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Growlers in the Minor Leagues Update

Kalamazoo, MI – As the Minor League baseball season concludes, let’s catch up with the former Growlers who are currently playing in the minors. There are currently over 30 Growlers still chasing that dream of playing in the majors. This past season saw 2015 Growler Brandon Hughes make his major league debut with the Chicago Cubs and 2016 Growler David Hensley debut with the Houston Astros. Who will be the next Growler to make it? Let’s take a look around Minor League baseball.

Matt Mervis
Mervis was named the Minor League Player of the Year by the Cubs organization. The only players to hit more home runs in a minor league season in the Chicago Cubs organization than Matt Mervis are Kris Bryant, Bryan LaHair and Javier Baez. Mervis has hit 36 total home runs this season between three different teams. He has had a rapid rise through the Cubs minor league system. Mervis started the season with the South Bend Cubs (Advanced-A), he was promoted to the Tennessee Smokies (AA) after 27 games and slugged his way all the way up to the Iowa Cubs (AAA). Mervis’ stat line for the 2022 season; .311 BA, 36 HR and 119 RBI. Matt Mervis should see himself playing at Wrigley Field very soon.

Niko Kavadas

Niko was teammates with Mervis in Kalamazoo in 2018. Kavadas was just named the Red Sox Minor League Offensive Player of the Year. Kavadas has also had a rapid rise through the minor league system. He began the season with the Salem Red Sox (A), made his way to the Greenville Drive (Adv. A) before finishing the season with the Portland Sea Dogs (AA). Niko’s stats for the 2002 season; .280 BA, 26 HR and 86 RBI.

Zack Gelof
Zack played for the Growlers in 2019. Gelof finished the 2022 season with the Las Vegas Aviators, the Triple-A affiliate of the Oakland A’s. In an article from The Athletic earlier this month, Oakland Athletics assistant GM Billy Owens had this to say about Gelof, “Zack Gelof is a DUDE to the millionth degree. He has real talent that will translate to the top level in numerous ways.” There is clearly a lot of excitement around Gelof within the A’s organization. Gelof’s stat line for the 2022 season; .273 BA, 18 HR, 66 RBI. It is worth noting that Zack’s younger brother Jake who played for the Growlers in 2021 is a highly touted prospect at the University of Virginia.

Connor Hollis
The race for the next Growler to make it to the MLB may come down to either Matt Mervis, Zack Gelof or Connor Hollis. Hollis won the Northwoods League batting title while playing for the Growlers in 2017. Leading the league with a .375 batting average. Since then all Hollis has done is hit. Finishing the 2022 minor league season with a combined .329 BA average across both AA and AAA. Hollis once again won a batting title after leading the Texas League (AA) in batting average with a .333 average. Hollis played 103 games for the San Antonio Mission in 2022, the AA affiliate of the San Diego Padres. Hollis was promoted to the El Paso Chihuahuas (AAA) the last month of the season where he played 24 games and hit .310.

