Waterloo, Iowa – Major League Baseball’s Spring Training has arrived, and with Cactus League and Grapefruit League play slated to begin this Friday, six former Bucks will be on Major League team rosters. Dane Dunning, Zach McKinstry, and A.J. Puk are all on their Major League clubs’ 40-Man Roster, while Dakota Bacus, Ryan Goins, and James Jones are all non-roster invitees to their respective big league camps.
A.J. Puk, who was called up to the big leagues by the Oakland A’s in August, is expected to break camp on Oakland’s roster as a relief pitcher. The left-handed hurler is a product of the University of Florida, playing as both a pitcher and an infielder with the Bucks in 2014. A Cedar Rapids, Iowa native, Puk pitched in two games, starting both, earning a 2.08 ERA with 10 strikeouts in 8.2 innings pitched for Waterloo. At the plate, Puk played in 11 games, hitting .227 with two doubles and three RBI. Puk was the sixth overall pick by the A’s in the 2016 Major League Baseball First Year Player Draft.
Puk will join Ryan Goins on the Oakland Spring Training roster, with Goins joining the squad as a non-roster invitee. This would mark Goins’ eighth season as a major leaguer, making his big league debut with the Toronto Blue Jays in 2013. A native of Round Rock, Texas, Goins played for the Bucks in 2008. Goins led Waterloo with a .318 batting average and a team high 12 doubles, joining the Bucks from Dallas Baptist University.
Left-handed pitcher James Jones continues his quest for a return to the majors. Jones enters camp with the Texas Rangers as a non-roster invitee. The Long Island University-Brooklyn product played two seasons for the Seattle Mariners as an outfielder before converting to a pitcher. Jones, who played for Waterloo in 2008, Jones was a two-way player in the Northwoods League, seeing action on both the mound and in the outfield for the team. He was named the Waterloo Bucks Roth Jewelers Player of the Year in his only season with the Bucks. Jones finished the ’08 season with a 5-2 record, a 2.45 ERA, and 58 strikeouts. At the plate, Jones hit .296 with eight doubles and 15 RBI.
Dane Dunning, who played with Waterloo in 2014, is on the 40-Man Roster of the Chicago White Sox. A first-round draft pick by the Washington Nationals in 2016, the right-handed pitcher finished his one season with the Bucks with a 3-3 record and a 3.14 ERA. In 43 innings pitched, the Fleming Island, Florida native struck out 39 and held batters to a .239 average. A University of Florida product, Dunning was added to Chicago’s 40-Man Roster on November 20.
Infielder Zach McKinstry finds himself on the 40-Man Roster of the Los Angeles Dodgers. A product of Central Michigan University, McKinstry played for the Bucks in 2015, hitting .281 with 3 home runs, 21 RBI, and 8 stolen bases. The Ft. Wayne, Indiana native was added to the Dodgers’ 40-Man Roster on November 20.
Dakota Bacus, a right-handed pitcher from Indiana State University, is a non-roster invitee with Nationals. Bacus pitched for Waterloo in 2011, finishing with a 2-1 record, a 4.39 ERA, and 19 strikeouts in 11 appearances. The Moline, Illinois native signed with Washington on February 12.
The Bucks, who open the 2020 season on May 26, play their home games at Cost Cutters Field at Riverfront Stadium which welcomed a new state of the art video board in 2016 thanks to a matching grant from the Black Hawk County Gaming Association. Team ownership has invested nearly $400,000 in stadium improvements since the end of the 2014 season including group outing areas, painted bleachers, public Wi-Fi, sound system, kids zone inflatables, wiffle ball field, and concessions equipment. Fans are encouraged to stay in touch with the Bucks by utilizing their website at www.waterloobucks.com or utilizing the Northwoods League Mobile App.
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The Waterloo Bucks 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. Having completed its’ 26th 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, over 230 Northwoods League players have advanced to Major League Baseball, including three-time Cy Young Award winner and World Series Champion Max Scherzer (WAS), two-time World Series Champions Ben Zobrist (CHC) and Brandon Crawford (SFG) and World Series Champion Chris Sale (BOS). As well as 2019 Rookie of the Year and Home Run Derby Champion Pete Alonso (NYM) and MLB All-Stars Jordan Zimmermann (DET) and Curtis Granderson (MIA). All league games are viewable live via the Northwoods League website. All league games are viewable live via the Northwoods League portal. For more information, visit www.waterloobucks.com or download the new Northwoods League Mobile App on the Apple App Store or on Google Play and set the Bucks as your favorite team.