Sample any two-week period of a professional baseball team’s season and something unforeseen is bound to happen to the roster.
The Wingnuts, who begin their season Thursday against Lincoln at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium, made it out of their 11-day training camp with mostly the team general manager Josh Robertson envisioned when he built the roster over the winter. But it wasn’t spotless.
Former major-league right-handed pitcher Robert Mosebach couldn’t overcome the aftermath of last season’s arm injury and was released, though he is staying in Wichita on a rehabilitation program. Left-hander Andrew Taylor, originally slotted as the closer, is trying to work through arm fatigue.
“If we can get (Mosebach) and Taylor right, that’s two big-league guys I’d like to see at full strength,” Robertson said. “But everything else fell into place the way I thought it was going to.”
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Santos Rodriguez’s work visa hasn’t cleared and he has been unable to join the team from Venezuela. Brennen Salgado, an outfielder, will work as the backup catcher, and the Wingnuts’ starting pitching depth thinned throughout the offseason.
The issues sound dramatic, but they didn’t affect the Wingnuts’ core, built upon an experienced staff of starting pitchers and a lineup with several proven hitters. The offense could be boosted by potential full seasons from Brent Clevlen, Harrison Kain and Dustin Geiger.
Those three combined for 327 at-bats in partial seasons last year – Geiger was traded and Clevlen and Kain were late additions – and hit .330. With returner T.J. Mittelstaedt and a wild card in Matt Chavez, who clubbed 31 home runs in the independent Pacific Association last year, Wichita’s lineup has power threats in the middle.
Kain and Zack Cox, a former first-round draft pick, will likely be the top two hitters.
“We definitely have some back-to-back-to-back-to-back pop in the middle of the lineup,” Robertson said. “And (manager) Pete Rose might play around with it a little bit.”
Wichita’s starting-pitching rotation is led by four players – Jon Link, Anthony Capra, Charlie Lessman and Tim Brown – with a combined 986 professional appearances. Their presence made it more palatable when Brett Wallach retired, Mosebach was injured and Matt Larkins was traded.
Eddie Medina, who was 4-1 as a midseason addition last year, rounds out the rotation. The Wingnuts’ pitching staff, like other elements, didn’t fall into place exactly as planned but is a source of Robertson’s confidence.
“This is one of the most veteran-loaded teams we’ve ever had,” Robertson said. “We’ve always tried to build it as balanced as possible, and we’ve got quite a few rookies on this team, too, that are very good. We have seasoned, quality players that are also good men and good leaders.”
Pitchers – Alex Boshers, Tim Brown, Anthony Capra, Seth Harvey, Charlie Lessman, Jon Link, Eddie Medina, Jesse Pratt, Frankie Reed, Richard Ruff, Andrew Taylor
Catcher – Brent Dean
Infielders – Matt Chavez, Zack Cox, Dustin Geiger, Christian Stringer, Tyler Urps, Leo Vargas
Outfielders – Brent Clevlen, Harrison Kain, Richard Prigatano, Brennen Salgado