Breaking Down All the Growlers in the Minors By Year in Kalamazoo

2014:
Caleb Baragar LHP (Indiana Univ.) – Caleb has played in the MLB with the San Francisco Giants. Baragar has spent the 2022 season with the Reno Aces, the AAA affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks.
2016:
Cam Duzenack IF (Dallas Baptist) – Spent the 2022 season with the Reno Aces, the AAA affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Matt Lloyd IF/OF (Indiana Univ.) – Chattanooga Lookouts, AA Affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds.
Michael Brettell RHP (Central Michigan) – Springfield Cardinals, AA Affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals.
Tanner Andrews RHP (Purdue) – Played in four levels in 2022. Finished season with the Richmond Flying Squirrels, AA Affiliate of the San Francisco Giants.
Grant Wolfram LHP (Davenport) – Frisco RoughRiders, AA Affiliate of the Texas Rangers.
Garvin Alston LHP (South Carolina – Aiken) – Started season with the Wilmington Blue Rocks (Adv. A). Finished year with the Harrisburg Senators, AA Affiliate of the Washington Nationals.
2017:
Connor Hollis IF (Univ. of Houston) – Spent most of the season with the San Antonio Mission, AA affiliate of the San Diego Padres. Promoted the last month of the season to the El Paso Chihuahuas (AAA).
2018:
Luke Boyd RHP (Baylor) – Fort Wayne Tin Caps, Advanced-A Affiliate of the San Diego Padres.
Dylan Shockley C (Univ. of Rio Grande) – Altoona Curve, AA Affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Kyle Virbitsky RHP (Penn State) – Started season with the Stockton Ports (A). Finished year with the Lansing Lugnuts, Advanced A Affiliate of the Oakland Athletics.
Joey Loperfido IF/OF (Duke) – Started season with the Fayetteville Woodpeckers (A). Finished season with the Asheville Tourists, Advanced-A Affiliate of the Houston Astros.
Zach Daniels OF (Tennessee) – Asheville Tourists, Advanced-A Affiliate of the Houston Astros.
Sam Weatherly LHP (Clemson) – Started season in Rookie League. Finished season with the Spokane Indians, Advanced-A Affiliate of the Colorado Rockies.
Ivan Johnson IF (Chipola College) – Chattanooga Lookouts, AA Affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds.
Joe Boyle RHP (Notre Dame) – Began year with the Dayton Dragons (Adv. A). Finished season with Chattanooga Lookouts, AA Affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds.
Matt Mervis IF (Duke) – Played in three levels in 2022. Finished season with the Iowa Cubs, AAA Affiliate of the Chicago Cubs.
Niko Kavadas IF/OF (Notre Dame) – Played in three levels in 2022. Finished season with the Portland Sea Dogs, AA Affiliate of the Boston Red Sox.
Jamison Hill RHP (Cal State – Fresno) – Played in three levels in 2022. Finished year with the Amarillo Sod Poodles, AA Affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Baron Radcliff OF (Georgia Institute of Technology) – Jersey Shore BlueClaws, Advanced-A Affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies.
Tommy Sommer LHP (Indiana Univ.) – Began year with the Kannapolis Cannon Ballers (A). Finished year with the Winston-Salem Dash, Advanced-A Affiliate of the Chicago White Sox.
2019:
Anthony Walters IF/OF (San Diego State) – Arizona Complex League (ACL) Rockies, Rookie League Affiliate of the Colorado Rockies.
Max Bain RHP (Northwood) – Started year with the South Bend Cubs (Adv. A). Ended year with the Tennessee Smokies, AA Affiliate of the Chicago Cubs.
Alex Nolan RHP (Brock Univ. – Ontario) – Vancouver Canadians, Advanced-A of the Toronto Blue Jays.
Zack Gelof IF (Virginia) – Started year with the Midland RockHounds (AA). Finished year with the Las Vegas Aviators, AAA Affiliate of the Oakland Athletics.
Mike Paredes RHP (San Diego State) – Fort Myers Mighty Mussels, A Affiliate of the Minnesota Twins.
Dakota Kotowski OF (Missouri State) – Began year with the Florida Complex League (FCL) Phillies (Rookie). Ended year with the Clearwater Threshers, A Affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies.
2020:
Blake Dunn *also played in 2021* OF (Western Michigan) – Began year with the ACL Reds (Rookie). Finished year with the Daytona Tortugas, A Affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds.
Shawn Goosenberg *MacDaddies* IF/OF (Northwestern) – Winston-Salem Dash, Advanced-A Affiliate of the Chicago White Sox.
Ian Leatherman *MacDaddies* RHP (Central Michigan) – Injured for the entire 2022 season. Finished the 2021 season with the Charleston RiverDogs, A Affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays.
Brett Barrera *also played in 2021* IF (Stanford) – Started with the FCL Yankees (Rookie). Finished with the Tampa Tarpons, A Affiliate of the New York Yankees.
2021:
Blake Dunn *also played in 2020* OF (Western Michigan) – Began year with the ACL Reds (Rookie). Finished year with the Daytona Tortugas, A Affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds.
Brett Barrera *also played in 2020* IF (Stanford) – Started with the FCL Yankees (Rookie). Finished with the Tampa Tarpons, A Affiliate of the New York Yankees.
2022:
Connor Charping C (Western Michigan) – ACL Mariners, Rookie League Affiliate of the Seattle Mariners.

Growlers Playing For Non-Affiliated (Independent) Teams by Year in Kalamazoo

2014:
Ryan Lidge (Notre Dame) – Chicago Dogs.
2016:
Dalton Combs (Huntington University) – New Jersey Jackals.
Connor Kopach (Southern Illinois) – Chicago Dogs.
Dan Robinson *also played in 2018* (Central Michigan) – Windy City ThunderBolts
2018:
Dan Robinson *also played in 2016* (Central Michigan) – Windy City ThunderBolts.
2019:
Jake Hoover (Hillsdale) – Lancaster Barnstormers.
2018-2022 (5 Seasons):
Adam Wheaton AKA Mr. Growler (Lamar University) – Windy City ThunderBolts
 

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The Kalamazoo Growlers are a member of the finest developmental league for elite college baseball players, the Northwoods League. The Northwoods League is the proven leader in the development of elite college baseball players. Now in its’ 29th season, the Northwoods League is the largest organized baseball league in the world with 22 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, 300 Northwoods League players have advanced to Major League Baseball, including three-time All-Star and 2016 Roberto Clemente Award winner Curtis Granderson, three-time Cy Young Award winner and World Series Champion Max Scherzer (NYM), two-time World Series Champions Ben Zobrist and Brandon Crawford (SFG) and World Series Champion Chris Sale (BOS). As well as 2019 Rookie of the Year and 2019/2021 Home Run Derby Champion Pete Alonso (NYM) and 2021 All-Star, MLB Gold Glove winner and 2019 Second Team All-MLB shortstop Marcus Semien (TEX). All league games are viewable live via the Northwoods League website. League games are viewable live at watchnwl.com and on ESPN+. For more information, visit www.growlersbaseball.com or download the new Northwoods League Mobile App on the Apple App Store or on Google Play and set the Growlers as your favorite team.