Rafters Sign a Trio of Fresh Arms Including a Returner From The 2016 NWL Championship Team
Gareth Stroh Returns To Wisconsin Rapids and is Joined by New Faces Justin Wilson & Kaz Akamatsu
Today the Rafters announced the signing of LHP and former Rafter Gareth Stroh from Purdue University, RHP Justin Wilson from Vanderbilt University and RHP Kaz Akamatsu from University of California, Irvine.
Gareth Stroh will pitch for the Rafters for the first time since the 2016 season, when he was a freshman from Coffeyville Community College. Stroh is now in his second season pitching for the Purdue University Boilermakers. The junior from Kearney, Nebraska has pitched 134 innings and struck out 70 thus far in his time with Purdue. The 6-foot-1, 200-pound lefty was named to Third Team All-Big Ten in 2017, the first Purdue pitcher to earn All-Big Ten Team honors since 2012. Stroh was a pivotal part of the 2016 NWL Championship squad earning five wins, tying for the team lead in starts (11) and leading the team in frames pitched (60.0) as well as strikeouts (55). The last game Stroh pitched for Wisconsin Rapids was game one of the 2016 Championship Series against the Eau Claire Express. In that game, Stroh threw 4.1 innings of one run ball while fanning six.
RHP Justin Wilson is a redshirt sophomore for Vanderbilt University. The native of Murfreesboro, Tennessee has appeared in six games in relief for the Commodores and pitched to effective results; allowing only two runs, striking out eight and holding opposing batters to a .133 average. The 6-foot, 175-pound righty has been eased back into the bullpen after missing 2017 due to elbow surgery. Wilson spent his freshman season at Vol State Community College where he played as both a batter and pitcher. He hit .302 in 18 games behind the plate and went 2-1 with a 2.51 ERA in eight games while accruing three saves and 12 strikeouts.
RHP Kaz Akamatsu is a sophomore playing for University of California, Irvine. The 6-foot-1, 205-pound pitcher appeared in 13 games his freshman year, striking out 14 in 20 innings for the Anteaters. A native of Huntington Beach, California, Akamatsu played for Edison High School and was Team MVP as a senior where he made 14 appearances, threw two complete games and earned three saves along with a 2.68 ERA. As an outfielder, Akamatsu hit .333 with seven doubles, 16 RBI and 10 stolen bases. The righty is part of the Edison High School Hall of Fame.
Stroh, Wilson, Akamatsu and the rest of the 2018 Wisconsin Rapids Rafters will begin their season on the road against the Madison Mallards on Tuesday, May 29th. The Home Opener is slated for Friday, June 1st against the Wisconsin Woodchucks. The entire 2018 Rafters schedule is available at www.raftersbaseball.com.
The Wisconsin Rapids Rafters are a member of the finest developmental league for elite college baseball players, the Northwoods League. Entering its 25th anniversary season, the Northwoods 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 190 former Northwoods League players have advanced to Major League Baseball, including three-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer (WAS), two-time World Series Champions Ben Zobrist (CHC) and Brandon Crawford (SFG) and MLB All-Stars Chris Sale (BOS), Jordan Zimmermann (DET) and Curtis Granderson (TOR). All league games are viewable live via the Northwoods League portal. For more information, visit www.wisconsinrapidsrafters.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.