Eau Claire, Wis. – The Express front office today announced that six players from the 2013 roster will return to Eau Claire for a second summer. Returners include pitchers Taylor Duree and Peter Hendron, infielders Mike Porcaro and Dalton Bowers, and outfielders Alex Call and Daniel Kihle. With the latest additions, the Express roster stands at 17 with just over two months until the season opener.
Duree is entering his sophomore season at the University of New Mexico. The right-hander appeared in 11 games in 2013 for the Express, starting nine, compiling a 2-3 record and 3.52 earned run average in 53.2 innings pitched. The Albuquerque, N.M. native has appeared in eight of the Lobos 20 games out of the bullpen this spring. He has no record and a 5.11 ERA in 12.1 innings pitched. As a freshman at New Mexico, Duree made 16 appearances and two starts. He had no record and a 4.15 ERA in 17.1 innings pitched.
Hendron is a right-handed pitcher for Santa Clara University. The sophomore started four of the nine games he appeared in last summer for the Express, finishing with a 1-3 record and 4.55 ERA. His best outing of the season came in his last appearance, a win in Thunder Bay that saw him pitch six shutout innings with three hits allowed, no walks and eight strikeouts. He has been the best starter for the Broncos this spring, registering a 2-1 record and 3.00 ERA in five starts thus far. He appeared in ten games in 2013 as a freshman, including two starts.
Porcaro enters his junior year at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee as an infielder. He saw action in 44 games for the Express in 2013. The Burlington, Wis. native finished with a .242 batting average, five doubles and 25 runs batted in. Porcaro has started all 11 games for the Panthers this spring and ranks second on the team with a .324 batting average and is tied for the team lead with four doubles. He has already walked ten times, which has helped him to an impressive .458 on-base percentage. Over his first two seasons in Milwaukee, Porcaro batted .344 with 17 doubles and five triples.
Bowers is a sophomore for the New Mexico Junior College Thunderbirds. He joined the Express mid-season in 2013 and appeared in 26 games. Bowers batted .257 in 101 at-bats, scored 18 runs and drove in 14. The Albuquerque, N.M. native appeared in 34 games as a freshman for the Thunderbirds, starting 32. He had a .333 batting average and an impressive .460 on-base percentage.
Call saw limited late-season action for the Express last summer, appearing in eight games down the stretch. In 23 at-bats he had eight hits, one home run and three RBI’s. When Call was originally signed in 2013 he was considered a high school player. Due to Northwoods League rules, his contract covered both the 2013 and 2014 seasons. The River Falls (Wis.) High School grad has gotten off to a good start in his freshman season at Ball State University, leading the team with a .365 batting average in 17 games started. He ranks second on the squad in both RBI’s and doubles, with 11 and five.
Kihle returns to the Express after seeing action in 48 games in last summer. His 2013 campaign consisted of 182 at-bats, a .242 batting average, seven doubles, and 23 RBI’s. His 13 stolen bases ranked second to Charlie White’s 25 for the Express. The Wichita State sophomore outfielder was off to a hot start this spring until recently suffering a broken hand. He ranks second on the team with a .370 batting average and is tied for second on the team with two home runs. He showed great improvement from his freshman season with the Shockers, which saw him collect nine hits in 47 at-bats over 35 games and 11 starts.
The Express begin their 10th season of play in the Northwoods League on Tuesday, May 27 versus the Lakeshore Chinooks. First pitch is scheduled for 6:35 PM with gates opening at 5:30. Season tickets and voucher packs are on sale now. Single-game tickets will go on sale May 1. The full promotional schedule for 2014 will be announced on April 1.
The Eau Claire Express are a member of the finest developmental league for elite college baseball players, the Northwoods League. Playing its 21st season of summer collegiate baseball, 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 115 Northwoods League players have advanced to Major League Baseball, including Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer (DET) and MLB All-Stars Chris Sale (CWS), Jordan Zimmermann (WAS), Curtis Granderson (NYM), Allen Craig (STL) and Ben Zobrist (TB). All league games are viewable live and free of charge via the Northwoods League YouTube channel. For more information, visit www.eauclaireexpress.com.