Feb. 18, 2011
WILLMAR, MN- A team can never have enough pitching, especially when the schedule calls for 70 games in 75 days as it does for the 2011 Willmar Stingers. The Stingers are currently building this year’s roster with that mentality in mind. Two of the three recently signed players for the Stingers will be called on to play multiple roles this summer.
“Last year we had one or two guys that could do both (play a position and pitch) but this year we’re recruiting more dual players to give us extra depth on the mound.” Co-owner Marc Jerzak said. “Even though we typically sign 15 pitchers, it gives a team an edge down the stretch.”
Sophomore infielder John Haberman (Pacific University) and freshman infielder Jake Stinnett (University of Maryland) both plan to play a significant role as a position player and pitcher this summer.
“These guys will more than likely come out of the bullpen, but could also be a spot starter from time to time.” Fielder Manger Matt Hollod said. “We look to these guys as being impact position players first but we’ll also need them on the mound as well.”
Hollod is familiar with this role as a college player as he pitched and played first base for the University of Washington and University of Portland. He also was a dual player for the Grand Forks Channel Cats of the Northwoods League in 1999 and 2000.
Haberman, a 6 foot 1 inch, 220 lbs. left-hander appeared in 42 games during his freshman campaign, making 39 starts as the Tigers’ designated hitter. To go along with his .359 On-Base Percentage, and his .404 Slugging Percentage, he also hit an impressive .321 in 156 at-bats. In 20 1/3 innings as a pitcher in 2010, he struck out 17 hitters and his performance on the mound against No. 19 ranked Stanford earned him Big West Pitcher of the Week honors.
Stinnett, a 6 foot 4 inch 200 lbs. right-hander will make his collegiate debut today against the University of Texas. Stinnett plans to see time at third base and on the mound.
The third Stinger signed this week is Bradley University sophomore short stop Jason Leblebijian pronounced LEB-leh-BEE-zhin. Leblebijian, a 6 foot 1 inch 185 lbs. right-handed hitting infielder had a .323 batting average for Bradley last year, which was the second highest of all freshman in the Valley Conference. Even though his offensive numbers were stellar last year, he’s best known for his defensive. The slick-fielding shortstop only had eight errors in 47 games for the Braves.
Opening Night for the Stingers is at 7:05 p.m. on Wednesday, June 1st against the Thunder Bay Border Cats at Bill Taunton Stadium. The Stingers are members of the largest summer collegiate league in the country. More than 160 players were drafted into professional baseball in 2010 from the Northwoods League. Season tickets for the 2011 season are $149 for reserved seat backs and $169 for box seat season tickets. For more information regarding the roster and upcoming season, please call 320-222-2010.