It’s official, Anthony (Tony) Stephan, also known as “Everyone’s Favorite Italian” is back in a Growlers uniform for 2023. The fan favorite and returner from the 2022 Northwoods League championship team will join the Kalamazoo roster for the teams’ game tomorrow, July 6th, against the Rockford Rivets.
Stephan was one of the best players in the entire NWL last season, bringing back significant production and experience into the K-Zoo lineup. The lefty played in the second most games (56) of anybody for the Growlers last season, only behind Ryan Dykstra. Stephan led the team in hits (72), RBI (48), 2B (9), and 3B (7) plus was both the team leader and top-ten in the league in average (.340).
Following the performance, he earned the Rawlings “Big Stick” Award at first base, the Northwoods League silver slugger. Stephan also ranked in the top-15 in the league in sacrifice bunts (1st), triples (2nd), batting average (7th), runs created (7th), hits (t-9th), RBI (11th), on-base percentage (11th), walks (t-12th) and OPS (14th) and went 6-19 with five runs scored and five RBI in the postseason including a two-run go-ahead homer in the seventh of game one of the Great Lakes East Division Series.
In 2023, Stephan made his case to be the primary designated hitter for the ‘Hoos and got it. In 55 games, Stephan hit .329/.449/.519 with 13 doubles, five home runs, and 28 RBI. Stephan also drew 28 walks compared to just 25 punchouts. Making the College World Series, Stephan had ten multi-hit performances with three coming in the postseason. Across eight games in the NCAA tournament, Stephan was one of the best performers for a lineup that fought in just about every game. The lefty went 9-30 across eight games, coming through in a big way in the Hoos super regional win against Duke. Stephan’s first of two home runs of the series was a grand slam for his lone hit in game one before going 2-3 in the third and deciding game with another home run and five RBI. In the CWS, Stephan went 1-3 with an RBI against Florida before going 0-4 to TCU.
Stephan looks to be a great addition to the Growlers lineup for the second half.