lbs, (R/R) Junior, Sterling College
Finding himself in multiple roles on the Rafters pitching staff, John Jaeger led the team with 18 appearances including four starts during the 2015 season. In 52.1 innings, Jaeger compiled a 3-4 record with 42 strikeouts. Showing his versatility and importance to the pitching staff, in addition to making four starts as a part of the Rafters rotation Jaeger also notched a save working out of the backend of the bullpen. Jaeger will play his junior season at Sterling College (Kansas) this spring.
Rafters Manager Craig Noto on Jaeger: "John was a workhorse for us in a variety of roles last Summer but really hit his stride his last few times out as a starter for us. I'm expecting him to return and anchor a very deep rotation next summer.”
The Wisconsin Rapids Rafters are a member of the finest developmental league for elite college baseball players, the Northwoods League. Playing its 22nd season of summer collegiate baseball in 2015, the Northwoods League is the largest organized baseball league in the world with 18 teams, drawing significantly more fans, in a friendly ballpark experience, than any league of its kind. A valuable training ground for coaches, umpires and front office staff, more than 120 Northwoods League players have advanced to Major League Baseball, including Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer (WAS) and MLB All-Stars Chris Sale (CWS), Jordan Zimmermann (WAS), Curtis Granderson (NYM), Lucas Duda (NYM) and Ben Zobrist (KC). All league games are viewable live via the Northwoods League Website. For more information, visit www.raftersbaseball.com.