The River City Rascals infield will look a lot different in 2018. While first baseman Clint Freeman, catcher Mike Jurgella and middle infielder Taylor Love return, the Rascals diamond will boast eight newcomers this season. Shortstops Dylan Woods and Ellis Kelly, corner infielder Darian Carpenter, catchers Jeremy Glore and J.D. Crowe and utility infielders Blake Rowlett, Stephen Kerr and Ty Morris will all look to make their mark on the Frontier League this summer.
Clint Freeman, one of the Rascals top offensive contributors last season, is entering his third season with the organization. He hit .283 with 10 home runs and 45 RBIs in 2017, and lead the team with 25 doubles. The Jonesborough, TN native hit .254 with nine homers and 39 RBIs for River City in 2016.
A left-handed hitter, Freeman was an 18th round draft pick of the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2014 out of East Tennessee State, and spent the 2015 season with the Ogden Raptors of the rookie level Pioneer League after being converted to a relief pitcher. He was both a pitcher and infielder in college and appeared in six games for the Rascals on the mound last season. Clint was an two-time All-American at ETSU and helped lead the Bucs to the NCAA tournament his junior season, their first in over 30 years.
Mike Jurgella was also a key member of the Rascals last season. The veteran backstop is entering his third season with the team, having hit .260 with 11 home runs and 54 RBIs in 2017. He had 93 hits in 95 games, including 19 doubles. In 2016 he hit .304 with five round-trippers and 41 driven in. The Plover, WI native spent the 2015 season with the Evansville Otters. Mike played in the California Winter League in 2016 with the Washington Blue Sox.
The 26 year-old is a product of St. Cloud State University in Minnesota. Mike was a four year starter for the Huskies, and hit .399 with 14 home runs and 68 RBIs as a senior in 2015. He hit .362 for his college career, and ranks sixth in school history in games played.
Taylor Love spent the 2017 season as a utility player for the Rascals. He is capable of playing in both the infield and outfield, a valuable asset, and appeared in 52 games total last season. The 24-year old bats right and throws left, and hails from Shreveport, LA. Prior to joining the Rascals, Love was a four-year starter at Louisiana Tech, and helped lead the Bulldogs to the NCAA tournament as a senior in 2016, their first trip in 29 years. As a sophomore, Taylor was named All-Conference USA, hitting .328 and stealing 11 bases.
Dylan Woods is a shortstop from New Smyrna Beach, Fl. After a stellar career at Nova Southeastern University, he spent the 2017 season with the AZL Angels of the rookie level Arizona League, appearing in 11 games for the Los Angeles Angels affiliate. Woods, a switch-hitter, hit .325 with 14 home runs and 55 RBIs as a senior at NSU. He was a three year starter for the Sharks, and was on the 2016 NCAA Division II National Championship team, along with fellow Rascal Kevin Suarez. He played his freshman year at USC Upstate.
Ellis Kelly joins the Rascals after wrapping up his collegiate career at the University of Utah. He spent two seasons with the Utes after transferring from Lamar CC. The 6-2 shortstop, a Castle Rock, CO native, hit .294 as a senior in 2017, with 40 hits in 38 games and committed just two errors on the season, amassing a sparkling .987 fielding percentage. Kelly was named Honorable Mention All-PAC 12, and was 2nd Team All-Academic PAC 12.
Darian Carpenter is a Colonial Heights, VA native in his first season of professional baseball, having recently wrapped up with collegiate career at VCU. The corner infielder hit .262 with 15 home runs, 47 RBIs and a .567 slugging percentage in his senior season. Carpenter was a part of VCU's 2015 squad that made it to the Super Regionals of the NCAA tournament. The right-hander finished his Rams career with a .272 average, 32 homers and 111 runs batted in over 187 games.
Jeremy Glore, a catcher from Stone Mountain, GA, joins the Rascals from Tusculum College (TN). The 22-year old Glore spent his first two college seasons at Southern University and Georgia Perimeter College, respectively. He spent his final two seasons at Tusculum, playing mostly in the outfield. As a senior, he hit .380 with 12 doubles, 39 runs driven in and recorded 71 hits in 48 games. He helped lead the Pioneers to the 2016 NCAA Division II NCAA tournament.
J.D. Crowe is also a catcher, and hails from Birmingham, AL. A product of Francis Marion University (SC), Crowe spent his freshman season at Auburn and was a 23rd round pick of the St. Louis Cardinals in 2016. He played outfield for State College Spikes, a Cardinals affiliate in the New York-Penn League (A short season) in 2017. He hit .273 for the Spikes in 33 games, driving in 12 runs. The 25-year old hit a combined .383 with 14 home runs and 95 RBIs over his junior and senior seasons at Francis Marion.
Blake Rowlett is a rookie utility player from East Tennessee State. The Clarksville, TN native played the final two seasons of his collegiate career at ETSU after spending his first two seasons at Jackson State CC. Rowlett, who bats left-handed and throws right-handed, hit .269 with 12 homers and drove in 46 runs as a senior for the Bucs. As a junior, he hit 23 doubles and had the longest hitting streak of the team's season at 14 games.
Stephen Kerr comes to the Rascals after spending the 2017 season in the Los Angeles Angels organization. He played in 41 games with a combined four teams in the Angels system, reaching as high as the AA Mobile BayBears. Kerr played his college ball at Florida Atlantic and is the school's all-time leader in starts, at-bats and assists. He hit .269 as a senior in 2016, with six home runs and 34 RBIs. The Margate, FL native also ranks in the top-five for the Owls in career walks, hits, runs and stolen bases.
Ty Morris is a Royal Oaks, CA native who has spent the last three seasons with the Normal CornBelters. He hit .271 for Normal in 2016, with 58 hits in 61 games to go along with 26 runs batted in and 23 stolen bases. Morris joined the CornBelters out of Cal State Monterey Bay, after spending his first two seasons collegiately at Monterey Peninsula College. The 24-year old switch-hitter hit .320 for the CSUMB Otters in his senior season, with three home runs, 35 RBIs and 56 hits in 51 games.
The Rascals home opener is Tuesday, May 15th against the Traverse City Beach Bums, 6:35pm at CarShield Field. Tickets for the 2018 season are available at rivercityrascals.com.