Mequon, WI – The Lakeshore Chinooks have seen some ups and downs this year, as has any Northwoods League team given that many key players have still yet to arrive thanks to the NCAA postseason. One area where the team has seen plenty of stability so far, though, has been the outfield, where three players have been impressive in the early going of the season.
Manning left field has been Jake Romano (Miami-Ohio), and he has been arguably the most important hitter on the team. After posting a triple-slash line (batting average/on-base percentage/slugging percentage) of .297/.401/.429 in his junior year this spring, the left-handed swinger has had no problem adjusting to the wood bats in the Northwoods League. Through nine games, he has slashed .333/.351/.500.
Romano's nine RBIs are tied for seventh most in the entire Northwoods League and are also tied for most among Chinooks. His four doubles also put him among league leaders, tying him for third. The speedy Romano has been a threat on the basepaths as well, stealing five bases in just nine games, which puts him on pace for 40 in 72 games.
Fellow scrappy outfielder Drake Parker (Vanderbilt) has also been impressive while manning center field for the Chinooks. Though he did not see much time in a talented Vanderbilt outfield this spring, Parker has shown no signs of rust. After a 3 for 7 performance against Wisconsin Rapids on Wednesday, Parker is now hitting .368/.442/.421 in his first nine games of the summer.
Parker's 14 hits are tied for third in the Northwoods League, and his on-base percentage leads the Chinooks, showcasing how important he has been out of the leadoff spot. He has also demonstrated prototypical leadoff-hitter speed, stealing four bases so far while only getting caught once.
Lucas Raley (Lake Erie College) might not come from as well-known of a school as Romano and Parker, but he has quickly shown that he belongs too. Raley had a big year at Lake Erie in which he hit .350/.455/.625, and he has continued impressing against some of the best college competition in the nation. Battling all over the team's lineup, the lefty swinger has slashed .297/.400/.430 so far this summer.
Raley's nine RBIs are tied with Romano for the team lead, and despite not being known for his speed, he is just one of two players in the Northwoods League with two triples. He has also stole a base for the Chinooks without having been caught.
The outfield has also impressed on the defensive side of things. Parker and Romano give the team two of the rangiest outfielders in the entire league, and both have shown off their speed on many occasions. Raley may not be the fastest guy in the world, but great instincts make him a surprisingly-nice defender in right field, and he already has made a couple of highlight-reel catches in the early going.
This trio of players has given manager Eddy Morgan anything he could ask for and more in the first part of the season. As the Chinooks look to defend their 2014 Northwoods League Title, these guys will surely continue to play key roles on the team throughout the season.
The Lakeshore Chinooks 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 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), Allen Craig (BOS) and Ben Zobrist (OAK). All league games are viewable live via the Northwoods League website. For more information, visit www.lakeshorechinooks.com.