Loggers Begin Building 2017 Roster with Trio of Returnees!
La Crosse, Wis. – The La Crosse Loggers front office announced today that three players from their 2016 roster have officially signed contracts to return to La Crosse in 2017. UCLA’s Jake Hirabayashi will join pitchers Zach Kesterson (Duke) and Chris Boettcher (Indianapolis) in dawning the Logger pinstripes again next summer.
Hirabayashi played in 24 games for the Lumbermen this past summer before suffering a broken hamate bone. The Sherman Oaks, Calif. native hit .250 with three doubles, three RBI’s and seven runs scored while drawing twelve walks to only seven strikeouts. Hirabayashi also stole six bases in seven attempts along with being an asset defensively by having the ability to both catch and play three positions in the infield. Now a sophomore at UCLA, Hirabayashi enjoyed a decorated prep career as he garnered Perfect Game all-American honors in 2013, 2014 and 2015 playing for Notre Dame High School (Calif.) before moving on to UCLA. 2017 will mark his third season of summer collegiate baseball as he also competed in the West Coast Collegiate League in 2015 when he hit .253 with 21 runs and nine RBI’s for the Wenatchee AppleSox. Hirabayashi’s father, Keith Hirabayashi Cooke, is one of the top martial artists and actors in the country. A five-time grand champion at the U.S. World and US. Open Karate tournaments, the elder Hirabayashi has also appeared in such movies as Mortal Kombat, Mortal Kombat: Annihilation, Heetseeker and Beverly Hills Ninja.
Right-hander Zach Kesterson played a significant role on the Loggers pitching staff in 2016 as a true freshman when he went 2-5, with a 4.50 ERA and ranked second on the team in games pitched (18, 6 starts) and innings (54), while ranking third in strikeouts (47). The 6-2, 215 pound hurler returns for his sophomore season for a Duke team that qualified for the NCAA Regionals in 2016 for the first time since 1961. Prior to becoming a Blue Devil, Kesterson was considered one of the top two-way talents in the country coming out of New Hartford Senior High School (New Hartford, NY) as he was ranked as the no. 301 prospect in his class by Perfect Game. Kesterson earned Perfect Game Honorable Mention all-American honors in 2015 along with being tabbed a pre-season Under Armour all-American.
Side-winder Chris Boettcher was a dominant force in the Loggers bullpen over the first month of the 2016 season as he thrived on a temporary contract. With a deceptive delivery, the right-hander limited opponents to a miniscule .179 batting average while posting a 1.62 ERA over 13 appearances, striking out 12 batters in 16.2 innings pitched. Boettcher was equally as dominant during his sophomore season at Illinois Central College when he tied for the team lead with three saves while striking out 34 batters in 22.2 innings pitched and posted a 1.19 ERA. The Metamora, IL native is now in the midst of his junior season and will be looking to continue his excellence out of the University of Indianapolis bullpen before returning to La Crosse next summer.
The Loggers are set to open the 2017 campaign, their 15th season in La Crosse, on Tuesday, May 30 when they play host to the Duluth Huskies at 7:05 p.m. Gates to the brand new Coverra Insurance Services Courtyard Entrance will open at 6:00 p.m. as fans can get their first look at the newly remodeled entrance, P & P Products Pro Shop, Gerhard’s 1st Supply Restrooms and expanded concession pavilion.
The La Crosse Loggers are a member of the finest developmental league for elite college baseball players, the Northwoods League. The 23-year-old summer collegiate league is the largest organized baseball league in the world with 20 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 160 former Northwoods League players have advanced to Major League Baseball, including two-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer (WAS), two-time World Series Champion Ben Zobrist (CHC) and MLB All-Stars Chris Sale (CWS), Jordan Zimmermann (DET), Curtis Granderson (NYM) and Lucas Duda (NYM). All league games are viewable live via the Northwoods League portal. For more information, visit www.greenbaybullfrogs.com or download the new Northwoods League Mobile App on the Apple App Store or on Google Play and set the Bullfrogs as your favorite team.