STRASBURG, VA – Choo Choo! With the train starting up on 6/1 against Winchester, below is a brief preview of the new faces you’ll see in Strasburg this summer.
CATCHERS – The Express backstop will be a 3-headed monster in 2018. Ryan Hogan (St. John’s), Tyler Krabbe (Montevallo), and Jimmy Jeffries (UAB) will all see time behind the dish. While Hogan and Jeffries both saw limited action this spring, Krabbe finished with 8 2B, 5 HR, and 32 RBI in 169 AB’s for Montevallo, who advanced to the DII South Regionals. Hogan will be arriving to Strasburg late as St. John’s and the Red Storm are the #3 seed in the Clemson Regional.
FIRST BASE – Both Stephen Baughan (Norfolk State) and the aforementioned Ryan Hogan will see action at first this summer for the Express. Baughan led the MEAC in HR’s this spring with 9 to go along with 28 runs, 10 doubles, and 30 RBI. Hogan, who began the year as the #4 hitter for the Red Storm, finished with a .345 OBP and 6 RBI in 43 AB’s.
MIDDLE INFIELD – Numerous players will see time in the middle infield for the Express in 2018. Austin Thompson (Georgia Southern) had a fantastic freshman season after returning from injury (.298, 16 R, 3 2B, 1 HR, 16 RBI) and looks to anchor SS with Griffin Cheney (Georgia State) also seeing time at both SS and 2B. Daniel Brooks (George Mason) also put together a solid freshman campaign (20 R, 6 2B, 1 HR, 18 RBI) and should see plenty of time at 2B. Mike Koenig (Coastal Carolina) and Anthony Pecora (Wagner) could also possibly see time at 2B. Koenig, who hit .262 with 12 R, 5 2B, and 12 RBI, will be arriving late due to Coastal Carolina hosting Regionals.
THIRD BASE – In addition to seeing time at 2B, both Anthony Pecora and Mike Koenig will be prominently in the mix at 3B. Pecora, who helped lead Wagner to a program record 38 wins, finished the spring with 19 R, 5 2B, 2 3B, 1 HR, 10 RBI, and a .946 Fielding Percentage. He also hit .455 in a brief stint in the Cape Cod League during the summer of 2016.
OUTFIELD – The Outfield could be the deepest position on the Express in 2018 with 5 guys who played major roles for their DI programs this spring. Justin Hayes (Norfolk State) was named 1st Team All-MEAC after hitting .347 with 35 R, 8 2B, 1 HR, 12 RBI, 23 BB, and 28 SB’s. Hogan Brown (VCU) was named 2nd Team All-Atlantic 10 and is likely to be a Freshman All-American after finishing the season hitting .344 with 34 R, 11 2B, and 21 RBI across 154 AB’s. Both Mike Taylor (Southeastern Louisiana) and Colton Schultz (UAB) anchored the middle of their respective lineups throughout their respective seasons as well. Taylor finished with a .291 average to go along with 24 R, 6 2B, 2 3B, 2 HR, 28 RBI, and 10 SB’s. Schultz hit at a .262 clip with 29 R, 7 2B, 1 HR, and 16 RBI. DaVonn Griffin (JMU) did a little bit of everything for the Dukes finishing with 25 R, 3 2B, 5 3B, 4 HR, and 7 RBI while playing spectacular defense in CF.
STARTING PITCHING – While clears roles are not yet established for the 2018 pitching staff, you should see a flurry of guys make starts on the mound this summer. Macklin Ohs and Cody Whitten (Winthrop) should make routine starts after being heavily featured by the Eagles as freshman. Local Strasburg product Garrett Richards (JMU) returns to the Express this summer and should see frequent starts. Richards finished with a 3.91 ERA across 25.1 IP this spring for the Dukes. LHP Devin Dunn (VCU) will bring his 88-90 MPH fastball with movement to the mound for several starts this summer as well. Max Habegger (Lipscomb) is a 6’8” lefty that should get a few nods at the front of the Express rotation. Josh Wilson (Florida A&M), Cam Remalia (Erskrine College), Matt Martin (Florida Southern), and Ben Wiley (Lincoln Memorial) could all possibly see some starts as well.
BULLPEN – As mentioned above, with clear roles not yet established you could see a plethora of individuals come out of the bullpen for the Express in 2018. Sylvester Toe (UAB) looks to be prominently featured with a fastball that can top out at 94 MPH. Toe finished this spring with a 1.80 ERA, 18 K’s, and a .211 BAA across 15 IP. Although he will be arriving late with the Aggies in Regionals, Chance Hroch (New Mexico State) will be featured out of the pen after finishing as arguably the Aggies top bullpen arm this spring. He finished with 23 K’s and a 2.67 ERA in 27 IP. Jonathan Pintaro (Shorter Univ.) looks to get back on the bump after missing this spring due to injury. As a freshman in 2017, Pintaro finished with a 2.63 ERA and 34 K’s across 27 IP. Chris Henry (St John’s), who will be arriving late with the Red Storm still playing, is a LHP that should play a prominent role out of the pen. Newly signed Collin Garrett (Baylor) is a big right-hander that features a 92-94 MPH fastball and should see action on the backend of Express games. Trevis Sundgren (Houston) is another big arm whose Express debut will be delayed due to NCAA DI Regionals. Infielder Daniel Brooks is a true two-way guy and will see some action towards the conclusion of ballgames as well. Sam Ewald (VMI) and the aforementioned Habegger, Martin, Remalia, and Wiley should also see time coming out of the pen.