Baseball story lines
1. Stillwater seeks to join elite group
Mike Parker’s squad has its sights set on becoming only the second program in the large school class to win back-to-back titles in the past 20 years. Suburban East Conference rival Mounds View did it in 2013 and 2014. Sixteen different schools have won the biggest-class championship since 1999. The Ponies return their 2018 aces of the pitching staff, senior left-hander Drew Gilbert (7-1, 0.58 ERA) and right-hander Will Frisch (5-0, 1.80 ERA). The best of friends were the Ponies’ starting pitchers in all three state tournament games a year ago. Both Oregon State-bound, they also hit for average and power.
2. Soggy situation in Chaska
Once again, Chaska’s Athletic Park went under water. The flooded ballpark along the Minnesota River had water nearly reaching the top of the dugouts. Temporary pumps were placed along the park’s berm to remove water from the field. Floodgates were opened in late March to prevent major damage from water rushing over the top of the levee and into the park. City officials don’t have a time estimate for when it will be playable. The Hawks aren’t alone coping with effects of the record snowfall in February. Wednesday’s snowstorm will only add to problems statewide.
3. Catchers still a hot commodity
Signal callers around the state have vaulted into the spotlight in recent years and 2019 will be no different. The top two in the metro are Holy Family senior Eric Rinzel and St. Michael-Albertville junior Cody Kelly. Rinzel is one of three Missouri recruits in the senior class, the others being second baseman Dalton McNamara of Centennial and pitcher/third baseman Ben Pedersen of Duluth Marshall.
4. Farmington loses Division I OF
The Tigers reached the Class 4A, Section 1 finals a year ago and are looking to build on their late season surge. They will have to do so without senior center fielder Adam Weed. The Illinois-Chicago recruit tore his anterior cruciate ligament and is out for the season. “With the pitching and experience we have, we expect to compete for the South Subruabn Conference and section championships,” Farmington coach Jon Graff said. “We have a lot of players with two years of experience.”
5. State’s top player is in Rochester
Rochester Century junior shortstop/pitcher Mac Horvath is projected as a first-round draft pick a year from now in some MLB mock drafts. Horvath, who has already committed to North Carolina, hits for power and has a strong arm. He is coming off a broken fibula in his right leg suffered last season against Stillwater when he was trying to avoid a tag at second base.