The River City Rascals celebrate their 20th season in O’Fallon in 2018, and look to make a return to the Frontier League playoffs come September. Manager Steve Brook returns for his ninth season at the helm as the Rascals kick off the 2018 campaign against the Windy City Thunderbolts Thursday, May 10th at Standard Bank Stadium in Crestwood, IL. The Rascals will also proudly host the 2018 Frontier League All-Star Game on Wednesday, July 11th at CarShield Field.
The Rascals narrowly missed the postseason in 2017, finishing the year with a 50-46 record, good for third place in the West Division. This year, the team returns a sizeable core from last season, with some intriguing new additions mixed in as well.
River City’s offense is highlighted by returners Clint Freeman (1B), Paul Kronenfeld (OF) and Mike Jurgella (C). All three were among the top hitters in the Frontier League last season, and bring a wealth of professional experience to the table in 2018. The team hit .265 as a whole last season, and will look to improve on that mark this summer. Longtime catcher Josh Ludy has transitioned into a full-time hitting coach, and will look to impart his knowledge on this year’s crop of sluggers.
Freeman, who hit .283 with 10 home runs and 45 RBIs in 2017, headlines the infield, and will look to lead a young group of talent anxious to make their mark at the professional level. Middle infielder Taylor Love, a utility player on last year’s team, also returns to the Rascals, and is joined by shortstops Dylan Woods, Ellis Kelly, Trevor Achenbach, corner infielder Darian Carpenter and utility infielders Blake Rowlett, Stephen Kerr and Ty Morris. Both Woods and Kerr were in the Los Angeles Angels system last season, and Morris has spent the last three seasons with the Normal CornBelters. The Rascals outfield brings plenty of professional talent to the table, led by Kronenfeld, who hit .301 in 42 games last summer. 2017 reserve Kevin Suarez also returns, and is joined by newcomers Justin Chigbogu, Connor Oliver and Mike Meyers, who bring a combined 17 seasons of professional experience to the Rascals entering the 2018 campaign. Recent signees Brett Smith and Gerrion Grim will also look to make their mark on the Rascals outfield corps, with Grim last playing in the Baltimore Orioles organization.
River City’ starting pitching rotation also brings experience, as two of last season’s top starters, Hector Hernandez and Dan Ludwig, along with Reese Gregory (who split time last season between the starting rotation and bullpen) all return to the team looking to be in the rotation in 2018. Hernandez led the team with 19 starts and 117 strikeouts, while Gregory was a team leader with nine victories on the mound. Also competing for spots in the rotation will be newcomers Scott Grist, Ethan Westphal, Lucas Williams, Reggie Johnson and Zach Johnson.
The Rascals bullpen returns closer Cody Mincey, who had 11 saves last season, as well as right-handers Matt Chavarria, Joe Iorio, Storm Rynard and Tanner Wilt and left-handers Jonny Ortiz and Anthony Paesano. Right-handers Logan Campbell and Logan Fanning are new to the fold this season.
Jurgella looks to lead a catching corps that also includes a couple of young prospects in Jeremy Glore and J.D. Crowe, both of whom are converted outfielders. Jurgella split time behind the plate the last two seasons with current hitting coach Josh Ludy.
The Rascals will play 48 regular season games at CarShield Field this summer, beginning Tuesday, June 15th against the Traverse City Beach Bums. Tickets for all games, including the 2018 Frontier League All-Star game are available at rivercityrascals.com or by calling the Rascals box office at (636) 240-2287 extension 232.