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Legends On Deck

2015 Fort Myers Miracle Season Preview

Hammond_Stadium_in_South_Fort_Myers

The Fort Myers Miracle, Class A affiliate of the Minnesota Twins attempt to repeat as Florida State League champions with a new skipper at the helm. 2014’s FSL manager of the year Doug Mientkiewicz was promoted to Class AA Chattanooga.

Jeff Smith, who headed the Miracle in 2008 and 2009 before a five year double A stint in New Britain returns to Fort Myers for his 10th season as a manager in the Twins organization and will lead a young, pitching rich club. Jim Dwyer returns for his 10th season as Miracle hitting coach, and Ivan Arteaga is the team’s pitching coach for 2015. He previously was with Fort Myers in 2013 and has coached in Minnesota’s minor league system since 2001.

Here is a player by player glance at the 2015 Miracle roster:

Starting Pitchers:

Kohl Stewart– the righthander is starting the team’s first game Thursday night versus the Charlotte Stone Crabs in Port Charlotte. Stewart was the Twins first round pick in the 2013 June draft, and was the fourth player selected overall….A native of Houston, Stewart turned down a football and baseball scholarship to sign with Minnesota. He spent 2014 with Class A Cedar Rapids and struck out 62 batters in 87 innings.

Aaron Slegers– righhander who starts the home opener on Friday night at Hammond Stadium….6’10’ product of Indiana University spent most of 2014 in Cedar Rapids before his promotion to the Miracle last August where he won two of his three starts.

Chih-Wei Hu– righthanded native of Taichung, Taiwan was 7-2 with Cedar Rapids last season…Signed as an undrafted free agent in 2012.

Ryan Eades– righthanded pitcher who attended LSU and was drafted in 2013….Went 10-11 last season as a mainstay of the Cedar Rapids rotation.

Ethan Mildren– righty split last season between Cedar Rapids and Fort Myers. Pitched a complete game shutout for the Miracle. Attended the University of Pittsburgh.

Bullpen:

Madison Boer– righthander pitched in 40 games for the Miracle last season, earning 6 saves and a promotion to Class AA where he finished the season.

J.T. Chargois- righthander who pitched for Rice University and has sat out the last two seasons with injuries. Had 5 saves for rookie level Elizabethton in 2012.

Brian Gilbert– righthander had 5 saves for the Miracle last season…Pitched in 32 games for Fort Myers and 6 with Cedar Rapids….Attended Seton Hall University where he was NJCBA Fireman of The Year in 2013.

Alex Muren– righthanded Cal State-Northridge product split last season between Cedar Rapids and Fort Myers…..Was a starter in college but has transitioned to the bullpen, picking up 7 saves over his 2 1/2 seasons in the Twins system thus far.

Brandon Peterson– righty began 2014 with Cedar Rapids, allowing only one earned run in 12 2/3 innings before his promotion to Fort Myers where he pitched in 31 games.

Tim Shibuya– righthander was 7-4 for the Miracle in 2014 as a reliever and spot starter, earning both a shutout and a save for Fort Myers.

Todd Van Steensel– righthanded native of New South Wales, Australia….originally signed with the Phillies in 2009 and was acquired by Minnesota in 2011 where he spent a year at rookie level Elizabethton where he won 5 games….pitched the 2012 season in international ball at Kinheim in 2012 and was reacquired by the Twins last season…Split 2014 between Cedar Rapids and Fort Myers where he combined for 9 saves.

Luke Westphal– the lone active lefty as the season starts….pitched for Gateway in the Frontier League the last two seasons ….Attended the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh.

David Hurlbut– lefthander begins the 2015 season on the 7 day Disabled List.

Brett Lee– lefty who won 10 games for the Miracle last season begins the year on the 7 day Disabled List.

Corey Williams- lefthander missed the 2014 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery and begins this season on the 7 day Disabled List.

Catchers:

Mitch Garver– non-roster invitee to Minnesota’s major league spring training camp this year….batted .298 with 16 home runs and 79 RBI for Cedar Rapids in 2014…attended the University of New Mexico…..Native of Alburquerque, NM.

Michael Quesada– drafted by Minnesota in 2010….has spent the last two seasons in Cedar Rapids.

Alex Swim– batted .311 in 63 games for Cedar Rapids last season….drafted in 2013.

Infielders:

Niko Goodrum– Twins second round pick in the 2010 June draft….batted .249 in 122 games for the Miracle last season and stole 35 bases….ranked as having the best infield arm in the Florida State League in 2014…..full name Cartier Niko Goodrum.

Bryan Haar– batted .267 in Cedar Rapids last season with 14 home runs, earning a promotion to the Miracle where he appeared in 10 games.

Tanner Vavra– son of Twins bench coach Joe Vavra and brother of Twins minor leaguer Trey Vavra….Drafted in 2013 and batted .258 for Cedar Rapids last year.

Engelb Vielma– switch hitter spent 2014 as Cedra Rapids primary shortstop, batting .266 with 33 RBI.

Logan Wade– native of Brisbane, Queensland, Australia….hit 7 home runs for Cedar Rapids last season. Batted .303 in 2013 for Elizabethton.

Aderling Mejia- batted .273 in 95 games for the Miracle and was promoted to Class AA New Britain where he hit .275 in 15 games. Begins the 2015 season on the 7 day Disabled List.

Outfielders:

Chad Christensen– hit 9 home runs and stole 30 bases in his home town of Cedar Rapids in 2014, adding 73 RBI….attended the University of Nebraska.

Jason Kanzler– batted .286 for Cedar Rapids with 8 doubles, 8 triples and 9 home runs….promoted to Fort Myers where he added 3 home runs….has had double digit steals in both of his in Minnesota’s system….13 with GCL in 2013, and a combined 27 last year.

Max Kepler– On Minnesota’s 40-man major league roster…..fifth season in the Twins system…..Batted .264 for the Miracle last season with 5 home runs. Hit 10 HR’s for Elizabethton in 2012….native of Berlin, Germany.

Marcus Knecht– 3rd round pick in 2010 by the Toronto Blue Jays….has spent the last three seasons with Dunedin in the FSL, hitting 13 home runs in 2012, 11 HR’s in 2013 and batted .250 with 7 HR’s and 52 RBI last year….Native of Toronto, Ontario attended Connors State JC in Oklahoma.

 

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Brian Mullen

Brian is a Boston native and art school student who took a summer job with a baseball team and never left. He has been employed by the Boston Red Sox in one capacity or another since 1982. He also follows and blogs college basketball. Follow him on Twitter @BostonBrian2015