Madison Mallards 2015 All-Star Break Report
Madison, Wis. (July 20) – With Sunday's double-header in Battle Creek behind them, field manager Donnie Scott and the Madison Mallards (12-7, 32-22) on Monday will turn their collective attention toward three consecutive off days as the Northwoods League shifts its focus to the 2015 All-Star break. The league's festivities will be held at historic Witter Field in Wisconsin Rapids, Wis., beginning with the Marshfield Clinic Home Run Challenge and concluding with the All-Star Game on Tuesday, July 21 at 7:05 p.m. CT.
The Mallards will be well-represented tomorrow night at Witter Field. After scintillating performances across the first two months of the regular season, Anthony Gonsolin (St. Mary's College), Logan Regnier (Central Michigan), Jean Ramirez (Illinois State), Mike Kaelin (Buffalo) and Vince Arobio (Pacific) last week were selected by a large contingency of league representatives to don green and yellow for the South Division in Tuesday's All-Star Game. Collin Theroux (San Joaquin Delta CC) and Gonsolin, additionally, were selected to the 2015 Marshfield Clinic Home Run Challenge, which will pit the South and North divisions against one another prior to tomorrow's All-Star contest.
Each of Madison's 2015 All-Stars were worthy of their selections. Gonsolin, who this past spring was nominated for the John Olerud Award for the best two-way player in college baseball, remains the only Northwoods League hitter with double-digit marks in home runs (10) and stolen bases (12). Regnier, a returner from Madison's 2014 roster, has raked to the beat of a .331 batting average — sixth-best in the league — while Ramirez maintains the highest average (.315) of any primary catcher. No full-time reliever has fanned more batters than Kaelin (41), additionally, while Arobio owns a 11.4 K/9 ratio from the back-end of Madison's bullpen.
Due in large part to the performance of their All-Star selections, the Mallards enter the break with a .632 winning percentage in the second half of the regular season — good enough for sole possession of second place in the Northwoods League's South Division and one and a half games back of the division-leading Kenosha Kingfish. Overall, the Mallards find themselves with a half game lead over the La Crosse Loggers (13-8, 32-23) for third place in the South Division's standings. If the season ended today, the Mallards would become the third seed in the newly expanded Northwoods League playoffs. (Click here for details on playoff formatting).
Myriad factors have helped push the Mallards to success so far this summer. At the plate, Scott's roster leads the league in home runs (44), on-base percentage (.361), slugging percentage (.401) and on-base-plus-slugging percentage (.761), while ranking third in team batting average (.269). Madison has swung its bats impressively in the second half of the season, mashing a league-best 25 home runs en route to averaging 6.6 runs per game over its first 20 contests of July (up from 3.7 runs/game in June). On the mound, the Mallards rank fourth overall in team earned run average (3.51) and hold a commanding lead in team strikeout-to-walk ratio (2.54). Meanwhile, opponents have managed just a .241 batting average against Madison's staff.
Several Mallards accomplishments will be worth taking note of heading into the final stretch of the 2015 season. Aside from his status as the league's only hitter with at least ten home runs and stolen bases, Gonsolin finds himself amid a heated race for the triple-crown, ranking second overall in home runs (10), sixth in runs batted in (35) and 19th in batting average (.309). Regnier, meanwhile, has reached base safely in every game he has started to begin the second half — 13 in total — and overall has safely reached in 37 of 39 games started (94.9%) this season. From the bullpen, Kaelin will look to shatter Madison's team-lead in strikeouts by a full-time reliever from last summer, which was held by Andrew Buckley (43).
The Mallards will lean heavily on starting pitching and contributions from versatile hitters heading out of the All-Star break and into the stretch run of the regular season. Though he was not selected as an All-Star, former Minnesota Twins draft pick A.J. Bogucki (North Carolina) has pitched admirably of late for Madison's rotation, going 2-0 with a 0.53 ERA across his first three starts of the second half. Cameron Frost (Washington State), who leads the team in runs batted in (36) and stolen bases (12), has gone 13-for-39 (.333) with a team-best 10 RBI and seven runs scored over his last 10 games, while Ro Coleman (Vanderbilt) carries a .474 batting average over his last ten games into post-All-Star-break play. Each will be relied upon to produce in key divisional matchups in late July and early August.
Following this week's 2015 All-Star break, field manager Donnie Scott and the Mallards will return to the Duck Pond on Thursday, July 23 for the opener of a crucial two-game series with the La Crosse Loggers. Thursday night will feature XPOGO, presented by Charter Communications. UW-Health Sport Medicine will also provide a Developing Swing Fundamentals and Power Clinic on the field from 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. for children ages 9-16 for $40. For tickets or questions about the clinic, call the Mallards ticket office at 608-246-4277 or visit www.MallardsBaseball.com for more information. Follow the Mallards on Twitter @MadisonMallards for updates leading into Thursday's game.
The Madison Mallards are a member of the finest developmental league for elite college baseball players, the Northwoods League. Playing its 22nd season of summer collegiate baseball in 2015, 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), Lucas Duda (NYM) and Ben Zobrist (OAK). All league games are viewable live via the Northwoods League Website. For more information, visit www.MallardsBaseball.com.