Rafters Announce Eight Returning Players For 2017 Season
World Series MVP, Team MVP and Two All-Star Pitchers to Return
Wisconsin Rapids, Wis.- Following a season in which the Rafters won the first Championship in franchise history, they have announced integral members who will be returning to Wisconsin Rapids for the 2017 season. Rob Calabrese (Illinois-Chicago), Dustin Woodcock (SIU-Edwardsville), Brandon Polizzi (Cal State Dominguez Hills), Scott Kapers (Valparaiso), Cameron Busby (Belmont Abbey), Jake Repavich (Grand Canyon), Gareth Stroh (Purdue) and Chris Cooper (Texas A&M Corpus Christi) are set to return from the 2016 Championship team.
“We’re extremely excited to welcome back a valuable core of players from our Championship team,” said Rafters GM John Fanta. “Every single one of these guys was integral to our success in 2016 and we look forward to watching their continued growth and leadership during the upcoming season.”
World Series MVP and Game 1 Walk-off Home run hero Rob Calabrese ignited the Rafters Postseason run with a .625 batting average, two home runs, and ten RBI. The catcher hit to the clip of .306 average, collecting 45 hits and driving in 29 during the 2016 regular season. Calabrese will be junior at Illinois-Chicago.
Outfielder Dustin Woodcock will be back for his third season for the Rafters after being named the Team MVP this summer. Woodcock was a big part of the Rafters success in 2016, providing both power at the plate and solid defense in the outfield. He had a .299 batting average while recording 61 hits, launched nine home runs and batted in 39. Woodcock will enter his junior season at SIU-Edwardsville this spring.
Brandon Polizzi appeared in 68 of 76 games during 2016 and was a table setter, carrying a .410 on-base percentage while being second on the team with 14 stolen bases. Polizzi speed translated to the outfield as well, helping him only commit one error all season. Polizzi will be a junior this spring for Cal State Dominguez Hills.
Scott Kapers helped guide the Rafters pitching staff to club record of a 3.41 ERA. Kapers is known for his arm at the catcher position, throwing out 19 of 37 would be base stealers. He was selected to the Major League Dreams Showcase by MLB scouts because of his abilities behind the dish. Kapers is a sophomore at Valparaiso.
All-Star Pitcher Chris Cooper will return to Wisconsin Rapids this May. Cooper set a new mark for the lowest ERA of any qualified pitcher in franchise history, as he maintained a 2.02 mark across 57 2/3 innings, while going 4-2 on the campaign. Cooper will be a junior at Texas A&M Corpus Christi
All-Star Relief Pitcher Cameron Busby will be back on the mound for the Rafters in 2017. The side-arm pitcher threw 38 innings out of the pen, striking out 22 and allowed only seven walks. Busby will pitch his junior season at Belmont Abbey prior to coming to Wisconsin Rapids.
World Series Game 2 winning pitcher Jake Repavich will be back in the pitching fold this season. Repavich pitched 56 2/3 innings, striking out 26 with a 2.38 ERA. The left-hander will be a junior at Grand Canyon University this spring.
Southpaw Gareth Stroh is set to return to the Rafters pitching staff. Stroh lead the team in 2016 with 60 innings pitched and finished with a 5-2 record while striking out 55 and walking only 13 batters. The Kearney, Nebraska native will play his sophomore season at Purdue this spring.
The Wisconsin Rapids Rafters 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.raftersbaseball.com or download the new Northwoods League Mobile App on the Apple App Store or on Google Play and set the Rafters as your favorite team.