The Brainerd Blue Thunder will have a hometown flavor when it takes the field in June.
On Friday the Northwoods League expansion franchise announced it has signed Brainerd High School graduate Joe Tautges, a junior at Division I University of Evansville (Ind.)
In December, the Blue Thunder signed BHS graduate and Concordia College sophomore outfielder Chris Klabo.
Tautges, a junior at Evansville, is projected to battle for playing time at third base at Evansville this spring.
Last season he led Waldorf College (Forest City, Iowa) with a .388 batting average, 17 doubles, seven home runs and 43 RBI as the team's starting shortstop. Tautges is a versatile player, who can play shortstop, third base or outfield as well as catch.
"Joe is a guy who can come in and compete for the third base job right away," Evansville head coach Dave Schrage said on the Purple Aces Web site. "He is a very solid hitter who drives the ball well. He is a good gap-to-gap type hitter and he should be able to bat in the middle of the order for us."
As a senior at BHS in 2002, the right-handed batting Tautges led the Warriors with a .429 average, 28 RBI, five doubles and six home runs. He struck out only five times in 84 at bats. On the mound he was 3-0 with a 0.00 ERA in 16 1/3 innings.
As a junior at BHS, Tautges batted .337 with 12 RBI, four doubles and one home run. He struck out only eight times in 95 at bats. He pitched one inning with one strikeout.
Blue Thunder notes
* Brainerd is scheduled to open its season June 1 at LaCrosse, Wis. Its home opener at Mills Field is scheduled June 4 against Alexandria.
* The Blue Thunder has hired Jim Vopatek as its assistant general manager.
Mike Bialka can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 855-5861.
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