Brainerd's Nick Anderson has been rewarded for an all-conference spring at St. Cloud State University.
Ryan Levendoski, field manager of the Brainerd Lakes Area Lunkers of the Northwoods League, has tabbed Anderson as his starting pitcher for the home opener Thursday night at Mills Field against Alexandria.
Brainerd Lunkers pitcher Charlie Henderson took fielding practice Tuesday at Mills Field. The Lunkers will kick off their season at 7 p.m. Wednesday.
Brainerd Dispatch/Steve Kohls
Anderson went 8-4 with a 3.33 ERA for the Huskies. In 92 innings he allowed 34 earned runs, walked 23 and struck out 88 with a .249 average against
"Nick is one of the guys we're expecting big things from on our staff," Levendoski said. "He had a great season at St. Cloud. He threw a lot of innings, we want to watch his pitch count. He will be one of the guys we're counting on to anchor the staff."
Levendoski's season-opening starter, Wednesday night at Alexandria, will be right-hander Kyle Teague of Oakland University (Mich.) Teague was 5-6 with a 5.11 ERA in 13 starts for the Golden Grizzlies.
The Lunkers hope to build off their inaugural season in which they went 19-17 in the second half, finished 34-34 overall and in fourth place in the North Division.
"Last year we struggled the first 10 games with the guys we had," said Levendoski, who also begins his second season as the Lunkers' skipper. "The first 10 games are important. We were missing guys early. Once we started to get our guys in we took off.
"Last year we had a good run in the second half, then our numbers dwindled down. I just hope we stay healthy, get on good runs, and play good baseball at the right times."
Four Lunkers return from last season. Infielder T.J. Berge of Northern Colorado batted .269 last season with 27 RBIs in 58 games. Infielder Stephen Wickens of Florida Gulf Coast hit .267 with 16 RBIs. Closer Drew Smith of Emporia State (Kan.) had a 1-2 record and 2.31 ERA with 12 saves. Charlie Henderson (Colo.) pitched in five games, with a 1-1 record and 1.37 ERA.
"We expect more of them, they know the routine," Levendoski said of the returnees. "They can teach the young guys what it's all about, how to handle bus trips, provide some sense of stability on the road, questions about meals and hotels.
"I could tell (players) 100 times but when it comes from the guy next to them they understand things, and I think (the foursome) will provide that.
"We're looking for Drew to be one of the anchors of the staff. He can teach (pitchers) the right way to prepare. Berge and Wickens, I expect them to show the right way to prepare offensively, how to stay healthy and do the right things on a daily basis."
Levendoski believes the 2010 Lunkers will have a more balanced attack than last season when they had a star in Michael Kvasnicka of the University of Minnesota. Kvasnicka hit .314 with 26 RBIs and is a projected draft pick this summer.
"We will try to play a little bit different style this year," Levendoski said, "more hit and run, more bunting. This team is a little more built for speed. There's not a lot of power, but a lot of contact guys who can drive the ball, hit doubles and triples and get us in position to score.
"Beyond that we have to get them all here and keep them all healthy."
Position by position
Pitching: Anderson, Teague and Henderson will be members of a six-man rotation.
Others initially will be Patrick Nathanson (Florida Gulf Coast), Aaron Sapp (Ithaca) and Ian Horkley or Brian Russell (both from Davidson).
In the bullpen, relievers include Smith, Rob Matthews (Florida Gulf Coast), Brandon Baumgartner (North Dakota) and Ray Black (Pittsburgh).
Catching: Chad Krist (California-Berkeley), David Allbritton (Emporia State, La.) and Jeff Bunch (North Dakota) will be behind the plate.
Infield: First basemen include Russ Hopkins (Rutgers) and Ryan Abrahamson (Minnesota). Berge will be at second base along with Tommy Reyes (California-Irvine). Wickens, a finalist for the Brooks Wallace Award as the nation's best shortstop, will start at short with Adam Koglin (Nevada-Las Vegas) in reserve. Bunch and Reyes will also play third base.
Outfield: Levi Ferguson (Indiana State), Matt Hillsinger (Radford University, Md.), Jimmy Bosco (California), Mick Gaston (California State-Bakersfield), along with Abrahamson and Reyes, are ticketed for outfield duty.
Levendoski said the Lunkers signed five players to 10-day contracts, all of whom play infield or outfield or both. The group includes Baumgartner, Travis Cariveau (St. Cloud State), Craig Massey (Bethel College, Tenn.), Nick McManus (California State-East Bay) and Jake McLain (Mayville State, N.D.)
Drew Smith, RHP, Emporia State
Charlie Henderson, RHP, Regis University
Juan Padilla, RHP, Cal St. Bakersfield
Patrick Nathanson, LHP, Florida Golf Coast
Rob Matthews, RHP, Florida Golf Coast
Ray Black, RHP, Pittsburgh
Ian Horkley, RHP, Davidson
Brian Russell, RHP, Davidson
Aaron Sapp, RHP, Ithaca
Kyle Teague, RHP, Oakland
Connor Mielock, RHP/OF/1B, Oakland
Nick Anderson, RHP, St. Cloud State
Matt Florer, LHP, LMU
Brandon Baumgartner, LHP, North Dakota
Chadd Krist, California
David Allbritton, Emporia State
Russ Hopkins, 1B/3B, Rutgers
Tommy Reyes, 1B/OF, UC-Irvine
T.J Berge, 2B, Northern Colorado
Travis Cariveau, INF/OF, St. Cloud State
Stephen Wickens, SS/RHP, Florida Golf Coast
Adam Koglin, INF/OF, UNLV
Craig Massey, SS, Bethel College, TN
Jeff Bunch, U/RHP, North Dakota
Nick McManus, OF/3B/1B, Cal St. East Bay
Jake McLain, INF, Mayville State (N.D.)
Matt Hillsinger, Radford
Jimmy Bosco, California
Mick Gaston, Cal St. Bakersfield
Levi Ferguson, Indiana State
Ryan Abrahamson, OF/3B/1B, Minnesota
Ryan Levendoski, UW-Stout, field manager
Dan Lipari, Youngstown, pitching coach
Jeremy Etchemendy, UW-Platteville, hitting coach
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.