05/28/2005 10:40 AM
for immediate release: 28 May, 2005
Chatham Athletics 2005 Season Preview
CHATHAM, Mass. – The Athletics are looking to build on their 21-23 record from a year ago, as five key players return from last year’s squad, including a pair of highly-touted North Carolina Tar Heels pitchers.
Overshadowed this spring in Chapel Hill by their national champion basketball team, Andrew Miller and Robert Woodard provide a formidable lefty-righty pitching combination. Miller, a southpaw from Gainesville, Fla., was named the Cape Cod League’s No. 1 MLB pitching prospect by Baseball America. Woodard, from Charlotte, N.C., posted a 1.56 ERA and struck out 16, while walking only three in his 2004 campaign with the A’s
Pitcher David Huff (Cypress) returns to the A’s after a stellar 2004 season, where he finished fourth in the league with a 1.09 ERA and tied for first with two complete games pitched. Fellow holdovers include pitcher Justin Cassell (California-Irvine) and infielder Nick Derba (Manhattan).
The remainder of the pitching staff will consist of Brooks Brown (Georgia), Chris Cody (Manhattan), Jacob Dempsey (Winthrop), Gavin Fabian (Princeton), Jared Hughes (Long Beach State), Brandon Hynick (Birmingham Southern), Ian Kennedy (Southern California), Derrik Lutz (George Washington), Billerica native Steve Richard (Maine), and Kevin Slowey (Winthrop). Anthony Smith (St. John) will serve as both a pitcher and a designated hitter.
The Athletics are rounded out by catchers Garrett Bussiere (California) and Baron Frost (USC), infielders Chris Coghlan (Mississippi), Todd Frazier (Rutgers), Evan Longoria (Long Beach State), Aaron Reza (Modesto JC), and outfielders Adrian Ortiz (Pepperdine), Alex Presley (Mississippi), Tony Gonzalez (New Orleans) and Josh Morris (Georgia). The latter two could also see time at first base.
Manager John Schiffner, who has compiled the most wins of any active Cape League manager, returns for another season with the A’s. Schiffner, who manages high school baseball in Plainfield, Conn., played in the Cape League for the Harwich Mariners and eventually made it to the AA level. After his playing days, Schiffner was a scout for the Montreal Expos, before eventually becoming manager at Chatham. Schiffner employs a six-man pitching rotation, which allows his pitchers to throw less innings. This is appealing to college coaches worried about their young arms being overworked, and GM Charlie Thomas credits the six-man rotation for Chatham’s ability to attract some of the best young pitchers from colleges nationwide.
The A’s again play home games at Veterans Field in Chatham Center. A screen has been set-up along the outfield wall, which Thomas believes allow pitchers and batters a better perspective on the ball. Portable benches have been added to the bullpens.
The A’s have a rich legacy and are perhaps the most recognizable of all Cape teams. Their impressive list of alumni includes manager Jim Tracy of the Los Angeles Dodgers, hard-throwing lefty Matt Anderson of Detroit, Houston slugger Jeff Bagwell, Oakland speedster Eric Byrnes, power hitting third basemen Mike Lowell of the Florida Marlins, and flame-throwing reliever Mike MacDougal of the Kansas City Royals. Scott Williamson, who was enjoying a fine season in the Red Sox bullpen last season before suffering a serious injury, played for Chatham in 1997.
Thomas is cautiously optimistic about his team, as he knows that he could lose some of his most talented players to the MLB draft or Team USA. “You never know what could happen,” he said. “Three pitchers, Cody, Slowey and Dempsey, could all be gone by the time the season opens, which would devastate the pitching staff.”
Colin Reed, Cape League intern
John Garner, Jr.